Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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Bible Prophecy: Do Not Be Deceived

deceptionIn Matthew 24:3, when four of Jesus’ disciples asked Him “ . . . what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age”, before listing the events that would occur prior to the end of the age, Jesus warned them in Matthew 24:4 “ . . . Watch out that no one deceives you. . . . ” In Mark 13:3–5 and Luke 21:7-8 we also read about this interaction between Jesus and those disciples.

The first thing to note in the disciples’ question is that they linked Jesus’ coming again and the end of the age together. Jesus, in His answer, did not refute this so we can know that His coming and the end of the age will happen simultaneously. It may seem obvious but is, nevertheless, worth highlighting.

Following up on His warning to those disciples not to be deceived, He immediately warns them to be on the lookout for the appearance of false Christs’ and not to go running after them. Most Christians would automatically assume that, since they are followers of Jesus, know and regularly study God’s Word and regularly fellowship with other believers, such a thing could not happen to them. Clearly, in the way Jesus warned His disciples and ultimately us, that will not necessarily be the case and should be a sobering reminder to us that it is possible to be deceived. However, we surely can also take some comfort from Jesus’ answer when He tells us to “Watch Out”, meaning that if we are alert we can avoid being deceived.

Many Christians believe that we are nearing the end of the age and that many of the signs Jesus and other prophets spoke about are beginning to manifest themselves. That being the case, we are surely nearing the time when Christians could face being deceived. So what are we to do and to watch out for?

If we stop to think about what we are to watch out for, surely some answers are already staring us in the face? The main one, we would suggest, is the falling away from the faith, or apostasy, that is continually taking place today and the deception that goes with it; a situation ripe for false Christs to appear and be followed. In Matthew 24:10 Jesus said it would happen. These are His Words: “At that time many will turn away from the faith . . . . .” In many Christian denominations we constantly see God’s Word being changed and watered down by their leaders and accepted by many in their congregations. In doing so these leaders and congregations have not only moved away from God’s Word but are also setting themselves up to be deceived by false Christs. It seems easier for them to fall into line with secular standards than keeping to God’s standards.

The uncomfortable reality is that you will know you are on the right track not to be deceived when you start beingtruth ies persecuted! In Matthew 24:9 Jesus said: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” Some Christians around the world are already facing such persecution.

We believe we need not only “Watch Out” but need to warn other Christians not to become complacent or compromise God’s Word, in addition continually asking God to help us keep to His path. Of course, we also need to carry on with our efforts to bring the Gospel to the notice of others who do not yet know or have a relationship with Jesus.

(Note: All quotes are from the NIV Bible.)

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.

 

 


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Jesus is Lord, Even of our City Streets

“If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified.” LR preaching(Leonard Ravenhill)

“What are you doing?”

“WHAT are you doing?”

The man was standing on my right hand side, and he was very, very close.  Yesterday morning I was preaching in the city.  It had been a great morning, with very little resistance to the gospel.  In fact, astonishingly, people had been quite open to it.  As soon as I’d started preaching some individuals had immediately come over to talk to the others and ask for tracts (I’ve never seen that before!).   But then this man: he couldn’t have been standing more than a foot away from me.  It made me uncomfortable.

What are you doing?” he said to me again.

“I will talk to you when I’m finished,” I said, momentarily pausing from preaching.  I could see that he wasn’t about to go anywhere soon.

I turned my back to him slightly and kept going, trying to ignore him.

I usually get nervous when I go to the streets, but I’ve never been afraid.  There is a difference.

Something the Lord has caused me to see is that when I am sent somewhere by the Holy Spirit, then I am going in the authority of Jesus Christ. I am going in His Name.  It is like an ambassador being sent from the US to another country.  He goes with the authority of the US and with the strength of the US behind him.  When we go out from Jesus’ presence into the world we go as His ambassador.  We go under His authority and we have the whole of Heaven behind us, supporting us, cheering us on.

“…and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him, who fills all in all.”

JESUS IS LORD!

There is nothing to fear when we walk with the King of kings, the Lord of Lords.

Back to that man standing close to me: as I spoke with him it became obvious there was a proud, religious spirit manifesting. (…”You don’t know the Bible….You don’t know Jesus….I know Jesus…I know Him better than anyone, better than He knows Himself…“) – and, yes, he actually said that.

The Holy Spirit was grieved by this and He had me take authority over the situation.  I had no choice but to tell him politely but firmly that his heart was not right, that he was wasting my time and that I was ending the conversation with him.  I walked away.  As Christians we are to show love to people but zero tolerance to Satan.

“I am well assured that I did far more good to my Lincolnshire parishioners by preaching three days on my father‟s tomb than I did by preaching three years in his pulpit.” John Wesley

Read more about street-preaching here

 

 


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Missionary Quotations: CT Studd2

ctstudd“I can easily see why the folks at home want to eliminate Hell from their theology, preaching and thought. Hell is indeed awful unless its preaching is joined to a life laid down by the preacher. How can a man believe in Hell unless he throws away his life to rescue others from its torment? If there is no Hell, the Bible is a lie. Unless we are willing to go to Hell on earth for others, we cannot preach it.”


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The Angel’s Point of View (or ‘The Visited Planet’)

BEarth-Lightsy J.B. Phillips

Once upon a time a very young angel was being shown round the splendours and glories of the universe by a senior and experienced angel. To tell the truth, the little angel was beginning to be tired and a little bored. He had been shown whirling galaxies and blazing suns, infinite distances in the deathly cold of inter-stellar space, and to his mind there seemed to be an awful lot of it all.

Finally he was shown the galaxy of which our planetary system is but a small part. As the two of them drew near to the star which we call our sun and to its circling planets, the senior angel pointed to a small and rather insignificant sphere turning very slowly on its axis. It looked as dull as a dirty tennis-ball to the little angel, whose mind was filled with the size and glory of what he had seen.

 

Senior Angel: “I want you to watch that one particularly,” said the senior angel, pointing with his finger.

 

Little Angel: “Well, it looks very small and rather dirty to me. What’s special about that one?”

 

Senior Angel: “That is the Visited Planet.”

 

Little Angel: “Visited?” “You don’t mean visited by ——–?”

 

Senior Angel: “Indeed I do. That ball, which I have no doubt looks to you small and insignificant and not perhaps overclean, has been visited by our young Prince of Glory.”

And at these words he bowed his head reverently.

 

Little Angel: “But how? Do you mean that our great and glorious Prince, with all these wonders and splendors of His Creation, and millions more that I’m sure I haven’t seen yet, went down in Person to this fifth-rate little ball? Why should He do a thing like that?”

 

Senior Angel: “It isn’t for us, to question His ‘why’s’, except that I must point out to you that He is not impressed by size and numbers, as you seem to be. But that He really went, I know, and all of us in Heaven who know anything know that. As to why He became one of them – how else do you suppose could He visit them?”

 

The little angel’s face wrinkled in disgust.

 

Little Angel: “Do you mean to tell me, that He stooped so low as to become one of those creeping, crawling creatures of that floating ball?”

 

Senior Angel: “I do, and I don’t think He would like you to call them ‘creeping, crawling creatures’ in that tone of voice. For, strange as it may seem to us, He loves them. He went down to visit them to lift them up to become like Him.”

 

The little angel looked blank. Such a thought was almost beyond his comprehension.

 

Senior Angel: “Close your eyes for a moment, and we will go back in what they call Time.”

 

While the little angel’s eyes were closed and the two of them moved nearer to the spinning ball, it stopped its spinning, spun backwards quite fast for a while, and then slowly resumed its usual rotation.

 

Senior Angel: “Now look!”

And as the little angel did as he was told, there appeared here and there on the dull surface of the globe little flashes of light, some merely momentary and some persisting for quite a time.

 

Little Angel: “Well, what am I seeing now?”

 

Senior Angel: “You are watching this little world as it was some thousands of years ago. Every flash and glow of light that you see is something of the Father’s knowledge and wisdom breaking into the minds and hearts of people who live upon the earth. Not many people, you see, can hear His Voice or understand what He says, even though He is speaking gently and quietly to them all the time.”

 

Little Angel: “Why are they so blind and deaf and stupid?”

 

Senior Angel: “It is not for us to judge them. We who live in the Splendor have no idea what it is like to live in the dark. We hear the music and the Voice like the sound of many waters every day of over lives, but to them – well, there is much darkness and much noise and much distraction upon the earth. Only a few who are quiet and humble and wise hear His Voice. But watch, for in a moment you will see something truly wonderful.”

 

The Earth went on turning and circling round the sun, and then quite suddenly, in the upper half of the globe, there appeared a light, tiny but so bright in its intensity that both the angels hid their eyes.

 

Little Angel (in a low tone of voice): “I think I can guess, that was the Visit, wasn’t it?”

 

Senior Angel: “Yes, that was the Visit. The Light Himself went down there and lived among them; but in a moment, and you will be able to tell that even with your eyes closed, the light will go out.”

 

Little Angel: “But why? Could He not bear their darkness and stupidity? Did He have to return here?”

 

Senior Angel (voice stern and said): “No, it wasn’t that. They failed to recognize Him for Who He was – or at least only a handful knew Him. For the most part they preferred their darkness to His Light, and in the end they killed Him.”

 

Little Angel: “The fools, the crazy fools! They don’t deserve —-”

 

Senior Angel: “Neither you nor I, nor any other angel, knows why they were so foolish and so wicked. Nor can we say what they deserve or don’t deserve. But the fact remains, they killed our Prince of Glory while He was Man amongst them.”

 

Little Angel: “And that I suppose was the end? I see the whole Earth has gone black and dark. All right, I won’t judge them, but surely that is all they could expect?”

 

Senior Angel: “Wait, we are still far from the end of the story of the Visited Planet. Watch now, but be ready to cover your eyes again.”

 

In utter blackness the earth turned round three times, and then there blazed with unbearable radiance a point of light.

 

Little Angel (shielding his eyes): “What now?”

 

Senior Angel: “They killed Him all right, but He conquered death. The thing most of them dread and fear all their lives He broke and conquered. He rose again, and a few of them saw Him and from then on became His utterly devoted slaves.”

 

Little Angel: “Thank God for that.”

 

Senior Angel: “Amen. Open your eyes now, the dazzling light has gone. The Prince has returned to His Home of Light. But watch the Earth now.”

 

As they looked, in place of the dazzling light there was a bright glow which throbbed and pulsated. And then as the Earth turned many times little points of light spread out. A few flickered and died; but for the most part the lights burned steadily, and as they continued to watch, in many Parts of the globe there was a glow over many areas.

 

Senior Angel: “You see what is happening? The bright glow is the company of loyal men and women He left behind, and with His help they spread the glow and now lights begin to shine all over the Earth.”

 

Little Angel (impatiently): “Yes, yes, but how does it end? Will the little lights join up with each other? Will it all be light, as it is in Heaven?”

 

Senior Angel (shaking his head): “We simply do not know. It is in the Father’s hands. Sometimes it is agony to watch and sometimes it is joy unspeakable. The end is not yet. But now I am sure you can see why this little ball is so important. He has visited it; He is working out His Plan upon it.”

 

Little Angel: “Yes, I see, though I don’t understand. I shall never forget that this is the Visited Planet.”


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Blood Moons 2014/2015: A Wake Up Call

blood moonAs Russia begins the annex of Crimea, Israel closes all of its foreign embassies around the world – for the first time ever – (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/23/us-israel-diplomacy-idUSBREA2M0ER20140323?feedType=RSS), Turkey shoots down a Syrian plane overnight (http://www.smh.com.au/world/turkey-shoots-down-syrian-plane-20140324-hvlzy.html) and the mystery of missing flight MH370 continues, we are certainly living in interesting times.

To top this off the first of the Blood Moons is due in 3 weeks, on Passover, April 14, 15.  This Blood Moon will be the first in an unusual Tetrad of Blood Moons falling on Feast days in 2014 and 2015. In the Bible the books of Joel, Acts and Revelations talk of the Blood moons as one of the signs of the Day of the Lord.  Could these signs be pointing to something significant for us?

Enoch Lavender has written on this fascinating topic…

Davo’s Big Break

David – or Davo as his mates called him – was over the moon. After years of patiently developing his business, his business ideas had caught the eye of the prominent Chinese business leader Mr. Wang. Mr Wang had announced that he was going to make a special trip to Australia to see David and find out more – and they had excitedly arranged to meet at the airport.

There was only one catch – they were to meet on Chinese New Year and Davo had no clue what this meant. “I reckon it must be on the 1st of January”, Davo said to himself, “she’ll be right mate!”

So on the 1st of January, Davo got up early, put on his best business suit and even combed his usually unkempt hair. “Today’s the day”, he thought to himself excitedly. Getting to the airport just in time, Davo was surprised to find no sign of Mr. Wang. Davo waited for hours, looked up and down the different parts of the airport and asked repeatedly at the information desk, but no one could help him. Finally Davo headed home. Disappointed, he thought to himself: “Why didn’t Mr. Wang come as he said he would?”

Soon Davo settled back into his ordinary routine and forgot all about Mr. Wang and his appointment. Then one February morning Davo was wakened by his phone ringing. With a sleepy voice he discovered to his surprise that it was Mr. Wang himself. Today was Chinese New Year! Mr. Wang asked with a disappointed tone in his voice: “David, why weren’t you ready for my coming?”

We all have an important appointment coming up with THE Mr. Wang Himself – Jesus our Lord and King (Wang means ‘king’ in Chinese). He is indeed coming soon! But to be ready for this once-in-a-lifetime divine appointment, we need to make sure that we too are on the King’s calendar.

The King’s Calendar

Many of us have a hard time reading the book of Leviticus, but in it are contained some very important treasures. Leviticus chapter 23 outlines for us the King’s calendar. Let’s read in verses 1-2:

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘The feasts of the Lord, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.”

The word translated ‘feast’ here, does not really refer to parties, food and celebrations – although God does indeed through some great celebrations. The Hebrew word for ‘Feast’ is actually better translated as ‘appointment’ – a ‘divine appointment’.

Note that God describes them as ‘My feasts’. They are not some antiquated Jewish customs to be brushed aside – they are His Divine appointments with us.

We will be learning more about the Divine Appointments later this year, but it is sufficient for us to now know that:

  • There are 7 Divine Appointments and they all prophesy and foretell a future event that is important in God’s calendar
  • The first 4 Divine Appointments where fulfilled on the Day during Jesus’ first coming in great detail
  • The last 3 tell us of His Second coming – and warn us to be ready for the soon coming King

7 feaasts

The big questions for us to consider are:

  • How close are we to the last 3 Divine Appointments?
  • Will we see them in our lifetime?
  • Are we ready for them?

Signs in the Sky on the Divine Appointments

There are many things happening in our world that we should watch – including significant developments concerning Israel, the Nations, and concerning the great harvest of people coming into the Kingdom from every tribe, tongue and kingdom! All this points us to the fact that we are living in a time where Bible prophecy is being fulfilled at a scale that has not been seen in history since the time of the Book of Acts. I believe we are indeed getting closer to the Lord’s return!

The Bible tells us to look for signs in the sky as we get closer to the Lord’s return. One of many verses that say this is found in Acts 2:20:

The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

The most literal way of interpreting this is that there will be solar and lunar eclipses around the time of the Lord’s return.

 

A Pattern of Signs in the Sky

A few years ago, a Messianic Pastor called Mark Biltz made a startling discovery of a pattern where from time to time 4 consecutive lunar eclipses take place – precisely on the first and last ‘appointments’ or Feasts of the Lord for 2 years in a row. This is an extremely rare event, and what is even more interesting is that it appears to happen at times when there are prophetically significant events taking place on the earth.

Let’s have a look at an overview of when it has happened in the past when these signs have been in the sky:

blood moons table

Around the time of Jesus death there were 4 partial lunar eclipses in a row on the ‘Divine Appointments’ – as if God Himself was signalling to all of mankind the importance of this event!

Since then, it has occurred 7 times – coinciding with:

  • Major Persecution of Jews and or Christians
  • Islamic attempts at conquering Europe (and the World)
  • The Restoration of Israel and Recapture of Jerusalem

As we enter into 2014/2015 it is therefore important to watch and pray for Jews and Christians, for Israel and for the Islamic World.

Returning to the pattern, it is extra interesting to note that the 7th lunar eclipse cycle happened at exactly the time when Jerusalem was being recaptured by Israel – and 7 is the number of ‘completion’. It was truly a time of Divine completion of ancient prophecies!

The next time this will happen will be in 2014 and 2015!

For more information, have a look at this brief overview:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-EcCfFjko4U

 

Ok – sounds interesting – now what?

As a Church, we are being encouraged to fast, pray and spend extra time to seek the Lord at this time. Make sure your own life is in order with God. If you are struggling with issues, take them to the Lord and maybe get one of the leaders to stand with you in prayer that you might be able to live fully for the Lord.

Also, please pray for Israel and the Middle East at this time – her sworn enemies would like nothing less than the extermination of Israel and hope and dream for that day to come. Iran seeks to clandestinely build nuclear weapons and recently released a video proudly showing them launching a nuclear strike. At the same time other terrorist networks are seeking biological and chemical weapons to add to their arsenals. Daily anti-Semitic propaganda is being published across the Middle East, and the level of general hatred for the Jews is comparable to the situation in Germany at the time when Hitler came to power.

So, let’s fast a meal when we can and spend extra time to seek God at this crucial time in history. We are called to be history-makers and we have a role in interceding for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

Enoch Lavender has a B.A. in Intercultural Ministry from Harvest Bible College (2008) and was a youth leader for 3 years in ECCC – Eastern Chinese Christian Church.  Enoch is actively involved in a range of ministries including Shalom Israel, Ebenezer Emergency Fund and Teach All Nations (Dr. Kameel Majdali). 
Enoch has been studying Hebrew and Hebrew roots for the past five years, and has a keen interest in the Middle East from a Bible prophecy perspective


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Street-Preaching – Uh Why?

“I believe I never was more acceptable to my Master than when I was standing to teach those hearers in the open fields…I now preach to ten times more people than I would if I had been confined to the churches.” George Whitfield

ha love it We were there to street-preach before the concert began and set up the PA system. With wave upon wave of people coming across the street toward us and hundreds more pouring out from the train station behind us, it was crazy busy.  There were so many people that at one point I could hardly move.

It was too good an opportunity to pass up. I preached.

“Nobody cares!” someone screamed at me.

Who cares if nobody cares?  I certainly don’t.  My Lord Jesus told me to “Go”.   I kept preaching. I preached for as long as I could, until my voice started cracking and I had to stop for its sake.street preaching

Street-preaching – why? (I ask myself this when I’m feeling tired or lazy)

Because thousands of people, both old and young heard the gospel of Jesus Christ last night who perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise.

What if those people never once in their life ever stepped inside a Church?What if they never heard the gospel before they died?

Thank you my Jesus.


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A Meditation on Emergent Spirituality

Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center….” Emergent leader Leonard Sweet (Quantum Spirituality)

prayer labThis post follows on from Mysteries and MysticismUnfortunately the Emergent Church has now not only fully embraced ancient pagan spirituality, or mysticism, as part of their worship, but is also promoting it.  This isn’t just a fad or phase, nor is it a minor side-issue within Christendom! Rather it is a cleverly planned strategy by Satan himself to infiltrate Evangelical Christianity with his greater purpose in mind – to synthesize it with the other world religions in order to make way for a One-World Religion, and ultimately the Anti-Christ.

The Synthesis

New Age Philosophy has conquered the West intellectually and Western culture is currently experiencing a phenomenal shift – sociological, spiritual & ideological.  It’s a secular, multi-cultural, multi-religious synthesis, of the Oriental  mystical philosophies, mainly Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism & Western Occultism, emphasising Holism, the doctrine that Reality is organically One” From New Age website : http://eastrovedica.com/html/newage.htm

Let’s re-visit the Hegelian/Kant principle, which we saw briefly in Satan’s Tool in the Emergent ChurchI think it is important to consider this principle at work because the distinctions between Christianity and other religions are being corroded within the Emergent church right now, making for a religious-fusion.

Hegelian dialectic philosophy, is “usually presented in a threefold manner, (and) was stated by Heinrich Moritz Chalybäus as comprising three dialectical stages of development: a thesis, giving rise to its reaction, an antithesis, which contradicts or negates the thesis, and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis.” (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dialectical_method).

It looks like this:

Thesis                                                   Synthesis                                                             Antithesis

Christianity                 arrow         Emergent Church                LeftArrow                Post-Modernism

Christianity                 arrow         Emergent Church                LeftArrow               Eastern mysticism

Christianity/Judaism   arrow        One World Religion            LeftArrow               Mystery Religions

The Corrosion of the Thesis (Christianity)

How are the contradictions and opposing doctrines between Christianity and other religions being corroded by the Hegelian principle?

1.    By the re-definition of language, particularly in the area of Christian doctrine

Previously we have seen that Satan, using the tool of the Emergent Church, has been breaking down Absolute Truth through “deconstructionism” (Satan’s Tool in the Emergent Church). 

It is the old lie: “Has God really said…?” (Genesis 3).  For Satan to cast doubt on the truth of God’s Word is imperative to the advancement of his plan because he knows that :

“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him,” (Proverbs 30:5).  Should a Christian relinquish the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit Satan knows that his defenses are removed and that he becomes like a “broken down city without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).

2.      By finding “common ground” in mystical spiritualitylabryringh prayer path

“…if we are looking for common ground, can we find it in mystical spirituality, even if we cannot theologically agree, can we pray together in such a way that we connect with a God that transcends our theological differences?” Tony Campolo

The primary mystical practice being used to bring “synthesis” between religions within the Emergent Church is that of meditation*, or contemplative prayer.

Western Christianity has (for the last few centuries anyway) said relatively little about mindfulness and meditative practices, about which Zen Buddhism has said much. To talk about different things is not to contradict one another; it is, rather, to have much to offer one another, on occasion at least.” Brian Mclaren

labyrinthAlthough different methods are employed ie, multi-sensory worship, prayer stones, labyrinths or “centering prayer’, each is designed to lead to an altered state of consciousness.   Repetitive music, mantra-chanting, darkness, smells, sounds and pictures of Jesus all aid in this process.

A couple of years ago I visited a Protestant church and was handed a box containing a colourful stone.  The pastor encouraged us to hold the stone as we prayed, as an aid to bring us into God’s presence.  This is paganism and is unfortunately becoming more and more common. (See where prayer stones originated : http://dharma-beads.net/pagan-prayer-beads-rosary

It is interesting to note that an altered state of consciousness through meditation, in some form or other, is common to all of the Mystery Babylon religions – Buddhism, Taoism, Kabbalah, Freemasonry, Occultism, New Age etc, you name it.  This is the primary means the serpent uses to communicate his secret knowledge.

For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5

The Emergent Church & Meditation

Meditation or “contemplative prayer” was also the practice of the ancient Catholic/Jesuit monastic desert fathers.  One such desert father, Ignatius of Loyola, practiced mystical prayer, culminating in visions of a serpent, who lead to him gain “secret knowledge” (sound familiar?) from which he wrote the “Spiritual Exercises”. Ignatius of Loyola became the founder of the order of the “Jesuits”.  (View the evil-ness of the Jesuit oath here: http://www.reformation.org/jesuit-oath.html )

Disturbingly these desert fathers are being promoted by the Emergent Church as inspirational and worthy of emulation in their prayer and “spiritual discipline” practices:

Brian McLaren: http://brianmclaren.net/archives/blog/from-st-ignatius.html

Rob Bell: http://marshill.org/teaching-resources/spiritual-practices/

(Notice on Bell’s website in particular Catholic monastic “lectio divina” and “prayer of examen”.)

Tony Campolo: “…during times of reflection I sensed that believing in Jesus and living out His teachings just wasn’t enough. There was a yearning for something more, and I found that I was increasingly spiritually gratified as I adopted older ways of praying–ways that have largely been ignored by those of us in the Protestant tradition. Counter-Reformation saints like Ignatius of Loyola have become important sources of help as I have begun to learn from them modes of contemplative prayer. I practice what is known as “centering prayer,” in which a sacred word (a mantra) is repeated as a way to be in God’s presence.”

Here you can listen to Rob Bell actually leading his congregation through meditative breathing techniques that have no place in scripture:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDcAt35IQ5o

emergent yogaFrom Emergent founder Doug Pagitt’s “Body Prayer” book: “As you begin to pray, close your eyes. Then inhale and exhale with deep breaths. Put your hands in a comfortable position, consider turning both hands palms up. Notice the tension in your head – and let it go as you take in a deep breath – and then exhale. Notice the tension in your shoulders and let it go, again by breathing in and then out. Notice the tension in your stomach and let it go. Move down your body doing the same.”

I did yoga when I was a teenager and this is the exact process.  But then, “Christian” yoga is now being promoted too! Whilst it may be wrapped in Christian terminology, while it may be “Christian” words that are chanted as a mantra, don’t be fooled – it is still the same old Mystery pagan techniques cloaked in “Christianity”.

Jesus said, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7).

Why Meditation?mystery

Of course the emphasis on meditation is no accident – it is part of a definite strategy. The process is this:

  1. Detachment – empty your mind by repeating a mantra (one word) over and over
  2. Illumination – knowledge or “enlightenment”
  3. Union – a mystical experience with “God”

No 1. – a glimpse of emptiness or a state of emptiness is aimed for by the practitioner.

No 2. – “illumination” or knowledge.  Remember that the Mystery religions always promise esoteric knowledge – the triangle or hierarchy of illumination,tri the higher you go, the more you know.

Then the serpent said to the woman, “….God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3)

No 3 – “Union” is the ultimate in meditation/contemplative prayer.  Mystics also call it “Truth”, “the ‘Godhead’”, “Reality”, “Ultimate Realization” or “The Ultimate Experience”.

ken wilberThese are direct apprehensions or illuminations – in a word, direct spiritual experiences (satori, kensho, shaktipat, nada, shabd, etc.).” Ken Wilber (writer, mystic, New-ager/occultist who could stop his brain waves through meditation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFFMtq5g8N4)

This is where the practitioner has reached such a state of altered consciousness that they are open to the spirit world.  They become “One” with the “Supreme Being” and the “ancient wisdom” is then bestowed on them. Thus they are “enlightened”, they know the “Truth”, they’ve reached “nirvana”.

Unfortunately the “One” whom they are being united with is not God, who is “Light and in Him there is no darkness atangle of light all”, nor the Holy Spirit whom is the “Spirit of truth”, but rather a deceptive spirit who now has access to an unprotected mind and soul. We know that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) in order to deceive.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” (1 Timothy 4:1)

The “Truth” of the “ancient wisdom” they receive is now being promoted in the Emergent church, even running courses on this subject. But the “truth” is a lie and is always the same old thing:

  • That there is a single, universal truth on which all the world’s religions have been based.  That there is a common thread throughout them all which is “experiential union with the “supreme being” which can only be achieved by undertaking a programme of physical and mental purification.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perennial_philosophy)
  • That there is Cosmic consciousness or “we are all One”, “in which the universe is perceived as an interconnected network of individual consciousnesses, each one of which is connected to every other one…It may also be conceived of as an Absolute or Godhead from which all conscious beings emanate.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_consciousness)

It is designed to “usher.. the devotee into “oneness” with cosmic consciousnesses, the eastern understanding of god or divinity, often referred to as the “divine spark”, believed to be synonymous with all nature. The idea of god/divinity IN all is known as pantheism, that god is IN all that is material, but panentheism says the divine permeates everything including all eternity, concluding that all spirituality and all spirits are divine and acceptable.” (http://caryltv.com/36-breath-prayer/278-q-and-a-practising-the-presence)

Thus it comes as no surprise that the Emergents, whom are delving into the Mystery religions, are now using the same language of the New Agers/occultists – and are spouting the same old stuff that they’ve been saying for years!oneness

We are already one. But we imagine that we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity.”  Emergent leader Leonard Sweet.

Next post…The Emergent Church/New Age Connection

  • The connection between the Emergent Church and the New Age/occult
  • The shift from the de-constructionism of post-modernism to post-post-modernism integral theory

*Meditation – in this context the meditation I am speaking of is distinctly pagan in origin, using techniques in order to bring one into an altered state of consciousness.  I am not dis-crediting the Biblical practice of meditation which is used to study, contemplate and think on the Word of God.  I believe true godly meditation encourages the use of the mind, rather than the emptying of it.


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Bible Prophecy – Warning to Nations

Beginning last year we have seen enormous efforts being made by a number of players to get Israel and the israelPalestinians to come up with a solution to their differences in order to stop the ongoing violence. The United States of America, assisted by Great Britain and the European Union, has been in the forefront of that drive. Simplistically put, their solution is for a Palestinian state to be created alongside the state of Israel, with Jerusalem designated an “international city”.

Over the years the Palestinians have made it clear that they do not and will not recognize the state of Israel. Furthermore, they have made it clear that, amongst their many demands, they want the “Old City” and East Jerusalem as their capital and want the Israeli settlements in the so called West Bank to be vacated by Israelis living there and handed over to them.

For their part the Israelis consider an undivided Jerusalem to be their eternal capital. They also consider that they have a right to keep their settlements in the West Bank; the biblical area of Judea and Samaria.

As a result of these differences (not all of them) the international community has been putting enormous pressure on both sides to reach an agreement to settle those differences. However, the pressure appears to be rather one-sided, in effect requiring the Israelis to submit to Palestinian demands. We constantly hear of Israel being berated for building new homes in the West Bank, that it will not give up any land nor go back to pre-1967 borders and that it is being intransigent over Jerusalem. Even as we write, British PM Cameron is in Israel putting pressure upon Israel to agree to the proposals by the International community; not to forget that the US, led by Secretary of State, Kerry, is constantly putting similar pressure on Israel, often using veiled threats to try to get them to comply.

This pressure is likely to intensify over the next month, especially as Kerry has declared that he wants a final agreement by 15th April.

We believe that those involved in trying to force Israel to give up land and to give up control over Jerusalem are playing a very dangerous game! We are therefore led to ask: “What does God’s Word have to say about the land of Israel and Jerusalem? Who owns the land of Israel?  And, who has the “right” to look after the city of Jerusalem?”

There are many scriptures concerning these questions which, unsurprisingly, all point to the same answer but, here in our short article, we will only briefly consider a few of them.

Let us begin with the land. In Chapters 13, 26 and 35 of Genesis we learn that God first gives the land to Abram, later to be renamed Abraham, then reconfirms his oath with Isaac and finally with Jacob who, at that time, is also renamed Israel by God. In each case the land is given to them and their descendants:-

– To Abram in 12:15: “All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever.”

– To Isaac in 26:3: “. . . . for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.  . . . “

– To Jacob in 35:12: “The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”

(All above are extracts from the NIV.)

Surely there can be no doubt as to the identity of the rightful custodians of the land? And yet the international community refuses to acknowledge it.

What about Jerusalem? In 1 Kings Chapter 14 God’s word tells us that He Himself chose Jerusalem as the city in which to put His Holy Name. In Matthew Chapters 4 and 27 there are references to the “holy city”. Jerusalem is also frequently referred to in the Bible as “the city of God”. The Lord refers to it as “My city” – Isaiah 45. More often He speaks about it as “My holy mountain”. And because the very name of the city means Peace, we know that in this place God Himself will give peace – Haggai 2.  Psalm 76 informs us that God’s tent is in Salem and his dwelling place in Zion; references to Jerusalem. And finally one day it will become the city of righteousness – Isaiah 1. Jesus Himself will one day rule from Jerusalem in righteousness.

israel 2Presently the Dome of the Rock of Islam, controlled by the Jordanians, stands on this site which is so holy to God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To Islam this site is much less important than the Ka,aba in Mecca, but Islam will fiercely resist any attempts by the Jews to reclaim it for God. God has already rebuked Satan about it and in Zechariah Chapter 3 He makes it quite clear that He, the Lord, chose Jerusalem. Satan will not prevail there forever!

There can be no doubt that Jerusalem belongs to God.

Finally we need to be reminded that Jerusalem was bought by King David over 3.000 years ago. It has never been legally sold so logically it still belongs to the House of David. God will reclaim it for His purposes at the time of His choosing.

What Warnings does the Lord give to nations and individuals? Again there are many warnings in scripture and here we will consider only a few of them. In Genesis 12:3 God said to Abram 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” NIV. Here God makes it clear that those who do not treat Abram and his descendants properly will in turn be severely dealt with by Him.

About Jerusalem the Lord says in Zechariah 12:3: 3On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. (NIV) God is simply telling the nations not to tamper with His holy city. “All the nations” surely refers to the United Nations, a world body which is essentially anti-Israel and ready to approve a settlement along the lines noted above.

And the last scripture we will consider here surely concerns what is presently being proposed by the US, Britain and the EU. It is found in Joel 3:2. “I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” (NIV)

Are we about to see God’s land divided? If so there will be consequences for those dividing it.

The final arrogance to consider is the date which has been set by which the peace talks are to be wrapped up; that date being 15 April, 2014. For the Jews it is a very important day, having been declared an “appointed time” by the Lord.

Firstly it is the first day of the Jewish religious New Year and, secondly, it is the first day of the Passover celebrations. Passover is a day specifically set aside by the Lord. This is what the Lord says about it in Leviticus 23:4-5.  4 “These are the Lord’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: 5 The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. (NIV) (Remember the Jewish day begins at sunset, here the 14th, and goes through to sunset the next day, here the 15th.)

We do not know how God will react to the deliberations going on at present but, we can be sure that in his own way and own time, He will deal with those who so blatantly disregard His warnings.

It would be wise for all involved in these negotiations to heed Gods Word.

Chris, from our fellowship, has an interest in Bible prophecy and from time to time will share his views with us on current events and how they relate to prophecy in this new series “Bible Prophecy”.


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A Jewish Girl and a Kingdom

Picture it – a young orphan girl, brought up by her uncle in a foreign land where her jewish girlpeople had been carried away as captives years before….She had known the sorrow of the loss of her parents, of poverty and hardship. But now she found purpose in looking after her uncle and hope in looking forward to a future as one day becoming a Jewish wife and mother, even in the foreign land of Persia.

But one day, the King of the land of Susa, where she was dwelling, issued a decree and this young lady, as well as some others, was brought into the custody of a eunuch in the King’s palace.

For the King was seeking a bride.

Imagine this young Jewess, Hadassah, in the King’s palace, gazing at the splendor surrounding her.  The fierce might of the palace’s guards, the opulence of the furnishings.  Everything so beautiful, so different than she had ever known.  And what of her future hopes now?  Would she ever become a wife and mother?  Would this Gentile king cause her to have to relinquish her future and remain with him in his palace?

anointing oilFor one whole year this young lady remained in the eunuch’s care, and eventually Hegai, as he was called, became her friend, her helper, her adviser.  Each day for twelve months she was prepared and beautified for her first meeting with the King.  Each day she wondered what that one night with the King would mean for her and what her future held.  And as she soaked in the oil of myrrh, tears as bitter as that herb flowed down mingling with the oil and softening the harsh callous places of her skin.

After six months of the oil of myrrh preparation, Esther, as she was now known, was led by Hegai to begin the beautifying preparation with perfumes.  Soft and supple now, her skin had been made tender by the bitter treatment of myrrh.

But that wasn’t the only thing that had changed.  Soaking in the myrrh Esther’s heart and character had also been softened by the bitterness of her own “death”.  Death to her future, death to her own plans, to what she had desired for her own life.  But even further, the tender treatment and counsel of her constant companion Hegai had taken her through that bitterness of death and brought her into something new, something fresh, even…exciting.  Now she was filled with a different hope, a different expectancy for the future that was laid on the foundation of a humble yet mature character wrought through endurance.

The perfume preparation complete, Esther was now ready to enter the King’s presence.  Having come through this next stage of preparation Esther had become even more dependent on her friend Hegai and sought his counsel as to what she should take with her to the King.  He, after all, knew the King and the King’s taste.

jewish-wedding-giftIt was Esther’s turn.  Hegai took her to the King and “the king loved Esther more than all the other women and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen….” Esther 2:17

Esther, now as the King’s bride, settles into life as a Queen.  She of humble origins, an orphan, now the Queen of 127 provinces, from India to Ethiopia.

One day Esther receives some troubling news from her uncle.  Haman the Agagite has decreed to exterminate all of the Jews, her people, and her husband the King has authorized this decree!  Her uncle tells her to make a plea to the King for her people.

Deeply distressed, Esther hesitates.  She knows, as does her uncle, that to enter the king’s presence unbidden brings the immediate sentence of death.  Yet she loves her people, her heart yearns for her people with every day that goes by.  Her uncle’s heart breaks, he loves her and knows her dilemma – yet he must utter these words:

““Do not think in your heart that you will escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews.  For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13, 14)

Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai:  “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:15, 16)

If I perish, I perish

As her tears had rolled into the waters of myrrh long ago Hadassah had known that her life was no longer her own.  It was then that she had perished.  Long ago she had been prepared for this.

And it was because she had perished then, that she could intercede now for those who were perishing.

cropped-girl-praying1.jpgOH Lord, make us into a people like Esther, who would die to ourselves, our plans and our own lives.  Make us into a prepared and beautified Bride, who will come boldly before the throne of grace in Your presence and plead for the lives of those around us who are perishing. Father we thank you for Your Son, Yeshua, the ultimate intercessor, who did give up His life for us, who stood in the gap for us, so that we should not perish but have everlasting life.  OH Lord, help us to be led by Your Spirit only, to seek You only and Your will.  May we be brave and stand in the gap, even in the midnight hour.  In the Name of Yeshua Hamashiach, Amen.

Happy Purim everybody!