Matthew 13:24-30

21 02 2011
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2011 – Vol. 16 Issue 2 – Matthew 13:24-30 – The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany of our Lord, 2011 A.D.   In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost – By Rev. Mark Braden, Pastor Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

Discernment Ministries International

Matthew 13:24-30

Rev. Rev. Mark Braden, Pastor Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church

The enemy has sown the tares. The devil roams the earth, going back and forth in it. He sneaks around among those in the Kingdom of Heaven. He sows tares among the wheat. That is to say he lies. His only weapon is falsehood. He prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. But he can not bite with physical teeth, for in this world he does not have that power. In this time he is chained. God has put limits on his power.

The devil’s mouth is filled not with teeth, but with false teachings. That’s how he attacks. He leads men by deceiving them to firmly believe wrong things about God. The tares that grow up among the wheat are men who believe wrongly, the product of false doctrine sown by the enemy.

You see wrong teaching about God isn’t harmless. There is a relationship between false doctrine and eternal death. Believing wrongly but fervently, men cling to their false beliefs and their superstitions and their own fallen reason. When confronted with the Truth, they reject it because they have come to believe something entirely different. That’s why there are denominations. That’s why there are false religions.

Now, until the harvest, there are tares mixed in with the wheat. Men who believe wrongly and teach false doctrine are mixed into the Church. Outwardly they look like wheat. Some tares wear clerical collars. Many are they that run but have not been sent. Many are they who prophesy to whom God has not spoken. For it pleases the devil that as many shocks of wheat as possible be ruined by the tares he sowed. Tares sap the nourishment from good soil. They compete with the wheat, their roots entangled with good roots. So the church today is beset with strife and conflict. It is the Church Militant. Our Lord Himself prophesied that it would be so.

It is not as if the Lord of the Church has left His Bride defenseless. He has given the Church His Word, the Sword, the Holy Scriptures, the only Truth. It is by the Word that the devils attacks are repelled. It is there that God reveals Himself, and there alone. But many will not study them or hear them. It is a terminal laziness that allows the devil’s bad seed to take root. For absent the Truth, falsehood grows like weeds – like tares. And many will not stand up in the face of false teaching to rebuke those tares that hold or preach false doctrine.

Perhaps you have known this laziness. Perhaps you have skipped the study of the Scriptures. Perhaps you have heard false doctrine from friends and family and co-workers, but because you have not know the Scriptures you have been unprepared to defend the Truth. Perhaps you have doubted, but have been lulled into a sense of complacency, accepting the devil’s lies that false belief and doctrine are not that harmful. So you have felt the tug of the roots of the tares as they have quietly crept in and invaded you. Repent, for on the last day men who believe wrongly will be separated from the Church and cast into the fire. But thanks be to God, He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turned from his way and live. God is a God of love. God is a God of life. This is the time of grace. Now the tares are not torn up, in mercy, that men be converted and come to faith. Now the tares are not torn up lest some of the wheat be uprooted with them. That is a demonstration of God’s great love and longsuffering. It is a demonstration of God’s great love for you.

That you be spared the fires of judgment, God gave His only-begotten Son to die for you. Though you were born a tare, in His mercy God came to you and saved you. He took on Flesh and lived a perfect life, a sinless, holy righteous life. And then the Son of God died as a tare, punished by men and by God as the worst sinner of all time. The cross was His threshing floor, as He was torn up and cast into the hell of separation from the Father and death. It is in His death that your sins are removed. It is by His Blood that your transgressions are covered. Believing in Him, believing that in love He died for you, none of the sins which you have committed shall be remembered against you, you shall surely live.

Now is the time of God’s grace. Now is the time when men are called to repentance and salvation. Now is the time when God showers upon fallen men the benefits of Christ’s perfect death and resurrection. Now is the time when He makes Christ’s righteousness your righteousness. For in His great mercy, God delays the harvest that His Gospel be preached to the ends of the earth.

Now God pours out upon you the saving waters of Holy Baptism. Now you hear His Word, and that Word works faith unto salvation. You hear the Gospel Truth that your sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, and that believing in Him you have life in His Name. Now the Scriptures are taught, that the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom. Now the Lord of the Church, the King of the Kingdom of Heaven, gives you to eat of His Body and drink of His Blood. In these ways He strengthens you to resist the tug of the tares, to prevail over the devil’s lies, to receive the forgiveness of your sins, and to grow up bearing fruit pleasing to Him.

Soon the Lord will let His angels come. Then they will be no false doctrine. Then the tares will be separated from the wheat. Then the True Church, the Good Seed that God sows, will be known. Then you, elect of God, holy and beloved, who by God’s grace endure faithful to the end, will receive the reward Christ won for you. And you shall not die, you shall surely live.

In the Name of the Faith, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

All Rights Reserved

Pastor Mark Braden serves at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church (English District) in Detroit. It is our local church. The Zion web site has a great deal of information, sermons, links, etc. which are worthy of your consideration. To visit go to: http://www.ziondetroit.org

 

Advertisements




PRAYER, AN OPEN INVITATION

29 05 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – April 2010 – Vol. 15   Issue 4 -Prayer, An Open Invitation – By Rev. Robert Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

PRAYER,  AN OPEN INVITATION

By Rev. Robert Liichow

While I was attending Concordia Theological Seminary a while back I was struck by something hitherto alien to my spiritual experience and that was the uniform practice of praying prayers from prayer books. Every class the professors would call upon some budding wannabe pastor to open the class in prayer. A student would rise, come to the front, open up a pocket prayer book, find an appropriate prayer and recite it to the class followed by subdued amen’s.

Was there anything “wrong” with what this young man did, not to mention the countless numbers of Christians who only pray from books of previously written prayers? The real answer lies in the unknown mind of God. He alone knows if an individual is sincere in their prayers. For example a group of people can pray the Lord’s Prayer in a worship service. Everyone is saying the same words but is everyone truly praying?

It is possible to recite those blessed words and your mind be a million miles away from (1) Whom you are addressing and (2) the deep impact and meaning of the words spoken. When this occurs it is not prayer! In fact, I will go as far as to say that such an act is offensive to God. On a mere human level it is rude to be engaged in a conversation and let your mind drift wander far from the matters at hand and not pay attention to whom you are speaking. How much more so is our “rudeness” magnified in the eyes of the One who knows every thought we have. I may never know if you are listening to me, focused on what I am saying, or nodding your head simply because you’ve fallen asleep as opposed to assenting to my marvelous exposition. Rest assured, God knows.

Let me say that I am not opposed to the use of prayer books, after all, what Christian does not use the Psalms and other written biblical texts in their prayers? Naturally, praying back to God His holy word is far different than praying back to God some sinful-mortals written prayers, but there is precedence for using formal written prayers.

Praying using written prayers can be a great aid in developing your own prayer life. Assuming the prayer is based upon the proper use of the Scriptures. Devotional guides and daily Bible reading lessons usually include a prayer or two. Those are great to use as a starting point in our prayer life. The danger from depending upon these resources is exactly that —dependence. These resources are a tool and a guide but they cannot make up the entirety of one’s life of prayer. Why not? Because if I only use a prayer book, then I am at the mercy of the author for that day, regardless of what is going on in and around me. When these aids are depended upon then no real spiritual growth can develop beyond what can be absorbed via that specific aid.

Take away the aid and unfortunately many people are left with little or nothing to say to God in prayer. I know this from personal experience.

After being delivered from my habit of praying in tongues for hours a day I found myself with next to nothing to say to my Lord with my rational thinking & feeling self. Praying in other tongues was what I (and millions today) depended upon, once gone I was left almost speechless. This same thing can happen to anyone who depends completely on the prayers of others, one’s own fellowship with God suffers and suffers badly.

I do not believe that such books should comprise the majority of any Christian’s life of conversation with our heavenly Father, the Father who loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son for us. We serve the Living God, what’s more He is our Father (Matt. 6:9) the One to which our hearts cry “Abba” (Rom. 8:15) which means “Daddy.”

Maybe another example might help clarify what I am trying to express to you. What if your 3 year old daughter comes to you and reads you the Father’s Day card she has written and made at school. She stands before you and reads those words and you know and she knows that she means every one of them. Now she is 18, comes to you with a need. She whips out a letter and addresses you “loving father, great is your wisdom, longsuffering your patience and deep is your wallet. Givest to me thy daughter, whom thou lovest $20, please.” Naturally, you’d be somewhat taken aback. After all this time you would hope she would come to you as Father/daughter and simply talk, openly and honestly. As for me, I certainly would not want my child to address me formally or with someone else’s words. I want to hear from her. I don’t want to hear her say what others, have said, I want to know what is on her mind/heart right now. This is what I believe that our Father desires with us in our prayer lives.

Can We Talk?

Joan Rivers made this expression popular and it is akin to the former practice of rapping on someone’s melon while looking at them. Probably one of the best illustrations of someone really praying is found in the movie The Apostle. Robert Duvall plays an earthy Pentecostal preacher who rededicates himself to Christ and one scene is of him praying, pouring out his heart and soul to God. Talking to Him as though he were talking to someone he knew well; and whom (more importantly) he knew, knew him in totality. To me it is a great expression of prayer, its raw, unrehearsed, in short real.

I am convinced, that God desires His children to simply come to Him with as much transparency and honesty as is humanly possible. God already knows everything about you which can be a pretty frightening reality to confront. Yet as horrible as we may feel, know that because of Jesus Christ we are now washed cleaned from all sin and are reconciled to our Father. We are welcome in His presence, and what is more, we have a right (albeit an alien one) to stand before Him now clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

It is important to understand that prayer is not a means of grace which is to say is that prayer is not a vehicle by which God manifests His grace. Prayer however links us to God, whom is the source of all grace. Prayer is communication between us and God. All genuine conversations are two-way interchanges between communicants. One speaks the other listens. Once having heard the comments a response or appropriate action is taken; that is true communication.

Sadly, many Christians approach payer as an obligation and duty, while others think they will be heard for their many oft repeated words (Matt 6:7). Wrong! Prayer is a privilege and not an obligation. My dear brothers and sisters do you realize how wonderful a thing it is to pray? You and I, out of ALL the people on the earth have been given an open invitation to come and dialog with the God of all creation!!

Think of it! It is mind blowing in the extreme when one ponders the reality that we are welcome not only into the courts of heaven, but we are encouraged to stand before the very throne of the Cosmocreator;

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

We do not come before our Father cringing, whimpering and with great trepidation. We come before our Lord in prayer with boldness (can be translated “confidence”) which is not to be confused with rudeness or with a belligerent attitude. Because of the work of Jesus, His blood shed, His life given, His body raised from the dead this has given to us an open audience with His Father. Shame on us if we never “RSVP” and develop a life of prayer.

I Expect An Answer

One thing I took with me from my foray into charismania is the reality of a vibrant prayer life. Most of the sound doctrine within that segment of the Church can be found in their writings on spiritual formation, the types of prayer, etc. One important lesson I learned and seek to transmit to others is that when I pray I “expect” my Father and Elder Brother (yes, Jesus designs to call us His brethren Heb. 2:11) to give me an answer. I do not talk to the ceiling, empty room or myself. I am talking with my Father and He is listening to me. He has given us so many tremendous promises regarding prayer, if we’d only truly believe them. Here are just a few examples:

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me. Proverbs 8:17

God is not hiding from us. He has promised in many places throughout the Bible that those who seek Him will find Him. Seek Him how? Through His Word and sacrament, through mediating on the scriptures, through service to others (“…how can he love God whom he hath not seen.” 1 John 4:20).

Ask and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

Do you desire to grow in your fellowship with the Father? Ask Him for growth and I assure you that is exactly the type of prayer He loves to answer. Seek Him, make time in your life to pray. Luther got up and prayed hours BEFORE his day got started. Every one of us has 24 hours per day; it all depends upon how we choose to slice the pie. Knock, in our case it is simply being polite, the door to the throne stands wide open to us and Jesus Himself is that door. (John 10:9).

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: And IF we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 1 John 5:22

I have little to no confidence in any man alive today, “cursed is the man that trusts in man” (Jer. 17:5) but I have supreme confidence in my heavenly Father. If He says pray according to His will, which I can know from His Word, and I pray accordingly, then I can rest assured that He has heard me and thus having heard me that I will receive the answer to which I have petitioned Him about. Why because of my great faith? No, not at all because God does not tell lies (Nu. 23:19), because my Lord Jesus Christ told me that heaven and earth shall pass away but His Word will not (Matt. 24:35) and I believe Him at His Word.

In our service we have a portion of corporate prayer where our pastor leads the petitions and we respond “Lord hear our prayer” (I really, really believe He hears our prayers). This time can either be a powerful time to transact family business or simply part of the ritual. It all boils down to where each individual’s heart and mind is focused. Which brings me to my main point—

The Heart of the Matter

And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them. Eze. 33:31-33

Wherefore the Lord said, Foreasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isa. 29:13

Woe unto them! For they have fled from me: destruction unto them! Because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. And they have not cried unto me with their heartHos. 7:13-14

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lip; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matt. 15:8

God is after our hearts, the very core of our beings the essence of whom we really are. Jesus taught us that it is from our hearts that both good and evil spring (Matt. 15:19). By regeneration God has taken out of us the old stony heart and placed within us a new heart (Eze. 11:19) one that is now open and desirous of His courts. Now, because of Jesus our hearts cry out like David’s “My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God” (Psl. 84:2). So take heart and begin to pray from your heart!

Prayer is more than just reciting the right words in a somber or hushed tone—if that were the case then the mere act of speaking the words out loud would be all that is required to be considered prayer. Such a belief is akin to the Roman Catholic (RC) doctrine of “ex opere operato” which means “from the work done” in Latin. To the non-theologian it means “just going through the motions themselves is meritorious.” Within the RC simply attending the Mass is a meritorious act whether you understand it at all, which was why originally the Mass was in Latin, regardless of the language of the congregants. They did not have to understand what the priest was saying because just showing up was enough.

The same thought carries over into some of their prayer practices. Praying (reciting) the “Rosary” (a chain with 50 beads, if, it is a five decade unit denoting various petitions) several times a day or month can equal heavenly “points” too, again regardless of where the person’s heart and mind are while they are in prayer. In the spirit of charity let me say that using a rosary is not a sin, in fact many of the prayers used in the cycle are common to all orthodox Christians; some of these include The Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles creed (ok, not really prayer per se), but solid stuff. The proper use of beads as a prayer aid can be as a focusing device for the mind to concentrate on the specific prayers being offered, yet most people are not that disciplined. No my friend, prayer at its core is a heart matter not a spiritual mechanism to operate via recitation of certain holy words.

In closing PLEASE understand this if nothing else from this article —your heavenly Father wants to fellowship with you. He has provided the means for fellowship. The blood of Christ Jesus has washed away our sins (1 Pet. 1:19), we are robed in His righteousness (Isa. 61:10), we are now the children of God (Gal. 3:26) and we are all called to be a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:6) and priests stand before God and pray on behalf of themselves and others. YOU are highly esteemed by your Father and you were handpicked according to His sovereign good pleasure to be His forever (John 10:27-28) Never doubt His love for you nor His desire for you to spend time with Him. He is not going anywhere; the ball is solidly in our court. Personally I want to develop my fellowship with the Father this year by spending more time in prayer, listening to His voice, mediating upon His Word and then by His grace living out that Word prayed.

Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. I use the word “proper” because I have seen “prayers” that contain biblical passages, however these passages have been totally taken out of context and thus become misused even in a prayer! For example one cannot take a test on famine and use “cleanness of teeth” as a proof text to stand upon for good dental hygiene, as is taught by Kenneth and Gloria Copeland. Make sure what you are praying written by others is biblically sound.

2. When I say “listening” I do not want people to gain the wrong impression that I am sitting alone waiting to hear an “audible” voice. No, God speaks according to His Word and Jesus has stated that as His sheep I will hear His voice. Ergo, I simply trust the Holy Spirit to get across to me whatever is on the Father’s mind regarding my situation or those I am praying about. Anything, subjective leading I may experience must be subjected to the Word of God.





Harp & Bowl “Ministry”

1 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – June 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 6 – Harp & Bowl Ministry – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Harp & Bowl “Ministry”

(AKA the Restoration of the Tabernacle of David)

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Before being delivered from the doctrinal morass of today’s charismatic movement Tracy and I began to see some of the fledgling steps being made towards what is called today “Harp and Bowl” ministry. What we originally heard being bandied about by various leaders in the “prophetic” movement was the belief in the need to restore the Tabernacle of David in order to facilitate revival and even the return of Christ.

The Tabernacle of David

Non-charismatic, i.e. low-wattage Christians (such a yourselves) no doubt have less than no understanding of what the Tabernacle of David consists of. You probably are more familiar with the Tabernacle of Moses, the Temple of Solomon or the Temple King Herod built. Allow me to enlighten you regarding this interesting, yet often overlooked facet of Biblical history.

About 1,000 B.C. King David commanded that the Ark of the Covenant be brought up to Mount Zion in the midst of Jerusalem. It was carried up upon the shoulders of the Levites with songs and musical instruments. David placed the Ark inside of a tent and appointed 288 singers and 4,000 musicians to minister before the Lord and make petition to the Lord “day and night,” which means 24/7 praise, prayer and worship (see 1 Chron. 15:1-17-27). This was something new and unique in the worship history of Israel. In today’s parlance one could say King David “went contemporary” as opposed to the format used by Moses.

Once Solomon came on the scene and built the temple and the actual Tabernacle of David was superseded by a permanent structure the order of Davidic worship did not change (see 2 Chron. 8:14-15). In fact, the Bible makes known that five (5) subsequent kings who came after David and reintroduced his Davidic worship format experienced breakthrough, deliverance and military victories.

1) King Solomon (2 Chron. 8:14,15), we al know how greatly blessed by God Solomon was.

2) King Jehoshaphat set up singers according to the Davidic order singing the Great Hallel and he reinstated Davidic worship in the temple (2 Chron. 20:20,22,28).

3) king Joash reinstated it too (2 Chron. 23: 1-24,27).

4) King Hezekiah followed suit (2 Chron. 29:1-36, 30:21)

5) King Josiah also was a Davidic worshipper (2 Chron. 35:1-27)

6) Ezra, not a “king” but a very influential prophetic voice (Ezra 3:10).

7) Nehemiah, another prophet (Neh. 12:28-47)

Being the discerning person you have learned to become you immediately say “very interesting Bob, but what does this have to do with the Church?” Thank you for asking, because the Tabernacle of David (TOD) does appear in the New Testament. In order to understand the N.T. reference we need first to read the prophet Amos words concerning the TOD:

In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent (tabernacle). I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,” declares the LORD, who will do these things. “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. Amos 9:11-13  (underlining added).

Obviously from the text God is going to restore the TOD and He is going to build it as it used to be. Attached to this restoration is an ingathering of the nations and great prosperity (occasioned by new wine) for God’s people. If God is going to restore the TOD, when is that going to occur? According to our sign-gift brethren it was initially fulfilled in the Book of Acts when the Apostle James stood up in the midst and uttered the following words:

When they finished, James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me. Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The word of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: “after this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things;’ that have been known for ages. Acts 15:13-18   (underlining added)

Before parsing James comments let’s continue with charismaticthink regarding the text. Obviously God is going to restore the TOD and that restoration began with the early Church. They go as far to teach that the TOD format of worship is in fact the model of true New Testament worship. Ergo, it is only logical to assume that the early Church practiced Davidic worship in their gatherings. The Apostle Paul encouraged worshipping with the Psalms (see Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16) and we know most of the Psalms were penned by David after he established the TOD. The author of Hebrews tells us to offer the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:5) and at the TOD no animal sacrifices were made (according to our sign-gift brethren). Leaving the scant Biblical record our brothers’ state that Davidic worship has been a part of the great “revivals” in Church history.

Regarding 24/7 prayer and praise one of the founding neo-prophetic voices, Mike Bickle goes as far as to cite early Church history to prove the validity of establishing 24/7 centers of nothing but praise and worship around the world. Bickle cites many monastic examples of perpetual prayer and praise in various Roman Catholic sects. Bickle fails to mention all of the problems associated with monasticism. His next example is Count Zinzendorf who came to faith through one of the founders of Lutheran pietism, Phillipp Spener. According to Bickle Count Zinzendorf and later the Moravian believers were great champions of 24/7 prayer. He tries to tie John Wesley with Zinzendorf to edge his timeline a little closer to today, however his attempt is in vain. There is no evidence that either Charles or John Wesley ever practiced or endorsed 24/7 prayer as a means of “moving the hand of God.” So from the early 1700’s until around 1973 the practice of “Davidic worship” seems to have been silenced.

Along in the early 70’s comes one of the first Asian charismatic superstars, Paul Cho from South Korea. Due to what has happened to the Church under communism in North Korea Cho knew the value of having small “cell groups” as sort of mini congregations. These would join up with the mother church to worship. [As an aside, if your church has small groups, home groups, cell groups, etc. they all have their origin in Paul Cho’s original teachings, not necessarily a bad thing, just a historical factoid].

Cho also strongly believed that prayer can move God or somehow release God to move in the world. He eventually purchased property on what became known around the world as “Prayer Mountain.” It is a small mountain filled with small cells in which people would go and shut themselves “in with God” for protracted periods of time. It is important to know that Paul Cho is an adherent and teacher of Word of Faith heresies. He attributes his success due to positive confession which is synonymous with prayer to WOF cultists. What success? Cho is the pastor of the largest congregation in the world, his church in Seoul has over 780,000 members.

Mike Bickle was influenced by Cho and being a charismatic extremist felt that he needed to be sure that the fire on the altar (prayer) never goes out. So starting on Sept. 19, 1997 Bickle opened up the International House of Prayer  (IHOP) in Kansas City, Mo. Since that day 24/7 prayer and praise has gone forth. With the epiphany of IHOP now other leaders have jumped on board and we are seeing 24/7 centers of prayer and praise being set up on every continent of the earth (according to Bickle).

Harp and Bowl Prayer

 

This is today’s term and now that Bickle and his restored prophets have had a little over ten years to search out proof-texts to attempt to validate their practice we end up with another “movement” under the ever-expanding charismatic umbrella. The title “harp and bowl” comes from the following text in the book of the Revelation:

And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Rev. 5:8

Isn’t it obvious from this one text that the harp represents musical worship and the bowls represent intercessory prayers, ergo harp and bowl ministry is a combination of intercessory prayer and musical praise/worship to God. Since the church on earth is patterned after the heavenly tabernacle (read Hebrews to see if this is so) then this is really how church is to be conducted on earth!

Not only does intercessory prayer have a powerful effect on a community, but so does the praise and worship of God. The Kingdom is brought down to earth as God’s people worship Him in a community, and a form of spiritual warfare takes place in praise…Music is closely related with prophetic ministry. Spirit-led and prophetic edged prayer is a goal of the Harp and Bowl model.

The above quotation pretty much sums up the theology behind the 24/7 movement. First of all it is based on the belief that prayer causes change to come to communities. Let’s consider this claim, is this really the case? As an example; for over thirty years Cho has had millions of people coming to Prayer Mountain and are things getting better between North & South Korea? Is North Korea closer to being converted to Christianity; are they even open now to the Gospel? The answer is no in every regard. North Korea has become increasingly dangerous to the stability of the region and the world. It is in no way open to evangelism. Evidently the millions of hours of prayer have not changed anything for the better. IHOP has been continually praying for over ten years and now other 24/7 groups have mushroomed around our nation. Is America better off today than it was ten years ago? We have Obama as President, G.M. and Chrysler bankrupt along with many smaller parts companies and car dealers (I know, I live in Detroit and I feel the negative impact daily). Our health car system is in danger of being nationalized like that of England; Social Security is almost bankrupt as well. Is immorality on the decline; is crime, how about homosexuality and abortion? I see no positive changes in any of these areas that can in any way be attributed to charismatic folks yammering away 24/7.

Next these devotees go on to say that praise brings the “Kingdom of God down” and impacts a community. Sorry friends, where the Church is there is the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is here now, not in its final and fullest expression but it is a reality now in each of our lives. There is nothing “mechanical” we can do to make God manifest Himself (which is what they mean by bringing down the kingdom, they mean experiencing some form of emotional experience). There are plenty of things we can do to have emotional experiences such as speaking in other tongues for hours or singing mind-numbing refrains for hours, dancing around, chanting these practices can and do alter people’s consciousness. However, what our sign-gift brethren do is that they attribute these emotional experiences to: the presence of God; the anointing; the manifestation of the kingdom of heaven, etc. As with their prayer, their praises have not changed a thing either.

The claim is also made that both prayer and praise is a form of spiritual warfare. This is no new claim. The so-called prophetic movement has long codified prayer and praise as tools by which we are to wage spiritual warfare. There are entire teaching series and conferences on what is called “Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare, led by Dr. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, Bickle and others.

These extremists actually go to different historical site around the world in order to “bind” up the principalities, powers and rulers of darkness (see Eph. 6:11,12) and then “loose” God’s angels, the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom to manifest and bring revival and salvation. Naturally the first thing one has to do on these over seas junkets is to discern what exact principality or power is in control of an area. Once this Gnostic insight is revealed via prayer & praise then the spiritual warriors can specifically pray against them and command them in Jesus’ name to come down from their high places and/or bind their operation from hindering the Gospel. Once the binding has taken place then these intrepid warriors can lose the power of God to bring revival and redemption!

The only problem with this practice is simply this — we are never told to do any such thing in the Bible.  This is a novel invention that looks very spiritually and deeply powerful but is totally devoid of any Biblical precedent. We are never told any of the names of demonic forces, only that they exist. Honestly, we are never told to “rebuke the devil (see Zac. 3:2; Jude 1:9) where the Bible says “The Lord rebuke you Satan.” Yes, we do wage spiritual warfare but not in this mystical format. Our warfare is daily against the temptations Satan and demons offer before us.

The 24/7 crowd take verses, such as this: May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Psalms 149:6-9 (underlining added for emphasis).

And interpret it to mean that via the praises of God in our mouths we wage and win spiritual warfare. However, in context (that dreaded word) David being a man of war, a man who had slaughtered so many people that God would not permit him to build His temple meant what he said. As we go into battle we do so with God’s praises in our mouths and a literal sword in our hand. The best analogy I can think of comes from clips of the war in Afghanistan against the Soviets. Film clips showed the mujahideen saying “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) then firing off a RPG 3 at a tank, that is what David is getting at in the text. Our two-edged sword is the Word of God (see Rev. 1:16, 19:15). It is the weapon Jesus used against Satan in the wilderness temptations saying “it is written” to Satan time and time again.

If binding and loosing as taught and practiced by the extremists is a doctrine of God (as opposed to a manmade doctrine or doctrine of devils), then why isn’t it clearly taught in the Scriptures, why isn’t it being practiced by Peter and Paul in the Book of Acts? If it is a restored truth when was it initially practiced and when did the Church lose it? They cannot answer this question because they are without biblical support and historical support.

If binding and loosing as taught and practiced by the extremists worked then where are the results? What genuine quantifiable and verifiable results of true revival, redemption and community restoration can be shown to us? There are no results that can be shown. After over ten years of doing this, if it was indeed directed by the Holy Spirit, then there should be some evidence of change, actually there should be quite a bit of proof. It is like I tell people who believe Benny Hinn has a “miracle ministry.” Hinn has been holding miracle crusades every month for many years and by now he should have a warehouse full of medically documented healing(s) and miracles. Yet he does not have even a half a dozen which can be verified. Why do people follow him by the millions? Because they are deceived. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, each time expecting a different result.

Those people have made prayer to God and the praising of God a device by which we move God or the devil. God does not need our prayers. We on the other hand need to desperately pray and seek God. The God of the Bible is totally sovereign and He does not need our permission to move in the universe of His own creation.

Our prayer life is to flow out of our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Praise is simply our reaction to God’s goodness. We are called to “give thanks” in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:18). Prayer and praise should fill our hearts and thus be expressed by our mouths as naturally as our breathing. Jesus warned against thinking people would be heard for their “many words” when praying (Matt. 6:7). In that verse Jesus says “do not keep on babbling like the pagans” which is what these meetings are, a small or large group of people babbling away in ecstatic speech. It seems to me that they are engaging in the very thing Jesus warned us not to do.

Personally, I am all for prayer; it is undeniably part of our lives as a royal priesthood and holy nation unto God (1 Pet. 2:9). I wish my Lutheran brethren really knew how to pry from their hearts, as opposed to praying 99% of the time from a book of prayers. Prayer books are fine in their proper place, but you do not grow relationally by praying other people’s prayers all the time. I agree with Paul that we are to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17) but this can easily be done within the context of our vocations in life, it does not mean we must wall ourselves up in a monastery. I firmly believe that the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16). Yet fervent does not mean long-winded spewing forth of words, it means heart-felt and sincere.

I love to worship God in song also. I would like to see more music and hymns be incorporated into our Sunday services, yet I sing to my Lord because of who He is and what He has done — not to wage spiritual warfare or bring revival. Psalm 92:1 tells us that “It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High.”

In conclusion what are we to make of this 24/7 movement? It cannot be called unbiblical because there is Biblical precedent for it, albeit from the Old Testament. Nor would I say that there is anything wrong with praying to God and offering Him praise 24/7 —IF (and it is a HUGE “if”) there is a proper understanding of what prayer and praise are. Unfortunately, this is where these folks veer off course. Their definition and use of prayer and praise is unbiblical. Their motivation for praying and singing to God 24/7 is unbiblical. The result is a veiled attempt at a form of works righteousness. By their pseudo-spiritual works they see themselves as releasing God to move, if they do not do this then God cannot or will not move in the Church and community. This is simply “foolishness gone to seed” as the dead heretic Ken Hagin used to say. These people have placed both prayer and praise even above the preaching of the Word of God. They also view all the performing arts as acts of praise and prophecy (they get this from Psl.150). Because they have redefined what prayer and praise is biblically and redefined what the purpose is for both expressions I come to the conclusion that what is taking place is nothing other than simply another form of charismatic extremism which will excite many for a season but it will produce nothing of value spiritually, other than another lesson learned in what not to do.♦

Copyright © 2009  Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Charismaticthink is a word I have coined and it simply refers to reading a text of Scripture without any consideration of its context or historical eschatological setting.

2. See: www.tabernacle-of-david.com/todchurchsmodel4praise.html obtained on 6-11-09

3. Ibid.

4. See: www.ihop.org/Publisher/Article.aspx?ID-1000045365 obtained on 06-11-09

5. Ibid.

6. Obtained from http://www.nextga.us/impact/harpbowl on 06-12-09

7. Obtained from http://www.zionsong.org/art-giffting-bibquall.html on 06-12-09

8.ibid





Rhythm of the Saints – Celebrating Jesus Through the Church Year

8 01 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – January  2008   Vol. 13   Issue 1 – The Rhythm of the Saints- Celebrating Jesus Through the Church Year – by Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

The Rhythm of the Saints

Celebrating Jesus Through the Church Year

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Sadly, one thing most “evangelical” and charismatic congregations have lost is the spiritual rhythm of the Church Year. Oh sure most congregations sill celebrate Advent, Christmas and Easter, but that is about the extent of it.

Our relationship to Christ and His Body becomes far more meaningful when we live and worship with a conscious awareness of exactly where we are at in the Church “Year.” I’ve come to have a deep respect for the flow of our services within confessional Lutheranism. Every aspect of the worship service is defined by where the Church is at in respect to the season of the Church Year. I’ve come to have a deep respect for the flow of our services within confessional Lutheranism. Every aspect of the worship service is defined by where the Church is at in respect to the season of the Church Year. By every aspect I mean the colors used on the altar and that are worn by the pastor (each color corresponds to a specific time in the Christian calendar), the theological content of the hymns that are sung during each season is specific to that time, even the portions of Scripture from the Old Testament, Epistles and Gospels concern themselves with the time of year along with most of the sermons delivered….all of these ingredients working together in harmony point to Jesus Christ! Since the Reformation the basics of the Church Year follow this pattern:

Advent: Advent marks the beginning of the church year and is a time of preparation for the Lord’s coming; which is what the word “advent” means: “coming”. We prepare our hearts and homes not only for the Lord’s coming at Christmas (His Incarnation) but also for His Second Coming, when He will come again in Glory. We make an evergreen wreath which symbolizes God’s eternity and our joyous hope of eternal life through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. We place four candles around the wreath, decorate it and light one candle for each Sunday in Advent until four candles are lit, announcing brightly: “The Lord comes!” The first candle symbolizes Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the second, represents John the Baptizer who prepared the way for the Messiah’s coming by preaching repentance, the third candle is pink to depict a less penitent mood and represents John’s testimony to Christ, and the fourth candle represents the angel Gabriel foretelling Jesus’ birth. The color for Advent is purple, reminding us to reflect on our own sin and to turn back to God in repentance, seeking forgiveness, thus preparing our hearts for the Lord. Often a large, white candle (Christ Candle) is placed in the center of the wreath and is lit at Christmas.

Christmas: Following Advent we come to the celebration of Christmas. Christmas is next to Easter and Pentecost the highest festival in the church year. The Lord has come! Immanuel – God with us. We turn to God in thanksgiving that almighty God in thanksgiving, that almighty God loved us so much, that He sacrificed his own Son, Jesus Christ, to become man, live among us, take all our sin and guilt onto himself and pay the ultimate price for our sin: His death on the cross so that we need not be damned but have eternal life through faith in Him! What joy! Christmas celebrates Jesus Christ, eternal God with the Father and the Holy Spirit, becoming a human baby, thus starting His divine work of salvation.

Epiphany: The season of Epiphany starts on the festival of Epiphany on January 6th and extends over a period of between two and six weeks, depending on Easter being early that year or late. “Arise, shine for Thy light is come.” (Is. 60:1) This is the theme for Epiphany: Christ is the glorious, saving light of the world, illuminating the lives of us sinners caught in the darkness of sin. We reflect mainly on the Wise Men following the star to Bethlehem, on Christ’s baptism and on the Transfiguration of Christ. Epiphany means “manifestation” and it refers to when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordon and Christ was revealed to all by the voice of His Father!

Lent: Lent is the period of about 6 weeks before Easter, starting with Ash Wednesday and ending with the climactic “holy week”, the week before Easter in which Maundy Thursday (where our Lord institutes the Lord’s Supper) and Good Friday (the day of our Lord’s death on the cross) are celebrated.

During the season of Lent the color violet or purple represent somberness and solemnity, penitence, and prayer. That is due to the somber mood created by the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. We contemplate His suffering and death on the cross He endured on account of our sin. Our Lord Jesus Christ wore a violet cloak just before His death. His mockers, knowing violet to be a highly valued color worn by kings, tauntingly clothed him in a King’s purple cloak and jeeringly called Him “The King of the Jews”. Violet is the color of inward reflection or repentance. Lent encourages one to be conscious of one’s sin and short comings and turn back to Christ to receive forgiveness and to be made at peace with God again.

Easter: Easter is, in contrast to the somber mood of Lent, a joyous festival. We celebrate the triumphant Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. All over the world we hear the joyous exclamation on Easter morning: “He is risen! He is risen indeed!” We celebrate with such joy because Christ’s resurrection means that we also will be raised from the dead and ascend into heaven. The Apostle Paul writes in 1 Cor. 15:17 ff. “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, so in Christ all will be made alive.” White is the color of Easter. What color, other than white, represents purity, innocence, absolute perfection, joy in its purest form and triumph over darkness as well as white does? None; only white does. White is the color of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; He is snow-white, without blemish, perfect. This perfect Lamb forgives us our sins, be they as dark and damning as they may, and we may have the comfort in His words: “Your sins are forgiven you” and know that He has made them as white as snow.

Ascension: After His resurrection at Easter, our Lord Jesus Christ stayed with His disciples for another 40 days. Then, in their presence, He ascended bodily into the glory of His Father in heaven. Luke reports in his Gospel: We are comforted by Christ that He went up into heaven to prepare a place for us there. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3). The post-Easter season, including Ascension, is therefore one of joy and spiritual excitement. Throughout thee days, sermons, readings, prayers and hymns reflect the mood of thanks and praise. The liturgical color for Ascension Day is white because it is a festival celebrating Jesus Christ.

Pentecost: Only 10 days after the Ascension of our Lord, 50 days after Easter, we celebrate Pentecost, the climax of the whole Paschal season. On this day, we commemorate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the disciples. Prayers and hymns at Pentecost are an invitation for the Holy Spirit to come to us and enter our hearts. The Holy Spirit calls us to faith through the Gospel and keeps us in faith. We are filled with joy, peace and hope. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and we daily ask Him to come because we constantly push Him out through our sinfulness. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10). The liturgical color at Pentecost is red, symbolizing the flames that came to rest on the disciples’ heads. The mood is that of joy, thanks and praise, which carries over from Ascension.

Trinity Sunday: Trinity Sunday, a week after Pentecost, is a festival celebrating the Holy Trinity of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three distinct persons in one divine being. At the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Trinity is most clearly noted: Christ standing in the river, God the Father’s voice from heaven and the Holy Spirit descending on Christ in the form of a dove. There are a number of popular symbols which represent the Holy Trinity: the triangle, three interlocking circles, a triangle surrounded by a circle, the shamrock and others, each depicting the three persons of the Trinity equally. The liturgical color for Trinity Sunday is white, representing the purity of the Holy Trinity.

Season After Pentecost: The second half of the church year begins with Pentecost and ends on the Sunday before Advent. Whereas the church year begins with Advent and includes all the major church festivals like Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost, celebrating what Jesus Christ has done for us and our salvation, the second half focuses on Christ’s teachings and the Holy Spirit’s work among us. The liturgical color, therefore, is green. Green represents growth of the church and growth in faith. The overall focus in the “green period” is on the work of the Holy Spirit who “calls, gathers and enlightens” people. He brings them to faith, nurtures and strengthens their faith through Word and Sacrament. The “green season” concentrates on our response to what God has done for us. We therefore concentrate on missions, reaching out to the un-churched and announcing God’s Grace to the people that they may also be “called and gathered” by the Holy Spirit and receive the forgiveness of sins.

Reformation Day: Ok, I admit this celebration is not part of the ancient orthodox “Church Year” per se, yet we celebrate it because of what God restored through His servant Martin Luther. On Reformation Day, we commemorate the reformation of the church which began on All Saints Eve, October 31, 1517 in Wittenberg, Germany, when Dr. Luther an Augustinian monk and professor of theology at the university there, posted 95 points of discussion (theses) on the Castle Church’s door. What prompted Dr. Luther, was mainly the “letters of indulgence” which the Roman Catholic Church at the time was selling to the people, promising them forgiveness of their sins. It became so bad, that people were “buying forgiveness” for sins they had not yet committed! Dr. Luther deemed this to be an outrage as Holy Scripture clearly teaches that God alone forgives, and only a repentant sinner receives forgiveness and salvation from God by grace alone.

All Saints Day: On All Saints Day, we give thanks to God for the examples of faith of all those who have gone before us. This is not a celebration about certain “anointed” individuals such as is seen in Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, it is a celebration of all those who love and serve Jesus from a heart made pure by His blood.

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow





The Discipline of Biblical Meditation

4 11 2009
Truth Matters Newsletters – July 2007 – Vol. 12 Issue 7 – The Discipline of Biblical Meditation – By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The Discipline of Biblical Meditation

We live in a time when it seems our every waking moment is filled with chatter from our televisions, car stereos, ipods and cell phones. I received a newsletter, whose banner line is “is there enough silence for the Word to be heard,” which is a great question in today’s sensory overloaded society. Meditation is somewhat of a lost “art” to many of us because of how we live, yet it is an ancient Biblical discipline that can bear great spiritual fruit in our lives…if we will take the time to be silent and ponder the Words of God.

What Meditation Is Not

“Meditation,” when we hear this word today we often think of some Eastern guru sitting in a lotus position contemplating his or her navel. Or perhaps we may conjure up an image of a monk sitting in his cell in a lonely monastery in some forsaken desert.

Our nation has already experienced the full brunt of eastern meditative techniques taught by a variety of eastern guru, including the likes of Bagwan Shree Ragnesh, Muktanada Paramahansa, Maharishi Ji, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with his T.M., to the most recent flake called the “Hugging Saint.” After reaping millions of U.S. dollars from their demented disciples the gift they left behind are hordes of people who have drifted further into the darkness of what we call the “New Age Movement.”

On every major college campus in America you will find Hindu Ashrams and New Age Centers. Bookstores are filled to the brim with books on Eastern Mysticism and New Age Practices, which the section regarding biblical truth could be put in a few rather small boxes.

Eastern Hinduism and the New Age are really both the same, there is really nothing “new” about the New Age, it is just ancient Hinduism packaged in a format that is acceptable to Western people. The goal of meditation in both groups is the same — for the individual to realize that they are in fact God.

Hundreds of thousands of people are exposed to what seems to be harmless spiritual practices on Oprah Winfrey’s television program on a regular basis through her two favorite spiritual “advisors” Depak Chopra, a Hindu & Mary Anne Williamson of the Unity cult…both best-selling authors, due in part to Oprah’s support. Both these individuals support the same goal — to lead people to believe they are in fact God. This is nothing new, this was the lie that Satan presented to Adam and Eve in the garden “You shall be like God” (Genesis 3:5).

In both Hinduism & The New Age Movement the practice of YOGA in its many styles is tied together with meditation in order to achieve “God-consciousness” or oneness with the “Universal Mind.”

Yoga has been widely accepted in the U.S. and is usually offered at Y.M.C.A.’s across this nation. Some Christians might argue — “Well brothers wouldn’t you agree that Christians can practice yoga for exercise without accepting its philosophy?

My answer is simple: No. Biblical Christians cannot practice yoga. Not only is it unbiblical, it is ungodly in its origins.

Yoga is specifically tied to Hinduism and there is no way to divorce the 2 from each other. Each form of YOGA (and there are over 30 different varieties of yoga) is specifically geared towards putting one in touch with various Hindu deities. So there is nothing spiritually neutral about it at all. Please, do not take my word for it, God Himself has spoken plainly and said in:

For ye were sometimes darkness, but now [are ye] light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit [is] in all goodness and righteousness and truthJ Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [them]. Eph. 5:8-11

As Christians we are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. On the other hand we, as Christians, are to reprove, which in the Greek (elegchete) means to expose openly the error of these unfruitful works which have their origin in Satan and not Christ.

Yoga and eastern-meditation are most assuredly unfruitful works of darkness which have their origin in Satan and the demonic realm.

Many times in the newspapers you’ll see cartoons of some individual climbing way up on a mountain top to ask the meditating guru what is “the answer.”? And they generally give some funny response: even some companies use television commercials with this same concept of meditation. This Eastern/New Age view is generally what many believers think of when someone mentions meditation.

However, despite the great popularity of all the counterfeit forms of meditation that Satan and his demons use to lead people astray from the light of God into further darkness, one fact still remains: The Bible mentions the practice of meditation quite a bit and it is one of the spiritual disciplines attached to our prayer life and it is a discipline we need to both practice daily & master.

Biblical Meditation Defined

As always, we must begin with a biblical understanding of what we are talking about when it comes to meditation. What does the word mean? The first time we find it mentioned in the bible is in Genesis:

And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels [were] coming. Genesis 24:63

In this text mediate is defined in the Hebrew as: “Soo-Ah” and in this setting it means to muse, commune, speak, and complain.

Without delving into Isaac’s problems we note that after his work day was over, it was eventide or sunset. One of the 2 most beautiful times of the day. In my opinion, the other is sunrise. He went alone and he went out to specifically meditate.

We do not know exactly what form his meditation took. We don’t know if he was pondering his fate, his future. Was he communing with the God of Abraham in the silence of his soul, was he speaking or complaining to God about his lot in life. Any and all of which as we have learned are forms of prayer — DIALOG, between ourselves and our God. Prayer is best defined as speaking & Listening. Probably a more familiar text and more practical one is found in the book of Joshua:

Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I swore unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous. that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it [to] the right hand or [to] the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth: but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage: be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God [is] with thee whithersoever thou goest. Jos. 1:6-9

Moses had died and God had placed Joshua in Moses position and Joshua was afraid the people would not follow him. The Lord God speaks to Joshua and encourages him and reminds him that He will be with Joshua just as He was with Moses.

He tells Joshua to be: (1) STRONG and (2) COURAGEOUS. Why? That Joshua may observe to do all the law which Moses had handed down.

To “observe” in the Hebrew means to keep, to guard, to protect and act upon. Do you realize that at times, (and it seems like those times are multiplying in our day as Christians) that its takes strength and courage to uphold God’s Word and swim against the stream of popular religious opinion?

It takes both strength & courage to be a doer of His Truth and not one who compromises God’s Word for the sake of societal trends or even denominational stances on certain issues. To be such a person, to be one who is willing to swim upstream and at times stand alone in order to uphold God’s Word requires both strength and courage.

Where was Joshua supposed to get the STEEL he needed to keep Him from becoming a spineless jellyfish. You all know what a jellyfish is right? That is a somewhat amorphous sea creature that generally floats along with whatever direction the current may be flowing. Jellyfish do not swim against the current. They float along. Frankly too many preachers have no spine today and even though they know what the Bible plainly teaches about many “politically incorrect” issues they remain silent, they suffer from the disease of “non-rock-a-boat-itis,” a disease I am gladly immune to. As Lee Frank is oft quoted saying:

All that is needed for the forces of evil to succeed is for enough good men to remain silent.

My friends, America and the Church in general is in the trouble it is in because too many Good men have remained silent or have been silenced.

On Judgment Day brothers and sisters, I would not want to be in the shoes of any minister who knew the truth but refused to teach it to God’s people. Nor would I want to stand in the place of those who dared to silence the man of God from proclaiming what the Bible teaches because they were “afraid” of the potential fall-out fro the unvarnished proclamation of the Gospel.

This Fear is never from God, it comes from only 2 sources: (1) either from Satan or (2) ourselves when we lack faith in God. Three ties God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous and what is more He shows Joshua how to do it!

The Church today needs more Jeremiah’s who God told to “be not afraid of their faces: for I [am] with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD (Jer. 1:8).” Instead of being Casper Milk-toasts when faced by those who are not on the Lord’s side of an issue.

God teaches Joshua how to be strong, non-compromising and fearless in the face of his flock & his enemies.

Do you want to like Joshua, who went on to fight ten major battles and conquer a land and lead at times cantankerous stiff necked people?

If so, then you’re about to learn that meditation is a key ingredient in being a doer of all God’s Word versus a hearer only who ends up deceiving themselves and others according to James 1:22. Let’s re-read Joshua verse 8:

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein; for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Jos 1:8

Meditate here is a different Hebrew word than the word used in Genesis, here it is “Ha-ga.” It means to: utter, muse, mutter, speak, whisper, to murmur and study. It carries with it the connotation of a cow chewing its cud.

God commands (note, He does not suggest, meditation is not an option for a successful spiritual life) Joshua to meditate on it which means that he is to both to muse, ponder, i.e. think about what God has revealed in His law and he is to chew on it, dissect it and also mutter it softly to himself, or in today’s parlance he was to confess God’s law to himself.

“Oh come on now, surely Rev. Liichow you don’t expect us to believe Joshua walked around muttering the bible to himself do you? And of course, you don’t expect us to do the same do you? Oh yes, I am sure Joshua did exactly this. If you want to enter into a deeper walk with the Holy Spirit then you will do likewise and spend the time necessary to deeply consider the Word of the Lord.

What do you think Paul’s admonition to the Church at Ephesus was about when he wrote them saying:

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Eph 5:19-20

This is exactly what the Lord was telling Joshua to do. Its called meditation. Your mind is always thinking about something, it might as well be zeroed in on God’s Word!

One easy way to do this in the workplace or anyplace is by listening to Gospel or sacred music or the Bible on your CD player in the car, while jogging or walking. That is a perfect way to help guide our wandering minds back to the Word of God and His precepts.

It’s easy to tell who lives a life of prayer and meditation because they view ALL of life’s issues through the lens of the Scripture. These folks obey the directives of their God as He gave them in —

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them, when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shall bind them for a sign upon thin hand, and they shall be as frontets between thine eyes. De 6:6-8

These Kingdom seekers embody —

Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech [be] always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Col. 4:5-6

Because these folks have sought the Lord early and spent time before the Lord in prayer and Bible stud and have been pondering the Word they’ve studied, they’ve muttered and memorized portions of it and contemplated how it applies to their daily lives. Pretty soon they are walking in wisdom towards unbelievers; they are making the most of their time; their words are gracious and seasoned with salt; they know, because they are sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit how they ought to answer every man! Jesus said it this way —

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh Luke 6:45

Those who pray and meditate, who speak about the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God versus gossiping about others. Their hearts are full of God’s Word, that they have pondered, muttered and memorized! That’s why it is easy to recognize souls such as these. The bottom line: We talk about what we know, if we know the Lord and His Word fills our hearts & minds we will talk about it.

How Often?

How often was Joshua to do this? Day and Night. When it is not day, what is it? Night! When it is not night, what is it? Day! In other words Biblical meditation CAN and IS to be practiced both day & night.

Keep in mind that Joshua had a nation of people to lead, this tells me that biblical meditation is practical and can be done in the midst of our busy schedules.

It does not mean you have to go to some secluded area and recite Scriptures out loud to yourself, although if tie permits that is a form of meditation.

The Results of Meditation

God told Joshua, that through meditation he would be able to keep & do all the law. Then and only them Joshua was told that his way would be made prosperous and successful. Prosperous here means to advance spiritually and good success is defined in the Hebrew as to be prudent, to be circumspect and have insight!

Television preachers often teach this text to mean that if you will meditate in God’s Word that you will become financially wealthy, that is not in the Hebrew. It has to do with spiritual advancement and Godly wisdom in dealing with the affairs of life.

King David the Master of Meditation

But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Ps. 1:2-3

As I wrote regarding the first discipline, you make time and spend time with the people you love. If you love the Lord and delight in Him, then you will speak to and with Him in prayer. David DELIGHTED in the law. Ask yourself, do you delight in the Bible, if not, why not?

Those who LOVE the Word will spend time in the WORD and the benefit of their meditation will be: (1) A strong root system, (2) A consistent feeding from the Holy Spirit, the River of Living Water, (3) Fruitfulness (4) Spiritual advancement, the whatsoever he doeth pertains to the Word he or she has been mediating on. They will see the manifestation of it. Their position in Christ will begin to become their experience.

But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself; the LORD will hear when I call unto him. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah  Ps. 4:3-4

At night when we lie down we can mediate, commune with our hearts and be still, listening for that still small voice. Note how David connects prayer “the Lord WILL hear when I CALL unto Him” with communing.

David says “Stand in awe”—are we in awe of God? If we recognize His presence is truly with us then we should “sin not.” Paul says the same thing in Corinthians:

Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak [this] to your shame. 1 Cor. 15:34

He tells thee “Spirit-filled” tongue-talking, sign-gift manifesting Christians to wake up to who they are, the righteousness of God in Christ. He goes on to rebuke them saying that some of them do not have the knowledge of God, and he says that to their shame! Why didn’t they? They had not been seeking first the kingdom of God and its righteousness; they had not been meditating in the Word or walking in love. They were seeking gifts and not working on developing fruit. Meditating on God’s Word will help you develop spiritual fruit and fruitfulness. Our God is glorified when we bear spiritual fruit (John 15:8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples). Meditating on God’s Word will help us bear fruit! Let’s continue.

The fear of the LORD [is} clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are} true [and] righteous altogether. More to be desired [are they] then gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: [and] in keeping of them [there is] great reward. Who can understand [his] errors? Cleanse thou me from secret [faults]. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous [sins]; let them not have dominion over me; then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Ps. 19:9-14

I believe we can see a progression in this Psalm. Meditation starts and finishes with the Holy, inerrant Word of God. His Word is true and righteous altogether.

As Christians we are to desire The Holy Spirit’s divine illumination more than gold —(I hope you’re seeing how seeking first ties directly into this).

His Word is sweeter than honey. God has given us His Word to warn us and in keeping, that is, doing His Word is great reward. What “great reward”? Through prayer, fasting, Bible study and meditation —The Holy Spirit will reveal to you secret sins, things you think nobody else knows about and He will graciously bring you to repentance of them. What is more the Holy Spirit will make you strong through the sacraments and help keep you from presumptuous.

Then you are in position to have fellowship with our Lord. Then the words of your mouth & the meditation of your heart will be acceptable in the sight of your Lord, the One who is both your Strength & Redeemer.

I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD. Ps. 104:33-34

We already read in Ephesians 5:19-20 the role of singing and making melody in our hearts as a form of meditation. When I mediate on how good God has been to me and is towards me, then it is sweet! When I mediate on how He delivered me from the dominion of darkness and translated me into the Kingdom of His dear Son I am glad in the Lordmakes even this Lutheran boy want to shout and dance!

O how love I thy law! It [is] my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they [are] ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies [are] my meditation. Ps. 119:97-99

Let me bring this discipline to a close with this text, it embodies what the Holy Spirit wants us to know: 1). David loved God’s Word —Proof—he meditated on it all the day and even when he laid down on his bed at night. 2) Through meditating on God’s Word he incorporated it into action, David did what he studied—Proof— he was wiser then his enemies. Wisdom is the Word being practically applied. 3). Through his time with God in prayer & study he gained more insight than his teachers—PROOF—for contents of the Bible were his meditation. Spiritual growth & advancement comes through spending time with God in fasting, prayer, Bible study and meditating on what you’ve studied so you can apply it to your own life and thus become a disciple of Christ who bears much spiritual fruit, fruit that endures. ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

AMEN !

 

scanMeditation20070001





I Am OUTRAGED

19 09 2009

Truth Matters Newsletters – November 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 11 – I AM OUTRAGED – by Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

I AM OUTRAGED

scanOutragedseal0001

                                By Robert S. Liichow

Outrage Defined

indignation a feeling of righteous anger Shock: strike with disgust or revulsion re: “the evangelists scandalous behavior of his ministry shocked the church” desecrate: violate the sacred character of a place or language: “desecrate a cemetery”, “violate the sanctity of the church.” “profane the name of God.” (1)

As an individual I generally run on a fairly even keel emotionally as much as any adult dealing with being ADHD. Even with my disability I strive to live a disciplined and organized life in may areas including emotionally. Yet within about a weeks time four incidents have taken place that literally burned my bacon in such a righteous manner that I have not even felt a twinge of remorse over what I have written or the way I felt at the time of writing you this newsletter. Some of these outrages you may be familiar with, others may not have hit your “radar” yet. In any event, consider this the “Outrageous Issue” of Truth Matters.

Ted Haggard

The title of this months article reflects a bumper sticker on the car in front of us as my wife and I pulled out of the movie theater a few nights ago. It sums up perfectly my emotional state concerning what is transpiring within the Church. There are four specific “cases” each of which has stirred up my righteous indignation and I hope that you are equally appalled over them too. Before I drop the hammer on these folks let me make it very clear that we are praying for all these individuals and the ripple effects their actions are having on their family, many Christians in the Body of Christ and the world’s view of the integrity of Christian leaders both morally and doctrinally.

scanHaggard0001

By this time you already know about the growing scandal concerning Haggard. If you are not aware of it then here is what has currently been brought to light. Ted Haggard was the senior pastor of New Life Church, a mega-church of 14,000 members in Colorado Springs, CO. He was the Presiding President of the National Association of Evangelical (NAE) which represent around thirty million evangelical Christians. He is a husband, a father of five children and a charismatic/sign-gift believer. In short, Haggard was a player in both the Church Growth Movement and conservative politics.

News of Haggard’s dismissal rocked the Christian world. Haggard was one of the evangelical movement’s most powerful leaders, and helped Colorado Springs earn the moniker of “evangelical Vatican.” He had the White House on speed dial, and Harper’s Magazine called New Life “the nation’s most powerful mega church.” Haggard had served as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, an organization that represents more than 30 million evangelical Christians, until he resigned. (2)

It was the latter arena that brought to light his hidden sins. As you know America had an election Tuesday, Haggard was a staunch and vocal advocate against same-sex marriage. That stand is one I and DMI give a hearty “amen” to. The problem in Haggard’s case was that he had been living a double-life for at least three years according to his accuser, a homosexual prostitute whom Haggard is alleged to have been having sex with:

The scandal began Wednesday when a male escort in Denver said he had an ongoing sexual relationship with an evangelical leader. By later that day, Haggard had been named as that leader. (3)

Mike Jones is the homosexual escort who “outed” Haggard not only for his homosexuality but also Jones admitted that Haggard had used and bought methamphetamine from him. The reason Jones came forth at this point in time was because he thought, rightly so, that Haggard was being a hypocrite due to his vocal stance against homosexuality while being actively engaged in it!

What is outrageous to me is that when Haggard was confronted with the allegations Jones was making he lied about it! He is on record denying the charges. In one interview he acted like he had never even heard of Mike Jones. However, Mr. Jones has Haggard’s voice on a voice-mail (which is now available for the world to hear on the Internet). Then when pressed Haggard admitted that he had purchased crystal meth at some point but threw it away.

Finally more truth was revealed when his church leaders asked him to step down due to sexual immorality (the did not mention the drug abuse). It seems at this point that many, if not all, the charges made by Jones concerning Haggard are true.

What is equally outrageous to me is that Haggard’s case response echoes three other cases of homosexual immorality within the sign-gift segment of the Church. In December, 2001 Mr. Robert LIARdon was exposed for his ongoing homosexuality with the Youth Leader of his congregation. (4)

Three months later Robert Liardon was back preaching again. In February, 2004 Latter Rain false prophet Paul Cain was exposed for his life of homosexuality and alcoholism by fellow so-called restored prophets. Lastly, on September 18, 2004 the Los Angeles Times ran a story with allegations of homosexual behavior and drunkenness on the part of Paul Crouch Sr., the Founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN paid the accuser in Crouch’s case $450,000 in hush money as you may remember). (5)

In each of these cases, including Haggard, there are several outrageous similarities: (1) NONE of these men came forth voluntarily and confessed their sins. It was only when they were caught that any admission of guilt came forth. In the case of Mr. Crouch he denies to this day that any type of homosexual behavior went on, yet why then did TBN pay close to half a million dollars of donors money to the man making “false” charges? (2) Each of these leaders were and still are members of independent charismatic organizations which they ran. They had little to no genuine accountability to others around them or to any denominational affiliation. (3)The “Flip Wilson Defense” was invoked in LIARdon’s case and now Haggard’s. For those readers too young to remember the Flip Wilson Show, he had a segment where Mr. Wilson would appear in drag before a judge and say “the devil made me do it.” Here is how one of Haggard’s members cast this sordid situation:

Some people cast the situation as a struggle between good and evil and Haggard as the victim of a religious battle. “Satan may have won the battle, God will win the war. Satan is like a hunter. Satan goes for the big trophies. This is spiritual warfare, and Ted is under something the average person can’t fathom,” said Earl Beatty, who knelt at the church Saturday night. (6)

Note how Beatty views Haggard immorality —he is simply a victim of a Satanic onslaught. You, Mr. Haggard, are a “big trophy,” whereas if you or I fell into such immorality we’d be kicked to the curb immediately. I have seen this happen on numerous occasions within the sign-gift movement. The rules simply don’t apply to these superstars. If they get sick and die then it was the devil trying to stop the advancement of God’s kingdom. You or I get seriously ill and die, then we had some hidden sin or unbelief in our lives. They get divorce and remarried on other than biblical grounds; they are given a pass whereas other lowly sheep usually can’t even serve as a church janitor after a divorce.

Isn’t what the Bible teaches in James a little more plausible than Beatty’s comment regarding Haggard?

James 1:13-15: When tempted, no one should say “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

Let me cite a few of the statements given by Mr. Haggard in a letter read to his congregation on Sunday, November 5, 2006: (1) Please stay faithful to God through service and giving.” The first thing on his list is that he asks his former congregation to continue to give MONEY!! Hopefully Haggard’s people have had their faith in Christ all along and thus naturally will stay faithful to Jesus.

(2) “Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have fallen. I desperately need to be forgiven and healed.” Note the order, money first, then he confesses he is a sinner. Perhaps it took a fall from so lofty a height for him to realize something most biblically based Christians readily acknowledge, I.e. that they are sinners at the same time as being clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

(3) “Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life.” Why should we forgive Mr. Jones? He did the right thing in exposing Haggard. Most certainly Mr. Jones needs to be brought to faith in Christ and delivered from homosexuality. It seems to me like Haggard is saying something akin to “forgive the police officer that caught me.” He should have asked his former congregation to pray for the redemption of Mr. Jones, not for them to forgive him!! Lastly, in point  (4) Haggard tries to make lemonade out of lemons by saying Because of the negative publicity I’ve created with my foolishness, we can now demonstrate to the world how our sick and wounded can be healed, and how even disappointed and betrayed church bodies can prosper and rejoice.” (8)

See, Haggard’s immorality is really a blessing in disguise because we (the Church) can now demonstrate to the world how our sick (Haggard) and wounded can be healed. I have news for Mr. Haggard the Church has been healing its sick and wounded for 2,000 yeas by the discipline and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Haggard has not committed the unpardonable sin and he has asked for forgiveness, even if it did not come voluntarily, and so it must be given to him. I will not doubt his contrition, for I cannot judge his heart. Nonetheless his immorality, denials, lies and attempts to deflect what he did from himself is outrageous in my eyes. Not to mention the blight he places on the rest of God’s genuinely faithful ministers who the world will tar with the same brush due to Haggard and all the other recent scandals rocking the Church.

We do pray for his restoration, but especially we pray for his wife who is understandably devastated, their five children who have to face their peers, the thousands of congregational members, many of whom were babes in Christ and without doubt “star stuck” by Haggard and may become shipwrecked due to his moral failure.

Haggard’s fall is simply more proof that allegedly possessing the sign-gifts does not make a person more anointed, powerful in Christ or holy. The fact of the matter is that the most egregious scandals to besmirch the name of our Lord have come mostly from “charismatic” believers such as Jim Bakker, Robert Tilton, Larry Lee, Jimmy Swaggert, Roberts LIARdon, Paul Cain and Paul Crouch. All of these leaders claimed to be special due to their alleged spiritual gifts, but in reality they were shown to have feet of clay, like the rest of us.

Katharine Jefferts Schori Installed As Head Of 2.3 Million Member American Episcopal Denomination

This is the next item to outage me, not because a female being ordained to lead a denomination, which in itself is unbiblical. Women have often been misplaced or taken place of authority within the Church since the false prophetesses Priscilla and Maximilla around 155 AD. It is not an outrage to see a woman holding the office of a bishop, which again biblically has been given to men. (9)

1 Tim. 3:2-5 Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)

What is outrageous is her blasphemous and heretical statements concerning the Lord Jesus Christ. Before we get to her comments you should know that she endorses the ordination of homosexuals and also approves of same-sex marriages. (10) Do the following comments outrage you?

But in an interview this week with Associated Press, Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori — who is to be installed on Saturday as the first female presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA — stated that Christians should not say that Jesus is the only way to God. “If we insist we know the one way to God,” she said, “we’ve put God in a very small box.” (11)

Jefferts-Schori says she views salvation as the healing of all Creation through holy living. “I understand salvation as being about the healing of the whole creation. Your part and my part in that is about holy living.” she offered. “As Christians we understand [salvation] as relationship with God in Jesus, but that does not mean that we’re expected to judge other people’s own commitments. (12)

Katharine Jefferts Schori preached her first sermon to the Episcopal Church General Convention as presiding bishop-elect, she announced, “Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creaton and we are his children. (13)

How a historical mainline Protestant denomination could elect a pro-gay female bishop who denies that Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life is an outrage. If she is allowed to remain in that position then all those congregations that submit willingly to her authority can no longer be considered part of the Christian Church.

We disagree about many things within the Church visible, but one thing about our belief that cannot be compromised is that salvation is found through grace alone, by faith alone, through Christ alone, according to the Scriptures alone and to God alone be all the glory. Any deviation from these obvious Apostolic doctrines places an individual, congregation or even denomination outside the orthodox Christian religion.

Katharine Jefferts-Schori, I do insist that Jesus Christ is in fact the only way to God simply because this is what God the Son Himself stated:

John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 17:3: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

JN 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

We can disagree over the mode of baptism, how often to celebrate the Lord’s Supper or which translation of the Bible to use…but salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone is NON-NEGOTIABLE. What part of Acts 4:12 is the presiding Bishop so obtuse to not understand? If this is the last thing I ever write you please understand this simple fact:

Two Statements Can Be Untrue, But Two Contradictory Statements Cannot Both Be True. “A” Is “A” And Cannot Be Non “A”

Truth by its very nature demands the exclusion of all other claims which contradict it. Either Jesus is who He said He was or He is notDMI chooses to draw a line in the sand right here. This issue right here is a make or break fellowship issue for us. I have a pastor friend in Detroit whose congregation is part of the American Episcopal Church, in fact, my mother-in-law’s funeral was held in his congregation’s sanctuary and if he agrees to submit to this heretic’s authority, then we will have no further fellowship, it is that serious to me personally and it breaks my heart but I and DMI fears God more than seeks the applause and friendship of man. The Apostle John is quite clear as is Paul in his letter to Titus on this matter and his admonition to Timothy:

2 John 1:9-11 Whosoever transgresseth and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your home, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deed.

Titus 3:10-11 A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

2 Tim 3:5: Having the form of godliness, but denying the power: from such stay away.

Many American Episcopal Churches have the outward form of godliness, I.e. they sing the hymns, pray, follow some form of liturgy, but deny the power of God which is found in the proclamation of the Gospel (see Rom. 1:16) by teaching that there is another pathway to eternal life apart from faith alone in Jesus.

As outrageous a stance as this woman has taken it is gratifying to report that several other bishops in the United States are appealing to the Archbishop of Canterbury seeking to come under his authority. Other American Episcopalians have placed themselves under the spiritual oversight of the African Archbishop. Both of these Archbishops represent conservative wings of the Anglican faith. The African Archbishop being the more conservative of the two, but neither one accepts homosexual ordination nor agrees with the comments of Katharine Jefferts-Schori. Please join with us in prayer that the American Episcopal Church will come to its senses and reconsider whom they’re currently elected and replace with a brother who at least abides by the original confessional stance of the Episcopalian Church. If they do not remove her, then let her and those who follow her be anathema to you.

The “Father” Fenton Fiasco

scanFENTON0001

The first two attacks on the Church that outraged me (and I hope at least concern you very deeply) are issues that possibly touch closer to your home than my third “outrage.” This one is far more personal to me in my journey from heresy to Christian orthodoxy. John Fenton was previously a confessional evangelical pastor within the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). As of Sunday 11-05-06, he had left the LCMS to join himself to the “Orthodox Church.” By Orthodox I mean as in the “Eastern Orthodox” branch of the Church. You might be saying to yourself, “ok, so what is the big deal? Didn’t Frankie Schaffer do the same thing after his illustrious father, Francis Schaffer died?” Some of you may be thinking “well aren’t Lutheran’s just Kissing-cousins of Roman Catholicism and the Eastern/Greek/Russian Orthodox Church just the stepbrothers of Roman Catholicism?” There is no short succinct answer to these questions. Let me just say that the Evangelical Lutheran Church (14) is not doctrinally related in many significant ways to the Roman Catholicism, the various Eastern Churches or the various Reformed and Protestant denominations. You’ll have to do your own sleuthing on this matter to see the clear distinctions between these branches of the visible Church. That said, confessional Lutherans readily and joyfully admit that God has His children scattered hither, thither and you, i.e. biblical Lutherans do not view themselves as the only genuine believers, nor do we consider the Evangelical Church to be the only true visible Body of Christ on earth.

What is outrageous about brother Fenton is that he is an intelligent man with a solid conservative seminary education; in fact, he is a graduate of Concordia Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN. He has served as a pastor within the Missouri Synod for eleven years and as of October 29, 2006 he resigned as pastor at Zion Evangelical-Church of Detroit to join the Orthodox Church of America (OCA). I will cite statements he made in his resignation letter:

However, I am convinced that the Book of Concord contains defective or deficient doctrines not in accord with the faith of the apostles. In simple terms, these deficiencies include the acceptance of an amended Nicene Creed, the notion that Jesus died to appease His Father’s wrath, a man-centered understanding of the church, the denial of prayers to the saints, and the idea that the liturgy is a man-made product. (15)

No Lutheran seminary professor or pastor I have met (and I have met quite a few over the last several years) proclaim the Book of Concord to be infallible. The LCMS does teach, believe and confess that the teachings within the Book of Concord do accurately represent biblical doctrine and orthodox Christianity. It is however never placed on the same level as the Holy Bible, nor are its contents ever appealed to over the plain teachings of the Bible.

Naturallly, the OCA, like all branches of the Eastern Church, disagrees with the western understanding of the Nicene Creed. Here is the argument in a nutshell (more or less):

The Nicene Creed introduced the word “homoousious” or “ consubstantial” meaning “of one substance.” This word was not invented at the council Eusebius writes that some of the “most learned and distinguished of the ancient bishops had made use of consubstantial in treating of the divinity of the Father and the Son. (16)

The Nicene Creed, also called the Nicaeco-Constantinopolitan Creed, is a statement of the orthodox faith of the early Christian church in opposition to certain heresies, especially Arianism. These heresies, which disturbed the church during the forth century, concerned the doctrine of the trinity and of the person of Christ. Both the Greek (Eastern) and the Latin (Western) church held this creed in honor, though with one important difference: the Western church insisted on the inclusion of the phrase “and the Son” (known as the “filioque”) in the article on the procession of the Holy Spirit; this phrase still is repudiated by the Eastern Orthodox church. In its present form this creed goes back partially to the Council of Nicea (AD 325) with additions by the Council of Constantinople (AD 381). It was accepted in its present form at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, but the “filoque” phrase was not added until 589, However, the creed is in substance an accurate and majestic formulation of the Nicene faith. (17)

All of the historic creeds were developed by the early church fathers as a means of refuting heretics and their false teachings. A simple working definition of creeds is as follows: “A creed is a brief statement of faith used to enumerate important truths, to clarify doctrinal points and to distinguish truth from error. Creeds are usually worded to be easily memorized. The word creed comes from the Latin word credo, meaning, “I believe.” (18) Creeds are simply statements of what is commonly accepted as genuine Christian dogma. Virtually all Christian bodies do accept the Apostles Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Creed of Chalcedon as well as the Athanasian Creed. (19) Apart from the Church of the Brethren, a small Anabaptist denomination whose statement is “no creed but the Bible,” this sounds pious, but actually demonstrates their ignorance of why the aforementioned creeds came into existence. It also highlights their misunderstanding regarding the place and use of the various creeds in liturgical confessional congregations.

What is the OCA (which is submitted to the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church) and Fenton’s issue with the Nicene creed as we confess it in the west? It boils down to western theologians adding a few words to clarify the Trinity because the original writing of the creed was a little fuzzy in this area:

“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son” the debate concerned whether the Holy Spirit proceeded fro only the Father, or from the Father and the Son [filioque in Latin]. The phrase “and the Son” was not in the original Greek version of the Creed accepted at Nicaea and Constantinople. It was added in the Latin versions used in the Western (Roman) church in AD 589 as an attempt to clarify the relationship of the three person of the Trinity. The concern was that the original wording made Jesus the Christ subordinate to the Father, a view that the Western church felt endangered the doctrine of the Trinity. (20)

The Episcopalian Church has recently reverted back to the eastern version of the Nicene creed in their latest printing of the Book of Common Prayer (anything the Episcopalians do no longer surprises me).

Fenton’s next statement is equally outrageous to me when he blithely writes in opposition to “the notion that Jesus died to appease His Father’s wrath.” I am sure you have all seen the famous painting representing our Lord knocking on the outside of a cottage door? Now visualize that same painting with me standing there knocking on brother Fenton’s head!! Who does Fenton think Jesus was appeasing in His substitution death on the cross? The ransom view of the atonement is thankfully, not widely held these days (apart from the Word of Faith cultists). In this view Jesus died to purchase us back from Satan, this concept had its roots in the teaching of an early theologian named Origen, who was later condemned by the Church as a heretic not due to this teaching alone, but several others that went far beyond the pale of orthodoxy. (21) The problem inherent in Origen’s doctrine of the atonement deals with the issue of why does God owe Satan anything, especially His own Son?

The teaching of the LCMS and other truly evangelical bodies is that God sent His Son into the world (John 3:16) because of His great love for all humanity to suffer as our substitute, bearing the full brunt of God’s divine judgment that we owed due to our sin against a totally holy God. The words of an old hymn we used to sing, who name escapes me goes something like this: “I owed a debt I could not pay, He paid a debt He did not owe.” Jesus suffered and died in our place to appease the holy wrath of God by bearing in His own body the penalty for our sins. How brother Fenton could discard such an obvious truth of the Bible and embrace a heterdox view is to me outrageous.

Fenton’s next reason for departing from evangelical Christianity and going east is because Lutherans and others within Protestantism do not believe in praying to “saints.” He sure got that point of his letter correct. Lutherans and millions of other Christians do not pray to dead saints (including Mary) for one simple reason — THE BIBLE NEVER REMOTELY SUGGESTS THAT WE DO SO. Contrary to Fenton’s belief, the Bible teaches us the following:

Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 7:11 how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Luke 11:2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be your name your kingdom come.’

John 15:16…Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

These are merely four verses from the Gospel that I have cited. In each case we are told by God the Son to pray to the Father, to do so in the name of His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Why didn’t Jesus say “when you pray, ask my mother, who in turn will ask Me, and I will then ask the Father.” Or why don’t we read of any of the writing Apostles saying “when I have gone on to glory, I’ll be listening for your prayers in order to intercede on your behalf before the throne of Almighty God.” What we do learn from apostolic writings are directives such as these:

Romans 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not . And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

Christ Jesus Himself makes intercession for us and as for me and my household we’d much rather have the Son of God standing in the gap for us than His mother, blessed woman that she was or even Peter and Paul. We are also told quite plainly that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for us (Rom. 8:26). As God’s own dear children in Christ we are told by the author of the book of Hebrews to come BOLDLY to the throne of grace, not to ask some dead “saint” to do it for us.

This brings me to another “outrage” concerning brother Fenton’s deflection from the pure light of God’s Word into the shadows caused by man-made doctrine…the whole eastern (Roman Catholic too) stress on “saints.” Folks we are all saints, set apart by the blood of the spotless lamb of God. No one in the New Testament is especially noted as a “saint” and the rest of the Church is full of ain’ts. Such a distinction is never made biblically, that is the impure invention of sinful man.

I close this last outrage with Fenton’s comment that he is now seeking membership in the “true visible church” on earth, I.e. the Orthodox Church of America. This is very prideful on the part of Orthodox Churches to make such a statement. If words mean anything, then every other expression of the Church visible is in fact not the true visible Church, only the Orthodox Church holds that position!

Some reading this may ask why is it that some fellow believers turn to Roman Catholicism (RC) or Eastern Orthodox (EO) expressions and jettison their former evangelical beliefs. I think the answer is both complex and simple and may differ from case to case. Over all, I believe what takes place is that people get deceived into thinking that either expression is the closest thing to New Testament Apostolic Christianity. Both of these historic expressions make this claim regarding themselves, but it is not true. The Great Schism between Eastern and Western branches of the faith were due to doctrinal issues.

Here are a few beliefs brother Fenton now embraces as “Truth”:

About Mary: “The Mother of God is often referred to as the “New Eve,” for she said “yes” to God whereas the first Eve said “no” We believe that the Mother of God was sinless of her own free will, that she remains ever virgin, and that she is the “living tabernacle” of God inasmuch as her womb, as one hymn states, becomes “more spacious than the heavens” by carrying within it the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. (22)

Psal. 51:5 Behold, I was sharpen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

Rom. 3:1 As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one:

1 John 1:8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

So much about Mary’s perpetual sinlessness and perpetual virginity (Matt. 13:53).

About Icons: Orthodox people kiss them, bow to them, pray to them, Why? Inseparable from the liturgical tradition, religious art is seen by Orthodox Christians as a form of pictorial confession of faith and a channel of religious experience. this central function of religious images (icons) – unparalleled in any other Christian tradition – received its full definition following the end of the iconoclastic movement in Byzantium (843). The Orthodox theologians, on the other hand, based their arguments on the specifically Christian doctrine of the incarnation: God is indeed invisible and indescribable in his essence, but when the Son of God became man, he voluntarily assumed all the characteristics of created nature, including describability. Consequently, images of Christ, as man, affirm the truth of God’s ral incarnation, Because divine life shines through Christ’s risen and glorified humanity, the function of the artist consists in conveying the very mystery of the Christian faith through art. Furthermore, because the icons of Christ and the saints provide direct personal contact with the holy persons represented on them, these images should be objects of “veneration” (pokiness), (22)

Regardless of tradition, where is this commanded in the Bible? Our Bible commands that we make no graven images (see Deut 7:5-6)

Praying to the Dead: The saints are regarded as those who have reliably finished the course of their lives in the path of theosis. Those that are known to the Church are glorified (canonized) by incorporating their lives into the Church’s liturgical life, a recognition of Christ in them. They are venerated (shown great respect and love) but not worshiped, for worship is due to God alone. In showing the saints this love and requesting their prayers, it is believed by the Orthodox that they thus assist in the process of salvation for others. (23)

The reformation came about because Dr. Martin Luther and others wanted to reform the church and bring it back into line with the Scriptures. He, nor any other reformer ever taught that we should seek the dead on behalf of the living.

Please re-read carefully the Book of Acts and you will not find a blueprint on how to “do” Church. God by His wisdom left us a great deal of latitude in how local congregations function administratively, musically, and yes, even liturgically. For instance nothing is mentioned about wearing a collar, robes or vestments with specific colors for specific seasons of the Church calendar. Nothing is mentioned about incense, how long a sermon is to be, should candles be used or not, length of a service. Nor are we commanded to have a specific number of deacons or elders. Must we sit in pews or are folding chairs ok? Should the pastor speak from behind a pulpit or walk around the congregation as he preaches? These and a whole host of other issues are considered adiaphorous (or non essentials) by the Evangelical Church but unfortunately some portions of the church have elevated these and other non-essential traditions to having equal status with the Holy Bible.

Pray for brother Fenton, I fear he has jumped out of the pan quite literally into the fire. He will find that the Orthodox Church of America is run by sinful men, just like the LCMS, the Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptist confederations, et al. There is no perfect Church on this earth, at least as long as you and I are alive.

Paula White

scan0001

While the prior events were taking place I was doing a bit of morning surfing on the television and happened across the Christian program sponsored by Paula White Ministries. Paula, when not screeching and running around a platform somewhere like a chicken on crack she has decided to try her hand at a sit-down television studio set similar to other televangelists. Some of you may not know anything about White, so allow me to cite her own PR from her website:

Paula White is a Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, Pastor, Preacher, Author, Humanitarian, Philanthropist, Teacher, TV Personality, Wife and Mother. Beneath her unassuming beauty, lies a gentle and girlish charm. (24)

Note the order of importance that she describes herself: (1) Life Coach, (2) Motivational Speaker, (3) Pastor, (4) Preacher, (5) Author, (6) Humanitarian, (7) Philanthropist, (8) Teacher, (9) TV Personality, (10) Wife and (11) Mother.

Her husband and children are last on the list. The first two are accurate, especially after what I witnesses on her television program.

What was outrageous to me was that her guests were no less than Mr. Donald Trump and his co-author, Robert Kioysaki hawking their latest best selling book entitled “Why We Want You To Be Rich.” In fact, Mrs. White had these two men for several days. During this time (paid for by Christian donors) she never once confronted them in a loving manner with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, i.e. that they were lost sinners in need of a Savior. What shocked and appalled me was that an internationally known woman “preacher” and a TBN regular would have two unrepentant heathens on her Christian program for the sole purpose of making money off the success of their book which she offers on her website ( anyone can buy it cheaper at Amazon.com). Trump has been married three times, after jettisoning wives number one and two on totally unbiblical grounds. He is well known for making much of his fortune from the gambling industry (casinos) and in short is a “prime candidate” for salvation. I do not know that much about his co-author, but he too is a multi-millionaire due to his other books and games he has created.

Brothers and sisters, there is something terribly wrong when someone who calls themselves a Christian and yet does not share the Gospel message with sinners sitting right next to them! Equally it is appalling to see irredeemable time wasted talking to men about how to get rich! The Bible plainly teaches that “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Tim 6:10). Sadly, Trump, Kioysaki and White’s goal seems to primarily self enrichment and not gaining wealth for the purposes plainly set forth in the Bible.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having wealth or making a great deal of money in this life time if biblical realities are kept in mind:

FIRST we all need to remember that it is God (not Trump’s schemes or our own abilities) that gives us the power to get wealth (Deut. 8:18). The purpose for our wealth is NOT to buy bigger homes, fancier cars, more expensive clothing or more jewelry. God gives people the ability to get wealth to establish His covenant. The Lord knew then as He does now, how easy it is for His people fallen human beings that we are to wrongly take credit for what we have and to grasp onto it tightly as if the money He has entrusted us with was as precious as life itself.

SECONDLY, We are to use a portion of our wealth to support (25) the work and workers in the ministry (1 Cor. 16:2). In fact, the Holy Spirit has Paul remind God’s people on two occasions that they need to set aside a portion of their finances for ministry support. (1 Cor. 9.9 , 1 Tim. 5:18). In another place he says that those who preach/teach the gospel ought to make their living by their ministry work (1 Cor. 9:14). This doctrine is echoed again by Paul to Timothy especially regarding leaders who teach (1 Tim 5:17). (26)

THIRDLY We all gain wealth to some degree through the work of our hands, some make more, others less that is not the issue. What is paramount to remember is the purpose of our work. Again, we do not work to get ahead of the “Jones” or keep up with the “Copelands.” No, the purpose of our labor is so that we may have something left to give to those who lack, I.e. the poor. (Acts 10:2, Eph. 4:28).

All of these outrages seemed to occur within a week of each other, it really has caused me to consider the seriousness of the times we are living in and the need to be all the more faithful in teaching truth & exposing error.

On behalf of Discernment Ministries International let me again express my heartfelt gratitude to our Lord for raising up those of you who faithfully support our ministry. We thank you for being both obedient to our Lord with your support and generous in your giving. It continues to be our prayer that everyone who reads Truth Matters, makes use of the website or uses our materials would give some amount each month. In all honesty, DMI really has need of more financial support.

With the passing of my mother-in-law things got backlogged on every front, both in ministry and our personal lives as a family. It may be a negative confession, but all of my immediate family not only went through a period of grieving, but my wife and I also suffered from a low grad depression, which thankfully has now lifted.

With this in mind please forgive the lateness of the last issue of Truth Matters, a few folks might still be waiting to receive a book or CD (they are on the way!), not to mention the delayed sending out of quarterly giving statements. If by the time you read this letter and you have not received something you did order PLEASE let me know (call me collect, and I will rectify it as quickly as possible.

I realize that some ministers would never publicly admit to such things, but I learned a great lesson from Kevin Butcher, a friend, fellow pastor and mentor who taught me that value of taking the risk, of being transparent to those you love and serve along with the truth of striving to be a human being versus a human doing. Thanks Kevin, those are lessons I will not forget. ♦

Copyright © 2006 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes:

1. Obtained from http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=defineoutrage&sa=X&io=glossary_definition&ct=title.

2. Colorado Springs Gaette, by Paul Asay, Bill Vogrin and Deedee Corell, Haggard Dismissed, 11-03-2006

3. Ibid

4. DMI was one of the first Apologetic ministries to expose Mr. LIARdon the date for his outing was obtained from http://www.christian-witness.org/archive/van2003/bilby_restor16.html

5. Los Angeles Times, Andrew Gumbel, September 18, 2004

6. Ibid. Bold type added for emphasis.

7. Please understand that I cite “church janitor” as merely an example of a lowly position (in some people’s eyes) as opposed to that of the pastor/prophets/apostle. I am in no way denigrating the often unseen and thankless task of those who keep the church buildings clean.

8. Colorado Springs Gazette, Ted Haggard’s letter to New Life Church, November 5, 2006. Underlining added for emphasis.

9. It is beyond the scope of this article to consider the roles of men and woman within the church. I know many women who are very gifted and I respect them. Yet God’s Word is the guide by which all our faith and practice is to be judged by and women simply are not called to serve as pastors, elders, bishops, or teachers over men.

10. This is according to an article on her ordination located at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/04/national/main2153338.shtml

11. Agape Press, by Jody Brown and Allie Martin, Comments by Jefferts-Schori During Interview Appear to Contradict Scripture, 11-02-06. Bold type added for emphasis.

12. Ibid

13. Quote from Jim Tonkowich, Religion Without Foundations, writer for the Daily Standard.

14. Please understand that the Lutheran Church was originally called the “evangelical” church and was not a part of the Roman Catholic church, nor is Confessional Lutheranism a part of the Protestant reformation nor a “Reformed” church/

15. Taken from John W. Fenton, M Div., S.T.M. Letter of Resignation submitted on 10- 29-06. Underlining and bold type added for emphasis.

16. Obtained from http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/sbrandt/nicca.htm

17. Obtained from http://www.crcna.org/pages/nicene_creed.cfm Underlining added for emphasis.

18. Obtained from http://www.wcg.org/lit/church/pamphlet/3creeds.htm

19. For more insight into the interesting history surrounding these and other classic statements of the Christian faith you might pay a visit to the following websites: http://www.creeds.net/; http://www.wcg.org/lit/church/pamphet/3creeds.htm or http://www.cresourcei.org/creedsearly.html.

20. Statement obtained from http://www.cresourcei.org/creedsearly.html Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

21. If anyone does not anathematize Arius, Eunomisu, Macedomius, Apollinaris, Nestorius, Eutyches and Origen, as well as their impious writings, as also all other heretics already condemned and anathematized by the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and by the aforesaid four Holy Synods and [if anyone does not equally anathematize] all those who have held and hold or who in their impiety persist in holding to the end the same opinion as those heretics just mentioned: let him be anathema. This quotation was obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/widi/Origen#Christology.

22. The Evangelical position is stated as follows: Lutheran teaching of the atonement stresses that God’s act is objective, taking the imitative (cf. the OT concept of the Covenant) in reaching out toward man, and that Christ’s work is vicarious in that He bears the burden of sin, which is rightfully man’s (GI 3:10-13, cf. ls. 53). Obtained from http://www.lcms.org/ca/www./cyclopedia/02/display.asp?t1=A&t2=t.

23. Obtained from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Orthodox_Church#The_Theotokos_and_the_saints on 11-08-80.

24. Obtained from http://www.oca.org/QAasp?ID=6&SID=3.

25. Obtained from http://www.paulawhite.org/about.htm.

26. When DMI and other Apologetic ministries refer to financial support please understand that we mean just that I.e. receive enough financial help to pay or feed or families, pay our bills and run our small ministries. I do not know one Apologetic or Counter-cult ministry that lives above a “middle-class” financial level, most of us, DMI most assuredly lives just above the poverty line economically speaking. I find it shameful when “ministers” receive millions of dollars personally I don’t care how “big” they are.

27. Those who preformed their functions well were worthy of “double honor [GK G5507}.” Since this word was often used in the sense of a price paid for something, it had been suggested that here it might be translated “honoraruim”. Perhaps we should allow both “honor” and honorarium” Highest honor is to be given to “those whose work is preaching and teaching.” 18. This verse, a well as the proceeding discussion of support for widows (vv. 3-16), suggests definitely that the “double honor” for elders was to be a financial remuneration. Quoting Dt. 25:4 (cf. 1 Co. 9:9) and Lk 10:7, Paul makes the point that a worker should receive compensation. Obtained from the Zondervan Reference Library CD, ver. 2.6. The New American Commentary Module.