Posts filed under 'signs of the times'
While poking around the internets, I found this description of the International House of Prayer:
This March, at a “Passion for Jesus” conference in Kansas City sponsored by the International House of Prayer, or IHOP, a ministry for teenagers from the heavy metal, punk and goth scenes, Engle called on his audience for vengeance.
The call for “vengeance” also made me giggle a bit. Lou as the leader of a goth movement calling for vengeance - makes sense to me.
December 23rd, 2008
Thanks to all who gave their two cents (plus some) in breaking down the early draft of theCall’s press release related to the fiasco Newsweek published last week. It was all seriously helpful feedback! One point of clarification that you probably didn’t know - Lou had already, earlier in the week, released a short statement calling on believers to cancel their Newsweek subscription. Thus, the call to do so had to be in the longer press release. I did appreciate some of the perspective on that point, however. So what happened?
Well, much to my surprise, our p.r. firm loved the press release as is. So, in an unexpected turn of events, the early draft became the final draft instantaneously. The p.r. firm didn’t change much - they shortened the opening paragraph and added a phrase (that I asked them to remove - because it was dorky, not because it was controversial) before punching up the end a little bit. Hopefully, if you see it somewhere printed over the next week, you’ll appreciate the minor addition they made. Or not.
As things currently stand, however, they have blasted the press release out to wherever public relatations firms blast out press releases. I don’t really know how any of that works, but I do know that, supposedly, the Wall Street Journal has shown interest thus far. We shall see. Either way, it was an interesting experiment in “social press releasing” with all of you - and the glory for me is that, for now, only Lou’s name is on the document. He’s already done one radio interview related to it (yesterday, can’t remember the show).
Meanwhile, I get to stay in my cave and fast and pray. So back to the cave I go.
December 16th, 2008
Submitted for your approval, here is an early draft of a press release that TheCall will be releasing through our P.R. firm that Lou Engle and I wrote early yesterday:
This past week, the editors and publishers of Newsweek magazine made an unfortunate decision to brazenly relegate the vast majority of American citizens who believe in the traditional, biblical view of marriage to, quoting its Editor-in-Chief Jon Meacham, “intellectual bankruptcy”. Newsweek’s attempt to simultaneously tear down the veracity and relevance of the holy scriptures while appealing to those same scriptures to build its case for homosexual marriage is not in and of itself a shocking act. The intellectual dishonesty of these writers and editors is clearly on display in their work and the statements they have made surrounding their work. Thus, we are neither afraid of nor troubled by their submission to the national conversation on this issue.
No – what we are troubled by is the confidence that a failing institution had in publishing such a seemingly bold statement. Newsweek’s economic struggles and loss of subscribers have been well-documented as of late; in taking this stand, Jon Meacham in particular seemed overconfident that he and his constituency are on the winning side of history. In the long view of history, the very scriptures that Newsweek magazine looked to trivialize in their article prove who is ultimately on the “winning side” of this argument. As our friend Jim Garlow has said repeatedly, the Bible ends with a wedding. The manner in which the Bible comes to a glorious conclusion demonstrates the sanctity by which our Creator holds this most sacred of unions. The Apostle Paul spoke of this institution and the manner in which a healthy, vibrant marriage between one man and one woman has continually served as a metaphor for God’s relationship with His people in Ephesians 5:25-33, a passage that Lisa Miller, the author of the Newsweek cover essay conspicuously overlooked in her research.
Some have asked why we care so much about this issue, and why we are taking such a bold stand to oppose homosexual marriage in America. It is because we hold the institution of marriage in such high regard related to its sacredness to our God; yet we also recognize that this very sacredness has left the institution of marriage open to assault from its very beginnings, going back to a garden thousands of years ago. The culmination of this assault on marriage, according to the prophetic scriptures that describe the days ahead, is to try to eliminate this institution altogether (1 Timothy 4:3). The current zeal to redefine marriage is the latest stage of this assault. The strategy of those who are looking to redefine marriage is two-fold: to first frame homosexuality as a racial issue rather than a moral issue and then to establish rights for homosexuals as the true moral issue of our day. Thus there is more than the biblical definition of marriage at stake – but the very definition of what is sin versus what is righteous before our Creator.
Therefore what is troubling is clear: not that Newsweek magazine is taking the “lead” in defining both morality and marriage in America; again, an organization struggling for its financial survival rarely has the stomach for such risks – no, it is troubling that they feel confident that the majority of America agrees with their stance and their definitions of marriage and morality. If this is true then our nation has taken a dramatic and unfortunate turn that has devastating consequences for American culture in the days to come. For if sexual orientation and desire can be classified under the framework of “race” – if we define desires in a manner beyond what our Creator intended without any scientific evidence that such proclivities are genetic – then we open up a proverbial “Pandora’s Box” for such an argument to be applied to all manner of desires under the false mask of “genetics” or the “Creator’s design”. We pray that the vast majority of Americans that have continued to hold the line on what is marriage, what is moral, and what is so clearly part of the created order and the Creator’s design will stand fast against this blatant assault on truth.
As such, we are asking all who desire to stand for truth and righteousness to say, “No!” to Newsweek magazine’s attempt to reframe and reshape scripture for their own self-seeking purposes and to immediately cancel their subscriptions. The American people have a historic opportunity to show Newsweek magazine that its arrogant overconfidence in gauging the opinions of the people is greatly misplaced.
It’s about 33-50 words too long, and a few of the phrases need too much explanation / clarification to hold up - but it gives you a better grasp of what is on our minds related to this week’s Newsweek cover essay.
What do you think?
December 13th, 2008
Honestly, it came from me self-reflecting a little bit after spending the last three days sick and thinking about the latest Newsweek cover story. You would be surprised how much time I’ve spent thinking about it. Not in the “wow, that was well-written, it made me think about the issues,” kind of thinking. No, it’s been more like, “How can I most effectively and efficiently deconstruct the most irresponsible piece of ‘journalism’ I have ever seen in all my limited years of studying and reading old media.” Many of my posts work like that - where I will stew and think for days before writing (or not writing) my thoughts on something.
On this matter, however, I want to do more than “write down a thought or two” - I want to declare war on a magazine that has so blatantly declared war on me. I have never, in my life, seen a more obvious attempt by a mainstream news magazine to delineate between “us” (the right thinking, clear minded media type) and “them” (the neanderthal bitterly clinging to religion and guns) as I saw this week in Newsweek magazine. From the first line, “Let’s try for a minute to take religious conservatives at their word…” (emphasis mine; meaning, I’m not a member of whatever club spawned this article) to the Editor’s note: “Let the letters and emails come.”
As a religious conservative, I’ve now seen a mainstream magazine feel safe enough with its constituency economically to “take me on.” This does not make its ideas or presentations bold, noble, or heroic - mainstream media are hardly capable of such financial risks - no, this means that it (the editors and publisher) believes that the ideas presented are safe for publication; controversial yes, but economically safe - and that its views are the new social norm for the day. I think, sadly, that they are right.
And this answers the comment that I haven’t responded to yet - the one that asked me why, when it comes to issues like gay marriage, do I care? I care because of precisely what I just articulated - the redefinition of social norms under the banner of civil rights, which is a dishonest and intellectually inferior position masquerading as a just and noble cause. Once that redefinition takes place, and the lines that were once clear are at once redrawn, the future for my children suddenly takes a darker turn; for the precedent set in these arguments is one we will be hearing again, I can assure you. I have to end here - but this isn’t the last of what’s on my mind related to what I consider one of the most ominous signs of our time that I’ve seen in quite a while.
December 11th, 2008
Signs of the Times handout? Done. 150 chapters on the end-times? Check. Most commonly asked questions on the end-times 2.0? Helped with a few of those. Book of Revelation outline? Pretty much there. After today’s eight hour final burst, the weight of these documents is behind me…for now. So I plan on enjoying that “for now” for all it’s worth!
Now that I’m a free man, I plan on exercising that freedom to write some things and answer some comments. There’s a lot on the ol’ mind besides researching genocide statistics over the past 100 years, I can assure you. You’ll have to get the handout to connect with the last sentence, but other than that, happy snow, Kansas City friends!
December 9th, 2008
Here’s the set-up for what’s on my mind today, from “Bench Memos” on the New Republic Online:
“The California Supreme Court Wednesday decided to hear arguments concerning the legality of Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to restore marriage to what it was before the California Supreme Court engaged in legal adventurism by creating a right to gay marriage.
The arguments made are pretty thin gruel, and turn on a technical question of whether the change should be an amendment, which can be passed (as Prop. 8 was) by a majority vote of the people after collecting enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, or whether it is such a drastic change that it needed to go through the more arduous process of constitutional revision. Deep down, some of the lawyers making these arguments had to find it ironic to argue that the state Constitution could not be modified to change the right to marriage through the formal amendment process, including the approval of a majority of voters, but that it could be done by four judges who changed the law by their own fiat. The case law is pretty strongly against those challenging Prop. 8, enough so that I think even the California Supreme Court will have trouble legislating . . . oops, I mean carefully legally reasoning their way to the conclusion that Prop. 8 is unlawful.
Enter Geoff Stone. Before the Court opted to hear the case, he suggested that there was really a much bigger constitutional issue at play here: the separation of church and state. He finds that Proposition 8 “enact[s] into law a particular religious belief.” For Stone, religion is the only explanation for the law: “Indeed, despite invocations of tradition, morality and family values, it seems clear that the only honest explanation for Proposition 8 is religion.” His proof: polling data which shows that evangelicals and weekly church attenders favored Prop. 8 by large margins, while non-Christians and non-church attenders opposed it. While he concedes that courts are loathe to intervene in these cases, it is clear that he thinks they should. Indeed, to allow these kind of laws is “un-American”, as he explains with perfect tone-deaf deftness: “Indeed, regardless of whether courts can intervene in this context, it is as un-American to violate the separation of church and state by using the power of the state to impose our religious beliefs on others as it is to use the power of the state to impose our discriminatory views of race, religion or gender on others.”
Where to begin? Should we talk about the fact that a traditional head of the police powers of the state are morals, which often were derived from the religious sentiments of the people? Should we discuss the role of religious law like the Decalogue in shaping much of American law? Should we dispute the correlation between religious voters and religious enactments, noting that weekly church attenders also vote overwhelmingly for other things that Geoff Stone no doubt despises, like Republican party presidential candidates? Should we dispute the premise that “only” religion explains the outcome in the election, and that people of very different religious faiths and no faith at all reached the same conclusion in voting for Prop. 8? No, to do so gives Stone too much credit. His arguments don’t even qualify as reasonable fringe in establishment clause jurisprudence.
One might wish to dismiss his blog post simply as a poorly thought out whim made on a Sunday afternoon, after church bells in Hyde Park’s somehow triggered dementia. But alas, Stone has a track record of these absurdly anti-religious rants to allow such a kind explanation. As Bench Memos readers will recall, he previously asserted that the court’s decision upholding the federal partial-birth abortion statute was a result of a new Catholic majority on the Court. My old friend Ed Whelan made easy work of his argument here, here, here, here, here, and here.
What then becomes obvious is that it is Stone who is acting with religious fervor by attempting to impose his religious, or if you prefer, irreligious beliefs or morality on the public square. The First Amendment was not intended to prohibit religious participation in political life, and it certainly does not mandate that only the morals of the non-church-attenders are constitutionally permissible bases of legislation. But it is not suitable to claim that arguments like Stone’s are “un-American,” to borrow his line. They are simply foolish.”
- by Robert Alt
November 21st, 2008
This week’s edition of Newsweek had more than a few articles that interested me for various reasons - more on that at another day (I am in the middle of a series, after all…). One little side interview on faith, however, troubled me greatly. One look at the headline and the by-line will tell you why. As a review, for those of you who clicked on the link, here’s the by-line: “An Anglican theologian explains that the resurrection really happened—and that the Kingdom is really coming.” This, of course, passes for shocking (shocking!) news in our day. What rift opened in the space-time continuum recently to unearth an Anglican theologian that believes, with subsequent gasps of surprise, that Jesus actually rose from the grave?
This assertion from Jon Meacham and Lisa Miller, however, provides the real chills and thrills: “Among many Western Christians, however, the word “resurrection” means something else: a supernatural event, a spiritual ascent, a poetic metaphor.” I suppose that it would be best if I refrained from asking for descriptives delineating “a supernatural event” from an event that, in their own words with their own italicized emphasis, “really happened.” Pressing on, however, I am curious about the truth behind their premise. Is this true? Do many Western Christians possess a terrifying ignorance about what Paul referred to a the substance of our faith and preaching (1 Cor. 15:14)? For, as Paul stated, without a truly risen Christ to set our hope upon, all we have is hope for this life only. If this is true, Paul asserted, then “we are of all men the most pitiable.”
Which, of course, means that those who reduce the resurrection of Christ to a “spiritual ascent” or a “poetic metaphor” subscribe to a faith that is “futile” and leaves them “still in their sins” (1 Cor. 15:17) - such is the power of the resurrection that Paul longed to possess within himself (Phil. 3:10). The doctrine of the resurrection and our subsequent hope of glory provide the very substance of a living faith that is connected to another age and the insatiable longing for things to come. What is it that these “Western Christians” are hoping for?
The very notion of a faith robbed of an actual resurrected Christ grieves me beyond measure and intensifies my longing for a true awakening in the West.
It is becoming clear that such an awakening must contain more than power and the conviction of sins - but must be energized by substantive preaching from the scriptures that establishes an invitation to a faith and a life that is wholly different than the one being offered within some of the very walls of Christendom today, much less the fallen world that appeals to the ungodly ambitions of carnal man. In short, we must have a re-awakening of true apostolic and prophetic preaching that authoritatively and powerfully compels men to a kingdom lifestyle that resembles the faith of our fathers - or else we will continue to live in a culture where such notions as the “resurrection” serve as a bemusing surprise to the intellectual elite that long for a better life apart from God.
Isn’t this the real issue behind this interview? It seems to me that the real shock to the writers here is that, in their estimation, N.T. Wright is a rational and intelligent man worthy of their respect. Thus it is hard for them to reconcile how one such as Wright could possibly subscribe to the notion of a “literal resurrection”. I wonder what they would have done had they met Jonathan Edwards? Such a question makes me long again for voices to arise with such authority and power connected to a message of the cross that constitutes true foolishness to those who are perishing (1 Cor. 1:18). I long for God to glorify Himself in this hour through the anointing of “weak things” which shame those who consider themselves “wise”.
Oh! That the “news” of the literal resurrection of Christ would have caused these writers (and their readers) to tremble - that the days would return in which such news would be as disruptive as it was when it was first proclaimed!
May 1st, 2008
I promised a while ago to do something on this space I’m not prone to do - talk politics. I’ll say one thing about myself to set the context for what I will say next - I consider myself to be a fairly nuanced thinker when it comes to public policy. I understand the current dilemma facing every politician from the local to the national level: the issues are clearly complex and have no easy solutions. Many of the issues that require real solutions, and soon, are of the kind that have great importance to the infrastructure of our nation; yet there is not one solution or “wave of the wand” that will right the course of our nation and restore normalcy and utopian glory to our land.
The immigration problem is one of those issues: no easy answers. It is both impossibly hard and shockingly easy to get in and out of our nation. As a senior leader at an international ministry, I understand the frustration that comes from the former reality and the danger that is posed by the latter. I do not believe that there is one simple course of action that will solve both tensions. In fact, the whole dynamic of skilled leadership requires the ability to navigate nuance, grey areas with no clear or easy solutions, and choosing the best of ten bad options. Quality leadership is able to operate within a values-based context that can hold two seemingly opposing values in tension to reach the best possible outcome. To imagine that there is one sparkling answer that will solve the challenges facing our nation is partly naive, partly simplistic, and mostly ignorant of the complexities of the human heart.
The problem, however, is this: most of America does not care to grasp anything that I just wrote in the previous paragraph. You don’t get elected to solve our nation’s problems by articulating the realities of the political scene. Nope, you have to roll up your sleeves, speak in simple sound-bytes that anyone can remember, and prove that you can work outside of the system to make a corrupt system work for the people. It’s all a sham - every word. Choosing a “party”, taking the general party line without appearing to be bound to the whole ideological slant, and making it seem as if there are five easy steps to solve the mounting problems threatening our nation are all the playground of a skilled politician. Getting elected and actually engaging in sound governance, unfortunately, are often two distinctly different things. The guys that are experts at winning an election often find that those skills (relating to the masses) don’t translate into winning the policy battles (relating to strong, self-interested leaders).
Many career politicians who are skilled at working the system (thus truly shaping public policy) often find themselves unelectable because of it. This is the vicious cycle known as “our modern democratic system”. Why am I laying all of this out? Because I want to vociferously justify why I am an unapologetic single-issue voter. Understanding the complexities and the issues, I look at the political landscape and can truly and honestly say that it is time for a change. The change that I am longing for night and day in prayer has little to do with Democrat vs. Republican ideologies or liberal vs. conservative mindsets. I long for speedy justice to be established on the earth. I hold out little hope for sweeping changes through the leadership of ungodly politicians who labor within a self-interested, self-serving system of governance currently built upon the most successful public relations machinery on earth. I will render unto Caesar what is his. I will pray for those in leadership and contend in prayer for God to establish righteous leadership in the highest seats of governmental authority. I will watch and pay attention when ungodly men go too far.
Most importantly, I will unapologetically, unequivacably, and joyfully vote pro-life. As such, I desire to take my stand with the righteous of every age of human history against what I believe to be the greatest giant of our time. I desire to oppose the practice of abortion until my last breath. What current issue is more critical to the future of our nation? I would not be a single issue voter if we were discussing lesser issues, as I have discussed. If abortion were a non-issue in our time, it would be difficult for me to vote at all, to be honest.
I appreciate how un-American that last sentence sounded. Forgive while I retire for a moment to vote with my knees.
January 11th, 2008
With the turn of the month at hand, my teaching schedule for the semester comes to a close. Hours a week are now there for the taking, since I was simultaneously rewriting my course notes for the Biblical Foundations of Eschatology syllabus. The revamped coursebook will be finished by Forerunner Media group by next semester.
So, I’m back to a semi-regular writing schedule here as I finish up that glorious burden of a book this week.
It’s a good day!
Here’s a thought for the day that I’ll expand on later: I believe that the same spirit that opposed the fledgling Protestant missions movement in the late 18th century will be the same one that rises up to oppose the fledgling prayer movement at the end of the age.
The year was 1786, and a young man named William Carey posed the following question: ‘Whether the command given to the apostles to “teach all nations,” was not obligatory on all succeeding ministers to the end of the world, seeing that the accompanying promise was of equal extent?’”
This was the answer given to him at the time: “Young man, sit down; when God is pleased to convert the heathen world, He will do it without your help or mine.”
I believe that this answer comes from a Calvinistic notion of God’s sovereignty that actually exceeds the boundaries of scripture. This understanding of the manner in which God leads and orchestrates history is also behind other equally unbiblical ideas of irresistable grace and the perseverance of the saints (or “eternal security”, as the concept is more commonly known). This scriptural error establishes a sovereignty so high that, ultimately, God has little to no use for humans at all. The answer to the question of man’s purpose then simply becomes, “to glorify God!”
Which leaves us, then, in a difficult position: to question this viewpoint then seemingly leaves us questioning the glory of God and His transcendent, infinite, awesome splendor and power. So while I agree that I would never want to bring into question God’s desire to be glorified in the midst of His creation, I would question the sufficiency and totality of the above answer. Is there more to the creation than its potential to glorify the creator? Was there more to God’s plan related to His stunning humility and incredible tenderness towards us? For what purpose were we created?
I will leave my answers for another day, and I look forward to yours. For now, I will say this: the same “giant” that confronted William Carey in his early days is the same one that will confront the global prayer movement in the days to come, when the movement is as young as the 18th century missions movement. For, right now, the same statement is emphatically presented, related to signs and wonders, revival, and end-time judgments:
“Young man, sit down; when God is pleased to judge the heathen world, He will do it without your help or mine.”
Thankfully, the same refusal of young missionaries to bow to a false notion of soveriegnty that was too high in that day will be the same holy passion that fuels young intercessors and worshippers in the days to come to stand with God in the awesome display of His leadership over the whole earth.
November 5th, 2007
Because I am writing like a madman trying to really finish the book this week, I’m using this space to blow off steam when I feel like I can’t write another word about my favorite subjects that are my favorite subjects until I have to write about them when I’m not quite in the frame of mind to write about my favorite subjects.
So, knowing that up front, you’ll forgive me if some of these posts aren’t as careful, detailed, or as thought through as some of my normal offerings. Believe it or not, I actually do put quite a bit of work into these things - print is far and away a far more powerful medium than the spoken word. Things you say when you preach and teach are like flaming neon signs when you see them in writing.
Add to the fact that the book I am writing has more of an “apologetic” tone than End Times Simplified and you have a recipe for great mental distress. In other words, I had to really think things through with my last book because it represented, in many ways, the first time our eschatology found it’s way to print. If I ever took a moment to dwell on that thought, I had to laugh it off and press on, never letting myself think about the sheer lunacy and pure stupidity related to me being the author of such a project.
With this project, I’m forcing myself to think things through in a different way. Because I care about young adults and youth being able to be bold about the relative nearness of the Second Coming, I want to arm them with more than ideas and concepts that help them understand biblical information about the end-times. I want to lay out the most comprehensive case I can produce in writing to lay a foundation of certainty related to the lateness of the hour.
There are lots of things, of course, that I can’t write about. My convictions related to the end of the age are primarily scriptural - and the manner in which I am seeing prophetic scripture come to pass before my very eyes makes for a compelling journey to help walk a young adult through. There are, however, many experiential and subjective moments and meetings in my life that inform and bolster my convictions that will never make into a book, sermon, or wordcast.
This fact of life makes clear to me the limitations of my role in the grand scheme of things. All I can do is help give language and courage to convictions and suspicions that are already stirring and brooding in the heart through the leadership of the Holy Spirit knit to prayer and fasting. Tender hearts all over the world are awakening to the reality of a coming storm - really my job is to help them discover that they are neither alone nor crazy. It’s the same dilemma a young person faces when hearing the prophetic voice in their spirit for the first time: is it me or is it God that is speaking?
Often, that prophetic voice sounds like me saying things that only God would say. A similar stirring is happening related to the end of the age. That little voice just won’t go away - but who is there to talk about this kind of thing with? Who is there to process these kinds of thoughts with? When the initial conversations begin, it often is like the dam has burst and thoughts tumble out with no order or sequence. It’s a gloriously confusing thing.
For the crew that reads this space regularly, however, there is a bit more camaraderie to be had. Thoughts have been ordered, the language has been learned, and the topics at hand are a bit clearer. This is not an “assimilation” process, these are the first steps to having a good, deep, meaningful conversation. We tend to care about the same things, and in the process discovered that we have lots to talk about. That is fun.
If you are new to this space, then feel free to ask questions or ignore posts that you don’t connect to. You may never connect to some of the subjects I write about here, and that’s okay. Because I want the predominant subject of this space to be Jesus and Him crucified, I think we’ll find some things that satiate your hunger somewhere, sometime.
For the rest of us, there’s still so much to talk about in the days ahead. One of the things I’ve loved as we have hit the one year mark is that there are so many “plot-lines” still unresolved. They’re hanging out there, almost begging to be addressed. Because of the subject matter I cover here, I find that there is an inexhaustible well of material to draw from - and each thread seems to take on a life of its own.
Where to go? I still need to get to Romans 11. I’d like to return to humanism at some point. The Sermon on the Mount and the beauty of God are looming in the background, waiting for me to call them back to the front of the room to share. How could I talk about the throne room and never talk about the emerald rainbow? How could I introduce the topic of the peacemakers and never talk about its implications related to persecution? Why would a peacemaker be the most heavily persecuted of all believers?
What about the eschatology of the emerging church? What’s happening at IHOP-KC? Do I have anything to say about prayer and perseverance? I find it ironic that I write here often yet rarely hit the core message of my life - Luke 18:1. Do you see what I mean? I haven’t even hit the new topics and subjects that are emerging before our eyes, such as the Apostolic hermeneutic and the proper way to interpret an Old Testament prophecy. There are real threats to warn about, real glories to proclaim, and real treasures to explore in the heart of God. I haven’t begun to hit “life in the Spirit” yet.
While the internet buzz a few months back centered around the loss of steam related to blogging, I find that I am discovering a fresh wind in my little corner. Why? Because the medium of transmitting the message is irrelevant to me - if none of you read this, I would be enjoying myself. I get to write about God.
The two of us, Him and I - we’ll treasure these thoughts together forever. I love that we have so much to talk about.
October 10th, 2007