Monday, December 31, 2012

red letter nuts 1

Sometimes, the things I read tend to lead me to other things. I'm not sure if those second things are necessarilty weirded, or if they just shed a more ominous light on the initial weirdness I had read. At any rate, here is one of the more bizarre, and even disturbing, things I've ever read.

The Rage of Moloch – An Old Testament god thriving on our children
Moloch is a god mentioned in passing in Leviticus 18:21, but his presence seeps through the Bible – and most of ancient history. He is a god who thrives on the blood of the innocent.

Moloch is one of those themes that most of us assume is dead and gone and far from our daily lives – until he emerges almost larger than life.

Moloch promised – and still promises – safety, security and prosperity if only we would sacrifice our children.
And again, we act as if this transaction was too evil and ancient to even consider, but then we find ourselves in the middle of this grim bargain 
“It’s the cost of freedom” he said, on national news, with a shrug and a sense that we should all agree that the occasional sacrifice of a classroom of children is a fair exchange for those among us who long to combine a thirst for fame and blood with the latest murderous fantasy toy.
I find it interesting that he tries to say that the notion of "sacrificing children" for the pursuit of safety, security, and prosperity, is somehow suppose to be something unheard of today, or that there haven't been people saying "It's the cost of freedom" when children are sacrificed.

Odd, because such sacrifices have happened by the millions in recent years. It's called abortion.
What kind of soul-dead human being could believe, or choose to believe, that the sacrifice of children is worth any ‘freedom’?
Well, go the people at Planned Parenthood. Give a ring to the ACLU. How about calling up the President of the US and the Congressmen and women who voted for a Health Care bill that tells businesses and organization that they have to give their employees things that induce abortions?
From a theological perspective, this is heresy at its core – that we could imagine that we would find ‘security’ in our own weapons or ‘salvation’ in increased firepower is delusional if not blasphemous.

So, keeping a gun to protect yourself and your family is an act of heresy? I'm not sure who is say that we get "salvation" through the purchasing of weapons.

But, really, could you imagine if he were to say that working to earn money to provide for yourself and your family is an act of heresy, because God has said that He would provide all we need? Or that getting married and having a family is blasphemy because God is our Father and we already have a family in the church?
Turning swords into plowshares is a sign of God’s kingdom (Isaiah 2:4). Investing our personal, as well as our national budgets – and our national attention to weapons is just another indication of our allegiance to death.

   So, let's see Isaiah 2:4, with a bit of context.
The word that Isaiah the son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.    
2 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it,
3 and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob,  that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.    
4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

Allegiance to death. First, again...abortion, anyone? And given the general tone of the Red Letter Christians site, well, I'm betting they were all-in for the Liberal and Progressive types who do their darnedest to make sure abortion is legal and common.

Second, you've going to have do better than the above passage to say that we should not have weapons today. Sorry, but that is prophecy concerning Christ's return and how things will be on earth than.
We don’t need an enemy, we are killing ourselves, but the gun apologists would tell us not fast enough.
This is a lie, a sure sign that this article is deranged. This article isn't really an argument at all, it's basically propoganda.

And it is out of respect for them, and their 100% preventable pain, that I urge the rest of to stir our petulant Congress to put aside their ideologically driven agendas and legislative inertia and step up in courage, and yes, even sacrifice to do what our nation’s soul cries out for.
What would this look like?
Who knows?
Really? You rage against guns and gun apologists, and you expect us to think that you have no idea what you want? After far too much incoherent rage and nonsense, you expect to be able to play coy here at the end?


And, sadly, it's far from the only one on that site that is like this.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

i suppose he doesn't mean by using an air freshener

Tommy Tenney, whom I had not heard much about for some time, has written a small article for Charisma magazine. It's a bit weird.

But there is little understanding of what I call "presence evangelism." This is what occurs when the residue of God on a person creates a divine radiation zone of His manifest presence that affects those around him (see Acts 4:13).
Ok, so, let's look at that verse.

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

This verse is in the context of Peter and John healing the lame man outside the Temple. They had done so, and when a crowd had gathered, Peter preached the Gospel of Christ to them. While Peter and John were doing that, some of the religous leaders had them arrested and later questioned them. This statement about Peter and John refers to the religious leaders recognizing what kind of people they were, and that they had been disciples of Jesus.

Sorry, there is nothing about "presence evangelism" there, nor anything about a "divine radiation zone".

"Shadow healing" would fall into this category. That's the kind of healing that took place when the shadow of the One with whom Peter walked created a healing zone around him (see Acts 5:15-16).
That is kinda mentioned in the Bible. Here it is, with a bit of context.

12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even  carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

Now, I guess one thing I could point is that while v 15 says the people tried to arrange it so that the sick people may be where Peter's shadow would fall, it doesn't say that the people were healed by that. Perhaps it is understood, maybe by what is said in the next verse, but I think that could be questioned.

But even if people were healed in that way, it does not mean that we should expect it to be happening in that same way today. Word of Faith and Prosperity Gospel charlatans have played the "anointed healing handkerchief" trick quite often, based on the fact that at one poine the Bible mentions Paul sending such things to people who were then healed. We have no reason to expect that such things are going to happen today, or that we should do such things.

Today we need to hear the footfall of God as His foot touches the earth. When it does, we won't have to worry about telling demons to run. We won't even have to scream Scriptures against their princes or practice pulling down demonic strongholds--because the purpose of His manifest presence is to set the captive free (see Luke 4:18). This purpose will be fulfilled automatically when He shows up.


Is Tenney really saying that we should expect God to walk on the Earth? If he were talking about Christ's return, maybe, but I don't think he is. He's talking about something here and now.
If the Father of us all can allow His manifested presence to touch earth just once, then the flood of glory it will spawn will bring revival throughout the land as demons flee and sinners fall to their knees!
 If God can allow that to happen? What does that mean? That God can't allow it to happen?

No, this just seems like a fairy tale type of theology.
His presence can so saturate us that unsaved guests won't be able to step into our homes or be around us with unrepentant hearts. His glory will bring conviction in their lives that leads to salvation--not because of the words we say, but because of His presence and power in our hearts.
Funny, but the Bible says that it is by preaching that God saves people.

Tenney's fairy-tale evangelism will not happen.

and you thought it was over

Hey. First, yeah, it's been a while. Sorry. That wasn't exactly planned, it just kinda happened, one day after another. Things going one, life happening, blah blah blah.

Hope to get back into things again, with a bit of this and that. Hope you enjoyed the vacation.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

movie review: 2016

I had been wanting to see this movie since it came out a few weeks ago, and finally got the chance. And, overall, I wasn't disappointed. Evaluating a documentary-type of film is somewhat different from doing so with the regular movie. I'll admit here that my own political views are very similar to d'Souzas, so knowing a bit going in about what the movie was about, it was the kind of thing I had anticipated. It pretty much follows de'Sousa around, showing his conversations with other people. There are also a few re-enactments, and excerpts of the president reading from one of his books. D'Souza visits Indonesia and Kenya, along with places in the US that are associated with the President's past. The over all tone of the movie is fairly reasonable; indeed, d'Souza at times seems not entirely unsympathetic to the President in some ways, as for example when he notes similarities in their backgrounds. But there's little doubt that his ideas are very different from the Presidents, and that this film is not one friendly to him. Overall, the movie is fairly well made. It seems fairly coherent and doesn't engage in much over-the-top rhetoric. But the value of a film like this is in how accurate, or not, it's claims are. We've had examples from Gore and Moore that have played fast-and-loose with the facts, so has d'Souza, too? I'm not sure how to answer that, though if he had, I would imagine in the couple of weeks since it was released, someone's fact-checked it more thoroughly than I'm able or have the time to. Not to encourage sloth or mindless acceptance, because claims by anyone on this side or that should be tested and confirmed so far as possible. I know that this movie is essentially an election movie, and the fact that it's released a few months before an election in which it's primary subject is a candidate should be noted and kept in mind. I recommend it. The information it gives seems relevant, especially since it's stuff we should have been told this time four years ago.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

even further down the slippery slope

Gawker: 'Pedophilia Is a Sexual Orientation' I'm linking to the Newsbusters' article that itself mentions and links to the original article, and has some excerpt. Mostly because I've not desire to. While such garbage thinking should be brought to light, I've no desire to give it even a bit of a search engine bump.

Monday, September 3, 2012

slightly mixed feelings about this

Joss Whedon coming back to TV for Marvel S.H.I.E.L.D. series

ABC and Marvel have confirmed that Whedon is developing a TV series spinoff from The Avengers, based around the top-secret Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.) organization that recently brought Earth's Mightiest Heroes together on the big screen

This sounds like a pretty good idea, except for one thing...


When that network does good, it usually does very good, like Lost. But when it does bad, it does very bad, like almost everything else. They got hooked on some kind of attitude, thanks I suppose to Desperate Housewives, that I can only describe as snarky towards all things decent and moral. So many of their attempts at DW clones have flopped quickly, but that does seem to be their trend.

I hope The Avengers avoids that, and works well. Having Whedon be a part of it does seem promising.

movie review--The Expendables 2

I have to say, first off, that I liked the first The Expendables. I thought it was a pretty good movie. It was a pretty serious movie, dealing with a rather serious if also far-fetched situation. The guys on the team were rather human, not necessarily the typical action heroes, and a bit messed up.

If that movie had one big problem, it was that it wasn't overly fun. It was serious, and seemed to want to be fairly realistic.

I'm glad to say, The Expendables 2 is neither of those things. It has serious moments, but right from the first the overall mood of the team is different. The vehicles they drive into the town/complex right at the movie's start have phrases emblazoned on them. Realism also gets a quick boot out the door, and the people both good and bad are larger-than-life.

Most reviews I've seen or heard about this movie have been rather negative and unimpressed. I understand that, but for my part, I enjoyed it heartily, and recommend it as a fun movie. Yeah, suspend your disbelief, don't expect the best acting in the world, but overall, I think it works for what it is.

Look, consider the one scene in the first movie that has Stallone, Willis, and Schwartzneggar together. It was only one scene, and all they did was talk to each other. True, it was "tough guy" talk, but still, that's all it was.

For the average movie watcher, if you're going to have guys like Stallone, Willis, Schwarzneggar in the same movie, not to mention Statham, Li, and even Norris for the second movie, then what do we want? Yeah, the tough guy talk is fine, but we want Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzneggar side by side by side, guns blazing, bad guys being mowed down before them! We want Chuck Norris taking out bad guys and telling Chuck Norris jokes. We want Statham hacking and slashing through the bad guys. Having Jean-Claude van Damme as a very convincing, slimy bad guy only adds to it all.

A bit more Jet Li would have been nice, but his character is only in the first 15 or so minutes of the movie.

Over all, this movie delivers. It ain't great, it ain't a classic, but it's fun.

james goll really needs to just stop

Those commands do not imply that we have to believe that our circumstances are fitting exactly with God’s will for us. We’re just supposed to be thankful. As we worship with words of gratitude, our sacrifice becomes a railroad track of faith and it can carry a payload of prayer:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving (Colossians 4:2 NASB).

In other words, thanksgiving is the key to releasing God’s supernatural power. Even Jesus used this key. Look how He performed the miracle of the multiplication of the bread and fish (see John 6:1-13). First, He picked up the skimpy number of loaves and fishes in both hands. Then, “having given thanks” (John 6:11 NASB) and having lifted them up before God, He was able to distribute to the hungry thousands as much bread and fish as they wanted.

Goll, James W.; Dupre, Chris (2012-06-19). The Lost Art of Pure Worship (Kindle Locations 502-512)

In other words? How do either of those passages equate to Goll's "in other words"? Neither of them even come close to saying that "thanksgiving is the key to releasing God's supernatural power". Then, pointing to the time in John 6 when Jesus gave thanks for the food that was distributed to the thousands is rather weak. Jesus did many miracles, and there is no obvious practice that He went acted similarly every time. Nor does it hint that somehow thanksgiving is the ultimate way to get God to do something.

Yes, being grateful to God is a good thing, that's not being disputed here. But it's not what Goll wants us to think it is. Nothing in Scripture even hints that thanksgiving releases God's supernatural power, that's just silly.

Having read a bit of Goll's writings before, it's not like this kind of thing is surprising. I'm pretty convinced that he's one of those who doesn't so much go to the Bible to find out what it says and then adjusts his own thinking accordings, but takes his own ideas and speculations to the Bible and shoehorns verses and verse fragments to force them to fit those ideas and speculations. Thus, in order to claim that "thanksgiving is the key to releasing God's supernatural power", he simply finds some verses that mention giving thanks, and smashes them into the shape he wants, even if those passages don't.

So, yeah, someone needs to tell Goll to retire. Please, for the love of all of us, please, someone, do that!! I'm sure he's well-off, he's a Word of Faith false teacher after all, surely he has enough holy-hanky and miracle-selling funds stored up to live well for the rest of his days, so long as he avoids Benny Hinn miracle-selling crusades. But I assure you, James Goll has writing quite enough books to make his NAR apostasy influence last for many, many years. At some point, it's just too much. If he goes much further, he'll become a parody of himself, kind of like Bill Johnson.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

good articles about the previous topic

While I think I did pretty good job a few days ago, I must admit that there are those who much better. Like Gary Gilley, for example. These aren't short articles, and they go to some pretty deep depths, and I can't recommend too highly that you read them. He does well in showing the thinking behind these contemplative spiritual practices that are so popular, but that have no biblical support at all, and in fact come closer to New Age types of practices than anything Christians should be involved in.

Contemplative Prayer
Sacred Reading (Lectio Divina)

And an HT to Apprising for this, which helped me find the other articles.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

it's not that complicated

Hosea 1
2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” 3 So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.” 6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. 7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.” 8 When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. 9 And the LORD said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.” 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” 11And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.

Psalm 85
LORD, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2 You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. Selah 3 You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. 4 Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us! 5 Will you be angry with us forever? Will you prolong your anger to all generations? 6 Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? 7 Show us your steadfast love, O LORD, and grant us your salvation. 8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. 9 Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land. 10 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. 11 Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. 12 Yes, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. 13 Righteousness will go before him and make his footsteps a way.

Colossians 2
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. 16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

Luke 11
Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread, 4 and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” 5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

I am currently anticipating a coming hardship. Perhaps it will not be as bad as I fear, it does appear promising, in a bad way. It will be something that must be endured, though the fact that is in essence has blindsided me does not make me feel any more well-disposed to it.

In my quest to continue learning, particular in regards to the Bible, my road lies through a course that, had I known what it was about, I would likely have either tried to avoid it, or even not enrolled in courses at the place of study. The name of the course did not give me a hint about what it will be about, it wasn't until I was looking at a draft of the syllabus online that it's real contents were made known to me. Assuming the draft will be anything like the actually course contents, I'm not anticipating things.

The course is about something called “spiritual formation”. In getting a jump on the class, and out of a morbid sense of curiosity, I've already read one of the books the draft syllabus says we will use during the course, and am just now starting another. I'm not impressed with either.

“Spiritual formation” has to do with certain practices, or disciplines. The one books I've read so far lists several, such as solitude, lectio divina, breath prayer, some weird form of discerning, and a few other I may mention if the need arises. The other book, which I haven't gotten far into, stresses much the same kind of thing, though it calls it “contemplative spirituality”.

Call it this or call it that, it's complicated. They try to make it seem all simple and natural, but really, it's complicated. If you're going to do the breath prayer thing, for example, you have to come up with a simply phrase you need to say whenever you breath. You need to remember to say it, not necessarily aloud, every time you breath. You're going to forget, but don't feel guilty about that, though if forgetting means you've somehow broken the command to “pray without ceasing”, should you feel guilty and repent of having broken that command? No, don't think about that, just get right back on that horse and start doing it again, and soon enough, you'll be doing it without even thinking about it. Thought that does kind of raise the question, how good is it to be praying without really thinking about what you're saying?

Or lectio divina. This is complicated, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. And it takes time, or so I guess, not having really done it myself, and myself having no desire to engage in it anyway, but still, from my reading of it, it'll take a while. It's a four-step process, where you take some few verses, read them r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y several times, then...well, it's...messy. What the verses actually teach isn't really important. The important thing is that, as you're reading, watch out for a word or phrase that “stands out” from the rest, or that makes you react, or some such thing. Again, let me repeat, what the passage means in an objective sense is not important in this kind of reading. Then we read ourselves into the text. Then there's some kind of response to what you've...gotten, for lack of a better word...from your reading between the lines. Again, remember, it's not what the text has said, but what you've somehow gotten outside of the text that's important.

And if you're thinking “Wouldn't it be better to simply read the Bible?”, I think you're right.

But let me be real, this isn't the first time I've been around people who have tried to complicate things.

When I was in Youth with A Mission, we use to do similar things. It wasn't as polished as these comtemplative things are, but it was closely related. There were, for example, the “principles of prayer and intercession”. These were steps that some YWAM leader had determined must be taken in order for prayers to be effective. Why Paul or some other apostles, or even Jesus himself, had not expounded these things, and told us to do them, is hard to figure out, but thankfully YWAM had a woman who after almost 2000 years of church history had figured them out. Anyway, there would be about 10 or so of us, and we'd be sitting in chairs and sofas around a table, I suppose kind of like sitting in a circle thought that actual shape was more rectangular, and one by one we would do whatever step in the principles was next, until such time as we had come to one where we were to sit silently and listen for whatever God was saying inside of us. Then, at some undefined time, we would start praying again, finishing up the all-important steps of prayer, and then share what things we thought God had told us.

There are still other, newer things being implemented too, inside and outside of YWAM. There is a group out there that tries to build what they call “boiler rooms”, where people meet and pray at all hours of the day and night. This group even calls itself 24-7 Prayer. There are others that focus on worship, claiming that significant spiritual things happen when there is worship. People in either group speak about things like “thin places” or an “open heaven” or somehow establishing the tabernacle of David so that God can dwell there.

I know that tone is sometimes hard to get when reading, but if you've understood that I'm at least now very critical of these activities, both the ones I've been involved in myself and ones I've encountered in my reading and studying, you've understood correctly. I am very skeptical that these kinds of activities are so important.

Look at the biblical passages above. Look at what Paul says. He tells the people of the Colossian church that no one has the right to judge them because of what they eat and drink or by what days we celebrate, not even in regards to the sabbath. Not only that, but we can disqualify ourselves from a prize by listening to those who brag about their ascetic practices and who go on about the kinds of visions they have had, putting their faith in what they do and have experienced rather than in Christ.

Prayer is one of the things that often becomes the focus of these practices. The 24-7 people think that their continual or near-continual praying will open some door for God to do something in a certain area. The contemplatives and spiritual formation people think that mindlessly repeating a short prayer will somehow be pleasing to God. Others, such am Mark Batterson, say that if our prayers are too small, if we aren't praying for something that we would consider impossible, if our prayers are not big and bold and audacious enough, if what we pray for doesn't scare us, then we're insult God.

When His disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, how does He do it? If you are familiar with the current crop of popular prayer methods, perhaps even some I haven't mentioned here, you may be surprised by Jesus' response. Instead of saying they need to pray for hours at a time, he gives them a short prayer that can said in seconds. Instead of having them prayer a short phrase they can mindlessly repeat over and over, He gives them a prayer that requires thought and a good form of contemplation, a contemplation that has them consider how they have forgiven others for their sins against them. Instead of having them pray big, bold, audacious, scary prayers, he says that they should pray for the food they will need for tomorrow. Instead of giving us a method and steps that we must pray through, he gives a prayer that is fairly plain and simple and does not require things like principles in order to pray it properly.

This is important. Jesus does not give us hoops to jump through. While He does encourage persistence in prayer, He does not encourage mindless repetition. In fact, in another place, He speaks strongly against those who think that God will hear them if they practice multiply words in prayer, thinking that through such wordinessGod will more readily listen to them.

When Jesus teaches his disciples, and us, how to pray, He does so in a way that is devoid of any great complications. How great is the contrast between what Jesus' taught and what these spiritual leader today teach us. For them, it is all hoops. We must do things a certain way in order for our prayers to be acceptable, or to make our prayers more effective. It is, in effect, all about us and our efforts, all about the things we do to put ourselves in position.

Can we at least for a moment put aside the temptation to try to impress God? It is useless, but still a great temptation. It is true that God knows us, but let us not think that this is only a positive thing. God is familiar with everything in us, and has already declared, “There is no one who does good, no, not one”. Colossians 2 says that we who are now children of God were among those “were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh...”. God has no illusions about us. Our attempts to impress with ascetic practices is in vain. Our attempts to impress others with the any visions we may have had is silly.

It is telling that the New Testament knows nothing about such spiritual practices. Now, those who teach them do point to their antiquity, pointing out that they go back to some people in the fourth or fifth century who went out into the deserts. But they cannot find them anywhere in the Scriptures themselves.

Prayer wasn't meant to be an intricate thing designed to appeal to our pride. Our pride must be killed, pure and simple. In His death and resurrection Christ has already opened for us the way to the Father. Christ has done the work, Christ has done the difficult part, the part that we cannot do ourselves. We can stop trying to add works to prayer.

And studying the Bible isn't suppose to be about trying to get some kind of message apart from the text, to essentially make the text worthless while we're trying to hear God apart from what He has written. Is that not simply insulting? God spoke to the prophets over thousands of years, the Spirit worked through the writers to insure that what was written was true, God sent His Son Jesus to be born among men, then to teach and preach using the language of His day and place, and then He sent the Spirit to the Apostles to remind them of what He had taught. The Bible is a unique book, inspired by God, inerrant. And we would dare to say that what God said in it is not important? That we're suppose to read Scripture, not to learn what the Bible says, but to get some message from God apart from the text?

That's arrogance, something to be repented of.

There is something I wish to address. There are some things that seem similar to these contemplative practices, but that are different. I have only recently been introduced to what is called the Church Calendar, and also to using a lectionary to assist in reading the Scriptures. So far as I know, I think there is some good in these things, especially the lectionary, as they give some structure, which for one like myself is helpful. But these are merely tools, and we need to be careful of making them anything else, and especially in making them necessary. Let a person not observe a sabbath or any ceremony before he or she thinks that doing so earns merit from God. Let a person read the Scriptures at random before thinking that following a lectionary makes him or her superior to one who does not.

What is the difference? Lectio divina is wrong because it seeks to hear God beyond the Word He has given us. Repetitions as prayer are wrong because it is about attempts to make our prayers more acceptable to God by our efforts. The lectionary is something that provides structure, it is about reading and studying the Scriptures as they are, not to gain some kind of message through or behind or beyond them. There are dangers in that a person may do it legalistically, or may think themselves superior because they follow it, but there is in itself nothing against it.

This coming situation bodes, and not well. I'm not looking for conflict, but I will not be pressured into doing things that I am sure are wrong. I see no biblical reason to do these spiritual practices, and if I refuse, I anticipate only that it will be taken as an act of rebellion or in some other negative way. I hope it won't be that way, but that is possible.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Saturday, July 21, 2012

the correct standard

Amos 8
This is what the Lord GOD showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit. 2 And he said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the LORD said to me, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass by them. 3 The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” declares the Lord GOD. “So many dead bodies!” “They are thrown everywhere!” “Silence!” 4 Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, 5 saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, 6 that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?” 7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. 8 Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?” 9 “And on that day,” declares the Lord GOD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. 10 I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day. 11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.

Psalm 52
Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day. 2 Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. 3 You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah 4 You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue. 5 But God will break you down forever; he will snatch and tear you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah 6 The righteous shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, 7 “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but l trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!” 8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever. 9 I will thank you forever, because you have done it. I will wait for your name, for it is good, in the presence of the godly.

Colossians 1
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up l what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

Luke 10
25 And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

In Proverbs, we are told about how God views honesty in our business dealings. Proverbs 11:1, “A false balance is an abomination to the LORD, but a just weight is his delight.” Proverbs 16:11, “A just balance and scales are the LORD's; all the weights in the bag are his work.” Proverbs 20:10, “Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the LORD. Proverbs 20:23, “Unequal weights are an abomination to the LORD, and false scales are not good.” As the Proverbs are about wisdom, we may say that it is wise to deal honestly with those you do business with. If someone pays for a certain amount, we should insure that they receive that amount, and not try to short-change them in any way.

It is interesting, then, that what is strongly condemned in Amos 8 is such dishonesty. “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, 6 that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?” The ephah was a unit of measurement. People were paying for an ephah of grain from these sellers, but the sellers were purposefully using false weights to measure the grain, and so were short-changing the buyers. Thus they were making the ephah small by using a false weight, and also making their own profits, gained by their deceit, larger by using these false balances.

Does God ignore such slight misdealings? No! “7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. 8 Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?” God is greatly displeased, and will judge them for this, and likely other, sins.

And what will the judgment be? Consider what these greedy robbers said. “When will the new moon and the Sabbath be over?” These sacred days, where they were meant to put their minds on things above and not of this earth, are hardships to them, because what they love most, the cut and thrust of the marketplace where they are able to use their false weights and balances to trick people into paying for what they are not really getting, is what they really love. Their god is their coin purse, their church is their market stall, their prayer is their cry to the buyers, their praise is for their goods, and their joy is in their ability to trick the dupes who buy from them.

Psalm 52 also describes them, “Why do you boast of evil, O mighty man? The steadfast love of God endures all the day. 2 Your tongue plots destruction, like a sharp razor, you worker of deceit. 3 You love evil more than good, and lying more than speaking what is right. Selah 4 You love all words that devour, O deceitful tongue.” Those prophesied to in Amos 8 are the same. When they speak, it is to the detriment of those who listen to them. They flatter with their tongues, but their words are like sharp metal. They love the evil of their dishonest business practices more than the good of knowing God's honest ways and doing business by them. They love their lies more than doing right.

And what is the judgment? How will those who think the sacred is merely a burden to be endured until they can return to their beloved deceits? “9 “And on that day,” declares the Lord GOD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. 10 I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day. 11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.” God will, in essence, give them their desire. They have determined that they do not want or need the words of the Lord, so God will give them of famine of hearing the words of the Lord.

A strange curse, we may well think. But is that not how God often judges? Consider this, from Romans 1.

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Consider how God judges here. He gave them up, He let them have their way, He let them do what they wanted to do. He let them become worse and worse in their sins, He let them wallow in them, He let them sink further and further. Do not think they did not know what is right, they knew God but did not honor Him as God and were ungrateful.

There is one theory about the end times, which says that the church will be raptured from the world, and the world will be left in the hands of a great ungodly leader. One can only imagine how perverse and sinful the entire world would become if that is what will happen. I do not mention this theory to say whether that is what will happen or not, in truth my own mind is not settled on that matter, but I can see how that would be in keeping with God's revealed character, that to those who do not honor Him as God and are not grateful to Him but continue in their futile thoughts and the foolishness of their hearts, God will let them alone and let them have what they so desire, and that would even apply to the entire world, all of mankind.

But that is only speculation, not a doctrine I wish to defend. For now, let us consider if what Amos spoke to the people of his day might be a warning for us as well. For I think it may well be.

If we consider the notion of just weights and measures, we may well consider that along both literal and allegorical lines. I acknowledge that allegory can be easily misused, so consider well what I'm going to write here. Do not just accept it without criticism.

The literal way of seeing the call for just weights and measures is easy enough to see, and I have already mentioned it a little. It has to do with honesty in business matters, making sure that we are giving what we are being paid for. This may have to do with numbers and volume, it may have to do with the quality of work, it may have to do with working hard and well at our jobs. Basically, it means giving what you're being paid for. Not all of us are paid for amounts, by that I mean we are not told that if we do a certain amount of work at our jobs, then we will be have earned a certain amount of money. We may be paid a certain amount for the time we work, so then we should do our best work in that time when we work.

There is also an allegorical way of seeing it. Again, be wise in considering this.

To start this allegorical view, consider this from Colossians 1, “6 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

What did we do? Nothing. We couldn't do anything. We were hopeless. None of us could be made righteous by keeping the Law. If it were up to us to be reconciled to God by our own efforts, we would be hopelessly damned. But Christ has reconciled us, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, where we tell people to be reconciled to God. The only thing Colossians 1 mentions for us to do is to not stray into heresy.

In another place, the Bible tells us that Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for us. If we look at the Law as a standard, we have all badly failed to live up to that standard. God will not cheat, God will not use unjust weights and balances, God will not accept anything less than the perfect keeping of the Law. If we have violated one part of the Law, we have violated all of the Law. All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God.

If we want to demand of God what we have earned, then understand that what we have earned is death, the eternal death. There has been only one who has lived up to God's standard, who lived a sinless life. And Christ has reconciled us.

The one thread all false religions have in common is that their notions of salvation, whatever they may mean by that, are dependent on our own works and efforts. We may be rightfully angry with those who wear explosives and blow themselves up in crowded areas, but we should be even more angry and grieved that they did so believing that by doing so they have earned their way into their religion's version of paradise. And that is only one of the more dramatic and immediate ways this view of making ourselves worthy is known to us today. If we look at the other, quieter and less destructive ways people do it, by isolating themselves and trying to live by high ethical standards, by denying themselves things like marriage and sex, by fasting for days on end, by meditation, by lying on beds of nails, then we can see how many people believe that they can make themselves worthy.

How can they think that? Only by changing the standard, only by making themselves and their own notions of right and wrong the standard by which they live, and then either ignoring their own failures at living up to that standard, or setting up some way of atoning by their own efforts for those failures. Because the truth is that even with those watered-down standards, they do not perfectly live by them.

And it isn't always the obvious false religions that do this. Even those who put the name of Christian on themselves do it. They may try to tell us that if we want to have a miracle from God, that we must do something to prove ourselves worthy of that miracle. They may not say it like that, but that is their message. They tell us that if we want God to do something miraculous, we must take risks, we must 'make room for God to move', and usually we must give a lot of money. When we do that, God sees that we have earned His favor and opened the way for Him to move, and God will finally give us the things we want.

The truth is very different. Just as we cannot make ourselves righteous by our works, so we cannot make ourselves worthy of any miracle by our efforts. Shall we try to pretend that we can earn miracles, that we can purchase them? Can anyone show us where the Bible tells us what the price of a miracle is? Does a healing cost more than a financial miracle, or less?

Know this—if anyone tells you that if you give enough or take a large enough risk that God will bless you, they are preaching their own law to you, trying to say that you can make yourself righteous and worthy by your own actions. They are teaching blasphemy to you.

They are creating their own false weights and measures. They are teaching for dishonest gain. Their interest is only in their own church-empires, or ministry-empires, their own power and influence. Jesus is not preached, He is used merely as a prop they use to fool people that what they are doing is Christian. We rightly condemn the suicide bomber, but what these greedy prosperity gospel charlatans do is a far greater blasphemy than any suicide bomber, and even causes far greater damage.

And what is the judgment? How often do these people claim that they have the word of the Lord? And people come from far away, even other countries and across the oceans, to these places, to hear these charlatans preach, to experience the manifestations they are famous for? Shall I list the names of Toronto and Pensacola? Why did people go to those places? Why do people flock to obvious frauds like Todd Bentley, Kenneth Copeland, and the false apostles and prophets at the International House of Prayer? Why do people attend Benny Hinn meetings? Why attend conferences put on by false teachers like Bill Johnson and T.D. Jakes? Why go to churches that are little more than entertainment centers, sitting through sermons that are more like badly-done stand-up comedy sets then a reverent look at the Word of God?

It's obvious that at some point those in the church have scorned the sacred. Probably it happened gradually. False preachers like William Branham were accepted because miracles happened around them, and that was what legitimized them. Faith healers were accepted, and even when their healings were shown to be fake, they were not told to stop. Charismatic gifts were given such free rein that church services became scenes of chaos. False prophets were accepted because some of their prophecies came true. It became so bad that when people at a church in Toronto started acting like animals, it was called a move of the Spirit. Now, a preacher may speak for an hour and read only a part of a verse from the Bible in that time. Where before the preacher was expected to preach against sin, today's preachers are expected to give us life tips, tell us how to have a full and complete life, encourage us to pursue our goals and dreams. Once we tried to save the lost, now we try to become history-makers and world-changer, and through all that try to take dominion in the world.

An unbiblical standard was accepted. False teachers were accepted. False prophets were tolerated. False apostles were allowed to have authority in churches. Heresy was accepted, and became the new orthodoxy. Instead of sound biblical teaching being the standard by which a preacher was judged, they accepted the manifestation as being a sign of God's approval. And today, the size of the church is the standard. If you have a large church, with numbers in the thousands, then that in itself is all the credentials you need for whatever you want to say.

And I have not made mention of the liberals, who have gleefully cast aside the Bible for their own speculations and desire, essentially taking everything that the Bible calls sin and claim that those things are virtues.

Yet keep in mind what was written in Colossians, “21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” We can rightly criticize these seeker-sensitive compromisers and word faith charlatans, but we must ourselves be wary of ourselves. We can stray, we can believe things that are not biblical. We can be among those who watch Benny Hinn on TV, and be tempted to send him money in the hope that his claims that it will open the way for a miracle is actually true. We can be among those who think that we can do anything to earn God's favor. We must be careful of that.

Friday, July 20, 2012

this isn't biblical prophecy

I happened to be out of town that morning, which is not to say that it
wouldn’t have occurred if I had been there. One of the members of the
prophetic team received a word from the Lord for a man in our congregation.
This man was horrified as the prophetic person publicly shared that he
lacked integrity in his finances.

When I returned, I went to the person who gave that prophecy and asked
him exactly what he had seen. He told me that he had seen a dark cloud over
the area of the man’s finances. He interpreted this to mean that the man was
stealing money, but his interpretation was totally wrong!

Soon after this prophecy, the man’s business partner embezzled a large
sum of money from him. The prophetic word was a warning to the man
to watch out for someone who might steal money from him, but it was
mistakenly pronounced as a judgment against his character. The brother was
humiliated publicly by the prophetic word, and he missed the warning that
someone was stealing from him.

Mike Bickle, Growing in the Prophetic, pp 29-30

It would be true to say that the Old Testament prophets had dreams and visions and even encounters that could be called very strange. But did they have them like what is recorded here by Bickle?

Zechariah, for examples, had several strange vision--a flying scroll, a woman in a basket and two women flying with wings like storks, lampstands and olive trees.But along with these vision, there is also an interpretation given. Granted, the interpretation is not often very clear, at least for me, but it is there, and I suppose if I did more research into the visions, I'd understand them better.

Most of Zechariah's prophecies seem to be rather broad, addressing Israel as a whole, though there is one or two that address the king, Zerubabel, and the High Priest Joshua. The interpretation of these seems to be clearer.

Other prophets prophecied to other people, often king or religious leaders. What they said was usually not obligue. Nathan told a story to David, then told him what it meant. Others were more still more direct.

What I can't think of, though, is something like in Bickle's example, where someone claims to see something, something with a pretty clear meaning, only to have it mean something else. To look at an example from Zechariah 3

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, l “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. 6 And the angel of the LORD solemnly assured Joshua, 7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. 9 For behold, on a the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, declares the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

Could you imagine Zechariah having only one part of the vision, then being left to interpret it for himself? And having to tell the priest Joshua was it meant?

Consider what happened in Bickle's account. This 'prophet' claimed to have seen some kind of black cloud over the man's finances. And that's it.

That isn't the only time something like that is recorded in Bickle's book. In another place, on page 25, he relates a time when one of his 'prophets' saw musical notes around a man, whether floating or bouncing like in some old cartoon, I don't know. In this case again, the prophet wasn't given any kind of interpretation, though he though he knew what it meant. He told the man something that was, well, nonsense.

None of this seems to in any sense be like biblical prophecy. I simply can't think of any time recorded in the Bible when a prophet was given a vision, then let to either interpret it on his own, or even allowed to try to interpret it on his own.

That isn't biblical prophecy. It's more like reading card, or any other form of divination. You get a vague message, you have to figure out what it means, and you have about as much chance of getting it wrong as getting it right.

Bickle wants to say that many examples from his ministry that are consider false prophecies were really bad interpretations. I rather think that it's doesn't matter which it was. The fact that Bickle's 'prophets' spoke falsely makes them false prophets. Consider this passage.

II Peter 1
19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

A true prophet does not speak presumptuously in prophecy, but only the Spirit tells them to say. The fact that Bickle's 'prophets' spoke presumptuously makes them falst prophets, period, no matter what excuses he makes for them.

Friday, July 13, 2012

freedom from the universal prison

Isaiah 65
I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, “Here I am, here I am,” to a nation that was not called by my name. 2 I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; 3 a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and making offerings on bricks; 4 who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat pig's flesh, and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels; 5 who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. 6 Behold, it is written before me: “I will not keep silent, but I will repay; I will indeed repay into their lap 7 both your iniquities and your fathers' iniquities together, says the LORD; because they made offerings on the mountains and insulted me on the hills, I will measure into their lap payment for their former deeds.” 8 Thus says the LORD: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, and they say, ‘Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it,’ so I will do for my servants' sake, and not destroy them all. 9 I will bring forth offspring from Jacob, and from Judah possessors of my mountains; my chosen shall possess it, and my servants shall dwell there. 10 Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me. 11 But you who forsake the LORD, who forget my holy mountain, who set a table for Fortune and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny, 12 I will destine you to the sword, and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter, because, when I called, you did not answer; when I spoke, you did not listen, but you did what was evil in my eyes and chose what I did not delight in.”

Psalm 22
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have a pierced my hands and feet— 17 I can count all my bones— they stare and gloat over me; 18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. 19 But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! 20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! 21 Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! 22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you: 23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. 25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. 26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! 27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.

Galatians 3
21 Is the the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.

Luke 8
26 Then they sailed to the country of the Gerasenes, which is opposite Galilee. 27 When Jesus had stepped out on land, there met him a man from the city who had demons. For a long time he had worn no clothes, and he had not lived in a house but among the tombs. 28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torment me.” 29 For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him. He was kept under guard and bound with chains and shackles, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert.) 30 Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion,” for many demons had entered him. 31 And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. 32 Now a large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside, and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them permission. 33 Then the demons came out of the man and entered the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and drowned. 34 When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, l clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. So he got into the boat and returned. 38 The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, 39 “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

I've been on missions teams that have gone into prisons. How effective our ministry was, I don't know. I'll not dwell on it much, but to say that at that time I was sure we were doing good, though now I'm not always so sure.

I was a part of those teams. I went into those prisons with the others on those teams. I was there for a time, a few hours. Then along with the others, I left. The prisoners were there before we arrived, and they were there after we left. Some of them may have been glad we came, may have enjoyed our little show, maybe even listened to our clumsy attempts to tell them about Jesus. If nothing else, maybe it was a bit of a break from the normal monotony. But when we left, they stayed.

But even in those brief times in those prisons, I learned enough to know that they are not pleasant places. They are places of confinement, of isolation. Prisoners are not free. They cannot just walk out of the prison. All of those around them are either fellow prisoners, or guards whose jobs are to keep them in line.

Of course, if we had known what those prisoners had done to earn their places in prison, we may likely not feel much sympathy for them. Because prison is a place set up for criminals. True, being humans, we can think of times when the innocent are imprisoned, when acts are called criminal that are not criminal at all. In fact, the biblical book of Acts relates several times when early believers in Christ were put into prison for no better reason then because they believed in Christ.

The passage in Galatians may seem rather odd to us, “22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin...23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned... ” We are prisoners? The Scriptures imprisons us? The Law held us captive? Surely not! I am not imprisoned! I can go wherever I want, I can leave my home without having guards open the home's doors. I can go outside whenever I want, not only during some scheduled times. I can associated with whomever I want, not only with prison inmates. There are no bars on my windows, there is no razor wire around my property to keep me in.

Perhaps not. The prison we were born into is not a physical one. It's walls cannot be seen with our physical eyes. But it is not the less very real.

The man in the passage from Luke was a prisoner. He was a plaything to demonic powers, tormented and tortured by them. the cells of his prison were the tombs among which he was driven to live, his prison clothes were the indecency forced upon him by his demonic tormentors. He had no home. His life was a misery, and he was completely unable to help himself, nor was any other person able to help him.

We may well think that we are not like that man. No, his condition was far more obvious than that of most people, but the reality is, this man was far from alone in this prison. The reality is, all of us have spent time in that prison, and many of us are still in it. His condition was more obviously worse than that of most other people, but there are none who have not spent time in that prison of sin and death. We have all been the playthings of demons, even if our condition was not so visible to ourselves or others. We have all been slaves to sin, prisoners, captives, in bondage to sin, unable to help ourselves.

Could that man help himself? No, his condition was beyond any effort he could make. Even were the demons to have left him on their own, he would still have been a prisoner of sin, as the Galatians passage tells us.

But for that man, as for all of us, Christ has come. In the Gospel account, Christ was there to drive the demons from the man, to restore to him his sanity and his decency, and to even make him a kind of minister to what He had done for him among people who asked Jesus to depart from them, a messenger of Chris's mercy to people who did not want Christ Himself among them.

For all of us who have been or still are prisoners of sin, Christ has come, Christ has suffered, Christ has died, and Christ is risen.

I know of some who, with the best of intentions, go into morbid and gory details concerning their suppositions of the things Christ suffered. The Gospels do not dwell on the details, though the Psalm above does tell us a little. It is a Messianic Psalm, which is specifically about Christ, and there are verses in Psalm 22 that tell us of the things the Christ suffered in His crucifixion, not only the terrible sufferings of His body, which were considerable, but also the scorn and ridicule of those who gathered to watch Him die, to mock Him.

There is a sense of parallel here with what is written in Luke 8 and what Christ suffered. For this man who was driven from human companionship and lived among the dead, Christ came from the Heavenlies to live among those dead in trespasses and sins. For this man who suffered from an infestation of demons, Christ lived in a demon-infested world. In another account of this miracle in Mark 5, we are told that this man at night would cry aloud and cut himself with stones. For this man who thus abused his body under demonic influence, Christ's own body was abused to the point of disfigurement by men who were no better than demons, lashed by whipped, His head punctured by thorns, his hands and feet pierced by nails. For this man whose life was little better than death, Christ died and rose from the dead so that he could have life.

And what Christ did for that man, He did for all men. Consider this from Isaiah 61, “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.” Who are the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, those bound in prison, but we who are in such a condition because of our sins? If Christ came to break criminals out of physical prisons, we would rightly be worried, because though there may be places where injustice puts the innocent into prisons, by and large our prisons are filled with people who should be put away, with murderers and sexual predators, with the violent, with those with revenge in their hearts, those who would steal what is someone else's.

But Christ came to proclaim liberty to those who are captives of sin. As it says elsewhere, He became sin for us, so that we might become righteous, even the righteousness of God. It is as Romans 3 tells us, through faith in Christ a righteousness from God is available to us.

“Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed.” This echoes again the words of Romans 3, “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” The Law made us prisoners of sin, so that we may see how sinful we are, to show us that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But now the faith has been revealed, now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the Law. And it is a gift to us, we may be justified by God's grace. But it is not available as a wage, it cannot be worked for, we cannot make ourselves worthy of earning it. It is available only as a gift, to those like this demon-oppressed man who can only come to Jesus .

These passages tell us not only of suffering, but also of deliverance. From Psalm 22, “23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. 25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. 26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! 27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you.” And from Luke 8, “35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, “ That man was delivered from his spiritual afflictions, and was clothed, his mind restored, and He was listening to what Jesus was telling Him.

The same kind of deliverance is available for us. Like him, we must come in helplessness, knowing that we are unable to help ourselves at all, we are completely unable to do anything to improve our condition. We as prisoners of sin cannot free ourselves. But Christ has come to set us free!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

attempts to complicate

Despite the fact that I know that it's big time of controversy was a few years ago, I've recently started reading Rob Bell's "Love Wins", mostly because I found it at a library so didn't have to pay anything for it. Truth be told, I've only read the first few pages of it, but those pages have told me quite enough about what he's trying to do.

Let me try to explain...

In the game of Go, there is a certain principle. In Go, the aim is to arrange stones in such a way as to control points of territory, and the player with the most territory wins the game (to make it fair, the player with the white stones is given some extra points, to make things interesting, but the general idea is still the same). Although capturing an opponent's stones and making sure your own are secure does play into it, the main thing is territory.

Now, as a game progresses, territorial frameworks will develop. Players will arrange their stones rather like fenceposts, marking off certain areas that they exercise a degree of control over. It may not be perfect control, it may be better to think of it as potential territory until it has been completely secured, but it is enough for the time to claim the a player has X points of territory under control. After a while, both players can determine which may have more potential territory, and which has less.

The principle I mentioned before is this, that the player with the great amount of territory will want to play in a quiet and secure way, because if all goes quiet that player will win, while the one who is behind will want to complicate things, attack and exploit weaknesses in the opponent's frameworks, and so make up lost ground, cause the opponent to make mistakes, and gain territory for himself or herself.

What Rob Bell does in "Love Wins" is to try to confuse and complicate things. In those first few pages, he attempts to pile question on top of questions, exploit real of imagined faults in his opponent's teachings, claim even that the questions that cause the confusion are what are important.
He is, in fact, acknowledging

that he is


from behind,

in the


position, that, really

all he can

do is to raise a ruckus

and hopefully cause people

to question

and not worry about an


Oh, and he does weird things with paragraphs, like that. Not sure why. I guess it's suppose to be cool, or something.

In fact, coming right down to it, it seems like Bell's confusion tactics pretty much sum up the whole postmodern and emergent way of thinking and arguing as a whole.
Why else would they be so much against answers, except that they know that the answers would not be what they want them to be? Of course, it's a trick on their part, because they very much like the answers they themselves create. The only time they are all into the exercise of confusing people with questions is when they don't like the answers.

And so, because the Bible teaches quite a bit about Hell, and because Jesus Himself tells us about the reality of Hell, and because Rob Bell doesn't like the idea of Hell, Bell spends the first few pages of the Book trying to confuse us, even to the point of implicating God if He should dare to have some place like Hell where He would dare to send unbelievers to.

And hasn't complicating things been one of the Devil's big tactics? Instead of one transcendant and imminent God, why, give people pantheons of gods, gods in every tree and every creek, gods in the sky and gods under the earth, gods who are nice and even more that are vindictive and nasty, gods that are far away and gods that are causing your neighbor to acts really strange. Instead of believe in one true God who has revealed Himself to us, why, give people all kinds of religions, ones that are about the here and now and others that are about the next life (even if that next life is in the here and now again), ones that are calm and others that are chaotic, ones that focus inward and others that focus outwards. Heck, even ones that have no god at all, or rather that make man or chance (for what else is evolution but the enthroning of chance in the place of a god) the object of adoration and worship.

Bell claims at one point that orthodox Christianity is on the side of people like himself, which is like saying the orthodox Christianity is on the side of the heretics. I give him credit for brazenness, but that's about it.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

my first magazine article!

Well, here's another first as far as writing goes. This time, an article I submitted to Kentucky Christian Magazine has been published onto their website.

Faith Is Not Spelled R-I-S-K

Take a look at it, let me know what you think, please. Feedback, even critical feedback, is welcomed.

Monday, July 2, 2012

movie review--madea's witness protection

I know that Tyler Perry's Madea movies are fairly popular in Christian circles. I think that he has been a guest at some pretty big mega-churches, for example Joel Osteen's. Up until recently, I had not seen any of these movies, but with the release of "Madea's Witness Protection", I thought I'd take a gander of it.

First, let me mention some of the good (or at least, not all that offensive) parts in it. A part of the story does involve an aging pastor who has been ill and is looking to retire, and who wants to leave his congregation is good shape by having the church's mortgage paid off. There are some scenes during the church's worship, where Jesus does get mentioned in the songs they are singing. There is a bit of a pro-family message. And, in the biggest miracle of the entire movie, Denise Richardson's performance isn't entirely cringe-worthy (sorry, flashbacks to her as a Bond girl).

Having said all that...

The language used during the movie is horrible. While it does stop short of dropping F-bombs, almost everything short of that is used extensively. Madea gets upset when the daughter in the family staying with them expresses herself in language that Madea herself uses quite frequently. Madea encourages the young mother to "speak your d--- mind", and does so in a profanity-heavy way.

Along with that, the humor is often crude and vulgar. I'm still trying to scrub my brain clean from the conversation Madea's brother Joe had with the husband of the family staying in their house for protection, because it was nothing but vulgar.

There were some pretty funny moments in the movie, and the message wasn't bad, and I've no wish to doubt Perry's intentions. But why does he consider that using crude language and vulgar humor to be appropriate? Is the good message of the movie not seriously damaged by the crude sexual comments and the profanities? Is this what he thinks he must do to "cross over", to make his movies more acceptable to a general audience and not just church-folks? And if so, is it worth it?

Because though the message of the movie may not have been bad, how Christian was it? Where, for example, was the man who had been involved in the financial scandal told that Christ died to forgive what he had done, even if his sin was more of neglect and weakness than actually wanting to cheat others? Where is the rebellious daughter told to ask God to forgive her rebellion, not just against her family but against God Himself? Where was something like a clear presentation of the Gospel?

I really wish I could recommend this movie, but I simply in good conscience cannot.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

book review--rick joyner's "The Call"

There is an impression I get when I read the things written by modern prophets, like this book by Joyner, "The Call". It's not a subtle thing, though it's not an easy thing to correctly label. The best way I can think of to compare it to is "taste". Things like "The Call" taste funny. For me, comparing biblical prophetic books like Isaiah, Ezekial, and Zechariah to things like "The Call" is like comparing a fine, quality cheese to processed, plastic-wrapped cheese slices, or a well-prepared grilled steak to a hastily-prepared fast-food burger.

But while I think there is something to that impression, it is only an impression, only subjective. There are objective reasons, though, for a reader who practices biblical discernment to question the things Joyner has written in his book.

One is found in the Introduction, where Joyner writes, "Never are we told that prophecy is infallible, which is why we must judge prophecy" (p 22); however, Deuteronomy 18 says otherwise, "21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him."

In chapter 1, Wisdom, some kind of personification of Jesus, speaks against examining oneself. "You began to look at yourself. This will always bring confusion, making it harder for you to hear Me...You must learn to abide in My presence without becoming self-conscious and self-absorbed..." (p 31); however, in I Corinthians 11 we are told to examine ourselves when we partake of the Lord's Supper, and in II Corinthians 13 Paul tells them to examine and test themselves, to see if they are really in the faith, because they have been listening to false apostles.

In chapter 2, he gives a bizarre interpretation to Revelation 13, which he says came to him from Jonah. " If you will wake yourself up, repent and go the way that He sends you, you will not have to be swallowed by the beast... As you read in that chapter (Revelation 13), this beast is given to make war with the saints and to overcome them. This will happen to all who do not repent." (p 48); however, that is not what Revelation 13 says, "5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain." The beast will be against the saints and will to overcome them, but the unrepentent will worship it.

In another place, he claims that the Lord said to him, "...I can command the heavens and they obey Me, but I cannot command love. Love commanded is not love at all." (p 60); however, what did Christ say was the first and greatest commandment? To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. What did He say was the second? To love your neighbor as yourself. Love isn't just commanded, but is it commanded in the two greatest commandments.

Lot tells Joyner, "What the Lord did to Sodom, He did as an example so that others would not have to be destroyed in this way." (p 42); however, II Peter 2 tells us something a bit different, "6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, a making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;". Peter's statement, made through the Spirit's inspiration, is rather the opposite of Joyner's.

One of the more interesting statements comes from Wisdom, "The wages of sin is death, and the wages of righteousness are peace, joy, glory, and honor. All are about to receive their worthy wages." (p 56). The first part is not the problem, but the part about "the wages of righteousness" is rather bothersome biblically. Consider this, from Romans 4, "What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,". And this, from Romans 3, "21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus," I have not found the phrase "wages of righteousness" anywhere in the Bible; in fact, "wages of righteousness" seems an oxymoronic statement. If we were to receive our wages, we would receive death. God's righteousness is not a wage, but a gift received by faith.

Another strange statement from Wisdom is this, "The truth that I am sending will not just convict My people of their sin, but will cleanse them from their sin." (p 175); however, we who believe in Christ already have been cleansed from sin by His blood, as Ephesians 1 says, "7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,"

To finish off this review, here's a bit of something Jonah tells him, "When you go through that door, you will enter the times when the Lord's power and glory will be released on the earth such as He has not done since the beginning of time. All of heaven has been waiting for the things you are about to see." This is simply an example of what seems to be the fundamental premise of the book--how important Joyner is. Because in his visions he goes through a door, something unprecedented is going to happen. Wisdom tells him all kinds of things, so that he'll be able to tell everyone else. Even when he gets rebuked, it only serves to emphasize his importance.

To sum up, we have good reason to think that the visions Joyner claimed to have receive and written about in this book are less than divine. The way the people in his visions mishandle biblical passages and statements is a sure clue that something is rotten in them. There is much sounder biblical teaching out there.