Joy in the midst of Darkness

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There is a story of a family separated by the Holocaust; As they were being torn apart, the mother took each child’s face in her tender hands and as tears streamed down their cheeks she told them; “Don’t lose hope! Stay alive! And when you are someday freed or escape, go to the old bridge outside of town every day at sunset. I will meet you there soon!”

So some of the children escaped the concentration camps, some were helped to freedom, and some were eventually freed by liberating troops. One by one, they made the long trek back to their village, and each day at sunset they would wait for their mother’s return.

Days turned into week, and weeks into months. The promise of hope was fading… and then one day in the distance, they saw a hobbled figure, struggling with each step. Their mother had returned at long last. The joy was unimaginable. The mother had been delayed, but her return was promised.  The time intensified the longing, and each report of a villager killed in the camps made their need more apparent.

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Scripture begins to tell of the story of a coming savior from the very first book. The prophets of the Old Testament point to the hope of Messiah, who would come to deliver His people.  Yet, years turned into decades, and hundres of years pass until we reach the last of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist.

The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’”
(Luke 7:18-20 ESV)

From long years of darkness, waiting for the King, John asks with hope… is it you, Jesus? Are you the one?

And Jesus responds:

And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

(Luke 7:22-23 ESV)

There’s no mistaking the language here, and John the Baptist would have never missed it. Jesus is quoting the prophet Isaiah (Chapters 35, and 61).

The long night was over; The Messiah had come!

And yet, there is a striking omission from Jesus response to John the Baptist from the book of Isaiah;

to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
(Isaiah 61:1 ESV)

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Yes, the Messiah was here to deliver His people from their sins. The dark night was over as joy broke into the world and God dwelt among us. Yet…. John would not be freed from his prison, and would ultimately be executed. John’s heart must have broken as he saw King Herod’s plan carried out to kill all the young children in the area after Christ’s birth! How he must have longed for the day when Messiah would make all things new!

And this is the very world we find ourselves in; We live in a world with the great Joy of the God who became flesh to deliver us from our sin, yet will die in a world in which evil men still carry out injustice. Where a man would take the lives of 20 helpless children. And we cry out to God, “How long?” How long until the promise is fulfilled… Jesus is returning to gather together His own to a place He has prepared for them.

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“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

(John 14:1-3 ESV)

So, let not your hearts be troubled. We share the hope  of the Old Testament Prophets as they waited for Messiah, and we now wait in great anticipation for His return to make all things new.  We join the chorus of saints throughout the ages as we cry out “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus!”

Yes, even in our dark age, where evil men carry out horrific acts of violence against children, as King Herod did during John the Baptists day… Our joy remains. Though we remain imprisoned in this world, our joy remains. For our joy rests not in our circumstance, but in the knowledge that He will fulfill his promise to return as faithfully as the promise was fulfilled of His coming.

I don’t know what you are facing this holiday; death of loved ones,  imprisonment, or hopelessness,  but know this;  Messiah has come, God is with us, and He has come to set the captive free from their greatest imprisonment, the imprisonment of sin and death.

This season, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, hear the words of Jesus as He speaks to His children:

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
(John 15:11 ESV)

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May you know the peace of Christ and His resurrection this Season!

Marc

 

“End This Unjust War!”

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“End This Unjust War!” This has been the call from those in opposition to every war in our nations history.

War is ugly, and any sane person would prefer peace.

Yet, war continues throughout history;  Just wars. Unjust wars. Wars to protect others, and wars to oppress others. The bible tells us that as long as we live on this planet, war will continue. People will divide over race, religion, and politics. We will turn on our own countrymen and those of our own faith. Make no mistake, there will be war.

As I think about the theme of PEACE this Christmas season, I can’t help but think of those who stand daily, affected by the results of war; our troops, their families, and all who live in nations impacted by war.  Combatants or civilians, “good guys” and “bad guys”, war affects the lives of everyone in the nations involved.

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We all want war to end, and it is our sincere hope that peace, lasting peace, is the end result.  Unfortunately, as long as we live, war will continue, and at times evil will temporarily prevail. In short, the good guys don’t always win like they do in the movies; sometimes might does make right…. For now.

We’ve all seen the iconic photographs of the brokenness, fear, and despair of war:

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But have you stopped to consider these images of war?

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Yes, we fight many fights and the term “war” has been spread pretty thin in our culture:  Far removed from the horrors of actual combat, we have applied the term to the “war” on drugs, the “war” on poverty, and even the “war” on obesity.  Yet, the greatest war, the most singularly unjust war continues:

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.(Romans 8:5-8)

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.(Phillipians 3:18-19)

The greatest, most unjust war continues. It’s a global war of unimaginable scale and of inconceivable evil:  Man is in rebellion against God.  There are no neutral parties here, as we see above. The entire landscape is spelled out: Flesh and Spirit, Enmity and Peace.  You are in the body of Christ, or an enemy of the Cross. It’s a hard thing to hear, and it has cost many a man his life to speak. Scripture is clear here; Man, in his natural state, is at war, at enmity, with God.

As Charles Spurgeon said:

“This is a very solemn indictment which the Apostle Paul here prefers against the carnal mind. He declares it to be enmity against God. When we consider what man once was, only second to the angels, the companion of God, who walked with him in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day; when we think of him as being made in the very image of his Creator, pure, spotless, and unblemished, we cannot but feel bitterly grieved to find such an accusation as this preferred against us as a race. We may well hang our harps upon the willows, while we listen to the voice of Jehovah solemnly speaking to his rebellious creature. “How art thou fallen from heaven, thou son of the morning!” “Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering—the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so; thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee, and thou hast sinned; therefore, I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God; and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.”
There is much to sadden us in a view of the ruins of our race. As the Carthaginian, who might tread the desolate site of his much-loved city, would shed many tears when he saw it laid in heaps by the Romans; or as the Jew, wandering through the deserted streets of Jerusalelm, would lament that the ploughshare had marred the beauty and the glory of that city which was the joy of the whole earth; so ought we to mourn for ourselves and our race, when we behold the ruins of that goodly structure which God had piled, that creature, matchless in symmetry, second only to angelic intellect, that mighty being, man—when we behold how he is “fallen, fallen, fallen, from his high estate,” and lies in a mass of destruction.”

So, we mark another holiday season, another year amidst the brokenness of a war-torn land.  But it is my great pleasure to give you “GOOD NEWS OF GREAT JOY”!

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And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

(Luke 2:8-14 ESV)

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A savior. The God against whom we have openly rebelled is now sent as a baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger.  Peace. At long last, peace to those with whom He is pleased.

God with us. Emmanuel.  The Prince of Peace.  A savior.

For there to be  saviour, there must be those who need to be saved. Saved from what? Saved by God, from God. This Jesus who came as helpless babe will return as conquering King.  He who came once as savior is coming again as judge.  There is peace for you, friend, if you are in Christ.  The battle is over, and He has been victorious over sin, death, and the grave. Until then, we walk through the rubble of this fallen world with the hope, the knowledge, and the PEACE in knowing that though we may be weary from battle, that the victory has ultimately been won.

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So, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, go out this season into the battle-weary world to declare the good news of great joy to all mankind… that a savior is born in the city of Bethlehem.

Enjoy the video below, It’s a beautiful song to call your heart to Peace.

Marc

Note:  While all men prefer peace over war, we understand that there are times when men must defend themselves and others. Please do not mistake my sentiment here as being against a particular conflict or in any way not supporting my fellow veterans.

God isn’t Siri-ous

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On a long road trip recently, I had a chance to put my new phone through it’s paces. One of the cooler features on the new iPhone is my new friend “Siri”. I push a button, tell Siri what I want it to do, and it goes to work; looking up obscure facts, finding the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts, sending a text to a friend. The previous iPhone put the world at my fingertips.. now it obeys the command of my voice! In the end, however, it’s just a phone. A really, really awesomely cool phone, but a phone nonetheless. It can only do what is in it’s limited set of capabilities. “Siri, where is the nearest dry cleaner?” works. “Siri, make me whole.” does not. Why? Even the iPhone is just a phone.

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Shortly after playing with my phone, I ended up hearing a sermon from a well known Word of Faith preacher making God sound an awful lot like Siri.

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To be honest, this isn’t an article I ever wanted to write, but I really don’t have a choice. So why am I doing it?

I’m called to proclaim the gospel of repentance and faith in Christ to all men, everywhere. I love Christ and I love people, and to sit by while the gospel of Christ and faith in His atonement are misrepresented and men are deceived is unthinkable.

Why is this worth spending your time reading? Well, the scope of this error is staggering:

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The Word of Faith error is currently being taught from the pulpit of the largest church in the United States, taught on the most viewed christian TV station in the world*, and is taught via the most downloaded religious podcast on iTunes. To say that this false teaching has replaced the historical, biblical gospel in the American mind would not be an overstatement. I had shrugged my shoulders at this nonsense for so long that I figured anyone who spent any time in the bible would see the obvious error, but during my daily reading, I was hit with a few verses that made me seriously reconsider my reluctance to write this article;

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
(2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)

and later in James:

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
(James 5:19-20 ESV)

To do this, I’m going to have to do two things that are distasteful in our post-modern society;

1. Call folks out by name.

2. Openly state that they are in error. (Which some would say is judgemental.)

Scripture states that both are acceptable, as evidenced by the following from Paul:

In Acts 20:26-31 Paul had spent 3 years teaching the gospel to the church, Paul gathered the elders in Ephesus and warns the church about those within the church who would teach contrary doctrines and other gospels. INSIDE the church. So, this isn’t a denominational issue. This is a body issue. Paul names them by name: Hymenaeus and and Philetus. (1Tim 1:20), and later Alexander the coppersmith. (2 Tim 14).

I’ll present these errors, show how they stand in opposition to the gospel, and call out names of these teachers so that you may avoid them. Avoid them or not, I will know that my hands are clean, and you will be responsible for the knowledge that these men are teaching a different gospel, contrary to the one handed down. And for that reason:

I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
(Jude 1:3 ESV)

At the end of this article, if you choose to continue to follow a Word of Faith ministry, you will do so with the knowledge that it is a different gospel from the one “once and all delivered to the saints.”

What is the Word of Faith error and why is it a big deal?

I’ll give you a brief history on how the error originated and then get directly to the error:

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In the early 1900’s, a man named E.W. Kenyon attended Emerson College of Oratory where the philosophy of “mind science” was all the rage. This belief held that your thoughts could control and create reality. This teaching came from a man named Phineas Quimby, father of the “New Thought” movement. This type of mind-over-matter metaphysics held to the thought that wrong results (including physical sickness) were caused by wrong thoughts, and that proper thoughts and positive confessions would create positive realities. It’s important to understand that while Kenyon was a Christian, these doctrines were imported into his faith from outside of orthodox Christianity. To prove this out, look at any history of the church, or ancient christian dogmatics. Do you see this teaching ANYWHERE before the Quimby or Kenyon? (No.)

Over time, Kenyon developed the following doctrines:

1. God did not create the universe from nothing, but by speaking faith-filled words (and we can do the same thing).

2. Faith isn’t a belief, rather a tangible substance. God’s words were merely containers for this tangible material called “faith”. (Faith is an object, a THING).

3. Therefore, we can create our own physical reality (including health and wealth) by positive confession, or speaking these things into existence using words as containers of this tangible thing (faith).

Do you wonder why someone like Oprah would be comfortable with having Joel Osteen or TD Jakes on the stage with folks like Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and “New Thought” (remember Quimby) teacher Iyanla Vanzant? They teach the same mind-science (metaphysics)!

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Kenyon developed other unorthodox theories, adopted by many (not all) Word of Faith preachers, which I won’t cover in this article. This week, I’ll simply focus on the most common heresy to come out of this movement; Positive Profession (the belief that we can speak things into existence) , and how it’s taken root in the body of Christ.

Kenyon’s works would likely have been lost to obscurity had they not been discovered and quoted (unsourced) verbatim, and popularized by a man named Kenneth Hagin (1917-2003).

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Hagin is known as “Dad Hagin” and has spawned the Word of Faith movement which includes: Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, TD Jakes, Fredrick Price, Joyce Meyer, Marilyn Hickey, Paula White, Bennie Hinn, Paul Crouch, Robert Tilton, Myles Monroe, and others less known.

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Hagin claimed that much of what he taught was received directly from Jesus during 8 personal visitations (one of which was for this teaching quoted directly from Kenyon, above). Why is this problematic? The following from WoF preacher Gloria Copeland:

Gloria Copeland: “You say why do ya’ll talk so much about Kennith Hagin when you do this? Because he is where we learn how to walk in the spirit. How did he know it? He had the very unusual experience of jesus himself coming to teach him these things, and then he called him to teach all of us.” The problem is that not only is this not a biblical doctrine found in scripture, origin is not Jesus, but taken from Kenyon.

So, to recap so far.. we’ve got a non-Christian mind-science philosophy discovered and blended into christian language by an obscure writer (Kenyon). We then have a man named Hagin discover and quote (unsourced) these ideas and claim they came form a direct visit from Jesus himself. This doctrine is now being taught from the pulpit of the largest church in the US, dominating the airwaves through the largest christian TV station in the world, and listing as the most downloaded religious podcasts on iTunes. See the problem?

So, let’s go to the Word of Faith preachers themselves for some quotes. Then, let’s see how they justify this biblically, and finally look at the verses they use in context.

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“The force of faith in the spiritual realm is very much like forces in the physical realm; Gravity, electricity.. measurable, actionable, conductible, perceptible to the touch. ” – Kenneth Copeland and Paul Crouch on TBN

Sound familiar? This is Kenyon’s theory that faith is an actual, tangible THING which is released through the containers of our words.

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“What do you need? I need Money. Start creating it. Start speaking about it, start speaking it into being. Speak to your billfold, say “You big billfold full of money!” Speak to your checkbook, say “You checkbook, you have never been so prosperous since I owned you! You’re just jammed full of money. You got pain and disease in your body? Speak to your body. Got will create the fruit of your words.” – Marilyn Hickey

Speak it into being? Folks, that’s not christianity, that’s voodoo. It’s mind-science goofiness. Seriously, this is NOT historical, orthodox Christianity.

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“That same holy spirit wants to send spiritual light into a dark word, but he is waiting for us to speak and decree that thing and it will come to pass. Whatever you speak will come to pass. You’ve got to speak it and decree it.. you decree the thing, you pay your vow, and it comes to pass.” – Paul Crouch, Founder and President of TBN

There’s an underlying theology here that I won’t address in detail, but in short, WoF teaches that God is unable to work on earth until we permit him to due to Satan being the legal guardian of earth after the fall. Here’s a stunning summary of that doctrine by WoF preacher Miles Monroe:

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“God can do nothing on earth, god could do nothing on earth without human assistance. God has the power, but you have the permission. God has the power, but you have the license. God can only do what you permit him to do.”

How big is the WoF view that man can limit God’s plan with the words of his mouth? How about this from the pastor of the largest church in the United States, Joel Osteen:

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“It’s because God knew that Zechariah’s negative words would cancel out His plan . . . See, God knows the power of our words. He knows we prophesy our future. And He knew Zechariah’s own negative words would stop His plan.”

If that doesn’t set off every warning alarm, I’m not sure this article will do you much good.

Zechariah’s words would stop God’s plan? Really? REALLY?!?

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Do you see the problem? It’s heresy 101: Make God smaller, and make man bigger.. and in the end you get the ability to have your fleshly desires of wealth and prosperity. It’s no wonder this is being gobbled up by the public, it requires no repentance of sin! It allows sinful man to gain his desires! Is this the gospel? Good grief, no!

Here are some of the favorite WoF proof texts: (A proof text is a portion of scripture used to support a position. While it’s easy to take a single verse, or a single phrase out of context to make it say whatever you like, context will always clarify the author’s original intent.)

Note: I’ll limit these specifically to “The Big 3” of those used for “Positive Profession”. I may do an article later covering the “Health and Prosperity” verses.

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Proof Text 1:

“Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”
(Mark 11:23 ESV)

WoF Quote:

“Get ready to release your faith right now for whatever you need from God. Mark 11, verses 22-24, will work for any need. And Jesus answering them saith unto them, Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Whosoever shall say unto this mountain.According to Jesus, in order to change things you are to speak to the mountain. The mountain is the obstacle or need in your life. Let’s assume that your need is financial – you just simply need more money to live and to give. Say this: “Poverty, I speak to you in the name of Jesus, and I command you to be removed from my presence and my life. I will no longer tolerate you. I forbid you to operate against me in any way.” You do not talk to God about the problem. Talk to Him about the answer – the Word of God….Most people want God to talk to the mountain for them, but HE WILL NOT. He has given the believer that authority; and if you want results, do it His way. TALK TO THE MOUNTAIN!”

– Gloria Copeland, God’s Will is Prosperity, 103

Historical understanding of these verses, in context:

Jesus entered Jerusalem as one coming in the name, that is, the authority, of the Lord with a God-given mission of salvation (“Hosanna” means save now). By riding a colt, Jesus laid claim to His own brand of messiahship—not conquering hero but humble servant (see Zech. 9:9).

The cursing of the fig tree was a prophetic act meant to illustrate God’s judgment upon the temple, which had proved unfruitful by not realizing its mission as a place of prayer for all people. What is necessary for experiencing God is not the temple (see 13:1–2) but “faith in God.” Indeed, faith makes the temple obsolete. The one who believes can cast the temple mount into the sea (contrast 1 Kgs. 8:29–30). Forgiveness of sins is not experienced in temple sacrifice but in sharing God’s willingness to forgive. The “forgiveness requirement” warns believers not to turn their prayer time into a robbers’ retreat.

Understandably, the religious leaders questioned Jesus’ authority because cleansing the temple was the responsibility of the Messiah or the end-time prophet (Mal. 3:1–5; Zech. 14:20–21). Leaders had earlier questioned Jesus’ authority to announce God’s forgiveness (2:1–12), celebrate God’s new work (2:18–22), and do good on the Sabbath (3:1–6). Jesus’ question suggests that His authority was God given.

Conclusion:

Which exalts Christ and which exalts man? Let’s do a reality check here. You think that this message of “speaking to your mountains” would have been foreign to Paul, who was plagued with health problems his entire life? To the apostles who were executed?

Not convinced yet, my WoF friends? Here’s the challenge, Old Testament Style:

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This is Mount Wycheproof in Wycheproof, Australia. Standing at 43 metres (141 ft) above the surrounding terrain, Mount Wycheproof has the distinction of being the smallest registered mountain in the world.

So, go ahead and cast that one into the sea. I’m giving you a break here with a “starter mountain”. I mean, if you can’t even cast the smallest mountain into the sea, well, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do. (OK, so you’re going to allegorize; these aren’t actual mountains here, but circumstances.) Fair enough, here’s another one, one that Gloria Copeland says you’re supposed to control; The weather! (http://marc5solas.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/512/)

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Central and Western Nebraska are in what the US Drought Monitor calls “Exceptional Drought”, their highest rating. If you could go ahead and send them a few inches of rain, that should suffice. You should probably go ahead and let them know. I’m sure the farmers would be overjoyed!

Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but the point should be clear: You don’t speak to mountains, you don’t control the weather, and you don’t speak things into existence. There’s as much a difference between you and God’s creative power as there is between me and Siri. Scripture says that people get sick, people were cursed, nations were conquered and taken into captivity, the sun stood still, rain came and rain was witheld. Why? That we might know that He is God.

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
(John 9:1-3 ESV)

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Proof Text 2:

“for as he thinketh in his heart; so is he”

– Proverbs 23:7 (first half of verse)

WoF Quote:

“Where the mind goes, the man follows. God’s Word says: As (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he!” – Joyce Meyer

Historical understanding of these verses, in context:

First of all, I’d like to point out 2 tools used by teachers trying to smuggle their own views into scripture. Both of these should jump out at you immediately:

1. One half of one verse is quoted, and it’s not even a complete sentence!

2. This verse is ALWAYS quoted in the King James Version. Does your pastor preach from the KJV? If not, why does he quote this verse in the KJV? Here’s why:

King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.

Even in the only version which could be used to make it appear that what you think dictates what you become, the error is obvious when the entire verse is used. Seriously, even using the rest of the single verse used shows this as bogus.

More proof? Here’s why your pastor teaches this verse from the KJV; It plays on the antiquated KJV grammar and how we would read it now. How about a ton of other reputable translations, which your pastor actually teaches from which blow this proof text up?

New International Version (©1984)
for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost. “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.

New Living Translation (©2007)
They are always thinking about how much it costs. “Eat and drink,” they say, but they don’t mean it.

English Standard Version (©2001)
for he is like one who is inwardly calculating. “Eat and drink!” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.

New American Standard Bible (©1995)
For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.

Holman Christian Standard Bible (©2009)
for it’s like someone calculating inwardly.” Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.

International Standard Version (©2012)
for as he thinks within himself, so he is. “Eat and drink!” he’ll say to you, but his heart won’t be with you.

King James 2000 Bible (©2003)
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, says he to you; but his heart is not with you.

American Standard Version
For as he thinketh within himself, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; But his heart is not with thee.

Douay-Rheims Bible
Because like a soothsayer, and diviner, he thinketh that which he knoweth not. Eat and drink, will he say to thee: and his mind is not with thee.

Conclusion:

This verse isn’t talking about your thoughts creating your reality, here it is in context to be ridiculously, simply, clear:

Do not eat the bread of a man who is stingy;
do not desire his delicacies,
for he is like one who is inwardly calculating.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
but his heart is not with you.
(Proverbs 23:6-7 ESV)

It’s about a guy who is hypocritically generous. Eat and drink! He says, but he doesn’t mean it.. he’s inwardly stingy.

Makes you wonder if the abuse of this text is accidental, doesn’t it? How would a man who has “studied to show himself approved” to handle the biblical text (and teach it to others) use only 1/2 of 1 verse, out of context? Shady, no? (By the way, the book picture above, “As a Man Thinketh”, by James Allen? Allen wasn’t a christian, he was a well known British philosopher and “New Thought” proponent. Seeing a trend yet?

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Proof Text 3:

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
(Philippians 4:13 ESV)

WoF Quote:

“Remember, the power that is in you is greater than the power of fear. When thoughts come that say, ‘You’re not able’, choose faith by saying, ‘I can do all things through Christ!”

– Joel Osteen

Historical understanding of these verses, in context:

First of all, did you catch the red flag here? “the power that is in you is greater than the power of fear”? Huh. What power? I looked at over 20 translation, including the original Greek and all say “He”.. the pronoun “He” referring to the original subject at the beginning of the sentence (wait, using half sentences again? fail.) The original subject is “God”.

Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
(1 John 4:4 ESV)

Where does it say you have power inside of you? And greater than “the power of fear”?

No, greater than “He who is in the world”. Hmm. If only we had a way of knowing who “He” is.. Oh, wait, I know.. the previous portion of the chapter in context! (sarcasm)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.
(1 John 4:1-3 ESV)

Sorry, Joel, you fail miserably here. Not only do you not get the verse in any sort of context, you actually somehow make the real spirit of God in me and real enemy of the saints in the world about me and my fear. Surprised?

As for the “I can do all things”? I Here it is in a previous blog article: http://marc5solas.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/stuff-the-bible-doesnt-say/

If you don’t want to read the whole thing, here’s the 10 second version:

“All things doesn’t mean everything, it means all ‘these’ things, which are listed earlier in the CONTEXT:

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble.

(Philippians 4:10-14 ESV)

The Marc5Solas “Put up or Shut up” Challenge: If you really believe you can do all things, you need to get off your computer, drive to the nearest children’s pediatric ICU and start healing kids.

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So, to wrap up this week, we’ve got a non-christian mind-science philosophy, completely foreign to the orthodox, historical faith, being brought into the christian world in the mid 1900’s. This theology clearly takes scripture out of context to support this foreign philosophy, yet has the largest audience of any faith in the United States. Folks, wake up. This is a problem. This junk is being sold to millions of people as Christianity. It’s far past hair-splitting theological positions like eternal security, or end-times events. If these folks aren’t being called to repentance and faith in Christ’s atonement, they’re still under God’s wrath. I’ll continue with additional proof texts and additional doctrines of the WoF movement next week!

Marc

* Not everything on TBN is WoF. I would recommend against watching TBN due to the ratio of error to truth. There’s just too much nonsense on TBN for me to recommend it to anyone. Any of the legit ministries on TBN also have their own websites and portals to access their broadcasts or content.

‘Tis The Season to… Despair?

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Gloomy clouds of night. Misery. Death’s dark shadow. Loneliness. Mourning. Captvity. Tyranny..  even to the depths of hell.

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The world is bad. Really bad. If you are facing any of the trials above, you know that.  No amount of holiday spirit and glee is going to change that.  In fact, in probably makes it worse.  The “gloomy clouds of night” seem even darker when others seem to be bathed in the light of the season.

Do these words sound familiar?  They should.. all of the phrases above were taken directly from two  of the most famous Christmas songs; O come, O come Emmanuel and Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus.   They show, in dark detail, the condition of man, and the state of this world.  This was the world which awaited the arrival of, well.. HOPE.  Funny thing, hope, we can only hope for something we don’t have. It’s not naive, doe-eyed optimism. No, it’s not a wish. Hope is the longing for something we need, and we feel the weight of that need in emptiness.

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This need, this hope, this longing is actually good, though we see tragedy every day as people seek to fill the hopelessness with drugs or alcohol, or seek to fill the loneliness through unhealthy  relationships. Or, in the end, some lose this hope, this expectation, and become HOPELESS. Without hope, there is nothing left to live for.  This hopelessness, this giving up of the expectation, of hope is not good, it’s a LIE.

I heard a beautiful message this week which covered this lie in detail. We hear this lie so long in such darkness and loneliness that we can soon hear nothing else. Because it’s LOUD:

L: It’s a Lie. The lie is that there is no help for you. That what you’ve done is too bad, that you’re too far gone, and that you are unworthy.

O: It’s an Overstatement. It focuses on the bad and ignores the good. It will see temporary problems as never-ending.

U: There is a lack of Understanding: Nobody gets me, nobody knows what I’ve done. Nobody really loves me.

D: Doubt and Despair: This is it. It’s not going to get better. It’s no longer worth it.

To that I say perhaps the cruelest thing you can imagine:

You’re right. You’re actually worse than you think you are. You are too far gone. You’re beyond digging yourself out of the pit. You are unworthy. Nobody knows the depth of your problems. And, it really only gets worse from here.

Wait, that’s not right. You can’t tell someone who is in despair that kind of stuff!  I can. And, according to scripture, it’s the truth. Without Christ, every awful prospect is true.

And this is the world as it stood at Advent. Advent means “coming”, waiting,  expecting.  The songs of Christmas? The gloomy clouds of night? Bondage? Tyranny? Death’s dark  shadow? Real.  All real.   But…..  the waiting? It was the wait for a promise:

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
…………………………….
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
(Isaiah 9:2-7 ESV)

The promise. The fulfillment of hope. Jesus! Immanuel, God with us!

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Do you know the good news that must have been to the people who had waited century after century for this good news?  And then He came, the King of the Universe taking on human flesh to deliver His people….

As a baby? In a stable?  In the some podunk town in the middle of nowhere? Huh.

Surely, he’d grow into manhood and get it going. We’ve waited centuries, what’s another 30 years, right?

So, finally, the first big sermon.. the sermon on the mount. We’ve waited, and He looks like He’s about to kick of His big plan.. So how does this thing work out, how does Jesus crush our foes and make everything better?

“You are blessed, Poor in Spirit.” “You are blessed, mourners.”

What? Seriously? No, I don’t want to be poor in spirit. I don’t want to mourn.  This isn’t how it’s supposed to work. I want to be happy!

But they missed it. And we miss it too. The promise is that your greatest need has been met. Christ didn’t come as a conquering King, He came as a helpless babe. He didn’t come to remove His people from the cruel government or the taunts of their enemies, in fact, it got worse for them.  He didn’t remove them from the world, but promised that the world would hate them.

But….

He has delivered us from our sin and death, Our greatest needs. And He came with the promise that He will return again to conquer the enemy, and end once and for all the gloomy clouds of night, the tyranny, the loneliness, and the pain.  And for that, we continue with HOPE.  Not because we never feel lonely, or afraid, or sad. Not that we don’t make mistakes, or sin, or make a disaster of our lives. It’s because He has completely paid for those sins, and for the Lie, the Overstatement, the lack of Understanding, and the Doubt.

If you have not repented of your sins, and believed in faith that Christ has paid the price for them, all of the darkness in the first sentences of this article is real, and there is truly no hope for you.  As cruel as it may sound, I pray that it drives you to the realization that salvation is in Christ alone.

If you have turned to Christ in faith, these temporary pains are just that.  Understand that Jesus promised that in this world there would be suffering, but that in Him you may have PEACE, for He has overcome the world!

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33 ESV)

So, you will continue to suffer in this world. Bank on it.  Don’t be suprised!  But we suffer in anticipation, in hope of His glorious return to make all things new.  The only difference between the Doctor’s table and the torturers table is the understanding that it is for your good, and that it will end.  Your suffering is working toward your ultimate good and your union with Him in glory, and it will end.  And in that is your Hope. The Hope, that the very God of the universe condescended to be born a helpless baby, to live a life of perfect obedience, to suffer a brutal death in your place as punishment for your sins, to bodily rise again from the dead, and to sit victorious at the right hand of the Father, preparing for the event we now wait, in hope, for… His return!

The words in the beginning of this article are real. You know that. You may be living them now, but let’s look at them with the blessed arrival of Christ in this Christmas Season:

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O come, O come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny; From depths of hell Thy people save, And give them victory o’er the grave.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer Our spirits by Thine advent here; Disperse the gloomy clouds of night And death’s dark shadows put to flight!

O come, Thou Key of David, come, And open wide our heavenly home; Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery.

…………………………………

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Come, thou long expected Jesus,

born to set thy people free;

from our fears and sins release us,

let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation,

hope of all the earth thou art;

dear desire of every nation,

joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,

born a child and yet a King,

born to reign in us forever,

now thy gracious kingdom bring.

By thy own eternal spirit

rule in all our hearts alone;

by thine all sufficient merit,

raise us to they glorious home.

So, there you have it, Hope has come, but not as we would expect it. We will continue to suffer, but we suffer as those who have hope. I can’t make your situation go away, and you’d think me a liar if I said I could.. But, I can promise you something this enemy is trying to steal from you this season.. Hope through Christ; Immanuel, God with us!  And for those of you who are His, it is NEAR:

N: He has promised to NEVER leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13)

E: God’s perspective is ETERNAL and His love EVERLASTING (Habakkuk 3 and Jeremiah 31)

A: God’s love ALWAYS; helps, forgives, loves, comforts, and works ALL things for our good. (Romans 8)

R: God holds REALITY in His hands, He controls the universe. Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you. (Psalm 81)

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I pray that you know the peace of Christ his season, for even if it is dark, know that your Hope is secure, and that any suffering here is merely in passing until we are delivered by Him who loves you.  Though we have seen the light of the gospel which the saints of old hoped for, we now wait for His glorious return.  We join the chorus of saints through the centuries singing “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus!”

I’m available any time for any of you who need a shoulder or an ear.

Marc

Note:  Depression is not a sin. It is not a weakness. If you believe you may suffer from depression, PLEASE seek someone professionally trained to assist you.  If you are considering harming yourself, please call 1-800-273-8255, available 24/7.