2012: Has the Final Countdown Begun?


This site does keep track of End Time and we do in fact maintain Jesus will return in our lifetime, but many events will occur and many speculations that Lead Up to the Return of Jesus. The Rapture can occur anytime, but the Doomsday scenario of 2012 is merely a "foreshadowing" of the time span begining in 2012 and extending beyond that will see the culmination of all things. 
Prove all Things, but from 2012 onward, I would have my house in order, out of debt, pray I be counted worthy and be not deceived, Jesus is Coming.-MjS
 
 
END TIMES

2012: Has the Final Countdown Begun?

By Dr. Mark Hitchcock 
Guest Writer

CBN.com  Over the past few years, Americans have been bombarded with one huge concept that can be summed up on one little word: change. Both political parties and most Americans recognize that major adjustments are needed in the economy, education, and health care. If one is to believe the political pundits, big changes are on the way. But few people are prepared for the change that many are predicting. A change they believe has been bearing down on the planet for 5,000 years, the colossal transformation of our solar system and our collective psyche that many believe will happen on December 21, 2012.
Many believe that ancient prophecies indicate that change is coming. Big change. Predictions vary widely about what will happen. They range from total, all-out apocalypse to some kind of quantum shift in human awareness and consciousness. Yet, they all agree that big change is coming for planet Earth and the human race. And they appear to all focus on one specific day -- December 21, 2012 -- the final day on the Mayan long count calendar. Never before have so many people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints pinpointed one day as the expiration date for human civilization. It's like Y2K gone wild.
As you can imagine, there are thousands of Web sites devoted to 2012. On several sites there's an official 2012 countdown that will give you an up-to-the-second indicator of how long we have to wait for "the end of the world". Books on 2012 are flying off the shelves. Network news, cable channels, and major internet outlets are all featuring programs and articles on the 2012 phenomenon. The $200-million movie 2012 debuts on November 13, 2009. I was shocked to find that in 2008, 16 percent of Americans answered "yes" when asked, "Do you expect any apocalyptic events to happen on December 21, 2012?" Another barometer of the swelling interest in 2012 is the "Ask an Astrobiologist" section of NASA's Web site where senior scientist David Morrison answers questions from the public. According to CNN, more than half of the inquiries on the most popular list were related to 2012. People everywhere are asking questions about 2012 and seem to share a collective sense that the world is getting near closing time. Apocalyptic thinking is in the air. AU.S. News and World Report poll revealed that about 20 percent of Americans say Earth's life expectancy is just a couple of decades.
Crises of alarming complexity are emerging and accelerating with frightening regularity -- depletion of vital resources, peak in oil production, food shortages, nuclear threat, economic meltdown, vanishing species, potentially pandemic flu viruses, wars and rumors of wars, turmoil in the Middle East, record tsunamis, erratic weather patterns, unprecedented earthquakes, and the escalation of battering storms. Life on planet Earth in the last few years has been anything but business as usual. We live in a fragile, increasingly dangerous, interdependent world. There's an amazing confluence of tipping points. And the world's problems are multiplying. Is this all a build-up to some imminent cataclysm? The prelude to the grand finale of unspeakable destruction? Is 2012 the year the cosmic clock winds down to zero? A time of epic disaster? Was the warning of the Earth's grand finale encoded in the Mayan calendar?
While there are many issues surrounding 12.21.12, the bottom line is this: While the Mayans knew a great deal about astronomy and calendars, they did not know the future. No man does. Only God knows the future, and He has not revealed any specific dates for either the Second Coming of Jesus or the end of the world.
However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. Matthew 24:36 (NLT)
So you, too, must keep watch! For you don't know what day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:42 (NLT)
You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. Matthew 24:44 (NLT)
Of course, some unusual things could happen on or near December 21, 2012, but whatever occurs it won't be the end of the world, the mass extinction of humanity, or some quantum leap to a new level of human consciousness. Don't panic or be drawn away to rash, impulsive actions by those claiming to know the exact date of the end of the world. They don't know when the world will end. Only God knows, and He isn't telling anyone on Earth.
Do you need hope for the future? Find peace with God
Related ChurchWatch Blog: 2012: The End of the World?
Bring it On: End Times Questions
More Perspectives on Spiritual Life
More from Spiritual Life

Dr. Mark Hitchcock is the author of the new book 2012, the Bible, and the End of the World (Harvest House Publishers). Senior pastor at Faith Bible Church in Oklahoma, he is leading the "call for reason" among Christians on the topic of 2012.

The House that Ruth Built ~ Cathe Laurie (Greg Lauries wife)



The House that Ruth Built


November 4th, 2009 Posted in sermons | 6 Comments »Hey everyone,
You already read my post about having lunch with Billy Graham. Here now is my wife’s version of the same event, which she wrote for our Virtue women’s Web site. We wrote these separably, not knowing the other was doing one as well.
So here is Cathe Laurie’s take on the same occasion. I think you will agree with me that hers is better written than mine!
Enjoy!
P.S. This Saturday, November 7, is Billy Graham’s 91st birthday.

The House that Ruth Built
by Cathe Laurie

Last Tuesday, we drove the steep, winding, leaf-sodden road to the Graham house in Montreat, North Carolina.
I gazed at the landscape, the trees in full fall color, and, in the distance, the mist hanging over the Blue Ridge mountains.

This was the view that captured Ruth Bell Graham and held her a willing prisoner to its beauty for so much of her life. While Billy roamed the world preaching the gospel, Ruth supported him by staying here and praying for him while taking care of their children.

It’s ironic that now it is Billy who is at home waiting. Not waiting for her to come home, because she is more at home with the Lord than she ever was in Little Piney Cove. But nevertheless, he is waiting, waiting on the Lord, and looking forward to the time when they will be reunited.
This was my first time visiting this old house since Ruth went home to heaven.

I missed the funny doormat that said, “Oh no, not you again!” Though I found the house as lovely as ever, there was something missing in every room. It was her, that certain spark, that twinkle in her eye, the rich knowledge of God’s Word, and, of course, the distilled wisdom, quotes, and fascinating stories that had saturated her mind over the years.

Now it was just the three of us, sitting at the round table in the kitchen over a lunch of barbecued chicken, ribs, cornbread, and baked beans. The world’s great lion-hearted preacher rested gently in his worn leather chair.

“I don’t know who will greet me first when I arrive in heaven,” he said, “Ruth or Jesus.”

“Maybe they’ll be there together,” Greg mused.

Though the food was delicious, Billy just nibbled. The lazy susan that supported so many lunches in her kitchen still sits on the table. The sign in old English lettering, proclaiming “Divine service will be conducted here three times daily,” still hangs above her sink. And on the mantel over the huge wood-burning fireplace, the title of Luther’s greatest hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” is carved in German.

From her living room, we took long looks over the hills and watched the rain clouds moving closer. No need to fear them, I thought, for when she built her home, she built it to withstand more than a fierce rainstorm.

I want to build my life the way Ruth did hers. She built more than just this house, she built her life on a foundation that stands, a foundation of beauty, truth, and strength. Because it was built on the Rock of the Lord Jesus and his Word, which, though “heaven and earth be moved,” will never be moved.

Here is a poem about fall that I particularly like. Ruth wrote this many years ago, when she was younger and wondering about what old age would be like. From my perspective, she did find she had gathered from her Supply far more than she ever needed. And she lived without regret as her winter came . . .
When my Fall comes
I wonder
Will I feel
as I feel now,
glutted with happy memories,
content
to let them lie
like nuts
stored up against the coming cold?
Squirrels always gather
so I’m told
more than they will ever need;
and so have I.
Will the dry,
bitter smell of Fall,
the glory of the dying leaves,
the last brave rose
against the wall
fill me with quiet ecstasy
as they do now?
Will my thoughts turn
without regret,
from blackened borders,
leafless trees,
to the warm comforts
Winter brings
of hearth fires,
books
and inner things
and find them nicer yet?
–Ruth Bell Graham

Murder is Murder no Matter the Reason (Tiller Files) Scott Roeder


In Dealing with the Tiller Files, I posted extensively on Murder is murder and NOT JUSTIFIED even using the Hasmonean Priesthood and Judaism with Channucah myth to show how one Jew killing another Jew does not justify murder.

 Later that same usurping priesthood helped murder Jesus. Same is true here. No reasoning in the world justifies Scott Roeder and your reactions, as you read it the first time and as you felt it when Dr Tiller was murdered, show where you might want to rethink what Jesus would do.

Dr Tiller was gundowned In Church by a Man claiming to be a Christian.  

 

Alleged Killer of Late-Term Abortionist Has No Regrets

By Lawrence D. Jones|Christian Post Reporter

The man accused of killing George Tiller plans to tell the court that he was justified in shooting the prominent abortionist and says he has no regrets.
Related
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Interview with Alleged Killer of Late-Term Abortionist
"Defending innocent life – that is what prompted me. It is pretty simple," 51-year-old Scott Roeder told The Associated Press in 30-minute phone interview.

And having heard that at least four women who had sought abortions changed their minds and chose to have their babies, Roeder made it clear that he would do it again.

"[E]ven if one changed her mind it would be worth it,” he told AP from jail. “No, I don't have any regrets."
Roeder is currently awaiting trial for the murder of Tiller, who was shot at point-blank during a church service in May. The Kansas City native has also been charged with two counts of aggravated assault for allegedly threatening two ushers who tried to stop him during the May 31 incident at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita.
Roeder has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial in January.

Though George Tiller was widely scorned for being one of the nation's few providers of late-term abortions, the pro-life community was quick to condemn his murder and distance themselves from the alleged shooter.
Dr. Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission denounced the killing of the abortion provider as “unbiblical, unchristian and un-American.”

The national pro-life women’s group Susan B. Anthony List strongly condemned the shooting as an “anti-life act.”

“The rights of one human being can never be honored by diminishing or ignoring the rights of another,” said Susan B. Anthony List president Majorie Dannenfelser.

According to his ex-wife, Roeder had become “very religious” but in an Old Testament “eye-for-an-eye way.”

On the pro-life Web site of Operation Rescue, someone under the name of Scott Roeder had posted comments that compared Tiller to a Nazi death-camp doctor. The comment said Tiller “needs to be stopped before he and those who protect him bring judgment upon our nation.”

Operation Rescue, in response to Roeder’s arrest, stated that the suspect has “never been a member, contributor, or volunteer” with the pro-life organization. The Wichita-based group also pointed out that even though Roeder posted a comment on the group’s public forum, thousands of people, including those with pro-abortion views, also post on the site.

The group has strongly condemned the murder of Tiller and stressed that it only works to advance the pro-life movement through legal means.

Billy Graham Gives Thanks on 91st Birthday

Billy Graham Gives Thanks on 91st Birthday

By Charles Boyd|Christian Today Reporter

World renowned preacher Billy Graham is spending the weekend receiving several family members at his home in North Carolina to celebrate his 91st birthday.

  • Happy Birthday, Billy Graham
    (Photo: BGEA / Russ Busby, File)
    Billy Graham at his final Crusade in New York City, 2005
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Last year's Billy Graham birthday celebration
"I've experienced God's gracious love in a personal way all these years," Graham said in his reflection. "Today my heart is filled with gratitude to the Lord for all He has done for me, and for all the prayers from so many people over the years."

According to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Graham is still in good health though dealing with various age-related conditions such as macular degeneration and hearing loss.
He exercises daily, taking short walks at his mountain home with the aid of a walker to keep his balance.
He also remains involved in the work of the BGEA, the ministry he founded 60 years ago and that is now led by his son, Franklin.
"Although my health now keeps me mostly at home, Franklin and our BGEA team continue proclaiming God's love and the Gospel of Jesus Christ to lost people in many places around the world," said Graham.
Graham is also still involved in writing projects and spends time each morning and evening in prayer with friends, family and BGEA staff.

His pastor, Dr. Don Wilton of First Baptist Church, Spartanburg, S.C., also visits weekly for times of prayer and encouragement.

As he enters his tenth decade, Graham said he continued to miss his late wife and lifelong partner Ruth Bell Graham, who passed away in June 2007.

"While I know God keeps me here for a purpose, I look forward to the time when I will be reunited with Ruth in Heaven," Graham said.

"However, I am enjoying this season of life, watching my children and grandchildren – and now even my great-grandchildren – grow more fully into their own ministries. It is another blessing of these senior years," he added.

Having preached to over 210 million people in over 185 countries, Graham is believed to have spoken face-to-face with more people in more places than anyone in history. Hundreds of millions more have been reached through television, video, film, and webcasts.

The evangelist has been regularly listed by the Gallup organization as one of the “Ten Most Admired Men in the World,” making an unparalleled 51 appearances and 44 consecutive appearances since 1948.

He has also appeared on the covers of Time, Newsweek, Life, U.S. News and World Report, Parade, and numerous other magazines and has been the subject of many newspaper and magazine feature articles and books.

Graham officially marks his 91st birthday on Saturday.

The Man Behind the Message ~ Keith Green


The Man Behind the Message

by Keith Green


And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them as Elijah did?' But He turned and rebuked them and said, 'You do not know what kind of spirit you are of for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them.'" -Luke 9:54-55

 
James and John got a sharp rebuke from the Lord because they were of a "different spirit" than the one Jesus was of. He came to love and forgive, but they were all ready to destroy those who opposed them. They forgot Jesus' injunction to "love their enemies" - they were ready to kill theirs! 


Oh what a lesson there is here for those of us who are prone to spiritualize our own bitterness and anger. James and John justified their desires by saying they wanted to do "just as Elijah did." He was a prophet of God, who "called down fire from heaven" on his enemies. (II Kings 1:10-12) They, too, wanted to be "fiery prophets."

This article is sort of a confession. You see, I've been accused in the past of being a "prophet." I must admit it has kind of a nice ring to it - the word prophet - but I think it causes a lot more trouble than it's worth. I have struggled with this problem for around six years, and that's quite a long time, considering that I've only been a Christian for about seven.

Early Christian Training

It all started in a small Bible school that my wife, Melody, and I went to during our first year as believers. One of the teachers had recently been to a seminar where the speaker had gone through all the aspects of each of the gifts and callings on men and women of God. He had talked about teachers, administrators, and so on.


The teacher in our little class that day was very excited about sharing the aspects and characteristics of a prophet to the class. He started reading his notes from the seminar he had been to, and he read things like, "Prophets are very moody, they are often very hard to get along with, they see things in black and white and might seem to lack compassion. 


They are often considered rude and brash, but inside they mean very well, and only want to share the truth - but they don't seem to mind if they step on people's toes when they do it." While our teacher was reading from these notes, I'm sure he didn't notice the smile spreading across my face from ear to ear. Why, everything he was reading just fit me to a tee! I just couldn't believe my ears...at last, I had found my calling!

To top all this off, when our teacher was through reading, he turned to the class, pointed his finger at me and said, "My friends, we have a prophet in our midst!" Well, that was it - I was hooked. That's all I needed to hear! It took the Lord about another five years to completely deflate my head from the delusions that innocent and well-meaning Bible teacher helped to promote in my life. A lot of what he shared was true, but it certainly needed a good deal of warning balance to go with it. That is what I hope to share in this article.

The Main Need For This Article

Because we at Last Days have a nationally-known ministry, many people show up at our door from all over the country and want to see firsthand what's going on. From time to time though, somebody shows up with "a word from the Lord." (I'm not trying to be sarcastic. We've had some pretty interesting characters show up at the door.)


We had one guy show up and when we invited him to eat a meal with us, he said that God had told him not to eat. We asked him, "How long?" He said he didn't know, but he wasn't supposed to eat. He told a sad story of how everybody had rejected him - his parents, his church, and every other church he had gone to. When we asked him what God had told him to share, he opened the Bible and started reading from Revelation. After awhile, one of our elders counseled him to go back home and get his relationships right with his parents and his pastor. This he refused to do, and he went on his way refusing to eat, and refusing to listen because, "God had told him..."


Another time, we had a guy with long robes show up who said God told him to come and tell all the ministries around here that the Garden of Eden was in the state of Georgia! He shared with such urgency, with such sincerity - but no matter what we said to him, we couldn't sway him from his "divine commission." Because "God had told him... " He had no one to counsel him, no one to listen to, no one to confirm that, yes, God had truly spoken to him. He was on his own, and he was right - the only one right!

 
These are some extreme examples of something I think is a very common problem in the church today - young people (usually men) who believe that God has raised them up to tell people what is wrong with their ministry or their lives, or both! These people are usually hurt, independent, talkative, stubborn, untouchable, and unyielding. I know, because I have been one of them!

What The Lord Has Recently Shown Me

The above subtitle might even sound pretentious, but God does speak to His people - not just "special" ones, like in the Old Testament - but to all His people. He speaks to them in many ways - through the Holy Spirit who lives in them, through men and women of God in their church and around them, but mainly through the Word of God, the Bible. Whenever the Holy Spirit gives us peace (or lack of peace) about a certain thing we are doing or want to do, or whenever our pastor or a Christian friend gives us advice or counsel about a particular problem - it will always line up with the Word of God, or it isn't from Him. For...


"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." -II Tim. 3:16-17

 
As I was studying His precious Word over the past year, it suddenly dawned on me that my whole view of myself and my calling was all backwards. So many people had told me that I was a "prophet" over the years that I had believed "they must be right." I saw myself as a spokesman to my generation in the church - not the spokesman, but one of a number, chosen by God to be used to correct and exhort believers to obey God and win this world for Jesus. 


It's not that I no longer believe I'm called to do that, it's just that now I see that every believer is called to do that - to call all Christians everywhere to obey God and win the world for Christ!
 
The main thing that God has shown me through it all is this: I'm not called to be a prophet, I'm called to be a CHIRISTIAN - a servant of the living God! That is the HIGHEST calling that anyone can realize. And the most beautiful thing has happened in my heart. My whole goal in life has completely changed-the only thing that I want to achieve, is to have the Lord tell me when I stand before Him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant!"


Not, "Well done, thou good and faithful prophet," or pastor, or writer, or singer, or anything else. To be a Christian, to live up to that wonderful word - that is my ONLY goal.

After all, Paul starts out that meaty book of Romans with these words: "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle. "Not" . . . an apostle of Jesus Christ, called to be a servant." No. Paul had his priorities straight-he knew what went first!

The Prophet Syndrome

I'm sure you know someone in your fellowship who has all the earmarks of being a potential "prophet." They don't beat around the bush, but they say exactly what's on their mind. They aren't very popular, but they don't care because they believe that they're "being persecuted for righteousness' sake." They're always finding fault with almost everything and rarely have a kind word to say. They say to be "kind" would be phony for them. 


They know that the fruit of the Holy Spirit includes such things as kindness, gentleness, self-control, and long-suffering, but they say that most people misinterpret those Scriptures, "and besides, there's a lot more in the Bible about zeal and judgment and the wrath of God, etc. …" 

And the thing that usually happens to these misguided souls with all the rough edges is that somebody tells them, "Hey! I know what you are, you're a PROPHET!" And then they say to themselves, "Wow! That's why people are so down on me all the time! Why that's just the way they treated Elijah and Jeremiah and... and even Jesus!!! Hey! I'm just like Jesus!" And then they start getting "words from the Lord" and all the rest that comes along with being a "prophet." The saddest thing about all this is whenever someone is brash, obnoxious, or loud, we label him a "prophet."

But you know, deep down inside, most of them really do want to please God, but now they're so insulated from criticism and protected from rebuke (because they think they're a rejected "prophet") that no one can help or reach them. 


And unless God intervenes in their lives, they cannot truly be used in any long-term way because of their unteachable, uncorrectable spirit.
One of the main problems for them is that most of what they see as wrong, really IS wrong! But they have little love or grace to share the truth with - they just aim their big cannons and BOOM! They blow their hearers to bits.

The Lesson Comes Home

Like I said before, this is partly a confession . . . and I'm sincerely sorry if I ever blew you to bits with my lack of love. I really meant well, but I was hindered by the "prophet syndrome" - the idea that my rough edges were a part of my calling from God. I'm not trying to say that what I wrote or preached in the past was wrong. It's just that some of it could have been said a little differently - and with a lot more grace.


Even so, if the Lord says to speak out on an issue, I'll be glad and ready to do it - but I must do it as a servant, not as a prophet. I must "speak the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15), and always make sure that my words are "seasoned with grace (COL 4:6). That is the Christian way. That Is Jesus' way!


Hallelujah for the freedom that comes with repentance! Oh, how He makes us new, forgiving us and changing us into His glorious image!


What Is A Prophet?

Now with all this talk about misguided, young zealots going around blasting people with truth minus love, I don't want to give the impression that God has not called certain people to fulfill the ministry of a prophet. There are many references in the book of Acts concerning people anointed by God to preach with prophetic urgency.(Acts 2:16, 3:22 8:28,30, 13:20, 21:10-11, 28:25) These men were called "prophets" by the writer of Acts. And Paul, in his teaching about the Body of Christ, talks about the different offices and callings in the body to help build up, strengthen, and establish the Church. (1 Cor. 12:27-30; Rom. 12:4-16; Eph. 4:11-16)
First of all, he would be a CHRISTIAN - he would be like Jesus. Yes, he would hate sin like Jesus, but more importantly. he would love sinners like Jesus! He would not be arrogant, but he would be a broken man who was softened by many nights alone in prayer. He would be loving, kind, and gentle, always seeking to get the truth across in the most direct way, and yet never offending anyone if he could help it.
The prophet, above all, would be a man of God. He would seek to display all the qualities of love found in I Corinthians 13. He would not be easily provoked or moody or unduly harsh - but patient, merciful, and slow to anger. He would not seek to be a prophet, nor glory in that position, but just like Gideon, Jeremiah, or Moses, he would ask God to make sure he was the man of His choice before he would speak out against sin and hypocrisy. (Judges 6:36-40; Jer. 1:6; Ex. 3:11-12)
Lastly, he would be a broken man, well acquainted with grief and tears. He would have a broken heart over the sin in the world and the worldliness in the Church. Before Jesus made a scourge of cords to whip the moneychangers (when He turned over the merchandise tables in the temple), He first wept and prayed over the straying city of Jerusalem before He entered her gates. (Luke 19:41-46) The prophet, like his Master Jesus, would weep before he whipped, pray before he spoke out, and walk in dread of being in the wrong spirit. For unlike James and John, he would know what spirit he was of...
 

Keith Green and his wife Melody gave their hearts to Jesus in 1975, and were "sold out" for the Lord from the very start. 

Last Days Ministries was born as they began reaching out to others with the Gospel. 

On July 28, 1982, Keith and two of his children were in an airplane crash and went to be with Jesus. 

Though still one of America's best-selling Christian musicians, Keith considered himself first and foremost a servant of Jesus.

Megachurch Pastor Challenges Hypocrites, Pretenders


Megachurch Pastor Challenges Hypocrites, Pretenders

By Audrey Barrick|Christian Post Reporter

A pastor at one of the largest churches in the country launched a new sermon series addressing the hypocrisy and the pretending prevalent among Christians.


Entitled "The Pretenders," the series draws attention to the biblical time when Jesus went not to the red light district, the nightclub or the boardroom to confront the hypocrites but to church.

"[Jesus'] main problem with the ... religious leaders in his day is that they were hypocrites," said Kyle Idleman, teaching minister at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky. "That's what he calls them to their face."

Over the weekend Idleman, who also admitted he wasn't perfect and was a sinner like everyone else, addressed the hypocrites in the church today saying, "There are pretenders among us. They're putting on a performance. ...They've learned to wear this mask in church."

There are unmarried couples who are "sitting next to each other in church pretending that their relationship was just as pure last night as it appears to be right now," he noted. "There are pretenders who will sing amazing grace with tear-filled eyes but they refuse to extend that same grace to a family member who hurt them."

"There are pretenders who have become experts at separating their faith from their political views ... from their money management ... and from their entertainment preferences," he added. "There are pretenders who spend an hour and a half every day in front of a mirror making sure everything looks great on the outside but just can't seem to find 10 minutes to read their Bible or to pray.

"There are pretenders who are so quick to point out and condemn the sexual immorality in their culture but don't seem too concerned about their lust."

Studies conducted by LifeWay Research in 2007 have shown that most people outside and inside the church believe hypocrisy is prevalent among believers. Among the unchurched, 72 percent said they think the church is full of hypocrites, and 67 percent of 20- to 29-year-olds said the same.

There are two groups of hypocrites Christians tend to fall into, Idleman observed. They include the Sadducees and the Pharisees, who made up the religious ruling body in Jesus' time. The Sadducees made up the chief priests and elders and were born into that position. The Pharisees, meanwhile, were Jews who studied their way into their position.

Many pretenders today see their faith as something they were born into and never chose, Idleman explained.
"You know how to act, you know what to say, you know what to do ... but you never chose it," the Southeast minister said. "You got the part down but it was never real."

"As long as you could remember you've always had that mask. In fact, you've had it so long that you don't even know what you look like without it," he added.

To such pretenders, Jesus would say "woe to you, you hypocrites," Idleman said.
But a lot of pretenders are more like the Pharisees, Idleman believes. They see their faith as "intellectual knowledge and behavioral compliance."

Such Christians may say all the right things and follow all the rules, but their hearts don't reflect that, he indicated.

"It's not enough just to know the right things and to say the right things. [Jesus] wants it to be in your heart," the minister stressed. "Jesus summed up the Pharisees in this way – they honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me."

Just as Jesus was upfront and harsh in rebuking the hypocrisy among the religious leaders, Idleman urged Christians to also be brutal with themselves.

"Be brutal. Be broken," he encouraged. "Jesus is trying to hold up a mirror and tell us the truth."
The cure for pretending, he said, is confessing one's sins.

"When you take the mask off ... you find a peace for your soul that just doesn't come when you're faking it," said Idleman.

Southeast Christian Church is the 12th largest church in America, according to Outreach magazine's 2008 top 100 list.

I apologize to my readers. ~ Evening Star Aglow


True Humility.

I have no idea what happened on this post or what the owner of the post said or did. I only stumbled upon this post ans recognized the shinging wisdom in it, I saw it as wide for all to consider well their own words, attitudes and actions when we Judge, for did not Jesus say, Judge not?


 

Retracted

I apologize to my readers.

First, I put myself on a pulpit of which I have no right. I'm just as human as everyone else and some of my earlier posts definitely talked down to my readers, which I should not do.

Second, much of the posts are what someone aptly termed "Religious Masturbation." What was said was for purpose of feeling good about myself and having those of like beliefs feel good about themselves as well. This serves no purpose toward growth in either myself nor others.

It was explained to me as such: The Good Shepherd will leave the 99 sheep and go search for the one missing one. Instead of doing the same, all I did was stand preaching to the other 98 - all of which were already safe. My efforts would have better use helping search for the missing one.

Further, by preaching to the choir, I've boasted about how Holy and righteous I saw myself to be. This, sadly, is wrong and a clear indication of my mistake. Even while I was writing about the dangers of it, I got caught up in my unrighteous Pride fueled by the compliments and re-tweets from Twitter. I let that give my words wings as I continued to blog (and verbally masturbate) on what I thought people wanted to hear instead of what people should hear.

Once reality hit, the sidewalk hurt my nose when I found myself kissing it - again.

I retracted those posts below that are beyond reasonable reparation. I've edited the others to something more fitting to blog.

Again, I apologize to my readers for saying something with words and doing the opposite with my actions at the same time. That is no way for anyone to communicate with fellows and I'm deeply ashamed now that I see what I'm doing.

Thanks for your patience.

Retracted with

Regrets:(

-ESA

This "Jewish" opinion gives good insight into Jewish religious frustration.

The Road to Assimilation


Every American Jewish establishment leader is aware that the rate of intermarriage among American Jews is at 50%. Every second Jews that gets married opts to marry out of the tribe. They accept that assimilation is widespread and that the Jewish people is disappearing as a distinctive entity in the United States. Even as they frantically try to keep Jews Jewish, apathy and indifference remain and more Jews are lost. Despite billions of dollars spent on bringing Jewish teenagers to Israel for free on Birthright, most Jews are disconnected from Israel. Jewish organizations invest tons of money into new Holocaust Museums even as young Jews suffer from Holocaust fatigue and overload. Why is it that the brightest leaders and thinkers of the Jewish establishment cannot find a way to sustain the newest generation of Jews?

The simple reason is because these people who are completely alienated from Torah and Jewish values have nothing to offer young Jews. Their ideology is completely bankrupt, with not a shred of spirituality or meaning. Bagels and lox provide no answers for a Jew seeking truth. The "Judaism" that these Jewish establishment leaders are peddling is a mixture of Holocaust victim syndrome, lame Jewish jokes and cultural quirks, knishes and kugel, with some watered down Zionism, cemented by getting Jewish teens drunk on the beaches of Tel-Aviv.

The modern zeitgeist is one of bringing people closer, of breaking down walls and barriers. The new world is one without tribal identity or religious affiliation. In such a world, one need only be a good person. What reason does this "Judaism" give to young Jews for setting up false obstacles and differences between themselves and the rest of society? These youth are given no positive reason to be Jewish, and a myriad of reasons why they should simply be human beings. The "Judaism" that they are taught is emptiness and vanity, devoid of G-d and His commandments, empty of commitment and devotion, without any holiness or reverence. The establishment leaders emphasize the "Jewish" qualities which we share with the larger society: democracy, tolerance, pluralism, etc. Little do they realize that what these assimilation-bent Jews need is to know what makes us different than, not the same as, everyone else. If being Jewish is only about being a good person, why not marry a nice Catholic or Chinese or Greek girl?

The essence of Judaism is that G-d publicly revealed Himself before the entire nation of Israel at Mount Sinai and made an eternal covenant with us. He became our G-d and we became His nation. At Sinai, G-d gave us His plan for life, the Torah, which contains His commandments. These commandments have been the mainstay and foundation of Jewish life for thousands of years. When the situation seemed hopeless, when the desperate Jew in Spain or in Russia was ready to break, it was G-d's promise to Israel that gave him strength. Living in terrible conditions, in the ghettos of Europe or the mellahs of Morocco, the Jew clung fiercely to his G-d and to his faith, with complete trust in G-d's revelation at Sinai and believing fully in the coming of the Redemption.

When Jews keep the Torah, they can overcome Crusades and Inquisitions, pogroms and Auschwitz. When they stray from G-d's Torah, they are left without a basis and are lost. It is time for the Jewish leaders to admit that "cultural Judaism" is a dead end. We have tried to raise a generation on nostalgia, Holocaust guilt and Seinfeld and have found that this is a path to assimilation and spiritual destruction. Without a solid foundation in Judaism, forget about getting Jews excited about Israel. The Jewish pride and identity that these leaders so hope to instill in young Jews must have a basis in Jewish belief, values, ritual and practice.

A whole generation of Jews have been robbed of their heritage. Tragically, they are completely ignorant of the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and of the countless millions of Jews who have preceded them. It is time to return the core of Judaism to what it always was- the Torah and mitzvot. Otherwise, we march down the road to assimilation singing and dancing to the tunes of Fiddler on the Roof.

Ending the Worship War

Ending the Worship War Without a Truce

By Ed Stetzer|Christian Post Guest Columnist

The reason worship wars exist is because the church thinks it is fighting for something permanent when it is actually temporary. Musical styles and service preferences are like a jacket that can be taken on or off depending upon the temperature. It is used only when needed. Worship as a theological reality is not fit for such pedestrian arguments. It is to exist in the heart of all people - and it does. When we think we're debating styles and techniques and forms, we are really defending our own affections and deeply felt preferences. Most often we defend what is nostalgic rather than what is helpful. It's no wonder then that even attempts at ceasefires result in more fuel for the blaze.

I will lay my cards on the table: I was not raised in the church or in the subculture of the Bible Belt. I came to Christ at a later age and when I began my ministry it was with the urban poor in Buffalo, New York. I have been called by some "a son of the contemporary church movement." I don't know if that's necessarily true, but I know what it means. I do not have the traditional church DNA in me like so many others I've known, pastored, and appreciated.


So, it could be that it is hard for me to get inside the shoes of the traditional worship advocate. (Though ancient church music has now become a favorite on my iPod.) Or it could be that having come from an irreligious home in addition to my travels observing the worship practices of global Christians that I have a different perspective.


I won't deny I have personal preferences. For instance, it is clear that country and western music is not of God. (That's another joke; don't tell my friend Ricky Skaggs I said that.) Nevertheless, what I try to do is what we all should do in matters of preference and praise - commit to the reality that worship is not ultimately about us.


And because worship is not about us, I don't think we end the worship wars in our local congregations merely by compromise. Compromise is noble; consensus is better. A truce just gets 100% of our church worshiping at 50%. It is not compromise we want, but unity. So how do we get to that ever-elusive goal, that aim Jesus laid out for us in His High Priestly Prayer in John 17? Here are five ideas.


1. Rally around Truth, Not a Truce
In the same prayer Jesus prayed that His church would be one (John 17:21-22), He prayed that they would be sanctified by the truth of God's word (John 17:17).


When we come at the worship discussion we have to back up a bit and adopt a good theological framework for our conversations, because the church too often leaps to the assumption that "music = worship." Or perhaps we frame it a bit more broadly and think in terms of a "worship service." But the truth is that worship occurs in the whole of life. We are never not worshiping; our affections are always oriented somewhere or to someone. Minimizing worship to a one hour experience on Sunday monrings, or further down to merely the time of music in that experience, means many of us only dedicate thirty minutes of each week to worship of Christ. When we practice this minimization, it means that the rest of the time we're worshiping someone else (usually ourselves).


It is a harsh accusation to make, but as our music and production skills have increased, our worship has suffered because we have engaged in them as the outpouring of self-worship. So we must remember that worship is for every hour of every day of every week. Our lives are to be oriented to the worship of God. And the chances are, if we thought of worship that way, we would not put so much personal stake in hearing our favorite style of music on Sunday mornings. The entirety of our worship would not be loaded into that slice of time.
Holding personal preferences loosely allows for greater unity in the body and advancement of God's mission. The truth God seeks is that we rally to the cause of His glory among the nations rather than deciding is we will have two hymns and three choruses or three hymns and two choruses this Sunday.


2. Acknowledge that Preferences are Personal
I have witnessed the angst around worship music firsthand. I think that in some churches, a pastor could get away with preaching heresy so long as he's cool, funny, and has a good video clip. But if a pastor tries to alter the worship style, it is time to start looking for a new job.


This works both ways, for the favorers of so-called "contemporary praise" and the adherents to more traditional worship music. Neither appears willing to give up ground, and they have planted their flags in either Relevance (for the contemporary folks) or Reverence (for the traditionalists). (Hence, the name of the dialog in the video at the top of this post.)


In many churches where a worship war is brewing or is in outright conflict, one group perceives themselves to be pushing forward toward the next generation (relevance) while another is trying to pull back to a once-honored method (reverence). One group thinks contemporary music or a more casual style will suit the modern generation and appeal more to the lost. Meanwhile the other group thinks all of that is just worldly compromise and, furthermore, arrogant to casually dismiss the styles that have served the church well, in some cases, for hundreds of years.


When either of these scenarios occurs it is usually because we have elevated our preferences to the level of principles. We are "taking a stand" for something important: our own comfort, convenience, and concerns. And all the while we're trying to give God his due or the lost people in the pew it turns out we're really just making worship about us.


3. Realize that Relevance and Reverence Are Not at War with Each Other
What those who push forward should realize is that relevance is not a goal; it is a tool. It is not the end, but one (of many) means to the end. Relevance for relevance's sake never helped anybody. Playing a shocking song at the front of your Easter service may get headlines and upset religious people, but that's about all it does. Having rock music fans think you're a cool church is not the "win" you're really looking for. A smart church will be culturally discerning, but always biblically-driven first.
On the other hand, the traditionalists' placement of reverence on external styles is also wrongheaded. Reverence is not first and foremost an outward expression. It is a quality of the heart. Of course, it results in outward expressions, but take the story of David dancing before the Ark, for example. His free mode of worship was a scandal to Saul's daughter Michal, who was watching from afar. David's heart was turned reverently to the Lord, and this provoked a physical celebration from him. It sure looked irreverent to another. Many times today shouting, clapping, and dancing are seen as disorderly or irreverent or self-indulgent, but all three of those modes of worship are seen in Scripture though curiously absent from "reverent" worship services.
At the heart of many of our worship wars is, sad to say, idolatry. Our worship of things other than God drives the way we contend for ways to worship God. When reverence is equated with austerity, it can reveal an idolization of familiarity and comfort and control. When relevance is equated with a production carte blanche or "freedom of expression," it can reveal an idolization of trendiness and self and showmanship. Both relevance and reverence can cloak idolatry of cultural forms and expressions.
In both cases, what is revealed is an idolatry of music. And music is just... well, music. As my colleague Mike Harland, president of LifeWay Worship has said, "You will never achieve spiritual goals with a musical means." We see music as important in Scripture but never a particular form or function as necessary for discipleship. And never does God dictate a particular style, rhyme pattern, or lyrical format.


4. Embrace Humility
The evangelical church needs a ceasefire on fighting over cultural forms. A focus on biblical meanings will add a healthy dose of humility to our churches.
When I was young in the ministry, I was charged with ministry to both youth and seniors (go figure). One day I was going to lead worship at a nursing home. So, I took my guitar. I'll never forget this 92 year old woman, Miss Langley, who put her hand on my arm and said "Don't worry about the guitar, young man, we're just gonna sing and you can sing with us." I was bringing a relevance they didn't need, and I had to be mature enough to see the hindrance I was about to become.


Imagine would what happen if worship warriors actually took on the attitude of Jesus (per Phillipians 2) and did not regard their agendas as something to be grasped but instead took on the posture of servanthood. What if we (per Romans 12:10) actually tried to outdo one another showing honor? Humility is a "win" for every worshiper.


5. Cultivate Consensus, Not Compromise
We have to be mature enough to worship in different ways, even in someone else's ways. The so-called "blended service" has a typical formula of two songs for me and two songs for you and one song for that other guy. I think it is a sign of carnality and a lack of community in worship. Many times the blended worship service doesn't please anybody but maybe the pastor who has given up trying to cultivate consensus. The blended service is an equal opportunity to anger everyone. It can be a sad compromise.


I also believe we need to be careful about multiple services with specialized genres. What is the motivation? Is the division a compromise? We need to be cautious about pandering to the consumeristic side of Western Christianity. We need to ask ourselves what our motivation is, and be honest with our answer. If we're being mission-focused, that's a good and worthy goal. But if we're market-focused (and Christians are the market), we are off track.


If you go the blended or alternative service route, please do so not because you made a truce, but because you stuffed your egos and decided to glorify God for the sake of reaching your community in a language they understand; Spanish, biker, redneck, liturgical, or whatever.


Do the traditionalists appreciate the contemporary songs? Do the relevantists appreciate the hymns? Do they love each other? Do they see these differing forms as acceptable forms of worship?


Pastored well, a healthy congregation will seek consensus on the positives of God's glory and mission rather than settle for compromise on the negatives of personal preferences and styles. A church in consensus would rather have Jesus than the hymn "I'd Rather Have Jesus." A church in consensus will sing of God's greatness rather than need "How Great is Our God" as their anthem. Music will not bring unity in of itself. Worship brings unity. So long as it is the worship of Jesus.
Adapted from Ed Stetzer's weblog at www.edstetzer.com.
___________________________________________________

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is President of LifeWay Research and LifeWay’s Missiologist in Residence. Ed is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine and Catalyst Monthly, serves on the advisory council of Sermon Central and Christianity Today's Building Church Leaders, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USA Today and CNN. Ed is Visiting Professor of Research and Missiology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and Visiting Research Professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. Ed blogs daily at EdStetzer.com.

Last Call International


Last Call International introduces "Spanish"

With 19 Pastors and Ministries now in Spanish, Last Call International is presenting all of Last Call in Spanish from Mon-Fri posts.

With Sharon Rosatti as managing Editor of Last Call, posting the initial blogs, the Team at Last Call International translates and promotes on Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Email Subscriptions, Yahoo Buzz, Digger, FriendFeed, in Spanish Worship and Spanich Devotionals.

All without ads or commercial enterprise.

Gloria a Dios, to all who have volunteered time and effort to get the gospel and the minstry to Spanish speakers around the world in the Spanish Language.

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

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