Fawning over famous or new ‘believers’ not a good practice for Christians

house-of-cardsIt has been my observation over several decades in Christendom that often, when a celebrity gives a shout-out to God in some way, many of us automatically embrace their statement or supposed confession of faith because we see it as an endorsement to the world about how correct we are as Christians. Some of us see it as a way of gaining some validation. So we pump them up and praise them or fawn over them.

I understand that within this crowd of believers who praise their faith statements are people who wish to encourage the well-known individual in their professed faith. And I think that’s great as long as the motive for that encouragement has parameters that serve to help instead of to hinder us. The biggest way such encouragement can be a hindrance is when, as soon as their pro-God, pro-Jesus statement is made, we look to them for inspiration and as role models for our walk with Christ and have too high expectations for what they will say or do next for our personal spiritual encouragement.

This can happen at a local level for believers as well when we see someone in our community who was known for a bad reputation or history then claim that they found God. We may immediately push for them to go out and tell everyone at church meetings and conferences about how they allegedly got saved when they are still very new and babes in Christ.

Two celebrities recently came to my mind as I was thinking about this post–Mase and Justin Bieber. Several years ago, rapper Mase left secular hip hop and almost immediately became a pastor with a good-sized church due to believers who pumped him up and pressured him. Then last year it fell apart after an ugly divorce from his wife, allegations of mishandling church responsibilities, and his move back to the secular hip hop world and the bad practices associated with it.

Early in June, Justin Bieber took to social media and said knowing God was ‘the coolest thing’ as he moves to shed his bad boy image. And believers rushed to gush over him and his statement. Some rightfully encouraged him to grow and continue on that path. Others saw it as verification to idolize him more. Then a few days ago, Bieber showed up at Hillsongs Church in Australia with an anti-Christian Marilyn Manson t-shirt while adoring church girls rushed to him and gushed about how cute and nice and adorable he was.

The apostle Paul and other apostles saw how easy it was for believers to get locked in a cult of personality when it came to new, well-known churchgoers. This prompted them on several occasions to take action against such a mentality. In Acts 8, Peter publicly rebuked Simon the sorcerer who had claimed to be a believer. He was a local celebrity who had people under his spell with his sorcery, which most likely included the use of drugs. When he saw the Holy Spirit work through Peter, out of his pride and desire to remain in the spotlight, Simon attempted to bribe Peter into giving him the Holy Spirit’s power and got a deserved stinging rebuke from the apostle.

Paul instructed Timothy (and by default all churches) to make sure a bishop was ‘not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil’ (1 Timothy 3:6). The apostle saw this happen when his constant, well-known traveling companion Demas forsook the ministry, ‘having loved this present world’ (2 Timothy 4:10).

So maybe it’s best for us to encourage but verify and see them mature before we get all gung ho about a famous, well-known new believer to make sure they are really in the faith.

Harry A. Gaylord

Man-made California drought worsened by pot farms, or, how liberal policies bite you in the rear

Back in the 1970s, some California leaders forecast the state’s population and agricultural growth over the next few decades and knew that they would have to take certain measures to build up the state’s water reservoirs and a system of conduits to move water around efficiently to meet the growing population’s growing demands for water. But extreme liberals who held positions of power conspired with environmentalists to tear down all of those plans with laws, regulations, and lawsuits. So those who had sought wise counsel encouraging them to build dams, irrigation systems, reservoirs, and desalination plants saw all of their plans scrapped for the sake of upholding the extremist liberal agenda.

medical marijuana farmThen on top of that, liberals added to the already high agricultural demand for water their demand for legalization of medical marijuana for the sake of all those “poor sick people” who would die if they couldn’t get their hands on some pot. Thus, pot farms formed and expanded.

Failing to fix the demands on water, which they knew 40 years ago would cause problems, have now come back to bite them in the rear with the fourth year of their severe drought. As if they weren’t suffering enough from a crisis of their own making, liberal lawmakers are now discovering that the liberal pot farmers are cutting corners illegally and taking advantage of legal loopholes to beef up their pot crops with a huge amount of water usage. Personally, I’ve never known anyone associated with growing, distributing, or using pot to be totally trustworthy or truthful, but when you seek ungodly counsel like liberals do so often, discernment and morals tend to be disregarded. So the pot farmers they fought for have come back to bite them in the rear by making the crisis they created more difficult for everyone in the state. Now lawmakers are pushing for measures to rein them in, but not for the sake of the people. Their main concern is negative effects on the wildlife.

But do you think California liberals will actually change their liberal views due to their liberal failures? Fat chance. But it serves as a reminder of why the Lord teaches us throughout his word to seek wise, godly counsel and to use discernment. King Hezekiah is one good example. He sought to reverse the policies of his pagan father so Judah could prosper, using the prophet Isaiah as one of his many godly counselors. As Judah prospered and grew, Hezekiah built up his water reservoirs to preserve and expand Judah’s economy even more (2 Kings 20:20).

God wants us to avoid the pitfalls of life and to enjoy what he blesses us with, because living in a fallen, sinful world is hard enough as it is.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3

Source: Brittany Patterson, California’s 50,000 Pot Farms Are Sucking Rivers Dry, ScientificAmerican.com, July 3, 2015.

Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman gives uneasy answer on Christian station re: Supreme Court gay marriage decision

Jon Foreman, lead singer of Christian band Switchfoot, is on a promotional tour to hype up his solo project “The Wonderlands.” He begins a concert tour for the album in August. Known for playing secular venues and dodging the “Christian artist” label, he is popular in both Christian and secular music worlds. As part of the promotional tour, Foreman recently did an interview with NGEN Radio, a Christian music station in the Houston, Texas area that plays to a younger audience with Christian hip hop and upbeat Christian pop tunes.Jon_Foreman

Foreman’s morning show interview with NGEN’s DJ, Carder, was on the heels of the infamous Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. Carder proceeded to ask the singer his thoughts on all the back and forth heated arguments surrounding that decision. He seemed a little guarded and hesitant about how to answer the question, then slowly and methodically gave his opinion on the subject, which is paraphrased by me since I didn’t record it and couldn’t find any online source to directly quote it. Foreman acknowledged that this issue, like so many others, serves to polarize and divide society. He went on to say that it’s unfortunate that people are quick to draw their lines over it and that he is the type of person who feels you have to be willing to hear all sides and get different opinions of those who may not agree with your own opinion so you can better understand why they believe as they do. Foreman then concluded by saying that Christians should be listening and loving towards others.

Nowhere in the snippet of the broadcast interview did Foreman state what the Bible actually says on sexual relationships. Is it really necessary to openly consider all sides when God’s word is as clear as black and white on real marriage? Was Foreman’s answer just a mushy middle answer to avoid offending anyone? Could it have been an answer given out of fear of men because it could affect his popularity and livelihood? In the snippet, he never revealed where he really stood on the issue. But if you were to read the Bible from cover-to-cover, it is crystal clear without question what all of God’s people thought about marriage–whether prophet, priest, king, apostle, or regular commoner. And wherever a society in the Bible, including Israel, was on its way down and out, the issues that negatively affected God’s view of the family (like all forms of fornication) were part of the problem.

All in all, Foreman’s handling of the question made me question where his heart really is. I wasn’t surprised considering how most popular in-the-spotlight “Christians” tend to be.

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word. 1 Kings 18:21

know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:4

 

Vatican enlists God-haters to help with climate change initiatives

Politics makes strange bedfellows. And so does false religion. Combine all of them together and you get Pope Francis’s climate change initiative. Today he had “Jewish” feminist/socialist/environmentalist Naomi Klein address officials at the Vatican about global warming–a phrase that is now called “climate change” to hoodwink the masses.Naomi Klein

To follow up on his now famous encyclical on climate change released last month, the Pope had Klein give her views on how to proceed in dialing back the fake climate change thing that’s now allegedly happening, in spite of sound scientific data proving otherwise. Here are some comments she made today, according to Reuters:

  • She “urged financiers to divest from fossil fuel companies and made the case for supporting local agriculture and community-run renewable energy projects,” claiming that the world’s focus on preserving such corporate interests and their economic growth was only hurting the poor. But that is always the mantra of socialists like Klein, who really don’t care about the poor. Access to fossil fuels have proven to be what actually helps the poor by keeping fuel costs down, while environmentalists’ call for carbon taxes drives costs up.
  • Klein gave the ever-popular scare tactic of stating that if governments don’t make changes within the next 2 or 3 decades, catastrophe will strike. ABC News used a similar scare tactic several years ago when they stated that by June 2015 global warming would cause NYC to flood and gas and milk prices would be through the roof.
  • According to Klein, “We can save ourselves, but only if we let go of the myth of dominance and mastery and learn to work with nature.” In other words, she thinks capitalism is only about dominance and mastery. Yet she conveniently ignores the fact that the environmentalism and socialism she embraces are all about dominance and mastery to micro-manage every aspect of every individual’s life from if married couples should have children and how many, to how far one is allowed to drive one’s vehicle.
  • All the said changes on the Vatican and environmentalists’ agenda, in Klein’s view, are key to “fostering change in the United States, where some politicians use the Bible as cover for their opposition to action to slow global warming.” Klein seems to hate the Bible, but she and others like her seem to believe it should only be used as a tool when socialists interpret it to make people fall in line with their ideologies.

The Vatican’s choice of Klein to speak at this conference, as well as last week’s revelation that Pope Francis consults a pagan Earth-worshiper for his climate change policies, should set off alarm bells for any discerning Bible believer. The fact that the Vatican is in bed with pagans and environmentalists speaks to the true geopolitical nature of climate change hysteria and also exposes its religious roots. But should we expect anything different from a system that was referred to as “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” in the book of Revelation?

God gave man dominion over Earth in the beginning to preserve and take care of it so life can be preserved on it, but environmentalists like Klein seek to take things to the extreme by placing nature above man.

20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. 21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. 1 Corinthians 10

And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. Revelation 18:4

6 hecklers escorted from Joel Osteen’s church during sermon

Lakewood_churchAttendees at Lakewood Church in Houston were caught off guard Sunday in the midst of Joel Osteen’s sermon. A heckler decided to shout Osteen down while he was preaching. Then five others soon joined in, calling Osteen a liar and yelling “Shame on you, Joel!”

With so many churchgoers so tense over the church shootings in South Carolina, some of the congregants made a quick exit when it happened. Several of Osteen’s ushers are law enforcement officers who are armed during the services, so they swooped in and escorted the six hecklers out and Osteen continued his sermon.

The six hecklers were arrested and have been charged with criminal trespassing and are members from a nearby church called the Church of Wells.

I’m not a fan of Osteen’s in any way, but heckling someone during a worship service–even if it’s one full of false doctrines–isn’t the way to handle objections to what a person teaches. There are way better methods of protest than disrupting what is essentially a private meeting, such as picketing on a public sidewalk outside the church. In my opinion, this seems like a blatant violation of the Golden Rule. Jesus himself faced stiff and murderous opposition from his enemies, but they always allowed him to speak before they voiced their opposition to him and vice versa. That’s how meaningful, healthy debate gets accomplished which encourages listeners to weigh both sides.

Harry A. Gaylord

UK’s House of Lords hampers Liberal Democrat’s attempt to weaken drug laws

Liberal Democrat, Lord Brian Paddick, recently concocted a bill in the House of Lords calling for decriminalizing all drugs in the UK. His argument was that throwing people involved with drugs in jail was not working, but was actually causing drug use to increase.

Paddick, a former cop, told his fellow legislators that the key to beating the drug problem was “education not criminalisation.” But one of his conservative peers confronted Paddick with the flaws of his argument in the midst of a debate over the bill. Lord Blencathra pointed to a study done by an EU subcommittee that revealed enforcing the laws on illegal drugs caused a dramatic drop in the use of even the hardest drugs like cocaine and heroin.

Paddick’s amendment to one drug law was soundly defeated. He tabled other amendments calling “to decriminalise the possession of all drugs for personal use, legalise medical cannabis and delay moves to ban legal highs,” to be debated at a later date. When Paddick was a senior police officer several years ago, he began a program in his district that ordered officers not to arrest offenders for possessing small amounts of marijuana. Not long afterwards the community pushed back against his policies with the backing of a study that proved his policy directly led to a stark rise in addicts who used harder drugs.

Source: Push for weaker drugs laws slammed in the Lords, The Christian Institute, June 24, 2015.

God calls us to help shoulder others’ burdens

shouldering burdens

The following is a nice reminder taken from Jack Graham’s devotional entitled “How You Can Help Others Endure Hardships”:

When it comes to loving others, that’s the call on our lives. Not to always have all the answers and be able to fix every problem, but to step into others’ lives, bear their burdens, and walk through their pain with them. That’s what it really means to help others endure life’s hardships!

Read more of his timely words at the link above.

Harry A. Gaylord