Monday, November 29, 2010

Constant Pitfall!

Isaiah 10:15 Shall the ax boast itself against him who chops with it? Or shall the saw exalt itself against him who saws with it? As if a rod could wield itself against those who lift it up, Or as if a staff could lift up, as if it were not wood!

One constant pitfall we must watch for is taking credit for something that God does in or through us, or using the gifts and callings of God for self-exaltation.

In that light it may be easier to handle poverty, weakness, or insignificance, than wealth, ability, power or authority, since poverty and frailty are not normally things we boast about, and they cause us to recognize our need for God.

Prosperity, gifting, and anointing, on the other hand can be powerful temptations, leading to pride, covetousness, and self-sufficiency.

Saul, who came from a humble background, was anointed king of Israel, yet his heart was revealed when the Lord exalted him, but he exulted in his own position, eventually coveting it so severely he became a fierce enemy of God. The Lord then removed His spirit from Saul and the true condition of the man became apparent to everyone.

Even the great Solomon whose gifting, anointing, and prosperity were unsurpassed in some ways, seems to have taken for granted his abilities and wealth, and, somehow, rationalizing his blatant disobedience to God's law, he fell into idolatry and brought disaster to the Kingdom of Israel. This seems amazing, given the fact that Solomon's most precious gift was his wisdom. (Those with this gift should take note).

My Godly friends, be careful how you handle the gifts and successes that God gives you! Enjoy His blessings as you serve in your family, business, or ministry - but never forget where it all comes from, and to whom the glory belongs, cause if you do, He will be sure to remind you.

Worthy Nerws Brief
WB Worthy Devotion Journal

Friday, November 26, 2010

Parachurch vs Church: A False Dichotomy

Published by Rick Meigs on January 24th, 2007 in Church.

The popular definition of a parachurch group is any non-church based Christian entity or ministry. The simple fact that we use such a defined term indicates a misunderstanding of the biblical concept of the church.

The biblical ekklesia always describes a people and never a building, place, denomination or specific group of Christians to the exclusion of other Christians. It doesn’t matter where people are gathered together for ministry or what corporate structure they take on, they are still “the church,” God’s called out people ministering in the name of Jesus.

I ask, how can a group like Campus Crusade or YWAM be a non-church ministry? If they are followers of Jesus, its impossible! They are part of the ekklesia as much as some ministry that is part of a local faith community. As long as we continue to make this false dichotomy, we will continue to hear divisive statements like:

» Parachurch organizations should strengthen churches, not detract/distract from them. (Sorry, but God’s called out people can’t detract/distract from themselves in the way implied by such a statement. It is a contradiction.)

» Parachurch organizations address needs not being met by the church. (Sorry, when a group of Christians come together to address a need or minister to a group, that IS the church meeting the need.)
Ralph Winter talks about how God has expanded his Kingdom through two basic structures, the church as “modality” and “sodality.” (For more on this, see “The Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission” by Ralph D. Winter.)

“Modality” is the continuing long-term nature and structure of the church expressed in the local congregations in which there is no distinction of sex or age. As Alec Hill observes, “Multi-generational and geographically limited, a congregation puts down its roots and makes a long-term commitment to its community.”

The second structure, “sodality,” concentrates on one or more specific aspects of the mission of God such as reaching one specific people group, translating the Bible into other languages, or working with youth. In this structure, “membership involves an adult second decision beyond modality membership” and is often limited by some criteria such as age or sex.

Another way of describing this might be to say that some expressions of the church have a narrow ministry focus (sodality) and others have a broad ministry focus (modality). Each needs the other and each is a part of the whole. We should honor and respect what God is doing through his people regardless of the label we put on it.

Plenty Followed By Famine

Catherine Brown - Scotland UK

There Will Be A Seven-Year Period Of Plenty, Followed By A Seven-Year Period
Of Famine Mar 27, 2007

Will traders barter for him? Will they divide him up among the merchants?" Job 41:6

A Vision of the Church and the Marketplace

In a recent vision, the Lord showed me a picture of the Church in two separate halves. In one-half (within the realm of my vision), I saw the Marketplace with Christian ministers and ministries represented within it. On the opposite side from these people, was another group of Church-place
Christian ministers and ministries.

In the hands of one group were one-half of a sterling pound note; and the other half of the sterling pound note was in the hands of the other group. Between both parties, was a divide, and in the divide, a dragon was positioned to separate the two. The dragon (or leviathan) stood between the two groups of ministers/ministries and brought disunity and division. Before the vision ended, the Lord spoke these powerful words into my heart:

"There is equity in the Church that belongs in and to the Marketplace, and there is equity in the Marketplace that belongs in and to the Church."

"There will be a seven-year period of plenty, followed by a seven-year period of famine. From 2007-2014, I am granting a window of grace and mercy to prepare for the seven years of famine."

"I am calling for the Kingdom economists and accountants, for without them, My Church cannot fulfill her global mandate on the earth. I am going to pour out My anointing upon them in unprecedented levels. It will be seen as a thousand-fold increase of the anointing that was upon My servant Joseph in
the days of Egypt."

"I will grant favor to these chosen servants, and they will enable and equip the Church and the Marketplace in the outworking of Heavenly vision--in strategizing, in forming Godly alliances, and in creating infrastructure for the fulfillment of vision for the coming seven years of harvest."

"The Church and the Marketplace ministers and ministries must learn to unite, to collaborate, and co-operate with My Holy Spirit. For I have placed vision and resource in the Church that cannot be fulfilled unless it is in partnership with the Marketplace, and I have placed vision and resource in
the Marketplace that cannot be fulfilled unless it is in partnership with the Church."

"I formed Leviathan to frolic in the seas, but Leviathan has opposed the work of My Son. Therefore, I have broken the heads of the monster in the waters; I have crushed the heads of Leviathan. It is only by humility that you will overcome the dragon in your midst. Turn from your pride and arrogance and repent for abuse and misuse of influence, authority, and power to which I have entrusted to you. Leviathan has caused My children to operate in lies, gossip, slander, accusation, faultfinding,
criticism, and rumor."

"Heaven's economy is wrapped up in Heaven's justice and where there is injustice, there is a blockage in Heaven's economy and this prevents the fullness of My blessing being released to you and through you."

"I will disarm Leviathan in your midst if you will choose to walk in My humility, repentance, and love. I call you to form a Heavenly alliance between Church and Marketplace, for in My eyes, the two are one. You each have spheres of influence, which I have granted to you. I have given you gifts, and I have called you in the power of My Spirit. I call you now to lay down your mistrust of each other, to be healed of past hurts when the Church has rejected the Marketplace and the Marketplace has rejected the Church."

"Do not be defined by the disappointments of the past. Do not allow the reputation of man to rob you of My blessing. Do not allow fear and mistrust to rob you of breakthrough. Stand together in the bond of peace and love, and I will release My blessing in your midst. Set a precedent in My Righteousness; build a bridge of holy brotherhood; walk in purity of motivation and trust Me, for your destinies are both individual and corporate."

"I call My Church to unity, to purity, and to holiness, for My desire is to pour out abundant blessing from Heaven and save the earth. Like Abraham before you, walk before Me and be blameless. As children of Abraham, you are heirs to the promise. My grace overcomes all betrayal."

"Be bold in My Holiness. Prefer one another in love. I proclaim healing over My Church and remind her of her mandate to love selflessly, to be a people of faith, and to fulfill the Great Commission that I have entrusted to the sons of men. Carry My Cross and the accomplishment of Calvary in all that you do, and I will heal your lands."

A CRY FROM THE HEART

David Wilkerson

I believe God's merciful love is revealed in response to a cry from the heart—not just any cry, but a humble cry for deliverance. The Bible has much to say about this cry from the heart. "In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God; he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came
before him, even into his ears" (Psalm 18:6).

"Many times did he deliver them; but they provoked him with their counsel, and were brought low for their iniquity. Nevertheless he regarded their affliction, when he heard their cry" (Psalm 106:43-44).

You can be sure that a cry to God will always be answered by a healing word from heaven! No one is too wicked or too hopeless if he reaches out to God in humility. The story of the wicked King Manasseh proves it! The Bible says he was one of the most wicked kings of Israel. "And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord… For he built up again the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he reared up altars for Baal…and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them…. And he made his son pass through the fire…and dealt with familiar spirits and wizards; he wrought much wickedness in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 21:2-6).

"So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen.… And the Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his people; but they would not hearken" (2 Chronicles 33:9-10).

Is there hope for someone who gets so far from God, so possessed by evil and darkness? Yes, if he will humble himself, and confess and believe Christ’s victory at the cross. Manasseh ended up a prisoner in a foreign nation, bound with chains. What a vivid picture of the wages of sin. But in his affliction, he cried out and God heard him, forgave him, and restored him.

"And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him; and he was entreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God” (2
Chronicles 33:12-13).

“And he took away the strange gods, and the idol out of the house of the Lord, and all the altars that he had built in the mount of the house of the Lord, and in Jerusalem, and cast them out of the city” (v. 15).

The word of hope, forgiveness, mercy, love and restoration is for you! Heed his Word, repent, and then be made whole and walk with the Lord! There is no sin that can’t be forgiven—no one is too far down to be healed and restored.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

JOSEPH IN PRISON – WAITING WITHOUT BREAKING

Catherine Brown

“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favour in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.” Genesis 39:20b-23

We may well ask ourselves what prison life would have been like for Joseph and his fellow inmates. Perhaps we might consider that the conditions would most likely have been harsh, with little food and water, difficult living conditions and continual physical, emotional, mental and spiritual suffering for most of the prisoners. Yet, the bible tells us that Joseph was still a man on whom God’s favour and kindness was evident, and he was made responsible for everything that happened in the prison. Let’s consider for a moment, what that might have involved:

Food preparation (if one was fortunate enough to eat)
Cleaning up
Emptying the latrines
Tending the wounds of prisoners
Caring for sick prisoners
Dealing with infestations of rats, lice, other insects and rodents
Watching over vulnerable prisoners
Maintaining order/maintaining peace
Keeping corruption at bay and encouraging righteousness
Dealing with death
Ministering to the broken hearted and the lonely

THE PRIORITY OF PEOPLE

As we consider the potential list of duties that being in charge of the prison might have included, it is easy to see that God taught Joseph the priority of people before programmes. It is my deep conviction that Joseph learned how to be a father in his time in prison. In the place of God-permitted confinement and in-built destiny delay, Joseph embraced the priceless truth and depths of the Father’s compassion, humility, wisdom and love, persevering in his sonship regardless of his circumstances. Learning how to function as a father was an important part of Joseph’s “training for reigning” before he was released into the fullness of the apostolic mantle as God’s ambassador in Egypt – God chose a prison cell as the perfect crucible for His love to be formed in His servant Joseph.

Furthermore, Joseph learned the heart of a servant in prison. It was crucial in the preparation of one who would one day be entrusted with so much power and influence to be developed as a servant leader. God chose to confine Joseph in a prison to teach him this lesson and granted him the privilege of showing tender compassion to the other prisoners who were placed in his charge.

While we consider Joseph’s character development at this stage in his faith walk as an apostolic watchman for his nation, it is also helpful to remind ourselves of some of the other characteristics and attributes of a Godly watchman/woman.

CHARACTER AND ATTRIBUTES OF A WATCHMAN

Intimate with God in holy covenant relationship;; “I am my beloved’s and He is mine.” SoS 6:3’ “He has taken me to the banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.” SoS 2:4 “Place me like a seal on your heart …” SoS 8:6

Worshipful
Prayerful
Loving God with a whole heart Mk 12:30-31 (giving out of one’s riches or ones poverty e.g. the widow Mk 12:33,34)
Aspiring to be Christ-like in active discipleship
Exhibiting fruits of the Spirit e.g. love, joy, peace, patience
Exercising faith in the gifts of the Spirit e.g. wisdom, discernment, prophecy (Daniel was given insight and understanding to comprehend his visions Da 9:22)
Compassionate and mercy filled
Spirit-filled
Familiar with Scripture
Alert/watchful
Aligned with God’s purposes
Accountable, humble, submitted and part of a local body
Radically obedient to God; (“But Micaiah said, “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.” 1 Ki 22:14
Responsible/wise steward
Comprehending of one’s assigned sphere of influence
Understanding of one’s call
Active in faith in response to one’s call

Every watchman will experience character refining as they journey towards their faith goals. May you each know the kindness and favour of God as you walk with Him towards fulfilment of your destiny and may our dear lord grant you dreams, visions and visitations that you might be encouraged especially if you feel like Joseph in prison! Your time of testing will surely pass, and the Lord by His grace, will position you in the places where He has pre-ordained, so that every sphere of society will be filled with His glory. Amen.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

From "WHY REVIVAL TARRIES" - Powerful!

-by Leonard Ravenhill.

Today God is bypassing men -- not because they are too ignorant, but because they are too self-sufficient. Brethren, our abilities are our handicaps, and our talents our stumbling blocks!

Elijah lived with God. He thought about the nation's sin like God; he grieved over sin like God; he spoke against sin like God. He was all passion in his prayers and passionate in his denunciation of evil in the land. He had no smooth preaching. Passion fired his preaching, and his words were on the hearts of men as molten metal on their flesh.

Brethren, if we will do God's work in God's way, at God's time, with God's power, we shall have God's blessing and the devil's curses. When God opens the windows of heaven to bless us, the devil will open the doors of hell to blast us. God's smile means the devil's frown! Mere preachers may help anybody and hurt nobody; but prophets will stir everybody and madden somebody. The preacher may go with the crowd; the prophet goes against it. A man freed, fired, and filled with God will be branded unpatriotic because he speaks against his nation's sins; unkind because his tongue is a two-edged sword; unbalanced because the weight of preaching opinion is against him.

Ah! brother preachers, we love the old saints, missionaries, martyrs, reformers: our Luthers, Bunyans, Wesleys, Asburys, etc. We will write their biographies, reverence their memories, frame their epitaphs, and build their monuments. We will do anything except imitate them . We cherish the last drop of their blood, but watch carefully the first drop of our own!

Oh, my ministering brethern! Much of our praying is but giving God advice. Our praying is discolored with ambition, either for ourselves or for our denomination. Perish the thought! Our goal must be God alone. It is His honor that is defiled, His blessed Son who is ignored, His laws broken, His name profaned, His book forgotten, His house made a circus of social efforts.

God's problem today is not communism, nor yet Romanism, nor liberalism, nor modernism. God's problem is - dead fundamentalism!.

"So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew you out of my mouth." - Rev. 3:16

This generation of preachers is responsible for this generation of sinners...Sin today is both glamorized and popularized, thrown into the ear by radio, thrown into the eye by television, and splashed on popular magazine covers. Church-goers, sermon-sick and teaching- tired, leave the meeting as they entered it -- visionless and passionless! Oh God, give this perishing generation ten thousand John the Baptists!

WE NEED Another JESUS MOVEMENT

-by J. Lee Grady.

Share In today’s hip, sophisticated churches, we often forget to preach about Jesus. Let’s get back to basics.

I became a serious Christian at the tail end of the Jesus movement. I was too young to remember the hippie beads, tie-dyed shirts and “Jesus Is Groovy” slogans, but the songs were still popular when
I was in college (from musicians such as Andrae Crouch, Love Song and Barry McGuire), as were the movies (especially The Cross and the Switchblade.)

The Jesus movement was like a spiritual tsunami that washed over hundreds of thousands of young people in the late 1960s and early ‘70s and brought them into a personal relationship with Christ.
Some of these kids had been drug addicts and social misfits; most were just average Joes and Janes who discovered that Jesus is a lot more exciting than traditional churches had led them to believe...

Lately I find myself waxing nostalgic for those days—not because I want to return to the awkward fashions and hairstyles of 1972, but because I miss the spiritual simplicity of that era. The Jesus movement was primarily focused on—surprise!—Jesus. Theology was not complicated, pastors weren’t trying to be hip or sophisticated or tech-savvy; and we hadn’t yet created a Christian subculture with its own celebrities and political power bases.

Today, we just don’t preach enough about Jesus. This is certainly true in many charismatic churches, where we’ve become experts on everything but basic Christian theology 101. In my travels this past year I’ve been horrified to learn that many Spirit-filled believers have given up the discipline of reading their Bibles even semi-regularly. They prefer a steady diet of culturally relevant, fast-paced, techno-theology that is a poor substitute for discipleship.

Many charismatics have developed the attitude that a simple focus on Christ isn’t enough. We’d rather go to a “prophetic encounter” to hear what Obama’s chances are in 2012, or experience some exotic spiritual manifestation (gold dust, gems falling out of the ceiling), or ask Rev. Flash-in-the-Pan to pray for us for the sixteenth time so we can receive yet another “special anointing” that we will probably never use.

In the midst of all this charismatic gobbledygook, where is Jesus? Am I the only one out there who is weary of this distraction?

Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve decided to get back to the basics of the faith. That’s why I am reading What Jesus Is All About?, a classic book written more than 50 years ago by Henrietta Mears, a Bible teacher who helped mentor both Billy Graham and Bill Bright in the 1940s.

Mears explains in her book how each of the four gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke and John—give us a unique, four-dimensional portrait of the Savior. According to Mears:

Matthew was written to Jews to tell of a Promised Savior who is also a King—and it uses the word “kingdom” 55 times. Mark was written to Gentiles to tell of a Powerful Savior—and it reports more miracles than any other gospel. Luke was written by a Gentile to tell of a Perfect Savior—and it has the most references to Jesus’ humanity. John was written by “the disciple whom Jesus loved” to tell of a Personal Savior—and it has the most references to Jesus’ divine nature.

The Holy Spirit who inspired the Bible knew we needed more than a one-, two- or three-dimensional look at Jesus. The Spirit gave us a four-dimensional view so that we could gaze at Him from all sides and become captivated by His magnificence—His supreme kingship, His compassionate mercy, His supernatural power, His perfect justice, His amazing humility and His love for sinners like you and me.

There’s so much more to Jesus than we realize. And there is so much more to say about Him than we are telling our generation. That’s why I’m spending most of my study time in the four gospels for the next few months. I want a fresh revelation of Jesus!

Perhaps another Jesus movement will be unleashed in our country when we discard our distractions and focus on Him again.

THE FOUNDATION OF TRUE FAITH

David Wilkerson

The only time God’s patience runs out with us is when we refuse again and again to accept how much he loves us.

Many Christians today have been turned back into a wilderness of their own making. They have no joy, no victory. To look at them, you’d think God had forsaken them years ago. No—he has simply turned them over to their own complaining and murmuring.

Thank God, Joshua and Caleb entered into the Promised Land. And they stood as green trees in God’ house until their dying days. They were men of power and vision because they know they were precious to God.

You also are precious to the Lord, in spite of your problems and failures. You can be a green tree in God’s house just as Joshua and Caleb were.

Simply stand on what God’s Word promises: “He brought me forth also into a large place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me” (Psalm 18:19).

That is the foundation of true faith!

Friday, November 19, 2010

"What is a Cult?" | War of the Worldviews with Eric Holmberg (Episode 3)

“An APOSTLE I KNEW”

-by Grover.

Much ado is being made about modern day apostles and prophets. We hear of new “apostolic” networks and ministries, with their “impartation meetings” and “apostolic anointings.” Everybody who is somebody in the body of Christ is now an apostle. Even the prophets are becoming apostles. Maybe the pastors are becoming prophets to fill the vacuum? Apostles are people who are sent by God to a specific people or for a specific mission. We’ve often used the word “missionary” in place of “apostle” because of the connotation. By definition, an apostle is a “sent one.”

Anyway, the Lord reminded me of a very special apostle that I spent time with early in my Christian walk. His name was Tacho. He was probably in his mid 50′s when Edith and I met him. He had been a laborer for most of his life, barely spoke English and was illiterate. He and his wife (Elfida) had been Catholic most of their lives, until meeting Jesus and being baptized in the Holy Spirit by a supernatural encounter. When Tacho was baptized in the Holy Spirit, he suddenly was able to read the Bible, both in English and in Spanish. We spent a lot of time with Tacho and Elfida, mostly in the ghettos of Mexico. I remember many times when Tacho stood up in the streets to preach the gospel, Elfida would fall to her knees and cry out to God, battling in the heavenlies, and the glory of God would fall on those filty streets. Demons screamed and left, people were healed and delivered, witches converted to Jesus, it was a glorious time. Edith and I learned through their example the role of husband and wife in a spiritual war that battled for the souls and hearts of men.

I never heard Tacho speak of anything except Jesus, even in conversations with others on the team. Jesus was his passion, his only vision, his entire life. Elfida was always right beside him, supporting, battling, praying for needs. What a powerful team that God had put together as a witness to His life and glory. These simple people had the most profound effect on our lives. They never elevated themselves in any manner, were always totally humble and poured themselves out to the poor people that they were sent to. When they weren’t on the streets, they pastored some of the little churches that met in shacks and byways. They were always feeding the poor, taking clothing and necessities, even giving food and Christmas presents to sometimes thousands of children.

Edith and I didn’t speak much Spanish, but we always knew what was being preached (in Spanish) by the Spirit. Once Tacho told me that the Spirit had told him to blow on someone and they fell down in the Spirit. He was humbled and amazed that God would use him like that. He truly did what the Spirit told him.

Nobody ever told Tacho that he was an apostle. He only thought of himself as a humble servant of the wonderful God who had saved him and filled him with His Spirit. I believe he served faithfully until he died as an unknown soldier of the Lord. Tacho was the greatest example of an apostle that I have ever personally known, though we grew up with several others who had similar callings. Tacho was the one who was of the least value to the world, but of immense value to the kingdom of God

I have no idea how many souls were touched by the Lord through this precious saint. If I had asked him, I’m sure he would have had no idea that he had touched them. . . he only knew that the Lord had touched them. I suspect that hundreds, perhaps thousands of folks had a personal encounter with Jesus as Tacho crossed their path. Jesus working in a simple, devoted, humble vessel that hardly was aware of anything other than his Lord. If I could send a message to Tacho in heaven, I would say, “Tacho, I want to be like you when I grow up!”

God bless you all, and God bless you, Tacho….

‘Hate preachers’ must prove they renounce extremism or face UK ban

‘Hate preachers’ must prove they renounce extremism or face UK ban

Jacqui Smith measures will make it easier to exclude those who want to come to Britain to stir up racial or religious hatred

Deborah Summers and Alan Travis
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday October 28 2008
Article history

Foreign-born “preachers of hate” and other violent extremists will have to prove they have publicly renounced their views or be refused entry to Britain under tough new rules unveiled today.

The measures, set out in a written ministerial statement by Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, will make it easier to exclude those who want to come to the UK to stir up religious or racial hatred.

Such preachers will be named and shamed, and the exclusion list will be shared with other countries to help them, the Home Office said.

Smith said: “Through these tough new measures I will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country.

“Coming to the UK is a privilege and I refuse to extend that privilege to individuals who abuse our standards and values to undermine our way of life.”

The new rules will:

• create a presumption in favour of exclusion in respect of all those who have engaged in fostering, encouraging or spreading extremism and hatred,

• provide that where an individual claims to have renounced their previous extremist views or actions the burden of proof is on them to demonstrate that this is so and that this has been publicly communicated,

• introduce changes that will allow the government to exclude nationals of the European Economic Area, and their families, from the UK, before they travel to this country, if they constitute a threat to public security or policy

• work with other agencies and community groups to improve the evidence base underpinning our exclusion decisions to ensure that we identify those who pose the greatest threat to our society,

• consider in all future cases whether it would be in the public interest to disclose that an individual has been excluded with a presumption to inform the public, and

• make greater use of UK watch lists to ensure that individuals who might fail to be excluded, should they seek to come to the UK, are identified, and any future visa application is considered with full regard to previous extremist activities.

The move will cover anti-abortionists, animal rights extremists and neo-Nazis as well as extremist clerics.

Since 2005, 230 people have been banned on grounds of national security and for “unacceptable types of behaviour”, which include fomenting or glorifying terrorism and inciting hatred. Of those, 79 were excluded for unacceptable behaviour.

The most high-profile individuals to face exclusion orders include Omar Bakri Mohammed, who was banned in the wake of the July 7 terrorist attacks in the London transport system, and the Egypt-born cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, banned by the Home Office this year after being described as “dangerous and divisive” by David Cameron, the Tory leader.

The Home Office anticipates that the new rules will see a larger number of people barred from Britain.

The ban rests on the government’s legal powers to tackle violent extremism and incitement to religious and racial hatred. It does not permit somebody to be banned for simply holding disagreeable political views but will apply to those who advocate illegal means to further them.

An MI5 report leaked to the Guardian this year on the current state of radicalisation and violent extremism in Britain noted that the influence of extremist clerics had “moved into the background” in recent years.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/oct/28/terrorism-uksecurity

Time before the Antichrist IV - Political Correctness

by Jonah Lee (2007)

Jeremiah 4:22, For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are stupid sons, and they have no understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.

PRESENT REALITY

In the Asian culture being truthful was often treated as being rude especially when talking to your seniors. To tell them their fault is outright disrespectful. We are taught to keep our peace because saving face is important in this culture and to violate it is inconceivable. More often it will go into quarrel or even a fight and who can predict what will happen next. If you speak rudely to an elder in your family you may be punished. Whereas in the Western culture on the contrary they are encouraged to express their feeling sometimes even to the extent of being rude. Freedom of speech is uphold as individual’s right and is guaranteed by the Constitution. Everybody could speak their mind, regardless to whom and even to the president of their nation. They are truly free and sophisticated for the many Asians to admire.

Yet in the process of such democracy and freedom another culture was coerced by some to reverse the existing culture and this was called the culture of “Political-Correctness”.

What is Political Correctness?

According to Philip Atkinson, Political Correctness is the communal tyranny that erupted in the 1980s. It was a spontaneous declaration that particular ideas, expressions and behavior, which were then legal, should be forbidden by law, and people who transgressed should be punished.

It started with a few voices but grew in popularity until it became unwritten and written law within the community. With those who were publicly declared as being not politically correct becoming the object of persecution by the mob, if not prosecution by the state. The declared rational of this tyranny is to prevent people being offended; to compel everyone to avoid using words or behavior that may upset homosexuals, women, non-whites, the crippled, the stupid, the fat or the ugly. This reveals not only its absurdity but its inspiration. The set of values that are detested are those held by the previous generation (those who fought the Second World War), which is why the terms niggers, coons, dagos, wogs, poofs, spastics and sheilas, have become heresy, for, in an act of infantile rebellion, their subject have become revered by the new generation.

The origin of this culture was recognized as community declines when the majority of its citizens become selfish, and under this influence it slowly dismantles all the restraints upon self-indulgence established by manners, customs, beliefs and law: tradition. As each subsequent generation of selfish citizens inherits control of the community, it takes its opportunity to abandon more of the irksome restraints that genius and wisdom had installed. The proponents of this social demolition achieve their irrational purpose by publicly embracing absurdity through slogans while vilifying any who do not support their stance. The purpose of the slogan is to enshrine irrational fears, or fancies, as truth through the use of presumptuous words, so public pronouncement:

• Dissembles the real nature of the claim
• Identifies any dissenters as enemies of the truth
• Acts as an excuse for any crimes committed in its name

All of which is an attack upon truth, clear thinking and plain speaking. Naturally as the restraints shrink the rebellion grows ever more extreme in nature. Now, in the late 1990s, the results of being bourgeois (retaining traditional notions), is being labeled racist, sexist etc. and risk losing your job, your reputation, being jostled in the street, being subject to judicial penalty and death threats. And it is this very extremity of reaction that has won media attention and the name Political Correctness, though the reaction will become even more unpleasant with the next generation. The inevitable scapegoat for people impatient of restraint must always be parents, because these are society's agents for teaching private restraint. So the cherished notions of the parents are always subject to attack by their maturing offspring. This resentment of tradition was observed in his own civilization by Polybius (c. 200-118 BC), the Greek historian, who said:

"For every democracy which has enjoyed prosperity for a considerable period first develops through its nature an attitude of discontent towards the existing order,.."

By using the excuse of not upsetting anyone, the politically correct are demanding that people behave like the fool who would please everyone; that everyone must become such a fool! All must accept the notions of the Politically Correct as truth, or else! This is the same mentality that inspired the Inquisition and forced Galileo to recant; the same mentality that inspired the Nazis and obtained the Holocaust. Once expression gets placed in a straitjacket of official truth, then the madness that occurs in all totalitarian states is obtained. Life, in private and public, becomes a meaningless charade where delusion thrives and terror rules.

A few years back, America has tried to enact a new law called the Hate Crime Law. This bill was tabled for sanction in the senate which many felt has circumlocutory purpose. Although this bill covers all religious sectors, the Christians felt it was designed to completely curb the voice of truth that found in the Bible. According to the chairman of Traditional Values which is a watchman ministry on the US government; this bill must be opposed because it begins to lay the legal foundation and framework to investigate, prosecute and persecute pastors and other Christians, whose actions are based upon and reflect the truths found in the Bible. For example, if someone is speaking against homosexual lifestyle and offended somebody regardless whether he or she a clergy (no provision for protection for the clergy) they will subject to prosecution if the “offend” file a legal suit against the offender. This law has empowered them to do so. It sounds so obscene, isn’t it? Especially for a Christian Nation that carries the slogan of “In God We Trust”.

Inadvertently, as the East looks to the West for direction for setting, thus, Asian will follow suit with the changes. They inadvertently adopt a philosophy that belongs to the Cultural Marxist which the West was so blindly embraced. Hence, in this case we could say that not all that glitters is gold.

What others say about Political Correctness

In this article, Read the Gospels: JC is not PC, John MacArthur says, "Let's be brutally honest: most of Jesus' teaching is completely out of sync with the mores that dominate our culture. I'm talking, of course, about the Jesus we encounter in Scripture, not the always-gentle, never-stern, ├╝ber-lenient coloring-book character who exists only in the popular imagination. The real Jesus was no domesticated clergyman with a starched collar and genteel manners; he was a bold, uncompromising Prophet who regularly challenged the canons of political correctness."

In, THE CULTURAL CHURCH, p.#77 LaGard Smith, says, "'Political correctness' is nothing more than a benign catch phrase for 'the liberal agenda.' In other words, you and I have to toe the liberal line on issues like abortion, gay rights, and radical feminism, or else be reported to the sensitivity police for being intolerant."

In Political Correctness vs. Faith, Dr. Michael Youssef says, "If you take the concept of political correctness at face value, it is a good thing. If being politically correct means that we treat people of different backgrounds with respect and do not stereotype them based on their race or gender, then it is in fact, very biblical. But this is not the real intention of our modern, politically correct movement. In truth, this movement is designed to intimidate people into using language that has been pre-approved. Political correctness tends to be completely focused on human sensitivity and self-esteem. When you focus on human sensitivity and self, you eliminate God from your life."

RAISING YOUTH to BE FOCUSED on "SELF"?

HAS THIS HELPED the DECEPTION?
-by A. Brother.

Why do these thousands of young people (and even some older) flock to these men and women?

Simple–but overlooked.

This generation has been raised on complete “self-focus”. It is all about feeling good, all about self. These movements all share one thing in common. It is all about "Us" at the center. They are not worshiping God, they are worshiping at the shrine of self-fulfillment and practicing the same religion as those who are addicted to alcohol, drugs, or sex.

When I speak with our younger generation, this is what comes across all the time–their need and desire to fulfill all their dreams and goals and inner urges.

Why are we surprised, brethren, when most of us were raised in selfishness? When we were taught that worship is for us – to make us feel good. Our self- focused worship is what I experienced growing up as a young man in pentecostal churches. We began the practices, and now this self-absorbed generation, which we raised!–is off seeking even more and higher levels of addiction to feelings! Why are we surprised?

And when they come out of the other side of the churches–the high liturgy group–they have the same urge. They see these movements as a “happy pill” that will deliver them from dead religion.

The Scripture tells us that religion, in all its forms, whether the “ecstasy movements” such as the eastern mystics practice, where they seek higher levels of consciousness–in other words, they focus again on “self” – or the esoteric brands, which by self-denial focus again on self (and Paul warns us about these), is dead and worthless and of no account to the Kingdom of God and Christ... It has been our ground laying of self-focused religious fervor that has enabled this generation to seek these terrible, satanic routes to personal ecstasy.

Let’s remember, though, that Christ is all for His people. He gives us joy in our trials, and strength and power by His Spirit to live, not through our worship experiences, but through His presence. He is with us at all times, not just when we “feel good”.

[QUESTION: Could this incredible "self" focus be something that only a "Great Depression" might  cure?]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pastor Kong Hee accused of plagiarism

by Angela Lim

The hits just keep on coming for City Harvest founder, Pastor Kong Hee.

Two weeks after it was revealed that the 46-year-old is among a group of 17 church members being investigated for misuse of funds, Kong Hee is now being accused of plagiarism in his books and website.

The Straits Times reports that two American authors of a Christian study book have accused him of using their work without proper credit or permission.

Although Professor Sid Buzzell and Dr Kenneth Boa say they will take no legal action on Kong Hee, both have asked the Pastor to stop using their material immediately. Otherwise, Professor Buzzell would “threaten him with exposure to his church”.

Kong Hee had copied the authors’ work without due credit in two books he published entitled ‘Renewing Your Spiritual Enegery in 90 Days’ Volumes I and II. Both books are still available at major Christian bookstores from $15 to $18.90.

Apart from the two books, Kong Hee had also been using the American authors’ material for daily posts on his personal website. His last entry in his blog ‘Daily Devotion’ was posted last Monday and it included a note which said, “We could have been more careful to credit any source of inspiration used.”

News of Kong Hee’s plagiarism was first exposed by Singaporean blogger Tee Kay Hetch, who then alerted the American authors.

The latest news comes after the recent announcement by City Harvest that its leader and founder was taking a “well-needed break”.

He has so far refrained from making any public appearance since news broke of the investigation regarding the misuse of church funds.

Reaction to the investigation has sparked a huge debate, with many Singaporeans weighing in on the issue. Close to a staggering 7,500 comments can be found at the end of this post alone.

Some have defended the church while proclaiming their faith in its leadership while others applaud the move to audit the church’s finances.

It is obvious the probe has touched a raw nerve, and rightly so, because religion is and always will be a touchy and delicate subject in the multi-racial, multi-faith context of Singapore.

And while we must not jump to conclusions – Pastor Kong Hee and his staff are innocent until proven otherwise – it’s clear something is amiss.

Reports of the largest mega-church in Singapore (over 32,000 members) having amassed millions of dollars in reserves started to raise eyebrows years ago.

From a small church which started in 1989, City Harvest now boasts a 14,000 sq foot office in Suntec and its own $47 million building in Jurong West. It has 45 affiliate churches in Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and Australia with a total of 48,000 members. It employs 154 full-time staff and has 15 committees overseeing all its operations.

$40 million alone was spent in the last financial year.

Despite the much publicised fact that Kong Hee, 46, hasn’t been paid a salary by the church since 2005, the Pastor and his pop-star wife Sun Ho continue to attract their fair share of detractors. In particular, many others have criticised his wife for her celebrity lifestyle, raunchy music videos and daring dress sense. She has also made no comment since the investigation started.

But what the startlingly similar scandals involving the NKF, Ren Ci and Youth Challenge have taught us is that excess often leads to temptation. By all accounts, the leaders of all three non-profit organisations started off humbly and upheld genuinely noble ideals, until money — more than they knew what to do with — quickly led them down the path of greed, materalism and corruption.

In July 2005, CEO of the National Kidney Foundation, T. T. Durai, was arrested for making false declarations on NKF’s accounts. Lurid details of first-class air travel, a fleet of luxury cars at his beck and call, a $600,000 annual salary and even a golden tap in his private office suite emerged. During a much publicised trial, it was revealed in court that NKF had amassed $262 million in reserves.

A year later in 2006, Youth Challenge, which sends students overseas to do humanitarian work, came under fire for poor management practices and was subsequently voted for closure. Its leader, Vincent Lam – a former police officer who set it up in 1985 to keep aimless youths off the streets — was found to have an extravagant annual pay package of nearly $250,000 - 56 % of the charity’s total income. He resigned a year later. In March this year, Youth Challenge folded.

In 2008, Reverend Ming Yi, the chairman of Ren Ci Hospital and Medicare Centre, was charged with forgery, conspiracy and misuse of funds. He allegedly approved million-dollar investments for Ren Ci, but the funds included loans for himself. Stories of BMW cars, lavish condos and excessive splurging were revealed in court with the monk defending his lifestyle as that of “a modern monk”. Just last week, his jail sentence was reduced from 10 months in jail to just six.

And now, City Harvest Church, which recently invested in a whopping S$310 million stake in Suntec City Convention Centre. In its 2009 audit, it was found to have S$103 million in reserves.

From March next year, CHC will be renting a convention hall from Suntec Convention Centre which will include a 12,000-seat main auditorium, 10 meeting rooms, a multi-purpose hall, theatre and concourse on the top floors.

Check out how it raised funds for the impending move.

Benjamin Tan, 26, who makes regular contributions to his own church, told Yahoo! Singapore, ”When it comes to religious organisations like City Harvest, the money they receive should be more than enough to cover the maintenance of the church. I see no need for a reserve fund, or the investment of excess.”

“The role of religion is the worship of God, not a tool or vehicle to make money,” he adds.

Another senior church leader agreed, saying the sums of money being reported made him uncomfortable.

“Money is meant to flow through the church. There is no need for it to amass so much money because the Bible teaches us that, at the end of the day, we must have faith that God will provide,” he said.

Others disagree.

A 22-year-old City Harvest churchgoer, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “Any organisation that wants to do anything on a large scale needs a large amount of finances, be it charity work or even day-to-day administration.”

“City Harvest Church needs such a large amount of funds partly because it runs one of the largest community service organisations in Singapore – City Harvest Community Service Association (CHCSA),” he explains.

The CHCSA sent teams to Banda Aceh after the 2004 tsunami as well as sent medical and relief teams to help in the Haiti earthquake in January this year.

Whatever the reasons behind the financial complications in these organisations, one thing is certain — it is often the needy and those who really depend on them for prayer, food, treatment and life’s basic necessities who suffer the most.

Ren Ci Hospital, for example, suffered a severe plunge in donations from S$9.3 million in 2007 to just S$1.1 million in 2008. A drop in NKF donations also saw the organisation dipping into its reserves to keep its commitments to Singaporeans suffering from kidney failure.

Perhaps even more damaging is that instead of celebrating the many success stories by these charity and religious bodies which so often go un-noticed, the general public begin to question and doubt.

“Do my tithes or donations really help the needy?”

“What’s my money being used for?”

“How much do they already have in their offers?”

So, tell us, just how much money is needed to run a charity or a religious organisation? Is it right that they be run and financed like a private corporation? Or is the concept of a simply-run, no-frills church an out-dated model in this day and age?

Wrong Judgment by AW Tozer

Spiritual Warfare and Sin
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. -Galatians 6:7

Sin, I repeat, in addition to anything else it may be, is always an act of wrong judgment. To commit a sin a man must for the moment believe that things are different from what they really are; he must confound values; he must see the moral universe out of focus; he must accept a lie as truth and see truth as a lie; he must ignore the signs on the highway and drive with his eyes shut; he must act as if he had no soul, and was not accountable for his moral choices.

Sin is never a thing to be proud of. No act is wise that ignores remote consequences, and sin always does. Sin sees only today, or at most tomorrow; never the day after tomorrow, next month or next year. Death and judgment are pushed aside as if they did not exist and the sinner becomes for the time a practical atheist who by his act denies not only the existence of God but the concept of life after death....

The notion that the careless sinner is the smart fellow and the serious-minded Christian, though well-intentioned, is a stupid dolt altogether out of touch with life will not stand up under scrutiny. Sin is basically an act of moral folly, and the greater the folly the greater the fool. Man: The Dwelling Place of God, 47-48.

"Keep me from sin today. To sin is indeed so foolish, and yet the tendency is so strong! Deliver me from 'moral folly,' again in the power of Your Holy Spirit. Amen."

Spiritual Warfare and Sin: Preparation Is Vital by Tozer

Moreover David said, "The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine." -1 Samuel 17:37

The whole Bible and all past history unite to teach that battles are always won before the armies take the field. The critical moment for any army is not the day it engages the foe in actual combat; it is the day before or the month before or the year before....

Preparation is vital. The rule is, prepare or fail. Luck and bluster will do for a while, but the law will catch up with us sooner or later, usually sooner....

It did not take Moses long to lead the children of Israel out through the Red Sea to deliverance and freedom; but his fittedness to lead them out was the result of years of hard discipline. It took David only a few minutes to dispose of Goliath; but he had beaten the giant long before in the person of the lion and the bear....

Preparation is vital. Let this be noted by everyone. We can seek God today and get prepared to meet temptation tomorrow; but if we meet the enemy without first having met God, the outcome is not conjectural; the issue is already decided. We can only lose. The Next Chapter After the Last, 77-79.

"Lord, quiet my heart this morning and feed me from Your Word. I can't enter the battle of today without this vital preparation. Help me even in the busiest of days to maintain this discipline of preparation. Amen."

Dispositional Sins by Tozer

Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. -Ephesians 4:31

Dispositional sins are fully as injurious to the Christian cause as the more overt acts of wickedness. These sins are as many as the various facets of human nature. Just so there may be no misunderstanding let us list a few of them: Sensitiveness, irritability, churlishness, faultfinding, peevishness, temper, resentfulness, cruelty, uncharitable attitudes; and of course there are many more. These kill the spirit of the church and slow down any progress which the gospel may be making in the community.

Many persons who had been secretly longing to find Christ have been turned away and embittered by manifestations of ugly dispositional flaws in the lives of the very persons who were trying to win them....

Unsaintly saints are the tragedy of Christianity. People of the world usually pass through the circle of disciples to reach Christ, and if they find those disciples severe and sharp-tongued they can hardly be blamed if they sigh and turn away from Him....

The low state of religion in our day is largely due to the lack of public confidence in religious people. Of God and Men, pp 84-85.

"Oh Lord, may I never be an 'unsaintly saint!' Give me a pleasant disposition today, not that people would be attracted to me, but that through me they may be irresistibly drawn to Christ. Amen."

Spiritual Warfare and Sin: Self-sins by AW Tozer

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. -Galatians 2:20

To be specific, the self-sins are self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them. The grosser manifestations of these sins--egotism, exhibitionism, self-promotion - are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders, even in circles of impeccable orthodoxy. They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people, to become identified with the gospel. I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for popularity in some sections of the church visible.

Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common as to excite little notice....

Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction. We may as well try to instruct leprosy out of our system. There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free. We must invite the cross to do its deadly work within us. We must bring our self-sins to the cross for judgment. The Pursuit of God, pp 43-44.

"Oh Lord, do that 'work of God in destruction' within me today. I am indeed 'crucified with Christ.' I pray this morning that the cross would obliterate the self-sins in my life and let me live only for Jesus Christ and His glory. Amen."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

THE STONY GROUND HEARERS

A.W. Pink

"Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away . . . He that received the seed into stony places, the same is he which hears the Word, and anon with joy receives it; yet has he not root in himself, but endures for awhile: for when tribulation or persecution arises because of the Word, by and by he is offended" (Mat_13:5-6, Mat_13:20-21).

The type of ground that is here referred to, is that where the bed is of rock, with only a thin layer of earth over it. In this shallow soil the seed is received, but the growth is but superficial. Our Lord’s interpretation at once identifies the particular class of hearers which are here in view. At first they promise well, but later prove very disappointing. What we have here is lack of depth. The emotions have been moved, but the conscience has not been searched; there is a natural "joy" but no deep conviction or true repentance. When a Divine work of grace is wrought in a soul, the first effects of the Word upon it are not to produce peace and joy, but contrition, humility and sorrow.

The sad thing is, that today almost everything connected with modern evangelistic effort is calculated to produce just this very type of hearer. The "bright singing," the sentimentality of the hymns, the preacher’s appeals to the emotions, the demand of the churches for visible and quick "results," produce nothing but superficial returns. Sinners are urged to make a prompt "decision," are rushed to the "penitent form," (or “altar”) and then assured that all is well with them; and the poor deluded soul leaves with a false and evanescent "joy." And the deplorable thing is that many of the Lord’s own people are supporting and fellow-shipping this Christ-dishonoring and soul-deceiving burlesque of true Gospel ministry.

"But endures for awhile." "This is the flesh at its fairest; capable of coming so near to the kingdom of God, and all the more manifesting its hopeless nature. There is the unbroken rock behind that never yields to the Word, and gives it no lodgment; and the class of hearers pictured here are born of the flesh only. Let things be outwardly favorable to profession, it is plain that the number of these may multiply largely, and may stick like dead leaves to a tree that has had no rough blast to shake them off. But life is none the more in them" (The Numerical Bible).

Jon Stewart and Bible Prophesy: Are These Hard Times Not End Times?

Kato Mivule | November 1st, 2010

Jon Stewart held a rally this past Saturday at the National Mall in Washington DC in an effort to his credit, trying to “restore sanity” in the current political discourse in the USA.

America has become so polarized that even some Christians are caught up in the negative partisan politics, often siding with Tea Party activists, who of late have gained the reputation of being uncivil and “extreme”. Yet Jon Stewart made an astonishing statement as I watched the “Sanity” rally on TV, that “ these are hard times and not end times”. The statement of course refers to Evangelical Christians in America who preach and teach Bible Prophecy on TV, Radio, and Churches.

However, of lately TV and Radio personalities mainly on Fox News, like Glenn Beck have taken on the mantle of political Bible prophecy teacher, injecting apocalyptic scenarios and Bible prophecy references in their speech to persuade their listeners that if the Obama administration continues in power, then we are really in the end times and doomed. It is a tactic used to scare mainly old citizens, and Christians in forcing them to take political action.

Many 'real' Bible Prophecy Teachers like Dr. David Jeremiah have appeared on Fox News in promotion of their end Time Bible Prophecy books, the most popular being “The Coming Economic Armageddon” by Dr. David Jeremiah, and Fox News to their credit has used such fear mongering techniques to increase their business base as any astute businessperson would do. The politicians, especially Republicans have not left this fear mongering technique to go to waste.

To avoid being labeled extremists, Republican strategists have used the Tea Party as a proxy to scare any Evangelical Christian to vote for them, using Bible Prophecy as a tool in this fear mongering endeavor. In such circumstances, Bible Prophecy is viewed as an event that can be controlled by Man in order to appease Man's goals. If you have a democrat in the White House, then Bible Prophecy is sure coming to pass and swiftly with the “destruction of America”, a phrase that Tea Party activists love to use as a talking point. However, if you have a Republican or a Tea Party Christian in the White House, then Bible Prophecy is somehow withheld. Such abuse and misuse of Bible Prophecy by Political Christian activists is what is turning Bible Prophecy into a laughing matter and a thing to be joked about by comics.

The difficulty is not Jon Stewart's thinking that 'hard times are not end times', the issue is Christians who manipulate bible prophecy for political gain. Any serious Christian knows that Bible Prophecy is not controlled and timed by Humans but by God in Heaven who will fulfill all things in His own time regardless if the President in the White House is a Christian or not.

Yet still living in hard times does not necessarily mean that we are in the end times as spoken of in the Book of Revelation for example. Just because you lost a job does not mean the world is ending tomorrow or the Antichrist will appear the next day. Any responsible Bible Prophecy teacher and any serious student of Bible Prophecy must separate the irrational fear-mongering from Bible Prophecy studies. Fear, paranoia, irrationality have nothing to do with Bible Prophecy, especially for Christians; Bible Prophecy, especially the Book of Revelation was written as an encouragement and hope for Christians going through hard times, that they were conquerors together with Christ Jesus who conquered death and is alive forevermore.

On the contrary, to respond to Jon Stewart, yes, hard times are part and parcel of the end times and New Testament scriptures make it clear on that. Yes, it makes sense to question if we are really in the end times, if the hard times take on a global nature combined with global catastrophes, and convulsions of nature, then Christians have an obligation to discern so. Therefore hard times could be a very good indicator that we are in the end times or at least getting into the end times. Yet fear has nothing to do with it except for those who don't know The Lord, as the New Testament states how mens hearts will fail for the fear of those things that will come upon them.

I believe in the Bible, I believe in the New Testament scriptures, I believe in Bible Prophecy with Timings and Seasons in the Hand of The Lord and not controlled by man. Yes, we are in the last days but these last days have nothing to do with the political manipulation of political christian activists who are unashamedly using and exploiting Bible Prophecy for their own selfish political gains and it is a shame that they disgrace the Name and Word of The Lord.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Wolves in Shepherd's clothing by Thomas Lee (My Sinchew)

The popular American religious author Philip Yancey once told a story about one of his friends who does charity work among homeless people in Chicago.

His friend told him that one woman he was helping was a cocaine addict who was so desperate that she would prostitute her two-year-old daughter to men to earn money for her drug addiction. The woman was homeless, had bad health, and had no one to turn to for help. Yancey’s friend was overwhelmed and shocked by her pathetic and piteous condition.

Being a pastor, Yancey’s friend asked the woman why she didn’t seek help from a church.
The pastor said that he would never forget the look of absolute ingenuous horror in her expression as she exclaimed scornfully, “Church! Why would I ever go there? I am already feeling bad enough, they would just make me feel worse!”

The woman’s contemptuous reaction to the pastor’s suggestion that she could seek help from the church may seem unwarranted and unjustified by many church goers, particularly those living a comfortable upmarket lifestyle, but the sad unfortunate truth is that the church is often thought of being insensitive, insusceptible and immune to what is happening in the world, even by many of its own members, especially the poorer ones.

The church is often perceived as being so wrapped up within itself, with its leadership concerned only with mega building projects, organizing overseas holidays masquerading as “mission trips”, usually with the pastor and his family going for free, and often pandering to some of its members’ baser instincts of greed for materialism by preaching a gospel of prosperity.

The church, and its pastor and leaders, in other words, have no compassion on, or time for a world that is suffering and perishing. The poor and underprivileged, even in their midst, are ignored and disregarded or even looked upon with disdain. Rules are bent to accept the rich as members and leaders although they may not meet the requirements of the church constitution. These rich people are given preferential and favoured treatment, notwithstanding their questionable morality and unethical practices in their business, so long as they give big donation to the church and big fat lovc gifts to the pastor.

According to Philip Yancey, there are many people in need outside the church who would rather turn anywhere for help then to the church.

Why are people, including many sidelined and neglected poor church members, having such a negative perception of the church? What is wrong with the church?

The answer, I believe, is perhaps that the church and its pastor and leaders have strayed from their spiritual faith and sidetracked into the modern-day materialism of large budgets, fancy church complexes with swimming pools, and impressive acoustic worship auditorium with great entertainment environment.

Many modern mega churches are no more the kind of church where people in dire situation can come and find help and comfort, a place where the widows, the orphans, the lonely, the sick, the poor, the jobless, the desperate can come and find a home and hope for their lives. Instead, many of those who go to church today go for the entertainment in the music, songs and drama, and for the motivational talks camouflaged as sermons, and smirched with fanciful stories of outlandish experiences, mostly fabricated or exaggerated. If the pastor makes the congregation laughs, he is a good preacher!

It is no doubt that many local churches are increasingly becoming irrelevant to those who truly need help. This is simply because they have evolved into a sort of corporate commercialized institutions, where the pastor behaves and dresses like a CEO, working in a posh office, driving a luxury car, and exercising supreme authority over his exclusive church empire, the equivalent of the Little Napoleons in the civil service. It was reported in The Star recently that one such pastor sacked 400 church members for questioning his accountability in the financial management of the church.

The abuse of religious authority in such churches is generally covered up even by those who know it is wrong and unacceptable, simply because of the deceptive teaching and misconceived idea that it is wrong to question “God’s anointed” which many pastors claim to be. This spiritual blackmail is used by many recalcitrant and hypocritical pastors to seize control over the intellectually deficient, emotionally weak, and gullible church members to maintain and preserve their status and power in their churches.

I have done some extensive study and research over the last few years on many churches, and one significant thing I discovered is that most of the churches under the grip of the wolves in shepherd’s clothing have pastors who have made church work a career or profession, and they mostly start church work straight from secondary schools. These pastors have no secular professional qualification or job experience, and are totally at a loss if they have to work in the marketplace outside the church.

The stable and decent churches are usually pastored by those who have given up promising and well-paying professions and jobs to serve God. These people could easily have become successful and rich in the corporate world, but chose to give up the good life to serve God and people. We have many of these truly godly people in our midst, like NECF chairman Pastor Eu Hong Seng, Methodist Church Bishop Dr Hwa Yung, DUMC senior pastor Dr Daniel Ho, Malaysia Bible Seminary principal Dr Jason Lim, etc.

Thank God, there are still many faithful and honest persons serving the churches but, increasingly, there are also many who are using the church to make a fast buck, deceiving those theologically illiterate and gullible. Some of these wolves in shepherd’s clothing are calling themselves anointed apostles and prophets, and organizing and holding all sorts of conferences and seminars almost every weekends, with big fat fees of course, to deceive those attending their conferences and seminars to give, give, and give, while these false apostles and false prophets laugh all the way to the bank.

So, what is an ideal church?

Let me narrate a story that Philip Yancey told about a leper colony in India. A visitor was being shown around the leper colony when he saw a group of people laughing at a prank played by two young men, one riding on the other's back, pretending to be a horse and a rider. They were having loads of fun, and the crowd was certainly amused by their jocosity. But what amazed the visitor was that he saw that the man who carried his friend was blind, and the man on his back was lame. The one who could not see used his feet; the one who could not walk used his eyes. Together they helped each other, and they found great joy in doing it.

This, I believe, in essence is what a church should be -- each member using his or her strength to make up for another's weakness.

The Apostle Paul told the Galatian church to bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the purpose for which it was established. And in his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul describes the church as a body of which every part is important, with its own special function. An African proverb says that when a thorn pierces the foot, the whole body must bend over to pull it out. This kind of interdependence is a basic characteristic of the church.

This is what the modern church should be, not having mega complexes with swimming pools, not auditorium that looks like a disco, not prosperity teaching.

When a person goes to a church, he or she should be able to feel he or she is wanted, is a part of a loving and caring group. It is the place where the widows, the orphans, the lonely, the sick, the poor, the jobless, the desperate can come and find a home and hope for their lives.

[NOTE: This Weekend Reflection column deals with issues concerning religion, ethics and universal values. If you have anything you want Thomas to write on, you can e-mail him at tomlee48@gmail.com]
( The opinions expressed by the writer do not necessarily reflect those of MySinchew ) MySinchew 2010-08-20

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"95 THESES to the MODERN EVANGELICAL CHURCH"

by Greg Gordon.
[Founder of Sermonindex.net]

1. The “church” at large has forgotten that the chief end of man is to glorify God. (Rom 16:27; 1Cor 6:20; Mt 6:9; 1Cor 10:31)

2. Christians ignore most of the methods, practices and principles found in the book of Acts. (Acts 2:42,44; Acts 2:46; Acts 2:38)

3. Many treat “church” like any other social club or sports event that they might attend. (Acts 2:46; Heb 10:25; Acts 1:14)

4. We’ve made Christianity about the individual rather than the community of believers. (Rom 12:5; 1Cor 12:12; 2Tim 4:16)

5. In most “churches” the priesthood of all believers isn’t acknowledged and the role of pastor is abused. (1Pt 2:9; 1Cor 12:12; Eph 4:11-13)

6. The “church” as a whole has lost the concept of their being grafted into the promises given to Israel. (Rom 11:15, 17-18, 20, 25)

7. There needs to be a recovery of teaching the whole counsel of God, especially in expository form. (Acts 20:27; 1Tim 4:6, 2Tim 2:15)

8. We take it too lightly that we have the blessing and honor of having God’s Scriptures in our possession. (Ps 119:16; Acts 13:44; Neh 8:9)

9. There has never been more access to the Word of God, yet so little reading of it. (1Tim 4:13; Neh 8:1-3; Ps 119:59)

10. Some read the Scriptures to attain knowledge, but do not practice what they read. (Jam 1:22; Mt 7:21; 3Jn 4)

11. Worship has become an idol in many “churches”. The music often resembles that of the world. (Amos 5:23; Phil 4:8; 1Jn 5:21)

12. The world is shaping the views of the “church” more than the “church” shaping the world. (Rom 12:2; Mt 5:13; 1Cor 1:22-23)

13. The “church” spends more money on dog food than on missions. (2Cor 9:6; Lk 21:2; Acts 4:34-35)

14. We take lightly the cost of discipleship laid out by Jesus Christ and do not deny our lives. (Lk 14:33; Lk 14:26-27; Mt 8:19-20)

15. There is a lack of true discipleship and making others to be obedient disciples. (Mt 28:20; 2Tim 2:2; 2Tim 2:14)

16. Many subscribe to the error that parts of life are to be spiritual while others are to be secular. (1Pt 4:2; Col 3:3; 1Jn 2:6)

17. Modern Christians often find Jesus’ command to sacrifice and serve abhorrent. (Phil 2:21; Jam 3:16; Rom 12:1-2)

18. Self disciplines in the Christian life such as fasting and praying are considered legalistic. (2Tim 2:21; 2Tim 1:8; Mt 6:17)

19. Little thought and contemplation is put towards the lostness of men, the seriousness of the Gospel. (Phil 3:8; Gal 2:20; Heb 10:34)

20. We are living with an epidemic of cheap grace with flippant confession and shallow consecration. (Lk 14:28-30; Lk 14:26; Jam 4:8)

21. Since the inception of the Church, the Gospel had the requirements of repentance and discipleship. (Acts 2:38; Lk 14:26; Jn 8:31)

22. Now forgiveness is offered without repentance, discipleship without obedience, salvation without sanctity. (Heb 10:29; 4:11; Lk 13:24)

23. Introspection, counting the cost, godly sorrow over sin, are all foreign to many in the “church”. (Acts 2:37; Ps 119:9; Heb 6:1-2)

24. The modern church loves itself more than its neighbor. (1Cor 3:3; Gal 5:13; Phil 2:3)

25. The church must repent of its idolization of personality, and of business principles. (2Cor 2:17; 1Cor 3:5; 1Cor 12:23)

26. Many elders and pastors of the “church” sadly are fleecing the flock to supply their own wants. (Jn 10:12-13; 1Pt 5:2-3; Rev 2:15)

27. The qualities most in demand in today’s pastorate are frequently foreign to the Scriptures. (1Tim 3:2-3; 1Tim 3:5; 1Tim 1:5-7)

28. The professionalization of the pastorate is a sin and needs to be repented of. (2Cor 11:13; Gal 3:1; Gal 2:6)

29. There must be repentance for the ambitious desire and idolization of the celebrity pastorate. (3Jn 9; Jer 17:5; 1Cor 12:22)

30. Pastors must trust the Spirit, not statistics. (2Sam 24:1; 1Cor 1:25; Rom 8:14)

31. Modern day prophets are being stoned by criticism and neglect. (2Tim 4:3-4; Gal 1:10; Jer 1:7-8)

32. God’s prophets are ill-treated and shunned by most “christians” considered too harsh or extreme. (Jer 6:10; Isa 6:9-10; Gal 4:16)

33. The prophets prophesy falsely, priests rule by their own power; and my people love to have it so. (Mt 24:4, 11-12; 1Cor 1:19, Jude 8 )

34. There are many false gospels being preached from pulpits in our day. (2Cor 11:4; Gal 1:8-9; Jude 16)

35. There is an epidemic of a “mock” salvation message. It is correct in doctrine, but false in reality. (2Cor 3:6; 1Jn 5:11-12; Rom 8:9)

36. A salvation that does not make men holy is trusted in by a deceived multitude. (Jude 4; Rom 8:1; Rom 6:17-18)

37. There is a needed perseverance in the truths of the Gospel without unbelief. (Eph 1:1; Heb 6:11-12; Heb 10:26-27)

38. A great need is to see “christians” become saints in actual experience. (1Jn 2:29; Col 3:5-8; Tit 3:8)

39. Many professors of religion are forbidding people to be a part of the holy body of Christ. (Mt 23:13; Ps 119:1-2; 2Pt 1:3-4)

40. Preaching has become all about the happiness of man and not the glory of God. (Jn 6:26; Rom 4:20; 1Pt 4:11)

41. Preachers give smooth words to entice men, yet very few give any words of correction or rebuke. (Jer 6:14; Pro 1:23; 1Tim 5:20)

42. Run from gospels that focus on our success and prosperity in the name of Jesus Christ. (Jn 2:16; Acts 20:33; Jer 6:13)

43. Run from gospels that focus on self-improvement. (1Tim 6:5; Heb 12:14; Jam 4:14)

44. Run from churches where men, and not Christ, are glorified. (Col 1:18; Jude 25; Jn 16:14)

45. Run from churches where there is no Bible, no cross, no mention of the blood of Christ. (1Pt 1:18-19; Eph 3:13; Rev 1:5)

46. Run from churches where the worship leaves you cold, where there’s no sense of God’s presence. (1Cor 5:4; Ps 80:14-15; Jer 12:11)

47. Run from churches where you’re comfortable in your sin. (1Cor 14:25; Heb 10:30-31; Heb 4:13)

48. Run from churches that use the pulpit of God for a personal agenda. (Jude 10-11,19; 3Jn 9)

49. Run from those who preach division between races and cultures. (Jam 2:4, Gal 3:28, Rev 5:9)

50. Run from ungodly, spasmodic movements and endless empty prophesying. (Jer 5:13; 1Cor 14:33, 1Jn 2:16)

51. Run from preachers who tell mostly stories and jokes. (Eph 5:4; Tit 1:8; 2:12)

52. Run from those that are only after money, who use one gimmick after another to get your money. (2Pt 2:3; 2Cor 12:14; 1Cor 9:18)

53. The phrase “accept Jesus as your personal Saviour” is not found in the Scriptures. (Rom 10:9-10; Col 1:13; Acts 26:20)

54. Evidence of true conversion does not seem important to modern day Christians. (1Jn 2:6; 1Jn 4:17; Mt 7:20)

55. Thousands of sinners think of God as having only one attribute: Love! But they continue in sin. (Rom 1:18; Acts 5:11; Ps 2:12)

56. “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life!” has hindered true evangelism. (Rom 3:19; Acts 26:18; Phil 3:18-21)

57. A Gospel of love and grace only, without the law of God being preached. This is a doctrine of Satan. (2Tim 4:3-4; Rom 2:4-5; 3:19)

58. There has clearly arisen a careless mixture of 20th century reasoning with God’s revelation. (Col 2:8; Rom 1:25; Gal 1:6)

59. Decisionism and the “sinner’s prayer” has been a major cause of false conversions in the “church”. (2Pt 2:1-2; Eph 2:4-5; 2Cor 5:17-18)

60. Many will be surprised to hear Jesus say, “I never knew you, depart from me.” (Mt 7:22-23; 1Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21)

61. Men have taken the place of the Holy Spirit in confirming men in their supposed salvation. (1Jn 2:3-5; 2Ths 1:8; Gal 6:12-15)

62. The doctrine of hell and eternal suffering is something little grasped by most professing “christians”. (Mt 13:42; Jam 5:1; Ps 9:17)

63. The judgment seat of Christ is perhaps one of the most neglected topics in the modern pulpit. (2Cor 5:10; Rom 14:10; 1Cor 3:13)

64. The second coming of Christ needs to be re-instated as the church’s general thrust and burden. (1Jn 3:2-3; Col 3:4-6; 1Ths 4:14-17)

65. The church has lost the fear of God and has over emphasized the love of God. (Heb 12:28-29; Lk 12:5; Heb 10:31)

66. The church has left evangelism to a few trained professionals. (Acts 8:1,4; Acts 4:29; Rom 10:14)

67. Repentance is considered a one-time act in modern evangelism rather than a way of life. (Rev 3:19; Heb 12:17; 2Pt 3:9)

68. The Lordship of Jesus Christ is something that is not taught in many pulpits. (Acts 2:36; 1Cor 12:3; Rom 6:18)

69. Many in “churches” are not open to correction, church discipline or rebuke. (1Cor 5:5; 1Cor 11:31-32; Heb 12:7-9)

70. Some preach salvation as a theory instead of persuading men to come to Christ. (Jn 5:40; Col 1:28; 2Cor 4:5)

71. There has been a loss of the fullness and majesty of the gospel. (1Tim 1:11; Jude 25; Rom 15:29)

72. There is little mention of sin or the depravity of man from “church” pulpits. (Jn 3:20; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5)

73. Covetousness, consumerism, and coddling of the world’s goods does not appear wrong. (Jer 22:17; 1Jn 2:15-16; 1Tim 3:3)

74. Little is made of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in churches or in evangelism. (1Cor 15:14-15; Acts 4:10, 33)

75. The “church” has relied more on technology than God. (Zech 4:6; 1Cor 1:21; 2:4)

76. The prayer meeting is considered one of the least important meetings in the “church”. (1Tim 2:1; Acts 4:31; Phil 4:6)

77. Pastors have never prayed less than they do in the “church” today. (Jer 10:21; Phil 2:21; Eph 6:18-19)

78. Very few are waiting on God for His direction and purpose for His Church. (Eph 1:11; Ps 37:7; Isa 40:31)

79. The “church” has many organizers, but few agonizers. (Phil 3:18-19; Rom 9:1-3; Jer 9:1)

80. We need to have the gifts of the Spirit restored again to the “church”. (2Tim 4:2; 1Cor 14:39; 1Cor 12:31)

81. A serious, sober, self-controlled Christianity is very seldom found or preached. (2Pt 3:11; 1Pt 4:7; Jude 3)

82. The “church” at large has forgotten how to pray. (1Jn 3:22; Acts 6:4; 1Ths 5:17)

83. Many “churches” are more dependent on tradition than the leading of the Holy Spirit. (Mk 7:13; Acts 16:6; Acts 13:2)

84. Multitudes of professors preach and teach: that you cannot be freed from sin. (Rom 16:18; Rom 6:1-2; 2Pt 2:1)

85. The Apostles and Christ always preached the possibility to walk free from sin. (Tit 2:11-12; 1Pt 1:14-16; Rom 6:19)

86. Sinners are not saved to sin, but rather, saved to holiness and good works. (Rom 6:13; Eph 2:10; 2Pt 3:14)

87. Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. (2Tim 2:19; 1Pt 4:17-18; 2Tim 3:12)

88. A baptism of holiness, a demonstration of godly living is the crying need of our day. (1Tim 6:3; 2Ths 3:6; 2Ths 2:13)

89. Many are confused about obedience, and good works that are readily mentioned in the Scriptures. (Tit 3:8; Jn 10:32; Rev 3:15)

90. Little emphasis is put on the plan of God to make us like Jesus Christ in “churches”. (1Pt 1:14-16; 1Jn 2:6; 1Pt 4:1)

91. Christ did not die on the cross to obtain a worldly “church” but for a “glorious Church.” (Eph 5:27; Tit 2:14; Col 4:12)

92. Christ does not come into an unregenerate and impure heart as many contemporary theologians say. (2Cor 5:17; Mt 5:8; Eze 18:31)

93. A holy Church is God’s blessing to the world; an unholy “church” is God’s judgment upon the world. (Mt 5:14,16; Eph 4:1; 1Ths 2:12)

94. If Christianity is to make any headway in the present time, it must be proved to be more than a theory. (2Ths 3:6-7; 1Ths 4:1,11-12)

95. Unbelief has gagged and bound us as risen Lazarus! We need release in this final hour! (Heb 3:12-14; 1Cor 3:21-23; Heb 11:6)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Crystal Cathedral blames a few creditors for bankruptcy



GARDEN GROVE – Crystal Cathedral Ministries, an Orange County landmark and megachurch founded by television evangelist Robert H. Schuller, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday.
The cathedral owes about about $7.5 million to unsecured creditors. The bankruptcy filing seeks court protection from its creditors.

Carol Whedon presents Rev. Schuller a box of love letters from the church members in 2005. Reverend Robert H. Schuller and members of his Crystal Cathedral Church in Garden Grove celebrated 50 years of ministry which started with a drive-in outdoor church. The megachurch filed for bankruptcy Monday.
Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman said in a statement Monday that the bankruptcy filing was a necessity because a small number of creditors chose to file lawsuits and obtained court-ordered writs to attach the church's bank accounts and assets in an attempt to get paid right away. "For these reasons, the Ministry now finds it necessary to seek the protection of a Chapter 11," she said later at a press conference.

A committee of creditors that was working with the church for the last six months declared an impasse last week, foreshadowing the bankruptcy. Jim Penner, a church board member and Schuller's son-in-law, said the cathedral's intention is to repay all vendors 100 percent.

He said the church's debt as of Monday is about $44 million.

Among the long-time vendors for the "Glory of Christmas" pageant still waiting to get paid are Krstina Oliver, who supplied camels, horses and sheep for the pageant; wardrobe manager Juliet Noriega; dry cleaner Bruce Johnson, who cleaned the actors' costumes; props manager Sharon Crabtree, and Carin Galletta, whose public relations firm provided publicity for the pageant.

Oliver, to whom the cathedral owes more than $50,000, said none of the creditors is to blame for the church's bankruptcy. "This is the church's debt,'' she said. "They brought us into it."

On Monday afternoon, standing in front the Tower of Hope, Coleman thanked the Cathedral's supporters.
"Tough times never last," she said. "This ministry has saved millions of lives. This Chapter 11 is a new chapter in our ministry."

The Cathedral, which has been a landmark and a tourist attraction with its glistening glass tower, has faced serious financial problems because of nearly a 30 percent drop in contributions. Click here to see an updated list of known creditors and how much they're owed.

The church's budget woes have forced it to lay off 140 people in a little over a year, cut 50 percent of its Hour of Power air time and even send home its orchestra and professional choir singers. The church now has a choir made entirely up of volunteers, Coleman said.

In May, the church sold land donated by John and Donna Crean in San Juan Capistrano for $22.5 million. The Cathedral also canceled its "Glory of Easter'' pageant for the first time this year and could be forced to cancel its "Glory of Christmas" pageant next month.

Coleman said the likelihood of having a "Glory of Chrismas" this year diminishes with every passing day.
Bankruptcy filings among nonprofits and religious organizations is becoming increasingly common in these tough economic times, said Craig Barbarosh, an Orange County bankruptcy attorney with the firm Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw and Pittman.

"Churches and synagogues rely on membership fees and donations," he said. "With the tough economy, their cash flow has suffered significantly, leading to increased foreclosures and bankruptcy filings."
The Crystal Cathedral will likely spend the coming weeks trying to figure out how to best restructure their debts, Barbarosh said.

Uncertainty looms for creditors as well. "In any bankruptcy, there is a risk that unsecured creditors stand to receive less than what they are owed," Barbarosh said.

Penner, executive producer of the "Hour of Power" and teaching pastor, said the Chapter 11 may not have been necessary had a few creditors worked more patiently with the church.

"A few didn't want to play ball," he said. "They tried to get ahead of the others. It became difficult for us to hold the coalition of vendors together."

Oliver, who was also on the committee of creditors, said the church, at the end of the 90-day moratorium, offered the creditors 30 percent of what they were owed over five years.

"We saw their financial documents," she said. "They had the money to pay us 100 percent over five years. We refused to accept it." Oliver said Penner came up with one more offer Friday after realizing that negotiations were at a standstill. "He offered to pay us 100 percent over the next 12 years," she said. "What kind of an offer is that?"

When the creditors declined that offer as well, the Cathedral filed Chapter 11 right away, Oliver said.
"Based on what I have observed in this time, the church intended to file bankruptcy from day one," she said. "This was their way of buying time."

At least two creditors, including equipment financing company PNCEF LLC., have sought and obtained court-ordered writs of attachment. A writ of attachment is a remedy under California law that allows a creditor to assert a lien on the debtor's assets until a judgment is delivered by the courts. Obtaining such a writ basically helps an unsecured creditor to elevate their status to a secured creditor during this waiting period. There is a risk that "attaching" the debtor's assets may hasten bankruptcy. If bankruptcy is filed within 90 days after the writ is levied, the attachment lien terminates automatically and the creditor goes back to unsecured status.

Coleman said she is optimistic the church will come out of the trying times, adding that the ministry is experiencing its best cash flow in 10 years.

Luke 18:9-14. The Prayers of the Pharisee and of the Tax-collector.

Favell Lee Mortimer

There are thousands of prayers offered up to God every day; there have been thousands offered up this day. Have they all been accepted? No! there are prayers which are not accepted. Are we anxious to know whether the prayer we offered up alone this morning was accepted or not?—or did we offer none?

What was that made the Pharisee's prayer so hateful to God? It was the pride of his heart. His prayer was in truth no prayer at all. He boasted, instead of praying; but he deceived his own heart by putting his boast in the form of a thanksgiving. He did not feel thankful when he said, "God, I thank you I am not as other men." Had he felt thankful, he would not have despised the poor tax-collector. How different were the feelings of Paul, when he said, "By the grace of God I am what I am!" When we are thankful, we are filled with compassion (not with contempt) for those who are less blessed than ourselves.

How many offer prayers like the Pharisee's, while they use the words of the tax-collector! It is possible with all the pride of a Pharisee to smite upon the heart and to say, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner!" But the tax-collector felt what he said. He thought himself unworthy to lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven. He stood afar off from the Holy of holies, as unfit to enter the presence of God. He knew not what we know of a Savior's love; but he must have trusted in the promises of pardon to penitent sinners through an atonement, or he could not have offered up this humble prayer. With what joy penitent sinners like this tax-collector receive the tidings of a Savior! There were such publicans in the Savior's days, and they came to Jesus, and heard his word with thankfulness.

In what different states the Pharisee and the tax-collector returned from the temple to their own houses! The tax-collector went down a pardoned sinner, accepted for the sake of Christ. The Pharisee returned with the guilt of his sins upon his head, and that of the proud prayer he had offered, added to his former guilt. Pride is the most flagrant sin in God's sight. It has ruined multitudes of our fallen race, and it has even sunk angels into the bottomless abyss. In what state did we come down from our chambers this morning? Did we come down justified, or not? Have we ever made such humble, fervent supplications to God as the tax-collector did? Are we ashamed of ourselves and of our sins? Have we earnestly implored the infinite mercy of God in Christ?

It is a dreadful thing to be unjustified or unpardoned. To rise up unjustified, to lie down unjustified—to go out—to come in—unjustified! To be exposed to death every moment, and yet—to be unjustified! But this is the state of everyone who has not repented of his sins, and obtained pardon through the merits of his Savior.