How the pagan influences of Ephesus corrupted sound Biblical doctrine and led to the removal its lamp stand.Why Ephesus Lost A Lamp Stand to Paganism and Violence.
The Biblical Congruency of Godly Sorrow
Godly sorrow is the work of the Holy Spirit, it humbles us by confronting our arrogance through brokenness and then produces repentance that leads to…The Biblical Congruency of Godly Sorrow
The Biblical Congruency of Rebellion
The congruency of rebellion by Adam and Eve, birthed the virus of sin into the world, giving way to corruption, pollution, disease and finally death.…The Biblical Congruency of Rebellion
The Biblical Congruency of Sin
Examination of Sin Through Scripture. In the last year, I have witnessed the confusion within the church to biblically address the issue of Sin. …The Biblical Congruency of Sin
When God Grows Love…
The moment we respond in anger or hurt, we have dismissed love from our life. True love looks beyond the disagreement and builds a bridge that demonstrates the Christ with you.
One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that He is One, and there is no one else besides Him; 33 and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:28-33)
Two years ago I had the privilege of preaching through the Gospel of Mark in tandem with the senior pastor at the church where I was volunteering. It was a great experience for me. I was always a huge believer in expository preaching; but to actually explain the text verse by verse, was one of the most transforming experiences of my life. My walk with Christ radically changed during this period. You may find this humorous, but most of the sermons I preached, affected me. It seemed that every sermon preached was at myself. I began to wonder if the passages assigned to me were done out of an intentional purpose. Did the senior pastor see something in my life that needed to be changed? I found out later that it was all the work of the Holy Spirit and the pastor was oblivious to what was happening to me. One of the passages that was life changing for me was Mark 12:28-33.
It has been over three years and that sermon still stirs within me. It convicts, encourages and transforms. This passage teaches us how to love. It gives us understanding of how to accept the love of God and where true love comes from. This may take a few posts to explain, so I plan on keeping each post easy to read. (Yes I am A.D.D. and feel your pain.) The subject of love is important for a number of reasons. Our society has forgotten how to really love one another and how to love God. It has forgotten that God loves us and what that love truly looks like.
Jesus breaks this passage down in two ways, surrendering to God and loving God. In this passage we learn that Jesus is making an absolute statement, that the greatest commandment is to live in total love and to live a completely surrendered life to God.
One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
For many, Christianity is a list of rules that no one one can live up to. Most people view us as hypocrites. They despise our hypocrisy because they view our moral code as changing in order to meet our own selfishness. This is not supposed to be the case. Some people try to live by a moral code. But even the best moral code fails when there is no love. The scribe was seeking righteousness through moral living. God wants us to seek righteousness through surrendered living.
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. (Mark 8:34)
So what does this mean?
Simply put, Jesus is asking us to deny selfishness in any form or behavior, lay your life down for others and follow His example of unconditional love. Think about how contradictory that is to what the world is telling us through social media and Television. Is it loving to be on your phone texting, when you are with someone else? Of course not! We have become so self absorbed as a society that we cannot even see when others are hurting. Self love is being promoted in the absence of genuine compassionate love for others. This is denying otherness. Jesus is calling us to deny oneness, selfishness, pridefulness and our egos. Our world has become so self centered, that anyone who breathes, must conform to the collective mindset or be destroyed. Selflessness allows others to foster opinions different from our selves; yet embrace those individuals with unconditional love. Jesus demonstrated that love to us, by dying for us even though our sins were contradictory to the nature of God.
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:8-10 NASB)
Recently, after an online Bible study, a young man asked the question, “Am I really saved?” After spending some time asking questions, it became clear that he was living with guilt and shame over his personal struggles with sin. The more we love God with our total being; heart, mind, soul and strength, the more God’s love, grace and forgiveness strengthens our resolve to follow Him in righteousness. We don’t have to worry about if we are saved, if we live in committed love towards God. We do not need to worry about our salvation, if others see the light and love of Christ in us. If our mind is dedicated to His word, and our soul to worshiping God, then our strength is in Jesus. When our heart belongs to Him, then our love will be pure and faultless. This is not earning salvation. This is living in the works of our faith out of gratitude for what Jesus did on the cross. Our salvation was earned by Jesus, as a free gift for us, but we must have the free will to receive it. The choice we make either brings us life or it leads to death.
“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, And the end of joy may be grief. The backslider in heart will have his fill of his own ways, But a good man will be satisfied with his.” Proverbs 14:12-14 NASB
In the last eight years, the life I desire is to be a disciple of Jesus. I desire to be known by my love and not my anger, selfishness or tone. It is in my love for others that I demonstrate the reality of a fulfilled relationship with Jesus. My love is the proof of my faith.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 NASB
Game of God’s, An Interview with Author Carl Teichrib.
Transgression through unity, a profound example of collective rebellion – and it remains a symbol of Man’s desire to collectively construct Heaven-on-Earth
A few months ago, a friend recommended a book to me that truly rocked my world. I believe this should be read by every pastor in America. I gave a quick review in the following blog post: Year End Review (Part
I was amazed to be granted an interview with the author, Carl Teichrib. The following is that interview. My questions are in bold. I did not edit any of his answers, I felt this would compromise or manipulate the interview process. I hope you enjoy, You may find his book, Game of Gods on Amazon. I have received no compensation for this interview, or for recommending his book; not even a signed copy of the book.
Carl, thank you for joining us here on Proof of Your Faith. For the readers who don’t know, what is Game of Gods about?
There’s a line in the book’s Introduction that reads: “Humanity has three Great Desires: To be as God, to be Masters of Meaning and Destiny, to build Heaven on Earth – this is that story.”
Game of Gods is a sweeping survey unpacking those three interlocking subjects, the underlying worldviews tying each together – especially the spiritual-religious paradigms central to the discussion – and the implications, outcomes, and consequences. Along the way we explore the history of ideas and movements, investigating how and why the West has changed in terms of faith, purpose, and social understanding. We tackle heavy topics in the process, including the quest for global order, transhuman aspirations, the spiritual politics ofinterfaithism, and the transforming nature of cultural transgression.
Numerous concepts and subthemes are encountered: The switchfrom Postmodernism to Re-enchantment, the role of myth in producing social vision and meaning, the shift from secularism to spirituality, the development of alternative salvation claims through political and cultural engineering, the tension between group dynamics and individual values, and the global-to-local challenges faced by the Christian community in an era of transformation. A key concern is the issue of Oneness and Otherness.
For our readers, How do you define “Oneness and Otherness?
Both are ultimate views of reality.
Oneness – that God, Man, and Nature all share the same essence; that each of the three domains are fundamentally one. Interconnection, interdependence, and continuity are therefore expressed at the most meaningful level. Final distinctions are illusionary.
Otherness – that God is utterly unique, being fundamentallyseparate (Holy and Exalted) from Man and Nature. Humanity is of a higher order than the animal and plant kingdoms, keeping in mind that the natural world has intrinsic value because of who created it.
Dr. Peter Jones from TruthXChange was helpful in fleshing out this understanding. He uses the terms One-ism and Two-ism. Consider this explanation from Dr. Jones: “Oneism is a form of spiritual holism where everything is considered good because it is an aspect of the whole – including God and Satan, virtue and vice. Twoism in its very essence contains holiness, where things are not confused but have their special, God-ordained places.”
What inspired you to write about this?
It was simply time to do so. Allow me to explain. Since the early 1990s I’ve been wrestling with many of the core subjects found in Game of Gods. By the mid-1990s I was writing articles on those same topics, and in 1997 this hobby-of-sorts became a full-time endeavor as I was hired by a Christian author to be the lead researcher for a major project. After 2001 I took-up freelancing, providing research assistance for lecturers, media hosts, and other authors. Then, in 2007, I produced and edited a monthly publication titled Forcing Change, a technical magazine devoted to unpacking and understanding the spiritual, social, and political forces of change. Along the way I amassed a significant library of pertinent materials, and a repertoire of fieldwork experiences to draw from – first source information, personal interviews, and direct observations.
With this back-story in mind, and with the advent of social media and the easy dissemination of misinformation, hype and sensationalism, I was compelled to write a book that did two things: First, rise above the noise and present an offering of practical and deep analysis – compelling us as Christians to seriously consider the subject. Second, to hopefully raise the bar in terms of Christian research and readership – to move away from memes and clickbait thinking.
The following section of text is taken from the Scope/Structure page of my book,
“Keep the cookies on the lower shelf,” I have heard it said, for reader’s attention spans have shortened in our age of information overload. Implied is a lower expectation, a sense that we are incapable of nuanced thought. Game of Gods, on the other hand, is written with the belief that we – author and reader – must reach for higher treasures of knowledge and understanding, that we are capable of wrestling with big ideas. With that in mind, Game of Gods is written as a robust work, treating topics with a serious tone and analytical style. Much of it is survey oriented, having a reference quality – a text you can return to in your our own studies. But it is more: Interspersed are excerpts of my own personal story, a journey of exploring and weighing world views, observing the interplay of global agendas, and being a witness to the tides of visionary ideas and grand movements. Game of Gods is meant to be a bulwark, an island fortress in a sea of chaotic information.
In chapter 3 of your book, you quote Francis A. Schaffer; “The church was under the teachings of the Bible – not above it and not equal to it.” Today this seems to be the opposite. Why is this dangerous for the church and Christians.
It assumes we take a position of revelator; we become the masters and dispensers of spiritual knowledge and meaning. Our focal point is no longer on God’s word and His position, but upon the power invested in ourselves.
How does this impact the otherness view?
It risks blurring the distinction between God’s authority and our own.
How does the “Temple of Man” differ from the biblical view that our body is a temple?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
In this passage we recognize that, for believers in Jesus Christ, our very bodies are His own possession.
The Temple of Man as found in Game of Gods has an entirely different context. Here, the meaning is closer to that found in Romans 1:25, “who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” It is Man’s vision of Heaven-on-Earth, a remake of Babel, humanity venerating itself; in other words, the desire to transform into something grander, a coalescence that elevates ourselves as the object of worship.
Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet visionary who believed in the Marxist engineering of a New Man, offers this chilling depiction: “Yes, we are going to destroy everything, and on the ruins we will build our temple!”
How has the religion of “good works” infiltrated the church?
Normally we think of this question from a personal perspective, that if I do the right things, then saving merit will be bestowed. In Game of Gods I push us to consider “good works” from another angle, the collective position, and give the example of the early Social Gospel movement with its version of Heaven-on-Earth. Their method of “good works” was “righteous internationalism,” world patriotism as a faith, reflected in political and economic restructuring.
Grand ideas of collective salvation remain in play. Going beyond the book, I witnessed this concept of collective “good works” and salvation during the fall of 2018 when attending the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The implied notion of salvation and works was evident in many of the talks and discussions, but the final remarks from the Executive Director of the Parliament hit this home: We are engaging in the salvation of the Earth, and therefore in the salvation of each other.
In the above examples, “good deeds” equals collective action to save humanity by transforming political, economic, and social structures. Similar thinking can be found in the teachings of contemporary Progressive Christians. Brian McLaren makes such a case in his book, Everything Must Change, downplaying traditional views of individual salvation while calling for collective restructuring to save humanity.
But let’s quickly return to the personal aspect, that of doing good as individuals. Yes, our faith is to be active, and good works are important in that such acts are a practical demonstration of our faith. The Book of James lays this outbeautifully and succinctly. At the same time, we need to guard ourselves against elevating good deeds as a method of redemption. Ephesians 2:8-10 is a necessary reminder of salvation by grace alone and the subsequent response of good works,
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Why is free will pivotal to Christian theology?
Can there be love without free will? How about rebellion? What about forgiveness? The very notion of disobedience signals the fact that we exist with free will, as does the ability to change one’s actions and heart attitudes. Can repentance exist without free will?
Without going into a discourse on theology, I think the above questions and their implications are important reminders of free will. Without the freedom to choose, sin and forgives, hate and compassion, love and repentance are but illusions; human relationships can be but nothing more than pre-set mechanical responses.
The alternative is a deterministic monism, which philosophically degrades God to an impersonal force of nature, and we are no longer responsible for our actions.
Aren’t the arguments for the feelings of “Oneness” the same as the unity the body of Christ is supposed to have? The joy we have in Serving Christ?
No. The feelings of Oneness explained in the book are quite different, being experienced through a form of alternative spiritual practice (often connected to neurochemicalstimulation). This sense of Oneness is grounded in the mystical and/or ecstatic, and may be stimulated through psychedelic or entheogen substances. It is a feeling of boundary dissolving wholeness, timelessness and flow, blurring the lines between Divinity, Humanity, and Nature. Because of these features, it has immense influence upon the construction of worldviews related to the perceived “new reality.”
I gently probe the reader to consider this question: Are we, during our church worship time, encountering the same Oneness sensation? And if so, how do we know it’s of God? Or have we inadvertently bought into the power of group flow – the energy of ecstasies – the gospel of experience?
Why is Gnosticism dangerous to the body of Christ?
Without going into the diverse believes and history of Gnosticism, a spiritual philosophy that challenged the early church, I would like to consider one part of its structure: Thatthrough the process of illumination – the unfolding, inner knowledge of self-realization – we gain access to the Kingdom of God, which is found within. It is essentially a path of self-redemption through personal experience, the discovery of the “divine spark” within the mystical heart of humanity.
This is a break from the moorings of Biblical doctrine, opening up a theology of self-liberation, the gospel of experiential knowledge. Gnosticism offers an alternative salvation, just as it assumes an alternative view of God.
Are some pastors selling positivity and Gnosticism in place of sound Biblical teachings?
Oh yes! The Christian community has long bought into the gospel of human potential. And there is a Gnostic soft sell in much of this: of finding the secret in you, of connecting to your higher self, of contemplative practices to center yourself in the stillness of God’s quite voice. We are being asked, in so many ways, to “go within” and discover our divine union.
Every chapter of your book seems to describe a new front in the war to destroy Christianity, scripture and morality. It seems overwhelming. What are Christians to do?
I discuss a Christian response in chapter 15 – not a reaction, but a response. Basically, we have to learn what it means to be ambassadors for Christ in a pagan culture.
What is an ambassador? Let’s briefly explore this using Christian terminology: Someone who acts as the legal and official representative of a sending government – in our case, the King of Kings. An ambassador represents the values and interests of the King first, and then articulates the King’s message to that land, regardless if the place is hostile or accepting. An ambassador also studies the foreign culture he or she is sent into: Not to be of that world, for an ambassador is set apart, but to better understand the setting and how to effectively communicate within it.
We have an ambassador model to work with. The Apostle Paul, while at Mars Hill (Acts 17), presents a remarkable illustrationof what this looks like. I unpack his approach on pages 533 and 534, followed by a Christian outreach example from Burning Man.
In chapter 10 you describe the U.N. goal of Cosmopolis. How did the Tower of Babel let evil into the world? How does this affect us today?
The Tower of Babel is a model of transgression through unity, a profound example of collective rebellion – and it remains a symbol of Man’s desire to collectively construct Heaven-on-Earth. It is the first recorded Temple of Man, a worship ofpower-in-unity.
Chapter 10: Cosmopolis – the City of Man – demonstrates how this theme of power-in-unity is evident within the human landscape, from Hendrik Andersen’s dream of an International City to Stalin’s Palace of the Soviets, to more recent architectural examples. Babel, in this respect, serves as a model. More than that, it a foreshadowing of even greater expressions of collective unity.
What is Transhumanism? Why should people be concerned?
Transhumanism is an intellectual movement viewing science and technology as the means to overcome human limitations, to intervene in the evolutionary process, and thus self-create a new image of Man.
Here’s an explanation from Game of Gods, “Transhumanism is thus a changeover, a stepping-stone, but not the final stage; it is a transition to a post-human potential, moving beyond what we presently are. This is a future-oriented vision, one fueled by incredible scientific and technical advances, and the possibilities they portend: greatly magnifying cognitive abilities, enhancing sensory input, genetic restructuring to permanently eliminate disease and weakness, finding ways to move our consciousness into a non-corruptible body, the extension of human life – to the point of immortality – and even resurrecting the dead.”
Ethical concerns and questions of social/cultural importance abound, but from a Christian criticism one glaring point needs to be acknowledged: At the core of Transhumanism is an alternative salvation message.
On your chapter “Magical Re-Enchantment,” you describe a diabolical plan that involves drugs, witchcraft, yoga, Satanism and environmentalism worship. Is this really a global initiative?
From the book’s point of view this is less of a diabolical plan and more of an historic movement, a discernable cultural shift from Postmodernism into another epoch. The examples givenreflect how Re-enchantment is structured by changing social values, presenting new myths as carriers of meaning, and how spirituality is re-packaged to fit the desired worldview. And yes, there are organizations and personalities that envision a global transformation – and they are not without influence, nor are they without some measure of success. This, too, is documented.
How prevalent is the occult and satanism in our governments and the U.N.?
The United Nations abounds with people who adhere to an esoteric philosophy or mystical conception; of course, this can’t be said of everyone who works for the body – it’s an entity with an enormous range of agencies and personnel. However, many of the UN’s visionaries do lean toward esoteric and Theosophical belief systems. I witnessed this while attending the UN Millennium Forum, and to a lesser extent, the UN World Urban Forum in 2006. I’ve also observed an esoteric worldviewwithin some of the affiliated NGO community, such as LucisTrust. And in Game of Gods I quote UN personalities, like Robert Muller, who promoted a spiritual vision of Oneness within the world organization. Of course, the UN’s meditation room speaks to a level of spiritual interest.
As for the US government, I cannot say, as I have not studied this at a comparable level. There are, however, some indications in my text. That Washington DC does have esoteric symbolism is hinted at in chapter 7, and the ten-page discussion of the New Age exchanges in the late 1980s – a unique interlock between American and Soviet interests – is a peculiar piece of the spiritual back story I unpack in the book.
You made the statement, “Dear Christian, there is a danger in mistaking ecstasies for the Spirit, for in doing so, we risk exchanging Wisdom for feeling. God remains true no matter how I feel.” Why does our world crave feelings over wisdom and truth?
Feelings are compelling, affirming and gratifying, and none of this is inherently the problem. At a more base level, I think wegenerally crave to be the arbitrators of wisdom and truth – the god of our own lives – and we allow our feelings to reinforce this desire. I think we all have succumbed to this at some point in our lives. I have.
Another factor needs to be considered, especially for the Christian. In many cases we genuinely want to have a closer relationship with God, and we mistakenly use our feelings as the gauge to determine notions of intimacy. This is especially evident when it comes to feelings of ecstasies generated through corporate worship; it’s not theologically sound nor spiritually healthy.
Why can’t Transhumanism and Christianity mix? How has it influenced the church already?
If we understand transhumanism in its fullness – to become god-like in our capability and capacity, to deify ourselves through technology and information – then the two are at odds with competing salvations claims.
The weight of transhumanism is subtle in that it’s not the intellectual movement, so much, that exerts influence. Rather, it is the changing nature of technology that has been keenly felt in the church, especially the power of information technologies. The same problems, challenges, and complexities that the world is facing with information technologies are prevalent in the church.
But more is at stake, and big questions loom. Allow me to include a section of text pulled from chapter 13,
Tech-enterprises are likewise wrestling with ethical dilemmas, and governments will soon find themselves debating difficult boundaries. A few Christian ministries and institutions have also been discussing implications, but more review is necessary. Awareness within the Christian community is generally lacking; churches need to be informed and equipped to understand the worldviews behind the movement, bringing sober realism and wisdom to the conversation. Seminaries and apologetics ministries ought to formulate Biblical responses to the hope-in-technology, and search for opportunities to speak into the subject. Moreover, such an approach would be internally helpful as Christians navigate the maze of concerns and changing issues…
As innovation pushes us closer to post-human promises, which way will the moral compass swing? When pragmatism clashes with ethical barriers, will transhumangoals be willingly tabled? How might the self-proclaimed “evolutionary imperative” configure in the post-human worldview? Will transhumanists claim a position of Darwinian authority; that evolution demands the strongest survive, damning those incapable of enhancement? Is the vision of techno-humanity sacrosanct? If so, then Comte’s Positivism and Darwinian pragmatism will be the guiding principles – science is all that matters, and evolutionary succession is the only measure of victory.
If it can be done, or perceived so, will it be – no matter the cost? David Gelernter thinks so: “Everything is up for grabs. Everything will change. The Orwell law of the future: Any new technology that can be tried will be.”
In our attempt to be a new species, will we act less than human?
For Christians and conservative individuals, other questions need be asked: Will we shun technologies that are medically beneficial or otherwise valuable because of associations with transhumanism? I hope not. Augmentation itself is not wrong; it could be argued that eyeglasses and heart pacemakers are technological enhancements. BCI can be helpful to individuals who are physically immobilized, VR platforms are useful in communication and education, computers and internetconnectivity are important tools for business and personal use. We daily use technologies linked to transhumanvisions. Discernment is required to know the difference between the techno-faith that seeks to fundamentally transform mankind into an unknown quality, and the helpful uses of innovation for present-day humanity. Will we use innovation and technology in ways that are good and advantageous? We have in the past and I trust we will continue doing so, even being trailblazers in scientific discovery and innovative development.
Transhumanism is far more than a zeal for science and technology, a fascination with digital tools and manageable matter; it is a social pressure cooker, a container heated by the intellectual forces of Modernity.
It is also an attitude of religion.
Sci-Fi movies love exploring singularity, is this god like fascination to be taken seriously by Christians?
The idea of the singularity (its meaning and composition) is open to debate, even within the transhumanist community. Nevertheless, the god-fascination of transhumanism is a subject Christians need to be aware of – not because of rapid technological advances that give rise to the notion – but because of the tangible desire for ascension. In other words, it takes on a religious flavor, a saving faith in technology. And so the Christian community is faced with another redemption alternative within the marketplace of beliefs.
On another level, when Man plays God we tend to overstep boundaries and ethical lines, and even destroy others. This reality demands we take notice, and where possible inject a voice of caution and reason.
Obviously the Oneness dogma is here to stay. How can Christianity survive in a world that celebrates it?
Arguably the Oneness dogma has been with us since Genesis 3. The Christian message of God’s truth, however, will survive because of whom it points to: Him who remains the same, yesterday and today and forever. I am reminded that the early church flourished in the midst of a pagan culture. May we, too, kindle a first-love for Jesus Christ in this present age of re-enchantment.
You make it clear persecution will be the norm for Christians. Suffering will come daily, so how do we prepare?
The way all other Christians who have faced persecution have done it, or are now doing so. We become far more serious with our faith; we work to strengthen our families in God’s word and in love for one another; we build each other up, and the church family becomes a network of support and trust; we prepare ourselves spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and even physically if possible (can we provide for our families under the stress of suffering?); we remain active as ambassadors, changing tactics as necessary, but not losing sight of the calling; and we consciously place our hope in Christ and not Man – all easier said than done, but our strength ultimately comes from the Lord.
Psalm 46:1-3 reminds us that,
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling
How do we endure this onslaught without becoming angry, violent or loosing our love? Without compromising or denying Jesus, what methods can we use to influence change?
It’s easy to become angry, and we should be upset when we see the corruption of truth, the establishment of agendas for social control, the erosion of liberty, and the undermining of Biblical values. But there is a difference between righteous and unrighteous anger; moreover, we are to exhibit the fruits of the Spirit such as self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”
Are there ways we can influence change? Absolutely! Without becoming a field manual with specific action points – I know that’s what many people want, but it’s not effective or healthy –my book, instead, encourages what should be self-evident approaches. Nuggets of thought, to that end, are scattered throughout the text, and pages 543 to 550 specifically engages the reader with options and examples and areas of concern.
I’ll end with one general but important consideration taken from page 545,
“We tend to think that large and organized movements are needed to effectively engage in worldview issues, that challenges to liberty and the Christian faith are best handled through agencies and groups dedicated to those causes. There is a place for such, but personal responses are needed. It is the teacher tactfully asking valid questions when the curriculum demands global citizenship; the healthcare worker who raises concerns when One-istspiritual practices are sold as medicine; the pastor challenging denominational leaders on interfaithism; the student offering alternatives to the professor’s leftist ideologies; the landowner standing up to the encroachment of overbearing green policies; the engineer and specialist reigning in technocratic tendencies in their chosen fields; the politician working on behalf of constituents while curbing the tide of statism. It is the parent showing love, and sharing in knowledge and wisdom. It is the friend who cares for a friend, and who extends a hand to the stranger.”
What we need are truth tellers who act in love, men and women who credibly stand in the gap.
Thank you so much Carl, for provoking thought and bringing awareness. It has been a pleasure having you here on Proof of Your Faith.
Enduring Suffering, Grieving In Tragedy.
Grief, depression and sadness are natural human responses to tragedy, trauma and suffering. We can not endure this on our own, God provides hope.
“Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.” John 11:32-35 NKJV
It is never easy to lose a loved one, but for Mary this past December; she lost a daughter in a car accident and a husband to a heart attack. Her twenty year love affair with her husband, gone in a second. Her only child, cruelly ripped from her life. How do you even begin to console someone in this situation? The grief is overwhelming, nothing you say will comfort the pain. Mary was a good Christian woman, why should she suffer?
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted And saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the LORD delivers him out of them all.” Psalms 34:18-19 NASB
My Aunt and Uncle, are two of the most compassionate individuals I’ve ever known. They have always demonstrated what it means to have a servant’s heart. Whomever needed help they were there. Their help always came with joy, love and without condemnation. A few years ago my uncle was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. Lately their lives have been devastated with sleepless nights, injuries and despair. My once strong Aunt, has become frail from the stress they face as a couple. Why would God allow this? Doesn’t God look out for Christians?
“Incline Your ear, O LORD, and answer me; For I am afflicted and needy. Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man; O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You. Be gracious to me, O Lord, For to You I cry all day long. Make glad the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; And give heed to the voice of my supplications! In the day of my trouble I shall call upon You, For You will answer me.” Psalms 86:1-7 NASB
One of the greatest lies told, is that if you become a Christian your life becomes easier and you will be happy. Trust me this is a lie.
Christians suffer. In some countries we are raped, tortured, burned alive and killed. The positivity preaching is a destructive lie. It deludes people into a false hope. Jesus said this, “”If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:18-19 NASB
What happens to the new Christian when their life is thrown into tragic turmoil and they realize that being a Christian is hard and difficult? The happiness sermons and positivity preaching become cancer to a hurting soul. This is why the truth of God’s word is better than false teachings. God’s word deals with the truth! Peter warned Christians, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;” 1 Peter 4:12 NASB
So is God playing games with us? Why does this happen?
Most people blame God. They become bitter and even denounce their faith. The problem is that we forget about our real enemy. We blame God for what Satan does. Satan hates us. Let’s get real for a moment, we all know there is evil in the world. We see cruelty, greed, hate and horrific acts done on our tv every day. So evil exists. So why do we blame God for what Satan is doing? Shouldn’t our anger be directed at him? Peter warns us again,
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” 1 Peter 5:8-9 NASB
God’s word comforts us in knowing that other Christians are enduring the same trials. We are not alone, as Christians, we recognize that we are part of the body of Christ. We have each other and we have Jesus. This is why it is important for Christians to go to church, to share their burdens, to pray together and to pray for each other. United in Christ we can endure and stand against the schemings of Satan.
“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11 NASB
Christians suffer; but God is our shield. He provides us with endurance and strength to cope through the grief, depression and the loss. Christ suffered on the cross and that becomes more meaningful, when we understand that we are sharing in His sufferings. Christ endured and persevered in His suffering for us, so that we can persevere and endure under trials of our own. We become mature as Christians complete in our faith, knowing that Christ is our shield, strength and salvation.
“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope for His lovingkindness, To deliver their soul from death And to keep them alive in famine.” Psalms 33:18-19 NASB
The attitude in which we suffer is what separates us from a world without hope. We know that this life is short in comparison to the eternal life, promised by God. This is not our kingdom, but our King is coming, we then must be prepared. God always comes through in the end.
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NASB
Don’t give up! Pray, read the Bible and pray some more. Be vigilant, be strong and love deeply. Encourage one another in love. Our time is short. Jesus is coming back!
A special announcement: Next week’s blog will be special. I will have the privilege of interviewing Carl Teichrib the author of Game of Gods. Here is a link to his book and his site: gameofgods.ca
Year End Review (Part 1)
It has been a great year! There is so much to share and celebrate. As 2018 comes to a close, we have more hope & understanding, that Jesus is returning soon!
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Joshua 1:8 NIV
There has been so much to be grateful for this year. The growth of my walk has radically changed more this year than at any time in my life. The biggest factor is how I do my devotion times. I genuinely know that God is with me. I see the results of his handy work. I pray more for others. I also pray for you as well. The way the Lord led me to reconstruct my Bible reading plans, have brought more insight and revelation. Early in the year the Holy Spirit had me read Isaiah five times. Each time something new was revealed. Some of the inspiration from these devotional times have found its way into this Blog.
I am amazed by the number of countries where this blog is read. I find myself praying for my readers in Australia, Nigeria, Poland, Brazil and Albania. God has allowed this I pray for everyone of them. blog to be read in 39 different countries. Even though I don’t know many of the readers, I pray for you often.
Some of the most amazing emails have come from people who read a post that I thought was not very good, but God chose it, to bring about some amazing healing. Each of us has some pain to deal with. “Clara” (Name Changed) emailed me, asking if God could really forgive her and remove all the guilt and shame she felt. She read the post: Destroying the Message of Guilt and Shame (Click the link to read) I was able to get her connected with a local church in her state. The pastor tells me she is radically changed for God and is helping other women in the church deal with their pain.
One of the questions I get is why I have not updated my section on the books, that I am reading. The fact is that I keep pushing it off. So I thought I would share the books that have shaped my thoughts this year. I will include the links to Amazon. I hope this inspires you.
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. Romans 15:4 NIV
- A New English Translation of the Septuagint. This has transformed my reading of the Bible more than any other book this year other than a book that I have, The Dead Sea Scrolls. The Septuagint is the greek translation of the Old Testament and predates Jesus, The Dead Sea Scrolls are mostly in Aramaic and also predate Jesus. What is amazing is how they validate the Old Testament, yet give greater understanding to the passages. If you are serious about knowing God or wanting greater insight. These books will stretch your growth with Jesus.
- The End Times by Early Church Fathers. This little gem shocked me, If you ever study end times eschatology, Dr. ken Johnson will provide some amazing insight into your view. He provides compelling arguments using early church fathers. Much of this knowledge is lost on modern seminaries.
- Reversing Hermon. Dr. Michael Heiser is a brainiac, who leads you through a college class, while you read his books. He is an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls. His writings drew me to read them. He also gives you an in-depth background of what the Jews believed about where evil came from. This book inspired me to write the series: The Spread of Lawlessness (Part 1) and The Spread of Lawlessness (Part 2)
- The Message of Jeremiah. Wright and Motyer are brilliant in this easy to read commentary on Jeremiah. It took me 3 months to get through Jeremiah. As I would slowly read through this book, the Septuagint and my Bible. I became alarmed by the relevance and similar warnings that Jeremiah has for America. Those concerns inspired me to write the blog posts: The Warning Bell is Sounding.
- Game of Gods. This in my mind is the “Book of the Year. Any pastor worth his salt, should be reading this book. This book addresses world issues from a biblical point of view. It is very personal and easy to read. It will address issues affecting the church, new false teachings, and an understanding of the current political climate. It is quite intellectual, yet will dismantle beliefs that are contrary to scripture. Conservatives and traditional liberals will enjoy reading this book, both will come away changed by the ramifications. He will give you insight into closed door meetings at the U.N. and will update you to the emerging philosophies that will soon overtake all of our lives.
These are my top five books that I have read this year. I have read many more, but wanted to share these with you. With the coming persecution, books will be harder to get, as internet access will be limited due to censorship, for those who are Christians. One day very soon churches in America will be closed. Churches will go underground and resources will be scarce. Individual libraries will replace seminaries as those seeking knowledge will come to the homes of those who have books. So I encourage you who are faithful to God, start reading again. Read books that are theologically correct and will challenge the substandard mockeries that many seminaries have become.
“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.” Matthew 11:12 NASB
The Bible, A Living Truth
The congruence of scripture, demonstrates the harmony of its writers with God’s plan of redemptive love. It flows throughout, singing of the joy of knowing a relational God full of grace and forgiveness, who has designed you with a purpose. God is love.
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 NASB
In the past few months, I have been asked, “Do you really believe that the Bible is true?” The answer is simple, “Of course I do.” The two reasons for my knowing that the Bible is true are love and logic. Yes it is an emotional understanding, that is illogical; because, when is love logical? It is also a logical reasoning that causes me to accept the Bible as true, yet moves me into an emotional relationship with God.
When you super impose the Old Testament with the New Testament, you find harmony, agreement, and corresponding prophecy and testimony that all point to the loving redemptive, and unchanging plan of God. So let’s take a look at the truth of the Bible through love and logic.
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:10-11 NASB
The truth of the Bible is revealed in love.
There are many times in a marriage that one spouse needs to rekindle the romance by pursuing the other romantically. In my own marriage, my own wife needed to know how much I loved her. I pursued her by knowing her, anticipating her needs, understanding how she wanted to be loved, and being extremely patient. This describes God and his love for us.
The love of God permeates throughout the scriptures, like a sweet fragrance, scenting every verse and chapter with a reckless and illogical desire to be relational. God’s desire to know us is embodied in His loving plan to rescue us from sin and to restore us to eternal life and peace with Him.
It starts with Genesis and how God clothed Adam and Eve, even after they rebelled against Him. It is demonstrated through the love story of Ruth and Boaz. His love is broadcasted by the emotional writings of David in the Psalms. It is prophesied by Isaiah and Zachariah and boasted by the marriage of Hosea. It is fulfilled in the Gospels by Jesus His Son, who on His own, obediently sacrificed His life on a cross for the salvation of humanity. It is bound in the free will given to everyone, so that they can choose to love God or reject Him. God’s love is free.
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:15-16 NASB
It is by this example of unconditional love, that in my own life, I have tested it and found it to be true. When I have put aside selfishness and loved others unconditionally, have I seen this Godly love transform lives, create forgiveness and produce healing. God is relational and has designed us with a purpose. (Read: You Have A Purpose!)
The truth of the Bible is revealed in logic.
“Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”” Luke 24:44 NASB
These words were spoken by Jesus after His resurrection and just before His ascension. Jesus wants us to understand, that He is the main Character in God’s love story. He came to be the sacrifice to mend the broken relationship. There are two points that Jesus is making. The first point is that all scripture is relevant, because of the second point; which is that not every prophecy and scripture corresponding to Jesus has been fulfilled, because the full redemptive plan of God is not finished. The Apostle Paul specifically instructed Timothy that all scripture was relevant. He even argued that the sacred writings of the Bible, provide wisdom and lead to salvation through faith. This Salvation is because God wants to rescue us from sin.
“You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-17 NASB
The disciple Peter also reiterated this, when he wrote: “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”2 Peter 1:20-21 NASB
It is because of this passage that we know that nothing in God’s word is irrelevant. The person who knows that the Bible is true and views it as an inspired love letter from God is a Biblicist. The Biblicist must examine all scripture as congruent, to be in harmony. The one who follows Jesus, allows God’s word to prove itself. He does not add to it, or take away from it. The real Christian lets scripture stand on its own merit. If done with humility and reverence, the life of the Christian will shine with God’s word, a Holy life, filled with the Holy Spirit, soaked with the blood of Christ and saturated with love. This is what a repentant person, joyfully changed by God’s love, looks like. The Psalmist understood this very well, when he wrote:
“The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether.” Psalms 19:7-9 NASB
It is through scriptures, that the Christian, can align their theology with love. It is through this harmonic relationship with God and His love, that one can answer the question, “How do I know the Bible is true?”
Voddie Baucham Jr, a famed author, preacher and theologian, simplified the answer in a Biblical manner.
“The Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents. (Verified by Archaeology) It was written down by eyewitnesses, during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. (1 John 5:13, 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Deuteronomy 6:6-9) They reported supernatural events that took place, in fulfillment of specific prophecies. They claimed that their writings were Divine and not of human origin.” (Deuteronomy 29:29, Romans 15:4, Revelation 21:5)
The Biblicist accepts the supernatural, because Christianity is supernatural. The true Christian believes in God, who is supernatural and unchanging in His nature. Christianity is supernatural; because through the scripture it changes the heart, renews the mind and transforms the individual.
“So that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously” Colossians 1:10-11 NASB
The Christian does not just believe in the Bible, they know it to be true, because of the evidence that God’s word transforming their lives. They live with truth and love, choosing the way of a disciple. This is the proof of their faith.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”” John 13:34-35 NASB
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Murder, Church and Jesus
In life, the distractions we seek are the very ones that lead us away from Jesus. With our faith diminished by these distractions, we feel empty and angry at God, who in His love, is trying to get our attention. We need to pursue Jesus and leave everything else behind.
“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 NASB
It was a cold and frosty fall Sunday evening in the small town of Big Bear, California. The year was 1967 and parishioners were gathered together in the local Baptist church to hear the pastor, my father, preach. Like most of my father’s sermons; it was scholarly, full of the Gospel and centered around God’s love for humanity. Unbeknownst to the congregation and my dad, a dramatic murder was about to take place.
In the midst of the sermon a lowly church mouse began to stir from its nest in the warm kitchen and venture out into the sanctuary meeting, that was taking place. The mouse quietly scurried its way between the metal folding chairs of those listening to the sermon, until she reached the center aisle of the church. Expert eye witness testimony reveals, that the mouse was mesmerized by the fluid prose of the pastor’s preaching. The mouse moved up the aisle and stopped to the side of the communion table, listening to every word of the sermon.
Having concluded the sermon, my father gave his trademark Gospel invitation for redemption. No one in the church stirred, except for the church mouse, who according to witnesses, moved forward and bowed her lowly head. With no one else coming forward, my dad gave the closing prayer. No sooner had he uttered the word, “Amen,” when a deacon with a callous heart threw his shoe. The shoe flew through the air, slamming the repentant mouse into the hard floor. In a moment of horrific evil, the saintly, praying, church mouse was dead.
Shock and disbelief spread through the church. Questions quickly arose: Why didn’t the deacon have his eyes closed during the prayer? How could this happen in a church service? My grief stricken brother, turned to the hardhearted deacon and hissed with contempt, “Murderer!” Tears flowed from other young children as the bloodied corpse of the saintly church mouse was removed.
This event took place a few years before I was born and before my birth restored peace and joy into my family’s home. (Actually, I came in like a hurricane, according to my older brother and sister.) Although this story is tragic and true, it points out the ease in which we are distracted as Christians. Tragically the focus of that Sunday night service was not supposed to be a mouse, but rather Jesus. This story points to three areas in a Christian’s life that we can lose our focus. We are easily distracted in our relationship with Jesus, in our prayer life, and when we face tragic or life altering events.
“I am saying this for your benefit, not to place restrictions on you. I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.” 1 Corinthians 7:35 NLT
OUR RELATIONSHIP: Sadly, no one in my family actually remembers what my dads sermon was about and I am sure neither do any of those parishioners. The great thing about my dad is that every sermon he preached always pointed to Jesus. Everything in our lives, every action we take, should point to Jesus. We should love like Jesus and live for Jesus. Our lives should be saturated with the hope that Jesus brings. We need to draw closer to God to fall more in love with Him.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT
IN TRAGEDIES: In life we will always face tragedies; but those tragedies should never interfere with our relationship with Jesus. Every trial we face builds a play book on God’s faithfulness. We review that play book to build our faith and to remind ourselves of His love and goodness. When Satan throws a “shoe” into our lives, our response will be seen by those searching for hope. How will this response define their view on Christianity?
The true Christian follows Jesus when things are going well, but also when life goes wrong. The followers of Jesus need to always exemplify the characteristics of kindness, compassion, love and selflessness. We need to be a light in the darkness and a hope in a world of tragedies. When others are distracted by fear and anger, we can provide the hope, love, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. It is in this behavior that we emulate what Christ did for us.
“But I called on your name, Lord, from deep within the pit. You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!” Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.” Lord, you have come to my defense; you have redeemed my life.” Lamentations 3:55-58 NLT
IN PRAYER: My sister once asked the question, “How could a deacon of a church, plot a murder of a sweet mouse during a time he was supposed to be praying?” It is not a childish question. Ask yourself, how is your prayer time, could it be better? One of my favorite quotes on prayer is from Abraham Lincoln. In the midst of war, chaos and the stress of a presidency, nothing could distract him from prayer.
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” – Abraham Lincoln
In a previous blog post, The Crazy Chaos of a Busy Life…, I mentioned some of my own struggles with making Jesus a priority. Chaos, change and distractions will always come; but so will the grace of God. Focusing on Jesus is the only choice for a Christian.
Let me hear from you,