My Experience in Prophecy Class

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last-days-77477802654When I began attending my current church I found out that there was a weekly prophecy class being taught on Sunday afternoons at the church. I thought that this was a great idea. To be able to get a better understanding of prophecy in the bible was a goal of mine so I decided to try the class out.

My first visit was a little awkward. When I arrived I found that everyone attending was above the age of sixty, (I am being generous here). They also spent a lot of time glancing at me a little suspiciously after welcoming me to the class. I later realized that I had worn my black and white checkered Vans sneakers to the class which probably put them off.

Anyway, I went to the class several times and came away with these conclusions:

1. The person who taught the class seemed to have a good understanding of the content of the bible, but everything taught seemed only to elevate anxiousness about Christ’s imminent return.

2. There was a great reliance placed on YouTube videos from “Sid Roth’s It’s Supernatural” which brought on “guests” that were supposed to be experts in their field proposing various theories about when, and how Jesus will return and who the anti-Christ will be.

3. There was a complete lack of any suggestion to, or urgency for outreach to unbelievers in light of this impending tribulation and return of Jesus. The class seemed to be for the gratification of the believers, not for the lost.

4. There just seemed to be no patience or love extended to people with conflicting views which opposed the views taught.

I did stop attending the class because for me it was not uplifting or educating in any biblical way. It seemed like the class was really just a group of people who were at the end of their age working themselves into a self-satisfying frenzy.

No one including the leader had any expressed desire to give any type of outreach to those who were lost and need the Gospel the very most, especially in light of the prophecy teaching presented there.

I realized the while it is important to be fully informed and educated about prophecy in the bible that is not what Jesus commanded us as his followers to be concerned about. Jesus commanded us to spread the Good News.

Matthew 28:19-20

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Mark 16:15

“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’”

Jesus also said the following:

Matthew 22:37-40

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

To sum it up Jesus said to go and spread His Good News, to love God with everything you have, and to love everyone else as yourself. I don’t find anywhere in the bible where Jesus tells us to worry and obsess about the end times prophecy in lieu of all other scripture.

Unfortunately I think that this class and many ministries like it succumb to these same paranoid and obsessive pitfalls and forget about what Jesus actually commanded us to do until He returns.

We need to remember what is important to Jesus not ourselves!

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Today is the day, 5 Years since transplant!


Operating Room Liver Transplant

It was five years ago today that I received my liver transplant. It was the second time I had gone to the hospital for to await transplant. The first time I was a backup candidate in case the person the liver was designated for was not able to receive it. Fortunately he was able to get his chance at life.

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It was around 3:30 pm when I was taken back to the operating room to begin my liver transplant. As the nurses shifted me from the gurney to the narrow operating table, the thought that kept going through my mind was “Wow, am I really here now?”.

They strapped my arms to outstretched parts that were at 90 degrees to the table. At one point I remember thinking that it was almost like a cross. They then put these hard plastic boots on my feet and calves.

It was quite surreal as I looked around the room at the massive amount of surgical equipment and number of people that was there. I have to admit that I was a little nervous. After all I hadn’t been in a hospital since I was a young child when I was seven years old for a broken arm.

The nurses asked me how I was doing, I told them that I was fine. Then I asked them a favor, I said “I don’t care what you do to me just please make sure that I don’t feel or remember anything”. I then said a little prayer asking God to keep me in His hands, whether I lived or I died. I praised Him for who He is and all He had done. The last thing I remember was the nurse telling me to count backwards from one hundred. I doubt if I made it past ninety.

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I awoke late the next afternoon in the ICU with a breathing tube in my throat. The nurses shortly removed it, without much discomfort. This was a surprise to me because before when I had this it was very painful. They showed me how to clear my throat with a vacuum wand and soon allowed me to have some liquids. The next day they moved me to the recovery floor.

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The first really big thing that I noticed different was the next morning as I was waking up I could feel the sun shining through the window and it really warmed me up. This was a huge deal because I had spent the last two years being cold and never being able to get warm.

I recovered pretty quickly and was walking the halls to get my strength back. On the 13th of March I was discharged being deemed fit enough to go home to recuperate.

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I remember having tears in my eyes as I rode home in the car. I was looking out the window at all the things going by and thinking that I almost didn’t get a chance to ever see them again. I felt then, and do now as well, so thankful to God for the miracles He has performed in my life.

So March 5th, 2009 was the day that changed everything for me and I look back on it fondly. I give God all of the glory for what He has done and I hope that I can be the person that He wants me to be while I am still here on this earth.

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What are the human values taught by Jesus Christ as described in the Bible. Part 4: Charismatic people and their Hotline to God!


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Have you ever ran across someone who is constantly telling others that God told them that these people should do this or that? Many charismatic people believe that God is constantly speaking to them. My response to them would be, “Every thought that runs through your mind is not a direct command from God!”

I have heard them often say “God told me you should do this” or “God told me that you shouldn’t do that”. Now I am not implying that God does not communicate with His people. What I am saying is if we have no need for a priest to be an intermediary for us with God, then I don’t believe that God has to use an intermediary to speak to us either.

My biggest concern is the young Christian that does not know scripture well and then begin to rely on these so-called “God Whisperers”. When we as Christians place our trust into a human rather than placing it fully in God trouble begins brewing.

I see this as a two-pronged problem. First it is the people going around telling others what they should do with the emphasis on the command being directed by God Himself. The other is the fact that most of our church going population has not read the Bible in its entirety and therefore is ignorant of what the Word of God really says.

I did some informal research in 2010 about where the church and Christians stand when it comes to reading the Bible. Here are the statistics that I came up with.

– 70% of Americans say they believe in a personal God.

– Nearly 1/3 of Americans believe that the Bible is the actual word of God and should be taken literally.

– 47% of Americans believe that the Bible is divinely inspired. 

– Fewer than 22% of Americans attend worship services each week.

 17% of all Christians say that they tithe, 3% actually do.

– Occasional Bible readers have declined from 79% in the 80’s to 59%, according to a recent Gallop poll.

– Only 16% of Christians polled said that they read the Bible daily.

– Less than 10% of Christians have actually read the bible from Genesis to Revelation.

So from my research I can see why so many people listen to others as their source of information, inspiration, and guidance. This is not what God wants from us, we are not to be mere sheep following after someone just because everyone else is. We are supposed to be like the Bereans and compare everything we are told against scripture. We are to rightly divide the Word.

 

 

What are the human values taught by Jesus Christ as described in the Bible. Part 3: Faith Healers


Part 3: Faith Healers

 

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We have all seen television evangelists who claim to have the ultimate power directly from God to heal the sick. Some say to send money and they will send you a blessed towel, miracle water, or earth from the Holy Land. Some do big shows on TV with dozens of sick people coming up to the stage and suddenly falling over and supposedly being healed. Some of the more famous ones that come to mind are Benny Hinn, Peter Popoff, Todd Bentley, and Morris Cerullo just to name a few.

Unfortunately all of these people have been caught in one way or another of deceiving their flocks. Peter Popoff was caught with a wireless earphone that his wife used to send him information about the sick person he was targeting. Benny Hinn has been caught in an affair with Paula White, another faith healer, which led to his divorce. I am sure that these are not the people that God would choose to be His healing missionaries in this world.

When confronted by less than miraculous healing many faith healers say that if the person was not healed then they must not have had enough faith. They try to shift the blame to the sick person for the failure rather than take responsibility themselves. Of course the healers never mention giving back the sick persons monetary “gift” they received for healing them. While I was researching this I came across this site, http://www.gotquestions.org/faith-healers.html from which I am going to quote the article.

Question: “Are faith healers for real? Does a faith healer heal with the same power as Jesus?”


Answer:
There is no doubt that God has the power to heal anyone at any time. The question is whether He chooses to do so through those who are called “faith healers.” These individuals typically convince their audiences that God wants them to be well and that through their faith—and usually a financial offering—God will reward their faith by healing them through the power of Jesus.

By comparing the healing ministry of the Lord Jesus to that of the modern faith healers, we can determine whether their claims have any basis in Scripture. If, as they say, they heal through the same power and in the same way that Jesus healed, we should be able to see marked similarities between them. However, just the opposite is true. Mark 1:29-34 gives us a description of just one day of Jesus’ healing ministry. His power to heal—and to do all kinds of miracles—was evidence that He had power over both the physical and spiritual effects of the curse of sin. He healed those afflicted with physical diseases, illnesses, and injuries, even raising the dead, and He cast demons out of those who were possessed by them. Only God can rescue us from the results of the Fall of man into sin—disease and death—and by His miracles, Jesus proved His deity.

There are several distinctives in the way Jesus healed that are not characteristic of the modern faith healers. First, He healed instantly. Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:31), the centurion’s son (Matthew 8:13), Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:41-42), and the paralytic (Luke 5:24-25) were all healed immediately. They did not have to go home and start to get better, as is the advice from many faith healers. Second, Jesus healed totally. Peter’s mother-in-law was fully functional after being healed from an illness so severe she was bedridden, but when Jesus healed her, she rose immediately and prepared a meal for all who were in the house. The blind beggars in Matthew 20:34 were given instant sight. Third, Jesus healed everyone (Matthew 4:24;Luke 4:40). They were not required to be pre-screened by the disciples before coming to Jesus for healing, as is the standard procedure with the healers today. There was no healing line they had to qualify for. Jesus healed all the time in many places, not in a studio with carefully-controlled circumstances.

Fourth, Jesus healed actual organic diseases, not symptoms as the faith healers do. Jesus never healed anyone of a headache or back pain. He healed leprosy, blindness, and paralysis, miracles that were truly verifiable. Finally, Jesus healed the ultimate disease—death. He brought forth Lazarus after four days in the grave. No faith healer can duplicate that. In addition, His healings did not require faith as a precondition. In fact, most of those He healed were unbelievers.

There have always been false healers who prey on the suffering and the desperate in order to pad their bank accounts. Such behavior is the worst kind of blasphemy because many whose money is wasted on false promises reject Christ outright because He does not do what the healer has promised. Why, if faith healers have the power to heal, do they not walk the halls of the hospitals healing everyone and releasing them all? Why do they not go to Africa and cure all the AIDS cases? They do not because they cannot. They do not have the power of healing that Jesus possessed.

So to wrap up, healing comes from God and God alone. God can work through people but would God require you to pay a fee to them to be healed? Something to think about next time you see a faith healer on TV.

What are the human values taught by Jesus Christ as described in the Bible. Part 2


Part 2: The Word of Faith Movement (also called Name It and Claim It)

Name it and claim it Jesus

I found an opinion piece written by Jack Zavada that I found here, http://christianity.about.com/od/Word-Of-Faith/a/Word-Of-Faith-Errors.htm . It sums up the issues that I have with the Word of Faith movement rather well. It covers the prosperity gospel again but it is difficult to separate these beliefs. Here is what Jack Zavada wrote.

Word of Faith Errors

Word of Faith preachers are common on television and have massive followings. They typically teach that God wants his people to be healthy, wealthy, and happy all the time, and that speaking the right words, in faith, compels God to deliver on his part of the covenant.

Believers in accepted Christian doctrine disagree. They say the Word of Faith (WOF) movement is false and twists the Bible to primarily enrich the Word of Faith leaders themselves. Many of them live in mansions, wear expensive clothes, drive luxurious cars, and some even have private jets. The preachers rationalize that their lavish lifestyles are only proof that Word of Faith is true.

Word of Faith is not a Christian denomination or uniform doctrine. Beliefs vary from preacher to preacher, but they generally profess that children of God have a “right” to the good things in life, if they ask God and believe correctly. Following are three key Word of Faith errors.

Word of Faith Error #1: God is Obligated to Obey People’s Words

Words have power, according to Word of Faith beliefs. That’s why it is often called “name it and claim it.” WOF preachers cite a verse such as Matthew 11:24, emphasizing the belief aspect: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (NIV)

The Bible, in contrast, teaches that God’s will determines the answer to our prayers:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Romans 8:26-27, NIV)

God, as a loving heavenly Father, gives us what is best for us, and only he is capable of determining that. Countless faithful Christians have prayed for healing from illness or disability yet remain unhealed. On the other hand, many Word of Faith preachers who claim healing is only a prayer away wear eyeglasses and go to the dentist and doctor.

Word of Faith Error #2: God’s Favor Results in Riches

Financial abundance is a common thread among Word of Faith preachers, causing some to call this the “prosperity gospel” or “health and wealth gospel.”

Supporters claim that God is eager to shower worshipers with money, promotions, large homes and new cars, citing such verses as Malachi 3:10:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”(NIV)

But the Bible abounds with passages that warn of pursuing money instead of God, such as 1 Timothy 6:9-11:

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 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. (NIV)

Hebrews 13:5 cautions us not to always be wanting more and more:

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (NIV)

Wealth is not a sign of favor from God. Many drug dealers, corrupt businessmen, and pornographers are wealthy. Conversely, millions of hardworking, honest Christians are poor.

Word of Faith Error #3: Humans are Little Gods

Human beings are created in the image of God and are “little gods”, some WOF preachers claim. They imply that people are capable of controlling a “faith force” and have the power to bring their desires into being. They cite John 10:34 as their proof text:

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”‘? (NIV)

This Word of Faith teaching is blatant idolatry. Jesus Christ was quoting Psalm 82, which referred to judges as “gods”; Jesus was stating that he was above judges as the Son of God.

Christians believe there is one God only, in three Persons. Believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit but are not little gods. God is creator; humans are his creations. To attribute any type of divine power to humans is unbiblical.

What are the human values taught by Jesus Christ as described in the Bible.


We can all agree that Jesus was humble, loving, patient, and charitable with those he met as described in the bible. But what values did he want us to have?

We can sum it up in Luke 10:27

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

These are fairly straight forward commands, but let’s try to apply it to some of the current “ministries” out there that advocate receiving gifts rather than giving them.

I will take the next few weeks to go over the various “ministries” that I have run across and impart my opinion with some biblical references.

Part 1: The Prosperity Gospel

Prosperity Gospel

This philosophy says that we as Christians are meant to be rich and wealthy while here on earth. All we need to do is believe that it is so and give money “seed” to our prosperity preachers so that we can receive our 10, 100, 1000 fold return.

What did Jesus say about this idea?

In Matthew 19:16-22, Jesus counsels a rich young ruler about how to receive eternal life. The man says that he has kept all of the commandments all of his life. Jesus then instructs him to go and sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor. Then come and follow him. The man goes away in sorrow because he cannot bring himself to do this.

What do you think the lesson of this story is? Is it that we should have no possessions as Christians? No, this is about having something that comes before God in your life. God gives us our possessions and also takes them away. We are to be faithful and praise him whichever way our life goes.

So how do you think that Jesus would address the prosperity gospel preachers? Would he praise them for raising so much money and increasing their comfort and living conditions? Or would he chastise them for stealing money from the poor and misleading them away from the good news he brought to us?

Tomorrow We Celebrate


Tomorrow I will have an opportunity to meet with several other people who have fought the battle with liver disease and have been blessed enough to receive a transplant and live.

I was introduced to a Facebook group called “Love Your Liver” by a couple of fellow liver friends Scott Linscott and Bill Pinson. It turns out that Scott is in Kissimmee Florida and arranged this luncheon for the groups Florida members.

Now I have spent the better part of the last four years involved in several other Facebook liver groups trying to encourage and give hope to people that were going through the same things that I had. I found it to be very satisfying but at times exhausting.

During this time I saw Bill Pinson go through his transplant and Scott Linscott receive a live donor transplant from his son. I also witnessed several people that were not as fortunate and died either before they were able to get a transplant or because they were denied a transplant directly.

I have found great comfort to see people like Bill and Scott come through the other end of this disease and become encouragers and people who offer hope to others. I have also found a lot of encouragement from the others that have or are going through liver disease and failure. These people offer hope and advice to any who ask.

I read a post today that someone mentioned that they did not think there were any atheists who have had a liver transplant. This has been my experience throughout my illness and eventual transplant and recovery.

Today more than every I acknowledge that God is the one who brought me through this and in the process also brought me back to a relationship with Him. I have seen too much that shows me the power of God to ever deny Him. Today I live my life one day at a time, not worrying about tomorrow because I know that He will take care of it.

I thank God for groups like these that bring people who would otherwise be alone and support into a community of those that understand and care about others.

So tomorrow I will get a chance to meet with people that have gone through the same experience that I have and we can celebrate our continuing lives on this planet. We can give praise where it is due, and perhaps shed a few tears in the process. But this time it will be tears of joy!