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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Visions And Angels With Bags Of Golden Dust

The music is a driving beat – strong, loud, and almost mesmerizing.  Some in the audience faint or laugh hysterically as emotional fervor is driven to a fever pitch.  The unconventional preacher is covered in tattoos.  Sometimes he wears a t-shirt that states, “JESUS GAVE ME MY TATTOOS.”  He wears earrings, eyebrow rings, and a ring in his chin.  He often wears a WWE wrestler t-shirt and can name many of the WWE wrestlers.  He appears to be very pleased with his persona and, in fact, draws attention to it.

This is a minister who has no difficulty blurring the lines between the sacred and the secular.  He declares that the spiritual source of power in his ministry comes from an angel who is standing next to him on the stage.  He once wrote that when he was having financial difficulties, “I don’t just pray and ask God for my financial breakthrough. I go into intercession and become a partner with the angels by petitioning the Father for the angels that are assigned to getting me money: ‘Father, give me the angels in heaven right now that are assigned to get me money and wealth. And let those angels be released on my behalf. Let them go into the four corners of the earth and gather me money.'” His money gathering angel is called Emma.  Our visionary evangelist first met Emma in North Dakota.  She carried bags filled with gold dust.  As she glided up and down the aisles, she sprinkled the gold dust on people.  Many students of the Bible have come to the conclusion that Emma is a demonic spirit.  Angels are created by God and the Bible does not reference any female angels.

Todd Bentley is certainly making headlines with his claims of supernatural powers and faith healing in a revival located in Lakeland, Florida.  According to Bentley, even the dead have been raised.  Bentley also believes that God tells him to hit, choke, and kick people.  He has done this on several occasions to initiate their cures.  Bentley’s miracles have yet to be verified by a reputable source. Bentley claims he has been transported into the future.  He claims to have healed a man in such a manner as to enable him to see using a glass eye.  Another person he prayed for, Bentley claims grew a new eyeball. Hank Hanegraaff, of the popular “Bible Answer Man” radio program, called Bentley “an absolute false prophet.” He calls what’s going on in Lakeland a “counterfeit revival:”

“Unfortunately today people are looking for God in all the wrong places,” Hanegraaff wrote on his website. “They’re going to hear in Lakeland all kinds of things, from people being resurrected from the dead — not true, no details, no descriptions — to supposedly people being pickled and marinated in the Spirit…. In fact, they’re going to hear about vibrating in the Spirit now. This guy is an absolute phony. Unfortunately people are falling for his ruse.”

Russell D. Moore, senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the school of theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has stated:

“Every few years here comes another fraudulent, scandal-riddled ‘faith healer,'” Moore said. “That’s, sadly, no surprise. I am not dubious about healing. I believe that God heals today…. We all know, however, that there are those who will use the power of God to peddle a product. “What’s most tragic about this cycle, though, is the fact that there’s always a constituency for guys like this. I fear that it’s more than just P.T. Barnum’s famous old maxim about the gullibility of the American public. I fear that there’s something missing in our churches that drives even some of our people to charlatans. Might there be less of a demand for these traveling health-and-wealth revivalists if our churches spent more time on our knees in prayer for sick and hurting people?”

Bentley also tends to suggest that attendees will not receive a blessing unless they give generously when the offering is taken.  He notes that people want to be stingy but, at the same time, want a generous blessing. In his personal testimony, Bentley claims he heard the Gospel from the Bible many times but could not believe without a supernatural experience. He says he was saved only when God spoke audibly to him in his drug dealer’s trailer.  God told him it would be his last chance to make a decision for Christ. According to Bentley, he received his calling in 1998 when a “glory liquid honey cloud” came and rested over his head.  This “manifest tangible presence of God” did not leave his life for three months. Throughout this time, he was constantly “slain in the Spirit” and had many visions.  He says Jesus appeared to him at the end of the three months and told him he would never do secular work again.

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

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Have You Separated Your Heart From The Influence Of The World?

What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?  What agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,

and I will be their God,

and they shall be my people.

Therefore go out from their midst,

and be separate from them, says the Lord,

and touch no unclean thing;

then I will welcome you,

and I will be a father to you,

and you shall be sons and daughters to me,

says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:15-18, ESV)

Separation from the world’s value systems is evidence of a work of grace in the heart.  A person, who is born of the Spirit, seeks to separate himself from the evils of worldliness.  Many church leaders desire to make Christianity easy and to avoid self-denial.  We hear professing Christians saying that we should not be too narrow and exclusive.  They believe we may go anywhere, and do anything, and still be good Christians.  It says in God’s Word, “Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you. . . .”

If you believe that anyone is a Christian who goes to church, in spite of how he lives or believes, you probably think very little about separating yourself from worldliness.  But if you read your Bible, you know there is a difference between believers and unbelievers.  An unsaved person thinks mainly on the things of this world. He is more concerned with pleasing man than pleasing God.  This is why Christians must be a “peculiar” people, living their lives in a way that separates them from the unsaved.

Paul says to the Corinthians, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people- not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world.  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler-not even to eat with such a one.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-11)

The true Christian refuses to be guided by the world’s standard of right and wrong.  The rule of most men is to go with the flow.  Whereas, the true Christian will ask, “What does God say in the Bible about this?”  He believes that nothing is right that God declares wrong.

North Carolina Government Funds Movie With Rape Scene Of Child

Dakota Fanning

Why are North Carolina state funds being used to finance a movie with a child rape scene?  The movie is “Hounddog,” starring Dakota Fanning.  Fanning was 12 years old when they filmed the movie, but she plays a nine-year-old who was raped by a 20-year-old man.  There was no stand-in actress for Fanning during the scene in which she is fondled and partially unclothed.

The makers of “Hounddog” were given a $387,000 tax credit to make the movie in North Carolina.  Two other films have also been produced in North Carolina about sexual encounters with minors and they too were given similar tax breaks.  Is this how North Carolinians want their taxes used?

See OneNewsNow for more information on this topic. . . .

Do You Possess A Holy Boldness?

Has God made you bold in the Gospel since your conversion?  On the other hand, do you worry about being offensive to this friend or to that acquaintance if you share the good news of Jesus Christ?  Is boldness a spiritual quality we should seek or is it inappropriate for our culture and times?

After a confrontation with the local religious authorities – Peter, John, and company once prayed, “‘And now, Lord, . . . grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’  And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:29-31, ESV)

Paul had faced cultural conflict but revealed his source of strength in these words, “But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.” (1 Thessalonians 2:2, ESV)  Paul had found boldness in God.  We see that the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to speak of Christ with boldness.

How long has it been since you prayed, “Lord, give that kind boldness to me. Help me to open my mouth and to speak as boldly of Jesus Christ as I ought to speak”?  Have you never prayed that way?  The verses above demonstrate that it is a spiritual characteristic greatly to be desired.  Should we be less bold than these disciples were?

Was not Christ, Himself, bold in delivering His message of judgment and mercy?  If we believe in the seriousness of the message, how can we speak of it lightly and timidly to others?  Have you ceased to believe in the wonders of heaven?  Do you think the torture, agonies, and weeping of hell are uncivilized myths?  You cannot.  If you count yourself among the converted, pray for a holy boldness to confront the world with the Gospel.  Eternal life is a serious matter.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down “Hate Crime” Laws

WorldNetDaily reports that the Supreme Court in Pennsylvania has declared the “hate crimes” laws used to jail the Philadelphia 11 in 2004 violated the state constitution.  The Philadelphia 11, a group of Christians, had been giving their testimony on public property at the city’s tax-funded celebration of homosexuality in the city’s downtown in 2004.  They were arrested, jailed and threatened with up to five decades in jail.

The group members then challenged the law itself and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in a 4-1 decision that the amendments were unconstitutional.  The legislation increased penalties for crimes based on what the criminal was thinking, specifying the additional penalties for “actual or perceived … ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity.”

All crimes are “hate crimes” and we must stop any legislation that tries to make some victims more special than others and thus entitled to more rights than others.  A crime is a crime and the victims and accused must stand before the law equal in rights to all others in their positions.  Increasing penalties based on what you think someone else is thinking during the commission of a crime is an extremely dangerous and subjective form of a kangaroo court system.  Guilt, innocence, and penalties must be based on objective testimony and evidence; not looking into a crystal ball.  Objective evidence must remain the basis of our legal system.

The implementation of “hate crimes” legislation not only removes the objective standard of justice from the justice system but it is also targeted against the freedom of speech.  If you simply criticize individuals or a group that belongs to one of the special categories of “protected” citizens designated by “hate crimes” laws, such as people of a certain “ancestry, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity” – you can be arrested and tried for “hate speech.”  This is what happened to the Philadelphia 11.  They were sharing God’s Word about the sin of homosexuality in a public area where there were homosexuals gathered.

Therefore, “hate crime” laws place the equality of justice for all citizens at risk.  They subjectivise the determination of guilt, innocence, and punishment.  They also strike down the First Amendment by restricting free speech and freedom of religion to the whims of politically correct trends.

Do You Want To Make Your Church Relevant?

The hardest thing to change in the church is the people who say, “This is the way we have always done things.” The counter part to this, however, is that some people love to change things just for the sake of change or to put their personal imprint on their job.  We have all heard criticism of some of the new ways people are doing church.  New movements such as “the emergent/emerging church” and “sonship theology” have certainly earned their share of critics.  Some very notable theologians have warned us about efforts to turn the sanctuary into a theater.  These new movements often neglect the preaching of the Word as they try to appeal to the emotions of the unchurched with an upbeat style of music.  This approach is more focused on how we feel rather than God-centered worship.

We cannot simply dismiss these orthodox theologians with that tired saying, “We must make the Church relevant to modern culture.”  Instead, we must heed the wisdom which tells us that Christianity is to reform the culture; not vice versa.  The older, wiser, and most orthodox of Christian theologians are not simply naysayers to the new methodologies; they are here to warn us if we are straying from the true path.  They help us to identify false teaching and to avoid violating the Word of God.  It is clearly pride that makes us leap ahead where Angels fear to tread.

Charles Spurgeon teaches here a valuable lesson.  “We preach today what was preached 1800 years ago, and wherein others make alterations they create deformities, and not improvements. We are not ashamed to avow that the old truth of Christ alone is everlasting; all else has gone or shall go, but the gospel towers above the wrecks of time.”

Saudi Academics: An Education In Hatred Only Leads To Violence

Most of us have had to take a multiple-choice test at one time or another.  Here is a sample question from a Saudi Arabian fourth grade textbook on Monotheism and Jurisprudence which teaches one to recognize true or false belief in God:

Q. “Is belief true in the following instances:

(a) A man prays but hates those who are virtuous.

(b) A man professes that there is no deity other than God but loves the unbelievers.

(c) A man worships God alone, loves the believers, and hates the unbelievers.”

Anne Applebaum writes in the Washington Post:

The correct answer, of course, is (c): According to the Wahhabi imams who wrote this textbook, it isn’t enough to simply worship God or just to love other believers; it is important to hate unbelievers, too. By the same token, (b) is wrong as well: Even a man who worships God cannot be said to have “true belief” if he also loves unbelievers.

“Unbelievers,” in this context, are Christians and Jews. In fact, any child who attends Saudi schools until ninth grade will eventually be taught outright that “Jews and Christians are enemies of believers.” They will also be taught that Jews conspire to “gain sole control over the world,” that the Christian crusades never ended, and that on Judgment Day “the rocks or the trees” will call out to Muslims to kill Jews.

These passages, it should be noted, are from new, “revised” Saudi textbooks, designed to be less harsh on the infidels. After an analysis of earlier textbooks caused an outcry in 2006, American diplomats approached their Saudi counterparts about modifying the more disturbing passages, and the Saudis agreed to conduct a “comprehensive revision . . . to weed out disparaging remarks toward religious groups.”

Perhaps the Saudi textbooks have been revised, but that revision certainly does not reflect a call for change in behavior toward Christians, Jews, and unbelievers.  These children are actually being taught that their religion requires them to hate Christians, Jews, and all unbelievers.  Our friends, the Saudi government, distribute these textbooks free to Muslim schools all over the world.  Yet, our politically correct government and Muslim apologists are telling us not to pay any attention to these eccentricities of the Muslim faith.  We are to believe that there is no connection between these textbooks and the 9/11 hijackers who were mostly Saudis.

Anne Applebaum’s article, “The Saudi Guide To Piety,” is a must read.

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