“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath,
but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord”
I live in a place that contains a prominent church that is closely affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR). Over the last years, this house of under scrutinized false teaching has grown in popularity and reach. The city government flocks to it but a majority of the citizens do not. Indeed, most of the flocking to this place seems to come from those who live outside of the city, and people, mostly misguided youth, come from far and wide to attend this house of fleshly indulgences.
Over the past two years, something extraordinary has happened. Families, many with multiple young children, have been moving from great distances to become a part of this unholy movement. In my own neighborhood alone, I have seen more than one family alone move in and begin following the false teaching of the these NAR disciples. My children play with their children and I would be remiss if I failed to mention that these new neighbors are wonderfully kind and loving people. It is painful to see their souls jeopardized by ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Sadder still is the sacrifice that these families are having to make. The town in which I live has a failing economy. Jobs are scarce but gas and grocery prices are high. In order to make ends meet, the fathers of these families are having to travel great distances in order to have gainful employment. One father in particular travels at least 80 miles one way to go to and from work each day. To make matters worse, many of these fathers are forced to work second and third shifts after making the one to two-hour trek to work each day. As a cost of this, once home, the father must sleep during the day. All of this adds up to a missing father. Sure, he is there, but he is not really there.
The family and the role of father is sacrificed. For what? For a worthless piece of paper that says you completed a school that teaches you the philosophies and doctrines of men? So that you can direct traffic and help park cars that you cannot afford at the “church” you moved to be a part of? So that you can be constantly berated into believing that you are not giving enough of your income to the leaders of the movement you have devoted and sacrificed so much for already? So that you can be taught and led my teachers who have young children who do not even reside in their own homes? Of course people who have already made the sacrifice of their fatherly role would have no problem asking another to do the same. You are sacrificing your family, your wife, your children for that?
This is sad to me. So often the conversation among evangelicals is one that revolves around the subversion of the role of the father by the world. This is a new phenomenon though. This is the role of the father being subverted by those living under the guise of Biblical Christianity. Oh how discernment is needed. The youth that was once targeted by the NAR 10 years ago are now young fathers and mothers. They have given their lives and energies to false prophecy and teaching. Now they sacrifice their children, their God-given roles of father and mother. Baal himself could not have planned things better.
Sometimes God answers prayers in the strangest of ways and times. I had a prayer answered this past week. It was a prayer that my understanding of scripture was correct and that my discernment regarding a local Charismatic organization was correct. The story below explains this story.
Last week, the area where I live was filled with pollen. I don’t know if it is a seasonal thing or a result of the very dry conditions the area has suffered lately. Whatever the cause, I have been unable to breathe without it feeling like a swamp in my head for a little over a week. It would be important to note also that I am very allergic to antihistamine medications so other than upping my Vitamin C intake through natural juices and fruits, I have few options for relief.
Two days into my seasonal problem, my oldest son, a tremendous basketball player, asked that I take him and his brother to the local gym to play basketball. I agreed and knew ahead of time that I would just be sitting and watching on this day. Once there, the gym was pretty much empty except for a few kids and about three other adults. My sons and I went to the empty end of the court to shoot before a group of five and six-year-old children rushed our end of the court. I told my eleven year old son that if he wanted to play an actual game, he would probably need to go and start shooting with the older gentlemen on the other end of the court. I knew he could hold his own with them.
After shooting for a few minutes, I noticed from the sidelines that one of the gentlemen there looked very familiar to me. I soon placed his face and knew that I knew him as a song-leader from the local Charismatic youth center The Ramp. I immediately wondered how his CD sales were going. He seemed to be there with a friend and despite my knowledge of his beliefs, I allowed my sons to begin playing a game of basketball with them when they were asked to team up.
As the games went on I could not have asked for a group of guys to be kinder to my sons. My sons are able to hold their own on the court, but it was refreshing to see them allowed to play with older people without swear words and bad attitudes flooding their minds. I really appreciated that.
After about an hour, the two guys from the local worship center decided to call it a day. Before they left, they gathered everyone together, myself included, and asked if they could pray “for us.” I thought “with us,” but figured why not. The song leader began to pray while his partner with him began to mumble something aloud while the song leader prayed. I immediately silently prayed that God guard my heart and the hearts of my sons. Because of the mentioned mumbling, I found it very hard to focus on what the song leader was praying. I was able to make out what sounded like demands being made to God and, of course it wouldn’t be a Charismatic prayer session without demands for “financial breakthrough” being made. I also noticed a huge hole as Christ, nor His holy name never made an appearance in this prayer.
“Amen.” So be it, the prayer ended. I returned to my chair feeling horrible due to illness and sad as I thought how wonderful it would have been if rather than standing up and demanding God listen to them, these young men would have taken the time to preach the gospel rather than make demands of their god. I suppose you practice what you have been taught to do. This story does not end here though.
As I returned to my chair, the song leader walked up to me. ”Do you have lots of problems with your back sir?” The song leader asked. I immediately felt like I was on that show not long ago where the guy would help people allegedly speak to their dead relatives. You know the one. The one where the “wizard” would just start by saying “I am thinking of someone whose name being with J.” He would go from there doing guess-work until he said enough that someone related with something he was saying. I felt like that show was happening in my face.
I thought about the boys question for a moment and did a quick inventory of my back. No, my back does not hurt now. No my back hasn’t really bothered me since an unfortunate jet ski accident about five years ago. My back felt fine.
“No, my back is fine.” As I gave that reply I saw the shock in the young man’s face.
He replied, “Oh, well, something was telling me your back was hurting.” I wish I would have thought to ask what was telling him that. It seems to me a pretty important question.
The song leaders side kick then joined the conversation and asked if I had any illness they could pray for. I didn’t want to lie, so I told him, “Yeah, I have horrible allergies right now. I saw on the Weather Channel where our area is under a very high pollen alert and it is killing me.”
After telling me about when he was 13 and suffering with allergies he prayed to God that his allergies be taken away and they were, the side kick asked, “Well, do you care if I pray for you.” I hesitated for a moment and then thought to all the prayers I have offered to God asking him for confirmation of the discernment the Lord’s word gives me regarding the spirits involved with The Ramp and I realized that this could be the answer to that prayer.
I agreed to allow him to pray for me and he asked, “May I put my hand on your shoulder?” Sure, go ahead and invade my personal space too I thought but all I said was “Yes.”
I immediately prayed in my heart, “Dear God, I have faith that you can take away my allergies in your own time. Father, if your time is now and through this young man, may your will be done and may I feel shame for my misunderstanding of your Holy Word. Thank you for your Son.”
With my head bowed low and my eyes closed, the song leader’s side kick began to pray and I focused all of my attention on his prayer. ”LORD, I REBUKE THESE ALLERGIES!!!,” the young man exclaimed. ”I command these allergies to leave this man and that he have relief.” That was about it. He said a few other things that I have heard on his church’s internet broadcast before, but nothing new.
Inside, a part of me hoped this was right and that my allergies would go away. I was expecting it to be like I see on their shows where I fall in the floor or I seize up, but nothing.
“Thanks,” I said. I desired to speak to him about Christ since he wasted his opportunity to do so with me or my sons, but before I could really speak, the pair was walking away. I sniffed, thinking that perhaps I would be able to breathe clearly, but alas, the allergies remained, refusing to be rebuked by a young man commanding God (I shudder to even type that) to do so. In my mind I thought of the little green snot guys from the Mucinex commercials and imagined them quoting Acts 19:15: “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?”
As I type this, I remain stuffy from allergies but God sent some relief in the form of His rain the past couple of days which has lessened the pollen in the air. I don’t think my allergies have been rebuked.
I hope to meet this pair again in the near future and I plan to talk to them and show them their error through scripture. If I could speak to them now, I would say that rather than doing guess-work about what physical ailments I might have, focus in on the one ailment that you know all men and women have. Focus in on the fact that we are all sinners. Rather than trying to ease birth pains of the human body, apply a real balm, the Balm of Gilead. Share the gospel and help save souls, not relieve allergies. These young men stepped down from a royal priesthood and put themselves on the level of someone who does acupuncture to relieve allergies.
1 John 4:1 says: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
God provided me with an opportunity to test the spirits in a very physical way last week. I am thankful for such.
I’ll be honest. When I picked this book out I believed I was going to be reading about a period of American history that has always grasped my attention, the time of the baby boomers. Instead, what I received was historical study of the sexual revolution that occurred in Western Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. The joke would be on me if this book had not been so fascinating.
I have had questions answered by Faramerz Dabhoiwala that I would have never thought to ask if I had not read The Origins of Sex: A History of the First Sexual Revolution. Questions like, what role did the Catholic Church play in the sexual attitudes of Western Europe in the 17th century were answered.
I can’t imagine the amount of time and energy that Dabhoiwala spent researching for this book. The result however is a word picture laid out for the reader that explains how Western Europe went form a place that once criminally charged fornicators to a land where homes were built to care for prostitutes who were the result of men’s failings. The parallels to American history are obvious and vast.
Most informative of all is the context that Dabhoiwala provides by interspersing literature, letters, and other documents from that time period. While not for the reading of many young readers, an adult can visually discern the changing in prevailing attitudes toward sexual subject matter. Most interesting to this reader is the writings of church leaders of the time.
This book took me some time to read. At almost 500 pages this book is full of detail that can sometimes weigh the eyes and mind of the reader down. I however picked this one up by mistake, yet I am glad I did. I would recommend this book to older readers interested in watching the evolution of a society.
When I think about the people who lived during the historical timeline provided to man in the Bible, I wonder how tired they must have been. Think about it. As a 21st century human, much of our labor is done by robots and machines. If we need to get somewhere, we simply jump into a vehicle that carries us miles and miles and only needs occasional fueling and care. Through technological advances, the life of the 21st century human is a breeze compared to those of ancient times.
Then why is one of the most common words I hear from humans today “tired?” In my brief ”how do you do” greetings with people, one of the answers I most often receive is “I’m tired.” Just as much as I receive that answer, I give it as well. It’s not that I am lying when I give that answer. I am tired and I have no doubt that the people who provide me with the same information are tired as well. But why are we so tired?
I wondered how often people in scripture complained of being tired. I assumed it would be a great number. Study proved to me though that only once in the King James translation of scripture could the word “tired” be found (2 Kings 9:30). Also, the word “tired” only appears once in the English Standard translation (Jeremiah 12:13).
This is astounding to me. Why would people who had a life so much harder than mine complain so little about being tired? Of course the probable answers to this question are many. I am not surprised though that the Lord provides that answer to why one group of people were so tired.
Going back to the verse mentioned above, Jeremiah 12:13, we find Jeremiah saying: “They have sown wheat and have reaped thorns; they have tired themselves out but profit nothing. They shall be ashamed of their harvests because of the fierce anger of the Lord.”
Perhaps I am tired because I have been working on the wrong things. This passage in Jeremiah should serve as a reminder that seeking things that are not in accordance with God’s will for your life will wear you out. Why are we so tired? We are so tired because we constantly place great value and importance on the things in this life that God finds no favor in. It is so easy to talk oneself into believing that what we want to be important is somehow in accordance with God’s will. Is there scriptural evidence to support your desire though?
As I prepared a Bible study to work on with my children today, I was brought to the verse of Mark 12:28-30. Christ reminds us that we should seek to love God with all of our hearts and souls. He makes no exception of clause for those things that we want to or have been fooled to believe are important. Could it be that it the things in life that distract from us loving God with our entire hearts and souls that make us / me so tired? I’m tired of reaping thorns.
Saw this cute video posted over at my friend Erin’s website that is titles Sharp Little Arrows. The video debunks 7 (almost) lies about homeschooled children. This is worth 5 minutes of your time. You might learn something.
The Bible seems to contain several ideas that could be considered a paradox. A paradox of course is a statement that seems to contradict itself but actually contains truth. One example of a paradox would be “one thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.” As you can see, the statement seems contradict itself but when more closely examined contains a level of truth.
One paradox regarding Christianity is that the Christian life is one filled with suffering and trials and also happiness and joy. How can the Christian life be both things? While there are multiple verses discussing this refining process that mature Christians understand, one statement that Paul makes brings the understanding of this life to the gospel level.
In 2 Corinthians 6 v. 4-10, Paul provides a list of attributes that make his ministry as valid and important as it was as well as the circumstances in which this ministry was approved. In verse 10 however, Paul lays a paradox out when he says that he had been “sorrowful, yet rejoicing.” How could one be sorrowful yet at the same time rejoice? This short phrase, “sorrowful, yet rejoicing” sums up the understanding of the gospel for the Christian and the faith which we hold.
For the true Christian is sorrowful. The true Christian finds great sorrow in the fact that it has been revealed to them that they are sinful and wretched creatures who have been created by the breath of an almighty and powerful God. Christians are sorrowful that it is revealed to them that they have not only dishonored God, but that they continue to do so despite their best efforts. Christians are sorrowful that there is nothing they can do to restore their selves to the perfection that God has required. Christians are sorrowful that it took God sending his Son who He loved dearly to show humanity what perfection looked like. Christians are sorrowful that their inability to meet that standard led to the Son of the only Living God to be beaten, cursed, spat upon, and nailed to a tree so that he could die as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Christians are sorrowful that even after having knowledge of these things and crying out to this loving God to save us, that even then, even after knowing about the state we once stood prior to Christ’s redemptive work, that we continue to sin against our God and Maker.
Yet, Christians rejoice for all of those things listed above. Christians rejoice over knowing that we were lost yet now stand saved. Christians rejoice that God sent His Son to live a pure and righteous life. Christians rejoice over the fact that this spotless lamb was led to the slaughter. Christians rejoice that His death meant we can live now and later with Him in an eternal heavenly home. Christians rejoice that Christ arose from the dead and ascended to Heaven where he now sits, waiting his return in which He can bring His children home.
There is a paradox to the Christian life. We are truly sorrowful, yet rejoicing.
Last time I checked, the people who Dutch Sheets and his New Apostolic Reformation friends get behind don’t do to well in elections. Ask Rick Perry and Sarah Palin how the god that these heretics worship keeps his “word.”
Here’s the link to the story.