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Archive for April, 2007

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A Word For the Western Church


Initially I was going to write about something else today, but in researching the topic the Spirit grabbed hold of this passage from Isaiah chapter 1. The church in the west today is no different from Judah during Isaiah’s time. You just have to replace Judah and Israel with the church. We play the harlot with the world and it’s systems. This is a warning to us here in the west. As you read through it ask yourself if this is what the church has become. Has it become religious? Do we have the form of Godliness but lack it.? I guess this goes along with my blog from a couple of weeks ago. The church is asleep and needs to be shaken. I believe God is going to do that. Will be able to stand when that shaking comes? Before judgement comes to the west it must come to the church first because the church is supposed to be better and yet we act like and even copy the world.

1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

2Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth!
      For the LORD has spoken:
      “ I have nourished and brought up children,
      And they have rebelled against Me;
3 The ox knows its owner
      And the donkey its master’s crib;
But Israel does not know,
      My people do not consider.”
4 Alas, sinful nation,
      A people laden with iniquity,
      A brood of evildoers,
      Children who are corrupters!
      They have forsaken the LORD,
      They have provoked to anger
      The Holy One of Israel,
      They have turned away backward.
5 Why should you be stricken again?
      You will revolt more and more.
      The whole head is sick,
      And the whole heart faints.
6 From the sole of the foot even to the head,
There is no soundness in it,
But wounds and bruises and putrefying sores;
      They have not been closed or bound up,
      Or soothed with ointment.
7 Your country is desolate,
      Your cities are burned with fire;
      Strangers devour your land in your presence; 
     And it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

8 So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard,
      As a hut in a garden of cucumbers,
      As a besieged city.
9 Unless the LORD of hosts
      Had left to us a very small remnant,
      We would have become like Sodom,
      We would have been made like Gomorrah.
10 Hear the word of the LORD,
      You rulers of Sodom;
      Give ear to the law of our God,
      You people of Gomorrah:
11 “ To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?”
      Says the LORD.
      “ I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
      And the fat of fed cattle.
      I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
      Or of lambs or goats.
12 “ When you come to appear before Me,
      Who has required this from your hand,
      To trample My courts?
13 Bring no more futile sacrifices;
      Incense is an abomination to Me.
      The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies—
      I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
14 Your New Moons and your appointed feasts
      My soul hates;
      They are a trouble to Me,
      I am weary of bearing them.
15 When you spread out your hands,
      I will hide My eyes from you;
      Even though you make many prayers,
      I will not hear.
      Your hands are full of blood.
16 “ Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
      Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes.
      Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
      Seek justice,
      Rebuke the oppressor;
      Defend the fatherless,
      Plead for the widow.
18 “ Come now, and let us reason together,”
      Says the LORD,
      “ Though your sins are like scarlet,
      They shall be as white as snow;
      Though they are red like crimson,
      They shall be as wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient,
      You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel,
      You shall be devoured by the sword”;
      For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

21 How the faithful city has become a harlot!
      It was full of justice;
      Righteousness lodged in it,
      But now murderers.
22 Your silver has become dross,
      Your wine mixed with water.
23 Your princes are rebellious,
      And companions of thieves;
      Everyone loves bribes,
      And follows after rewards.
      They do not defend the fatherless,
      Nor does the cause of the widow come before them.
24 Therefore the Lord says,
      The LORD of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel,
      “ Ah, I will rid Myself of My adversaries,
      And take vengeance on My enemies.
25 I will turn My hand against you,
      And thoroughly purge away your dross,
      And take away all your alloy.
26 I will restore your judges as at the first,
      And your counselors as at the beginning.
      Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city.”
27 Zion shall be redeemed with justice,
      And her penitents with righteousness.
28 The destruction of transgressors and of sinners shall be together,
      And those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.
29 For they shall be ashamed of the terebinth trees
      Which you have desired;
      And you shall be embarrassed because of the gardens
      Which you have chosen.
30 For you shall be as a terebinth whose leaf fades,
      And as a garden that has no water.
31 The strong shall be as tinder,
      And the work of it as a spark;
      Both will burn together,
      And no one shall quench them.

Now compare this passage from Isaiah with Christ’s message to the church of Laodicea.

14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’”
Rev. 3:14-22 (NKJV)

Christ loves His church and one day he has promised to marry us as a bride without spot or wrinkle. Right now we have lots of spots and wrinkles. We are covered with dross and full of impurities and yet He still loves us. He loves us so much that He can’t allow us to remain this way. He will cleanse His church. The only way to rid the body of these impurities is the same way a metallurgist removes impurities in metal. In the fire. A cleansing fire and only those whose faith is rooted and grounded in Christ and His word will remain standing. Will you be one of them?

Gideon’s Arrested For Handing Out Bibles In Florida


FAITH UNDER FIRE
Gideons battling 2nd round of charges
‘Why does Florida prosecute people who hand out Bibles?’


Posted: April 20, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern


© 2007 WorldNetDaily.com

Two members of Gideons International who were arrested in Florida for handing out Bibles on a public sidewalk are battling a second round of charges, after the initial trespassing charges against them were dismissed, but authorities filed a new set.

"Why is Florida so interested in prosecuting people who hand out Bibles?" asked the Alliance Defense Fund, which is working on the case for the two volunteers. "Does the state now believe that its citizens will be safer if ‘protected’ from Bibles? In a country founded on religious freedom, the actions of the State are a disgrace."

Officials with the law firm have confirmed that they now have filed a new motion to dismiss the new charges facing the Gideons for their work in Key Largo.

(Story continues below)

As WND reported earlier, Anthony Mirto and Ernest Simpson of Monroe County were arrested, charged with trespassing, and booked into jail after the school principal called police while the two men were distributing copies of the Bible on a public sidewalk earlier this year.

They were verbally assaulted and badgered by the arresting officer, according to court filings in the case, and sustained injury to their wrists when he handcuffed them with their hands behind their backs and detained them in a closed, un-air conditioned car for nearly an hour in 90-degree heat.

"Following the initial motion to dismiss filed by ADF attorneys, the state dismissed the charges but then filed new ones under a different statute," the ADF said.

"The distribution of Bibles on a public sidewalk is not a criminal offense," said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. "The attempts by Florida officials to continue pressing for the prosecution of Mr. Mirto and Mr. Simpson is not only blatantly unconstitutional, it borders on religious persecution."

The incident developed Jan. 19, when the two men were distributing Bibles on a public sidewalk outside Key Largo School but did not step onto school grounds, the ADF said. Both men were arrested, booked, and charged with trespassing after the school’s principal called police. On March 8, ADF attorneys filed a motion to dismiss and the state did dismiss those counts.

However, it filed new charges under a different law that prohibits anyone from being within 500 feet of any school property, including on public sidewalks and streets, without having either "legitimate business" or permission, the ADF said.

"The facts are clear: Mr. Mirto and Mr. Simpson are guilty of nothing more than peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights," Cortman said. "For whatever reason, the state is grasping at straws in order to justify the punishment of these men."

The state of Florida is now in the "untenable position of trying to justify the punishment of fundamental First Amendment activities in a quintessential traditional public forum," the law firm said. Under U.S. Supreme Court precedents over the last century, that is a "blatant violation of their constitutional rights."

On the face of the statute cited by the prosecutor, people driving by the school on the highway technically are in violation of the law, unless they have an exemption, and if the same exemption doesn’t apply to the two members of Gideons International, then that creates a content-based speech restriction, which also isn’t proper, Cortman said.

In fact, if anyone may have stepped beyond the law, the filing suggests, it was the arresting officer from the Monroe County sheriff’s office.

"There was no call for Officer [John] Perez’s angry demeanor, his inappropriate handling of the situation, his abusive treatment of the Gideons, his stopping and arresting them while they were in the process of leaving, his unnecessary towing of the car (parked where many other cars were parked), his handcuffing the men behind their backs, his leaving them cramped in a hot car for nearly an hour (which should never be done to animals, never mind to human beings), nor his mocking the Gideons’ religious beliefs stating ‘now you can pray to Jesus all the way to jail,’" the ADF said.

The new motion seeks to dismiss the new counts in "State of Florida v. Simpson" and "State of Florida v. Mirto."

In a statement at the outset of the case to WND, Becky Herrin, of the public information office in the Monroe County sheriff’s office, stated as a fact that the defendants in the case did trespass. She later declined additional comment.

"A copy of our police report (see attached) … clearly states that the people in question were arrested for trespassing on school property – not on a public sidewalk… In fact, they were given the opportunity to step off school property and onto public property, and they could have continued with their activities if they had done so. They chose instead to remain, against repeated warnings, on school property so deputies were forced to arrest them," Herrin said in a statement to WND.

But the report forwarded to WND revealed the two were arrested while in their vehicle parked near, but not on, school property.

The Gideons, a group founded in the late 1800s, has as its "sole purpose" the goal "to win men, women, boys and girls to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ through association for service, personal testimony, and distributing the Bible in the human traffic lanes and streams of everyday life."

Members of the Gideons, who pay their own expenses so 100 percent of the donations to the group go toward Bible purchases and distributions, have placed the Bible in 181 nations in 82 different languages over the years.

The organization focuses on hotels and motels, hospitals and nursing homes, schools, colleges and universities, the military and law enforcement and prisons and jails.

"The demand for Scriptures in these areas far exceeds our supplies that we are able to purchase through our donations. Much more could be done – if funds were available. However, we are placing and distributing more than 1 million copies of the Word of God, at no cost, every seven days in these areas…" the group said.

The organization only gives away the Bibles with the Gideon logo on the covers, but plain Bibles are available for consumers to purchase at its distribution center at P.O. Box 140800, Nashville, Tenn., 37214-0800. Information about the products is available on the group’s website.

The Gideons serve as an extended missionary arm of the Christian church and are the oldest Christian business and professional men’s association in the United States.

Virginia We Pray For You


Yesterday, was a day of horror and confusion for many at Virginia Tech. Evil is indeed alive and well in the world and it is always roaming around seeking those whom it can devour. 33 lives became victims of that evil. It is a time of sorrow, but there is hope. The Lord said that he would be near to those who mourn and have a broken heart. Forgive the man who committed this evil. He himself was a victim of this evil. Pray for the families and friends of those who died.
 
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 1Cor 1:3-4 (NKJV)
 
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart,
         And saves such as have a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18 (NKJV)
 
He heals the brokenhearted
       and binds up their wounds.   Psalm 147:3 (NKJV)

None to Compare


“Now when He (Jesus) had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowels of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” Then I looked and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousands times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” And every creature which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.” Revelation 5:8-14. 
 
When it comes to Christian celebrations, in general, less emphasis is put on Easter and much more on Christmas. Yes, Christ’s entry into this world, through a virgin was miraculous. God came to earth as a man and dwelt among us. But to me Easter means much more. Before Jesus died on the cross there was no hope for any of us. Our sin kept us separated from God.
 
Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened,
      That it cannot save;
      Nor His ear heavy,
      That it cannot hear.
       2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God;
      And your sins have hidden His face from you,
      So that He will not hear. Isaiah 59:1-2.
 
We were all destined for hell. No amount of sacrifice could help us. When Christ died He changed all that. His death and resurrection bridged the gap between us and God. We now have access to His throne. But think of the cost.
 
He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” 2 Cor. 5:21.
 
Christ took upon Himself the punishment of sin past, present, and future. Every act of adultery, homosexuality, and murder. Every sin was placed on Him and He became the perfect sacrifice. The Blood of God was shed that day and all creation cried out in horror. Three days later the Easter miracle happened. Christ conquered sin and death. He rose physically from the dead. Sin could not hold Him. Death had no power over Him. Because of this miracle we who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior should have no fear. Sin and death has no power over us. As a worship leader I struggle because there is many beautiful songs written by men that worship our Lord and yet at times none of these songs seems adequate enough to truly express His glory and majesty. My heart wants to burst because there are no words to express my love for Him and the thankfulness I have toward Him for what He’s done for us. I long for that day in Heaven when the song in Revelation 5 is sung. No song written on this earth can compare. We will be singing before the King face to face. Then and only then will the worshipper in me be satisfied.