Pass the (Plate) Pipe

What a mockery. By now you have heard of the International Church of Cannabis which celebrated its grand opening on April 20th. At 4:20 pm the church held a private ceremony where invited members were allowed to light up and smoke — 420 is doper slang for marijuana.

Lighting up is one of the sacraments of the church. One man who traveled from England to participate said, “I don’t think marijuana is spiritual — I know it is. The plant returns us to our shamanistic roots, before spirituality was stolen by religion.”

The church adheres to no specific practice except for the use of marijuana.

Elevation Ministries operates the church — a renovated, 113-year-old house of worship located in Denver, Colorado. A state amendment to ban pot smoking in church was quickly shot down.

Here’s the thing. Marijuana is illegal by federal law. I expect we will see the Trump Administration cracking down on states that have decriminalized, or legalized marijuana consumption.

As a Christian I believe that Colorado, for example, is in violation of the law. People say to me, “Where is your compassion?”

See, this is what happens when people surrender to the deception. We’re not talking about compassion. We’re talking about people who want to get high.

Since 1985 the FDA has approved dronabinol for the treatment of nausea and lack of appetite in patients with cancer, or AIDS.

The active ingredient is THC — tetrahydrocannabinol is concentrated in the marijuana plant.

The pill form can be legally prescribed. It has proven efficacy — lasting up to five hours. It is cheaper ($15 – $30 per month) and can replace dangerous opioids for the management of chronic pain.

What is it missing? The Rocky Mountain high.

This is the reality. A 24-year-old skateboarder twists his ankle, gets a prescription for marijuana, and sits at home with a stash of munchies to enjoy his legal buzz. In the old days he would have had to buy a bag on the street, and risk getting caught by the police.

The liberals (and dopers) pushed the compassionate mantra until society relented. This was never about an elderly patient with a terminal illness, but about the legalization of marijuana.

Doctors could legally prescribe a pill for dying patients, but this wasn’t about taking a pill. It was about the experience of rolling the weed, passing the joint, and getting stoned.

The Colorado representative who sponsored the bill to ban pot smoking in church said that the cannabis church was an offense to religious people everywhere.

Frankly, I’m stupefied at the decline of our moral standards. It is an alarming downward trend, but to be expected when a nation rejects God.

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Word of Faith

word-of-faith

Brethren, we are engaged in spiritual warfare. And sometimes the opposition wears the mantle of Christianity. Paul warns us that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

I have been engaged in an intense debate with a blogger named Deanna who is a convert to the Word of Faith movement. View this post and scroll down to the comments section to see our exchange.

It’s interesting how this all began. Late one night I was awakened from a deep sleep, and the Spirit moved me to search for articles on faith and healing. Deanna’s WordPress blog popped up so I began to read. She was making the claim that we are wholly healed (body and spirit) by the sacrifice of Christ. (See our post: Word of False Teaching).

Well, I’m very familiar with the teachings of Word of Faith as I got entangled with that group 35 years ago. When I didn’t realize the promises of health and wealth I fell away. That in itself is a good lesson. You’ll hear preachers say that if you fall away you were never saved. Not so. Simply read the parables of The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and The Prodigal Son in Luke 15. God could have cut me off, but He didn’t. I am awed and humbled by His abundant grace.

Messiah Gate no longer links to Christian television for it is the platform of Word of Faith teaching. Benny Hinn said that if you attack him — that is, his message of health and wealth — your children will suffer. Not in a lack of substance, but in judgement. Creflo Dollar, sounding very much like the serpent in the Garden, teaches that you are a little god. T.D. Jakes, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland (as a small sampling) teach the gospel of positive thinking. Their message sounds like a Tony Robbins motivational seminar.

Meyer will ramble on for 30 minutes about cookies and cigarettes — You have power over that cookie. You can be the weight God wants you to be. You can break your nicotine addiction. She can go on and on without citing Scripture, or mentioning Jesus Christ.

The Gospel according to Joel Osteen: You can get that job. You can overcome that difficult boss. You can be all that God wants you to be. If you believe it then receive it.

I believed it, but I didn’t receive it. Jesus did not promise these things, but He did say we would suffer even as He came as a suffering servant:

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

Trial and sorrow has been my experience. And you? Oh, but Word of Faith teaches you to create your own reality — Just name it and claim it — whatever that might be. Simply declare that you won’t be sick, or poor. Spoken words activate faith. Where is that taught in Scripture? And if it doesn’t work for you it is because you are lacking — there is a deficiency within your spirit. Your unbelief is creating a barrier to faith fulfillment. You are a little god, and as the Creator spoke the universe into existence you can speak a new reality into your life.

Deanna has forcefully utilized the three components of adherence — fear, manipulation and bullying. Been there … done that. It is the classic signature of a cult. She accuses me of being prideful, but it is her obsessive pride that compels her to not let up. I will not be bullied into believing a lie.

The testimony of pastor John Edwards is posted on the comment board of the linked post, and it would be profitable to share that with you all.

WHY I LEFT THE WORD OF FAITH AND RHEMA

My name is John Edwards, and I was a Faith Preacher for ten years and one month. My wife and I attended and graduated from the premiere word of faith seminary in the world. During school I had the opportunity of working for some of the most famous names in the word of faith movement.

As a word of faith Christian, I did all the things that the word of faith teaches. I confessed the Word. I talked in line with the Word. I called things that be not as though they were.

For many years I prayed, believed and confessed miracles, signs and wonders for our ministry. But not much happened along those lines. In fact, I buried a lot of people over those years, including my daughter that died of a brain tumor at the age of fourteen. I was constantly perplexed that the message of faith and healing that I was preaching did not seem to work in the lives of the congregation.

About a year and a half ago a good friend from Tulsa sent me a CD teaching on pride. I hated it. It really bothered me a lot and got me to thinking and praying which is sometimes a dangerous thing to do! It convicted me of pride. It opened my eyes to some of my motives. More than anything, it revealed to me that I had an enormous ego that could never, ever be content.

I realized that over the years, that I had transformed from being on fire for God to being on fire for me. Everything was about me. My vision, my church, my success, my reputation, my dream, my services, my anointing, my, my, my, me, me ,me.

The Word of Faith is a cult because it is led by people claiming special insight and revelation that is unorthodox. They also attempt to control their subjects with fear, manipulation and bullying.

Please do not be afraid to look at the evidence. I was too afraid to examine the evidence because I wanted things my way. The Word of Faith put me in charge of my own life, and I liked that. But when I got up the courage to begin to read and study, God opened my eyes with truth and freedom. [1]

Pastor Edwards noted that Word of Faith is a hybrid religion of New Age mind science and Charismatic theology. It bases its teaching on a key passage of Scripture:

Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them (Mark 11:23).

We can’t build a theology on one verse. We can’t interpret Scripture out of context. To whom was Jesus speaking? His remark was in response to a question posed by Peter. It was hyperbole, and understood as such by Jewish readers of the first century. As when Jesus said that you should pluck out your eye to keep from sinning, He did not mean that you should mutilate yourself. It was a Jewish idiom — a manner of speaking. To move mountains was a common way of expressing the overcoming of obstacles (like what the Apostles faced in preaching the Gospel).

Paul wrote … if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing (1 Corinthians 13:2).

Though Deanna says she loves me there is no love in trying to convince me of a lie. Sometimes we are so emotionally invested in a deception that in our pride we cannot see that we are the ones deceived.

Notes:

1. WHY I LEFT THE WORD OF FAITH AND RHEMA by John Edwards, UC MINISTRIES BLOG, March 16, 2011.

PMI Center for Biblical Studies:

The origin of the positive confession teaching can be traced back to the life and teachings of E.W. Kenyon who was introduced to the philosophical ideas of positive confession at Emerson College of Oratory in Boston in 1880. [D.R. McConnell, A different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1988), p. 35-36]

The religious system promoted at Emerson College was New Thought metaphysics, which is a system of cultic belief that taught that true reality is spiritual, that the spiritual is the cause of all physical effects, and that the human mind through positive mental attitude and positive confession has the power to create its own reality: either health and wealth, or sickness and poverty. [D.R. McConnell, A different Gospel: A Historical and Biblical Analysis of the Modern Faith Movement (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1988), pp. 35-36].

To believe that true reality is spiritual, and that the human mind has the potential to create its own reality is sorcery. In Hinduism this is called maya, and is based upon the ancient sorcerer’s belief that the entire universe is an illusion created by the mind. [Dave Hunt, The Seduction of Christianity (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97402), p. 138.].

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Purim 2016

purim

Purim 2016 begins in the evening of Wednesday, March 23 and ends in the evening of Thursday, March 24. Originally posted March 03, 2013.

The Word of the LORD:

They have said, “Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more”(Ps 83:4).

The Psalms were written over a span of 900 years from the time of Moses to the post-Exilic period. Psalm 83, written by Asaph, could have been penned today as a song of lamentation (for Israel is surrounded by enemies who have publicly vowed to wipe her off the face of the map). Throughout history Satan has lifted up an enemy to destroy the Jewish people, and so it is even to this day.

Think of Herod who ordered the death of all male children under the age of two who were in Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus (Mt 2:16), or when Athaliah destroyed all the royal offspring from the house of Judah except for Joash who was secreted away thus preserving the messianic line (2 Ch 22:10).

We cannot fail to understand that we are engaged in an eternal fight between good and evil:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Ep 6:12).

The face of evil spans the ages — King Herod, Adolph Hitler, Mahmoud Ahmidenijhad — but the ruler of darkness is with whom we wrestle. Brethren, put on the whole armor of G-d so that you may stand firm against the enemy (Ep 6:11).

Haman was one such enemy who sought to exterminate the Jewish people. Had he succeeded the messianic line would have been cut off if not for the invisible hand of G-d. We read about Haman in the Book of Esther. (Ruth is the only other book in the Tanakh, Old Testament, that is named after a woman.) Esther was the orphaned daughter of Abihail. She grew up in Persia, and was raised by her older cousin Mordecai. The Book of Esther covers the period of history after the return from Babylonian captivity when the Persians were the dominant world power. Many Jews, including Esther and Mordecai, stayed in Persia after the return from exile.

It came to pass that Esther found favor in the eyes of King Ahasuerus, and he crowned her queen of the royal palace. A plot to kill the king was uncovered by Mordecai which led to the hanging of the king’s officials, and the promotion of Haman as the king’s chief advisor.

Mordecai would not bow down to Haman for there was bad blood between them dating back to the time of King Saul. To understand the feud we must look even further into Israel’s past all the way to the exodus from Egypt.

In the Book of Exodus (Ex 17:8) we read that Amalek came out to war against Israel as they were leaving Egypt. Moses commanded Joshua to lead a select group of men to fight against the Amalekites, and with the staff of G-d in hand the children of Israel prevailed (Ex 17:13). The LORD told Moses that He would utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven (Ex 17:14so Moses built an altar to the LORD and said, “The LORD will have war against Amalek from generation to generation” (Ex 17:16).

In the Book of Deuteronomy (Dt 25:17) the LORD reminded Israel to remember what the Amalekites did when they came out of Egypt and attacked their women and children. Who was this generational enemy? Who was Amalek?

Remember the bitter rivalry between Jacob and Esau the sons of Isaac. Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew (Ge 25:29-34). Then, in chapter 27 of Genesis, Jacob stole Esau’s blessing by impersonating his brother before their aged and dimly sighted father Isaac thus prompting Esau to vow that he would kill Jacob.

Amalek was a grandson of Esau, and so it was that the descendants of Esau would war against Jacob (Israel) from generation to generation.

Later, King Saul was commanded by G-d to destroy the Amalekites for how they ambushed Israel on their way out of Egypt (1 Sa 15:1-3), but Saul disobeyed by sparing the life of Agag their king. The prophet Samuel slew Agag according to the command of the LORD, but the Amalekites continued to be a thorn in Israel’s flesh, and an enemy of David.

Who, then, was Haman? He was a descendant of the Amalekite king Agag slain by the prophet Samuel when Saul disobeyed the command of G-d. Haman was an Agagite.

So 550 years had passed from the death of Agag to the Book of Esther, and the hatred that was born in the rivalry between Jacob and Esau continued in the persons of Mordecai (a descendant of King Saul), and Haman (a descendant of King Agag).

Haman was enraged that Mordecai would not bow to him nor pay homage so he plotted to destroy all of the Jews throughout the kingdom. Haman deceived King Ahasuerus into signing a decree to destroy all those who did not observe the king’s law so the order was sent to the governors of all the provinces to kill the Jews and confiscate their possessions (Esther 3:13).

Mordecai learned of these events and there was sorrowful mourning among the Jews (Esther 4:1). Queen Hadassah (Esther) was in great anguish because she had never told the king that she was a Jew (Esther 2:10). Mordecai sent word to the queen that she must intercede on behalf of her people, but Esther feared to approach the king without a summons for that would incur the death penalty. Her cousin replied that she would die anyway once it was discovered that she was a Jew:

Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this? (Esther 4:13-14)

We need to examine briefly what Mordecai told Esther. Are you a silent member of the body of Christ? Are you in a position or situation that defies understanding or reason? Do you speak out against spiritual darkness? Do you stand for G-d without fearing the consequence? Are you at a place in life that makes no sense but for the purpose and will of G-d?

So Esther fasted for three days:

“And thus I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).

On the third day Esther entered the royal court, and the Bible says that she obtained favor in the sight of the king (Esther 5:2) who granted her petition to have a banquet in honor (so he thought) of Haman who went away joyously to his home even as he prepared the gallows to hang Mordecai and the Jews.

In the evening the king requested that the book of records be read in his presence. Written in the records was the account of Mordecai uncovering the plot to kill the king, and it was discovered that nothing had been done to honor him for this act.

The king ordered that Haman clothe Mordecai in a robe and lead him through the city square upon the king’s horse. This infuriated and humiliated Haman who went home in mourning.

At the banquet the king asked Esther what was her petition:

If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated (Esther 7:3-4).

The long story short is that Haman’s wicked plot was exposed, and he was hung by the king’s order upon the very gallows that were prepared for Mordecai and the Jews. On the thirteenth day of the month of Adar when Haman’s plan of extermination was to be executed the Jews by order of the king exacted judgement against their enemies.

Mordecai, who had risen to a position of influence within the king’s court, issued a letter that all Jews celebrate annually the 14th and 15th days of the month of Adar (usually February or March) as the festival of Purim to remember how Haman the Agagite cast Pur (or lot) to destroy the Jewish people. Hadassah (Queen Esther) issued a command that her people should celebrate Purim with fasting and lamentation.

[Purim and Hanukkah are non-Mosaic festivals that are celebrated still today. Esther is one of the five scrolls of the Megilloth (Song of Solomon, Ruth, Ecclesiastes and Lamentations) that are read by Rabbis on five special occasions each year.]

The Book of Esther is not quoted in the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) nor does it mention G-d, but throughout its pages we can see the providence of G-d and His sovereign will played out in the lives of Hadassah and Mordecai. John MacArthur writes:

There are no miracles in Esther, but the preservation of Israel through providential control of every event and person reveals the omniscience and omnipotence of YHWH.

It is not insignificant to presuppose that G-d enlists people to execute His divine will. Satan will not prevail, and the LORD uses men and women of courage — often the least of us — to thwart the plans of the Evil One.

Recall that Mordecai told Esther if she remained quiet then deliverance would come elsewhere. How unlikely that a harem girl would become Queen of Persia and, by the invisible hand of G-d, save her people.

Will you be that man or woman of courage who will stand with the LORD? To G-d be the glory forever.

Suggested Reading:

Amalek and the Festival of Purim 

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