Saturday, November 27, 2010

Welcome Christmas!

I am one of those people who can enjoy Christmas music all year long, and really the birth of Christ is an event to be celebrated continuously throughout the year.   I gladly welcome the official Christmas time with the first Sunday of Advent tomorrow. 
I expect this Christmas season to have some difference from others I've lived.  Our home continues to be in disarray with remodeling projects.  The job search continues, and that lends a certain dis-ease to celebration. 
I'm finding it challenging to keep things sane as a family.  As much as I love the holidays I always find myself behind and missing a few really important "details."  I won't be sending cards this year!  First time in---ever?  I'll be happy to receive, but won't be sending.
We are paring down our gift-giving this year too.  We have so much that we decided not to spend much on more stuff, but rather give what we have.  Hope this is appreciated by those we love to give to!
If I could, I'd give the "Star of Bethlehem" DVD to everyone.  That is the most lovely and wonderful story of God's plan written in the stars for the whole world to see, and throughout the ages of His creation.  What a beautiful sign.
Must start the holiday baking.  That won't change!  I've got gingerbread in the oven right now, smelling scrumptious.  (Thanksgiving leftovers are GONE)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

And this is Part 2

The Temporal Delusion - Part 2

T. A. McMahonBy T. A. McMahon
The Berean Call
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him ... And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (1 John 2:15-17).
This series addresses a troubling trend within Christendom today. Our concern is that if professing believers in Jesus Christ are hung up on the temporal aspects of life on earth, then they are caught up in a delusion at best. They are missing the heart of what God wants for them, and, at worst, they could be unwittingly contributing to the kingdom and religion of the Antichrist.

As was indicated in part one of this series, this earthbound focus is not a new condition in the history of the world - or the church, for that matter. From the tower of Babel on, humanity has attempted to create a utopia and build a kingdom, either independent of God or, allegedly, in the name of God but for its own end. For those who call themselves Christians, there is a simple test to discern whether they have fallen prey to such a delusion: are their thinking and actions consistent with what the Word of God says about the kingdom of God, the rapture of the church, the prophetic end-time warnings of the Word, the final plight of the world in rebellion, and the eternal destiny of those who love the Lord?

The mark of a true Christian is that he or she conforms to what the Scriptures teach. Those who conform to the goals or agendas of the world, either personally or by participating in organized programs that compromise what the Bible teaches, although they may indeed be believers, are nevertheless drifting away from the faith (Hebrews 2:1). This means that one's temporal fruitfulness in Christ and eternal rewards will be adversely affected - but not one's eternal future with Jesus, which was secured by our Lord's full payment for all our sins.

The Bible doesn't make an esoteric issue or a cryptic mystery of what lies ahead for life on this planet. It simply and clearly informs us as to what has taken place in ancient times and what will take place in the future.

From the time of man's first sin against God in the Garden of Eden to our present day, the effects of that sin spawned a progressive evil among mankind. Early on, in response to the proliferation of wickedness, God destroyed all but eight people in a worldwide flood (Genesis 6). Sin has not abated as it continues to separate man from God. Since the days of Noah and his family and their repopulation of the earth, there have been few instances of collective obedience to God. Even among a people chosen of God to whom He would send His Messiah to save the world from sin's consequences, obedience was only sporadic, concluding initially with the rejection and crucifixion of God's anointed Savior, Jesus Christ.

All of that was known to God before the beginning of time, as well as what He would do for mankind in keeping with His unfathomable love for His created beings. His solution for reconciling man to Himself was first indicated after the fall in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15,21) and then foretold by the prophets throughout the Old Testament. God's Savior would become a man through a virgin birth. He would be the God-Man and a suffering Servant, whose sacrificial death would pay for the sins of mankind. His resurrection from the dead certified that the infinite penalty He suffered for a condemned humanity was acceptable in satisfying God's perfect justice.

In the Book of Acts, after commissioning His disciples to share with the world the good news of His salvation, we read of Christ's ascension from the Mount of Olives to heaven and of His future return to that same place (Acts 1:8-11). Both Old Testament and New Testament prophets tell us about significant events that will take place here on earth prior to the Lord's return - and afterward: the destruction of Jerusalem and the dispersion of the Jewish people (Deuteronomy 28:64; Leviticus 26:33); the re-gathering of the Jews to the land of Israel from their worldwide dispersion (Isaiah 11:11-12; 43:6; Ezekiel 20:33-38; 36:24) the return of Jesus for His bride, the church, and His catching believers up to Himself to take them to the wedding in heaven (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18); the seven years of the Great Tribulation, involving worldwide catastrophes that will follow the Rapture of the saints (Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24:21-22); the Antichrist's rise to dictatorial leader of the world (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 13); the pouring out of God's wrath upon the earth during the seven years of tribulation (Revelation 6-19); the nations of the world turning against Israel to destroy it (Joel 3:1-2,9-15; Ezekiel 38); the return of Jesus from heaven with His saints, and the destruction of those who have sought to annihilate Israel (Zechariah 12); Jesus' setting up of His throne in Jerusalem and ruling the earth from there for 1,000 years (Revelation 20; Isaiah 65:17-25), and the healing of the earth from the devastation that took place during the Great Tribulation (Isaiah 11:1-10; Ezekiel 47:1-12). At the close of the Millennial reign of Jesus, He will put down a worldwide rebellion led by Satan (Revelation 20:7-9). All those who have rebelled will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20; 20:10, 14-15; 21:8). The heavens and the earth will dissolve, and God will form, in perfection, new heavens, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem for those who love Him, and where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:7,10-13).

Just as all the prophecies related to the first coming of Jesus were fulfilled in the smallest detail and with 100 percent accuracy, we can be absolutely sure that the biblical prophecies regarding the future will be just as accurate. Furthermore, they spell out spiritual and physical conditions that will take place. One thing that should be obvious from the prophetic scenario above: this world has a temporal purpose that is incredibly brief compared to eternity. To miss that is to lose sight of the fact that a believer is a "sojourner" here whose "[citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 3:20).

Our responsibility then, as Bereans (Acts 17:11), is to search the Scriptures and compare the movements, programs, agendas, and so forth, that are being promoted today in the world - and especially in Christendom - with what is foretold in God's Word. That will tell us what we may support and what we need to disregard - or even stand firmly against (Ephesians 5:11).

Certainly the world is all about solving its problems without the God of the Bible. Yet many professing Christians are rushing to remedy the world's troubles in ways that are without the support of Scripture, some even in contradiction to what the Scriptures teach. Rick Warren's global P.E.A.C.E. plan is one of many programs and teachings that, for the most part, cannot be reconciled with God's prophetic Word. It is Warren's "50-year plan" to cure global issues such as "pandemic diseases, extreme poverty, illiteracy, corruption, global warming, [and] spiritual emptiness" (see http://www.thebereancall.org/ ). He claims that his social-works agenda developed from his reading of the Gospels - that Jesus gave him the model that was the antidote to the five biggest problems on the planet (see http://www.thebereancall.org/ ). Warren subsequently expanded that model from an exclusive endeavor of Christianity to one requiring the support of all religions. The "P" in his P.E.A.C.E. plan originally stood for "Planting Churches" as the key antidote for curing the world's ills. Later, however, before a panel and audience of representatives of the world's religions, he changed the "P" from "Planting Churches" to "Promoting Reconciliation" (see http://www.thebereancall.org/ ).

Warren announced unequivocally that the universal problems cannot be solved "without including people of faith and their religious institutions" [Ibid.]. He told his audience at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland (1/24/08) that the various houses of worship are needed for distribution centers of resources to help eradicate global problems. His shift, however, to an ecumenical program that includes Islamic mosques, Hindu temples, Jewish synagogues, and other religious establishments as participants in meeting social needs may impress the world, but it is contrary to what God says in His Word. The God of the Bible is an exclusive God:
"I am the Lord, and there is none else, and there is no God beside me" (Isaiah 45:5).
There is to be no participation with the purveyors of false gods. The Apostle Paul tells us we are not to be "unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).

Rick Warren's "ill-curing" ecumenical agenda is illogical as well as unbiblical. How can his game plan for remedying "spiritual emptiness" work with those who promote a false spirituality? Peter tells us,
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [Jesus Christ] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Jesus himself declared,
"I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
If there is no other true God but the God revealed in the Bible, and if salvation comes only through Jesus Christ - as the Scriptures declare - then all other gods and all other ways of salvation are false, with no hope for their followers. Yet Warren told his Davos religious audience that he was not concerned about their motivation in doing good, "as long as you do good." Tragically, he reinforced the very lie that keeps billions of religious people blinded to the truth and from turning to Jesus Christ: works salvation.

The influence of this fix-the-earth program is staggering. Warren's best-selling Purpose Driven Life (30 million copies-plus sold worldwide) introduced his "50-year" global P.E.A.C.E Plan and has been translated into 52 languages. According to his website, more than 500,000 evangelical churches are partnering with him in his unbiblical ecumenical effort.

Although Warren's attempt to solve the world's problems is more than misguided, it's not the only prophecy-denying, earthbound enterprise that's gaining followers today. Rob Bell, in his book Velvet Elvis, reflects the "fix the earth" eschatology of nearly all Emerging Church leaders:
"Salvation is the entire universe being brought back into harmony with its maker ... But we can join a movement that is as wide and as big as the universe itself. Rocks and trees and birds and swamps and ecosystems ... God's desire is to restore all of it ... The goal isn't escaping this world but making this world the kind of place God can come to. And God is remaking us into the kind of people who can do this kind of work."
Brian McLaren, arguably the best-known emergent leader, has a low, if not distorted, view of biblical prophecy, as do most of his peers in the Emerging Church Movement. He regards the Book of Revelation as "literature of the oppressed" to inspire "each generation," rather than God's warning of future events and judgments to come upon mankind.

Those future events and judgments are clearly at odds with the agenda of solving the world's problems and turning it into a paradise. McLaren declares:
"In this light, [that is, removing the prophetic aspect of the Book of Revelation] Revelation becomes a powerful book about the kingdom of God here and now, available to all."
He believes, as does Rick Warren (who also has a low view of prophecy), that it is necessary for all the religions of the world to work together for the greater good of society:
"I think our future will also require us to join humbly and charitably with people of other faiths - Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, secularists, and others - in pursuit of peace, environmental stewardship, and justice for all people, things that matter greatly to the heart of God."
That sentiment, although pleasing to the flesh, is far removed from the "heart of God" and His Word.

Restoring or preserving this planet as a rallying cause in the church has far exceeded the biblical principle of stewardship today and has become an earthbound mindset. Scripture is quite clear that any abuse of what God has provided for mankind is sin. Yet some are using the Bible erroneously to support their unbiblical agendas. Eugene Peterson, in his 10-million-bestselling The Message Bible, has no qualms about distorting the Scriptures for "the cause." He translates John 3:17 to say that Jesus "came to help, to put the world right again," rather than "that the world through Him might be saved" (meaning the salvation of souls - KJV). He then promotes the ecological Green Movement by adding the adjective "green" to Romans 15:13: "Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy...."

Marketing Bibles is big business today, and where there's a "cause," there's usually an attempt to come up with a Bible that implies that the agenda is supported in Scripture. The Green Bible is just one example. It is presented in conjunction with the Sierra Club, The Humane Society, and the National Council of Churches' Eco-Justice Program. It features an introduction by arch-heretic Archbishop Desmond Tutu and contributions by emergent leader Brian McLaren and theologian N. T. Wright, both of whom preach "redeeming the earth." Sales promotions claim that because the Bible mentions the earth twice as often as "heaven" and "love," it "carries a powerful message for the earth." That rationale is both delusionary and deceptive. The "powerful message" of the Bible is the "good news" of what God has accomplished to reconcile man to Himself that we might spend life everlasting with Him. This present earth plays a very minute part in God's eternal plan.

The next issue in this series addresses other promoters of the temporal delusion such as Shane Claiborne, Jim Wallis, and Glenn Beck, as well as The Hole in Our Gospel, a very popular book advancing the cause of the social gospel.

Sadly, increasing numbers of believers are attempting to secure their lifeboats to our Titanic-like earth for the purpose of redeeming it. Instead, our "agenda" needs to line up with the biblical mandate of evangelist and soul winner John Harper (see TBC Extra, p. 8). We are told that he was guided of the Lord to change his passage and sail a week later to America on the Titanic, knowing that that was where God wanted to use him. Remembered as "the true hero of the Titanic" and "God's minister to the perishing," he ran to and fro on the deck helping those in need, giving up his life jacket to another, and asking all that he encountered to turn to God for salvation through Jesus Christ. As the huge ship began to slip beneath the icy Atlantic waters, Harper leaped from the deck and began swimming toward everyone within sight, pleading with them to come to Christ.

There is no redemption for this earth - only for its people.

Lord, give us that same love for the perishing that You gave to Your servant John Harper, and, by Your grace, use us according to Your Word.


Related Links
The Temporal Delusion (Part 1) - BPB (T. A. McMahon)
What is the Emergent Church - SpiritandTruth.org (Andy Woods)
Divine Destruction of Earth's Ecology - Grace to You (John MacArthur)
Fuller Seminary Promoting Emerging Church Heretic Doug Pagitt - Apprising Ministries
Showtime for the Sheep? The Church and the Passion of the Christ - T.A. McMahon (Book)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

And Now We Resume Our Regularly Scheduled Program:

I told my physical therapist today that I was sorry I'd forgotten my last appointment, but I'd had two funerals and a wedding----not to mention all the other things----and she replied as expected:  "Isn't that a movie?"  (I think the actual movie is 'Two weddings and a Funeral' but I haven't seen it so I'm not going to say)
Well it could be!  Our lives seem so full of diverse activity I sometimes think it plays out like a movie classic!  Some twists and turns could hardly be scripted---they are so original and unexpected, but satisfying.
Snow is on the ground.  There's still yard work to do, but I intend to get some painting done this week.  With the big choir concert this weekend and Thanksgiving next I must get some energy to accomplish these superhuman obligations!
And I must resume all the normal preoccupations too: school, laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping and LIVING! 
After the funeral in Nebraska last week (which was memorable and everything a Christian's funeral should be) it's been difficult to get much done around here.   I am so glad we took the time to go!  I could write lots more about it, but I'll mention two things briefly.  We lodged at a bed and breakfast where we truly felt at home!  "The Resting Place" was a lovely place to stay and the host and hostess actually were relatives---shirttail, but still connected!  They made the place so nice for us!   We enjoyed getting to know them as friends.
Since our little school had just finished reading "King of  the Wind" by Margarite Henry, I was especially excited to see an old photograph (brought to the funeral by another relative) of my husband's great uncle astride a horse he owned in the 30's, a direct descendant of Man O' War!  Our youngest children's eyes lit up at hearing the connection!  History made personal!
How I loved that book while I was growing up! 
Today my older daughter had a slip back to childhood as well.  Her American Girl doll, Felicity, is being "retired."  Before it was too late we purchased the famous blue "holiday gown" which she had always wanted.  Something early for Christmas!  She was happy and so was I.  We had fun today.
It's nice to get back to work.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Some Times You Eat the Bear

And sometimes the bear eats you. 
When you have your life packed to the almost minute there's bound to be some nuclear fall-out that occurs when your ship tilts with added weight or a chimeric wind gust blows you almost to the sinking point.
How's that for some mixed metaphors? 
Yes, we are still afloat, and the sun is shining on this gorgeous November in Minnesota.  The house is warm at night and there's tons of food around here, thanks to a well-meaning acquaintance who knows "we" are job searching.  It's humbling to receive.  I don't do it well.  I have no real need right now, so accepting assistance becomes an act of gracious humility.  Believe me!  I know I'm to pass it on!!  I do, with joy, but it is hard to be a channel when so much is happening. 
My husband is diligently seeking employment.  I know his future status is completely in the Lord's hands, and I'm confident in God's provision.  I know this may require sacrifice, but I have recently been reminded that it is in the trials and hardships that God shows Himself most powerful, and that is such a privilege to experience.   I'm am grateful for His goodness, and God is always good.  He is Holy, He is Love, He is Just, He is truly everything to me.
Brother Yun is such an inspiration to me.  He had everything taken away from him, even food and water, and God miraculously sustained Him for His purposes.  I love that when he was at his worst deprivation, that was when the Holy Spirit was his sweetest comfort.

Somehow the world has no clue what this means.  We truly are on a narrow path, and few who are who find it.  When the things of this world grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace-----that is the most beautiful thing that can happen to a human being.

An uncle of my husband's passed away suddenly last Saturday.  Because this uncle and I were both mostly Swedish in an otherwise non-Scandinavian family I felt a connection with him.  He was a successful farmer who loved the Lord.  He was too young to die, really, but our days are appointed by the Almighty, and he is in a wonderful place, not wanting to get back now, for sure.  We will drive out to Nebraska to pay our respects and grieve with the family.  He will be missed for this time we have left on earth.

I'm trying madly to make things seem "normal" with schoolwork, music practice, caring for the pets, and putting at least two meals on the table each day.  (Our kids are all self-starters, thankfully)   I have a dog in heat (for what we think is the last time----no Corgi puppies after all! Boo-Hoo!)  and a house still half painted and half floored.  The yard work is gradually getting done and bees are needing to be put to bed for the winter (here).  Our bee adviser advised that the bees would do better with a spring move to new headquarters.
Overwhelmed?  Almost, but not. 
Burdens?  Many. 
Come unto me, you who are burdened.  Take my yoke, and learn of me.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. 
God is so good.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Day

Today is huge for the country, and I voted this morning with high hopes like most people.  It will be interesting to see what will happen.
The following photos are taken at the various events of this past fall; the county fair in Iowa, in the town where my son now attends college, my brother and his new wife, and our college reunion.  It's fun to see these, bringing back an "epic" time line for our family!  This was a busy season.

Relevant Photos