Wednesday, December 1, 2021

"Ring Those Bells" - Christmas album by Rhett and Tracey Wilson


Rhett and Tracey Wilson just released a new Christmas album called “Ring Those Bells.” Recorded at the Daywind Studios in Hendersonville, Tennessee, the album features old Christmas favorites such as White Christmas, O Holy Night, and Sweet, Little Jesus Boy as well as some new ones, like Circle of Love and Joseph

This is the third album recorded by the Wilsons. In 2007, they released “Lead Me On,” a collection of popular Christian music hits, and “Offered Praises,” a compilation of all-original songs written by Rhett, in 2008. All three albums are available for purchase in person or at their site: www.rhettwilson.org

Rhett works as Senior Writer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in Charlotte, North Carolina, and as a transitional pastor at Spring Hill Baptist Church in Lancaster, South Carolina. Tracey serves as the Director of Music Ministries at Covenant Baptist Church in Lancaster. The Wilsons will perform a Christmas Concert at Covenant Baptist Church on Sunday evening, December 19, at 6:00pm.

You can purchase a bundle of all three albums here.

Friday, November 26, 2021

A Speaking God

 I wrote this article in 2014 and am re-posting it here.


Richard Blackaby gives a great blog post on his site about a controversial subject: Why is it so difficult to believe God speaks?

It was not until I went to seminary that I began to discover how much people in the Body of Christ criticize each other.  I don't mean unlearned, carnal, biblically-illiterate people.  I mean pastors, professors, and leaders criticizing and picking apart what other believers believe and practice - all in the name of being "doctrinally sound."  (I remember being dumbfounded once during seminary listening to some fellow students bash Billy Graham and James Dobson for all of their, in their opinions, for their "unbiblical and unwise" approaches to ministry.  They told me that Billy Graham had done more harm to evangelism than anyone in the 20th century, and that if James Dobson wanted to serve the Lord, he should have been a pastor.  Wow!)  Looking back, I was na├»ve and was just learning how much the Body of Christ criticizes each other's theology and practice.

Followers of Jesus have often forgotten His statement that "whoever is not against us is for us" (Mark 9:40 HCSB). Or, well-meaning theologues mistakenly think that if someone in Christ's Body does not agree with the theological brand with which they agree, then those with whom they disagree are "against Christ."


One of those areas that has come into a lot of criticism is the debate of "does God speak today?"  Through the years I have learned from, appreciated, and agreed with the simple reality that the God who spoke through His Spirit and indwells believers today is still speaking and guiding.  

By "speaking" we do not mean still writing Scripture but instead still shepherding, leading, and communicating with His people as He indwells them. His Holy Spirit guides us, and we are wise to learn to discern the inner witness of the Spirit.  I have enjoyed the teaching and writing of many guides on this subject such as Charles Stanley, Peter Lord, Henry Blackaby, Jack Hayford, Dallas Willard, Gordon Smith, V. Raymond Edman, Priscilla Shirer, Joy Dawson, Loren Cunningham, Kay Arthur, Wayne Grudem, and many others from the evangelical community. 

Primed to Learn to Listen

One of the first books I remember reading for my own spiritual growth in college was How to Listen to God by Charles Stanley.  I cut my freshman-year college spiritual teeth on it and gleaned much that year from Stanley's preaching and testimonies about both  meditating on the Word of God and learning to listen to the Holy Spirit.  The last 20+ years, I have read a number of books on the subject.  For years I was helped by a number of the "Christian living" books on the subject such as Blackaby's Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God and by the testimonies and biographies of Christian speakers, authors, missionaries, and leaders.


In recent years, I have benefited from reading books on the subject written on a higher intellectual-theological level than the previously mentioned ones.  Dallas Willard's Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God and Gordon Smith's The Voice of Jesus: Discernment, Prayer, and the Witness of the Spirit are excellent approaches to the subject.  Another one is Wayne Grudem's The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today - a very intellectual, systematic approach from one of evangelical's most respected theologians.  He helped fill in some blanks for me theologically, intellectually, and application-wise that some of the "practical Christian living" books do not. 

It shocked me a number of years ago when I began to realize that a number of people who take the Bible seriously take great issue with those ideas.  I have appreciated Jack Hayford's thoughts and teachings on the subject through the years, as well as his frustration with the "growing body of verbiage today debunks the idea that God speaks personally to people any more. Although there is value in warning against kooks, I'm disturbed."  You can read more of his article "God Speaks Today" here.

Part of my own frustration with the debate is the fact that I know He has spoken to me at various times through His Holy Spirit - apart from the Bible.  (And I am a person who takes the Bible seriously - I have not missed one day in 23 years meditating at least twice daily in the pages of the Word of God.  I have practiced the old Billy Graham team practice of "no bread, no bread" - if you do not meditate in the Word of God then you do not eat physical food.) 


What It Does Not Mean

In saying that, to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit speaks to you - or guides you - does NOT mean the following:  a) it does not mean that you always hear correctly, b) it does not mean that you always understand correctly, c) it does not mean that do not add some of your own thoughts and perceptions to the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, d) it does not mean that we always see and hear clearly (now we see but a poor reflection through a mirror), e) it does not mean that His ways, instructions, and revelations will always make sense to our logic and reason,  f) it CERTAINLY does not mean that we do not take the Bible seriously, and g) it CERTAINLY does not mean someone thinks that God's present guidance should be written down, put into the back of the Bible, and treated as Scripture. I have never once heard any serious, conservative, evangelical, biblically-minded Christian who, believing the Holy Spirit speaks to Christians today, also thinks those promptings should be written down and treated like the canon of Scripture.  Grudem's book The Gift of Prophecy helps much in explaining these areas.

As the old hymn testified, "He walks with me and He talks with me and He tells me I am His own."  The intimacy shared between the Lord and His Bride has at times been compared to the intimacy between a married couple.  I remember Charles Stanley exhorting in his sermon "Favorites vs. Intimates" that sometimes we are too busy to get on our face and make love to God. 

Though no illustration is perfect, I have thought numerous times through the years that to me, someone saying that the Holy Spirit does not speak to people today is kind of like a virgin telling a married man that there is no such thing as sex! 

Well, this is one of those debates - like Calvinism / non-Calvinism, the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit, the practice of water baptism, and the role of women in ministry - that will go on until Jesus comes! May we show grace and love to people with whom we disagree.

Blackaby's Thoughts

Richard Blackaby has some good things to say about this debate.  I resonate with his thoughts deeply!

"The Blackabys are not unfamiliar with criticism; of that you can be sure. We have had well meaning critics challenge everything from our choice of Bible translation to our use of sermon illustrations. But undoubtedly the subject for which we receive the most invective is our assertion that God speaks to people.

Invariably if we suggest in preaching or writing that God communicates with people directly, we are quickly reminded by self-appointed orthodoxy police, that we are sadly misguided. If we ask why they are so concerned about our teaching, our critics will hasten to inform us of someone they knew once, who claimed to have received a “word” from God that it was OK to commit adultery with their secretary and therefore it is far too dangerous to encourage people to assume they can receive a direct word from God themselves. . . One hates to think that because one misguided believer lied about hearing from God, now no one is allowed to receive a divine word.

If we suggest that the Bible is our instruction manual for the Christian life and that it provides numerous examples in both the Old and New Testaments of God speaking to people, our watchdogs will immediately assure us that God no longer needs to speak to people directly because we now have the Bible. Therefore, every word of instruction we require can be found in its written pages."

Read the entire article by Richard here.


Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

8 Steps to Totalitarianism

 The following is my column for The Clinton Chronicle this week.


America, birthed in freedom, continues moving away from that shining virtue.

In his recent sermon on July 4th, “The Truth Shall Set You Free,” Pastor John MacArthur explained how a country can move from liberty to totalitarianism. Examining Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (1932) and George Orwell’s 1984 (1948), he shares eight necessary elements. 

These two atheists of a former generation peered into the future and warned it would n
ot be long before America faced a new kind of slavery.  Not chattel slavery, when one person owns another, but instead, political slavery, when the state owns everybody. “Totalitarian rule, both of them say, is essentially the absolute political-social slavery of everyone. We have come to the place in American history where we hate chattel slavery. In fact we’ve created a massive movement, racial movement, now, based upon past chattel slavery. People rise to noble heights to condemn chattel slavery, while at the same time they are willingly becoming slaves of the state. And the end is exactly the same: Somebody owns you, and you give up your freedom,” MacArthur said.

So what are the eight steps? (MacArthur quotes in italics)

1. A national crisis. Saul Alinsky, whose disciples include Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, taught his students that creating crises is a necessary means to controlling society. The more severe the crisis, the more control the government gets, the more freedoms begin to disappear.

2. The collective is more important than the individual. Sounds like the Borg on Star Trek! Promoting groups of people is more important that your individual rights. We don’t care about your thoughts, free speech, or choices. Instead, we’ve got to stop global warming or protect the masses from a virus. You can’t say publicly you think marriage should be reserved for one man and one woman, because the advance of the LGBTQ agenda is more important than what you think. Don’t dare question if a biological male should be declared a woman if he feels like it. Don’t question if Donald Trump caused the January 6 event at The Capitol. Pay no attention to the facts – like police officers calmly removing barriers and holding doors open for people – and cameramen ready inside – just submit to the media’s narrative. The collective is what matters – and a few people are going to control the collective’s narrative. 

3. Mass psychosis. You need a mass psychosis, something that makes everybody afraid—like a plague, like a pandemic, like masks—that create a greater threat than the giving up of freedom. Keep up the deception so they continue to believe the lies, and you escalate control.

4. Control information. Control what people hear and you control what they believe. Tell the same lie emphatically enough, and society accepts the falsehood as reality. Censor what you don’t like. Those who do not submit to the narrative yet have big social media followings – ban them from the platforms. “Fact-check” whatever disagrees with the collective. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

5. Promote and legislate hedonism, which is the pursuit of physical pleasure at all cost. Turn loose all kinds of immorality everywhere. Create a situation of unhindered sexual lust. Let people be completely lost in pleasure, no boundaries on any kind of sexual behavior. Then they will value feelings more than truth.

6. Feed them mindless, accessible, irrelevant, distracting, nonstop entertainment. The word “amuse” literally means to not think. So technically an amusement park is somewhere we go to enjoy ourselves and not think much. Sadly, we have become a culture of amusement. People live in a world of fantasy and emotional stimulation rather than thought. They ignore the reality that truth does not care about your feelings.

7. Make drugs available to everyone because drugged – or drunken – people are harmless and easy to control.

8. Isolate people from each other. When you isolate them, you control the narrative. Why? You take them away from the examples of something different. If mainstream media pushes the narrative that the COVID vaccine saves mass lives, if enough people are isolated, they won’t hear anyone giving facts challenging the narrative. Remember America’s Frontline Doctors – an organization of physicians who challenge the pandemic narrative, who experienced dramatic recovery rates with patients who used hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin? After holding a press conference in front of the Supreme Court in 2020, Big Tech and social media dropped the hammer and tried to silence them. They just commemorated the one-year anniversary with a White Coats Summit of physicians in San Antonio, Texas.

What is the biggest threat to totalitarianism? Some authority other than the government. Totalitarian control is useless when confronted with these things: individual liberties, truth and facts, and God and religion. That’s why in every totalitarian movement, they suppress those three things.

And, MacArthur warns, Here we are, so nobly upset about the freedom that was taken away from slaves in the past, while at the same time—dumbed down, stupidly, mindlessly, lustfully—we give up all our freedoms and become slaves of the state, and the end is exactly the same.


Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Debunking the 1619 Project? Is America Fundamentally Racist?

 


Watch historian David Barton tell amazing stories about the role of black Patriots, evangelists, and leaders in early American history - as well as 8 talking points as to why America is not systemically racits.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Freedom to Totalitarianism in 8 Steps

 

America, birthed in freedom, continues moving away from that shining virtue.

Pastor John MacArthur explains how a country can move from liberty to totalitarian rule in 8 steps. The following is a portion
of his sermon's introduction on July 4, 2021, "The Truth Shall Set You Free."

"Back in 1932 a devout atheist by the name of Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New WorldBrave New World was a dystopian novel that looked at the future and assumed that it wouldn’t be very long before the West was completely captive to totalitarianism—that is rule by a dominant force, where you have only two classes: the ruling class and all the people who are subjected to them. In Brave New World, he portrayed what life would be like.

It was about seventeen years later that George Orwell, another devout atheist, wrote 1984, another dystopian novel that looked at the future. And just examining those recently in my own thoughts, I drew out of those two pictures of totalitarianism in the future of the West, what are pretty amazing, prescient insights from a couple of atheists. Totalitarian rule, both of them say, is essentially the absolute political-social slavery of everyone. We are used to what is called chattel slavery. C-H-A-T-T-E-L. Chattel slavery is when one person owns another person; political slavery is when the state owns everybody—but the effect on the individual is identical. We have come to the place in American history where we hate chattel slavery. In fact we’ve created a massive movement, racial movement, now, based upon past chattel slavery. People rise to noble heights to condemn chattel slavery, while at the same time they are willingly becoming slaves of the state. And the end is exactly the same: Somebody owns you, and you give up your freedom.

Now what elements of society and politics produce this willing kind of state slavery? Drawing from both Orwell and Huxley, this is what they say totalitarianism would look like. Here are the necessary elements. One: a crisis. A crisis puts freedom in danger because a crisis elevates government control. And the more severe the crisis, and the more control the government gets, the more freedoms begin to disappear.


Secondly, the collective is more important than the individual. The greater good is the good of society, not your good. “We don’t care what you want or what you think, we’ve got to stop global warming. We don’t care what your freedoms are, the things that you desire and you want, you can’t say that; you can’t believe that; you can’t do that.” Because the collective is far more important than the individual. “The advance of the LGBTQ is far more important on the social side for the good of society than anything you think about that.” So the collective dominates the individual. Everybody is forced into the collective.

Thirdly, you need a mass psychosis. You need a mass psychosis, something that makes everybody afraid—like a plague, like a pandemic, like masks—that create a greater threat than the giving up of freedom. People rushed into giving up their freedoms when there was a threat that created a mass psychosis. Keep up the deception so they continue to believe the lies, and you escalate control.

Number four: Control information. Control what people hear, what they therefore believe. And the way to control information is the following: Create confusion, send out all kinds of diverse signals so that nothing is really clear. So you’re creating a kind of acceptable irrationality, a kind of madness. Censor what you don’t want; control people by technology and media.

Number five—and this is a dominant feature of both of these novels: hedonism. Turn loose all kinds of immorality everywhere. Create a situation of unhindered sexual lust. Let people be completely lost in pleasure, no boundaries on any kind of sexual behavior. Fill the culture with pornography, because as long as they are unhindered in their sexual lusts, as long as they are lost in hedonistic pleasure, they’re not thinking.

Number six: Feed them mindless, accessible, irrelevant, distracting, nonstop entertainment—so they live in a world of fantasy and emotional stimulation rather than thought. Number seven: Make drugs available to everyone because drugged people, or drunk people, are harmless. And number eight—this is critical: If you want to take over an entire population, isolate them from each other—because when you isolate them from each other, you control the narrative. You take them away from the examples of something different. That is what atheists came up with as the pathway to dystopian totalitarianism, in which people distracted, dumbed-down, drugged, give up their freedoms.

Now what is the biggest threat to this? The biggest threat to this is pretty simple: Some other authority than the government. And by the way, don’t look to politicians to fix this; they’re the problem. They’re the powerful; they’re not going to fix this. One non-politician tried to fix it, but he couldn’t get any help from all the politicians. You can’t turn to them to fix it, they’re the powerful; they’re the elite, power-hungry people who just want more power.

What is the threat to them? Another authority—in fact, another authority that is a greater authority, that is a transcendent authority, that is an eternal authority, and that has revealed Himself clearly on the pages of Holy Scripture. So who is their greatest enemy? God. What is the book that they most fear? The Bible.

I don’t know what freedom in this Western culture in the future looks like. But I see all of this shaping up—and this is from, as I said, back in 1930 to 1940s. But we certainly have managed to check off all the boxes—right?—to create totalitarianism. And here we are, so nobly upset about the freedom that was taken away from slaves in the past, while at the same time—dumbed down, stupidly, mindlessly, lustfully—we give up all our freedoms and become slaves of the state, and the end is exactly the same."

Read or hear the entire sermon here at Grace to You.


Image courtesy of Pexels and Pixabay.

 

 

COVID-Vaccine Information: Alternative views



There’s plenty of material on mainstream news outlets in favor of the vaccine. However, in a day marked by misinformation and propaganda, and
a push towards a totalitarian government, it’s wise to look at various sides, not take everything at face value, and try and discern when there is a “wizard behind the curtain” – even when people are saying in loud, terrible voices, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”

Many people settle for one-minute soundbites, memes, or slogans. I want to dig deeper. We need to learn to do our own hunting - and when we find the chicken, chew up the meat and spit out the bones. Here is just a sampling of material from people who have legitimate concerns about the vaccine, its safety, its origins, and the motive some of the originators.



The following flyer was from the “You call the Shots” seminar put on by Texas Doctors & www.TexansForVaccineChoice.com:


9 Key Facts About Covid Vaccines:

Page 1                        Page 2

Page 3                        Page 4

 

See David Lane's Our Permanent Pandemic?!

 And Lane’s The Corona Scandal

See Tucker Carlson's Why Are Thousands Dying from Covid Vaccine?

“More people have died in four months from the current COVID vaccine than the number from all other vaccination deaths combined from mid-1997 to the end of 2013 (15 ½ years).” – according to VAERS. (from Carlson)

 

And probably the most disturbing, intellectual David Martin discusses the history of the patent information on what is commonly called the COVID vaccine. If his information is accurate, we are indeed living in what some people call the greatest crime against humanity in history.

"Under 35 U.S.C.101 Nature is Prohibited from Being Patented. Either the SARS COVID Virus was manufactured therefore making a patent on it legal or it was natural therefore making a patent on it illegal. If it was manufactured it was a violation of chemical and biological weapons treaties and laws. If it was natural filing a patent on it was illegal. In either outcome, both are illegal. In the spring of 2007 the CDC filed a petition with the patent office to keep their patent application confidential and private. They actually filed patents not only on the virus but on its detection and a kit to measure it." - Dr. David Martin


The Epoch Times reports how the CDC admits last year’s COVID test could not tell the difference between flu and COVID.

And see Rich Welsh’s CDC Silently Revokes Test Emergency Use Authorization Because it Combined COVID and Flu

 

Why States Should Tune Out Washington’s COVID-19 Noise

 

VAXX Misinformation Leads Kids Directly Into Danger, Hospitalization, Death

BREAKING!!! April 25th 2003 the CDC Filed for a Patent on the Coronavirus Transmitted to Humans

Doug talks with Karen Kingston about COVID vaccines.      

Dr. David Martin talks COVID Fact and Fiction

DANGER - Are You Getting The COVID Vaccine? MUST WATCH AND SHARE!

 


Dave Ramsey: I'm Getting Fired If I Don't Get The COVID-19 Vaccine!

Also, see, What Does the MRNA Vaccine Do?

And Rand Paul responds to Delta Variant hysteria.


Hear or read Pastor John MacArthur’s sermon from July 4th, 2021, called The Truth Shall Set You Free. He masterfully explains the 8 steps George Orwell and Aldous Huxley predicted for moving a country from freedom to totalitarianism – and how all 8 are happening today.


Image courtesy of Pexels and Wikimedia Commons.