Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Martyr Moment: The coming persecution to the west

Foxe's Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book's purpose was fourfold:
  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.
Last Sunday I'd ended the first phase of the persecutions with the death of Apostle John. He was the last of the first generation martyrs. In Foxe's Book it is described thus: "Chapter One: History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions Under Nero".

In the course of that first wave, Paul and Peter were martyred. In summary, Foxe wrote, "To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesians, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy."

Under Nero's persecution after the Great Fire at Rome of 67AD, the church at Rome was scattered, and this blew the seeds of the Gospel outward toward Asia. (1 Peter 1:1). The 7 Churches of Asia Minor were founded at that time. However, it wasn't long before persecution followed the Christians at the cities far from Rome, and this is what Peter meant when he wrote, 'you are being tested in various trials' in 1 Peter 1:6.

This first wave of the original generation continued under Domitian. Foxe's summary again, "Nicodemus, a benevolent Christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome during the rage of Domitian's persecution. Protasius and Gervasius were martyred at Milan. Timothy was the celebrated disciple of Paul, and bishop of Ephesus, where he zealously governed the Church until A.D. 97. At this period, as the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days later."

After Apostle John died in around 98AD, The Third Persecution, Under Trajan, A.D. 108, began.

"Pliny was a governor of a Roman province at the beginning of the Second Century.  He was monitoring those who identified themselves as Christians in order to make report to the Emperor Trajan.  He wrote to Trajan around 100 AD." Foxe wrote of Pliny's letter to Trajan,

"In the third persecution Pliny the Second, a man learned and famous, seeing the lamentable slaughter of Christians, and moved therewith to pity, wrote to Trajan, certifying him that there were many thousands of them daily put to death, of which none did any thing contrary to the Roman laws worthy of persecution. "The whole account they gave of their crime or error (whichever it is to be called) amounted only to this-viz. that they were accustomed on a stated day to meet before daylight, and to repeat together a set form of prayer to Christ as a God, and to bind themselves by an obligation-not indeed to commit wickedness; but, on the contrary-never to commit theft, robbery, or adultery, never to falsify their word, never to defraud any man: after which it was their custom to separate, and reassemble to partake in common of a harmless meal."

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Hatred of Christians is coming to America. Persecution is coming. Christians have always suffered horribly in all the world throughout all ages. Christians in America have not. We are the cushiest, most comfortable generation, and as a result have grown casual to the Gospel and irreverent toward Christ. The charge of Jesus to the church at Laodicea could well be taken as a charge against us today:

"‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked." (Revelation 3:15-17).

It is the church at Laodicea which Jesus asks to open the door and let Him in when He knocks. It is the church at Laodicea that has left Jesus off the list of ingredients when they play at church.

Of the true church, Dr. John MacArthur wrote this week to his subscribers, "It's no surprise that true Christians are feeling pressures we've never before experienced. Believers today face open hostility simply for what we believe."

 [Ed Note: Brings to mind Pliny's perplexity of the hatred leveled against Christians who were simply praying, vowing to do good and having harmless meals together...]. Continuing MacArthur-
"Our gospel, our values, our priorities, our doctrine, what we love and what we hate what we live for and what we die for- our lives are more permanently and comprehensively at odds with the world. What's more, the situation can and will still get worse. I've commented several times recently that I believe that hostility toward Christians in the West will eventually give way to full-blown persecution, just as it already has in other parts of the world."

"As the pressure on Christianity has increased, it has been interesting to see so many supposed Christian institutions caving in and surrendering. We're now finding out what people really believe and who is willing to stand for truth. Christian organizations are having to ask themselves, What are we going to say about immorality, premarital sex, drunkenness, and homosexuality? Sadly, many are waffling."
Taking a break for a moment from Dr. MacArthur's letter, here is an exact example of a waffling pastor. Mark Driscoll, who seems so outspoken on everything else, declined to comment on the DOMA ruling. Christian Post reports,

"Outspoken megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll, who has more than 389,000 followers on Twitter, stuck to tweeting paraphrases from the Bible and promoting current Mars Hill Church sermons on Wednesday morning and afternoon. When contacted by CP, spokesperson Justin Dean said that the Seattle-based Mars Hill Church lead pastor would not be commenting on the Supreme Court decisions." (source)

Dr. MacArthur continued in his letter,
"Our view is that the more heated the battle becomes the clearer we need to become on our biblical convictions. The true church will always embrace persecution when it comes, rather than run from it. Suffering for Christ is a blessing from God with purifying effects for true believers. When suffering comes, the church actually thrives. Of course that doesn't mean that facing hostility and persecution is easy, or that it doesn't raise practical questions about the present and the future- no Christians cherish the thought of their children or grandchildren suffering..."
The call for today is to remember the martyrs even as hostility and persecution comes to us in the West. Align yourself with the stance that Dr MacArthur outlined:
"As other organizations seek to evolve with the times, insulate themselves from hostility, and accommodate the culture, our plan is to actively stake out the biblical positions everywhere we can. We are going to articulate biblical truth more clearly and assertively than ever. In fact, as the culture continues to degenerate and biblical standards are challenged, every new attempt to undermine Scripture is going to elicit from us a loving- but clear-confrontation."
"Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you." (1 Peter 4:12)

One of the reason above that Foxe stated he wrote his book of martyrs is to "Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith." I plea for you to become solid in your stance and firm in your conviction to demonstrate that very grace. The Age of Grace is coming to an end, and the people who are not living in Grace need to see it more than ever. They won't see it if we hide, waffle, or are unclear. Get clear on your convictions and the biblical worldview we need to have. Stand on the rock.

I started these Sunday Martyr Moments on April 14, 2013, several months ago, because I could see the need coming to re-connect with what real persecution is and to take inspiration from those who died for the faith without reneging on their convictions. It is doubtless coming to us in America.

Let us continue in the faith, a long, unbroken line of glory from the first martyr to the last, praising Jesus under all circumstances. Let us gird our loins and stand firm on the Gospel.

Ignatius was a beloved father in the faith in the time of Trajan's persecution. He said, "Now I begin to be a disciple. I care for nothing, of visible or invisible things, so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus!"

He was eventually convicted and thrown to the lions. Ignatius "heard the lions roaring, saying: "I am the wheat of Christ: I am going to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread."

May you be found to be pure bread, with no leaven, for the name of Jesus and His eternal glory.

Hot enough for ya? Extreme heat plagues the American Southwest

In a continuing downward progression of record-breaking, unprecedented and impacting weather, the western US is baking in an unusual scorching heat.

On Twitter, Shawn Reynolds of the Weather Center Live on the Weather Channel (@WCL_Shawn) posted the following on Twitter yesterday: "PIC: thermometer at Weather Channel's Mike Seidel's location in Vegas shows reading of over 140°"

Drudge had the following photo and headline for the main news item on his page:
This is the forecast:
Unfortunately, we have had our first fatality due to this freak heat.

Record-setting heat wave turns fatal in Southwest
"A record-setting heat wave will continue baking the Southwest on Sunday and into the work week.  Already, the hot spell has set records in cities such as Phoenix (119 degrees) and Lancaster, California (111 degrees). Las Vegas tied its record high of 115 degrees Saturday.  Civic and emergency officials throughout the Southwest say if there was ever a time to worry, this would be it. The reason isn't just the oppressive heat that is plaguing the region: It's the fact it is expected to hang around, and possibly even get worse, over the next few days. Man helps the homeless survive the heat  The heat may have led to the death of an elderly man in Las Vegas. Paramedics found the man dead in his home, which did not have air conditioning, Las Vegas Fire & Rescue spokesman Tim Szymanski said."

I'm always hesitant to assign a particular event to God's judgment. I don't like saying "The freak heat is because of America's stance on homosexuality", because I don't know the mind of God. However, I do know His standards and I do know His past actions because we have the bible. One only has to read the Old & New Testament to understand that God hates sin, and He warns people individually and He warns nations when they are rebelling.

We also know that God is in control of the weather. Earlier this week, when unprecedented hail fell in Singapore, I'd said, "Though satan can be the originator of some weather disasters, (Job 1:9-12, 19), he can only do so at the Lord's permission. Ultimately, all weather is in the hands of the Creator."

It is the Lord who sends the scorching east wind to demonstrate to a rebellious Jonah that He is in control:

"When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”" (Jonah 4:8).

God uses the scorching wind to accomplish His purposes -

"The LORD will dry up the gulf of the Egyptian sea; with a scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates River. He will break it up into seven streams so that anyone can cross over in sandals." Isaiah 11:15).

We know for sure that the bible says that a prophecy will come about that will involve heat. That prophecy is not being fulfilled now, but I'd like us to please think on this present scorching heat as a shadow-picture of what will come. What will come will be far worse.

"The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory." (Revelation 16:8-9).

Newsman Matt Drudge wrote, "Vegas to hit its highest temp ever recorded this weekend? Drunk/420 tourists failing on blvd will literally be fried."

Please keep in mind that in this present Age of Grace, the discomforts we experience are a picnic compared to the judgments to come. For today, 120 degree heat will be a memory when the Tribulation comes and heat that soars to 150 degrees or even 180 or 200 happen. It is coming, and that means only two things:

1. "and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”" (Mark 1:15)

2. "And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

God has given us over to our national, collective reprobate mind

In Romans 1 shows how sin gets worse and worse, and why. It says in the middle of the passage regarding homosexuality, that God gives them over to a depraved mind. When a culture is so deeply involved with homosexuality it stands to reason that collectively the nation isn't thinking straight.

I think that link can clearly be sees in the Congress: Congress is a broken toy that has a critical piece missing and is turning in circles spouting gibberish. Same with businesses, same with the President, same with law enforcement (all those terrible stories of harassment & excessive force)...this is what a culture looks like that isn't thinking straight. And CANNOT think straight- ever again. The reason why is that God has given us over.

Here is the Romans 1 chapter and interspersed on between the passages I'll show in pictures and news how this illustrates what a nation that collectively has gone crazy looks like. If you watch the news and shake your head wondering why everything seems so crazy, this is why. God has given us over.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

In Upstate NY, there was a terrible flood this week. God was not glorified but Mother Nature was mentioned.

“This is unbelievable,” he said as he watched several backhoes scoop up debris at the corner of Maple Grove Avenue and West German Street. “Mother Nature can be a mean one.”

"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things." (Romans 1:21-23)

Mesoamericans worship a deity named Quetzalcoatl. He is named after the rare Quetzal bird of South America. Quetzalcoatl literally means feathered serpent. He is a serpent bird, and is one of many such types of local deities the Catholic Church accepts and absorbs into its pantheon of syncretism. Serpent-gods are culturally ubiquitous. They're everywhere. Many cultures worship the creeping thing and the bird. Below is an altar cloth that shows the blend of serpent god with a cross-

Source
Above is a Quetzalcoatl carving inside a South American Catholic church. The Catholic church is just as pagan as the indigenous church, but has an overlay of Christianity to it that blinds most people to its falsity. In any case, many cultures worship the creeping thing and the bird and other idols.

"Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen." (Romans 1:24-25)

Anthony Weiner defines lust and impurity. He was a Congressman who resigned from Congress, effective June 21, 2011, due to a sexting scandal. In the sexting scandal, Weiner sent a link to a sexually suggestive photograph of himself via his public Twitter account to an adult woman who was following him on Twitter. After several days of denying he had posted the image, Weiner held a press conference at which he admitted he had "exchanged messages and photos of an explicit nature with about six women over the last three years." On May 21, 2013, Weiner announced that he would run for Mayor of New York City in 2013." (Wikipedia). Weiner, despite being an adulterer, (dishonoring his body) and having lied, and then resigned in disgrace, is now moving up in the polls for his bid to become Mayor of NY City.

"For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error." (Romans 1:26-27)

Source
"A l-esbian couple who spearheaded a fight for same-sex marriage in California have become the first to tie the knot hours after a ban was lifted in a landmark US Supreme Court ruling. Ms Stier and Ms Perry were the plaintiffs in the initial action challenging the ban, which wound its way through the legal system before eventually being heard by the top US court." (source)

"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done."

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 

Once God gives them over, it unleashes all other sins with force. They become 'filled' with it. They cannot think straight. In effect, they are spiritually insane.
Some things are just purely bizarre. Brawling at McDonald's, lying , boasting; all things in the Romans passage happen ona daily basis and are getting weirder and weirder each day.

Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them." (Romans 1:28-32)

Obama applauded and approved of those who practice that which ought not to be done.

"I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and l-esbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it."

Homosexual George Takei of Star Trek, gave hearty approval to the homosexual marriage decision on his Facebook page, writing- "Today marks a watershed moment in history and a tremendous victory for the principle of equality. The 5-4 decision by our Supreme Court striking down DOMA affirms the universality of love — the desire of all people not only to find, but to value and affirm, a lifelong commitment to another person. ... Let the joy of this day ring out with PRIDE."

"Russell Brand informs us that, “If you’re gay married in California your gay marriage is now legal. Good. #allmarriageisabitgay.” (source)

All marriage is a bit gay?

The reason we shake our heads at the headlines is because the nation has gone mental. The people of the United States chose a political platform that opposes God at every level: killing children, endorsing homosexuality, destroying marriage, wanton entitlements, fiscal irresponsibility... the nation chose it. God let us have it.

That is why our leaders from the top down, those in authority, seem not to be thinking clearly. Supreme Court, House of Representative, Senate, President, Law Enforcement, civil authority...collectively the people who make this nation run are operating in a climate of debased mind and many, many of its citizens are following suit. Here are just a few examples from headlines, and these are representative, not comprehensive. If you want a comprehensive view of how the nation is operating in a manner that clearly shows God has given us over to a nationally debased mind, just read any newspaper, anywhere.

Despite this nation being in a fiscal emergency and dire distress upon taxpayers, and many are in terrible poverty, he jetted off for a 100 million dollar vacation. Yet another expensive vacation.

Barack Obama’s $100M African vacation is now a family affair
"Barack Obama is set to jet off to South Africa tomorrow, embarking on a rather long and costly African “goodwill tour” which has no actual economic or foreign policy purpose, but will prove to be a pretty fun vacation for his family, as they travel across sub-Saharan Africa using approximately $100M of your money." [He brought his mother-in-law along and also his niece]

"Remember, America, you still can’t tour the White House because, apparently, the Obama Administration mandated that the Secret Service embrace their Sequester cuts by ending protection details that would help guide tourists through the people’s palace on Pennsylvania. Instead, a huge wad of cash is being spent sending them, armored vehicles and a whole entourage of protection to a continent we currently don’t care about so that everyone in the Obama family can experience world travel."

The IRS targeting scandal, the IRS spending scandal, the government spying scandal, a broken Congress...all adds to the concept outlined in Romans 1. When God gives us over, it collapses fast.

Three reasons Congress is broken
Congress actively undermines the best of legislative practices by:
--Politics trumps policy
--Staffers do most of the work
--Issues, even the big ones, are no longer really debated

I respect law enforcement in general, but it is a fact that I am seeing more of these kinds of stories each day.
A Police Officer That Shot Five Kittens While Children Were Watching

Crime is crazy. Not just the amount of it but the kind of it-

Wendy's Customer Totally Loses It When They Put Cheese On His Hamburger

Women Throwing Bleach Into The Eyes Of A Man On A City Bus In Boston

Godlessness in general is more bold now.

Atheists install monument next to Ten Commandments in front of FL courthouse

"knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires." (2 Peter 3:3)

I watched a Dateline show about the horrific accident last year, the woman in the completely crushed car that was hanging over the overpass in Jan. 2012.
Everything about this was a miracle. You can see the hand of God all in this. The mother survived, the baby survived and the girl survived the worst crash possible, which collapsed the car into a mini-version of a toaster. Amazing. The mother said she was thankful... but did not praise God for the obvious miracle. Then there were the Seabees who were unexpectedly delayed, and then unexpectedly were told to bring a last-minute piece of equipment, and were delayed in traffic yet again, and it turned out that this last minute addition of the certain kind of equipment as the only kind of equipment that could save the car from falling off the bridge and extract the survivors. So many improbably coincidences and yet the men said, "it was luck."

They just don't give Him glory for anything, anymore.

John MacArthur said this week, "One example of that degenerative process is the modern view of sexual immorality.  Decades ago we witnessed the sexual revolution and the normalizing of abortion. If those weren't devastating enough, now we're seeing the homosexual revolution with the push for same-sex marriage. That is the Romans 1 reprobate mind in full bloom. All that matters is personal fulfillment and the approval of every possible personal choice. The only thing not tolerated is any intolerance of evil."

Stand for biblical truth. Stay in the Word and pray often. Know your doctrine and be clear about it. Lovingly but firmly confront sin. Worship, praise, love and serve. These actions are increasingly at odds with the world but increase you in closeness to Jesus. The more we submit to Him and keep Him in our heart and glorify Him with our actions, the more He will sanctify us and transform our minds. (Romans 12:2) And we all need that now- being close to Jesus in as many ways and for as much of the time as we consciously can.

Because ... someone has to.

Midday encouragement

I really enjoy photography, looking at photos and taking them. I have many photos that I enjoy digging out and looking at and playing with as digital software technologies continue to be made available.

As I look at them, more often than not, a bible verse comes to mind. like the Penobscot Bay schooner I'd snapped it was while passing by the schooner we were on, the 'do not drift away' verse from Hebrews. It's here.

I'll be doing this more often. A short burst of encouragement from a verse, with photo. Here is today's-


Friends, the road is long and we cannot see around the curve. However we know the end of the story. It ends in glory. Keep walking in Jesus' name, rejoicing as you go.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Apparently, Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie are gay

Cover Story: Bert and Ernie’s “Moment of Joy”

Next week's cover of the widely circulated New Yorker magazine.


“It’s amazing to witness how attitudes on gay rights have evolved in my lifetime,” said Jack Hunter, the artist behind next week’s cover, “Moment of Joy.” Hunter, who originally submitted his image, unsolicited, to a Tumblr, continued, “This is great for our kids, a moment we can all celebrate."

Huffington Post thinks the cover is "amazing", in a good way.
"The New Yorker celebrated the Supreme Court's historic rulings on gay marriage with one of its most awesome covers of all time. It marked the moment by featuring what many people consider to be one of the most famous gay couples in pop culture: Bert and Ernie. In the magazine's cover, titled "Bert and Ernie's Moment Of Joy," the two Sesame Street characters are shown snuggling together on the couch as they watch the landmark Supreme Court rulings on television."

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It might be a moment that gay rights activists celebrate, but the celebration will be a moment in time compared to the wrath of a holy God leveled upon the unrepentant sinner.

A commenter at the NewYorker site called "HonestGirlScouts," wrote, "Perhaps the saddest legacy of the homosexual lobby is that no one can be friends anymore. We are all potential sex partners, in the eyes of gay activists. What a loss to society and humanity that everyone must be on their guard, must have an extra wall of self-consciousness, even amongst peers of the same sex. To "fundamentally change" the friendship of Bert and Ernie into a sexual relationship shows an intolerance for fraternity and belies the degrading nature of the LGBTQI movement."

LGBTQI stands for L-esbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Trans-sexual, or Questioning, and Intersex. Don't ask me what intersex is. I don't know and I'm not looking it up.

And messing with children, putting such sin in front of them? Using an innocent childhood icon, one that has been used to bring education and entertainment to kids for over 50 years?? O! Jesus wept.

"Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)

A few different, fun, and cute things for you

Some cool stuff

World’s First One-Person Restaurant Opens In Amsterdam
"An extraordinary pop-up restaurant will open doors in Amsterdam this Thursday. ‘Eenmaal’, as the place is called, claims to be the world’s first one-person restaurant. “‘Eenmaal’ is a restaurant like any other restaurant, but one thing is totally different: you only find tables for one person here. ‘Eenmaal’ is an exciting experiment for those who never go out dining alone, as well as an appealing opportunity for those who often eat alone at restaurants”, explains social designer and initiator Marina van Goor."

It will only be open for two days, so book your table now.

If you're not hungry then maybe you're thinking of where you'd like to be sitting right now...in any of these 30 places perhaps?

In this sunken alcove garden in New Zealand?

Literally IN the beach at the Lido beach resort in Sarasota, Florida?

In this glass-walled library in Germany?

In this glass floor ocean cottage in the Maldives?
Click on the link above for the other 26. They're worth looking at!

Don't forget the terrific link at Astronomy Picture of the Day, if you like looking up, that is!

A Super Moon's Halo Image Credit & Copyright: Luis Argerich

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Some sad stuff:

Church of England creating 'pagan church' to recruit members
"The church is training ministers to create “a pagan church where Christianity [is] very much in the centre” to attract spiritual believers. Ministers are being trained to create new forms of Anglicanism suitable for people of alternative beliefs as part of a Church of England drive to retain congregation numbers. Reverend Steve Hollinghurst, a researcher and adviser in new religious movements told the BBC: “I would be looking to formulate an exploration of the Christian faith that would be at home in their culture.”

"If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:9)

Or they should hate you.

In the Bible Belt, Offering Atheists a Spiritual Home
"It would have been easy to mistake what was happening in a hotel ballroom here for a religious service. All the things that might be associated with one were present Sunday: 80 people drawn by a common conviction. Exhortations to service. Singing and light swaying. An impassioned sermon. There was just no mention of God. Billed as Louisiana’s first atheist service and titled “Joie de Vivre: To Delight in Being Alive,” it was presided over by Jerry DeWitt, a small, charismatic man dressed all in black with slick, shiny hair."

London's First Atheist Church Opens
" The first comedian-founded atheist church in England is set to hold its first monthly service tomorrow. Pippa Evans (a "musical improv comedian") and Sanderson Jones (just a regular talking comedian) came up with the idea together. "We thought it would be a shame not to enjoy the good stuff about religion, like the sense of community, just because of a theological disagreement," said Mr Jones."

Attend your church, hug your pastor close, pray for him, and serve well. Church is an endangered species!

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Some cute stuff:

Speaking of species, here is a doggie.

"Someone tore down the blinds. I brought them out so you could see."

And some kitties:

Have a wonderful weekend, if you're going away! I will still be here ha ha ha! Unless the Lord returns, which, actually, He might!

Alas, and did my Savior bleed


Stay close to Jesus during this darkening time. He is the Light! He did it all for us!






One reason the SCOTUS gay marriage vote may help the true church

On the subject of the gay marriage decision by the Supreme court: I believe it is very bad for America politically and culturally. Homosexuality is a devastating sin for the individual, and this will only spur more of them on to become hardened of heart and captured in their sin and that makes me just so very sad.

That said, however, I think it is good for the true church. It will make the true church stand out more.

"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house." (Matthew 5:14-15)

Also, the weak, false church will cave to culture and will be therefore identified by those of us in the true church. This also is good. The tares of the church crowd in so much that the sheep eventually leave and all that is left are the goats. This was the problem at Sardis. Sardis was one of the seven churches of Revelation which Jesus told John to write to. Sardis had no commendation, Jesus said 'you are dead.' (Revelation 3:1)

MacArthur calls Sardis "the first church of the tares." They had many works, and were busy-busy, but their heart was far from God. They were coasting on the fumes of past fervor, and living on the gossamer reputation they once had. But Jesus saw through it and called them a dead church.

So many churches today are like this. They re-interpret the scriptures, engage in social work, and donate loads of money- but they do not know the true Jesus. They try and awaken their dead hearts with loud and throbbing music, by listening to pastors who scream, swear, and act like a stand-up comedian, and applaud entertainments that assault the senses. These are the churches who will come out for "love" and accept homosexuality. Then we will know which pastors, which Christians, and which churches are Christian in name only.

Standing firm against the cultural push for accepting homosexuality as normal will make us even more distinct from the world!

"Come out from among them and be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you." (2 Corinthians 6:17).

And to the pagans, our light will shine even brighter as Peter said in 1 Peter 2:9-

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:" KJV

which is the best of all.

Will you stand against the culture, and with Jesus?

The Gadarene demoniac's friend

I'm reading through the New Testament this summer. In addition to studying one passage deeply, I wanted to get an overview of the NT by simply reading it through without stopping to look at the notes or the parallel verses. I've never just read it like a book. I know that by doing this it will give me an overview that reading slowly won't. It is just a new angle by which to approach the word of God. During summers when I'm home and not working, I have an opportunity and a responsibility to consume as much as I possibly can. There are so many wonderful truths I want to stop and savor, or side trails I want to pursue. I keep a notebook so I can return to those later. I've read Matthew, Mark, and half of Luke so far.

I keep a box of tissues next to my reading area also, because the word of God is unbelievably moving and I never can read it without tears. It's just so touching, so amazing, so piercing, that my soul crumbles and quakes as I take in His truths.

I'm in Luke 8. I want to take a pause for a minute and ponder something. I've always been fascinated by the man possessed by a legion of demons. The Gadarene demoniac was well known to all people around. Luke recorded something I don't think the others did: he had been that way "for a long time."

So after Jesus exorcised him, the man was healed. He was sitting at the feet of Jesus- and he was clothed.

It's the clothing that gets me. Where did he get the clothes from? If he had been running around in a demonic state "for a long time" and not having lived in a house (Luke 8:27), the likelihood is that the clothes were not his own.

Who gave clothes to the man? Maybe Jesus did. But for sure, someone came alongside the man and clothed him. Can you picture the scene? They weren't scared of the man any more. Someone brought him a tunic and helped him on with it. Whoever it was obviously loved Jesus, but also loved his fellow man and saw to his needs. He had the clothes on by the time all the people came running back. (Luke 8:35-36). What a picture of love and discipling. It's like the first responders at a flood helping the people they rescue out of the water and covering them with a blanket. So beautiful.

We often celebrate that a new believer has been converted from death to life. But then what? Don't pat them on the back at the altar and then leave them hanging as you go to Cracker Barrel. Blanket them with love, include them, and bring them alongside a teacher. See to their needs.

It is such a kick to see the energy with which a new believer operates. Jesus said to the ex-demoniac, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him." (Luke 8:39). LOL, being in a relationship with a person who is so fervent for the Lord would be energizing for you too.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

'It's a darkness that claws at your sanity...'

Darkness is a primal thing. No one likes it. No one seeks it. We think we have beaten our ancient fear of it, but it is only the fragile light bulb that makes us think we are less primitive than we are.

Darkness is disorienting, you cannot see the ground ahead of you nor the prey sneaking up on you. As a child, the prey is the alligator living under the bed. As an adult, the darkness is a thing to be laughed at in the light and a thing to be dreaded while in the dark.

For generations and centuries, man hated to see the sun set, having no candle to ward off the night spirits. Even with a candle or kerosene lamp, its flickering glow seemed too meager to combat the oppressive night.

Sailors for millennia will tell you that the night watch from 2-4 am is the most chilling. Terrifying is the night, especially if there is no moon and the stars are obscured. Samuel Taylor Coleridge captured this in the stanza about sailing at night in his famous Rime of the Ancient Mariner,

The Sun's rim dips; the stars rush out;
At one stride comes the dark;
With far-heard whisper, o'er the sea,
Off shot the spectre-bark.

We listened and looked sideways up!
Fear at my heart, as at a cup,
My life-blood seemed to sip!
The stars were dim, and thick the night,
The steersman's face by his lamp gleamed white;
From the sails the dew did drip—
Till clomb above the eastern bar
The hornèd Moon, with one bright star
Within the nether tip.

George Grie 'Final Frontier Voyager' Wikimedia commons
 Night sailing is vertiginous, captured here in Grie's painting. At every moment one believes the edge of the world looms and we will be pitched into a void from which there is no escape.

The River Styx is the Greek mythological river that separates the outer world from the underworld. It is a kingdom lorded over by Hades, and guarded by Cerberus the three headed dog. Charon is the ferryboatman who brings the lost souls across the river to their eternal doom. The term ‘stygian darkness’ comes from the Styx.

Here in the book Stories of the Ships, by Lewis R. Freeman, we read a description of a storm at night-

Riise3
“The ship was reeling through the blackness of the pit when I clambered to the deck after dinner, so that the driving spray and ice-needles struck the face before one saw them by even the thousandth of a second. The darkness was such as one almost never encounters ashore, and it was some time before I accustomed myself to close my eyes against the unseen missiles (when turning to windward) without deliberately telling myself to do so in advance.”

“Into the Stygian pall the vivid golden triangles from the signal searchlights on the bridge flashed like the stab of a flaming sword. One instant the darkness was almost palpable enough to lean against; the next, the silhouette of funnels and foretop pricked into life, but only to be quenched again before the eye had time to fix a single detail.”

“Darkness you could lean against” … so apt!

I was in total darkness once. I do not mean the dark night, or even the dark when sailing, though that is very dark. I mean under-the-earth kind of dark where there is no spot of light nor any particle of brightness nor any beam of luminosity…just oppressive dark. It was when we toured the Queen Copper Mine in Bisbee Arizona. The tour takes you down under the earth and as you go along, they explain about mining. When we got to the bottom, the tour guide says to turn off your headlamps, and for 5 to 8 seconds we sit in a darkness so black is it alive. It suffocates, and permeates the brain to the extent that you want to scream and scrape your way out. It is a darkness that is palpable, suffocating you with its wild dementia. It is a darkness that claws at your sanity. When the lights come back on your mind relaxes at the soothing balm that brightness brings.

In darkness such as this, your eye has no opportunity to grasp a single detail, and instead, the mind is floating as a raft upon the darkness, free-wheeling and unhinged from the anchoring light.

In this NY Times review of an art installation, Darkness Visible, and Palpable, the author wrote,

“Usually, when we see something, we see it in advance: we know we can approach it; we can assess it as we move forward. Sight helps shape our sense of the future.

Here we have a different experience of time. Sounds help us anticipate, but in this strange, darkened space, even voices seem to float, positionless, in a void. We don’t know what is about to happen; we aren’t sure where we have been; and it is a problem finding out just where we are. No wonder horror movies rely on darkness: Anything can take shape in front of our eyes, and we would hardly know it. The world becomes immaterial in one respect but all too solid with dangers in another.”
Dore's illustration in Dante's Inferno,
Gates of Hell, 'Abandon all hope, ye who enter here'

Studies have been done. Darkness does things to us. Participants in an experiment were put into a dimmed room. Their behavior became more dishonest than the participants in the well-lit room. In another study, participants were situated in a well-lit room with another person, except then they were given sunglasses. Participants wearing sunglasses acted more dishonestly than participants without.
Read more about "What darkness does to the mind" at The Atlantic.

The bible frequently uses light and dark to contrast truths. Ecclesiastes 2:14b says that the fool walks in darkness. John 12:35b says "Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going."

The way that darkness is used here is that movement in the absence of light could cause self-injury or harm to others. You walk slowly when it's dark, you don't run. That is because you do not know where danger is. Pulpit Commentary says, "they will drift over the fathomless unknown into infinite and endless suspense. When the Light of the world is spurned, ... humanity and the world have no goal set before them; there is no end at which they aim - no mind or will to guide the progress of mankind."

Sin is darkness. "Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them." (Ephesians 5:11)

The power of satan is darkness. (Acts 26:18)

The LORD spoke much in the Old Testament about the Day of Darkness. His judgment brings darkness.

"Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? It is darkness, and not light" (Amos 5:18).

"Give glory to the LORD your God before he brings the darkness, before your feet stumble on the darkening hills. You hope for light, but he will turn it to utter darkness and change it to deep gloom." (Jeremiah 13:16)

But Jesus IS THE LIGHT!!

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

How wonderful we can follow Him, a Light that never goes on and never dims. We will never walk in darkness if we follow Him. He knows the way, because He IS the Way!

If you do not follow Him, O, my heart aches in sadness to say, but there the person will remain in outer darkness all their lives throughout eternity. A person who dies in their sin, will remain in that clawing, palpable, screaming darkness forever- in hell.

Hell is a place of outer darkness (Matthew 22:13) where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12).

People, the precious Light has come!

"Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light." (John 12:36)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Jesus, the name high over all

"And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,a with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only." (Matthew 17:1-8)

I was listening to Drive By Pneumatology today (yes, that's what I did on my summer vacation, lol), and in lecture 10 by Emilio Ramos, I was struck by some insights by the lecturer.

The Holy Spirit's ministry is to point to Christ (John 16:13-14). Christ is the pre-eminent Person in all the universe (Colossians 1:18). Peter, in his boundless and sometimes unthinking enthusiasm, wanted to make a tabernacle for all three of the glorified beings he saw before him. One for Moses, one for Elijah and one for Jesus. In verse 4 Peter makes it clear, he says it twice, 'three tents' and then explains, 'one for you and you and you...'

WHILE He was speaking, God interrupted Peter. Peter was off on the wrong track. We cannot put anything or any one equal to Jesus. He is preeminent.

 God said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him" God says it twice, 'this is My Son," and 'listen to Him.'

Do we get the message?

Jesus is preeminent. He is counted to have more glory than Moses (Hebrews 3:3). he speaks with more authority than Elijah, the prophet, and all the prophets. (Hebrews 1:1-2).

My prayer for you is that you put Jesus at the highest exaltation point in your mind and heart. He is pre-eminent, better than our idols, our celebrities, our traditions, and better than any picture or shadow of anyone else in the bible.

"Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:10-11).

Jesus, the Name High Over All, written by Charles Wesley


A chicken in every pot and a mosque on every corner

Though the 'chicken in every pot' slogan is attributed to Herbert Hoover, he never actually used it, exactly. The Republican party did. The Hoover campaign used a variety of slogans in 1928 including "Vote for Prosperity." This source explains that "During the presidential campaign of 1928, a circular published by the Republican Party claimed that if Herbert Hoover won there would be “a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.” America was at the height of an economic bubble at the time, ensuring a landslide victory for Hoover over Democrat Al Smith. Prosperity was at its peak.

However, the October 1929 Wall Street crash, occurring only 9 months after Hoover's inauguration, ensured a defeat in 1932, where Americans felt Hoover had not been effective in halting the nation's downward economic slide. Franklin Roosevelt won.

I think every president has promised prosperity in some way or another. It is always an attractive promise. ("Four more years of the full dinner pail" — 1900 U.S. presidential slogan of William McKinley", "Peace and Prosperity — 1956 U.S. presidential campaign slogan of Dwight D. Eisenhower", "Are You Better Off Than You Were Four Years Ago?" - presidential campaign of Ronald Reagan", "It's the Economy, Stupid" 1992 campaign slogan of Bill Clinton's campaign). I mean, who doesn't want a full dinner pail and a new car? Promising prosperity works.

After move to $10.5 million River Oaks mansion, Joel Osteen offers Tanglewood land for $1.1 million
"At Lakewood Church, Joel Osteen proclaims,"It's God's will for you to live in prosperity instead of poverty." The pastor of the Houston megachurch and wife Victoria certainly practice what they preach. The couple has moved to a $10.5 million mansion in River Oaks, while keeping their former Tanglewood residence, valued at $2.9 million. They are, however, selling a vacant lot next to their former home. Asking price for the half-acre property at the corner of Doliver and Sherbrooke: $1.1 million." Below, Osteen's house


In this generation, the preachers of Christianity have caught on to that fact, so they promise prosperity too. Get that lucrative job, find that mansion house, receive that promotion, plant a seed and receive a blessing 100-fold. Prosperity works. After all, you can have Your Best Life Now if you only follow these 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential. (Joel Osteen). "Churches" started to grow. Immature believers and non-believers took that for proof that the prosperity preachers were preaching rightly, and flocked to see what they could get out of it. The goats stormed the castle and now they are all milling around the courtyard, looking for more. They are so busy naming and claiming it they do not see that the gates to the inside of the castle are still closed to them.

Name-it claim it prosperity preaching is unbiblical. "Jesus did not come to give us health, wealth and happiness now. He came to save us from our sins so that we can have an eternity of bliss with Him. Following Christ is not a ticket to all the material things men desire in this life but a ticket to eternal life. Our desire should not be to have our best life now but should be that of the Apostle Paul who had learned to be content “in whatever state I am” (Philippians 4:11). [source]

In the Middle East,the United Arab Emirates decreed a "New set of guidelines for mosques in Abu Dhabi" Places of worship to be within five minutes’ walk from every home in the capital

The article explains, "Abu Dhabi: Worshippers in Abu Dhabi will soon be no more than a five-minute walk away from the nearest mosque, as a new set of regulations requires a mosque within 350 metres of every home. ... The guidelines have been developed by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC), and they aim to ensure that mosques of appropriate size with high standards for hygiene and maintenance are adequately distributed across the emirate."
Source

Though the UAE Federal Constitution declares that Islam is the official religion of the country, the UAE has traditionally left other religions alone, allowing congregants to worship in their own way, for the most part. There are some restrictions however. Proselytizing is banned. In general, Christians are allowed to worship as they please.

However, this new emphasis on a mosque on every corner, and it should LOOK like a mosque, too, may be a harbinger of coming change. This article explains some of the reasons for the design standards and the distance requirements:
Source

"We decided that mosques must be 350 metres within every home as this distance can be covered in a five-minute walk, which is the shortest time between the call to prayer and the start of the prayer,” Al Hammadi explained. The second section concentrates on design recommendations. “For example, the areas containing toilets where worshippers can wear their shoes will be clearly distinct from the ablution area, where worshippers must remove their shoes."

In either case, the prosperity preachers or the Islamic governments, the emphasis is the same, and both are wrong. The emphasis is on the external.

In the case of the mosques, there is concern for how the mosque looks, there are "shoe zone and non-shoe zones," and whether there are enough bathrooms for ritual washing.

"Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.”...But Jesus said "And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” (Matthew 15:1-2, 10-11, 19-20).

The externals do not matter, it is what is inside a person that matters. Are they clean inside?

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness." (Matthew 23:27).

As for prosperity preachers, my hope does not lie in my faith to get consumable goods here in my best life now. I follow the command of Jesus,

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." (Matthew 6:19)

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:21)

My treasure is the Holy Spirit inside me, pointing to the treasure of Christ, God's son. Whatever the flavor of false religion, it will always point you to something that does not matter. The only thing that matters is Jesus...and whether you are reconciled to Him or are His enemy. Reconciliation is the eternal treasure, and that doesn't happen externally, it is an inward transformation--

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17)

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9)

SCOTUS helping to bring in the Days of Lot (Updated)

Updated to add Martin Luther quote
THE NEWS

Wall Street Journal: Supreme Court rulings boost gay marriage
"WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court delivered the history-making ruling sought by [homosexual] marriage supporters, striking down a 1996 federal law that denied benefits to same-sex couples. The court was more cautious in a second case involving California's ban on [homosexual] marriage, Proposition 8, saying it lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. But the result was likely again to benefit same-sex couples because it meant that a federal district court's ruling striking down Proposition 8 stands, clearing the way for [homosexual] marriage to resume in the nation's most-populous state."

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POLITICAL REACTION

"My thoughts on the SCOTUS ruling that determined that same sex marriage is okay: "Jesus wept." 5 people in robes said they are bigger than the voters of California and Congress combined. And bigger than God. May He forgive us all." ~Mike Huckabee

"It's an amazing overreach in arrogance by 5 members of the court who think they can redefine marriage for the Federal Government...there clearly is an overreach here on the CA Prop 8 case." ~Tony Perkins of Family Research Council

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SPIRITUAL REACTION

"Can we now stop talking about the United States as a "Christian Nation" so that we can get back to preaching the Gospel to pagan Americans?" ~Chris Rosebrough

"The decision of an earthly court does not make so much as a ripple in the eternal decrees of God." ~JD Hall

"We learn from Jeremiah among others that, as usual, the nearer the punishment, the worse the people become; and that the more one preaches to them, the more they despise his preaching. Thus we understand that when it is God’s will to inflict punishment, he makes the people to become hardened so they may be destroyed without any mercy and not appease God’s wrath with any repentance. So the men of Sodom long ago had to not only despise the righteous Lot, but even afflict him because he taught them—even though their own affliction was at the door [Gen. 19:1–13]. Likewise Pharaoh, when about to be drowned in the Red Sea, had to oppress the children of Israel twice as much as before [Exod. 5:6–21]. And Jerusalem had to crucify God’s Son when its own final destruction was on the way" - Martin Luther


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

GOD'S REACTION

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh." Genesis 2:24

"Then the men said to Lot, “Have you anyone else here? Sons-in-law, sons, daughters, or anyone you have in the city, bring them out of the place. 13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the Lord, and the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” (Genesis 19:12-13)

"...Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion." (Jude 1:7)

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality," (1 Corinthians 6:9)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 TO BE CLEAR:

"Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— 30so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed." (Luke 17:28)

"How was it in the days of Lot? Lot lived in a city called Sodom. We have a word today called sodomy. We know exactly what that means. That is a homosexual sin. That is a vile kind of behavior drawn out of that city in the plains south of the Dead Sea. What did God do to Sodom? Buried Sodom under fire and brimstone completely. What kind of people lived in Sodom? Read the nineteenth chapter of Genesis and find that when two angels came to visit Lot, the men of that city tried to rape the angels. And when God blinded the men of that city, they still tried to feel their way to smash down the door to get to those angels. That was a vile, wretched place."

"So the first thing you know about the days of Noah and the days of Sodom is that they were days of wretched, vile, massive, sweeping, consummate evil. And that's the way it will be in the days when the Son of Man comes." [source]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
MY TAKE

The verse above regarding the Days of Lot is speaking of the days during the Tribulation when evil pervades the world and the Messiah returns to end it all, not the run-up to the rapture. However, we see the current culture helping satan along to lay the infrastructure that will give immediate rise to such perversions when the rapture does take place.

In Romans 1 we read that homosexuality is not a sin like any other. Homosexuality in itself is an expression of God's wrath. It is the only sin that IS a judgment upon the person exhibiting it.

However, though any nation that teeters too far against His ordinances will be judged in wrath, His grace is such that any individual is not a lost cause in terms of wanting to repent and find reconciliation with God. The wrath will be poured out on America but it already has been poured out in Jesus for all sins, including the sin of homosexuality.

"we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.” (Ephesians 2:3)

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,...And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 11)

"You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20)

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Further reading

Homosexuality and the Campaign for Immorality 
"I don’t know how much time America has left, I really don’t. But we’re on a course described here as God casting us out. The land has become defiled. “I’ve brought its punishment upon it,” verse 25, “so the land has spewed out its inhabitants.”"

Contentions On DOMA, SCOTUS Follows the Culture
"[T]here’s little question that the ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act is rooted in a fundamental shift in American culture that took place in the last generation. ... But the point here is that g-ay marriage advocates won the legal war because they first won the culture war."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Extremely rare: hail falls in Singapore, floods, strange weather prompts British weather summit

Hail reported in western end of Singapore
"Residents in the western end of Singapore are reporting incidences of hail. Hail is a form of solid precipitation and consists of irregular lumps of ice. Mr Lucas Ho, 28, playwright and teacher said: "The torrent came in a five-minute burst; something was clanging on my windows and I went to my front door to see what was going on. I never thought I'd see hail in Singapore." There is no indication at the moment if the hail stones are related to the haze."

You have to know that hail is rare in a place where the news article has to explain what it is. Singapore has only had hail once or twice in the past. Ever. This article explains why-

"A severe hail storm along with damaging winds and heavy rain was seen across Singapore Tuesday afternoon. This is an extremely rare event for the island nation that only lies two degrees from the equator and never experiences temperatures below the freezing mark through a good portion of the lower atmosphere. Therefore hail of any size is a extremely rare event."

They mentioned the "haze" in Singapore. The island nation has been experiencing a heavy haze of late. People are wondering if the haze and the hail are related.

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Indonesia plans air tactic as Singapore haze worsens
"Air pollution in Singapore soared to record heights for a third consecutive day, as Indonesia prepared planes and helicopters Friday to battle raging fires blamed for hazardous levels of smoky haze in three countries. The blazes in peat swamp forests on Indonesia's Sumatra island have sent massive plumes of smog across the sea to neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, both of which are growing impatient with Indonesia's response to the problem that occurs nearly every year."

"Singapore is suffering its worst haze in history. Singapore's main index for air pollution hit a measurement of 401 at midday Friday, exceeding previous highs of 371 on Thursday and 321 on Wednesday, both of which were record readings. Those measurements were classified as "hazardous" and can aggravate respiratory ailments. Plagued by the stifling smell of burning vegetation that crept even into homes and offices in this wealthy city-state, residents flocked to pharmacies to buy protective face masks after Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged people to remain indoors as much as possible."

"I don't know if it's just my imagination but even indoors, my throat is starting to feel weird," said business manager Tan Joa-Quim. "I want a mask but my company has a limited supply, which we prioritized for the older and less healthy staff, and a lot of shops have sold out."
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Weird weather has been occurring on the other side of the world also. In Alaska, they are experiencing a heat wave.
"The jet stream, the river of air high above Earth that generally dictates the weather, usually rushes rapidly from west to east in a mostly straight direction. But lately it seems to be wobbling and weaving like a drunken driver, wreaking havoc as it goes. ... The most recent example occurred in mid-June when some towns in Alaska hit record highs. McGrath, Alaska, recorded an all-time high of 94 degrees on June 17. A few weeks earlier, the same spot was 15 degrees, the coldest recorded for so late in the year."

Terrible rains have caused flooding in northwestern India, killing 1000 people so far.

"Home Minister Sushikumar Shinde told reporters that the death toll will exceed the figure of 1,000 given on Sunday by the Uttarakhand government. More bodies were being found as troops and disaster rescue teams cleared debris from buildings and houses destroyed by flood waters, Shinde said. The unprecedented heavy rains triggered landslides and floods in the Ganges River last week, washing away thousands of houses and roads and cutting communication links in large areas of Uttarakhand."

"Unprecedented" rains, and that in a country that experiences monsoon every year...

Britain's weather has gotten drunk, too, going crazy and forgetting what season it is. After their coldest spring in 50 years, they are now dealing with this-

"Britain's weather has now got so bad even the Met Office is worried: Forecasters to hold meeting over floods, droughts and even snow in May. Britain's weather has now got so bad even the Met Office is worried: Forecasters to hold meeting over floods, droughts and even snow in May. The photo caption says: "Wintry: A blanket of snow covers Teesdale in County Durham on the first Bank Holiday in May this year, an event which has helped spark a Met Office summit."

God is in control of the weather. Though satan can be the originator of some weather disasters, (Job 1:9-12, 19), he can only do so at the Lord's permission. Ultimately, all weather is in the hands of the Creator.

"The Lord sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King for ever." (Psalm 29:10)

"For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.... He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.." (Psalm 107:25, 29)

God sends earthquakes, cold, snow, and fire. (Isaiah 29:6, Psalm 78:47, Job 37:6)

He controls the lightning and sends the wind. (Jeremiah 10:13, Exodus 10:19)

While every natural disaster is not a punishment from God, "God does use weather catastrophes -- even resulting in deaths, or the destruction of beasts or property -- but with a purpose: to unsettle the apathetic, to punish and judge, to alter our course of action, or to instill the fear of God." (Source).

The Book of Revelation is an orderly progression of promises from long ago being fulfilled: the UNcreation. God will dismantle all the world's systems, including weather.

(Revelation 6:12-13; Revelation 8:7-8; Revelation 11:19; Revelation 16:8; Revelation 16:18, 21; Revelation 6:12-14)

The creation should make you think of the Creator. I say "should" because it says so in Romans 1:20,

"For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."

In the next verse it says that people who consciously or subconsciously know that God exists when they see creation, refuse to acknowledge Him,

"For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him," (Romans 1:21a)

and eventually they "they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator,"

(Does 'Mother Earth', 'Gaia' or 'the weather gods' sound familiar?). Think of it this way, when you see hail, then all hail the power of Jesus name! Worship Him who created the creation!

Whether you are admiring a gorgeous sunrise, a calm sea, a snow capped mountain, or a powerful tornado or even hail at the equator, thank God for His creation, which is cursed with sin now, but will be restored to its perfection at the end of time. And what a day that will be!


Monday, June 24, 2013

A few things you might enjoy

Here is a roundup of some links and thoughts for you.

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Eric Metaxas essay: "Screwtape on 'The Da Vinci Code'. A funny send up if CS Lewis's famous character Screwtape (a demon) were to extol the virtues of the Da Vinci Code novel from his darkened and hellish perspective. Many parallels to issues with today's Gnosticism and superficial thinkers accepting the original lie: there's more and I'm here to show you. Plus, it's funny. To wit:

"Indeed the mystical sleight-of-hand involved in shoehorning so many cubic yards of gasbag cliches, shopworn half-truths and straightfaced howlers into a single volume simply beggars belief; and if I didn’t know that the author had had unwitting “help” from my former colleague, the venerable Gallstone, I simply shouldn’t believe it could have been done at all!"
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The 15 Craziest Things In Nature You Won’t Believe Actually Exist
Here's one- I had never heard of rainbow eucalyptus trees.

Books, books, books! If you love books you will like this page.

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According to DumbLaws.com, in Vermont it is illegal to deny the existence of God. The law might have been on the books but it certainly didn't reach the heart, because Vermont is today this nation's most Godless state.

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According to this poll, the top five most underrated Sci-Fi movie masterpieces are,

--Silent Running
--Gattaca
--Serenity (movie epilogue from the television show Firefly)
--Dark City
--Primer (this is #1 underrated movie, he said)

I'm not a huge fan of modern science fiction because it has gotten bloody. But I did enjoy (pre-salvation) Terminator 1 & 2, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 2001 A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Metropolis and of course Star Trek.

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Lately I have enjoyed End of the Spear, The First Grader, The Way (n a sad way because it shows the futility of life without Christ, an inadvertent message from the movie, I am sure), The Stranger with Orson Welles, Microcosmos, and That Guy...Who Was in That Thing (some language).

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If you want to read something encouraging, my friend with Parkinson's Disease has a word. You might leave a word with her to encourage her also.
...My Help Comes From the Lord, Maker of Heaven and Earth

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Some gorgeous HDR travel photography! If you can't go there in person, this is the next best thing

Nomadic Pursuits

This French Chateau has 365 fireplaces.

Thirty Days of Jesus: Day 17, Jesus' Preeminence

Further Reading Grace To You sermon: The preeminence of Christ Desiring God: The preeminence of Jesus for Life Institute for Creatio...