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Thinking About Spiritual Warfare
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Thursday, 20 October 2011 00:00

 

In my Christian "tradition" and upbringing we didn't talk a lot about spiritual warfare, dreams and visions, demonism, etc. Not that we didn't believe in these things, just that they weren't front and center in our theology or Christian practice.

Since having worked with SAT-7 I've had occasion to think more about such things and to talk with experienced people whose views I trust. I've learned to open my mind and heart to understanding more about what the Sovereign Lord can and does do, particularly in a spiritually oppressed region like the Middle East and North Africa.

I say all this, in all seriousness, to note that the Devil is alive and well, that spiritual warfare is real, and that SAT-7 USA is a place and mission Satan doesn't like.

For the past two weeks we’ve experienced one significant technological equipment breakdown after another. I can't claim that our run of IT problems are anything more than the product of living in a sin-tainted, cursed creation. But I also acknowledge that our run of more-than-usual IT problems could indeed be the work of spiritual opposition, because Scripture indicates that wherever there's spiritual opportunity there will be spiritual opposition. Note what happened to Nehemiah as he tried to rebuild the Wall and note what happened in Thessalonica (Acts 17).

So we’ve taken it to the Lord this week and we’ll keep doing so.

The Scripture says Satan is the Prince and Power of the Air for a season, but it also says the Omnipotent, Just, and Loving God is still in charge.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

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The World Is Ending Saturday, May 21, 2011--Not
Written by Rex M. Rogers   
Friday, 20 May 2011 20:13

Harold Camping says tomorrow, Saturday, May 21, 2011, is Judgment Day. He claims to have found some clue in Scripture that incontrovertibly reveals the end of the world will come tomorrow. Wednesday of this week Camping’s organization purchased a full page announcement in American newspapers, including "USA Today."

I put the word “Not” in the title of this blog, but more to the point, I don’t know. Actually, the Bible says “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). No one knows, not me, not Harold Camping, not scores of individuals and groups who’ve set dates in centuries past.

At the same time I don’t for a second believe Camping has found some heretofore hidden theological nugget. To believe this is to believe Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code or Angels and Demons. There are a lot of kooks out there, theologically inclined and otherwise.

But the Bible does say to anticipate the Lord’s return and all that comes with it: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42). We’re supposed to be ready, to pray and prepare.

Camping’s problem is he’s gone over the top, picking a date and basking in his 15 minutes, or maybe a day, of fame. Another thing that undercuts his credibility is that his announcement proclaiming the end of the world in days also advertises his book and his website. Excuse me?

So is Christ going to return someday? Yes he is.

“For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).

When is Christ coming? Maybe tomorrow as Camping believes, maybe not for many years hence. Only God knows.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

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Joyce Meyer At Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, Houston

I finally heard Joyce Meyer speak in person. Last Saturday evening, February 5, 2011, she stepped into Joel Osteen’s pulpit at Lakewood Church in Houston.

I was in Houston, saw the church earlier in the day and later looked it up online, wondering if Osteen might be there the next morning. I’d wanted to go to Lakewood to “experience the phenomenon” and hear Osteen in order to draw my own conclusions about his presentation. Of course as things happen he was in Israel. He’d asked Joyce to cover the church services that weekend. Since I’ve wanted to hear her in person and take my own measure of her presentation too, this was my chance.

First, Lakewood Church. The facility is the former home of the Houston Rockets and is located just off US Route 59, Lloyd Bentsen Highway, in Houston. So the interior is bowl-shaped like any arena with upper and lower ovals of seating. Since the church occupied the building some $91 million of renovations were implemented, including arena-style, flip up, cushioned, armrest seats installed on the floor and extensive television lighting and cabling installed above the platform. The platform or stage is located on one end of the oval, effectively eliminating seats behind it. Parking is available in city and corporate parking garages in adjacent blocks.

The church is huge. Escalators take you up to entry level and the arena-now-auditorium seats about 16,000. I’d guess about 7,000 attended Saturday evening because floor seats were occupied, along with about 90% of the lower, larger bowl, where I sat. The crowd was one of the most, if not the most, ethnically and racially diverse crowds I’ve ever witnessed in a church—not just a few people here and there different from the majority but a genuine mixture of differing races and apparent nationalities throughout.

The music service was surprisingly (I anticipated upwards of 45 minutes to an hour) short, maybe 30 minutes. The music, stage presenters and soloists, and the entire production were loud, backed by a praise band, well-rehearsed, and assuming you like the style, quite good. Joel Osteen’s sister played a key role, singing, praying, leading, and so did his older brother, a former physician. To say the congregation “got into” the music understates it. People were thoroughly involved, singing, clapping, moving, and apparently happy. Each song, each solo, each presentation earned an ovation.

Joel Osteen was introduced by his brother for a short remote video greeting and send off for Joyce Meyer. The Lakewood congregation responded to her as he asked, warmly with a thunderous ovation.

Joyce is now 67 years of age and has been preaching for about 30 years. Before this she led popular Bible studies in her hometown of St. Louis. Her active ministry, as we now know it, began with a radio format in 1985 and television in 1993. She’s not much of a joke-teller, but her experience, sense of humor, talent, and knowledge of the Word of God were immediately evident. In reference to Churchgoers she said things like, “You sing the song. You have the bumper sticker. You have your Christian jewelry on.” She joked, “Don’t make me come out there,” and “I’m preachin better than your actin.”

Her topic was “forgiveness,” from her next book coming out later this year. Before she finished she’d referenced and explained at least 9 passages of Scripture and quoted many more. Her content was biblical, well-presented, engaging, and convicting. It also demonstrated a wisdom born from life experience—in more than one instance she used negative illustrations about herself.

Her observations included:

--The Word has the ability to heal you everywhere you hurt.

--You can have lousy circumstances and a good attitude and be fine; you can have good circumstances and a bad attitude and be miserable. Your attitude is your attitude. No circumstances or person can change it.

--Do yourself a favor and forgive.

--Most of the ground that Satan gains in the life of a believer is gained through unforgiveness.

--“Angry Christian” is an oxymoron.

--We have to get over caring about how we feel.

--“Put on mercy.” We can choose to be merciful, which is not fair because we’re giving something to someone they don’t deserve. It’s not about being fair. It’s about doing what’s right on purpose.

--Everything God asks you to do will benefit you in the long run.

--Regarding people who are hurting us: we need to become much more concerned about how they are hurting themselves.

--You can’t do much about others or how you “feel,” but you can do something about what you do. When you do something long enough it will help change your feelings.

--The Disciples were a mess, but Jesus kept forgiving them.

--Legalism looks at what people do. It wants to exact a punishment or a price.

--Mercy looks for the why behind the what. It wants to understand the hurts that make the other person act as they do and exercise compassion.

In terms of the subject, she eventually said, “There is a gift of mercy. I don’t have it.” She went on to say not having the gift of mercy doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible for developing it, for “putting on” mercy as the Bible says.

At the conclusion of the hour long message, she gave an invitation: for people to signify by standing that they held some unforgiveness toward someone, which they now wanted to give to God and then forgive the other person; for people who did not know Christ to accept him as Savior, and she instructed them how this could be done and led in prayer.

There’s much debate, or at least there used to be, in the Christian community about the propriety of “women preachers” or women becoming ordained. I don’t want to get into that debate here.

There was also some concern awhile back about Joyce Meyer Ministries finances. No improprieties were ultimately demonstrated. In 2009, Joyce Meyer Ministries was approved by the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability, an organization that independently evaluates the integrity of many Christian nonprofits.

I have not read any of Joyce Meyer’s some 90 books, among them a few bestsellers. In the end I can only attest to what I saw and heard last Saturday evening in Houston. On that night Joyce Meyer presented a biblically sound message with excellent content backed by a humble and engaging personality. I liked the message and I liked her.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2011

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

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Avoidable Tragedy, Theodicy, And Theology

Gunmen surprised worshippers and seized a Baghdad church during an evening Sunday service. Before it was over more than 60 people, including the priest, were killed when government security forces stormed the church to free the more than 100 Iraqi Catholics who’d been captured. Eventually, the eight assailants involved were also killed.

This didn’t happen due to “forces beyond our control.” It didn’t happen because of unruly weather. It happened because people made bad choices. It was an avoidable tragedy, so why did God allow it?

Tragedy is a conversational word that means disaster, sadness, or unexpected developments that victimize human happiness, wellbeing, and even lives.

Theodicy is a less often used word that means a vindication of divine justice in allowing evil, suffering, or tragedies to exist.

Tragedies we’ve seen, perhaps experienced, and all-too-painfully understand. Theodicy, the idea that God has a reason for tragedies, the idea that God allows or, even more discomforting, directs tragedies is not so easy to understand.

Yet if we believe in the God of the Bible we must acknowledge his sovereignty, omniscience, and omnipotence. He is in control. He knows all things. Nothing is a surprise or an accident to him. He is all-powerful, so nothing happens outside of his will or influence. Not 9/11, not this senseless brutality against innocent churchgoers.

In the wake of earthquakes or tsunamis taking the lives of tens of thousands of people, including children, the idea that God could have thwarted these so-called “natural” disasters is a difficult theological pill to swallow. In the face of wars that decimate entire populations of people, the idea that God could have stopped the carnage seems to beg the question of God’s purported love and compassion for people. In the after-shock of senseless violence and unnecessary death, the thought that God could have prevented the tragedy tests our faith.

So some question God’s existence, some his goodness. Some, like Job’s wife, simply want to curse God and die.

Yet in the Book of Job, the oldest scriptural writings, God does not answer all of Job’s questions. God reminds Job and us that he, God, is great. That he is good.  That he is just.  That he is love.  God is big—bigger than our circumstances, bigger than suicide bombers, terrorists, or well-armed thugs.

Theodicy, in the end, requires faith—faith in a God whose goal is to reconcile us with him, even through tragedies. This, in turn, requires a right understanding of theology. To interpret properly the world and its volatile events we must know who God is, what comprises his character, and what he wills for the world in which we live.

Tragedy is abrupt and often life altering. Theodicy can meet our rational need to know why and our emotional need for comfort.  Theology provides us with understanding of a God who is not mean, vindictive, arbitrary, or clueless but a God who is love, righteous, and peace.

I don’t know why these particular church worshippers were made victims of this tragedy. But I don’t believe in bad luck, the fates, or whimsical deities. I believe in the God of the Bible who will bring all things to account.

We should pray for the Iraqi families devastated by this tragedy. And we can ask God to bring them in contact with Christians who can testify to God’s goodness in the face of evil.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

 

Originally posted as “Theology and Technology,” in “Making a Difference" #437.

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

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Five Things Everyone Should Know

We’ve talked about five things grandparents wish their grandkids knew and five things grandkids wish their grandparents knew. Now here are five things I wish everyone knew:

What matters is Christ and biblical Christianity, nothing more, nothing less. Christians spend too much time and energy arguing about cultural preferences. Christian liberty may be the least understood and least practiced doctrine in the Bible. Applying it would be freeing in more ways than one.

Developing a truly Christian worldview is the most liberating thing one can experience. For the Christian who has already experienced salvation in Christ, the most powerful impact upon his or her life will be a biblical philosophy of life. No other worldview accurately explains the nature of good and evil, the world, and our place in it.

The world is desperate for leaders who lead with a proactive, motivating faith in Christ. Uncertainty and anxiety define our times more than stability or hope. People are looking for answers and the people who possess them. Faith-based leaders are capable of connecting us with God’s vision and his hope.

God never told us to check our brains and our backbone at the door of the church. Christians were never told to be whimpy. God expects us to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, but he also expects us to think and to act responsibly. Meekness is not weakness and weak Christianity is not biblical.

It’s not about you. Life is not about me or you in an individualistic sense. It’s about God’s will for each and all of us and the culture in which we live. Our task is to live out our faith through works that magnify his name in all that we do.

Everyone would live a more fulfilled life if he or she lived according to how God designed the world in the first place. Biblical philosophy is not esoteric nonsense. It’s practical and it works.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

Revised “Making a Difference” program #420 originally recorded September 28, 2005.

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

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WWJD, Sure, But What About WDJD?

WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? It took the culture by storm in the past 20 years. It’s a simple and worthy creed for millions of Christians.

There’s another memory device that might be worth pondering regarding our challenges today, WDJD, What Did Jonah Do?

Jonah and the whale is one of the great Old Testament stories. Jonah was a reluctant servant. God said, “Go,” and Jonah said, “Who, me?” Jonah resisted, ran, repented—sort of, responded…and when the Lord blessed his ministry, Jonah rejected the results.

WDJD? Jonah didn’t want to take a message of God’s love and forgiveness to Nineveh, a people he considered a nemesis, if not an enemy, of his people.

But God had other plans and sent a great revival to Nineveh. Jonah didn’t like this either and the book entitled with his name ends with Jonah pouting under a vine.

God points out to Jonah that Nineveh had more than 120,000 children so young they didn’t know their left from right hands, suggesting a total population ranging to a million. Then God asks, “Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11)

This is our challenge today: We live in a time when religions and regimes with strong anti-Western and anti-American postures are growing, aggressive, and threatening. Their advance seems like an unstoppable juggernaut, which is creating social tensions and political confusion throughout European countries and the United States. In addition, the West is still engaged in military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It might be easy, even understandable, and seemingly logical for us to feel like Jonah, resisting spiritual responsibility or opportunity for regional populations in the Middle East, Africa, or Asia.

But this is not the way the Lord works. He asks, “Should I not be concerned about that great city?”

We can ask WWJD and embrace Jesus’ approach, or we can ask WDJD and follow Jonah’s lead. Figuring this out may be the defining Christian challenge of the new millennium.

To read more on this subject click here.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

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Dr. Rex M. Rogers

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