April 19, 2014

A Deeper Healing – Joni Eareckson Tada

A very great lesson on the healing that is most meaningful – a spiritual healing through Jesus Christ. For those who believe that if your faith is great enough you will be healed physically, Joni’s testimony shoots that right out the door! Listen to Joni share her trials, tribulations and victories in her life while being a quadriplegic.

(Taped from John MacArthur’s Strange Fire Conference, October 16, 2013)

February 17, 2014

hot topics

Church Dividers: Tithing, Speaking in Tongues, Calvinism plus more!

I will be leaving the blogging world for another extended leave as I delve into some disturbing trends that I am witnessing before my very eyes. Things that are tearing apart churches or at least causing a lot of confusion and bringing about a ton of questions.

Many of these are topics within my own church and it’s quite disturbing to see the confusion that is brewing. With John MacArthur tackling many of these same topics in his “Strange Fire” conference, many of us are beginning to wonder if we are in the midst of strange fire within our own church walls.

This is not a complete endorsement of John MacArthur’s strange fire, but there are many points I agree with and points I disagree as evidence by my listing of Calvinism as a divider of the church and John MacArthur is a well known Calvinist.

But here are some of the questions being posed to many of our churches today:

Tithing

  • Are today’s Christians required to tithe 10%? 10% of our gross income? Net income? Or is 10% even required?
  • Are we cursed if we don’t and receive blessings if we do?
  • The churches that do teach tithing, are they actually following the Old Testament way of tithing?

Tongues

  • Is speaking in tongues still biblical for today’s Christians?
  • Is speaking in tongues a special prayer language as well as a known and understood language if it is practiced?
  • Is tongues meant for self-edification for edification only of the church body?

Baptism/Filling of the Holy Spirit

  • Is there a difference between baptism of the Holy Spirit and being filled with the Holy Spirit?
  • Which one is continuous and which is one time only? Or are they both continuous actions that take place in believers lives?
  • Does one need to tarry or ask to receive the Holy Spirit?
  • Is the evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit always speaking in tongues? Or something else?

Miracles

  • Are believers expected to perform the same miracles as Christ did? Or even the Apostles did? Is there such a thing as temporary spiritual “sign” gifts?

Calvinism

  • Does God choose who becomes saved without man exercising his free will to believe in Him?
  • Does God predestine many to Hell?
  • Did Christ die for the sins of the whole world or only for the “elect?”
  • Are Calvinists truly secure in their salvation?

We all need to carefully examine the scriptures and do as those in Berea did back in Christ’s time who were commended for examining everything that was taught to them:

“Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” Acts 17:10-11

The question then becomes is there room for disagreement in your church? At what point does one decide it’s time to move on or is it possible to serve the Lord and remain in the same church if one finds themselves at odds with some of the teachings? Several points to ponder in my upcoming articles on these topics.

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Updated 3/6/2014

December 23, 2013

Nativity

Is Christmas Pagan? (Various Authors)

by Carlotta Morrow — Categories: Christmas — Tags: , , , Leave a comment

Below are excerpts from various websites examinig Christmas and whether it is pagan or not.
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Greg sets the record straight on some old rumors about the origin of Christmas and separates the concepts of the meaning of Christmas from the spirit of Christmas.

The question of whether Christmas is pagan enters into the idea of cultural practices.  Some have made the assertion that Christmas has pagan origins.  Christmas does not have pagan origins, but there are winter celebrations that are pagan.  There was, for example, a saturnal celebration around the time of Christmas that pagans celebrated, which was actually a temptation for Christians to participate in that had pagan content to it.  So the church changed the day that they celebrated the birth of Christ.  They used to celebrate it in the Spring.  But the church said, We can celebrate it any time we want.  Let’s celebrate it at the same time the pagans are celebrating their pagan festival.  It’ll act as a contrast to that pagan festival because our celebration is the birth of the God-man, Jesus Christ.  It has Biblical content.  Plus it will protect Christians from being wooed away by this other celebration to participate in what was a pagan celebration.

It was really a wise thing that they did and the kind of thing that many missionaries do even nowadays.  They take the momentum of a cultural practice–a cultural practice that may even have religious content to it, offensive religious content–and they redeem that for Christianity.  They redefine what people have been doing.  They reinvest it with new meaning.  They capture the cultural form and they reinvest it with spiritual meaning.

By the way, there is an example of this in the Bible.  Circumcision was practiced by the Egyptians before it was practiced by the Jews.  It was a cultural practice which had some religious significance.  God captured the practice, gave it to Abraham, reinvested it with new meaning and it became a religious rite for Abraham to worship his creator.

continue article on Greg Koukl’s website: Stand to Reason

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As a young Roman Catholic, Christmas was my favorite time of year — filled with magic and meaning. The birth of Christ played a role in this festal feeling, but so did Santa Claus and all the more temporal pleasures of the season. As I grew older, I not only lost faith in Santa Claus but in Christ as well. The residual sentiment I retained for Christmas was hard to justify.

After I became a born-again Christian, I welcomed the opportunity not only to recapture the spirit of the season, but also truly to appreciate, for the first time, its spiritual significance. I did enjoy a couple of meaningful Christmases. Then I started witnessing to Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Time and again the Witnesses would cite the Trinity and Christmas as clear proof that “Christendom” had lapsed into paganism. The Trinity I could answer for biblically, but Christmas was harder to defend. It was certainly not a holy day instituted in the Bible. And pre-Christian, pagan Rome had indeed observed the Day of the Invincible Sun on December 25. In fact, in many ancient cultures, customs and festivities later associated with Christmas (e.g., Yule logs, mistletoe, and even the giving of gifts) were observed in honor of the sun god’s resurgence at the winter solstice.

Continue article on Christian Research Institute’s site: Equip.org

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There is no doubt that many of our present-day Christmas-New Year customs have little relevance to Biblical Christianity. Such things as the commercialism, the drunkenness, the highway deaths, and the general letdown in morals that have come to be associated with the so-called “Holiday Season” obviously have no basis in New Testament Christianity. The same is true of the Christmas tree, the holly and mistletoe, the Santa Claus myth, and similar more pleasant Christmas traditions.

As a matter of fact, many of these things seem more properly associated with the festival of Saturnalia, and other similar periods of feasting and revelry which were almost universally practiced in the ancient pagan world near the end of the year than they do with Christianity. There is in fact much historical evidence that these were pagan customs which became grafted on to the modified forms of Christianity that began to be prominent in the centuries following the apostolic age.

There is no indication in the New Testament that the early Christians observed Christmas at all. Furthermore, many authorities believe now that Jesus was born, not in the winter, but more probably in the early fall. It is not surprising, therefore, that there have been various groups of Christians, both in the past and in the present, who have reacted against Christmas and New Year celebrations so vigorously as to reject them altogether and to prohibit their members from taking any part in them.

Continue reading article by Dr. Henry M. Morris of Institute of Creation Research at the BereanPublishers.com

June 24, 2013

hot topics

Alan Chambers of Exodus Int. – apologetic or confused and conflicted?

As a Christian blogger, Exodus International was one of the key links on my website directing people struggling with same-sex attraction attractions to visit for information on how to be healed from this type of sexual sin.  So with great interest I’ve been following all the controversy related to his “I’m Sorry” letter to the gay community and the eventual shutting down of the organization.  I’ve posted parts of it throughout this page but it can be seen here in its entirety as long as Exodus International keeps their site up.

I’ve had many mixed emotions upon hearing from Alan Chambers’ apologies and why he was shutting it down. And with his announcement that Exodus Int. is closing, it was promptly taken off my website. But maybe it should have been taken down long ago with reasons I’ll explain later.

Still believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman (or does he)

What is most troubling about his apologies are the scores of people who may be hurt even worse because of it. Much confusion from the gay community in that many believe Alan is actually apologizing for calling their sexual lives a sin. He did make it clear at the end of his apology that he is NOT apologizing for his stance on what he believes the bible teaches about marriage and clarified in an interview with The Christian Post:

CP: In your written apology that you posted online you said that you can’t apologize for your belief in biblical sexual boundaries, but you did say that you will “exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them.” So can you please describe what those biblical sexual boundaries are, and also how your approach to those who disagree with you has changed?

Chambers: My beliefs about sex and sexuality and sexual expression are that God created, His original created intent was sexual expression between one man and one woman for one lifetime in the bonds of marriage, and that is the truth I live by.

Warning! “The truth I live by”… so if someone else has another “truth” is he going to accept it – as truth? How will Alan be able to now minister to gays who are practicing the sin of homosexuality – does he still recognize it as sin and that is sin for all of mankind, not just for those who believe it is sin?

Confusing apologies and confusing stance on sexual orientation

So what is he apologizing for? A glimpse into answers to that question can be found here in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper:

He apologizes for his and his leaders’ rhetoric that has caused hurt, anxiety, trauma and shame. How much of that is Exodus and how much is scripture isn’t made plain here.  Much talk about feeling bad that people are traumatized for being led to believe they can change and Alan says that they can’t. I take it that Alan is making the distinction between sexual orientation and sexual acts. He claims he still has same-sex attraction but loves his wife.  Very confusing stuff here but more on that later in the post.

Here are a few passages from his letter of apology that caught my attention:

“But if the Church is a body, with many members being connected to the whole, then I believe that what one of us does right we all do right, and what one of us does wrong we all do wrong. We have done wrong, and I stand with many others who now recognize the need to offer apologies and make things right.”

I disagree here with Alan that if one does right/wrong then we all do. No, Exodus International participated in some questionable practices that truly did hurt many people. If what Alan is saying here is that we are all one – then must all churches that teach against homosexuality be shut down as Exodus Int.? So no we are separate organizations in one family of believers and that’s what Alan probably meant. All believers don’t have to seek apologies for what Exodus International has been guilty of doing.

Many have been hurt by questionable practices (not just calling it sin)

Some more from Alan here:

“Please know that I am deeply sorry. I am sorry for the pain and hurt many of you have experienced.

Alan is not clear here on what ways the gay community has been hurt. Many are hurt just hearing that the bible says homosexuality is a sin. But there have been other ways they have been hurt such as calling them demon possessed, name calling – sodomites, unnecessary questions about their sex lives, (from the ex-gays who confronted Alan on Lisa Ling’s report on the Oprah Network):

I am sorry that some of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your attractions didn’t change. I am sorry we promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about sexual orientation that stigmatized parents.

Alan Chambers used to teach that one’s sexual orientation could be changed. A stance that understandably confused Anderson Cooper in the video above when he asked Alan about not being able to change sexual orientation while married to a woman. Anderson asked Alan point blank was he gay which Alan never did offer an emphatic yes or no. Alan Chambers has done nothing more than create further confusion.

Alan is whitewashing sin

I believe that Alan is sincerely trying to right some of the true wrongs of Exodus International but he’s appearing to now be very timid when it comes to scripture and when it comes to sin. An example of this timidity is when he said the following in his letter of apology:

“Our beliefs do not center on “sin” because “sin” isn’t at the center of our faith.”

With statements like that then perhaps it is best that Exodus International shuts down. If one doesn’t understand that Christ is the center of our faith and that His dying on the cross was for our SINS which makes SIN very central to the Christian faith, then Exodus has lost it’s entire focus of our Lord. Alan is crucifying our Lord all over again!

Past hints that something was wrong

There were some hints from the past that all is not well with Alan. My first clue that something was amiss was when in January 2012, Alan was an unplanned guest on a panel at the Gay Christian Network Conference in Orlando, Florida.  This is a conference of gays who practice homosexuality with a few who were practicing celibacy. Alan addressed them as “brothers and sisters in Christ.” Those of us who believe God’s word that homosexuality is a sin, know that those who rebel against God and persist in sin are not recognized as Children of God. (See my post Can you be a Christian AND a homosexual?)

The second clue at the same conference is when he said 99.9% of the people he knew had not changed their sexual orientation. A major hint that perhaps Alan was becoming disillusioned at his whole work at Exodus.

Praying for Alan Chambers – and his wife!

It’s tough to call someone a brother when he doesn’t seem to understand Christ’s death on the cross and how sin IS in the center of one’s life when Christ is on the throne! And how can he be called a believer if now what he believes is just “his” truth? Does he even believe that homosexuality is a sin anymore? And if he does, does he love the sinner enough to tell them the truth? Or now is he bowing down to the god of this world and bought the lie that one can practice homosexuality because Jesus loves them just as they are without change? And what about his wife, is she in danger of losing her husband to his lust for other men? I am hoping and praying that Alan breaks out of this snare and make the necessary changes he needs to make without further diluting of God’s word. I can see a more compassionate godly organization that will be a home to those seeking a change. But the leader himself must be grounded and that’s what I’m praying for in Alan.

Thank God there are organizations that are already faithful and bold in proclaiming God’s word, and that don’t depend on psycho-therapeutic means of seeking change in people but only through the blood of Jesus Christ! (See a list of ex-gay advocates and organizations on my blog and some listed in the articles below – with more to come!)

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More articles on Alan Chambers’ Apology (articles will be updated as more come in)

Alan Chambers Follows Hypergrace Movement Back to Egypt – by Scott Lively on CharismaNews
After Exodus: Evangelicals React as Ex-Gay Ministry Starts Over – by Melissa Steffan on Christianity Today
6 Lessons From the Collapse of Exodus International – by Michael Brown on CharismaNews
Sorry Exodus, Homosexuals Can COMPLETELY Change – Stephen Bennett – Ex-gay and founder of SBM Worldwide, Inc.

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