Dream Catchers

I recently shared a sermon titled The End Times and The Unsuspecting. The sermon is based on Romans 16: 18 which reads:

[18] For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

The “men” are people trying to deceive Christians into error.  The “unsuspecting” are those Christians who go through life unaware of the demonic snares. 

They are not aware of the spiritual fact that if we have something that belongs to or is dedicated to the devil or his kingdom, he has a legal right to be in the Christian’s home or life. We have, as Paul warns us not to do, “given place to the devil”.  The word “place” means we have given him ground to stand on in our lives.  A “beachhead” may more properly describe it. 

As I was reviewing the PowerPoint, when I reached the section stating that “unsuspecting Christians participate in or have an unhealthy interest in occult practices”, the Holy Spirit impressed me that I needed to add Native American spirituality to the occult practices list.  I had created the list from Deuteronomy 18: 10-14 which contains most of the occult practices God considers an abomination. So, I added it to my notes and made a few comments during the sermon.

I found out later some church members were convicted by the Lord to dispose of their Native American “dream catchers’ hanging over their beds.  Goes to show that only the Lord knows the hearts of His lambs. 

As a follow up, I would like to share a short article on “dream catchers”.   The author is Nanci Des Gerlaise, a Native American Christian woman of Cree First Nation. Nanci’s father and grandfather were both medicine men or shamans; therefore, she has first hand knowledge concerning the occult powers behind Native American spirituality. May your spiritual eyes be opened if you are involved in this snare. God bless you! Carl

Dream Catchers—Those Popular Spidery “Sacred Hoops”

November 21, 2019 by Lighthouse Trails author

By Nanci Des Gerlaise
(author of Muddy Waters: an insider’s view of North American Native Spirituality)

Dream catchers—those spidery “sacred hoops” with feathers. They originated with the Ojibwa tribe during the ’60s and ’70s, supposedly to protect a sleeper by “catching” bad dreams or evil spirits. Then they caught on with other tribes and spread through the New Age movement into popular culture. Today, it is not uncommon to see dream catchers in gift and variety stores.  Dream catchers are even used in some public school settings, as the following describes:

Every classroom displayed at least one dreamcatcher—a magical spider web inside a sacred circle. The students explained that dreamcatchers protect them from evil spirits and nightmares by catching the bad dreams but permitting good dreams to pass though the center. According to fourth grade teacher Ms. Preston, the amber crystal in the center of her dreamcatcher meant proper spiritual alignment with the energy of the universe.1

But you can be sure, most of the general public has no idea of the meaning and purpose of dream catchers.

Basically, using a dream catcher in its intended purpose is nothing more than a form of practicing occultism. How can an inanimate object “catch” evil spirits, much less bad dreams? And why attempt to “catch” evil spirits or nightmares when you cannot fight them physically?

Although Native people can sometimes see into the spiritual world of darkness, dream catchers, or anything having to do with the occult, merely attract evil spirits and demonic activity and provide no means of protection from them. Using dream catchers is an open invitation for more spiritual works of darkness.

If you are a born-again Christian, you have a Protector—God Almighty—who stands between us and the evil realm. We need nothing more than Jesus Christ Himself who overcame all works and powers of darkness by His death and resurrection. If we pay attention to God’s Word and not to seducing spirits, we can walk in His freedom from fear.

Ephesians 6:12 says that our battle is not against “flesh and blood,” but is against “principalities,” “powers,” “the rulers of the darkness” and “spiritual wickedness in high places.” And in Hebrews, we read:

Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14–15)

(To understand more about Native Spirituality, read Muddy Waters, by Nanci Des Gerlaise).

Notes:
1. Berit Kjos, Brave New Schools (Kjos Ministries, http://www.crossroad.to/Books/BraveNewSchools/1-globalvillage.html), ch. 1.

Self-Governing

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”– James Madison, Primary Author of the U.S. Constitution, Fourth President of the United States of America

If I Really Believed…

The question I asked myself today is if I really believe the Scriptures below concerning what Jesus and the New Testament say about the “second death”, what would I do differently today?

My answer was to seize the opportunities that present themselves to share the gospel with a fellow human being. And that is what I was able to do.

What would you do differently?

  1. Revelation 20:14- “And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”
  2. Revelation 21:8 – “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murders and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
  3. Revelation 2:11 – “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches, He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.
  4. Revelation 20:6 -“Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”
  5. Matthew 10:28 – Jesus says: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
  6. John 3:16 – Jesus says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. “
  7. (“Perish” means to experience the second death.)
  8. Romans 5: 8-10 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
  9. (“the wrath of God” – the second death is the ultimate expression of His just wrath.)
  10. Ephesians 2:7-9 – “…in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…”

If you possess this “gift” of salvation, please find a way to share it with the hopeless and dying souls all around us that are unknowingly headed to a second death.

Be faithful to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ,

Carl

Grave Knowledge

If everyone knew what the dead know, the whole world would be worshipping Jesus. Author Unknown

Preparing The Church For Persecution- From Believers Who Have and Are Being Persecuted

(The following is written by four Chinese pastors from the underground church in Communist China. They have or are experiencing persecution from the Communist China government simply because they are born again Christians. They have spent a combined total of 47 years in prison for their faith in Jesus Christ. The source of the article is omitted due to security issues. Carl)

“In recent years—especially since the start of the Covid pandemic—many believers around the world have contacted us to ask if we can share insights or do interviews into how Christians can survive persecution, as they see the storm clouds of persecution gathering on the horizon in their countries.

First, we point out that we have written more than a dozen books on the Church in China, each containing principles and testimonies of how God has not only helped His children survive six decades of persecution, but has caused them to thrive, so that China is still experiencing the greatest revival in Christian history.

When we try to help church leaders and believers in the West prepare for persecution, after more dialogue it usually emerges that they are not really looking for straight answers. Often, what people mean when they ask these questions is: “How can we survive persecution in our current church structures, so we don’t have to suffer or change?”

The answer to this is… you cannot!

True, physical persecution (e.g. when Christians are being arrested, beaten, imprisoned, or even killed) will not leave most current church structures intact. It will completely dismantle them!

Gone will be the denominations, emphasis on church buildings, Reverends, division between “clergy” and other believers, and all kinds of church traditions and outward imagery that are not found in Scripture. They will be swept away.

This pattern is what happened when persecution was ramped up against believers in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and other countries we work in.

We don’t know if severe persecution is coming to your part of the world soon, but we must be prepared. The Lord Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9), while the Apostle Paul told Timothy that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

We would like to conclude by sharing five important truths about persecution, which we hope will bring encouragement and focus to our fellow believers:

  1. God is always in control! If He allows persecution to come, it’s for the good of His kingdom. In China, believers only experienced the full joy of intimacy with Jesus when they were in the furnace of affliction and after they came out the other side.
  2. Persecution is the last thing our flesh desires, but our faith must rest on the fact that the Lord Jesus will not let us down, and He will never leave nor forsake us. Persecution cannot destroy our relationship with Him: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Romans 8:35).
  3. Importantly, when intense hardship comes, we shouldn’t see only the hand of Satan in persecution. In China, God’s people looked back later and realized that it was actually the Lord Jesus overseeing the entire process out of love for His children. He is zealous to remove the dead religious structures that trap people in bondage and keep millions of unbelievers from being able to see the true Gospel.
  4. Persecution is a pruning process, when the Holy Spirit removes half-hearted believers from among the flock. In China, when fierce persecution first broke out in the 1950s, around two-thirds of churchgoers fell away from the faith. The Lord Jesus told us this would occur: “When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, they quickly fall away” (Mark 4:17). Friends, if two-thirds of Chinese Christians fell away at the onset of persecution, how might things be in your part of the world?
  5. For those who do not give up, persecution often brings great revival. In China, the number of Christians has grown from less than one million to over 100 million after 60 years of brutal Communist persecution! All glory to God. When that realization dawned on believers, many learned not only to grimly endure persecution, but to embrace it as a special blessing from God.

May God Almighty continue to bless and multiply His church in Communist China. May the church in the West return to its New Testament roots before the fires of persecution makes it return to that unchanging guidance He has given us! Carl

Is There Enough Evidence?

If there be an honest man, who desires to love God and fear Jesus Christ, who will neither slander, nor swear, nor lie, nor commit adultery, nor kill, nor steal, nor avenge himself on his enemies, they presently say of such a one he is a Vaudes, and worthy of death.”

This quote comes from an ancient writing (1100 AD) of the Waldenses entitled the Nobla Leycon (Noble Lesson). The Waldenses are a very ancient branch of the True Church that left the “wreck of primitive Christianity” (Church of Rome) in the 800s AD.

J.A. Wylie in his The History of The Waldenses states, “Rome manifestly was the schismatic, she it was that had abandoned what was once the common faith of Christendom, leaving by that step to all who remained on the old ground the indisputably valid title of the True Church.”

They are today the largest Protestant faith in Italy though the past popes had attempted to exterminate them for over 600 years. This persecution is what the end of the statement “he is a Vaudes, and worthy of death” is referring to.

But enough history!

If I were to be dragged before the Inquisition today, would my conduct and speech produce enough evidence to convict me of being a True Christian?

The Waldenses way of life and speech revealed that they were very different from the contemporary culture they lived in. Can you and I say that about our conduct today? Or do we just say one thing at church and just blend in with the wicked and immoral culture that surrounds us the rest of the time, laughing at the same dirty jokes, looking at the same filthy entertainment, hating and being unforgiving, our cruel and wicked speech revealing our cruel and wicked inner man instead of a Holy Spirit controlled new man in Christ?

The apostle Paul believed in examining yourself to make sure your following Christ’s example in conduct/teaching and not your religious, fleshly, sin nature. That is why he told Timothy to “pay close attention to yourself” (I Timothy 4:16). We should heed his instructions.

Carl

Pliny the Younger

Pliny the Younger (61-113 AD) was a Roman Magistrate appointed by the emperor Trajan over Bithynia, now in modern Turkey. In 112 AD he wrote the emperor requesting direction on how to handle the many Christians that were brought before him. The English translation of Pliny’s letter and Trajan’s response was published by William Harris, Prof. Em. Middlebury College.

Harris said the Christians were brought daily before Pliny for refusing military service, refusing to worship the Roman emperors and for being members of a strange new and secret religion which although harmless, seemed dangerous to the established Roman way of life. I would add “revenge” to this list because of the change in temple economics due to Christians forsaking the idols.

This is the first documented evidence of the “Christian Problem” in the Roman world.

Oh, in case you’re wondering, Pliny the Elder was his uncle who died trying to rescue people from the Pompeii disaster. Here is the translation from Latin:

Gaius Plinius to the Emperor Trajan

It is for me an important point of responsibility to refer to you as Head of State, things about which I have questions, since you are the person best able to set straight my hesitations and correct my lack of information.

Actually I have never been present at a Examination (cognitio) of Christians, so I do not know what punishment is required or how far it is to be carried out. Nor do I understand the legal grounds for a prosecution, or how stringently it is to be prosecuted. I am not clear about prosecutions in respect to the age of the persons, whether no distinction should be made between the young and the old, and furthermore whether a pardon should be granted in cases of recanting, or if there is no advantage for a person completely ceasing to be a Christian. Or is it the name “Christian” which is prosecutable, even if not involved in criminal actions, or is that “criminality” is automatically attached to the name?

In the meantime, I now handle it this way with those who are turned over to me as Christians. I ask them directly, in person, if they are Christian, I ask a second and third time to be sure, and indicate to them the danger of their situation. If they persist, I order them led dispatched (= executed). I have had no trouble with this, since whatever it was they admitted or professed, I decided that their obstinacy and unyielding inflexibility should be sufficient reason for punishment. Some others who were virtually insane with this cult, but Roman citizens, I sent back to Rome for trial.

As I continue with this handling of the situation, as often happens, the numbers and kinds of incriminations are becoming more widespread. An anonymous List has been brought out which contains the names of a great many persons. I decided to dismiss charges again any on this list who stated that they were now not, nor had ever been Christians, if they repeated after me a prayer of invocation to the Gods, and made an offering of wine and incense to your statue, which I had brought in to the court along with the statues of the Gods, for this purpose. And in addition they were to formally curse Christ, which I understand true Christians will never do.

Other named by the anonymous List said they were Christians, and later changed their statement. Some said that they had been and then stopped, some three years before, some longer, some even twenty years before. All these reverenced your statue and those of the Gods, and cursed Christ. They stated that the sum total of their error or misjudgment, had been coming to a meeting on a given day before dawn, and singing responsively a hymn to Christ as to God, swearing with a holy oath not to commit any crime, never to steal or commit robbery, commit adultery, fail a sworn agreement or refuse to return a sum left in trust. When all this was finished, it was their custom to go their separate ways, and later re-assemble to take food of an ordinary and simple kind. But after my edict which forbids all political Societies, they did in fact give this up.I thought at this point that it was necessary to get information from two slave women, whom they call Deaconesses (ministrae) about the actual truth, by means of torture. I found nothing worthy of blame other than the blind and over-wrought nature of their cult-superstition.

I have therefore postponed further Examinations (cognitiones) and made haste to come to you immediately for consultation. This situation seem to demand serious consultation, especially in view of the large number of people falling into this danger. A great many persons of every age, of every social class, men and women alike, are being brought in to trial, and this seems likely to continue. It is not only the cities, but also the towns and even the country villages which are being infected with this cult-contagion.

It seems possible to check and reverse this direction at this point, for it is quite clear that the Temples of the Gods which have been empty for so long, now begin to be filled again, the sacred rites which had lapsed are now being performed and flesh for sacrificial rites is now sold again at the shops, although for a while nobody would buy it. So it seems reasonable to think that a great many people could be persuaded to reform, IF there were a legal procedure for Repentance.

Emperor Trajan to Pliny:

You have done the right thing, my dear Pliny, in handling the cases of those who were brought to you under the charge of being Christians. But it is not possible to make hard and fast rule with one specific formula. These people must not be searched out, if they are brought before your court and the case against them is proved, they must be punished, but in the case of anyone who states that he is not a Christian and makes it perfectly clear that he is not, by offering prayers to out Gods, such a one is to be pardoned on the grounds of his present repentance, however suspect he may have been in the past. But anonymous lists must not have any place in the court proceedings. They are a terrible example and not at all in keeping with our times.


William Harris
Prof. Em. Middlebury College


Go to the Chronological List of all Early Christian Writings

Trials

“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!

Carl

An Example of The Difference in Western Christianity and Asian Christianity

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.)

The Christian Revelation

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (Hebrew 1:1-2 NASB)

…it was really the Ruler of all, the Creator of all, the invisible God himself, who from heaven established the truth and the holy, incomprehensible word among men, and fixed it firmly in their hearts. Nor, as one might suppose, did he do this by sending to men some subordinate –an angel, or principality, or one of those who administer earthly affairs, or perhaps one of those to whom the government of things in heaven is entrusted.

Rather, he sent the Designer and Maker of the universe himself, by whom he created the heavens and confined the sea within its own bounds—him whose hidden purposes all the elements of the world faithfully carry out, him from whom the sun has received the measure of the daily rounds that it must keep, him whom the moon obeys when he commands her to shine by night. And whom the stars obey as they follow the course of the moon. He sent him by whom all things have been set in order and distinguished and place in subjection—the heavens and the things that are in the heavens, the earth and the things in the earth, the sea, and the things in the depths and in the realm between;

 God sent him to men.

Now, did he send him, as a human mind might assume, to rule by tyranny, fear, and terror? Far from it! He sent him out of kindness and gentleness, like a king sending his son who is himself a king. He sent him as God; he sent him as man to men. He willed to save man by persuasion, not by compulsion, for compulsion is not God’s way of working. In sending him, God called men, but did not pursue them; he sent him in love, not in judgement. Yet he will indeed send him someday as our Judge, and who shall stand when he appears? …

Do you not see how they are thrown to wild animals to make them deny the Lord, and how they are vanquished? Do you not see that the more of them are punished, the more do others increase? These things do not seem to come from a human power; they are a mighty act of God, they are proofs of his presence.

As a matter of fact, before he came, what man had any knowledge of God at all? Or do you really accept the idle nonsense talked by those plausible philosophers, some of whom asserted that God was fire—the very thing that they are on the point of going to, they call God! —while others claimed that he was water, and others said that he was yet another one of the elements created by God? And yet, if any one of these lines or argument is acceptable, then each and every one of the other creatures could in the same way be shown to be God. No, this is just quackery and deceit practiced by wizards. No man has ever seen God or made him known, but he has manifested himself. And he manifested himself through faith, by which alone it has been made possible for us to see God.

Excerpt from Letter to Diognetus by Quadratus of Asia Minor from his Apology to Hadrian (AD 129?) – Taken from Early Christian Fathers – Translated and Edited by Cyril C. Richardson, Washburn Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York, 1996, Simon & Schuster Publisher(Scripture, two paragraph breaks and bolding added for emphasis)

Remedy For Immorality

“The remedies for this sin are fasting, prayer, and keeping at a distance from it. For other vices may be subdued by fighting, but in this we conqueror by flight, and by not coming near it; of which we have an example in Joseph. We must pray to the Lord daily, that He would remove far from us the sin of lasciviousness, and grant us the gift of understanding and chastity.”

Source: An excerpt from a Waldenses barb’s (pastor) defense of Waldenses’ teaching and character from accusations by Roman Catholic Pope, Bishops and Priests seeking to justify their extermination by labeling them heretics – From History of Ancient Christians Inhabiting the Valley of the Alps: Part I. The Waldenses, Part II. The Albigenses, Part III. The Vaudois by Jean Paul Perrin (1843): P. Miller, New York

The Word of God says:

“Now flee from youthful lusts, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Paul to Timothy — II Timothy 2:22

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God…” Paul to the Thessalonian Church — I Thessalonians 4:3-5

May sanctifying grace and tranquil peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ be upon each of you.

Carl

A Word For The Saints Today

If you have fallen into the habit of wringing your hands over your failure and inability, and if in the back of your mind you think that this somehow excuses you, please understand something. It does not. It is now time for you to rise up as a soldier of the Cross, put on the whole armor, and go out to fight the good fight of faith in total reliance upon the One who has called you, who has promised to be with you and give you His victory. Stop concentrating on your weaknesses and failures and look instead to Him. Fall in love with Him afresh because of who He is and what He has done. You need to turn from your own inadequacies and trust God.

“And the Lord said unto Joshua, “Rise up!” Why is it that you have fallen on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things.” — Joshua 7:10-11

Source: Berean Call

Christian Church Growth in China

An article by Jessica Lea, “‘Leaders are scared’ of How Fast the Church in China Is Growing” is both encouraging and raises other concerns.

It is exciting that they are growing: “The number of Christians in China is growing so quickly that it could reach 300 million by 2030, says Dr. Ron Boyd-MacMillan. He believes the rapid growth of the church in China is why the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is targeting believers so aggressively. 

“We think the evidence as to why the Chinese Church is so targeted, is that the leaders are scared of the size of the Church, and the growth of the Church,” said Boyd-MacMillan, who oversees global strategy and research for Open Doors International.

Speaking to the Daily Express on Jan. 24, Boyd-MacMillan said, “And if it grows, at the rate that it has done, since 1980 and that’s about between seven and eight percent a year, then you’re looking at a group of people that will be 300 million strong, nearly by 2030. And, you know, the Chinese leadership, they really do long-term planning, I mean, their economic plan goes to 2049, so this bothers them.”

It also may well be as our government continues implementing Marxism into our nation they will tap into their technology of: “tracking the biometric data of church attendees, as well as developing a way of giving everyone in the country a social score based on how well they comply with the government.”

Big Brother will indeed be watching, rewarding and punishing obedience.

https://mailchi.mp/671aa29f4143/the-naked-spiritual-rhythms-for-the-enneagram?e=169825fd77

Source: Berean Call
   

Does One Replace The Other?

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,

“I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE, THEREFORE, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPERATE,” says the Lord. ‘AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.

THEREFORE, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (II Corinthians 6:14 thru 7:1 NASB -emphasis added)

Please note in the proceeding scriptures, that faith and hope in these magnificent promises of God does not replace or destroy our fear of God, who taketh pleasure in those that fear him and hope in his mercy.

The healthy, overwhelming, profound, adoring, awed respect (aka fear) of God prolongs life (Proverb 10:27), is a fountain of life that one may avoid the snares of death (Proverb 14:27), causes one to sleep satisfied untouched by evil (Proverb 19:23), is the beginning of wisdom (Proverb 9:10) and causes numerous other blessings to occur in a believer’s life.

So hold on to His wonderful and magnificent promises but also walk in that reverence toward Him that only He is deserving of.

Thank you for your time. May His blessing rest upon you.

Carl

You Are Not Alone

I will not, I will not cease to uphold or sustain thee, I will not, I will not, I will not forsake someone in a state of defeat or helplessness in the midst of hostile circumstances.

This Greek amplification of what God said in Hebrew 13:5 tells us that Christians are not alone. He is with us in the midst of our trials and hard times.

IF we feel alone in the midst of our troubles, who moved? Are we like the first Adam who because of his sin ran and hid from God’s presence?

Yet, even when Lord Jesus corrected the Laodicea believers for their lukewarmness (Rev. 3:14-19), their delusion concerning their true condition as a result of kicking Jesus out of their rebellious hearts, He FAITHFULLY stands at their heart’s door knocking (Rev. 3:20) PROMISING if they will let Him back in their heart as Lord, He and the repentant believer can have fellowship again.

Oh, dear Reader we need to thank God for His faithfulness to us and His mercy toward us! Let us rejoice because our God is so GOOD to us!

Carl

When Thou Risest…..

(The following is an excerpt from a tract written by Reformer John Wycliffe (1324-1384); hence, the ole English vocabulary. Hope you are built up and encouraged by the words of this precious saint. Carl)

“First, when thou risest, or fully wakest, think upon the goodness of thy God; how for his own goodness, and not for any need, he made all things out of nothing, both angels and men, and all other creatures, good in their kind.

The second time, think on the great sufferings and willing death that Christ suffered for mankind. When no man might make satisfaction for the guilt of Adam and Eve, and others more, neither any angel might make satisfaction therefore, then Christ, of his endless charity, suffered such great passion and painful death, that no creature could suffer so much.

 Think the third time, how God hath saved thee from death and other mischief, and suffered many thousands to be lost that night, some in water, some in fire, and some by sudden death, and some to be damned without end. And for this goodness and mercy thank thy God with all thine heart, and pray him to give thee grace to spend in that day, and evermore, all the powers of thy soul, as mind, understanding, reason, and will; and all the powers of thy body, as strength, beauty, and thy five senses, in his service and worship, and in nothing against his commandments, but in ready performance of his works of mercy, and to give good example of holy life, both in word and deed, to all men about thee.

 Look afterward that thou be well occupied, and no time idle, for the danger of temptation. Take meat and drink in measure, not too costly, nor too lickerous, and be not too curious thereabout. But such as God sendeth thee with health, take it in such measure, that thou be fresher in mind and understanding to serve God. And always thank him for such gifts.

 Besides this, look thou do right and equity to all men, thy superiors, equals, and subjects, or servants; and stir all to love truth, and mercy, and true peace, and charity; and suffer no men to be at dissension, but accord, if thou canst, in any good manner.

Also, most of all, fear God and his wrath; and most of all, love God, and his law, and his worship: and ask not principally for worldly reward, but in all thine heart desire the bliss of heaven in mercy of God, and thine own good life and think much of the dreadful doom of pains of hell, to keep thee out of sin; and on the endless great joys of heaven, to keep thee in virtuous life; and according to thy skill teach others the same doing.

 In the end of the day, think wherein thou hast offended God, and how much, and how oft, and therefore have entire sorrow, and amend it while thou mayst. And think how many God has suffered to perish that day, many ways, and to be damned everlastingly, and how graciously he hath saved thee; not for thy desert, but for his own mercy, and goodness, and therefore thank him with all thine heart. And pray him for grace that thou mayest dwell and end in his true and holy service, and real love, and to teach other men the same doing.”

Excerpt from A SHORT RULE OF LIFE, FOR EACH MAN IN GENERAL, AND FOR PRIESTS, AND LORDS, AND LABOURIRS IN SPECIAL, HOW EACH SHALL BE SAVED IN HIS DEGREE Reformer John Wycliffe (1324-1384)  (paragraph structure added)               

Rebellion Speaks To The Heart

Transgression [like an Oracle] speaks to the wicked deep in his heart.

There is no fear or dread of God before his eyes.

For he flatters and deceives himself in his own eyes,

That his iniquity will not be found out and be hated.

…he does not reject or despise evil.

Psalms 36: 1-2,4b Amplified

I believe King David wrote this Psalms out of his own personal experience with sin. The person in the psalm is called “the ungodly” (NASB) or “the wicked” (Amplified). The main fundamental characteristic of this person is there is no fear or dread of God before his eyes. He does not reject or despise evil.

Transgression signifies “willful deviation from, and therefore rebellion against, the path of godly living (Vines). You can not rebel against something unless it has been applied to you as a restraint. This is one reason I believe King David is speaking from his personal battle with sin. We will use the Bathsheba and Uriah scandal (II Samuel 11) to illustrate our point.

Transgression speaks pure rebellion against God’s revealed will in the heart of the ungodly or wicked person. In Scripture the heart is described as the hidden man, the “real me”, who I really am when the exterior facade that people see is stripped off. As the heart is hidden within the body of man, so the “real me” is hidden from the view of others…but not from God’s view. It is here, the heart, where this person has rejected  God’s lordship.

Rebellion speaks “like an Oracle”. This means man’s heart hears transgression or rebellion as an authoritative voice, it sounds true and correct in what it says because man’s heart is exceedingly wicked, who can know it. In ancient times an oracle was someone who heard from the pagan gods (demons) and was sought out by the powerful and the not so powerful who needed to know “the will of the gods”. Whatever the oracle said settled the matter. For example, Alexander The Great sought out the Temple of Apollo oracle at Delphi in Ancient Greece for “godly” advice.

This spirit of rebellion speaks with authority deep in the heart of this person. The common characteristic of the ungodly or wicked is that there is no fear or dread of God before their eyes. Fear” is obedient, reverential respect or awe for God. They do not have it. “…no …dread” means he does feel extreme reluctance to face God if he offends Him (Vines). In the midst of his willful rebellion toward God, he does not think about having to give an account before a Holy God. Because this measuring stick, the fear and dread of the Lord is not before the eyes of his understanding, he does not realize that he is deceiving himself. He is blinded with his own cravings or lusts and the desire to please man, or himself, instead of pleasing God.

Oh, there is a way that seems right to man but the ends thereof are death.

The reason he does not think about God in these matters is because rebellion flatters the heart to soothe his conscience, that organ that convicts of right and wrong. The flattery “sears the conscience” so it ceases to work, therefore, they have no moral compass. They are morally blind, i.e. if it feels good do it. The deception is necessary to prevent the inner man, especially in a Christian, from discovering his own iniquity and, consequently, hating his iniquity. Instead he, the Christian, goes on in his rebellion against God’s revealed will.

In David’s case, he went nine months being deceived by his transgression concerning his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah, her husband and David’s loyal soldier. It was only when Nathan, God’s prophet, rebuked David did he awaken from transgression’s deceiving flattery and the fear or dread of the Lord returned to his understanding. Transgression flattered him with things like: “Your the king, do what you wish”; “You work hard and deserve this;” or “Your a strong warrior and smart leader, it is unfortunate that good men (i.e. Uriah) have to die”.

As born again Christians, if we discover our iniquity in the light of the Holy Spirit’s conviction, we will hate it, for our true born again nature is to be Christ-like and not devil-like. If we can only repent of our sin in “words” but not in “practice”, then we will get on our knees and beg God to deliver us from the sin because we know He hates it; therefore, we hate it. By true repentance and the mercy of God, we can escape the bondage that our sin has delivered us into. Paul said:

Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, YOU BECAME OBEDIENT FROM THE HEART to that form of teaching to which you were committed….

(Romans 6: 16-17 emphasis added)

The fear of the Lord includes the hatred of evil but a person in this condition, does not reject or despise evil (verse 4). Instead they embrace it and hold it close to their heart. They deceive themselves and others about what they are doing or so they think. David describes this person’s conduct:

The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;

He has ceased to be wise and to do good.

He plans wickedness upon his bed;

He sets himself on a path that is not good;

He does not despise evil.

(Psalms 36: 3-4 Amplified emphasis added)

If we have rebellion flattering us in our hearts concerning something WE KNOW is sin, displeasing to God, we need to get into God’s word and let Him teach us the fear or reverence of the Lord so we can truly hate our sin. We all like the song Good Good Father by Chris Tomlin but the apostle Peter says if we call God “Father” we need to live in the fear or reverence of the Lord:

If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, CONDUCT YOURSELVES IN FEAR during the time of your stay on earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

(I Peter 1:17-19 emphasis added)

I know to some Christians, maybe most, fearing or reverencing the Lord is a foreign concept due to the emphasis on “love” in the New Testament church and the sugar coated preaching many hear today.  In future post we will look at how the early Christian church conducted itself in the fear of the Lord  and that Lord Jesus, the Messiah, delighted in the fear of the Lord.

Think on these things. Examine yourself. If need be, learn to walk in the wholesome, healthy, profound, adoring, awed respect (i.e. the fear of the Lord) of the Ancient of Days, our Heavenly Father, and Lord Jesus.

Oh by the way, did you see your self in what David said?

Carl

Above All Things

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life” Proverb 4: 23

The writer of Proverbs warns us about the importance of what goes into our heart or inner person, the true ‘you’. “…with all diligence…” is also translated “above all things…”. Above all things we should watch over our heart for from it flow the springs of life!

He then goes on to tell us how to guard and examine our hearts. He uses such terms as “put away”, “put…far from you”, “watch”, “do not turn”, and then in another verse he tells us to “turn”. In other words, it is our responsibility to be pro-active in watching over our heart. A passive mind and will is the enemy of our heart and the welcome mat to our sinful nature and demonic intrigue.

First he warns us about our “mouth” and “lips”. “Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious lips far from you.” (verse 24) If we wish to know what is in our heart, all we need to do is listen to the words coming out of our mouth. The words of our mouth reveal the content of our heart. If we find evil (i.e. bitterness, deceitfulness, lying, boasting, etc.) pouring out of us, we need to find the root in our heart and remove it by repentance based on the word of God and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Secondly, he warns us about what we are paying attention to. Let your eyes look directly ahead, and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.” (verse 25) Paul told Timothy to play close attention to himself and we need to do the same. Does good and noble things have our attention or are we fixated on worldly and sinful things? Do we like to tip toe into satan’s territory, exposing ourselves to his snare. If our attention is drawn to worldliness and sin, we need to determine where this is coming from in our heart and deal with it.

Thirdly, he warns us about where our thoughts and corresponding actions are taking us, are we walking in fellowship with Lord Jesus or are we on the path of the wicked? Watch the path of your feet, and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil. (verse 26-27) If we look honestly at the fruit of our lives, what path does it show we are own? Are we becoming more like Christ or more like the world? Or are we just wallowing around in complacently, worldliness and lukewarmness?

Paul, a brother who once found himself on the wrong path, tells us in 2 Corinthians 7 that we need to be perfecting holiness in the fear of God. The healthy, profound, adoring, awed respect (reverential fear) of the Lord teaches us to hate evil and to keep His commandments. Obedience is how we show our love for Him. (John 14: 21). By removing evil from our heart we become more “holy” or “set apart” unto the worship and service of God. I Corinthian 1: 2 tells us this is what God the Father through Jesus Christ has called us to. We are “saints by calling”.

So above all things watch over your heart, that hidden person who you truly are. That is the person the Holy Spirit sees and we need to see ourselves as He sees us. Thank your heavenly Father that His goal is to cause us to walk in agape love that flows from a pure heart, a clear conscience and sincere faith (I Timothy 1:5). If we obey His word in the power of the Holy Spirit this will be accomplished and our heart will be purified (I John 3:3 & 1 Peter 1:22). Thank you, Father God.

Carl

The Importance of Kindness

To him who is about to faint and despair, kindness is due from his friend, lest he forsake the fear of the Almighty.

Job 6:14 Amplified Bible

Though I have read the Book of Job several times, I did not remember this verse until I heard a sermon on kindness.

Job is addressing one of his friends who came to “comfort” him. Job was faint and in despair from the trial he was undergoing and he needed “kindness” from his friends instead of judgementalism. Satan’s goal in Job’s trials was to have him curse God to his face which would amount to forsaking the “fear” or “reverence” of the Almighty. He would cease to conduct himself in the healthy, wholesome, overwhelming, profound, adoring, awed respect (reverential fear) which manifested itself in obedience.

After hearing this sermon, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times I had walked right by another Christian who was “faint and despair” and did not stop to offer a word of encouragement or to tell them that God had not forsaken them, but would see them through the deep waters they were going through. I wondered if a brother or sister in Christ had turned their back on the Lord due to my lack of sensitivity and just common kindness.

God put several Christian hospital workers in my wife’s path when she was receiving treatment for breast cancer. They were an unbelievable encouragement to her and me during this time of spiritual fainting and despair. Just to know that the Lord had not forgotten us, was such a blessing.

Do you know anyone that is fainting and in despair due to some trial they are undergoing? If you do, show them kindness. Encourage them to not let their trial deter them from continuing to offer the Father the profound, adoring awed respect that He alone is worthy of. Remind them that He chose them in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world, to spend eternity with Him as His adopted child. And how He has lavished His grace upon them by sending the Lord Jesus to die on the Cross for their sins while they were yet sinners.

In closing, remember our brothers and sisters in foreign lands that are being persecuted and murdered for their faith in Christ. One way to express our kindness is to ask the Father to strengthen their faith, give them an abundance of grace and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

Let us heed the Holy Spirit through the writer of Hebrews:

[Therefore beware] brethren, take care, lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart [which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on Him], leading you to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God.

But instead warn (admonish, urge, and encourage) one another every day, as long as it is called Today, that none of you may be hardened [into settled rebellion] by the deceitfulness of sin [by the fraudulence, the stratagem, the trickery which the delusive glamor of his sin may play on him]. Hebrew 3:12-13 Amplified

Carl

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