• Your True Identity

    What is your true identity?

    What do you think you were created to be?
    Not what do you think you were created to do or what vocation you are supposed to be in.
    But who are you really, what is your true identity?

    Link to Monkeys in the City is an hour and a half, well worth watching.

    The following are some noteworthy points taken from the video:

    • We start off learning who we are from external sources.
    • Our highest level of functioning in the truth of who we are will happen in community not in isolation.
    • We are raised to make fear-based decisions; we are afraid of truth-telling.
    • It is rare to find someone who is not making fear-based decisions, they are other focused.
    • Good literature can name us so we know who we are.
    • Our true identity should guide us through our days.
    • We should not get our identity from our vocation, rather bring our identity to our vocation.
    • For transformation to happen, something has to die.
    • All transforming innovation is preceded by contemplation.
    • Transformation gets rid of the old and starts something new.
    • Don’t be imitators, be contemplators.
    • People know who you really are by the result of your life.
  • Requesting God to Do Something

    I have a friend who has struggled for months or even years to slowly walk from his kitchen back to his bedroom with a walker, maybe 40 feet, which may take him 20 to 30 minutes to make the journey. Currently he can no longer make that entire journey. There are millions of people in the Word of Faith and/or Prosperity movements (for example Kenneth Copeland or Joyce Meyers) who would probably say, “If he and/or his friends had enough faith he would be healed”. But the truth is, all we need to do is look around the world at the millions of people in similar or worse situations who also are not healed. God can heal people but He does not do so many times or most of the time. So the truth is that it is a total mystery as to who or when people are healed.

    I have another friend who nearly died not long ago and he still struggles to maintain a certain level of activity do to heart conditions. He struggles with not being able to go back to his normal abilities but he also has said that his relationship with God has increased and therefore he probably would not change things as a result. But still, that’s his situation and that doesn’t necessarily make other people in similar situations feel any better.

    So what do we do or say?

    I think that anyone who claims to know what God is doing or will do in these situations is pompously incorrect!
    Yes, we can ask God to do anything we want but we must realize that God is not obligated to do what we want; if He does then we can be thankful, if He doesn’t we can proceed on.
    The Faith/Prosperity people’s tendency is to pompously claim that God is obligated to come through with fulfilling their requests as though He promised them all of these things.

    Instead, I would say that we need to humbly request and hope that God will do what we request, realizing that he owes us nothing and that we owe him more than we could ever hope to repay!

  • Bad Ideas

    “Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims.” – often quoted by John Stonestreet at BreakPoint.

    How do we keep ourselves from being victims of bad ideas?

    “If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” – Lao Tzu

  • Organized or Scattered?

    So, are you busy and organized or just mostly busy and a little scattered?

    I recently read a book that I should have read 40 or more years ago.
    Many people might consider me as organized but this book would have helped me be more efficient and less stressed out, had I read it.

    The book is called “Zen to Done, the Ultimate Simple Productivity System”.
    There’s another book called “Getting Things Done” which is good but it’s more heavily into organizing rather than actually getting it done. This one simplifies things to help you effectively get it done. The author combined points from other productivity approaches including David Allen’s Getting Things Done and Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Successful People.

    I have also been using an excellent app on my phone called Obsidian to keep track of my lists and information.
    You can also do it on paper if you prefer.

    The book includes probably a dozen points but to simplify and give you a basic understanding you could start by doing the following:

    1. Take two sheets of paper, one labeled “Inbox” and one labeled “To Do”.
    2. Anytime you think of something that needs to be done, right it on your Inbox sheet.
    3. Then at the beginning of every day, write out one to three items from the inbox onto the todo sheet (if you use the Obidian app on your phone, no rewriting required, just move from inbox to todo).
    4. Then, be focused on doing the to-do list for the day; DON’T get distracted trying to multitask. The human brain is not made for multitasking. If you try you will take more time overall and not do as good a job as if you stay focused. Yes, of coarse, you can put a load of laundry in while you are doing something else. I’m talking about not trying to do more than one thing at once that both require mental thought.
    5. Relax and be less stressed knowing that you are taking care of the important items and won’t forget about all the other things because they have been written down for another day.
  • Clouds Without Water

    Justin Peters, by popular demand, has been doing seminars at churches around the country for 20 or more years, critiquing many things theologically. One very enlightening seminar he does is called Clouds Without Water.

    Clouds without water, from Jude 12, is a biblical critique of the Word of Faith, New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and Prosperity gospel.
    The Health and Wealth, Name it Claim it, or Prosperity gospel claims that it is always God’s will for a Christian to be wealthy and physically healed (should never be sick).

    Some very troubling quotes shown on Clouds without water are as follows:

    Myles Munroe – God can only do what we permit him to.

    Kenneth Copeland – And I say this with all respect so it don’t upset you too bad, but I say it anyway: When I read in the Bible where He says “I AM” I just smile and I say, “Yes, I AM too!”

    Larry Huch and Paula White – Jesus is not the only begotten Son of God, he is not.

    Victoria Osteen – Jesus was man until God touched him and put the Spirit of the living God on the inside of him.

    Benny Hinn – Look at me and say, all of you, say there’s power in me to speak life and death.

    Gloria Copeland – You call what you have, you say what you want.

    Benny Hinn – And I’m here to tell you I know that I know that I know that as these programs are airing, I’m speaking something into existence.

    Creflo Dollar – As spiritual beings who possess the nature of God, we have the ability to speak things into existence just like God did.

    Gloria Copeland – You know, you’re supposed to control the weather… but you are the one that has authority over the weather.

    Can or should we fellowship with those who stand behind the Prosperity, Word of Faith, and/or NAR (New Apostolic Reformation) teachers?

    I do not see how true believers in the real Christ of the Bible can have any level of significant fellowship with someone who claims to be a Christian and yet regularly watches and/or listens to those teachers who say things like the following:
    God can only do what we permit Him to do.
    Since Jesus said “I AM”, then “I AM too”
    Jesus is NOT the only begotten Son of God.
    Jesus was only man until God touched Him and put the Spirit of God inside Him.
    I can speak things into existence.
    My words you can control the weather.
    God’s promises that I can be wealthy and healthy.

    Proverbs 24:11 says to rescue those being led away to death and hold back those staggering toward slaughter.

    These Word of Faith/Prosperity teachers are leading people to spiritual death as they teach a Christ and God who are not to be found in the Bible. So as they preach this false gospel, people are unknowingly staggering toward spiritual slaughter.

    For anyone who has strugged know for sure where they are at spiritually, Justin recommends reading Saved Without a Doubt by John Macarthur

  • The Dark Night of Soul

    Joyful Confidence in God: The Dark Night of Soul
    by John Ortberg, from Soul Keeping

    When God Seems Silent

    Because the soul is the deepest expression of the person, the soul is the place of greatest pain. We do not speak of the dark night of the mind, or the will, or even the spirit; only the soul. The dark night of the soul.

    The phrase comes from a brilliant Carmelite monk named John who lived in Spain in the sixteenth century. He devoted his life to reforming the church, but his attempts were heavily criticized, and he ended up in prison. It was there in confinement, with his dreams lost, that he wrote his most famous work: The Dark Night of the Soul. It is an account of how God works to change us not just through joy and light, but through confusion, through disappointment, through loss. Because of his commitment in the midst of suffering, he became known as “St. John of the Cross.”

    The dark night of the soul, as he described it, is not simply the experience of suffering. It is suffering in what feels like the silence of God.

    This saint who bore the name of the cross of Jesus said that in the early days of spiritual life, the soul often finds delight in devotional activities: We love to read the Bible, we hunger for worship, we long to pray. We may think this is a sign of our maturity; it is really more a kind of honeymoon phase.

    “But there will come a time when God will bid them to grow deeper. He will remove the previous consolation of the soul in order to teach it virtue…” In the dark night, my prayers feel like they reach no higher than the ceiling. (Although, Dallas Willard often said, if we truly understand how radically present God is in our world, reaching the ceiling is more than high enough.) In the dark night, the Bible I read turns to ashes. In the dark night, words and books and songs that once spoke to my soul now leave me cold.

    It is important to understand that the dark night, as John writes about it, is not the soul’s fault. Of course, it’s possible for me to grow cold toward God because I cling to sin, or prefer an idol, or simply become lazy. These are all real occurrences that require wise response. But they are not the dark night.

    The dark night is God-initiated.

    There’s an old illustration that was used to teach uninterrupted intimacy with God as the norm for successful spiritual life. It never failed to add guilt to spiritual dryness. It is a picture of intimacy with God that’s as old as bench seats in the front of cars. A husband and wife are driving together. She says to him: “When we were dating, we used to sit next to each other while we drove; you would have your arm around me, I would lay my head on your shoulder, and I felt so loved. Now look at the distance between us.” And the husband replies: “Who moved?”

    In the dark night of the soul, it is God who moved.

    God may still be in the car. But He’s scrunched up small and pressing hard against the passenger door. I stretch my arm but I can’t reach him or feel Him or touch Him. My soul has not changed seats. God moved.

    Waiting in the Dark

    The practices that once fed my soul feed it no more. John of the Cross, writing from his prison cell, says in the dark night the soul is pained but not hopeless. “God’s love is not content to leave us in our weakness, and for this reason He takes us into a dark night. He weans us from all of the pleasures by giving us dry times and inward darkness…. No soul will ever grow deep in the spiritual life unless God works passively in that soul by means of the dark night.” We have a hard time with the dark night. Our churches are practical places, and we generally tell people the answer to any spiritual problem is more: more prayer, more serving, more giving, more trying.

    But John says just the opposite. When the soul begins to enjoy the benefits of the spiritual life and then has them taken away, it becomes embittered and angry. There are some who become angry at themselves at this point, thinking that their loss of joy is a result of something they have done or have neglected to do. They will fuss and fret and do all they can to recover this consolation. They will strive to become saints in a day. They will make all kinds of resolutions to be more spiritual, but the greater the resolution, the greater the fall.

    Their problem is that they lack the patience that waits for whatever God would give them and when God chooses to give. They must learn spiritual meekness, which will come about in the dark night.

    What do we do in the dark night?

    We do nothing. We wait. We remember that we are not God. We hold on. We ask for help. We do less. We resign from things, we rest more, we stop going to church, we ask somebody else to pray because we can’t. We let go of our need to hurry through it.

    You can’t run in the dark.

    We love psalms about restoring our souls. They are sometimes called psalms of orientation — psalms that help us direct our lives to God. But there are other psalms. After we learned of Dallas’s diagnosis, my wife delivered a message based on what Walter Brueggemann calls “psalms of disorientation.” These are the psalms where the soul is disoriented; God is absent; darkness is winning. “Break the teeth in their mouths, o God… Let them vanish like water that flows away… like a slug that melts away as it moves along, like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.” That’s one that doesn’t get used at a lot of prayer breakfasts. Eugene Peterson (author of The Message) once wrote that before we can love our enemies, we have to pray our hatred. In these psalms — which are more frequent than the psalms of orientation — Israel vented and boiled over at God, apparently believing He was secure enough to be able to take it.

    Nancy talked about an unmarried friend who once punctured the polite piety of a small group Bible study that was having an abstract discussion about “Where is God when it hurts?” With the honesty rarely seen in Bible study groups, she declared, “If Jesus thinks that three hours on a cross makes up for forty-two years of singleness, I think that’s crazy.”


    Nancy waited for the group to get swallowed up in a sinkhole. Eventually someone chirped in with a Christian cliché, and the moment passed. But there was more honest faith in that one real comment than all the safe platitudes that came before and after it.

    In my own darkest time some years ago, my greatest disappointment was deep and unfixable. I questioned my calling. I didn’t think about suicide, but I definitely thought that if my life were over, I’d be grateful for the end of pain. I would talk to a few close friends, and they would generally give sympathy and support, for which I was grateful.

    But then I did what I have so often done when I cannot think or pray or reason my way out of something. I called Dallas. I walked him through the circumstances and the heartbreak and the pain, eager for his answer.

    Long pause. “This will be a test of your joyful confidence in God.” Silence. I did not miss the challenge in this sentence, all the more goading for its gentle phrasing. Not just my confidence — my joyful confidence. Human beings around the globe had been suffering a year ago, and I was capable of joy then. Why should I consider my own suffering grounds for a crisis of confidence in God when I don’t react the same way to others?

    If there is a God who is worthy to be the Father of Jesus, I can trust giving this situation as well as my own feelings joyfully into His hands. If there is not, I have infinitely bigger problems than a merely human circumstance. Either way it is true: this will be a test of my joyful confidence in God.

  • Why Christians should be involved in Politics

    Why Christians Should Be Involved In Politics – 18 minutes by ‎Dr Frank Turek

    Following are some summary points of his video presentation (his website is CrossExamined.org):

    Why is there a difference between South Korea and North Korea?
    The main reason for the difference is POLITICS.

    Which country would you rather live in, North or South Korea?
    Can you preach the gospel in North Korea? No, because of politics.

    If you don’t think politics are important, you don’t think the gospel is important.
    Politically, you can’t do what we do in many countries.

    Politics effects what we and the church do every day.
    Jesus told the religious and political leaders of Israel, “You have neglected the more important matters of the law”. Jesus was not “Mr Rogers”; sometimes He was right in your face saying that you need to change.

    Saying not to kill the unborn is not religion, it is morality.
    All laws legislate morality.

    Politics is always the choice of the lesser of two evils because all of us are flawed.
    How will each candidate govern on the most important matters of the law, the big moral issues?

    Without religious freedom, you cannot preach the gospel.

    Our country is a mess; who should we blame? THE CHURCH
    The church hasn’t been the church for at least a hundred years.

    Pastors can do a lot more from the pulpit than they think (or at least they could before Joe Biden was elected).
    Pastors are called to be salt and light not tax exempt.
    If a pastor is more concerned about money than the future of civilization then he/she ought to just get ought of the ministry.

    Are you helping to create a country like South Korea or North Korea?
    Who will protect life, marriage, and religious freedom if not you, the church?

    “The only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke
    That’s what the church has been doing for decades, nothing!



  • Does God Always Answer Prayer?

    CONTRARY TO POPULAR OPINION, the cultivation of a psychology of uncritical belief is not an unqualified good, and if carried too far it may be a positive evil. The whole world has been booby-trapped by the devil, and the deadliest trap of all is the religious one. Error never looks so innocent as when it is found in the sanctuary.

    One field where harmless-looking but deadly traps appear in great profusion is the field of prayer. There are more sweet notions about prayer than could be contained in a large book, all of them wrong and all highly injurious to the souls of men.

    I think of one such false notion that is found often in pleasant places consorting smilingly with other notions of unquestionable orthodoxy. It is that God always answers prayer.

    This error appears among the saints as a kind of all-purpose philosophic therapy to prevent any disappointed Christian from suffering too great a shock when it becomes evident to him that his prayer expectations are not being fulfilled. It is explained that God always answers prayer, either by saying Yes or by saying No, or by substituting something else for the desired favor.

    Now, it would be hard to invent a neater trick than this to save face for the petitioner whose requests have been rejected for non-obedience. Thus when a prayer is not answered he has but to smile brightly and explain, “God said No.” It is all so very comfortable. His wobbly faith is saved from confusion and his conscience is permitted to lie undisturbed. But I wonder if it is honest.

    To receive an answer to prayer as the Bible uses the term and as Christians have understood it historically, two elements must be. present:
    (1) A clear-cut request made to God for a specific favor.
    (2) A clear-cut granting of that favor by God in answer to the request. There must be no semantic twisting, no changing of labels, no altering of the map during the journey to help the embarrassed tourist to find himself.

    When we go to God with a request that He modify the existing situation for us, that is, that He answer prayer, there are two conditions that we must meet:
    (1) We must pray in the will of God and
    (2) we must be on what old-fashioned Christians often call “praying ground”; that is, we must be living lives pleasing to God.

    It is futile to beg God to act contrary to His revealed purposes. To pray with confidence the petitioner must be certain that his request falls within the broad will of God for His people.

    The second condition is also vitally important. God has not placed Himself under obligation to honor the requests of worldly, carnal or disobedient Christians. He hears and answers the prayers only of those who walk in His way.
    “Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.
    If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (I John 3:21, 22; John 15:7).

    God wants us to pray and He wants to answer our prayers, but He makes our use of prayer as a privilege to commingle with His use of prayer as a discipline. To receive answers to prayer we must meet God’s terms. If we neglect His commandments our petitions will not be honored. He will alter situations only at the request of obedient and humble souls.

    The God-always-answers-prayer sophistry leaves the praying man without discipline. By the exercise of this bit of smooth casuistry he ignores the necessity to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, and actually takes God’s flat refusal to answer his prayer as the very answer itself. Of course such a man will not grow in holiness; he will never learn how to wrestle and wait; he will never know correction; he will not hear the voice of God calling him forward; he will never arrive at the place where he is morally and spiritually fit to have his prayers answered. His wrong philosophy has ruined him.

    That is why I turn aside to expose the bit of bad theology upon which his bad philosophy is founded. The man who accepts it never knows where he stands; he never knows whether or not he has true faith, for if his request is not granted he avoids the implication by the simple dodge of declaring that God switched the whole thing around and gave him something else. He will not allow himself to shoot at a target, so he cannot tell how good or how bad a marksman he is.

    Of certain persons James says plainly: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” From that brief sentence we may learn that God refuses some requests because they who make them are not morally worthy to receive the answer. But this means nothing to the one who has been seduced into the belief that God always answers prayer. When such a man asks and receives not he passes his hand over the hat and comes up with the answer in some other form. One thing he clings to with great tenacity: God never turns anyone away, but invariably grants every request.

    The truth is that God always answers the prayer that accords with His will as revealed in the Scriptures, provided the one who prays is obedient and trustful. Further than this we dare not go.

  • Face Masks

    My thoughts on mask, including some from Laura Baxter:

    • Mask mandates are a huge government overreach 
    • Masks impair communication
    • Masks muffle the sounds of voices
    • Masks cover half the face, veiling nonverbal cues
    • What is the cost of a world without smiles?
    • Masks remind us, constantly, to be on our guard.
    • Masks imply that everyone is now a feared disease transmitter.
    • The treasured face of a friend covered by a mask now harbors danger.
    • Masks don’t let us forget, even for a moment, that a pandemic is on the prowl.
    • How could I possibly think this nation would be better off with everyone walking around with masks covering their faces?
  • Classical Education

    08/24/11 Notes from Chuck Colson at BreakPoint

    Let’s do a little thinking about modern education — how it’s failed us and what alternatives we have.

    So-called “modern” education was already failing students in Sayers’s time (1947), and it certainly is today.  That’s why so many people, including Christians, misunderstand facts, or they’re swayed by specious arguments, or they have no idea how to properly express ideas in ways that are coherent and believable. Modern America is rife with the telltale signs of miseducation.

    What is a classical education?
    Classical education advocate Susan Wise Bauer puts it this way: “Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind.

    1. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study.
    2. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments.
    3. In high school . . . they learn to express themselves.”

    Classical education uses natural developmental stages to train students to discern between true and false facts, understand good and bad arguments, and develop the ability to turn their thoughts into intelligent words. What more could we hope for our kids? It’s the kind of education that prepares men and women for all areas of life. Plumbers, engineers, executives, housewives all will have to sort out facts and arguments and make themselves understood.

    Classical education also trains young minds to think holistically about life. Most modern education is compartmentalized. Classical education teaches that astronomy is related to economics is related to philosophy. Truth in this model forms a rational whole, which is at the heart of a coherent worldview.

    Now, while Classical education doesn’t have to be Christian, much of it is Christian. And when the classical approach is mixed with Christianity, the result is powerful. Children become men and women who have taken a Christian worldview to heart.

    If you have children or grandchildren, let me encourage you to seriously consider classical education. More and more communities have classical schools. Modern education has been failing students and society for decades. We need — and in classical education we have — a better alternative.

    Aug 23, 2011 Chuck Colson – Two Minute Warning

    You’ve probably got a young child who knows exactly how many miles it is to the planet Mars or that Jupiter has 64 moons. How does he know that? He knows that because young children have an enormous ability to memorize facts. Parents and teachers recognized that as far back as the late Roman empire.

    They also saw how what we would today call middle school, they begin to put facts together into arguments and then the process becomes argument. And teenagers have always tried to understand who they are by attempting to express themselves in the same way, it’s part of growing up It’s the process God has built into each of us.

    Ancient teachers observed and then built an educational system around human nature. They called it the trivium grama dialectic and rhetoric and it’s making a comeback in the classical and Christian education movement and none too soon because our kids are really struggling.

    Test scores are down. Students lack even basic command of history. Reading comprehension is dismal and careful argumentation is an absolutely lost art. Listen to the teenagers and you’ll understand.

    Modern education fails students because it mixes up the natural order of learning. We want third graders to express themselves when they ought to be memorizing the multiplication tables and rules of grammar. Then we wait until high school to teach foreign languages when students have lost the desire to memorize. And we allow students of any age to spout opinions on any and every topic without caring whether or not they’re arguments make any sense.Where’d we go wrong?

    Writing in the spring issue of the Wilson quarterly, historian Daniel Walker How made the connection between classical education and virtue. Really important. He explained the rise of moral relativism undermined the role of classics in American education ever since the Middle ages. He wrote, a classical education had represented a synthesis of reason and virtue. Citing scholar Karl Richard, How proposes that it was a consequence of declining confidence in human reason and virtue that dimished respect for the ancient writers and and the heroes they celebrate. Moral relativism undercut trust in the standards the classical authors have long embodied. A classical education may therefore provide our younger generations a path back from moral relativism.