But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith… (James 1:5-6a)
Who does not need wisdom? We all do! Wisdom for dealing with issues involving children, grandchildren, sports, career, relationships, health, spouse, siblings, end of life, our nation, the church and life in general.
Jesus’ half-brother James, author of the quote above, was not a disciple of Jesus. The New Testament plainly tells us that. He only realized that his older brother was the promised Messiah and Savior when Jesus revealed Himself to James, and probably His other siblings, after He was resurrected. Can you imagine the shock of seeing his dead brother alive in a glorified, resurrected body? Could you imagine what it would be like to realize your older sibling was God?
James had a lot to ponder after that encounter. As James and his brothers waited in the upper room with the other disciples for the promise of the Father to be poured out at Pentecost, I would imagine they were all praying for wisdom. Therefore, when he tells us to ask for wisdom he speaks from experience.
An amplified version could read, “If anyone falls short of wisdom let him keep asking of God, who has come along side you as the Holy Spirit to help you and gives to all graciously and generously without throwing your past mistakes into your teeth or up in your face. But he must ask believing in God’s beneficent activity and have a personal reliance on Him …”
James tells us not to just ask once but to keep on asking for wisdom from the true God that has come along side us to lead us into all truth, not a distant and uncaring God. Knowing that He is not going to reproach us by reminding us of our past mistakes and failures but will graciously and generously give us the wisdom that we request and need, maybe desperately need.
The only requirement is that we believe that He is the Only One that is truly Good and produces Good, performing acts of kindness and charity for those who rely on Him as their God.
James’ half-brother and Lord, Jesus, said it this way,
Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking and you will find; keep knocking, and it will be open to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Or what man is there among you who, when his son asksfor a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he?
If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:7-11)
If you need wisdom, keep asking, keep seeking and keep knocking. Our Father God has promised to answer.
“Trials rightly faced are harmless, but wrongly met become temptations to sin.” (A.T. Robertson)
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
The apostle Peter exhorts those in the dispersion along the same line:
“ In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (I Peter 1:6-7)
James says that though we may be surrounded by trials, let our joy be whole or unmixed, not just “some joy” mixed with grief. I must realize that the very foundation of my religion, my faith in what God has done through His Son Jesus, will be tested by the devil using circumstances, accusations, condemnation, people of other faiths or no faith (communism) and people, some close to me and some unknown.
We are all are in need of “endurance” or “patience” that James says these trials will produce in our lives IF we allow it. Robertson says the original Greek word means “remaining under, staying power”, that under the pressure of trials you will have the ability to stay faithful to Lord Jesus.
Lord Jesus, in Revelation 2:10 tells the believers in Smyrna (modern day Turkey),
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
We in North America or Europe, read this and go ho hum, but this is a daily reality for many of our brothers and sisters in communist Red China, Vietnam, North Korea and other countries ruled by communism. It is also a daily reality in countries ruled by Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other false religions.
Religious persecution is coming to the United States, Europe, Canada and other currently free countries. Are you ready? Have you made up your mind? Are your children and grandchildren ready?
May no trial, person or set of circumstances cause us to deny our Savior today or ever. May our faith in Jesus and God the Father be the most precious thing in our life… so much so it is worth dying for. Tens of millions died for their faith during the Inquisition, under the Romans, and under communism in the 20th century and today.
May you walk in “hupomonen”….staying power. Holy Ghost empowered staying power!
Former Jesuit priest Peter de Rosa writes, “All the councils of the church from Nicaea in the fourth century to Constance in the fifteenth agree that Christ himself is the only foundation of the church, that is, the Rock on which the church rests…the great Fathers of the church saw no connection between Matthew 16:18 and the pope. Not one of them applies ‘Thou art Peter’ to anyone but Peter. One after another they analyze it: Cyprian, Origen, Cyril, Hilary, Jerome, Ambrose, Augustine. They are not exactly Protestants. Not one of them calls the Bishop of Rome a Rock or applies to him specifically the promise of the Keys….[I]t was only in the year 1073 that Pope Gregory VII forbade Catholics to call anyone pope except the bishop of Rome. Before then, many bishops were fondly addressed as ‘pope’ or ‘papa.’…The first Bishop of Rome was not Peter…Eusebius never once spoke of Peter as Bishop of Rome…etc.”
So when did the church at large become the Roman Catholic Church in distinction to the true Christians which it persecuted and killed? There is no single date; it happened gradually. Yet the roots can be traced to Constantine (313-327), who while still Pontifex Maximus as head of the pagan priesthood became de facto head of the Church, was the first to call himself Vicar of Christ, and under whose influence the Church married the world. The paganism of today’s Roman Catholicism entered the church in the fourth century and today’s popes bear Constantine’s three titles: Bishop of Bishops, Pontifex Maximus, and Vicar of Christ.
Dear Reader: The following article is from the Jerusalem Post by Harry (Hirschel) Moskoff who is an investigative archaeologist, Temple scholar, film producer, and author of The A.R.K. Report. Enjoy. Carl
Pretend for a moment that the Vatican has in its possession some sacred and precious relics that were originally in the Herodian Jewish Temple located in Jerusalem 1,950 years ago.
If you were the pope living in the 14th century and could verify this fact, would you not ask yourself how indeed such Jewish artifacts had come to your residence in the first place?
After some digging around (no pun intended), you would have found that your new Vatican residence was actually built over sections of Caesar’s Palace – the Vatican, including St. Peter’s Basilica, was constructed over Emperor Vespasian’s Roman palace approximately 200 years after the sacking of Rome in 455 AD. Indeed, there are excavations going on there right now, even as you read this magazine.
What this means is that the vandals and the Visigoths passed over, or simply didn’t find, the select treasures secreted away in that palace, and instead took with them the many items on public display in the Temple, located not far away.
It says in the Talmud that the famous Jewish sage and author of the Zohar, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, went to Rome with his colleagues to nullify harsh decrees placed on Judea, and while there, saw the exact items mentioned in this article. They ended up being royal guests at Vespasian’s palace after being asked to attend to his ailing daughter. When they miraculously did heal her, the sages were afforded the chance to see these extremely holy items, proving that they were kept in that place.
In fact, historian Josephus Flavius records the event in which Vespasian took for himself these items specifically as his special treasures for safekeeping, including an ancient Torah scroll.
According to Vatican expert Dr. Michael A. Calvo, those vessels and others found their way to the Vatican via another route, after making their way to Byzantium: “These include Temple candelabra given to Pope Innocent III by Baldwin I after the sacking of Constantinople and the massacre of the Christian Orthodox population,” Calvo claims. “Temple shofars and utensils; garments of the High Priest; the Tzitz – a gold plaque with the words Kodesh L’Hashem (“Holy to the Lord”); cultural objects, and many other objets d’art, books and manuscripts that the Vatican and other churches have appropriated and placed in their own storerooms, libraries and museums.”
But where is the factual, tangible proof that the Vatican “inherited” these sacred items and retains them until today?
The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry and security services may already have evidence: about 50 years ago, there was a certain Jewish student – let’s call him DM – who was enrolled in a correspondence course at the Urbaniana, the Vatican’s university. Upon attending in person for the last semesters of his doctorate, he found himself the only Jew among 17,000 students! DM told me that he was well-loved, but when push came to shove, both professor and student approached him respectfully in order to convert him.
After firmly refusing time after time, a friend of his (later to become one of the Vatican archivists, Cardinal Antonio Samore) offered to show him what “used to be” his Jewish heritage – the Temple vessels – in an attempt to entice him to convert. DM agreed to be taken to see them months later, at night. When I asked him if there was anything in that cave that had belonged to the Temple, he simply replied: “Everything is there!”
Did he really see anything, or just come close? Many years later, in 2002, DM apparently gave sufficient proof to then-foreign minister Shimon Peres and others who were in negotiation with high-level Vatican officials at the time. If this is true, Israel may already have a solid, well-documented case.
So now what? Today in the 21st century there is a thriving sovereign State of Israel, being the sole worldwide representative of the Jewish people, or the World Jewish Congress, both being adequate addresses to make an arrangement for some sort of repatriation deal.
In the meantime, Roman Catholic relations with Israel are on the rise, dialogue and cooperation with the Jewish state are close, and there are even several Jews who have been knighted by recent popes. So why not negotiate over whatever there is now?
Before getting to that, however, let the thoughtful reader peruse through true stories suggesting that the Vatican does have much to hide?
ONE OF the greatest rabbis in his generation at the beginning of the 20th century was the chief rabbi of Libya, 77-year-old Rabbi Yitzchak Chai Bozovka, an expert in all areas of Torah both hidden and revealed who authored many outstanding books. In 1929, Italy’s King Vittorio Emanuel III came to Tripoli for a royal visit. Libya was then under Italian rule, and the Jews of the city made a huge banquet reception, indeed fit for a king, with their beloved chief rabbi at the forefront.
Rabbi Bozovka made quite an impression on the monarch, and before the king set sail back to Rome, he invited the rabbi to attend the wedding of his son, the prince. A year later, the rabbi received the royal invitation, but declined to go due to being weak, although he did add the question, “Why am I needed though when you have the pope?”
Within 48 hours, the king sent a telegram back stating not to worry, and that he very badly wanted the rabbi to bless the new couple (again). He offered to send him his royal boat, give him all the kosher food and accommodations that were required, and even signed it: Your Friend, the King. The rabbi reluctantly agreed. When he arrived in Rome, he was treated like royalty and the wedding was a huge success.
As the ceremonies came to an end, the king asked the rabbi if there was anything he could do for him. Bozovka responded that he so desired to see the holy vessels of the Jewish Temple in the cellars of the Vatican. When the king first heard this, he refused, saying that there is a separation of church and state, and that he didn’t have jurisdiction over the pope in these matters. The two didn’t exactly get along!
Nevertheless, after much prodding, the king went ahead and managed to convince the pope (making him an offer he couldn’t refuse), but on the condition that it was only the rabbi alone. That day he was even invited to the Holy See for a personal audience with the pontiff.
Late that night, and after much spiritual preparation, the rabbi met the guard at the Vatican gates, with his students remaining outside, and went down the steps (four stories under St. Peter’s Museum) to a hidden maze of ancient galleries attached to the Necropolis. After finally reaching the cave entrance, he saw what he saw, and writes in his book of Responsa that he saw “enough,” and was not capable of seeing anymore. He then turned around and practically ran out of the building.
Upon exiting, his students were shocked to find that his face was actually shining. From that day forth, the rabbi took it upon himself to abstain from speaking, until he died on February 21, 1930, 40 days later.
Another story, about the famous Rabbi Benjamin (ben Yonah) of Tudela, a Jewish merchant from modern Navarre in Spain. He spent significant time in Rome after the election of Pope Alexander III in 1159, and again from November 1165 until 1167. His mission was to record the lifestyle of Sephardi Jews across Europe and Africa. His travels took him from Spain to France, Italy, Turkey, and the Near East, including Beirut and Jerusalem. A well-known Iberian traveler, he kept complete and extremely accurate records in his travelogue, as noted by his contemporaries. When the rabbi passed through Rome in the 1160s, he noted the “honorable position” of the city’s Jewish population, as well as the “wonderful buildings” there.
Was he credible, though? Evidently, the commentators on this work held their subject in high esteem. A commentator that translated the itinerary in 1840, A. Asher, had glowing praise for Rabbi Benjamin: “The whole work abounds in interesting, correct and authentic information on the state of the three-quarters of the globe known at this time, and in consideration of these advantages, stands without a rival in the literary history of the Middle Ages. None of the productions of the period is as free from fables and superstitions as The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela.”
Tudela wrote, “Rome is the head of the kingdoms of Christendom, and there live about 200 (families of) Jews, who are respected and who pay no tax to anyone.” And now folks for the meat and potatoes: “In Rome, there is… the cave where Titus the son of Vespasian stored the Temple vessels that he brought from Jerusalem.”
This was before popes took up residence in the late 1300s at the Vatican. It appears that indeed, vandals didn’t run off with the whole hoard after all.
There is an old picture in my possession of that mysterious corridor in front of the cave, replete with creepy skeletal people embalmed to this day, 50 on each side, and showing the huge, arched wooden door at the end. This picture was taken at least 50 years ago with the custodian guard wearing all black and holding a lantern, essentially attesting to Tudela’s account.
RABBI DAVID ROSEN, international director of interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, has a different approach. Rosen – who headed the International Jewish Committee for Inter-religious Consultations (IJCIC), the broad-based coalition of Jewish organizations and denominations that represents world Jewry in its relations with other world religions – was granted a papal knighthood in 2005 for his contribution to Jewish-Catholic reconciliation.
He was also chosen to lead the famous 2013 prayer service with the pope, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres at the Vatican. Rosen suggests approaching various museums in Israel that already had exhibitions of Vatican art and archaeology (which had come from Israel originally), and suggesting a loan arrangement for a limited period, to display some ancient vessels of their choice.
This would constitute a win/win for both parties, and would certainly be a major event! Rosen cautions that the whole idea of restoring artifacts of cultural or religious heritage back to their countries of origin is a complex one that must take into account the interests of the country that currently possesses the artifacts, among other things.
Can, or more importantly, should Israel make use of today’s international laws of repatriation? This can be considered as well, but then uncomfortable issues are bound to arise. For instance, in this age of political correctness, the following might have to be addressed: are the Jewish people still the legitimate owners of this ancient treasure?
What about replacement theology? Could it be that after 2000 years, behind closed doors, the ownership of these historical religious artifacts is being debated and disputed? The same way, for instance, that the legal ownership of Jerusalem is debated and disputed? I say, yes!
This is not just food for thought. Believe it or not, and with all due respect, I have reason to suggest here (without getting into detail) that this is part and parcel of a new attitude and approach, an indication of what’s really being discussed in the long corridors of Rome, the United Nations, the EU and also the PA. It even has a name: Lawfare.
Here’s a case in point: Not long ago, Abbas had a personal consultation with Pope Francis. After agreeing that the two-state solution was the only way forward to make peace with Israel, Abbas stated that with respect to the advent of a Palestinian capital, “Jerusalem’s identity must be preserved through a special internationally guaranteed status.” In other words, the territory that used to belong to the Jewish people so long ago does not necessarily mean that it belongs to Israel today, according to Abbas. There’s more.
The official liaison of the pope to Israel, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, apostolic nuncio in Israel and apostolic delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, stated in an official letter dated November 15, 2013, that if the Temple treasures do in fact still exist, surely the church would return those lost items to their “legitimate owners.” Let that sink in a bit.
I’m willing to make a wager that as sure as the sun rises in the east, if Vatican officials were to claim that they own it all (having acted as paternal preservationists, as it were), and that the treasure would theoretically be kept in a “Vatican Jewish museum” somewhere, everything would change. Indeed, this is in fact Plan B: no more need for the Vatican to ignore the elephant in the room; diplomatic evasion no longer required. And yes, at that point, I’m sure that the chief Prefect would take whatever they have out for all of humanity to see.
Let’s be clear, though. Plan A isn’t politically correct but in this author’s view it’s the truth, that this vast treasure was, is now, and will always be Jewish, with its home ultimately in Jerusalem, the united capital of Israel.
At the end of the day though, the proof is in the gelato. There are several people alive that can personally attest to being eyewitnesses of the Vatican possessing Temple vessels, including the Menorah candelabra. Will any one of them come forward and expose what they know (along with themselves)? No, and I quite frankly don’t blame them. That might be unwise. It doesn’t end here though, because if this were in a judicial court setting (and it isn’t), the majority would agree that there is enough information already on file to have reasonable, or “justifiable cause” to move forward. What this means in our case is that making that museum deal is starting to look better and better.
After over 25 years of research into the whereabouts of the lost Temple treasures, more Vatican details have been included in my book series, The A.R.K. Report, including the existence of the oldest (and very fragile) Torah scroll taken from the Temple building, the golden head plate of the high priest with the holy name of God engraved on it (tzitz in Hebrew), the giant curtain that hung from the Temple entrance (parohet in Hebrew) that still has the tear from Titus’ sword in it, trumpets, and various other ritual (copper) altar utensils to boot, as mentioned previously, and documented by Josephus.
Thirty-five years ago, a certain outstanding Swiss Vatican guard (now legally blind) who was posted close to the dormitories found out that he was in fact Jewish. This inspired him to decide to open the gate at night and make his way all the way down. He speaks of walking right to the end and finding a narrow, cramped tunnel that leads to a room of statues, a mysterious hallway and then the cave where he saw (and apparently nearly touched) the Menorah candelabra, apparently shining with a white light. The next morning he apparently told the whole tale to the chief rabbi of Rome at the time, Rabbi Elio Toaff, who was known to have testified to its truth.
But back down to business! The main concern now really lies on the political level. In 2022, far from being outrageous or insulting, approaching the Holy See with the museum idea whereby the Vatican retains ownership and sends a display of certain ancient Temple items to Jerusalem presents a brilliant idea. This is an international trend nowadays. Most people realize that there’s no sense in holding onto precious items that are in a sense for all humanity in a cellar or cave somewhere.
However, if the Holy See feels that the time is not yet ripe for such a gesture, things might get a little messier.
Some arbitrary ruling may come forth from the powers that be (think UN Security Council Resolution #2334) designating, in this case the lost Temple vessels, as something other than Jewish and therefore should stay put. Although the status quo vis-à-vis the hidden Temple treasures has remained in-situ for millennia, one can assume that it won’t go on like that forever. Either way, like in the case of Jerusalem, decisions will eventually be made with or without the consent of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
If things do work out with the Vatican, great! Now’s the time, and testimonies of various forms are coming in, all with the message that it’s high time that the Jews brought their pride and glory back home.
In the meantime, a team of lawyers and ambassadors associated with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) are joining me in this undertaking, as I meet up with the Department of World Religions at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the Papal Nuncio to Israel, Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana. My aim, ultimately, is to identify the sacred items mentioned above at the Vatican by cross-referencing them with the earliest acquisitions of the Vatican (including 12th-13th century) as they appear in their original inventory listings.
It’s interesting to note that this manifest can be found in the Papal Secret Archive located behind a heavy door at the end of a corridor on the lower floor in the Tower of the Winds (originally built in 1578). Only the chief prefect has this key. This inventory list actually predates the time when the popes first used the Vatican as a place of residence, beginning in 1377.
If things don’t work out with the Vatican, that’s not so great. The State of Israel, therefore, should start preparing a legal repatriation case arguing that the ancient Temple artifacts, wherever they may lie, fully belong in Jerusalem as the everlasting national heritage of the Jewish people. Unless this happens, we might have to face a new reality coming down from those long corridors sometime soon.
Now let’s finish off with something BIG, something not known before, something new, that has added impulse to this whole undertaking. There have been many stories written about this subject matter before, but none has tackled the fact that up to 10 incense shovels have been found in Israel over the many years of biblical archaeology here. I know because I’ve held them in my hands: 2,000 year-old bronze (now green, of course!) shovels that are about 40 cm long that can still be used today! They were found all over Israel, from Jerusalem in the region of the Temple area itself, to cities near Tiberias in the north and on the shores of the Kinneret.
They all have one thing in common. They belonged to the various synagogues that were in Israel during the late Roman period, some perhaps being consecrated for the Temple itself! Many of these treasures were sent abroad to places such as Abu Dhabi, South Korea, and Singapore, while others went to Rome (acquired by the Vatican), and even Beverly Hills. They fit the description of the machtah (incense shovels) perfectly, being the same size and shape of those utensils that were used by the priests in the Herodian Temple, as described in the Talmud.
Why does this matter? Because it turns out that the Vatican is party to some of the international conventions regarding restitution and repatriation of ancient cultural artifacts to their original countries of origin.
This particular item would not prove difficult to find in the Vatican inventory list on my upcoming trip to Rome, where I would learn not only how many they have, but the location as to where exactly they are being kept. ■
Harry (Hirschel) Moskoff is an investigative archaeologist, Temple scholar, film producer, and author of The A.R.K. Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
What do Saul of Tarsus, Martin Luther, and three former Roman Catholic priests all have in common? These devout religious leaders all came to discover God’s righteousness.
There is a huge chasm between God’s righteousness and man’s righteousness. So which of those two things makes a person a child of God and an heir of eternal life in Heaven? (Romans 8:17).
God’s righteousness is always perfect, whereas man’s righteousness is always imperfect. God’s righteousness can cover your sins and make you right with God. Man’s righteousness leaves a person separated from God forever.
Saul of Tarsus “was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of his own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of his fathers” (Galatians 1:14). After his conversion, Saul became the Apostle Paul who no longer relied upon his own righteousness to be right with God. Zeal for religious traditions is very different than zeal for the Gospel.
Prior to his conversion, Saul was “a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless” (Philippians 3:5,6). He came to learn the massive difference between legalistic righteousness and God’s righteousness.
Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk who discovered the same thing 500 years ago. Luther was constantly striving to save his soul. He endured many self-inflicted punishments in his efforts to atone for his sins and be accepted by God. Luther felt he had to work his way to Heaven by his own righteousness.
Thankfully, God spoke to Luther through the Gospel, and particularly this passage: “The righteous shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). In other words, the righteousness of God is applied to your soul when you trust Jesus as your Savior. The Apostle Paul wrote, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22).
Joseph Tremblay was born in Quebec, Canada, in 1924. He was ordained a priest in Rome, Italy, and was sent to Bolivia, Chile, where he served for 13 years. He said, “My theology has taught me that salvation is by works and sacrifices. My theology gives me no assurance of salvation; the Bible offers me that assurance. I had been trying to save myself on my works. I was pushed to do good works to merit my salvation.”
While serving as a Catholic priest, Tremblay was relying upon human righteousness. But when he placed his faith in the Gospel promises found in Scripture, he discovered God’s righteousness. The righteousness of man cannot save a single soul. Even if you combined the good works of one million religious people, it would not provide enough righteousness to prevent one lost soul from going to Hell.
Bartholomew F. Brewer was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood in Washington, D.C. He eventually served as a priest in San Diego, California, and entered the Navy as a Roman Catholic chaplain. He left the Catholic Church, got married, and discovered God’s righteousness through conversations with his wife and other Christians.
Brewer said, “I finally understood that I had been relying on my own righteousness and religious efforts and not upon the completed and sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Roman Catholic religion had never taught me that our own righteousness is fleshly and not acceptable to God, nor that we need to trust in Christ’s righteousness alone … during all those years of monastic life I had relied on the sacraments of Rome to give me grace to save me.”
“The completed and sufficient sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” What a wonderful historical fact and beautiful spiritual absolute! When you place your faith in what Jesus completed on the cross, you are justified, redeemed, born again, saved and forgiven. When Martin Luther finally placed his faith in Christ alone, he said, “I felt that I had been born again and that the gates of Heaven had been opened. The whole of Scripture gained a new meaning.”
The Gospel is the key that unlocks the Bible and ushers a person into the kingdom of God. The Law tells us what we must do. The Gospel tells us what Christ did on the cross to save us. “The Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
Alexander Carson was ordained in 1955 and was a priest in Alexandria, Louisiana. Carson said, “… the Holy Spirit led me to judge Roman Catholic theology by the standard of the Bible. Previously, I had always judged the Bible by Roman Catholic doctrine and theology.” In order to learn the truth about God’s righteousness, it was necessary for this priest to rely completely upon Scripture as the basis of true theology.
Do you rely completely upon Scripture, or is your religious organization more important to you than the Gospel? Whether your religious affiliation is Protestant, Catholic, or something else, the Gospel (John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-8) stands head and shoulders above your particular religious organization.
Religious traditions do not cover a sinner with the righteousness of Christ. This covering for sin only takes place when a person places their faith in the sacrifice Christ made on the cross 2,000 years ago. It was a one-time sacrifice. Paul wrote, “We maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the Law” (Romans 3:28). “All who rely on observing the Law are under a curse” (Galatians 3:10). That is, those who rely upon their own righteousness in order to enter Heaven are under a curse and on the road to Hell.
The “righteousness from God” (Romans 3:21) is the only righteousness that can justify a sinner. Christians are saved on the front end of their relationship with Christ, before they have done even one good work. Christ’s righteousness is what produces good works in the life of a believer. God only accepts the good works of those who are already righteous in His eyes through faith in Jesus Christ.
Am I doing good works in a vain attempt to earn forgiveness and be saved, or am I doing good works because I have already been saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone? I hope you recognize the vast difference between man’s righteousness and God’s righteousness, and why only Christ’s righteousness can save your soul.
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
“Any doctrine claiming to be based on the Bible must be carefully checked against the Bible — an option open to anyone who knows God’s Word. Relying upon one supposed biblical expert for an evaluation of the opinions of another would be going in circles. No matter whose opinion one accepted, the end result would be the same; one would still be held hostage to human opinion. Each individual must personally check out all opinions directly from the Bible.” Dave Hunt – What Love Is This? p.25
If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. Jesus, The Lord – John 7:17
Note that Jesus said, ‘If anyone…”. Not some special elect group as some Calvinist would have us believe but ‘anyone’. He was speaking to the multitude of lost Jews, rabbis and Pharisees in the Temple on that day. The offer was to ‘anyone’ in that group. Some of them would be involved in his murder later.
Today, the same principle applies to all people who wish to know the teaching of the true God.
J. C. Ryle, the first evangelical Anglican Bishop in Liverpool England in 1880, commented as follows concerning John 7:17:
The English language here fails to give the full force of the Greek. It is literally, “If any man is willing to do –has a mind and desire and an inclination to do God’s will….” It should never be forgotten that God deals with us as moral beings, and not as beasts or stones.
Do you need some “knowing” concerning God’s teaching about Himself and His Son Jesus? His purpose for and desire to redeem lost mankind.
God has made lost mankind competent to act for himself. He is the only one who can. Give mental attention to divine truth expressed in the Bible and express your desire to God to do His will once it is revealed to you. It is okay to seek Him from motives of self-interest.
For it is in your present and eternal best interest to know the living God and His Son, Jesus Christ. Tell Him you are “willing to do His will.”
By Matthew Vadum January 16, 2022 Updated: January 17, 2022 From Epoch News
(Dear Reader: you cannot make this stuff up. Just unbelievable. The apostle Paul speaking about the spiritual darkness that was upon the whole world before Messiah came, said “…but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. (I Corinthians 10:20) I hope you are looking at our culture with Holy Spirit enlightened eyes. Carl)
California education authorities have agreed to drop a policy encouraging public school students to pray to Aztec gods in response to a lawsuit filed months ago by angry parents.
Among Aztec religious practices were the cutting out of human hearts and the flaying of victims and the wearing of their skin.
Paul Jonna, partner at LiMandri & Jonna LLP and special counsel for the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm, said the “Aztec prayers at issue—which seek blessings from and the intercession of these demonic forces—were not being taught as poetry or history.”
Rather, the California State Board of Education’s nearly 900-page Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) “instructed students to chant the prayers for emotional nourishment after a ‘lesson that may be emotionally taxing or even when student engagement may appear to be low.’ The idea was to use them as prayers,” said Jonna, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.
The launch of the ESMC made California “the first state in the nation to offer a statewide ethnic studies model for educators,” the board boasted on March 18, 2021, when the curriculum was adopted.
“California’s students have been telling us for years that they need to see themselves and their stories represented in the classroom,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said at the time. “Today’s historic action gives schools the opportunity to uplift the histories and voices of marginalized communities in ways that help our state and nation achieve racial justice and create lasting change.”
The ESMC contained a section on “Affirmation, Chants, and Energizers.” Among these was the In Lak Ech Affirmation, which calls upon five Aztec deities—Tezkatlipoka (God of the Night Sky), Quetzalcoatl (God of the Morning and Evening Star), Huitzilopochtli (God of Sun and War), Xipe Totek (God of Spring), and Hunab Ku (God of the Universe). The pagan prayers address the deities both by name and traditional titles, recognize them as sources of power and knowledge, invoke their assistance, and offer thanks.
According to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, even after the settlement, the ESMC “is still deeply rooted in Critical Race Theory (CRT) and critical pedagogy, with a race-based lens and an oppressor-victim dichotomy.” The Aztec chant component demonstrated “the politicized championing of critical consciousness, social justice, transformative resistance, liberation and anti-colonial movements in the state-sanctioned teachings of ethnic studies.”
“We are encouraged by this important, hard-fought victory,” Xu said in a statement.
“Our state has simply gone too far in attempts to promote fringe ideologies and racial grievance policies, even those that disregard established constitutional principles. Endorsing religious chants in the state curriculum is one glaring example,” he said.
“To improve California public education, we need more people to stand up against preferential treatment programs and racial spoils. At both the state and local levels, we must work together to re-focus on true education!”
The lawsuit was filed Sept. 3 in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego, by the Thomas More Society, as previously reported. The plaintiffs argued that the ESMC constituted an impermissible governmental endorsement of the Aztec religion.
According to the legal complaint, the State Board of Education appointed R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, a co-author of the 2019 book “Rethinking Ethnic Studies,” to chair a panel to develop the ESMC. In his book, Cuauhtin “demonstrates an animus towards Christianity and Catholicism—claiming that Christians committed ‘theocide’ (i.e., killing gods) against indigenous tribes.”
Sociocultural anthropologist Alan Sandstrom, an expert in the culture, religion, and rituals of Mesoamerican peoples, told the court the In Lak Ech Affirmation “is a modern creation that borrows elements of the Aztec religion. It would be of no real value in learning about the Aztec people or culture of the past or today.”
In the settlement agreement, the California authorities didn’t admit wrongdoing but agreed to remove the In Lak Ech Affirmation and the Ashe Affirmation from the Yoruba religion from the ESMC.
Yoruba is “an ancient philosophical concept that is the root of many pagan religions, including Santeria and Haitian vodou or voodoo,” according to the Thomas More Society. It reportedly has 100 million believers worldwide in West Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guyana, and in Caribbean nations.
The settlement provides that the California Department of Education and the board will pay the plaintiffs’ lawyers $100,000, “representing a payment toward Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees incurred in connection with the Action.”
The two state entities will also issue a public notice to all California school districts, charter schools, and county offices of education about the changed policy, and they agreed not to encourage the use of the two challenged chants in California public schools.
Jonna told The Epoch Times via email that this is “a major victory in the fight to restore sanity in California’s public schools.”
“There is still much work to do—and our team will continue to monitor developments and be prepared to file new lawsuits when necessary.”
The Epoch Times reached out for comment on the settlement to California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the California Department of Education, and the California State Board of Education but didn’t receive a reply from any of them as of press time.
Matthew Vadum, CONTRIBUTOR – Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist and a recognized expert in left-wing activism
When asked by Pew research to define what Jesus’ teachings were, people answered:
Take care of the environment
Buy from companies that pay fair wages
Live healthy and exercise
Not bad things at all, but Jesus actually didn’t say any of that. What did Jesus actually say? We can find his commands in the four gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And his commands, his directives, were on his mind when he stood in front of his disciples before going back to heaven. He told them to “Go. Make Disciples. Baptize them. And teach them to obey EVERYTHING I HAVE COMMANDED” (Matthew 28:19-20).
What if we focused on obey everything Jesus commanded? If you look at and seek to obey his commands, you’ll find everything you need for a dynamic spiritual life that will make an eternal impact. There are commands for situations, like “What happens when someone attacks me?” Jesus says, Love them, Bless them, Pray for them. “What happens if I’m running out of food?” Jesus says, don’t worry. The father knows your need and will provide.
You also find commands that give meaning and purpose for all of life and that you can literally build life on. Like, “Seek first the kingdom of God” and “Love God and Love Others” and “Go and make disciples.” Jesus commands give us more than enough to build life on and to know how to live in difficult times.
And the best news of all. We’re not alone when it comes to obeying Jesus. This is not a checklist that we have to struggle with. That’s religion. And its powerless. These commands are given in the context of relationship that Jesus paved the way for with his own life. Jesus, as part of this relationship, has promised to put these commands in the hearts of those who follow Him (Ezekiel 36:27). And he has promised power to obey in the person of his Holy Spirit to live within us. To struggle with obedience to Jesus may reveal something amiss about your relationship with him. Obedience is a product of an abiding relationship with Jesus. Saying no to Jesus’ commands is saying “I am the Lord of my life. Jesus, no thanks.”
Saying Yes to Jesus is a way of life. For the person who has made Jesus the leader of their lives, we find joy and strength in obedience to him. It’s the best yes of every life and should be the first yes of every day for those who follow him. Have you said yes to Jesus today?
I am currently listening to several FREE audio books from The Berean Call and would like to recommend them for your consideration. They are also available as podcast, and I believe they are available on YouTube.
The Berean Call is a Christian biblical discernment ministry out of Bend, Oregon, USA founded by Dave Hunt. Brother Hunt, along with Ed Decker, authored The God Makers (1997) which is a shocking expose of what the Mormon church really believes. After Mr. Hunt went to be with the Lord, T.A. Mahon assumed the leadership. He and Mr. Hunt authored several books together such as The Seduction of Christianity (2013). Mr. Mahon is a former Roman Catholic.
I listen to the following books using The Berean Call’s free app. They also have a free newsletter for those that may be interested.
The audio books are
A Woman Rides the Beast by Dave Hunt – the following description from Apple Podcast:
“In Revelation 17, the Apostle John describes in great detail the characteristics of a false church that will be the partner of the Antichrist. Was he describing the Roman Catholic Church? To answer that question, Dave Hunt spent years gathering research and indisputable historical documentation (primarily Catholic sources) providing information not generally available.
Are you missing half the story about the last days? Virtually all attention these days is focused on the coming Antichrist—but he is only half the story. Many are amazed to discover in Revelation 17 that there is also another mysterious character at the heart of prophecy—a woman who rides the beast.
Who is this woman? Tradition says she is connected with the church of Rome. But isn’t such a view outdated? After all, today’s Vatican is eager to join hands with Protestants worldwide. “The Catholic church has changed,” is what we hear.
Or has it? In A Woman Rides the Beast, prophecy expert Dave Hunt sifts through biblical truth and global events to present a well-defined portrait of the woman and her powerful place in the Antichrist’s future empire. Eight remarkable clues in Revelation 17 and 18 prove the woman’s identity beyond any reasonable doubt.”
What Love Is This? by Dave Hunt – the following description is taken from Apple podcast:
“Many sincere, Bible-believing Christians are “Calvinists” only by default. Thinking that the only choice is between Calvinism (with its presumed doctrine of eternal security) and Arminianism (with its teaching that salvation can be lost), and confident of Christ’s promise to keep eternally those who believe in Him, they therefore consider themselves to be Calvinists.
It takes only a few simple questions to discover that most Christians are largely unaware of what John Calvin and his early followers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries actually believed and practiced. Nor do they fully understand what most of today’s leading Calvinists believe.
Although there are disputed variations of the Calvinist doctrine, among its chief proponents (whom we quote extensively in context) there is general agreement on certain core beliefs. Many evangelicals who think they are Calvinists will be surprised to learn of Calvin’s belief in salvation through infant baptism, and of his grossly un-Christian behavior, at times, as the “Protestant Pope” of Geneva, Switzerland.
Most shocking of all, however is Calvinism’s misrepresentation of God who “is love.” It is our prayer that this volume will enable readers to examine more carefully the vital issues involved and to follow God’s Holy Word — not man.”
East Windby Ruth Hunt – the true story of Maria Zeitner Linke, a German Christian, who was born in Russia prior to the Russian Revolution and, after her family escapes Siberia and returns to Germany, they endure World War II and she spends nine years in Stalin’s Gulags.
These are only three of the many free audio books offered. If you are looking for a book to listen to, I hope you can find something in their offerings.
Thank you for stopping by the blog! I hope you are enjoying sweet, daily fellowship with Jesus Christ and God the Father and your brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you cut off the tails of cats, will they give birth to tail-less kittens? Of course not! Yet, more than 3,000 mainstream biologists were dismissed, imprisoned or even killed for disagreeing that a similar idea might work when applied to plants.
Soviet genetics research was effectively destroyed in the 1930s and ‘40s because the scientist at the head of the Soviet Academy of Agriculture Sciences squashed all dissent from his own view. And he had the power of the communist state behind him!
His name was Trofim Lysenko, and he believed the Soviets could transform Siberia into “a land of orchards and gardens” by “training” seeds to handle cold weather and harsh conditions. He believed that plants could be engrafted to permanently change the heritable characteristics of the stock. Such ideas were based on Darwin’s predecessor – the early evolutionist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829). Lamarck argued for evolution through inheritance of acquired characteristics. In other words, build up your muscles so you can then pass bigger muscles on to your kids.
Charles Darwin wrote his book On the Origin of Species in 1859 to make Lysenko’s ideas seem more scientific by appealing to “deep time” to allow for the imperceptible changes we cannot observe, and appealing also to “natural selection” to try to make the heritable changes more plausible.
But Lamarck was the first to suggest the famous evolutionary scenario of giraffes acquiring a long neck. Giraffe parents supposedly stretched above other animals to reach the leaves of tall trees. And thus they passed on their increasingly stretched necks to their offspring through succeeding generations.
Lysenko was an evolutionist too impatient for Darwin, so he put Lamarckism into practice. For example, he believed he could transform a spring-wheat species into an autumn-wheat species via 2 to 4 years of autumn planting. It would supposedly condition them to “a revolutionary change”. But genetically this was impossible since the spring wheat species had 28 chromosomes in 4 sets of 7, and the autumn species had 42 chromosomes in 6 sets of 7. Change and adaptation is always limited to within the original species or “kind” by virtue of the genes needing to be there in the first place – put in place by our Great Designer and Maker. Lysenko’s plantings on the collectivist farms never took hold or simply rotted away. Geneticists in free market countries knew Lysenko to be a fool.
But Lysenko and the Soviets under Joseph Stalin were true believers in the ideology that mankind needed to “reset” the old and traditional (“bourgeoise”) ways. And that this could be made to happen as society “toughed it out”. In other words, they believed in Marxism. “Tear down the old order to build a new one.” Build it back better! Sound familiar?
Great famines took place in the Soviet Union under this ideologically driven pseudo-science and the false hope it raised. The famines were made worse, of course, as private farms were stolen and put into collectives, and successful farmers were persecuted. Lysenkoism was kept in place throughout Stalin’s life, and it ruined agriculture in other communist countries, too. These included Eastern Europe and Communist China, where horrible famines took place in the 1950s under Mao Tse Tung.
As I’ve pointed out in previous letters, we are bombarded today with much pseudo-science, not only Evolutionism but also Climate Change Alarmism. We are fed fear and false hopes which are driving a “great reset” of world culture, education, government and economics. Many are on board with it – just as they were in the days of Lysenko, Stalin and Mao.
Every storm or series of storms now gets blamed on Climate Change – which is, of course, ridiculous. What little science there is in an agenda-driven pseudo-science becomes tainted by whatever assumptions about earth history enter the narratives or computer models. And much scientific research is funded by government grants. The research grants are written with a desired outcome in mind, and those applying for the grants know in advance whether to assume Evolution or to assume man-made Climate Change.
An interesting development is the new awareness of how much Communist Chinese money is funding elite American University research. Since the Department of Education recently began enforcing Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965 for disclosure of university funding, it has come to light that most of the $6.5 billion of undeclared university research funding has come from Communist China. And much of it is to promote climate alarmism – considered a weapon for distracting and weakening the U.S. economy.
We need to keep going back to the Bible. That’s where the truth is. The desire for a “great reset” goes all the way back to the Serpent in the Garden with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lies, and they wanted their “eyes to be opened”, “to be as gods”, knowing (a perfected knowing of) good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). They wanted to be “enlightened” (as they were in a way, vs. 7) and, therefore, they went along with the temptation to tear down the original order.
This Satanic philosophy of tearing down God’s order is what Karl Marx promoted (The Devil and Karl Marx, P. Kengor; Marx and Satan, Rev. R. Wurmbrand). It also manifested at the Tower of Babel, as Nimrod (whose name means “to rebel”) argued against God and for the “enlightenment” of making themselves “as gods”. Nimrod is the classic type of anti-Christ. It should be no surprise to see in our day a great push for a Great Reset to One World Economy, One World Government and One World Religion under a controlling system apart from God.
But we know from the Bible who wins in the end. And we know that those who follow Christ will win with Him! Thank you, dear friend, for helping us reach others from “all nations” with the message of truth! The Bible is true, and it is to be believed and proclaimed so that more can believe!
If you take a look at the most fantastic schemes that are considered possible: teleportation, warp drive, parallel universes, other dimensions, artificial intelligence, ray guns, you realize that they can be possible if we advance technology a little bit.”
So said Michio Kaku, a physicist and futurist with deep insight into AI and other phenomena shaping into mighty waves that will wash over civilizations in the eras ahead. 
But will these waves of discovery and utilization advance humanity or mount into a tsunami that wipes out societies and the people within them?
The answer to that question lies in a realm that many see as irrelevant: the spiritual.
Yet, the spiritual implications of artificial intelligence should be the most important of all. If utility rules, then we are no better than a heartless inventor seeking better and less expensive means to commit genocide.
The alarm must be sounded: a tsunami is charging toward us while many stand on the beach like surfers watching the rise of the highest wave and anticipating a good ride on its lethal crest.
I and others who warn of the spiritual implications of AI are not Luddites like woolen workers in 16th-century British mills who sought to destroy the new devices that might eliminate their jobs.
I confess that I wrote this column, as I did my book, Who Will Rule the Coming ‘gods’? on a smart machine linked to other smart machines worldwide. I know the benefit of personally having an MRI scan rather than invasive exploratory surgery, a look through ultrasound at our great-grandchildren nestling in their mother’s wombs, and instant communication with friends across the continents, to name a few.
Yet the more I study artificial intelligence and the looming spiritual crisis it will send surging upon a world casting off belief in the transcendence of the God revealed in the Bible, the greater is my concern.
There are crucial questions that can only be addressed satisfactorily in the context of the spiritual, like:
Who is writing the algorithms?
Who is wiring in ethics and values? (This could prove the most important of issues in a future where the machine decides who can live and who must die).
To whom or what will the machine be accountable?
What are the humanitarian boundaries for the machine’s powerful use?
How is it possible to keep the machines from falling into the hands of tyrants who worship and heed only themselves?
The Metaverse may already be beyond restraint. One “Bad behavior in the metaverse can be more severe than today’s online harassment and bullying, says a recent report. “That’s because virtual reality plunges people into an all-encompassing digital environment where unwanted touches in the digital world can be made to feel real and the sensory experience is heightened.”
Last March a Meta chief technology officer told his team that moderating or restraining how people use the Metaverse is “practically impossible” at any scale.”
This makes even more urgent the question: Who will rule the coming ‘gods’? What kind of people?
The most serious concern: Will transcendent-hungry human beings come to consider that the machine is so powerful it is godlike and merits our worship?
This issue has already raised its head. Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer, founded an AI-based church. The “deity” it worshipped, said Levandowski, “is not a god in the sense that it makes lightning and causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it (but “god”)?
Though the AI church no longer exists (at my last reading), the concern of AI taking the place of the transcendent God is growing because the human being made in the image of God must have transcendence. We are spirit, soul, and body. When our body longs for water, it can drink it in. But what about the desperate thirsts of the spirit and soul?
If a person is stranded in the Sahara for days without water, he or she will drink from any old pit, no matter how many camels have wallowed in it. So, we can grow so thirsty in spirit and soul that we will drink from any moldy well, any filthy stream.
This is injuring the human race now, and in the future people will give themselves to any machine or device that will quench the thirst in spirit and soul.
For good reason, Henry Kissinger warns that AI “will prompt consideration of what it means to be human.”
In fact, in the AI age and its fascination with transhumanism, there is a desire to make Imago Dei, the “image of God,” into “Imago machina”—the “image of the machine.”
Will we be healthy users of the wonderful technology advancing in our age or will it use us, making us its slaves?
That question can be answered only in the context of the spiritual, especially the understanding of God’s transcendence.
That is the only backdrop by which we can see our true humanity and distinguish ourselves from the machine.
Wallace B. Henley, a former White House and congressional aide, is author of Who Will Rule the Coming ‘Gods’, a book exploring the consequences of the exponential development of artificial intelligence in a society that is rapidly losing the sense of God’s Transcendence. He is a teaching pastor at Grace Church, The Woodlands, Texas. Source: Christian Post
Suspected al-Shabaab militants tortured and killed at least six Christians, five of whom were reportedly beheaded, in a terror attack on a village in Kenya’s coastal Lamu region that borders Somalia, according to reports.
“It is an ugly sight of people’s bodies lying dead and houses smoking with fire. This is undeniably an awful terrorist attack,” said Pastor Stephen Sila, who was at the site of the attack in Widhu village in Lamu West on Monday morning, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern reported.
“I counted seven houses that were torched down, four bodies of people burned beyond recognition inside the houses,” he was quoted as saying. “A body shot dead right outside a burned house and another beheaded body next to it. Other villagers escaped into the dark and the police are still looking for them.”
The attack took place at about 4 a.m. local time while people were still sleeping, Lamu County Commissioner Samson Macharia told local media.
Five of the six killed had their hands tied from behind before they were beheaded, reported Kenya’s The Standard newspaper. “All the deceased persons had their hands tied from behind. Also several houses were torched within the locality and property of unknown value burned,” it said, citing a police report.
The pastor who spoke to ICC added: “The residents have gathered and are asking why the security officers were not doing enough to protect the Christians from being attacked by the Somali militants. There is a standoff now, but more police officers are arriving to pick the bodies and also evacuate those who need emergency medical attention.”
Commissioner Macharia also called it a terror attack and said security forces were hunting for the militants in a nearby forest, where they might have disappeared after the attack.
In the country’s northeast, the al-Shabaab terrorist group has been a constant threat.
Al-Shabaab has fought for years to overthrow the Somali government. The group has been responsible for attacks on both sides of the Somalia and Kenya border as it has long vowed to retaliate against Kenya for sending in troops to Somalia to fight the group. UnmuteDuration 23:59/Current Time 1:29Advanced SettingsFullscreenPauseUp Next
In April 2015, al-Shabaab carried out one of its deadliest attacks when it stormed the campus of Garissa University. On that occasion, militants were said to have separated Muslims from non-Muslims and proceeded to execute all non-Muslim students. At least 148 people were killed in the attack.
Kenya was ranked 49th on Christian support organization Open Doors USA’s 2021 World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.
While it’s a Christian-majority country, persecution has spread in Kenya, Open Doors says. “Particularly, Christians with a Muslim background in the northeast and coastal regions live under constant threat of attack — even from their closest relatives. Our research revealed that Christians were attacked and forced to flee their villages, and Islamic extremist group al-Shabaab has infiltrated the local population to monitor the activities of Christians in those areas.”
Organized crime is also a serious problem in the country, Open Doors adds. “Corrupt officials often fail to take measures against persecutors — increasing the potential for further incidents against Christians.”
A church leader overseeing the Lamu West Africa Inland Churches told ICC that believers are still at risk in the country. “The enemy is still roaming free within our region,” he said. “We are saddened that six Christians have lost their lives and left their families, and the entire body of Christ is hurting. We call upon the government to heighten its commitment to protecting the people of this great nation of Kenya.”
Dear Reader: please remember in your prayers our brother and sisters in Kenya who are suffering for their faith in Jesus Christ. Also pray for the salvation of their persecutors and that they would be brought to justice.
The Center for Astrophysics / Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA) is an astrophysics research institute founded in 1973 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. One thing they do is study dark matter and dark energy. “All the atoms and light in the Universe together make up less than 5% of the total contents of the cosmos. The rest is composed of dark matter and dark energy.”
In the natural realm, dark energy is an invisible mysterious force that “is counteracting gravity to make the universe expand at a greater rate.” In the spiritual realm, man’s sinful nature is an invisible wicked force that corrupts the heart and mind at an expanding rate. The effects of dark energy can be measured in the Universe. For example, “cosmic microwave background measurements show dark energy contributes about 68% of the total energy content of the universe.”
Likewise, the effects of the sinful nature can be measured as well. “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealously, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like” (Galatians 5:19-21).
God communicates with us through two books: the book of nature and Scripture. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge” (Psalm 19:1,2). “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Astrophysicists, regardless of their spiritual convictions, are constantly immersed in God’s book of nature. And the cosmological discoveries over the past 25 years have convinced many astrophysicists and other scientists that our universe had a highly intelligent causal agent.
In his 2006 book, Many Worlds in One, Alexander Vilenkin wrote, “With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”
Robert Jastrow is an astronomer who founded NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. In his book, God and the Astronomers, Gastric writes, “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the Earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover … That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”
Paul Wallace wrote a book titled, Love and Quasars: An Astrophysicist Reconciles Faith and Science. One reviewer stated, “Wallace interweaves his own story through seasons of faith and doubt. With candor, he leads us to his own liberating vantage point as a Christian and scientist: the necessity of wonder.”
Werner Heisenberg was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics for the creation of quantum mechanics. He said, “The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.
In order to know God personally, one must know the Messiah. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well” (John 14:6,7).
While physical laws govern the universe, God established the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:1-21) in the Old Testament to govern His people. And “the Law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24).
Jesus said the Holy Spirit “will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin … because men do not believe in me” (John 16:8,9). Read the 10 Commandments every day for a month and ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sins against God’s perfect Law. You will begin to understand that your sins are by far your biggest problem. “Your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
George Ellis is a South African astrophysicist who was a collaborator on the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems. Ellis stated, “God’s nature is revealed most perfectly in the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded in the New Testament of the Bible, who was sent by God to reveal the divine nature, summarized in ‘God is love.’”
In order to receive the love of God into your heart, you will need to bow your knee at the foot of the cross as you confess your sins to God. Trust Jesus to forgive you. And then begin to live for the One who created all things, including “things in Heaven and on Earth, visible and invisible…” (Colossians 1:16). This includes dark matter and spiritual light.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). There is still time for you to “come near to God and He will come near to you” (James 4:8). But this window of opportunity will not stay open forever. While the Universe continues expanding at a greater rate, the number of minutes you have left to get right with God is shrinking.
Dark matter and dark energy cannot remove even one of your sins. Jesus, however, can wash away all of your sins and bring you into a beautiful eternal relationship with your Father in Heaven. You see, the path to Paradise was revealed in Christ’s first sermon: “Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15).
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.
When David Livingston started his trek across Africa, he had 73 books in three packs, weighing 180 pounds. After the party had gone 300 miles, Livingston was obliged to throw away some of the books because of the fatigue of those carrying his baggage. As he continued on his journey his library grew less and less, until he had but one book left— his Bible.
Jesus said: Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 KJV) Rabindranath Tagore, the great Indian poet and philosopher, said this passage was the most beautiful passage in the Bible.
But what is conversion? Converted comes from “con”, with, and “vertare”, to turn – “to turn with.” The big question in life is, is my face or my back toward Christ? The first step in the new life is to turn your back on the old life and face toward Christ. You do not do that alone – there is the “with”. The moment you throw your will in His direction, He is there with you. He helps you to do what you can’t do – to break with the old life – but that decision to turn around is your decision. There you stand alone and as a free moral being you make the decision alone, severely alone. The moment you make it, however, He is “with” you.
“The Christian church with all its faults is the greatest serving institution on earth. It has many critics, but no rivals in the work of human redemption… No other institution has done anything like it—none whatever. The fact that the church has been able to survive the dead weight of a large proportion of its membership unconverted is a proof of its essential soundness and vitality. A minority of converted people keep its soul alive.”
E. Stanley Jones, Conversion: From Lane Corley blog – Church Planting, Mission Strategy and Life in SE Louisiana
During the years when I spoke in hundreds of meetings around the world, I found it increasingly difficult to effectively communicate testimonies from the church in Asia to believers in “free” countries. Often when I spoke in meetings, people looked at me as if I had just dropped in from another planet.
I became aware that the spiritual dynamics of the persecuted church in Asia were completely different from those in western Christianity. The differences were so stark that I sometimes felt I was interacting with two different faiths. Even the most basic understanding of God’s character appeared to be fundamentally different.
For example, on one occasion in China I shared a powerful testimony from the Mru tribe of Myanmar. The Mru number about 25,000 people, most of whom are Buddhist. The gospel had recently experienced a breakthrough among them, and several Mru villages had turned to Jesus Christ. The Buddhist monks were furious when they heard about it, so they hired two gangs of thugs and sent them to the Christian villages to beat the believers, rape the women, and burn down their houses.
Armed with chains and machetes, the first group of thugs made their way on foot to the Christian area. Before reaching their intended destination, however, a freak electrical storm descended on them as they traversed a mountain pass. All of the men were killed by lightning. The lightning also struck the 400-year-old Buddhist temple in the Mru township, burning it the ground.
The second mob of would-be persecutors traveled to the Christian villages aboard a large raft. As they made their way down the river, a thick fog suddenly enveloped them, making it impossible to see where they were going. A barge sliced through the fog, struck the raft, and hurled the thugs into the rapids, where they all drowned.
When news of these events reached the Mru communities, the fear of God fell on them. Realizing that the Living God had displayed his awesome wrath, hundreds of people turned to Christ and repented of their sins.
When I shared this testimony with the Christians in China, they literally jumped up and down with joy and shouted “Hallelujah!” at the top of their voices. They rejoiced in the judgments of God, as the Bible says, “Zion hears and rejoices and the villages of Judah are glad because of your judgments, Lord” (Psalms 97:8).
Just a few weeks later I found myself standing in front of a congregation in Texas. As I shared the same testimony from Myanmar, I looked out at a sea of grim faces staring back at me. There was no rejoicing in that meeting and not a single “Hallelujah” was uttered.
After the service, an elderly lady came forward to confront me on behalf of the other church members. She strongly rebuked me with the words, “Our God is not like that brother. Our God is a loving God!” I noticed many people behind her nodding their heads in agreement
Like that congregation in Texas, many believers imagine God to be a cuddly, teddy bear-like figure whose main purpose is to encourage and bless them. They think God is so gentle and loving that he would never harm a fly, and Christians who dared to mention his wrath or coming judgments are often pushed into a corner and considered a threat to the peace of the church.
With such a skewed, chummy attitude toward God, it is no wonder that many Christians no longer fear Him. They love to hear about how John reclined at the dinner table by leaning against his best friend Jesus, but few remember that the two men met again many years later. This time the resurrected Lord was dressed in the robes of a Roman judge. John, who was absolutely terrified, wrote, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” Revelation 1:17.
Source: Paul Hattaway, An Asian Harvest (Monarch Books, 2017), p.262-264 (Excellent book which I recommend and can be ordered at Asia Harvest.)
“every individual Christian will find in the communion of a local church the most perfect atmosphere for the fullest development of his spiritual life.” ~ A.W. Tozer
My observation is that most people never experience “the fullest development of his spiritual life” through the church or see the great value, because they may GO TO CHURCH, but they don’t get involved in the LIFE OF A CHURCH. There’s a big difference. Going to church makes you a CONSUMER of its services. Getting involved in the life of a church puts you in “COMMUNION” with a life source fed by God himself. The Apostle Paul said it like this
“From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” ~ Ephesians 4:16
It’s consuming vs. serving, sharing life, supporting, being supported, building up, being built up, etc.
The enduring image of church for me is that of a forest. A forest stays strong, even in dry seasons, because BENEATH THE SURFACE, the roots of the trees are feeding off of one another for growth & strength. Roots can’t share their life with a tree that just lays itself upon the surface. It has to take root & do life with the others.
“I tried church, but it didn’t help.” Probably not, if you just showed up every now & then with little commitment, little humbling of yourself, little sharing of your life, little getting involved in relationships, little investment in ministries, little digging deep to support & be supported.
I love the Tozer quote, because I’ve experience it. Now, don’t read it wrong. The church is NOT a “perfect atmosphere.” Far from it. It is the perfect atmosphere for spiritual development BECAUSE of its imperfections. Relationships with people that are struggling through life together, growing as individuals, utilizing unique gifts no matter how imperfectly. And seeing God in Christ feed & nourish & heal & empower each other. It’s a beautiful thing! But you won’t see it on the surface by just GOING TO CHURCH.
Source: Pastor Lane Corley @ lanecorley.com (his blog)
A man walked into a Christian bookstore in an Arabic-speaking country. “I want your best book on the defense of Christianity.” The bookstore manager handed him Evidence That Demands A Verdict in Arabic.
As the man left he exclaimed, “I’m doing my dissertation on destroying Christianity.” Six months later the storeowner baptized the student who had become a believer.
Source: Josh McDowell & Sean McDowell, PhD – Evidence That Demands A Verdict – Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN:
The opening quote is Josh McDowell’s response to a question concerning his favorite story about the impact of Evidence That Demands A Verdict on unbelievers. If you do not have this book, I recommend that you consider purchasing a copy or obtain a copy through your local library. Whether you have questions yourself concerning Jesus Christ or you know someone who does, this book, written by a former atheist and his son, would lead you to the Truth.
If you are a Bible teacher or just a disciple of Christ, the book is a great reference for Church history and help in understanding the Scriptures.
May God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son, richly bless you daily with love, joy and peace.