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A Weak Defense Is No Defense At All

Nov 8th, 2017

Paul Mooney

 

 

by Paul Mooney

Reality lies in the heart. Our destinies are shaped and determined from the heart, all of the issues we face are settled from within the heart, and who we are is revealed by our hearts. These verities lead us to perhaps the Bible’s most profound warning: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

There is likely no greater illustration of this dichotomy than the story of David. David was inexperienced, armed with a mere slingshot, yet he was nevertheless God’s choice to defeat the Philistines. God’s instruction to Saul was based on what he knew of David. David was focused on fulfilling the will of God. Therefore, he was God’s choice, for one obvious reason–God knew his heart.

warrior in chainmailHearts that love the cause, hearts that have marked the consequences of failure are the kind of hearts that would rather die than compromise. Even the most skilled warrior is more likely to give up or sell out if his heart lacks a righteous commitment. He is skilled but he is not prepared to die. The motivation for his effort is altogether different. A committed warrior seeks victory for the sake of something beyond himself. The other warrior is clouded by his own ambition, and often his arrogance.

Eli Pariser is the author of The Filter Bubble: How the New Personalized Web is Changing What We Read and How We Think (Penguin Books, 2011). At first glance, this volume may appear ancient compared to how fast technology is advancing; however, it is not dated. Pariser is a futurist and a major developer and influencer of our times. His foresight and vision regarding the consequences of Internet usage is quite alarming.

The book deals with three basic factors he wants his readers to know about the Internet:

1. You are alone.

“You are alone. You are very alone.” In fact, Pariser says, “It’s a centrifugal force pulling us apart, into a bubble.” We are uniquely identified.

2. The bubble is invisible.

The Internet doesn’t tell you who you are or who they think you are. It uses search engines and elaborate algorithms to make broad assumptions about who you are and how you behave, what you purchase, how you think and even how you vote. But, is how they have defined you and their assumptions about you right or wrong? “It’s easy to imagine that the information that comes through a filter bubble is unbiased, objective, true. But it’s not. In fact, from within the bubble, it’s nearly impossible to see how biased it is” (Pariser, 2011)

3. You don’t choose to enter the bubble.

“You don’t choose to enter the bubble, when you turn on Fox News or read The Nation you are making a decision about what kind of filter to use to make sense of the world. It’s an active process, and like putting on a pair of tinted glasses, you can guess how the editors’ leaning shapes your perception. You don’t make the same kind of choices with personalized filters. They come to you and because they drive up profits for the websites that use them they become harder and harder to avoid” (Pariser, 2011).

We should take notes of Pariser’s warnings. To his point, when we search we are profiled, we are placed in the “bubble” and we expose our hearts, our desires and our wants, and the Internet delivers based on the profile we created.

Societies around the world are acknowledging the powerful and growing force that is taking control of our lives. Computer technology partnered with the Internet has become the dominant enterprise and human tool for work, entertainment, education, and communication, storing our history, photography, commerce, surveillance and military operations. We are turning more and more of our lives over to electronic forces, and we have no idea what the outcome will be. We do know that robotic assistants and other artificial intelligence will soon be flying our aircrafts, driving our vehicles and even operating on our bodies. The outcomes are terrifyingly uncertain at best.

With each concession of our privacy and the acquiescence to our curiosities we are revealing, with or without our knowledge and permission, what we desire, and thereby who we really are. The perceived anonymity of the Internet has caused the most open revelation of the human heart that we have ever seen. We see its capacity for evil, debauchery, hatred and sin. The ugliness of the true self has been unveiled and what is coming to light cannot be ignored.

As a pastor, I am responsible to our congregation, hundreds of children at our K-12 school and of course, Indiana Bible College. My concern everyday is the increasing glamorization of sin and worldliness. There are real souls at stake. There is a demonic battle for the hearts of Apostolic young people. Every hour of every day our kids are hit from people hiding behind video screens, people we don’t even know, attacking holiness and righteousness. Our youth endure snarky putdowns that insult their commitment to holiness, separation from the world and godly living.

We pray for the covering and the protection of this next generation, but the truth is, our young people are warriors who must choose their own motivation for the fight. They must commit their hearts fully to the Truth, to this message, lest they fall in passivity to this modern Goliath (Ephesians 6:13). The Internet and social media’s power is rapidly pulling the weak into bubbles of fleshly ideas and false belief systems that are not of God–any one of which can become embedded into their desires and into their hearts and that’s when and where it gets serious. A weak defense is no defense at all. It will take a full commitment to live out of a righteous heart–these are the issues of life.

 

Muddied Definitions

Nov 8th, 2017

Paul Mooney

 

 

by Paul Mooney

There is a conflict between the Holy Spirit and the flesh. And it is never insignificant. The outcome of that battle determines everything. Christianity, even among modern Pentecostals, at least to some degree, is facing a stormy anti-Christian, anti-Bible bias that is being pressed upon culture, politics and education. Think of it as a strategy of hard-core secularization, wherein all opinion and thought must correspond with secular philosophies and political correctness, or it will be harshly maligned as unsophisticated, unscholarly, backward and unlettered.

Man sitting in an empty sanctuary

Churches over the past few decades have marched to the beat of the deconstructionists, who hope to refashion the Church without regard to things holy, divine and supernatural. A philosophy of positive thinking and other flesh-inspired paths of spirituality have been sold to millions who are seeking salvation, but without mention of sanctification, freedom from the consequences of a sinful life and without repentance.

Such is the spirit of the age. The Spirit of God is life; the flesh brings death. The flesh substitutes the real for the counterfeit. The disciples were directed to the Upper Room and assured of “power from on high.” Acts 2:28 was the central dictum; it changed everything. Without obedience to that command as the core element of the New Testament experience, one is left with something other than a Pentecostal Church. “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (II Thess. 3:6).

At a meeting yesterday, in relation to the writing of this article, our group sat in Vice President Mike Pence’s office. We were surrounded by priceless memos and documents pertaining to the history and establishment of the United States of America. Any discussions in such rooms are made sacred by the awareness of the actual signatures of men and women who died for the freedom and hopes contained in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Howard Chandler Christy's "Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States"

It’s a spiritual experience to be in such a room where life and death convictions were established. The founders’ courage and commitments to liberty made everything possible. To lay aside or to disavow the Constitution is to lose everything. And further more, our affection for those very words are crucial to our nation’s future. If we fail to love the Constitution, we will lose it.

Pentecostals, Spirit-filled believers, shall we say, hold a deep affection for the words of the Bible. The Bible is the foundation of our unity and our spiritual life. At the core of our future lies the matter of our affection or disaffection for the commands of Jesus, and one in particular: “Tarry until ye be endured with power from on High.”

A love for the Word of God is critical. We feel this deeply in our hearts because truth brings something to the heart, and the spirit and to the emotions, and not merely to the intellect. We draw upon the greatness of God to empower us. God makes us stronger than we are. “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4). “Draw nigh to God and he will draw nigh to you” (James 4:8).

One thing all of us are hearing today is muddied definitions and meanings. Words can enlighten or confuse. And here’s where we can lose everything or gain everything. If our “hearts are fixed, trusting in the Lord” (Psa. 112:7), then we can and will resist those who create doubt against our experiences, our convictions. Paul’s warning to Timothy should help us … “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” (I Tim. 4:1).

Woman studying the Bible

If today’s Christians love the truth, they will not distort the Word of God or manipulate its meanings. God’s spirit does not confuse. If you know, you know. And if you truly love the Word of God, push back against all seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.

“Royal Language” and Oneness

Oct 31st, 2017

Bobby Killmon

 

 

by Bobby Killmon

Why do oneness people think Gen. 1:26 is about “royal language” or “God speaking to
angels”? This is inaccurate and faulty thinking because angels were not involved in
creating humankind. Further, we don’t read anywhere where a king uses plural
language at all. Isn’t this just weak theological analysis?

The problem with dismissing our view is that Jews traditionally have interpreted Gen. 1:26 to mean God spoke to angels and saw no conflict between the Hebrew grammar and the Genesis account in terms of strict monotheism. Further, on at least one other occasion, God talked to angels and included their opinions in formulating His plans (I Kings 22:19-22). We further know the angels were present during creation (Job 38:4-7) and that Revelation shows them in acts of “un-creation” pouring out God’s judgment as His agents. Some would even suggest that we are created “like the angels” in that we have free will just like them.

Open BibleWhile I personally don’t claim that “royal language” is going on in Gen. 1:26, your claim regarding it not being in Scripture is simply an uninformed statement. It’s in Daniel 2:36, used by King Artaxerxes (Ezra 4:18; 7:13, 24). So these clear examples are in Scripture, even though I don’t personally claim this as going on in Genesis. Either way though, if the language of the text makes it allowable, isn’t it more honest to admit this? Even if you disagree?

Before you dismiss these biblical proofs as just uninformed oneness analysis without any validity, consider the statements of Michael S. Heiser. Heiser has a PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages and a M.A. in Ancient History (major fields were Ancient Israel and Egyptology), another M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Hebrew Studies). He can do translation work in roughly a dozen ancient languages (Biblical Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, Egyptian hieroglyphs and Ugaritic cuneiform). He has also studied Akkadian and Sumerian.

The point is, in academic circles, Heiser is “overqualified” to speak to this issue. Look at what he says regarding Gen. 1:26, “…the occurrence of ‘us’ has been understood as a plurality in the godhead: the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit. This understanding would have been unknown to the authors of the OT… A simpler explanation is that ‘us’ reflects an announcement by the single God of Israel to a group in His presence – the heavenly hosts (Ps. 82; 89:5-8).”

Catch that, so called “persons” having a conversation within the trinity would be unknown so it is simpler to understand it speaking of the heavenly host or angels. So Gen. 1:26 could be referring to God’s entourage (angelic host), the Kingdom (royal we), or what you haven’t even mentioned at all, which is a strong view in some oneness circles as “prophetic foreknowledge of the Son” (I Pet. 1:19-20, Rev. 13:8, Rom. 5:14).

The point is any of these interpretations are allowable from the language of the text, even if you disagree. To dismiss oneness claims about Gen. 1:26 by claiming we are using weak theological analysis is first of all to deny current experts in your own camp, which demonstrates ignorance of cutting edge scholarship. Even worse, however, is denying what’s allowable in the language of Scripture itself, which is disingenuous. Either way, this hurts your arguments and lessens your credibility.

The Yes Ladder

Oct 23rd, 2017

Robert L. Rodenbush

 

 

by Robert L. Rodenbush

There is a concept in business called the “Yes Ladder” that is commonly used to lure people in to increasingly greater commitments both financially and physically in the cyber dating and pornography industry.

These “brilliant” sales people study each click on the Web, knowing that if they can get a customer to concede to view, or say “yes” to a small area of this perversion it will ultimately lead to more “yes” responses down the road. People who regularly view pornography can be expected to move up the “Yes Ladder” until they are seeking out not only the fantasy of it, but real life experiences. If someone is willing to commit to an online “relationship” the chances are great that they will eventually escalate into the pricier, physical realm.

black ladder

The “Yes Ladder” is a frightening principle. A single, small yes for many people leads to addiction and a corruption of the body that, without God’s intervention, may be a permanent perversion of their sexuality. Statistics are staggering. Sexual dysfunction among healthy young men due to pornography usage is baffling psychologists and the medical profession.

This battle will not go away. Satan needs only a small window to do his work. He only needs someone to acquiesce just a tiny bit until he has them on a “Yes Ladder” that will steal their joy, their victory and their peace. We must be willing to have difficult conversations, to provide sanctuary and help to those ensnared in this web of deceit. We must pray a hedge of protection around our families, our youth and ourselves least we be deceived in this evil day.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

Is It Too Soon To Tell?

Oct 18th, 2017

Paul Mooney

 

 

by Paul Mooney

 

“It is too soon to tell.” Though no one is quite sure if it is fact or fiction, this historic quip is attributed to the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Zhou Enlai, in answer to President Nixon’s question, “What is the impact of the French Revolution?”

In my experiences during intimate personal conversations with politicians over the years, I’ve observed that most are deeply interested in whatever or whoever is influencing politics, votes, culture, religion, education, and so forth. They assess both the good and the bad, usually from the point of view of how it affects their own agendas or beliefs. This interest comes about because they fully understand that nothing just happens. Influences and influencers are everywhere and eventually they will either matter or they won’t matter, and only time will determine their ultimate contribution to the future.

Legend or not, the Premier’s quote challenges one to consider not only the action that is taking place around us, but the implication of an action or series of actions in relationship to the historic record. This is true not only in politics but is applicable to changes that are taking place within Christianity and our Apostolic movement. Time will tell the significance or insignificance of present influences. It might be too soon to tell, but the law of consequences will eventually reveal the outcome of our actions and our inactions.

Hourglass

This challenges us to ask certain questions: “To what degree do we embrace the secular world? How important is the doctrine of separation? What and whose guidance should we seek? Whose values and ideas and what authority will guide our lives and our churches?”

Seeking so-called personal “truths” is extremely different than seeking God’s Truth. In the same sense, the Church’s imperative is the work of conversion and this is much different from mere social work. The decline in church attendance and the growing secularism of our day demand an unwavering clarity of the Apostolic mission which will only come from the Holy Spirit.

As the Apostle Paul reminded us, “… we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:13-14).

“Who is in charge?” It is the old, new question. I pray it is not our flesh. No generation in the history of human civilization has ever faced what now comes our way. One might ask, “If God is in charge, what is His plan concerning these times?” That is a fair question; however, the answer may not be so obvious within the context of our human understanding.

God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. This is the central “faith factor” of the Bible. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

I suspect we all hear a good number of subtly argued positions regarding how we Pentecostals must change this or that, especially in the area of holiness, separation from the world, and more surreptitiously, issues concerning the essentiality of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. We patiently listen to arrogant admonitions of how vital it is to be “cool” and follow formulaic, scripted programs to the point that church is reduced to a theatrical production. This is dangerous territory, not only to our unity and our loyalty to the Scripture, but ultimately these distractions have the potential of replacing the Godly anointing that comes from seeking a genuine move of the Holy Spirit.

There is a distinct difference between the direction and guidance that the flesh provides compared to the leading of the Spirit. What is of the flesh pleases the flesh, but what God has for us in the Spirit is not carnal in nature and, therefore, cannot be received by the natural man. “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7).

False prophets under the guidance of their own spirit or the spirit of the age can disrupt and change the will and purpose of God in lives, in churches, and in organizations – if they fail to crucify the flesh. Influence can be set in motion and the course of history altered by a spoken word, a compromise, or a wrong motive. We must seek discernment, clarity, and divine focus lest we wrongly promote, endorse, or positively identify ourselves with things that are not of God.

Surely our hearts tell us that we are facing a crossroads, that a revolution is underway. And . . . just what is the impact of it all? Is it really too soon to tell? Or are we seeing a loosening from the ties that have bound us together in holiness and held us to the Apostles’ doctrine? The battle lines are being drawn in front of our very eyes. We grieve any falling away, but nevertheless, the true Church must be led of His Spirit and cling to the cross.

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