Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Distracted Driving is a Threat to Our Well-being!

Do you talk on your cell phone while driving? Do you text? An article in the newspaper, “Driving while distracted,”claims this is a growing danger as more drivers insist on using their cell phones and handheld devises. Last year, almost 6,000 people were killed and a half-million injured due to driver distraction.

Did you know there is a Biblical mandate against distraction? Paul says “be not anxious!”
(Phil. 4:6). The word “anxious” is NOT exactly the same word we use today to describe the ‘clinically’-diagnosed problem of anxiety. The Greek word “anxious” is rooted in the word “divide,” meaning a divided or distracted mind. Jesus diagnoses Martha’s problem using this word: “Martha, Martha, you are worried…” (Luke 10:42). Martha was not having a panic attack: but she was terribly distracted by the details of dinner preparation.

Fortunately, Paul does not give the prohibition against “distraction” without offering the solution. The cure for distraction is FOCUS: “Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right...pure and lovely and admirable...excellent and worthy of praise” (Phil. 4:9 NLT)…,“set your minds on things above” (Col. 3:2). Paul’s solution: “single-mindedness.” When Jesus spoke of Martha’s “distraction” He too pointed to single-mindedness: “you are distracted by many things but only one thing is necessary” (Luke 10:42). The “one thing” that mattered most that day was devotion to Jesus. Mary understood that.

And finally, Paul says Satan’s strategy in the Garden was to distract Eve from her single-minded devotion to God, followed by his warning: Satan will try to distract your minds from attention to Jesus
(2 Co. 11:3). And his strategy remains unchanged. He will do everything to distract you in your quiet times of Bible reading and prayer. He will distract you with the things of this world—both good and bad. Be careful! These distractions can cause accident and injury. Distractions are a threat to your well-being!
Alphonso's Input and insight drawn from the above posting by the late Dr. Greg Burts 
Let us all be remindful that the Devil is busy striving to deceive and destroy as many souls as he can, and he has many devices at his disposal to achieve his goals.
Paul noted that we should not give the Devil an opportunity to succeed, for "we are not ignorant of his devices"(2nd Cor. 2:11). The Devil has many ways he try to temp us and lead us astray or simply delay our interest/and or obedience to God's will , and the more we know about how he operates, the better prepared we will be to ensure we are able to recognize his work and defeat his efforts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Is Life a road trip without destination

In yesterday’s blog I wrote about the importance of asking God for directions—using the analogy of a road trip. Imagine going on a road trip without a destination in mind. Asking for directions would be irrelevant.

I think this is how many unfulfilled Christians live their lives. To them life is like a road trip without a destination, or you might say, they have no sense of destiny. Such people focus on motion (or activity). They may not know where they are going, but they are on their way! Unfortunately, thousands who sit in church pews week after week have somehow missed the truth which provides meaning, direction, purpose and commitment: a sense of DIVINE DESTINY [or DESTINATION].

As the sons of God, our life is like a road trip. And in fact, we may not be aware of the specific “destination” we are “destined” to arrive at. But if we truly believed we were people of destiny, we would surely be mindful of seeking His direction every day. Why? Because we would know that each day’s assignment, given by Him, is a preparation and a precursor to the next step and the next, until we attain to that destiny for which we were called.

Greg Burts

Alphonso's input

As I searched through Greg's blogs to post in remembrance and edification of him I was led to this one written Tuesday May 5, 2009.

We have the God given ability deep within more like a GPS system that will guide us to our destiny in a given amount of time. That time is determined by how well we follow instructions. Also the ability to hear that still inner voice explains why some people excel in life further and reach a sense of purpose quicker than others. If only we can truly understand how important it is to know where you are in life. We don't always like to admit where we are because if the truth be told, we know our lives are not what God intended for it to be. With that said we are not strangers to that inner voice," we just tend to ignore it or write it off.

The Bible tells us in John 10:27, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." God speaks to all of us regardless of our religious belief.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The passing of Dr.Greg Burts

It is with love and gratitude that we sorrowfully announce Dr. Greg Burts. has begun his grand transition, following a battle with cancer.
He entered fully into the presence of his Lord and Savior Wednesday, July 16, 2014.

Please offer your prayers for his peace and blazing light as he ascends into the heavens

A celebration of Greg's life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at
Santa Clara Vietnamese Alliance Church.

 It is Greg's wish that sympathy testimony be made through donations to Equip Orphan Outreach, an outreach to the staff of orphanages in order to equip them through workshops to deal with children who have experienced trauma.

Equip Orphan Outreach is a tax exempt ministry and checks
made to it can be mailed to:

Equip Orphan Outreach
P.O. Box 32086
San Jose, Ca. 95152

Greg touched our lives daily with spiritual insight and wisdom let us meditate and revisit his blogs,

A beloved friend,
Alphonso Farquharson   

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stop watching the Wrong Contest

Nowadays with the possibility of watching multiple media venues at once, you can be watching multiple sports events simultaneously. And that’s a rather modern expression but contemporary problem of our multi-tasking culture.

At the end of life on earth, Jesus made it clear to Peter that each of the disciples would have to run his own race. Peter looked back at John and inquired about what kind of race John would have to run, Jesus simply said, “when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18). In other words, He said “Stop looking at other peoples’ contests. Pay attention to your own (Heb. 12:2).
What are you looking at today? Whose race are you watching? “Did you begin by fixing your eyes on Jesus?”

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Are You Waiting to Hear I've entered my Final Rest?

The writer of Hebrews promised a time when we will enter His Final rest (Heb. 4:1, 9,11). In my experience, too many people don't understand "Final Rest," and are therefore unable to enter it!

The reason God rested is that His work was finished. The reason we are able to rest is that our ‘work’ is identical. Jesus finished it for us! We are free from self-effort. Quite simply, the Sabbath Rest means we are “dead to sin and alive to God” (Rom. 6:11). John says, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on, so that they may rest from their labors” (Rev. 14:13).

Think of this. Under the Old Covenant, the "day of rest" was on the last day of the week. Under the New Covenant, the first day of the week became the "day of rest,” illustrating a principle: you must enter His rest before you begin to do His work; and you must enter His rest in order to do His work!  Should I be waiting to hear one from telling me about yours too?"

Monday, May 26, 2014

Living with Cancer

Every month I receive an e-newsletter from the American Cancer Society, called “Living with Cancer.” As I was doing my usual delete-without-reading, it suddenly occurred to me we are all living with “something” we would rather not be. Maybe something temporary, like a financial loss or an inconsiderate roommate. Or more long-term, like diabetes or multiple sclerosis. Whatever it is, we think we would be better off without it.

These days, you will find a plethora of books telling you how to tolerate/manage this undesirable thing. But in God's economy, you cannot live ‘without’ it: “When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow... and when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4). By living with our “self-eliminating cancers,” we are all being conformed to the image of Jesus. Given that, how can we possibly say we would rather not be living with it?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

No Longer “Dying to Live”

“Past” is a noun that refers to history, as in these converse statements: “he had a rich past,” or “he regretted his past.” Whether memorable or regrettable, we cannot live in the past: what’s passed is in the past.

But having become the recipient of “new things” in Christ: behold I make all things new (Rev. 21:5), we must be diligent and deliberate in leaving the past behind—every day. This is the “dying to live” principle by which I have sought to live my life, however ineffectively. Perhaps it is because I have so many unspeakable things in my past that I have made every effort to “die” to what-was in order to “live” to what-is.
Because my failures in this pursuit far outweighed my successes, I relish the day when the truth will be reality—the day when I will no longer be “dying to live.” I will have left the past behind forever.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Never say “DIE”

Last month, I learned that my pancreatic cancer had returned. My oncologist’s first words were, “you must start treatment immediately.” Considering how quickly the cancer had advanced since my last treatments, I said 'no.' But more to the point, I have God's perfect peace about “going home,” an event some refer to as death.

But John says we “in” Christ have already “passed from death to life” (1 John 3:14), and will never die. As Jesus’ death is in the “past,” ours too. And as He lives, we too.

“Passed” (not “past”) means to move beyond. As long as we are on earth, there are things in the “past” we cannot seem to get “passed”—things that still affect us, even if only indirectly. In light of this, think again of Paul’s declaration, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new person. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17). Admittedly, this proclamation is somewhat elusive while we are bound by time and space. But after we “pass” out of time into eternity, our newness will be profoundly palpable.

Monday, May 19, 2014

How do you Spell Success?

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey is so popular that many evangelicals use it as a blueprint for disciples. How many, I wonder, are aware that Covey’s Mormon faith underlies his success-building philosophy? It is called the doctrine of “eternal progression”—an upward-spiraling development of the human soul that spells success and perfection, and leads to one's own deity.

Why has this self-help, you-can-be-a-better person view point found such wide acceptance among evangelicals? Is it because it fits better into what they would like to believe? One thing I have observed is that those who expound on messages of success seldom teach the harder things of discipleship—like brokenness, suffering, humility, or delay. An unbiblical view of success and prosperity has the potential to do more damage to one's faith than almost any other misunderstood doctrine.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Pre-Antichrist Conditioning?

According to the organizers of a conference on “Exorcism and Prayers of Liberation” in Rome this week, the decline of traditional religious beliefs in the West has greatly increased the number of people pursuing black magic, Satanism, and the occult. Coincidentally, a Satanic Black Mass reenactment took place at Harvard University this week, by the Satanic Temple, a group that has filed legislation in Oklahoma to allow a statue of Satan to be installed on the grounds of the State Capitol.

Is this a sign of the times? Will there be an increase of demonic activity in the last days? Yes and yes. But beyond the issue of greater recognition is the normalizing of demonic supernaturalism—something the secularists would have laughed at a half-century ago.  Now it is an assumed reality that has gotten all mixed up with belief in extraterrestrials! Some end-time experts are calling this a pre-antichrist conditioning.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Set your Sights Higher

Fortunate as Altha and I are to live at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains, there is hill close by I can climb when I need a little perspective. My friend John Woodward recently wrote a post entitled, “A Higher View,” in which he poses the question, “Why is it so fascinating to get a higher perspective? Could it be that we get accustomed to the ordinary appearance of our surroundings and lose sight of the larger scene?”

One of the reasons I was put off by the movie (remember, I didn’t read the book) “Heaven is for Real” is that it presented Heaven as a “place”—more than what it is: a higher realm. The closer I get to my last days on earth, the more I take comfort in higher thoughts. (I am just sorry it took so long to get me to this point!) While we are yet living in this lower realm, it is “natural” to get caught up in it (or is it ‘caught down’?). What better person than Paul—who was once caught up to the third heaven—to exhort us, “Set your sight on things above” (Col. 3:2, Jubilee Bible). To do otherwise is to be terribly short-sighted (2 Peter 1:9).

Monday, May 12, 2014

What is the biggest thing in the Universe?

Whenever the stresses of life “distress” you, do you fantasize an escape? A Caribbean cruise or European vacation? Or just a day in the woods, or a walk on the beach? “From my distress I called upon the LORD who answered me and set me in a large place” (Ps. 118:5). “Distress” refers to confinement (Ps. 4:1). Whether a jail cell or classroom; a difficult task or a challenging relationship—it is the feeling of being pressed in, i.e., a ‘tight spot.’ In contrast, a “large place” signifies the freedom of wide-open space.

Solomon said “God has put eternity in our hearts” (Eccl. 3:11). If time is the vestibule of eternity, it is not surprising we feel confined in this narrow hallway called earth. If, as A.W. Tozer says, the biggest thing in the universe is the human spirit, it is no wonder we cannot be satisfied with such a small space. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fear of Spiritual Heights?

An avalanche on Mount Everest last month killed 16 Sherpa guides. Closer to home, a 28 year old man died in a climbing accident on El Capitan in Yosemite Park last year. No one can deny the danger of climbing. Only the fearless attempt it.

Likewise, the higher places of spiritual life are hazardous. The Psalmist acknowledges this when he says, “He makes my feet like those of a deer and gives me sure footing on high places” (18:33). The high places represent, spatially, closeness to God and greater spiritual sight (and insight).

The fear of spiritual heights is justified. If you fall—unlike nature’s climber, you will not be destroyed—you will be more hurt than the security-seekers on the ground! (But think of the ecstasies you would miss!) Take confidence in the “God who is able to keep you from falling and bring you with great joy into His glorious presence without a single fault” (Jude 24). Be fearless! Think about the spiritual revelations waiting for you at the summit! Think about Jesus high and lifted up.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

You Complete Me

I am not sure where the expression “You complete me” originates. It was certainly popularized by the movie, “Jerry Maguire,” where Tom Cruise’s character declares it to RenĂ©e Zellweger. It is the foolish notion that we can be “whole” if we find our “other half,” our “soul mate”—that person who fills our longings. Only God can do that. In fact, He who began His good work within you, promises to complete it (Phil. 1:6).
That's not to say, however, that God doesn't use people in the process. Through personal interactions (that seem to bring out the worst in us), we are made painfully aware of the work God must do in us to fit us together in faith and knowledge until we measure up to the standard of perfection, Christ. (Eph. 4:13).
So as God completes us individually, He fits us into the ‘whole’ until it is perfectly fit for Christ (Eph. 4:16; 5:27; Col. 2:10). So then it is not so terribly wrong to say to one another, “you complete me.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Faith Journey doesn’t come with a Map!

There is a universal stereotype that men don’t ask for directions and women can’t read maps. However erroneous, or not (isn’t there is a kernel of truth to a stereotype?), it paints a rather bleak picture of “lost” mankind—combining stubborn independence with and unqualified helplessness.

And that’s what distinguishes the faith of Abraham. With no ‘directions’ other than “leave house and homeland, and go to the land I will show you” Abraham “obeyed, and went out not knowing where he was going” (Gen. 12:1-2; Heb. 11:8). Who does that?

What a lesson in faith. With nothing more than a promise, Abraham believed God's destiny (destination) for him. Are we believers? Are we willing to go the course, with no directions, and no map? Someone has said “Even though Abraham didn’t know where he was going, he knew Who he was going with.” Centuries later, Jesus looked at a ‘lost’ generation, and simply said, “Follow me.”

Friday, May 2, 2014

Walking on Water

When Peter tried to walk on water, he took his eyes off Jesus and sank. But Jesus picked him up, saying, “You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me?” (Matt. 14). Likewise, on our journey of faith, each of us is confronted by doubts—we cry out, “Lord, help me overcome my unbelief”  (Mark 9:24). Having doubts is normal. The important thing is how we handle them.
Imagine that doubt is a fork-in-the-road of faith (we'll have many of these in a lifetime). One road leads to the resolution of doubt to greater faith. The other is a dead-end of double-mindedness (James 1:8).

Double-mindedness (not doubt) was the primal sin: “I am afraid that you will be led astray from your pure and undivided devotion to Christ just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s craftiness” (2 Co. 11:3). Jesus attributes Martha's anxiety to double-mindedness while honoring Mary's singular attention on Him. (Luke 10:41-42). So, to the degree we fix our eyes on Jesus (Heb. 12:2), we will overcome troubling doubts and walk on the waters of bigger faith (Col. 3:2). Just like Peter did!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Don’t let it be the National Day of Half-a-Prayer

Today in the U.S., it is the annual National Day of Prayer. Undoubtedly, many Christians will be asking God to change our country and our culture. They will pray for wisdom for our leaders. They will pray against the moral issues of the day. They will confront the evil forces at work in our land. They will pray for revival.

But to confront the darkness in this world without also asking God to search and root out the pockets of darkness in our own hearts is only half a prayer.

In speaking of the National Day of Prayer, Daniel Henderson of ‘Strategic Renewal’ writes, “When we pray for other issues and miss the primary need to become more like Christ as we pray, we are shortsighted. When we pray in order to be changed, we become [God’s] agents of change.   

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Frontline Faith!

Recently when a friend sent me a link to a missional program called “Life on the Frontline,” I was struck by the word “frontline,” a military term for the heaviest place of battle, where soldiers are in the trenches and closest to the enemy.

Paul says, “Endure suffering along with me. As a good soldier of Christ Jesus, put on all of God’s armor, for we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world” (2 Tim. 2:3-4; Eph. 6:12-13). Peter also uses a martial metaphor, “Since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also for the same purpose” (1 Pet. 4:1). In other words, God's warriors should never go to the frontline unarmed!

In the last days, Jesus is looking for those who have the “frontline faith” of happily conscripted armed servicemen and women, willing to take a stand for ‘unpopular’ truth, even if it means giving up their lives for the “Captain of their Faith” (Heb. 12:2). Will He find us on the “frontline” when He returns?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Resistance, Russia, and the Devil

Warned about possible sanctions if they do anything to escalate Ukraine’s internal conflict, what did Russia do? They flew jets into Ukraine's airspace and aligned themselves with rebel Russian Ukrainians over control of the rebel-held town of Slavyansk—whose outcome could determine if Russia takes control of the whole of eastern Ukraine.  

Should it surprise anyone that after invading Crimea with almost no resistance from the U.S. or Europe, Russia is pushing the boundaries (quite literally), changing geopolitics for decades, even centuries.

Not to infer that Putin is the devil, the word “resistance” brought to mind a spiritual truth—we have to resist our enemies. If you “resist the devil, he will flee from you” (4:7). Imagine that! We have the power to put the devil to flight! And not unlike what is going on in Russia and Ukraine, if we do not resist him (giving him the advantage), the personal outcome will be disastrous. “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will stand firm (Eph. 6:13).

Monday, April 28, 2014

You're not a Saint until the Pope says you're a Saint!

Dear saints, I cannot let yesterday's historical religious event go without a comment. In a ceremony at Vatican City, watched by millions on Satellite TV, Pope Francis canonized John XXIII and John Paul II. In Roman Catholicism, canonization only happens by papal authority after a long process proving the person lived and died in such a holy way that he or she is worthy to be called a saint. 
Can the Roman Catholic tradition be reconciled with biblical teaching? Not at all.

In Roman Catholic theology, the “saints” are in heaven. In the Bible, the “saints” are on earth. In Roman Catholic tradition, a person does not become a “saint” unless he/she is “beatified” by a bishop or “canonized” by the Pope. In the Bible, everyone who has received Jesus Christ by faith is a “saint.” In Roman Catholicism, the “saints” are prayed to. In the Bible, “saints” pray. (Acts 9:32; 2 Cor. 8:4; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:2; Heb. 6:10)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

There are No Losers Anymore

A recent study in England shows a majority of children less concerned about competition, winning or losing, than just playing for fun, the cultural effect of the 21st century “we’re-all-winners” philosophy! As good as it sounds, how does a life without loss prepare children for the adult world of disappointment and rejection? And what happened to the notion of building character through defeat?

Likewise, our spiritual children must have a solid doctrinal understanding of adversity, or they will lose hope and abandon their faith when hard times come. Jesus said, “whoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it… Everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property for my sake will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children, wife or property—along with persecution. And in the world to come, eternal life” (Mark 8:35; 10:29-30). In other words, in God’s economy, the biggest winners are the losers!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

“Heaven is for Real” - the Movie

Not having read the book, “Heaven is for Real,” I was quite curious to see the movie; I had lots of questions, wondering why it was generating so much interest. Author, and father of Colton, Todd Burpo said he is very satisfied that the movie portrays his book accurately and honestly. In fact, Todd claims that God is telling the story. Why, I wondered? Is the Bible incomplete? Or will Colton's story turn non-believers into believers? And then I remembered the story of Dives who, from his place in Hades, asked Abraham to send someone to warn His brothers: “If someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.” To which Abraham replied, “They won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:30-31).

While the Bible gives few details of Heaven as a ‘place,’ it gives us a few amazing sights of the king of Heaven. Isaiah says, “I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple” (Is. 6:1). Ezekiel saw Jesus: “high above on a throne was a figure like that of a man, glowing, as if full of fire, and brilliant light surrounded him.” (Ezekiel 1:26-27). The Apostle John saw “someone like a son of man, his eyes were like blazing fire, and his face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance, and the throne He sat on was as brilliant as gemstones—like jasper and carnelian.” (Rev. 1:13-17; 4:3). Upon seeing Jesus in His glory, John and Ezekiel fell down like dead men. Isaiah felt his sinfulness: “I am a man of unclean lips” (6:5).

In contrast, the 4-year old Colton’s view of Jesus is that of a white man with blue-green eyes, curly brown hair (John tells us Jesus' hair was white, like wool), dressed in a plain white robe. And that's a problem: Colton's “Heaven” is too earthy. And believers in his heavenly visit are more taken up with natural details and knowing which of their relatives he saw in Heaven than they are about the enthroned Jesus.

One reviewer said, “'Heaven Is for Real' gently shares biblical truths in an accessible and non-preachy way—offering hope, encouragement and a strengthening of faith for both Christians and non-believers alike.” Non-preachy or otherwise, it is doubtful there is enough truth in the movie to bring a non-believer to Christ or, for that matter, to lift a believer higher because of its underlying message of "universalism." In answering who can go to Heaven, the film ends with a cross-less, Christ-less message of universal love.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Elusive Rest

When a person dies, we say he has entered his “final rest.”  But there is another death that leads to rest: being “dead to self and alive to God” (Rom. 6:11).

Unfortunately, many believers have not understood this “dying to live” principle. It is very simple: we are legally dead to sin, but as we live in this world, we must die experientially. And as we do, He gives us rest (Matt. 11:28). But for those yet alive to self, in its various hyphenated derivatives, i.e., self-importance, self-defense, self-promotion, ‘rest’ remains elusive. 

Today as you commemorate Easter morning, don't forget that after Jesus arose, “He sat down at the right hand of God,” a posture of rest: His work was done (Eph. 1:20; Heb. 12:3). And now we, having risen with Christ, are “seated in the heavenlies” with Him, entering His rest (Eph. 2:6; Heb. 4:11). But since this capacity for resting is something we grow into, I can just imagine that whenever we start to feel the restless pull of life on earth, Jesus is saying, “Please come up here and take your seat”?

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Cross is Personal

When Jesus picked up a wooden cross and died on it, He was not dying for His principles. It was personal—He died “for” you and me. And when Jesus said “pick up your cross” (Luke 9:23), He made the “cross” even more personal—that we die “with” Him. 

“Your cross” points to something individual, and personal: to give up ownership of your desires, ambitions, and plans. Not that they are sinful (some of them may be), but they now serve God's purpose. Jesus warned his cross-bearing followers that devotion to Him would mean a detachment from things on earth, even the right to one’s own life:

“You are not your own; you are bought with a price that you should no longer live for yourself, but for Him who died and rose again on your behalf” (1 Co. 6:20). Only by picking up your cross, by losing your life, will you find your life (Matt. 10:39). And you can't get any more personal than that. Have a blessed Easter!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Restless Sheep and Popularity Contests

Any high school election is just a popularity contest. Hopefully, when these teens are old enough to vote in a general election, they will also be mature enough to judge candidates on legitimate merits, not on good looks and personality.

That said, in my lifetime, I've observed an increase of popularity contests among churches, as they try harder and harder to outdo each other in attracting large crowds. Sadly, though, most churches are not increasing the flock with “new believers” but by “transfer” growth, people moving from one church to another. This is sometimes referred to, especially by the 'losing' church, as “stealing sheep.”

In the Church at Corinth, the sheep were aligning themselves with the most popular shepherds within the local church, causing divisions (1 Cor. 3). While this was condemned by Paul, he did not address any problem with “transfer” growth (after all, there was only one church). In our day, there seems to be an increase of restlessness among the sheep. Is this another sign of our times?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What's in the Bottom Drawer of Your Night Stand?

A new George Barna poll finds a sharp increase in the number of Americans who consider the Bible a book written by men rather than God. Even among self-proclaimed Christians, only twenty percent read the Bible regularly. And the number of Millennials who are skeptical of the Bible has doubled since 2011.

At the same time outside the U.S., the number who want a Bible, but don’t have one, is exploding—the Voice of Martyrs reported their Bible waiting list is 200,000. While these Bible-less believers wait, the average American Christian's Bible sits in the bottom drawer of his/her bedside table, gathering dust!

French philosopher Voltaire wrote in 1728 that in 100 years the Bible would have passed out of history as people became more enlightened. Since then, more than 5 billion Bibles were printed and sold. Voltaire is dead now, but “the Word of God is active and living” (Hebrews 4:12); and one of Voltaire's houses later became a printing and storage center—for Bibles.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The ‘Signs of the Times’ on Steroids

End-times scholar Hal Lindsey  says, “I am amazed at the speed with which events are moving today. The Bible tells us that in the last days, the ‘signs’ of the times will appear with ever-increasing frequency and intensity. In our modern lingo, maybe we could describe this phenomena as the signs of the times on steroids!”  What are these signs?

One of the most significant signs is that Israel has become the center of geopolitics—and Jerusalem the most sought after real estate on the planet. And considering Iran’s threat of nuclear attack, if Israel strikes preemptively, it would surely destabilize the world's political and financial institutions, necessitating world restructuring, most probably in the form of a one-world government made possible by new technology, and setting the stage for a messiah-like person who will promise to restore peace and order.

Of course there are other signs, most of which are too disheartening to speak of. No wonder Jesus said, “When you see these things happening, look up!” How else can we not let them get us down?

Monday, April 14, 2014

How do Muslims View the End Times?

Did you know many Muslims believe that the end times are here? According to Mideast expert and theologian J. Richardson, many jihadists have joined the conflict in Syria because they see it as an apocalyptic war. Just before the Muslim messiah, Mahdi, comes to earth, there will arise a Sufyani, an enemy of Mahdi, who will battle for control of the earth. Such are the implications of the Syrian conflict. And because of this end-time perspective, jihadists are willing to fight to the death.

In addition to being just plain fascinating, the Islamic end-time doctrine evokes thoughts of Christian themes: Armageddon, antichrist, martyrdom, and John's description of the tribulation saints who did not love their life even when faced with death (Rev. 12:11). When Jesus told his first followers to pick up their cross, they knew exactly what he meant: they had seen thousands of their countrymen crucified by the Romans. But unlike Islam, Christians don't die for a cause, but for Christ's glory! The start of Passion Week is a good time to consider the question: Have I given up everything to follow Christ (Matt. 10:28)?

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Biggest Cultural Paradigm Shift in History

Last week, after the Mozilla CEO's support of California’s Proposition 8, against gay marriage, became known, he was forced to resign his post. Was this a victory for gay rights, or a setback for free speech?

According to Dr. Albert Mohler, “endorsement of same-sex marriage has rather suddenly become nonnegotiable”—those in opposition judged to be unenlightened bigots, racists, homophobics and xenophobics. Mohler declares, “the debate is essentially over, the conclusion foregone; the legalization of same-sex marriage in every state is only a matter of time, and probably not much of it at that” (edited). Mozilla’s action reinforces the notion that intolerance of liberalism will not be tolerated.

Should we fear what this portends? Yes. Society’s rejection of traditional values has resulted in the greatest, and fastest, cultural paradigm shift in history. And in its wake, pulling in young evangelicals who question whether a ‘Christianity’ that was wrong about the Crusades, about slavery, about civil rights, about its own hypocrisy, may also be wrong about homosexuality. Is the church losing its moorings? Can a shipwreck be far off (1 Tim 1:19)?