discernment

The Apostate Church

Sometimes it is only when we take some time to reflect on the past that we can see the vastness of the change that has occurred. Take our own kids, for example. We live with them day by day, hour by hour, but we never specifically notice their legs growing longer or their brain maturing. It’s not until they’ve grown up that we think through all the various changes and stages and recognize the enormity of the change. Or take a struggling marriage. Little by little, couples grow apart and possibly turn to others for comfort rather than to each other. It is not until it becomes painfully obvious that the couple stops and wonders how they got to where they are.

All change is like that and enormous change is no exception.

A few years ago, I was talking with my oldest daughter about the many changes that are taking place in the church. She told me that Uncle Dean’s (Pastor Dean Good) series on Jude was so helpful in regards to this subject. Preached in 2009, it gives a great picture of what the church of the last days will look like and gave her much insight.

So I listened. And then I listened another time. And this past week, I’ve listened one more time.

(If you’d like to listen, you will find the series here. Scroll down to the bottom for the first sermon of the series, titled Living in the Midst of the Worldly Church, and then work your way up.)

You see, God doesn’t just leave us wondering what the last days will look like. He actually gives us a picture. And He tells us that as we approach the end of this age, the church will become, by and large, apostate.

So you may be wondering: What does apostate mean, anyway?

Apostate, in this context, means to abandon true, biblical faith.

So, think with me if you will of how this has happened (this is not from the sermon series but from my own reflection of history.). This change has occurred –not over the last five years, not over the last twenty years, but over the last century or more. The change has been so gradual that most of us never took much notice. At first, it was just certain denominations that abandoned biblical faith. Others would soon follow suit. But there was still a core hanging on. For most of the 1900s, there was this core of evangelical, fundamental churches that hung on to sound biblical doctrine.

I was born in the 1960s. By the time I reached high school that core was starting to be carefully and intentionally corroded. But I, along with millions of other believers, had no idea. Now, I can look back and see. The worship battles that took place in churches all over the country were part of that change. As was the “purpose-driven” (or can you say BUSINESS) model for operating a church. The push to move the church’s focus from the Bible to personal experience was not an accident. Neither was the insistence that we must be “relevant” if we were going to reach the lost (a lie from the pit of hell.)

We can probably all look back and see signs of change. Now. We couldn’t see it then. Because we didn’t know.

I remember my youth pastor showing us worldly movies as a “youth activity” in the 80s. And I remember a pastor bringing in the Purpose-Driven church book to the board my husband was serving on. I can see now that many of the “Christian” books I read and the “Christian” music I listened to were filled with mysticism and all other kinds of false (but oh, so subtle) doctrine.

But, as with any change, I couldn’t see it then. It is only in looking back that I can see these signs (and so many others) of a church that was falling into apostasy.

And this is where Pastor Dean’s sermon series was so helpful. Because God gives us a description of this church of the last days. And it matches perfectly to what we have been seeing take place, not only in America but across the world. This simply serves as one more reminder that the time is short. Eschatologically, the mainstream “church” is just where we are told she will be at the end of the age. Remember, this is not the true Church, which is the bride of Christ that contains the remnant of those following the true, biblical faith. This is, rather, an apostate version that uses all the right terms and phrases but is godless.

Titus describes these types of people in chapter 1, verse 16–

They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being [d]abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.

Lots of “professions” of salvation but no turning from sin or from the world. This is an indication that a true life transformation has not occurred. When these “professors” gather together in groups and call themselves a church, they make each other comfortable in their worldliness and acceptance of sin. They gladly grab on to the pleasant promises of God’s Word (if they pay attention to the Word at all) but ignore or rationalize away any of the unpleasant parts.

The church of today (almost without exception) is a church focused on self instead of God. It is a church focused on experiences instead of the Bible. It is a church that views discernment and negative words as evil and instead warmly accepts any and all new fodder that has a the label of “Christian”. And it is a church focused on embracing the world instead of separating from the world.

There are few churches left –even the ones we have counted on to be solid– that have stood firm against the tsunami of change that has washed over evangelicalism.

I was struck when I was studying Titus last week. Chapter 1 gives this qualification for church elders:  holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

If church elders would have obeyed this scripture, many churches would have been saved. Instead, they were caught up in other trivial matters as the serpent stole his way into the hearts of the churches.

Because of the lateness of the hour, there is no saving the church as a whole. But, with God’s help, you pastors and elders can save your own churches and you moms and dads can save your own families.

So what to do? Jude helps us! Let’s take a look at verses 20-23–

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22 And on some have compassion, [j]making a distinction; 23 but others save [k]with fear, pulling them out of the [l]fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

First, we must build ourselves up in the faith through prayer. We cannot withstand this Tsunami of apostasy without Bible study and prayer. It is truly our only anchor in this unprecedented and giant wave of change. And we must persevere, keeping ourselves in the love of God through our submission and obedience, as we look for Christ’s return that will take us to our eternal home.

And then we act. We take whatever opportunities God gives us to help. Sometimes that will mean showing compassion on doubters as we take them to the Word and other times it will mean snatching individuals from the serious danger of apostasy. The wisdom of what is needed for each opportunity will only come through walking closely with God through prayer and Bible Study.

So this is what God has told us to do as we navigate these last days. But Jude doesn’t end there. He goes on to give these marvelous words to conclude (verses 24-25)–

24 Now to Him who is able to keep [m]you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
25 To [n]God our Savior,
[o]Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and [p]power,
Both now and forever.
Amen.

What an amazing reminder that it is God who works in and through us for His glory. And we cannot stumble if He is our guide. And, while our path may be difficult during earth’s final days, the day will come when we will be presented faultless before the throne–only because of Christ’s sacrifice. And then there is this wonderful reminder that the God we serve has all wisdom, glory, majesty, dominion, and power. We are loved and protected by the one and only God of the Universe. It’s an awesome thought.

And so we are not left without counsel and wisdom for where we find ourselves in these days–even if we feel lost and lonely in our own church. As Pastor Dean has said–expect to be persecuted by those who call themselves Christians. True, biblical faith is not and will never be popular (John 15:18-19). True biblical faith stands clearly separated from the world (James 4:4). True, biblical faith grows in holiness (I Peter 1:15-16). And true biblical faith avoids false doctrine (Romans 16:17).

As we compare these things above to the church of today, we can see the tragic departure from true biblical faith. May we unapologetically and courageously follow God’s Word as we strive to walk with God in this unique time of history. Only by God’s grace and mercy will we survive what is ahead. But God is able to keep us from stumbling! He will not forsake us.

 

 

The Sick Toddler

The mother eyed her whimpering toddler with grave concern. He had stopped crying. Like he had run out of the energy to even cry. That couldn’t be good.

“I think it’s time you take him to the doctor,” her husband said worriedly. The young couple had watched their little son grow worse and worse over the past two days.

Within a short time, the mother had the feverish baby strapped into his car seat and was on her way to the doctor. Every once in a while she’d look in the rear-view mirror to check on him. She grew more worried with each passing mile. What was wrong with him?

When she got to the doctor’s office, she was ushered into a room right away. Holding the hot and limp little boy, she prayed. Soon the doctor was examining him. His expression grew concerned. He sighed, stood up, and turned to the mother.

He explained what was wrong with the baby and said he had medicine to help the baby. The effect would be immediate. But there was a big problem.

“What is it?” said the mother with trepidation.

“The medicine tastes awful,” the doctor spoke as if this mattered, “he might not like it.”

“I don’t care. Make my baby well. Give him the medicine,” urged the mother.

Good health was more important than pleasant-tasting medicine to the mother who loved her son more than she loved herself.

It was more important that he be healthy than that he be happy in that moment.

I heard this illustration on a sermon series by Dr. John Whitcomb today (I’ll include the link below). I felt compelled to share in hopes that this would help you understand why the Bible clearly commands us to expose false teachers. It isn’t about dividing the Body of Christ. It never has been. It’s about loving and protecting the Body of Christ.

A few days ago I put a post on Facebook about a false teacher. He’s much beloved and, as expected, I lost many followers. Some expressed their disgust that I would share something negative about this man. The conclusion is always the same: You are absolutely sinful and wrong to do this.

But is this what the Bible actually says? Does the Bible clearly show that it is unloving and sinful to expose a false teacher? We know it doesn’t when we compare this premise to scripture. (I have written about this in the past so I won’t repeat what I wrote but you can go here for that post.) But let’s dig a little deeper into the why. Why does God want us to expose false teachers? Why does it matter?

The truth is like that awful-tasting medicine. It doesn’t taste good and, as humans, we’d just prefer not to have it. But the truth is the only thing that can keep us spiritually healthy.

There is a spiritual pandemic going on and it’s sweeping across this land and into the utter parts of the earth. It’s a pandemic of wrong beliefs without any biblical basis. It’s a pandemic of strong opinions dominated by personal experience. It’s a pandemic of declarations and prophesies and zero doctrine. The landscape is simply littered with teachers who twist and warp scripture as they shout their opinions and ideas from well-lit stages to packed auditoriums.

This has led to many sick Christians. They are sick because they are listening to and heeding false teachers. And there are so few who are willing to speak up.

But just like that mother who loved her baby enough to give him bad-tasting medicine so that he could be well, so, too, should we love our siblings in Christ enough to tell them the truth.

For only when we know the truth can we begin to be spiritually healthy. The truth truly will set you free.

Jesus said this in John 8:31-32–

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Do you notice that the truth is only known by abiding in His Word? The Bible isn’t just an old book. It’s where we find the truth. It has been provided to give us a litmus test by which to test everything. It is the tool given to us to examine ourselves and to examine any teacher, author, or preacher that comes our way.

And so, if we truly love and care about the body of Christ we must speak up. For only this is truly love.

“Niceness” and pleasant words will never prove your love. For love is proven by actions. As we can see from the illustration above, this mother loved her son enough to frustrate his desires in the short-term because she really cared about him in the long-term. Is this any less true in the spiritual realm? What an important lesson for us all.

Look, I don’t have this down. By no means am I saying follow my example, for I have such a long way to go. The fact that it took me so long to write about Disney (which is so obviously occultic) shows me that I am certainly not immune to compromising in order to please people. Oh, that we may all (myself included) be encouraged to love people enough to speak the truth, no matter the cost.

And so I write to encourage us all. May we be loyal only to God. May we be willing to risk reputations, friendships, and whatever necessary to speak the truth for the sake of sick and hurting siblings. And may we remember that we aren’t perfect. Sometimes it is us who is sick. Let’s be willing to listen when someone speaks truth to us as well!

For only through Truth–both speaking it and listening to it— will the Body of Christ be healthy and unified in the way God intended.

 

 

Here is the excellent series by John Whitcomb that I referred to above:

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 1)

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 2)

Truth is Greater Than Love (Part 3)

 

 

Are Disney and God Compatible?

A few years ago, I stumbled on to a documentary about Disney. I was so disturbed but the cost of speaking out against Disney was high (as it is dearly loved by so many Christians) and so I am ashamed to say that I just let time slowly fade this content from my mind. I had a vague recollection but decided to not worry about this.

Some of our best family memories took place at Disney World. While we weren’t Disney fanatics by any stretch of the imagination, we did thoroughly enjoy our trips there. My kids watched many of the movies over and over growing up. (Of course, never the ones that were filled with sorcery— as if a “little sorcery” in the ones we did allow was not as worrisome as a lot!) At any rate, I wasn’t prepared to pay the price of turning away from this American staple. Neither publicly or personally. It seemed too hard.

But, recently, not only has Disney been doing some really concerning things in their theme parks, but their content is getting darker and more propaganda-like with each new movie or show.

And so I decided to watch the documentary again. And, friends, Disney has been telling us their direction all along. They have been putting it out there for all to see and we Christians have been completely and utterly deceived.

I decided, this morning, to share this documentary on Facebook. But, unbeknownst to me, the video used a fake photo. I doubt the author of the video knew it was a fake photo, but this was enough for me to remove it. (I am so thankful to the reader who brought this to my attention!) Although the video was otherwise spot on in the information it presented, this one fake photo would discredit the video enough to sour and turn off those who are looking for excuses to ignore this information.

SO this is why I am writing today. I want to take a look at what is wrong with Disney, according to scripture. May we be brave enough to open our eyes to these truths.

Here are the questions I’d like to answer today:

What is Disney’s purpose? And is it compatible with God’s purpose?

I want to acknowledge, right up front, that it took me a very long time for me to get to this point. I am ashamed to admit that I was not willing to face the ridicule of family and friends in order to stand for what is right. I was not willing to marginalize myself that much. How incredibly sad is that?? I am so ashamed.

But no more. I think it’s time we all take our proverbial heads out of the sand and take an honest look at what Disney has been teaching all along.

First, there is sorcery in almost every single movie in one way or another. While we think of these as innocent stories expressing the age-old theme of good against evil, they really are teaching our kids and grandkids about sorcery.

Let’s remind ourselves what God thinks of sorcery:

There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

It is fairly clear in these passages (and others) that God HATES sorcery of any type. So why would we Christians bring entertainment into our homes that contain this thing that God hates? (This goes for Harry Potter and Narnia and Lord of the Rings, as well–entertainment that is FULL of magic and sorcery.)  Why do we make exceptions for entertainment?

I believe that Disney paved the way for Christians to accept sorcery as an acceptable inclusion in their entertainment. Oh, how naive I was. How naive we all were.

Second, the theme of almost every Disney movie is “Follow your heart.” Any believer who is familiar with scripture at all must recognize the grave error of such a message. In fact, there we read that the complete opposite is true–

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

It is Satan who deceived Eve into thinking that she was capable on her own of determining truth. It is Satan who deceives us in this way yet today. We can’t follow our hearts because they will always lead us astray.

And yet this is the main message of the company that is the main entertainer of America’s children. Perhaps of your own children. Really reflect on that for a moment.

Third, Disney is busily changing the definition of family. Again, in almost every film, there lacks a normal family. Think about all of the Disney films you have watched. Almost all are missing a parent. Obviously, this sometimes tragically happens but it has never been the norm. I can’t think of one (even their real life series and movies often are not showing the proper–and what used to be normal– nuclear family structure). This change in the nuclear family structure from these movies of yesteryear have opened the door for other family structures. Can you see the progression?

Fourth, many of these movies promote things that are utterly unacceptable and yet somehow make them seem alright– a young man enticing a teen girl to leave her room (Aladdin); a magical being luring three young children on an adventure (Peter Pan); A magical nanny teaching children witchcraft (Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks).

Oh, Christians, what have we been doing?!?

These are just four (of many) reasons we should stay far away from Disney, although more reasons are being piled up upon these four every day. From the ridiculous changes they desire to make in their theme parks to the ever-darkening propaganda they continue to push forth on the naive culture in their movies and series.

Should we be surprised at this trajectory of Disney?

Absolutely not. Not when we do a little digging into Walt’s past. You see, Walt was a 33rd degree freemason. He was always anti-God and  in direct opposition to biblical themes. From the beginning, he wanted to put occultic themes into the heads of children.

We Christians were just so naive.

Oh, I know that some of you saw this all along. And you were willing to speak up about it, too. I am so glad that you have done so!

But far more are unwilling to face the truth about this company that is deadset on teaching their kids and grandkids all that goes against scripture.

It is my hope and prayer that this post leads even one of you to re-evaluate this company and to start removing the wicked entertainment they are spewing forth from your lives and the lives of the precious children in your care.

And, like I said, I am saying this to myself as much as I am saying it to you. I will be throwing away my Disney movies (those I incorrectly labeled as “innocuous”). I have already canceled my Disney Plus and Disney credit card accounts. I am on a mission, now that God has opened my eyes.

There’s an inconspicuous verse in Daniel 10 (what I am reading this week) that says this:

Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. (verse 12)

The angel came in response to Daniel because he had “set his heart to understand.” Well, I want to be like Daniel. I want to set my heart to understand so that I am not deceived by things like Disney. I am ashamed it took me this long to “set my heart” but better late than never, right?

Will you join me?

 

(If you want to be horrified and further educated regarding what Disney is teaching our young people, then this documentary which I referred to earlier will inform you. However, please be aware that the author included–I am guessing unbeknownst to him–at least one “photoshopped” photo. Unfortunately, this photo will discredit the author when the bulk of what he says is clearly true. So use your own judgment on this.)

 

What Is Your Price?

Every now and again I’ll go searching for some new music on Amazon music. There is a lot of good Christian music on there that is outside of the mainstream CCM that I stopped listening to a few years ago.

The other day I found a CD by some random guy that I was thoroughly enjoying. It was just his great voice and a piano and the songs were very appealing to my ear.

But a couple of songs in, I heard a weird phrase. Wait, what? I listened for it again. I wasn’t sure if it was unbiblical, but something didn’t seem right. I kept listening…

The next song came on. In this song, he assured his listeners that God would enable you to listen to your own heart. It was actually a very strange lyric and–no question with this one– definitely NOT biblical (Jeremiah 17:9)

At that point, I moved on.

But, it was a reminder that unbiblical, false teaching comes in all kinds of packages. It comes in pleasant-sounding songs as well as rap music. It comes in theatrical productions as well as in a soft-spoken preacher. In church and at work. On the TV as well as through a friend or your favorite social media account.

Any false or unbiblical teacher has either been deceived themselves or has chosen to compromise.

We can avoid being caught up in deception by careful and correct study of scripture. It is authoritative, inerrant, and sufficient. It is the only source of truth and God’s gift to us to keep us from deception. If we are deceived for a short time, He is faithful to call us from deception at some point if we are His own, dear child.

But let’s talk for just a bit about those who intentionally choose to compromise.

Some say we all have a price at which we will compromise. For many it is popularity, for some it is power or wealth, for others it is fear of what others will think. For many in the west, the price of compromise may be comfort, convenience, security, or stability. And then there is family. Many are unwilling to stand strong because of the ridicule and antagonism they receive from their families.

More and more, we are watching people compromise what is taught in scripture. People we have trusted to not compromise.

It is a most discouraging and disheartening process.

In the face of this most discouraging set of circumstances, how do we respond?

Since we can’t control what others do, we must keep plodding along, serving the Lord, intent only on pleasing Him. When we put our eyes on some other goal or idol, we end up compromising —sometimes without even realizing it.

Pastor Randy Hooper wrote this recently: “Most people, even the unbeliever, will not compromise his belief for ten dollars. But how about ten thousand dollars or ten million? A person is not any more noble because they, in a sense, charge more for their defection and cowardice than others.”

Exactly. Most people have a price. Oh, they may hold out if a small reward is offered. But when the cost gets too high or that thing that is so highly valued becomes available if they but compromise (just a little…) then most who call themselves Christians will cave.

So what is your price? What is mine? Will we compromise?

This is when it is helpful to take an honest and hard look at ourselves. What is our idol? What is more important to us than God? Hopefully nothing but this is a tough one. Sometimes we don’t even realize that something is more important to us until we examine our hearts. And this is our weak spot. This idol is what Satan will use to tempt us to compromise.

And so we pray for protection. We pray that God would enable us to keep Himself number ONE in our hearts, over and above all other things and people.

Others around us may compromise. But may we stand strong until the end!

And let’s not forget: We can only do this through the strength of the Holy Spirit. And this, through prayer and the Word of God.

Alone, we are like little lambs in the wilderness—prey for false teachers and incredibly susceptible to idol-bowing.

May we be people who are both unwilling to compromise, as well as people who refuse to fill our minds with the fodder of compromised teachers as we travel in these very strange times in these last days.

 


 

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.

2 Timothy 2:1-6

 

 

IF: Gathering: A Biblical Evaluation

Normally when my daughter, Jess, posts on her Anchor for the Soul Facebook page, I will repost on my page over there and then wait a few days (and sometimes a few weeks) to post it here on the blog. However, what you find written here today was on her page late last night. I knew I wanted to get this information into your hands as soon as possible. This IF movement has a lot of steam and is very popular and their gathering is coming up soon.

Although you may already be aware that something is off with this movement, you may not be sure how to discuss this with the women in your life who adore it. What you find written here will easily explain why all biblically sound Christian women should stay far, far away from the IF:Gathering.

I hope what Jess writes below is a blessing to you as you seek to please the Lord above all else and to be a light for Him in the ever-darkening, false religion that they call “Christianity”.

__________________________________________

 

The IF: Gathering was founded by Jennie Allen in 2014. The name is inspired by the question, “If God is real…then what?” and exists to “equip women to fulfill their calling.” It’s a weekend conference that women can attend in-person or livestream with a group in their home or local church. I’ve received a few questions about the gathering and since IF: 2022 is coming up in 2 weeks, I thought it was a good time to answer them. Is it biblically sound? Is it something we can benefit from or something to be avoided? I researched each speaker at the gathering and found an easy – and discouraging – answer.

Before we begin, I’m assuming these 7 things about you as a reader. If you agree with them, then you will absolutely share my concerns over the list of speakers and what they preach and believe.

1. Women aren’t permitted to preach in church (1 Tim 2:12-14)
2. Social justice isn’t a Biblical concept and we can’t seek to resolve racism in any way apart from the Gospel changing individual hearts.
3. Direct revelation from God is no longer occurring. (Rev 22:18)
4. The NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) and Prosperity Gospel movements are unbiblical and must be avoided.
5. We do not seek to unify with other faiths or denominations that compromise the truth. Truth always trumps unity. (Matt 10:34)
6. Dominion theology is false. The Bible is clear that the world will become worse and worse, not better, as the last days approach.
7. There should be no partnering with false teachers (Romans 16:17, 2 John 9-11)

J𝐞𝐧𝐧𝐢𝐞 𝐀𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐧 – founder of the IF gathering, the idea was born after she heard a “voice from the sky” (that she attributes to God) telling her to gather and equip her generation. She’s a proponent of extra-biblical revelation, spiritual formation practices, unity over truth, women pastors, and dominion theology. Her dream guide states that “when we create and thrive for the good of others, you’re participating in God’s redemptive work of making the world better.” Her end goal always seems to be making the world a better place. What speaks the loudest against her, however, is those she invites to speak at the IF: Gathering.

𝐂𝐡𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐞 – an ordained pastor who preaches at various churches across the globe. She is rooted in the NAR and the prosperity gospel. She calls Joyce Meyer her spiritual mentor and “prayed for an impartation of that teaching anointing and revelation” as she placed her hand on Meyer’s Bible. Her association with false teachers is inexcusable – she is officially part of the Hillsong church and has partnered with Joel Osteen, Paula White, TD Jakes, Beth Moore, and many others.

𝐉𝐞𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐀𝐥𝐲𝐬𝐬𝐚 𝐁𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐤𝐞 – they are proponents of ecumenism (especially the joining of Catholicism and Christianity), social justice, and dominion theology. Jefferson stated that the book of Revelation is simply “apocalyptic literature showing the evil of empire versus the goodness of the reign of God.” He’s partnered with multiple false teachers.

𝐌𝐚𝐭𝐭 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐋𝐚𝐮𝐫𝐞𝐧 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐝𝐥𝐞𝐫 – Matt has recently jumped on the charismatic bandwagon, preaching about visions or “spiritual impressions” and our requirement to share those with others as a “word from the Lord.” He’s also a champion of social justice, often talking about white privilege and the inconsistencies and ignorance within the white church. He preached about the need for affirmative action within the church. He berates those who criticize CRT or the Black Lives Matter movement – claiming “their brains are broke” and that they’ve “given up on justice.” He believes God can eliminate racism as we partner with the world to reform the broken system.

𝐋𝐚𝐭𝐚𝐬𝐡𝐚 𝐌𝐨𝐫𝐫𝐢𝐬𝐨𝐧 – at a CRU event in 2019, she led a prayer to the stadium full of people where they repeated a prayer of lament for white privilege and systematic injustice in which they were “compliant.” Her book, 𝐵𝑒 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐵𝑟𝑖𝑑𝑔𝑒, claims that Christians refuse to actively repent for their failure “to be a credible witness of racial reconciliation.” She claims we all need to “explore our family’s history to discover ways in which you or your ancestors have been complicit in racism” and then make reparations for that. She says that guilt and shame are “communal” and that it’s a sin to benefit from structural privilege. She never talks about the gospel as being the only true solution.

𝐆𝐚𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐑𝐞𝐛𝐞𝐤𝐚𝐡 𝐋𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐬 – founder of “Q”, an organization that attempts to unite Christianity and other faith groups to bring about change through the “seven channels of cultural influence.” The organization has partnered with false teachers and many from the Catholic church. Gabe Lyons commended the IF: Gathering for “not getting into doctrine” especially over women’s roles within the church.

𝐉𝐚𝐜𝐤𝐢 𝐇𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐲 – a popular Christian figure who is slowly drifting away from Biblical theology. She has recently recanted her participation in “the American Gospel” (a documentary showing the falsity of the prosperity gospel) saying that she “deeply dislikes the tribalism and theological superiority those types of films encourage.” She’s become a proponent for Social Justice and has defended her partnership with Bethel, Hillsong, and other false teachers.

𝐒𝐚𝐝𝐢𝐞 𝐑𝐨𝐛𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐬𝐨𝐧 𝐇𝐮𝐟𝐟 – a rising star in the Christian world, she speaks a very me-centered Gospel. She talks a lot about your worth, dreams, goals, confidence, and the importance of “being you” and very little about sin, repentance, and denying yourself. God is all love and no judgement.

𝐀𝐧𝐧 𝐕𝐨𝐬𝐤𝐚𝐦𝐩 – in her book, she says she “flies to Paris to discover how to make love to God.” She writes that “God makes love with grace upon grace, every moment a making of His love for us. Couldn’t I make love to God, making every moment love for Him? To know Him the way Adam knew Eve, Spirit skin to spirit skin?” The rest of the book is filled with similar verbiage. Besides this abominable erotic language toward a holy God, she is a big proponent for new-age and Catholic-influenced mysticism and believes that God is in all things (panentheism).

𝐃𝐫. 𝐀𝐧𝐢𝐭𝐚 𝐏𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐩𝐬 – a psychologist specializing in trauma, she has partnered with TD Jakes and spoke at his “Woman Thou are Loosed” conference. She hosted a black-only gathering for racial trauma at Saddleback Church and has also partnered with Oprah. She promotes social justice and CRT and has terrible theology all around.

𝐓𝐨𝐧𝐢 𝐂𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐞𝐫 – co-pastor of the Hillsong Atlanta church, she originally served at Andy Stanley’s church and has expressed her admiration for him. Proponent of social justice and the NAR movement.

𝐋𝐚𝐲𝐥𝐚 𝐃𝐞 𝐋𝐚 𝐆𝐚𝐫𝐳𝐚 – pastor of a church in Mexico and is “passionate about creating churches that unchurched people love to attend.”

𝐉𝐚𝐝𝐚 𝐄𝐝𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐬 – another pastor who previously attended Tony Evan’s church where she has returned to preach on occasion.

𝐉𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐞 𝐈𝐯𝐞𝐲 – she has a podcast that hosts a variety of questionable guests including Beth Moore, Russell Moore, Mike Todd, Max Lucado, and Amy Grant. Another champion of the ecumenical movement.

𝐁𝐢𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐚 𝐎𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐟𝐟 – another pastor who is a big proponent of NAR and Dominion theology. She claims that where the Spirit of God is, there is “unity, prosperity, equality, and supernaturally.”

Because of these many red flags, I cannot recommend the IF: Gathering. It’s simply bound to push social justice, ecumenism, and the NAR movement. Please note that because of limited space, the information above is very basic. I could’ve written an entire post about each person. I encourage you to research on your own and feel free to comment or contact me for resources. Compare what you find with the Word of God. I’m not judging the heart or motivation of any of these speakers. I’m not saying they’ve never said anything true or helpful. I’m simply bringing to light the many concerns associated with them so that you can make a wise choice and help other women in your circle do the same. I pray that it is helpful and encourages you to stand firm on the rock of God’s Truth even when everyone else is stumbling off the edge.

 

(The above was written by my oldest daughter, Jess, and originally posted on her Anchor for the Soul pages at Instagram and Facebook.)

 

The Road is Wide and Has More Than One Lane

Can we agree that life is just strange right now? And one of the strangest things of all lies in the “Christian” culture where we have these two sides in complete opposition to one another. On both sides, we find proponents of theories and theologies that are utterly outside or totally against what scripture teaches.

While one side may look better than the other to you, I want to explain why I believe that both sides are clearly not of God.

It always gets tricky to discern when the names of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are used. When words like prayer and church and other Christian terms are flung around with comfort and ease. We’ve come to assume that this means the person is on God’s side.

But that is not the case. Let me say that once more: That is not the case.

Consider these words by Robert Culver in his commentary on Daniel–

Idolatry in Israel as noted above had been always mainly a perversion of the true worship of the one true God rather than a denial or abandonment of it. The gods of their neighbors were worshiped occasionally, to be sure. But the idolatry of Israel was usually an attempt to worship Jehovah-God through some “aid to worship” such as a graven or molten image. p. 50, The Histories and Prophecies of Daniel

Reflect on this carefully. Man has not changed so much since the days of Israel. Oh, we may have replaced bowing at a golden image with bowing to science. Our burnt offerings are replaced with preaching self-help and psychology from the pulpit. And wild dancing in front of a golden calf has been replaced with swaying to apostate and worldly music. But it ends up as the same thing– perverted worship of God.

This always comes when the church tries to marry its idolization and fascination with the world to their worship of God. Always.

So while there is this “black” side that stands for all that God hates (think tyranny, abortion, homosexuality, CRT), there is also this confusing “white” side that seemingly looks pretty good. It seems to cling to biblical principles and to use the right language.

But is this true or is it simply perverted worship? Is it simply the “right” side of the broad road?

A few days ago, I watched a very fascinating video*. In it was undeniable proof of the apostasy of so many. Men and women that you knew weren’t on the same team as us, but you weren’t quite sure why. Along with this apostasy came the approval of men and women that we have trusted. People hanging out with them that just shouldn’t be, given their beliefs.

I sent the link to a few people, one of them being my dad. He called me the morning after he watched it and said something like this: It’s almost like people are fighting over which side of the broad road to travel on. There’s two sides but they are both headed the same place.

Bingo.

The more I’ve thought about what he said, the more I realize that he is exactly right.

We are seeing the black, tyrannical side traveling side by side with the perverted worship white side. But they are traveling the same direction even though they look to be in complete opposition.

In fact, I would not be surprised if the black tyrannical side is setting us up for the antichrist system to come in and save the day. The trusted men and women that are joining with all types of “Christians” and even others (specifically “new-agers”) are paving the way and preparing the people.

Now, keep in mind, in saying all of this, I am never judging motives of any given individual. While I believe some know full well what they are doing, I also believe that there are many who are completely deceived. I have no way of knowing which is which. This is not about individuals, per se, but rather about the overall picture that we see taking place.

I want to add here (and I know this is an extremely unpopular statement that may cost me some of my readers) that I can’t find anywhere in scripture where we are told to fight for our rights. Jesus lived during Rome’s reign and yet He never once talked about rights or fighting the government. Neither did Paul or Peter or anyone else I can think of (am I missing one?). When we think of Daniel and his friends (what I am currently studying), there was never any vision that encouraged them to join with their fellow Jews to stand up against the wicked government that they found themselves in. Rather, in scripture, there is a recognition that, as true believers, we stand apart from whatever is happening in the world. We are pilgrims and sojourners (I Peter 2:11). This world is not our home (Hebrews 13:14).

Now, let me add quickly, that I don’t believe this means we shouldn’t {very prudently} stand for freedom. But we must remember that this is not why we are here as believers. This is not our main priority. We never want patriotism and fighting for our rights to become more important than God and obeying His Word.

One of the benefits of being fascinated with history is the perspective it gives. All throughout history (and even across the world today), Christians have been and are treated badly. They have historically been hated in whatever government they have lived under. They have had to have worship services in the deep, dark woods; they have been sent to gulags and concentration camps for doing what is right; they have been imprisoned, shot, and beheaded. This is still happening today.

The leniency and freedom we Christians have had in the west is not normal. And it never has been.

So why am I saying this?

I think some well-meaning believers may be getting too caught up in preserving this wonderful situation we have found ourselves in. As Americans, particularly, we have lived in this unprecedented time with freedoms and material blessings that have been unheard of across the world or ever in history. But we have to recognize that, while God used America greatly for His purposes (specifically to spread the Gospel and to reestablish the nation of Israel), this great country cannot be great in the end. For you cannot have a strong, powerful America to bring in a one world government.

So, if we recognize that Revelation is true and will be fulfilled (and it will, we can certainly see that!), then we can see that America must be rendered useless on the world scene. There is no saving her–at least not for the long-term.

But this should not fill us with despair as believers. We are literally seeing the world get set up for Revelation right before our very eyes.

Of course, we all wonder what the ramifications of all of this will be for us personally. And how long will we need to endure?

No one knows the answer to this but God. What we do know is that we can trust Him (Proverbs 29:25). He is our shield (Psalm 18:30). And our refuge (Psalm 46:1). He will sustain us (Psalm 55:22). His grace is sufficient for us (2 Corinthians 9:8; 12:9) and He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He offers us a peace that is not of this world (John 14:27) and we can never be snatched from His hand (John 10:28-29).

Our comfort and guidance can only come from the scriptures in this confusing and chaotic time. And there is so very much there to grab hold of. God has not left us destitute and without help to face these coming days.

But, as we face them, may we pray for wisdom and guidance on who to promote and support and join up with. May we use shrewd discernment as we navigate the upheaval all around us. And may we recognize that the two sides are headed the same direction and that the direction is not good.

So let’s make sure we aren’t anywhere near that broad road– on either side.

Yes, the narrow road is lonely and hard and there are few that find it (Matthew 7:13-14). But there are still a few and we are not alone.

May we stand boldly for God and His Word. May we gladly and readily share the Gospel. May we focus on what is of eternal significance.

For, in the end, this will be all that matters.

 

 

*Due to the unnecessary harsh and unkind remarks by the video commentator in his presentation, I am reluctant to share this video publicly. However, the information he presents is undeniable and reliable. If you are interested in watching this video, please email me or pm me and I will see that you get the link.

 

Four Boys and What They Can Teach Us

It is sobering to consider the average 15 year old boy these days. Most are obsessed with sports or video games or some other frivolous pastime. Fast forward ten or more years and you will find the average 25 year old–and even 35 year old–man in the American culture continue to be obsessed with the things that do not matter for eternity. And this isn’t just a problem with men. Young women also find themselves wrapped up in the things of this world.

Of course, this is an easy thing to have happen and it isn’t without intention that any of us avoid this–even us older people. We live in a world that is literally obsessed with entertainment and sports and outward beauty and money and education and politics. This list of temporal distractions is endless. And, while these things can be enjoyed and attended to in a godly way, they often also provide temptation to become fixated on the wrong thing. None of us is immune to being ensnared and preoccupied with the things of this life that are of no lasting value…the things that won’t make a bit of difference in all of eternity.

Most of us can’t even define what a true hero is, much less be one as we remain distracted with the stuff of life that just doesn’t matter.

I can’t help but compare this to Daniel and his friends. In studying chapter 1 of this much beloved book of the Bible, we see defined for us true heroism.

American culture has taught us that heroes have super powers or that they are someone who can catch a ball or put it through a hoop. We are given the poor substitution of someone who can pretend to be someone they are not on a big screen or drives a fast car. The word “hero” has been watered down and redefined until it gives us nothing but shallow or unrealistic men and women to emulate.

But God gives us real heroes in Daniel and his friends. These are real people who existed many thousands of years ago that are worthy of emulation.

It starts off in chapter one, when they are just boys. They are captured as teenagers and taken to Babylon. They are without any adults to remind them of God’s laws or to whisper encouraging words in their ears.

But by the age of 15 (or so), they are men enough to stand strong against peer pressure and possible persecution (or loss of life!) Now think about that for a moment. I am not sure even most grown and mature adults would have been brave enough to do that. As we move through the book of Daniel we see other heroic acts by these four, but this first chapter gives us insight on why they were able to face the hot fire and the den of lions.

If you haven’t read Daniel for awhile (or ever) then let me give a quick overview of chapter one. These teens were taken from their homeland to serve the King of Babylon in his courts. In order to prepare them they were to be given the choicest of food to eat.

Daniel and his friends refused this food. Not because it was wrong to eat meat (as some have surmised) or because it was unhealthy to eat it. They refused it because it was unceremonially unclean. It had been offered to Babylon’s false gods. (This topic could be expanded upon in great detail because it is much more complicated than all that, but for the sake of keeping this from getting too long, this is the reason in simplified explanation.)

God not only gave these four boys favor in the eyes of the officials, giving them an opportunity to not eat the King’s delicacies, but He also made them stronger and finer for not eating it.

So what made these four boys stand firm about something so simple as the food they would eat?

I want to turn to Robert Duncan Culver’s commentary on Daniel for the answer. In this, he gives eight reasons why these boys were able to stand firm instead of caving to peer pressure, as most would (and as many of Daniel’s co-exiles most surely did).

Let’s take a look at these reasons and examine our own lives and choices, as well as examine our parenting (and even our grandparenting) by what we read here.

For the instruction and enlightenment of a hundred generations, this story presents the elements present in true Christian heroism. If we want heroes to emulate, here are some of them. p. 20, The Histories and Prophecies of Daniel by Culver.

So let’s look at the reasons Culver gives. Let me add here that the reasons are from Culver and the commentary about the reasons are mine. I’d like to type all that Culver wrote as it was so profound but it would just be too long, so I am trying to give his points more concisely.

First, these boys were taught to discern. They had been taught the difference between right and wrong. This is something most likely learned from their parents (Deut 6:4-9). There is much to be commended with seeing that your children get a Christian education or taking them to church every Sunday but nothing can replace a godly parent’s influence in the life of a child. This influence is through both example and conversation.

Second, these boys had learned to resist evil. Where did this inner strength come from? Again, we must assume parental influence. They had been taught to live in submission and obedience to God. They had been disciplined from a young age to respect authority but to respect God above all else.

Third, they had the power to say NO. Youth is a season of conformity. Generally, they want to fit in so badly that compromise is the norm for teenagers–even Christian ones. Most are unable to resist the peer pressure in order to stand for what’s right. Even we “mature” adults have trouble with this. And, yet, here are these four boys showing us how to stand up and just say NO in a respectful and kind way.

Fourth, they had physical courage. They knew they could lose a lot–even their very lives–in the face of their refusal. And, yet, for the sake of pleasing God they were willing to risk this. Do we have this same courage? Or are we too obsessed with our own comforts, conveniences, worldly goods, and safety to do what’s right? I think we have learned much about this in our own hearts and in the hearts of others over the course of the last two years. And it’s not been very pretty, has it?

Fifth, they had perseverance. Daniel gently persevered in his conviction. He was not going to give in.

Sixth, they had determination. “Daniel purposed in his heart.” He kept his eyes focused on what matters, rather than to get distracted by the unimportant and transient.

Seventh, they were meek. We see here boys that just did what they were called to do by God. We see no arrogance or boasting or disrespect for authority (by the way, this disrespect is something we are often witnessing by those claiming Christ today). They simply and quietly did what was right.

Eighth, they had wisdom and good sense. Daniel wisely offered the trial of ten days. Instead of simply refusing to eat the food set out before him, he asked to be given a short time to at least try out his idea. He had wisdom beyond his years in dealing with this situation.

While most of this first chapter is focused on Daniel (he is the one making the requests), we know from verses 11-16 that his friends joined him in not eating the unclean food. We also recognize these same heroic traits in these friends later on in the book when they are cast into the fiery furnace. We don’t know where Daniel is at this point but he was not with them. This shows us that they, too, were of strong moral fiber and full of heroism themselves.

I found myself really reflecting on my own heart and mind as I studied Daniel 1 this past week. Do I have these same heroic traits? Am I prepared to face what they faced? These boys–all four of them–offer us a wonderful and quite relevant example for all of us believers as we start living in an unfamiliar world and face the persecution that is looming on our horizon. We may not have been exiled to a foreign land but the land we are living in is not the same land of our childhood. It’s not even the same land of just two short years ago. Everything has changed.

I want to conclude with one final, very profound, quote from Culver (p. 15 of his commentary)–

Our own period, aptly dubbed “the ease era”, does not have the climate which produces many heroes. The average American, including many who are already parents and a few grandparents, has yet to be involved in an unavoidable choice involving the necessary risk of his physical safety or public reputation. We prefer to watch synthetic heroes on television rather than even to read about authentic ones–much less to be real heroes!

Our era needs some heroes, too. We need them in public civic office no less than in the pulpit and mission stations; in newspaper offices as well as on the judges’ bench, and in the professor’s chair.

Written in 1980, much has changed since then. The opportunities to lose our reputation in order to stand up for what is right are now upon us. I believe the opportunities to sacrifice our physical safety are not far behind.

Are we ready to stand??

 

 

 

Trends (and when not to follow them)

For years now, my family has been giving me a hard time because I choose to put colored lights on my tree. It’s been an ongoing conversation since my husband and I were married. Early on, we settled on white lights outside and colored lights on the tree. But as time has gone on, colored lights have gone more and more out of fashion. Currently, the trend is definitely not colored lights. I really don’t feel that strongly anymore, although I do love colored lights. Something about those bright colors twinkling and glowing. I always did love colorful things. That love doesn’t just disappear when the trend changes, as out-of-style as it may be.

Trends can be demanding things. Even pushing us towards things that we don’t really care for or outright despise. But because we want to look or be like everyone else, we do them anyway. Trends change constantly, making most anything new we buy “out of style” within a few years. Trends can even function as prison bars when “keeping up with the Jones’ ” becomes an obsession.

There is nothing, in and of itself, wrong with following a trend. Many of you prefer white lights. They happen to be on trend. Perfect. Sometimes we like what’s “on trend” and that’s easy. The not-so-easy part comes when we choose not to follow the trend. This is particularly true for those who care a great deal about what people think.

Of course, then there are others who rebel against trends and do everything to not be like the rest of the world.

And then there are those who just don’t care.

However you view the trends of home style, fashion, and any other thing really doesn’t matter too much–unless it leads you into sinning before God. For example, choosing to dress immodestly because you want to follow the fashion trend or choosing to go in debt to buy new “stuff” because the trends are so important to you.

But there is one place trends really matter. There is one place that we have no luxury to follow or not follow any trend.

And that is in biblical interpretation. How we interpret the Bible can never be about a trend and must always be about what does it actually say?

I realize that most of you probably believe that you aren’t touched by the current trends in Christianity (although I believe you are touched by the people you choose to read and listen to much more than you know). You probably don’t realize the sacrifice one must make to actually stand up and say they believe in a future for Israel or a literal Revelation. You see, this belief is definitely not on trend.

What is currently on trend regarding the future of the world?

There are three really popular trends regarding the future of the world in the Christian realm. First, there is Amillennialism which teaches that we are currently in the millennium now and awaiting Christ’s final return. Second, there is Replacement Theology, which believes that the church has replaced Israel as the recipient of God’s promises. And, third, there is Postmillennialism, which teaches that there will be a time in the future where the entire world will be converted to Christianity and usher in the Kingdom of God.

Now, I am not going to take the time to explain why these views are clearly wrong if we examine them through the light of scripture. All I will say at this point is that I have done quite a bit of research–especially on Amillennialism and Replacement Theology, as this is what most of the reformed world believes. Many godly men and women believe this. This is what intellectual Christianity teaches. And if you choose not to believe this, you are viewed with condescension and even ridicule in those circles.

Postmillennialism is pretty much reserved for those in the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) camp. I do believe, however, that this belief of God’s Kingdom coming to earth will be critical in ushering in the antichrist’s kingdom, so it is definitely worth understanding what it teaches.

But, as Berean believers, who search the scriptures, we want to remove ourselves from the trends and find out what scripture actually teaches. After all, the above views aren’t innately wrong because they are on trend.

And so I want to take a few moments to point out just a few reasons why I believe there will be a future for Israel and why there will most definitely be a literal Revelation.

First, it is clearly what the Bible teaches. If we would come to the Bible as a simple peasant and simply read the Bible from cover to cover (something I highly recommend to come to truly understand God and His plan for all mankind), this will be the view that we come away with. It isn’t until we start reading outside sources that our thinking may be swayed. Let me add here that the early church believed in a literal one thousand year reign (called Chiliasm). It wasn’t until the third century that Augustine, in his fervor to remove the church as far away from Jewish beliefs as possible, came up with allegorical approach to the prophetical scriptures. Interestingly enough, one has to literally do hermeneutical somersaults and backflips to come to an amillenial belief. Oh, they will intimidate you with their intellectual arguments and complicated terms. But when we take scripture as it is written, it is clear: There is a future for Israel and there will be a literal Revelation.

Second, it is the only view that aligns perfectly with God’s character. It wasn’t until recently that this started to especially resonate with me. Many times throughout scripture we read of God’s everlasting love for Israel. We read of His promises of blessing and prosperity to this special people group. We find this throughout the Old Testament. We also find this in Romans 9-11, the passage God used to solidify my belief and understanding that there is most definitely a future for Israel.

Imagine a God who makes these promises and then churlishly decides that the Jewish people haven’t behaved in the way He wanted so He has decided to “transfer” these promises to a group of Gentiles called the “Church.” Is that the kind of God you want to serve? A God who doesn’t keep His promises? A God’s whose “everlasting love” isn’t actually everlasting? I don’t think Amillennialists truly understand what they are saying about God’s character.

Third, history proves this. I challenge you–if you have any doubt regarding a future of Israel–to do a study of their modern history. The fact that they are even still a cohesive people group after being removed from their land and scattered throughout the world is an absolute miracle. The fact that they make up like .2% of the world’s population and have produced 20% of the 900 Nobel prize winners and are responsible for so much innovation and technological advances in this world seems more than some strange coincidence. The fact that the Balfour Declaration issued in 1917, which promised of a Jewish Homeland, coincides, to the very day, the date set specifically by Daniel and Haggai is astounding. These are just three in a long list that show that the Jews are a very special people–God’s chosen ones whom He has certainly not forgotten and will never, ever stop loving with His everlasting love.

Fourth, current events confirm this. For many years, we wondered how a Revelation 13 scenario could possibly take place. Oh, we believed it would, but many things remained a mystery. But, suddenly, particularly over the past two years, many of those mysteries have been solved. As we continue to march into the world’s uncertain future, the one thing that is most certain is that there will be a literal Revelation.

______________________________________

I have made the choice to not follow the trends when it comes to the Bible and Bible prophecy. I have made this decision because I believe with all of my heart that the trends are definitely NOT what the Bible teaches. If you are in doubt, being swayed by so many these days who would move you with their intellectual arguments, I encourage you to just read the scripture, particularly the prophets and the book of Revelation with an open heart and mind. I encourage you to read of the incredible history of modern day Israel (I only touched on the many miracles and “coincidences” surrounding the birth and ongoing presence of this nation. There are so many more!) I encourage you to view what is happening in the world through the view that Revelation will be fulfilled literally.

I believe that these other wrong views of eschatology are distracting true believers from seeing what is happening right in front of their very eyes. It is disheartening to see how many can’t see that the end is near and the return of Christ is truly imminent.

Now I do realize that I can’t change your mind nor am I trying to. I am simply writing what God has revealed to me through the reading and studying of His Word and also through my study of history and current events. It all fits together so perfectly that is hard to believe people can’t see. The confirmation of the Bible throughout all of history and especially in this current day is truly astounding. And so I choose to believe in the literal interpretation of scripture–no matter what the current trend.

 

 

Hillsong: A Biblical Evaluation

Hillsong has infiltrated almost every church in the western world in some way. This has particularly taken place through their worship music. Many of their songs have become an integral part of worship in almost any church that affiliates itself with the Christian faith. So what is the big deal? If the songs have good lyrics (and some of them do) why does it matter? That’s a great question.

My oldest daughter, Jess, took the time to do some research on this phenomenon known as “Hillsong” recently and I wanted to share here what she found out. When you find out what they believe, promote, and represent, we may want to reconsider using their music or anything else from their ministry in our homes and our churches. Here is what Jess found out–

Hillsong was founded by Brian and Bobbie Houston in 1983 and quickly exploded into a massive worldwide organization. Hillsong now has a church in nearly every major city of the world, with over 180,000 people attending globally each week and even more watching online. They also boast three record labels, an international college, a film and television platform, and multiple worldwide conferences. Their record labels have dominated the Christian music industry and over 50 million people around the world sing their songs in church every week.

We are called to test all things against the truth of God’s Word. So we must take what Hillsong believes, teaches, and represents and compare it side by side with Scripture. And it brings me no joy to say that Hillsong fails miserably. Here’s 10 reasons why.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲’𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐠𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐚𝐧. They ordain women pastors and many of their churches around the globe are pastored by women. Bobbie Houston co-pastors the main church in Sydney, Australia with her husband. She said in reference to the topic that “the church needs to come of age sometimes and just grow up.” (see 1 Timothy 2:11-14 & 3:1-7)

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐭𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐠𝐨𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐥. Hillsong Church claims that God wants us happy, healthy and wealthy. “We believe that God wants to heal and transform us so that we can live healthy and blessed lives in order to help others more effectively” is one of their statements of beliefs.

In 1999, Brian Houston wrote a book called “You Need More Money.” He asks an audience, “why would the Bible would say ‘Let the poor say I am rich’ if it wasn’t the will of God to break the poverty over people’s lives?” (by the way, that phrase isn’t found anywhere in the Bible) He urges people to dream big. He claims God wants an abundant life for us and that includes health, wealth, and great success in this life.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐡𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐰𝐫𝐨𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐨𝐥𝐨𝐠𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐡𝐮𝐫𝐜𝐡. Houston’s vision for Hillsong includes one that dreams, that welcomes everyone, and that worships. “A church that loves God, loves people, and loves life. Youthful in Spirit, generous at heart, faith-filled in confession, loving in nature, and inclusive in expression.” There’s no mention of the Gospel, the preaching of God’s Word, or the true purpose of the church according to Scripture. The primary purpose of the Church is not to welcome unbelievers but to grow believers.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐤 𝐁𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐩𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠. A BBC article reported that “the messaging may at times attach to specific scripture but it’s easily digestible, palatable, and is largely built on love, acceptance, and faith-led aspiration: be true to yourself, fight fear, never give up, believe in God.” Another magazine reported that “he [the pastor] expounds on the importance of having a relationship with Jesus, as opposed to following the dogmatic structures of organized religion- ideas that are key tenets of Hillsong’s brand of Christianity.” Watch a few clips online, and you’ll soon see that these are good descriptions. They’re simply preaching the wisdom of the world wrapped up in a pretty package they call Christian.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲’𝐫𝐞 𝐞𝐜𝐮𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥. Hillsong Church seeks to unify with all religions since they all worship the same Jesus. (hint: not the Jesus of the Bible) Brian Houston said “Do you know – take it all the way back to the Old Testament – and the Muslim and you, we actually serve the same God. Allah, to a Muslim; to us, Abba Father, God.” He later claimed that his statement was taken out of context.

Hillsong United has performed at Catholic conferences. Hillsong’s “No Other Name” conference invited a Catholic pastor to lead a break-out session to help the Catholics attending “take the experience of Hillsong conference and interpret it into your Catholic world.” Houston also released a statement about the Pope, saying “we pray too that this papacy, like those before it, is marked by a commitment to seeing the Christian message continue to go forward and people changed by the power and truth of the Gospel,” claiming that they share the common desire to exalt Christ. Excuse me? There is no Christian message or truth of the Gospel coming from the mouth of the Pope.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐜𝐥𝐚𝐢𝐦 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐰𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐆𝐨𝐝. Carl Lentz, who was the lead pastor at the Hillsong Church in New York City (he since has been fired for adultery), was interviewed by Oprah in 2016. She asked him, “do you think only Christians can be in a relationship with God?” He replied “No, I believe that when Jesus said that ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ the way I read that, Jesus said that He is the road marker, He is the map, so I think that God loves people so much, that whether they accept or reject Him, He’s still gracious.” This was his presentation of “the gospel” to Oprah. Later, Bobbie Houston congratulated him and Oprah for the spirit-breathed and Jesus-centered interview, stating she would pray for the “Oprah-haters, God-haters, and Hillsong-haters” who expressed their concern over what he said.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐢𝐠𝐧𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐛𝐥𝐞𝐦 𝐨𝐟 𝐬𝐢𝐧. Brian Houston says they’re a “come as you are church.” He claims that the Holy Spirit convicts, God judges, and he is simply called to love. He once said to his audience, “And you hear people say, you don’t preach enough about sin. You don’t preach enough about repentance. But you know what I actually think they’re saying is, ‘You don’t beat people up enough.’ Cause you know, you don’t have to tell people they’re sinners. They already know.”

Carl Lentz said “If you go to a church and all they talk about is sin, then they aren’t talking about the whole gospel. Jesus to said to give the good news and that’s what we’re doing. The heart of the message is, wherever you are living, whatever you do for a living, it’s valid.”

Somehow they separate the idea of preaching about sin and condemnation from preaching about God’s love and grace. They’re inseparable. There’s no Gospel without both of them.

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐫𝐞𝐟𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐝𝐝𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐫 𝐡𝐨𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐞𝐱𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐬 𝐬𝐢𝐧. Carl Lentz notably refused to call abortion sin during his interview on The View. Both Houston and Lentz are remarkably quiet on the topic of homosexuality. Lentz claims that Jesus never talked about the topic, so why would he?

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐦𝐩𝐡𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐳𝐞 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐝𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐨𝐫𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩. It has been said that the worship part of their church services “rival any other contemporary form of entertainment.” Lights, smoke, effects, jumping up and down. One magazine article stated that “you’d think it’s a rock concert, but it’s actually church.” It’s the main part of their service. It’s me-centered worship. It makes people feel good. The music stirs up their emotions and gives them a false sensation of spirituality. But is it true worship or an abomination to the Lord? Does Hillsong care that true worship only comes out of heart that is pure before the Lord? Does it care that worship must be done in both spirit and in truth?

𝐓𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐨𝐨 𝐩𝐨𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐚𝐫. Too popular? Is that a bad thing? Yes. Because the Bible promises us that God’s Truth will never be loved by the world. The world will hate us. We will be the fragrance of death to those who are perishing and the fragrance of life to those who are being saved. (2 Corinthians 2:16) Hillsong Church is growing in leaps and bounds. Thousands of people attend. Positive stories about Hillsong have been featured by Vogue, CNN, The Today Show, Cosmopolitan, BBC and many others. Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, Chris Pratt, Kourtney Kardashian, and Vanessa Hudgens are all celebrities that attend or have attended Hillsong Church. Wouldn’t you attend a church, as an unbeliever, that tells you can have both Jesus and the world? That Jesus wants you healthy, wealthy, and happy? A church that’s all about love and doesn’t talk about sin?

This so-called church isn’t preaching the Biblical Gospel or the true Jesus Christ. It isn’t a true church in any sense of the word. They’ve created their own message, their own Jesus, and their own church out of the lusts of their flesh. And it truly is an abomination to our God. And it’s THEIR songs that we sing in our churches every Sunday. Can those songs really glorify God if they’re coming from a heretical church like Hillsong? My prayer is that this saves even a few people from getting ensnared in the lies of this church and everything with the name Hillsong attached to it.

(This was a very long post and I didn’t have the space to explain why each of these things is wrong Biblically. If you don’t understand why we can’t unite with Catholics, how we know the true purpose of the church, why the prosperity gospel isn’t Biblical, how we know homosexuality is a sin, etc. – feel free to message me or dig into the Word for yourself!)

Preparing for What Lies Ahead

The other night I awoke in the early morning hours and just couldn’t fall back to sleep. A million thoughts swirled through my mind. Sad thoughts. Scared thoughts. “What-if” thoughts.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything…

In the midst of the turmoil in my head, God reminded me of this verse I had memorized. Philippians 4:6-7 has been a balm to my soul during many a sleepless night over the past two years.

Last week, I struggled through something that happened with a dear sibling in Christ. Romans 12:18 has been the verse running through my mind throughout the struggle– If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. I can’t control the other person but as much as it depends on me I need to live peaceably with that person. Do I need to ask for forgiveness? Do I need to overlook an offense or offer grace? This memorized verse led me to ask these important questions and then take the necessary steps to right the situation. 

Last night I was preparing a short devotional and I Thessalonians 5:9 jumped out at me–  For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

I am familiar with this verse and have read it many times. I have also known that this is often used as an argument for the pre-trib rapture. But last night, in those few minutes of preparation, I understood that verse in a way I’ve never understood it before. And, while I wasn’t necessarily waffling on my pre-trib rapture stance, I did need to see that verse and be reminded that God has not appointed us to wrath. And the Tribulation is clearly God’s wrath poured out on man. Genuine Christians will not be here for that. It was a comforting reminder that I needed at just that time.

And, finally–as one last personal story– Throughout the past few years I have watched popular Christian after popular Christian join with false teachers teaching a false gospel. Romans 16:17 is why I recognize this as a huge RED FLAG. God’s Word tells us to avoid false teachers. It teaches us what to look for as we choose whom to listen to and read. And it gives us the red flags we should look for through verses like this. It’s an invaluable resource for discernment in an age of great deception.

So are you wondering yet why I am telling you these random personal stories? Have you noticed what they all have in common?

I am convinced that the greatest thing we believers can do to prepare for whatever lies ahead is to be in the Word. And, even better yet, to be memorizing it.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

The only way we can truly be prepared to build up, lead, support, and encourage our families, our church families, and other fellow Christians is to know and study God’s Word. The only way to shine an unquenchable light in the darkness is to be immersing ourselves in the Bible. The only way to share the Truth of God’s Word with the lost around us–some of whom, given the circumstances, will be searching in a way they have never searched before–is to know God’s Word.

The Bible is our anchor. Our guide. Our lamp on a dark path. Our comfort.

This isn’t some cliche. This is real life. We American Christians have been playing at Christianity for a long time. It’s not that we have desired to be shallow but our circumstances gave us few opportunities to live a life of faith. We are headed into a time where we will often be left with little option but to trust God. Trust God for a job, for the health of ourselves or our loved ones, for the future of our children, perhaps even for our very necessities.

The future looks grim and we cannot walk into it unarmed and without knowledge of God through His Word. For here we find out that God cannot go back on His promises. Here we find that what we are experiencing is what we can expect to experience at the end of the age. It all makes so much sense when we take God at His Word.

Our study of the Bible should take precedence over everything else. Our desire to know it and study it should be a priority for us all. We all have different schedules and demands on our time. I don’t know what that looks like for you. But I encourage you to make a study of the Word a priority. I encourage you to make it more important than keeping up with what is happening in this crazy world; to prioritize it over that TV show that isn’t honoring to God, anyway; to make Bible Study an essential part of your day before turning to the hobby, the golf game, the book, or some other distraction.

Satan knows the power for the Christian life is in the Word. He knows that Christians are pretty much rendered helpless and ineffective without it. And so he has created a million different distractions.

He has even caused many of us to believe we are wasting time if we are sitting. Do you equate sitting with laziness? If you do, know that this is a LIE from the devil. To feel guilty when we sit down means that we feel guilty when we read God’s Word. Think about that for a moment. Oh, Satan is so very crafty. Don’t be deceived. There is NOTHING more important than getting in God’s Word.

If you have been around for awhile, this is not a new message for you. I have been talking about the importance of God’s Word in the life of the believer for many years now. Little did I know, however, how critical this would become for our survival and spiritual health.

We give little thought to the air we breathe when we are walking in the fresh air outdoors. But when we start drowning, air becomes more precious than anything else. It’s literally the only thing that matters. The Bible is the air to Christians in this drowning world. May we never neglect the air tank that God has so graciously provided for all those who love Him.

 

 

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