Friday, February 27, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Modern Idols And False Prophets
Jeremiah 23:16 "Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they teach you vanity; they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of Jehovah."
In both the old and New Testament we are repeatedly warned about idols and false prophets. Today, both are in the church. The idols look Christian, and the prophets may do miracles and signs! They may even speak true words like Balaam. But he was a false prophet because he did not lead the people into faithfulness to God.
The issue here is not the power to prophecy, signs etc, it is the heart of the prophet, his character and teaching. The true ministry of a prophet is to bring fidelity to Christ, but as we shall see there is much false prophecy when idolatry increases in God's people.
Jeremiah 23: 21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
Mt 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves
Mt 24:24 For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
True and False Sources of Prophecy
True prophecy is inspired by the spirit of the Lord. But the scripture makes it clear that God's prophets may speak from other sources! Note carefully how prophets can speak from their own heart and spirit but think it is the Lord!
Sources Of Prophecy
1. The prophets own heart
Ez 13:2 …say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the LORD;
Jer 23: 26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets. They are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;
2. The Prophets Own Mind
Jer 23:16 They speak a vision of their own minds, and not from the mouth of the LORD.
3. The Prophets Own Spirit
Ez 13:3 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!
4. A Demon
Jeremiah 23:13 And I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err"
Micah 2:11 If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.
Idols In The Heart Of Christians and The Prophets
Idol worship still tempts Christians converts in India. They believe certain fears, needs or desires may be answered by these false gods. Why do we think our spiritual life in the west is any different just because we don't bow to a graven image? Idolatry of the heart is rampant! As far as the Lord is concerned it is real idolatry and serving an image in the place of God!
Here is how it idolatry of the heart works.
1. Our Heart Is Gods Temple
I Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
2. Idols Can Be Taken Into The Heart
Ezekiel 14:3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?
3. Images and Pictures In The Heart Are The Idols
Ezekiel 8:10 behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.
4. Covetousness (Desiring These Images) Is Idolatry
Colossians 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
5. The Flesh Serves The Idol Resulting In Unrighteousness
James 3:14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This wisdom is not such as comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
The Question is, what are the pictures, ideas and images portrayed in your heart? What desires possess you? Are they Kingdom ideas or western culture?
My Own Experience
Many years ago the Lord confronted my about my idol worship. It was a revelation. I had three idol-pictures in my heart, covetous desires that I served. He revealed them by putting me through difficult circumstances. I needed to smash them down!
1. The Idol Of Ministry
I had a picture in my heart of "successful ministry". Even though it was all about REVIVAL, the pictures on the walls of my heart were created by the idols of our culture. Success, fame, youth, size, power etc. I prayed for it, prophesied it, and preached it. Because it was religious I could not see that my ministry had become my idol. My flesh served the idol. I was glad or depressed depending on the results.
2. The Idol Of My Wife
I also had an idol-picture in my heart of what I wanted my wife Karen to be like. It was an image of how I wanted her to look and act. I had fallen in love with this picture in my heart I coveted, instead of loving her. My flesh served the idol because I was glad when Karen was like the image, and upset when she was not.
3. The Idol Of My Home
God used our circumstances to expose this one. We moved to Campbell River from a water front home in Bermuda. For several years I would see images of the home we left behind every morning when I put my contact lenses in. I rebuked the devil but it was not him, it was my idol controlling my heart! I was miserable and tormented but could get free in my heart until I smashed this idol.
The Idols Of The Church Are Producing Todays False Prophets
The idols of our culture are being served in the church. But we don't see them because they are often equated with Christianity. Perhaps the greatest one is the idol of revival! I believe in genuine revival. But what the prophets are prophesying and what the people are chasing is NOT revival. It is an IDOL OF REVIVAL.
- Success and fame. Everyone will come!
- Size - We'll "catch it" and our church will grow.
- Money - the offerings will bring financial blessing
- Power and Influence. We will be respected as leaders
- Spectacles of spiritual power
THE PROPHETS OF REVIVAL
The idolatry around the church today has produced many prophets of revival who speak from their own minds and spirits. They serve these idols in their hearts. They rely on spectacular revelations to boost their ministries. The draw is signs and wonders and spiritual experiences. Believers serving the gods of the land will run because of the name and fame of these ministries. They say "I am of Paul, I am of Appolos", it is not the Lord.
Check Out The Prophets and Their Prophecy
1 Thessalonians 5:21 but test everything; hold fast what is good,
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Here are Some Tests for Prophecy and Prophets
1. The Word Of God – does it fit the Word of God ?
Psalms 119:160 Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.
2. The spirit of the prophecy – does it bear witness of Christ in word and spirit?
1John 4:2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.
3. The character of the message – Does it lead to holiness?
Jer 23:22 But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings.
4. Confirmation - Do other prophets and prophecy agree?
1Cor.14:29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh (discern) what is said.
5. The character of the messenger
Jer 23:14 I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness:
21 I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.
Conclusion - The Church Must Repent Of Her Idols
The great need of the day is cleansing of the church from the idols of the land. We should not be surprised at the behavior of ministries in our day. We are in the grip of a terrible idolatry that rules much of the church and inspires many prophets. Most faithful Old Testament prophets could not convince God's people they had a problem with false gods. Many prophets ended up serving those false gods in the name of Jehovah! The same is true today.
It is time for a great repentance, and abandoning of the idols of our time. We pray that God will give us eyes to see.
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Revelation of John 3:18
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Newly unemployed look for help at local pantries
by Steve Lord
Victoria Stephenson is used to working.
A former Aurora nursing home employee who worked with Alzheimer's disease patients, she quit her job when she had to leave town to deal with a death in the family. She has been unable to find work since she moved back.
Now she is trying to take care of her three children -- 8, 7, and 5 years old -- without a job. Food stamps cover only about half of the groceries she needs for a month.
That's how Stephenson, bundled up in a blue down jacket with a furry collar, found herself waiting in snow and cold recently in the parking lot outside the Aurora Interfaith Food Pantry at Hesed House on South River Street.
For the first time in her life, she visited the pantry looking for help.
"This year, I had to choose between birthday parties for the children and putting food on the table," she said quietly. "I'm praying it's temporary."
Sheila Luckett, who recently moved to Aurora from Chicago, found herself in a similar predicament. She was working as a certified nursing assistant until she injured a hand and lost her job.
Also bundled up against the cold, she struggled with a heavily bandaged finger on her right hand, making it hard to lift even a bag of groceries to her car. Like Stephenson, January found Luckett as a visitor to Aurora's food pantry for the first time in her life.
She has five of her own children, and one grandchild, at home.
"That's why I had to come to the pantry," Luckett said. "When times get better and my finger heals, maybe finding nursing jobs will be easier."
The stories shared by Stephenson and Luckett are not unusual. Demand is up at food pantries, and those running the pantries say they are seeing many first-timers asking for help, as well as a very different demographic than in the past.
Gone are the stereotypes and typical profiles, replaced with diverse names and faces that cross the lines of race, age, sex and language.
"I have never heard of so many people needing so much help as this year," said Wally Boyce, a volunteer of many years at the Salvation Army Tri-City Corps food pantry, housed in the Joe K. Anderson Community Center in St. Charles.
The numbers speak for themselves.
Last year at this time, the Salvation Army pantry was giving out about 250 bags of groceries a month, on average. That increased to about 300 bags a month in the fall, according to Jennie Ziegert, social services director at the Salvation Army, and director of the food pantry. Boyce said for January, the number went up to about 350 bags a month.
At the Interfaith Food Pantry in Aurora, volunteers gave out about 80 to 100 bags a day each day the pantry was open at this time last year. That increased to about 120 bags a day by last fall, according to Director Marilyn Weisner. For the three months of August, September and October 2008, the pantry received 500 new requests for food, which was a record.
By January, she said the pantry was giving out up to about 140 bags a day.
Put another way, it rose from serving about 900 people a week last fall to more than 1,200 people a week now.
'Nowhere else to go'
Jennie Ziegert started noticing last fall different groups of people coming to the Salvation Army in St. Charles, where she runs the food pantry. During most years, the Tri-City Corps' "primary customers" were single, white mothers, Ziegert said.
Suddenly, more Hispanics were showing up, so many that by the holiday season, the pantry had to bring in translators for the first time.
Even her primary customers were different. One single white mother had a job with the state of Illinois, a management level job. Her hours and pay had been cut back so much, she was having trouble making ends meet, and found herself asking for help for the first time.
There were more senior citizens, too. And for the first time in Ziegert's experience, men. Some were single fathers, some just single men, who are ineligible for any other kind of aid.
"It was so hard for men to come in," she said. "I applaud them for coming in and putting their family before their pride. They start to cry, and then I start to cry. They say, 'I said I would never come here.' This is the bottom of the barrel; they have nowhere else to go."
Ziegert also started noticing more public employees coming in for help -- firefighters, police officers, jail guards.
"Even some paramedics," she said. "It's challenging for me to see those people have to come in here. And they have to get over the fear that we will give their information out, which we absolutely will not."
Worst yet to come
Because the current crisis is symptomatic of the times we're in, food pantry officials and volunteers have no idea which way the demand is going to go. The general thinking is that in the short term, it will only get worse.
Fortunately, pantry officials also report that in response to the times, they have seen more donations than ever before. Weisner said the recent Holiday Food Drive in Aurora, which ran for the first time through November 2008 but will become a growing annual event, has packed the pantry's warehouse with 10 pallets of food.
"The community has been very, very generous," she said.
Ziegert reports a similar situation in St. Charles.
"This is the most food we've seen donated for the last five or six years," she said. Boyce added that in his more than six years volunteering at the pantry, "I've never seen anything like the donations."
Private efforts are more and more necessary because government support has been decreasing steadily since 2003. Food pantries often get surplus food through the government. Six years ago, there was $242 million in surplus government food that went to food pantries; by 2007, that volume had decreased to $52 million.
Boyce pointed out that in St. Charles, the pantry could benefit from more volunteer help right now to help bag the donated food, and distribute it to the increasing number of people needing it.
But maybe the biggest battle to helping the hungry -- particularly the newly needy -- is overcoming the more human trait of pride. The adage says that is what "goeth before the fall," and everyone from officials, volunteers and even the recipients themselves say people need to overcome that to get the help they need.
"Don't ever be too proud to ask, especially with the children at stake," said Luckett, who was forced to the food pantry to help feed the six children in her household. "Don't ever be too proud to ask."
Sunday, February 8, 2009
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
This is an interesting article by Andrew Strom and I agreed with most of it. The article concerns romanticizing God. This is what kind of stuff lead to people chirping “laid-down lover” concerning Jesus, which to me seems warped in context. Once I heard a pastor refer to “foreplay” with God, linking it to sexual metaphors. WARPED. Let us not forget WHO HE is! GOD! There is a danger in this sort of thinking—entertaining a romantic notion of God. You see, it’s not just about feelings. Even music can produce feelings--inducing a temporary and shallow high— and this concept goes for Christian as well as secular music. I do not believe Mr. Strom is suggesting to not pursue a close relationship with God. On the contrary, a close relationship with God is acknowledging Him for who He is: His awesome holiness, His sovereignty, and the fullness of His Word. It is easy to substitute a genuine reverential respect for Him for fleshy feelings and sensuality if we are not careful. The article below from revivalschool.com.
JESUS AS "LOVER"??
by Andrew Strom
ABOUT THE "ROMANCING JESUS" MOVEMENT:
What does the term "Passion for Jesus" mean to you? Would it surprise you to learn that whole Christian movements are now using it to mean a kind-of "eros" love for Jesus - a 'passion' for Him similar to what an earthly husband and wife have for each other? (-From the word "eros" we ultimately get the word 'erotic'). And what does the term "Intimacy with Jesus" mean to you? Would it surprise you to learn that many are now using it to mean sensual "romantic" encounters with Jesus - with Him as the Bridegroom and them as the 'Bride'?
You may think that such unscriptural practices must be out on the "fringe" somewhere. Surely they cannot be part of mainstream Christianity? Well, look around you, because this stuff is now everywhere. I live very close to one of the world's largest and most influential prayer centers here in Kansas City - and it has been a major source of this "Jesus as Romantic Lover" teaching for many years. And now it is all around the world. At this center you will find hundreds of young men and women who will tell you about being "ravished" for Jesus, "kissing" Jesus and 'swooning' in His arms, etc. Their entire understanding of "WHO GOD IS" and their relationship with Him is being shaped by this teaching. -And it is an utter twisting of Scripture.
Why is it important to have a right concept of "WHO GOD IS"? Why does it matter so much? Well, this one thing shapes everything else about our faith and our relationship with the Lord. At the heart of a lot of cults and deceptions is a fundamental mis-apprehension of the true character and nature of God - ie. "Who He is - How we approach Him". It really does affect EVERYTHING.
Now, imagine that there is a new doctrine that re-invents our very understanding of God - a doctrine that sweeps the world and catches up many young people. So, is this new doctrine based on a careful exegesis of the New Testament, you ask? -No! To your surprise you find that it is largely based on "spiritualizing" the SONG OF SOLOMON. Yes, that's right. An entire re-inventing of our relationship with God based not on the New Testament, but on Solomon's love-poetry about the body and breasts and comeliness of one of his 700 wives. -Wonderful poetry to be sure, but what kind of basis is that for such a drastic change in our basic beliefs?
(So is there no benefit to be gained from an 'allegorical' understanding of the Song Of Solomon? -Certainly there is! Hudson Taylor and others used it this way. But that is not the point I am making. The real issue is this:- Should we re-invent our entire understanding of "Who God is" and how we approach Him - to fit in with a tiny book of semi-erotic poetry from the Old Testament? Should this become our dominant understanding of God?)
As history shows us again and again, to the equal degree that we lose our grasp of the real character and nature of God - to this same degree we will lose genuine Christianity. You cannot have the true New Testament Faith if you have lost the true New Testament Jesus. -Which is why it is so serious when people say that in the West today we have invented a kind-of "American Jesus" to suit our self-centered, "me"-focused lifestyle. They point out that today you mostly hear of a Jesus who exists to make you "happy" rather than holy, a Jesus who is always a "friend" but never a Judge, a Jesus who does not any longer hate sin or demand repentance, but only wants you prosperous and 'blessed'. This is a Jesus that utterly suits our selfish Western mindset, but is found nowhere in the Bible.
And the new "Jesus As Lover" doctrine is just another twist in the ongoing tale of modern Christians distorting the character and nature of God.
Does Jesus love us? Of course He does - more than words can tell. And are we to love Him? Of course! -With all our heart, mind, soul and strength! But does this mean that we are to approach Him with a sensual "romantic" love, like some adolescent schoolgirl, "swooning" and smooching with our 'lover' Jesus? Is that what God's love means? Are we to exchange 'agape' for emotional "eros" and act like Jesus's "girlfriend" here on earth? (-Men as well as women?) God forbid!
Of course we know that in Scripture the corporate body of Christ (particularly at the end of the age) is described as the "Bride" of Christ. But isn't it obvious that this is talking about the 'CORPORATE' Body - not individual Christians? Are we each to become Jesus's little "girlfriends" here on earth - or is it the "WHOLE BODY" that is to one day be the Bride of Christ? -Clearly it is the latter.
The effect of this doctrine on young men is particularly distressing. To describe it as "effeminate" is quite an understatement. As it is, the modern church is already known for being an "anti-masculine" zone, with its flower displays, pink walls, mauve carpets, emotion- laden music, etc. A lot of commentators point to this when discussing the low attendance of men in our churches. But this new doctrine takes this theme to undreamt-of depths.
Can you imagine zealous praying young men who relate to Jesus (ie. another MALE) as a "lover" whom they kiss and 'swoon' over? Can you imagine what happens when this becomes their basic approach to God? -And this is just the beginning of the gender- bending weirdness that is starting to become "normal" in this movement. (Some are in such deception that they even have experiences of "Jesus" kissing them on the mouth, etc. The movement itself warns against "sensual encounters" but their very teaching leads directly to this kind of thing. Deceiving spirits are always super-active in this kind of environment. Where do you think the famed 'incubus' and 'succubus' originate from?)
The ironic thing is that a lot of the people who are into this doctrine claim to be "seeking Revival". They really think that this is the kind of 'intimacy' that God desires. It is greatly influencing the modern 'Prayer' movement, the Prophetic movement and the 'Worship' movement (-which explains the recent rash of songs with "Song of Solomon" type themes: "I kiss you with the kisses of my mouth", "Take me into your chamber", etc).
I find their talk of "Revival" particularly ironic, because I have studied Revival for many years, and I am aware that all the old Revivalists prayed to a God who is very different from what is being presented here. -And their understanding of "WHO GOD IS" was utterly crucial to their obtaining Revival. They prayed to a God of holiness and majesty and awe - a God of glory who hates sin, yet sent His son to die for sinners.
The God that the old Revivalists prayed to was the "throneroom" God that Isaiah described- "I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple... And one cried to another and said, Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke." (Is 6:1-5).
This is the "throneroom" God who is described again in Revelation chapter 4 - where we are told that the four beasts cry, "Holy, holy, holy" day and night without ceasing, and the 24 elders cast down their crowns before His throne - over and over again. It is "HOLINESS" that is the chief characteristic of God! No other characteristic is ever repeated three times together in the Bible - let alone over and over, day and night! -"HOLY, HOLY, HOLY."
And actually, the full title of the book of Revelation is the "Revelation of Jesus Christ". So in other words, it is a 'revealing' of who Jesus is and what He is really like. And when John (the 'beloved' disciple) first sees the glorified Christ in Revelation 1, we are told that such is His terror-inducing holiness and glory that John fell at his feet "as though dead." -This is the true Jesus - as He really is.
In every true Revival, it is the God of majesty who reveals himself. For Revival is the "Glory of God" coming down. It is His very 'throneroom' presence coming down amongst men. Thus, even His own children should approach Him with awe. And if we do not pray to this God, then we should not expect Revival at all. -That is one of the basic lessons of Revival history. -We must pray to the 'RIGHT GOD' if we are going to see true Revival.
Incidentally, the 'Bride of Christ' in Revelation is described as a 'holy city' - a "new Jerusalem" coming down from heaven. (Rev 21). So it is clearly a 'CORPORATE' entity that exists at the end of the age. -Not some individualized "girlfriend of Jesus" in the here-and-now.
It is a very serious thing to tamper with our understanding of 'WHO GOD IS' and how we relate to Him. In a lot of ways it is like preaching "another Jesus". -It really is that bad. If you hear phrases today like 'Lovesick for Jesus', 'Bridal Paradigm', "Bridal intimacy", "Inflamed heart", 'Romancing', "Ravished", 'Fascinated', etc, then you can be pretty sure that you are being exposed to this deceptive doctrine. I believe it is serious error, and I urge you to flee from it as far as you can, my friends.