Current Events

A Call to Pray for Revival

Prayer is an ordinary means of grace that God has often answered in extraordinary power.  God has promised to bless it.  There is no guarantee that God will reward our prayers with such a powerful outpouring of His Spirit that we hope for.  But He encourages us to pray tenaciously, to say, as Jacob, “I… Continue Reading

Source: A Call to Pray for Revival

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Churches unite in prayer for genuine Revival

 

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Several churches in the Presbytery of The Dakotas and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church have decided to unite in prayer for Revival at specific times. How to join in prayer:

Please share, and pray.  Details: http://pray4revival.info

Anyone paying attention in recent days can see the dire spiritual condition of the United States of America.  Men cannot help us, God is our only hope.  The great 18th century Presbyterian preacher: Samuel Davies said, “an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit is the only remedy for a ruined country.”  Several churches in our region have decided to unite together in prayer for a genuine, Spirit-wrought revival.  Would you please join us in prayer, in churches and other groups, and share the above link with others?

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What is a Christian in the USA to do after Obergefell v. Hodges?

What to do in the wake of Obergefell vs. Hodges, what is a Christian to do in the United States of America?

1. Strengthen Marriages

Your witness for the truth of God’s word, and the sanctity of marriage, isn’t very convincing to a confused and hurting world if you are busy not loving your wife, secretly watching pornography, flirting, or disobeying your husband. Make God the center of your marriage, among other reasons, to prove to your children and neighbors that you mean what you say, and to guard against compromise. If we are so disgusted with a perversion of marriage, what are we doing to assert the true definition, and more than that, to persuade others that it’s the way to go? Lead first by example.

2. Teach children in the Lord

Give your children, or use your gifts to help parents in your church to give their children, an education in the Christian faith. Teach them the Scriptures. Teach them to pray and to read the Scriptures for themselves. Make use of the Shorter or Heidelberg Catechism as an introduction to the Christian faith. If at all possible, keep them out of the public schools where they will not only be bombarded, but be tempted to compromise with the world and all its false doctrine at an early and vulnerable age. It’s not like when many of us went to public school. Conscientious dissent in the name of religion will no longer be tolerated. Teach them that they will be hated for the sake of Christ, experiencing persecution much worse than you did in your lifetime, but to rejoice in tribulation, that if they persevere to the end they will receive a crown of glory in heaven.

3. Strengthen the Church

If you’ve been dating the church, marry her now. Join a faithful Bible-believing and preaching church. She needs you as much as you need her. Sure, she has warts, but be an encouragement and not a criticizer. Treat your brothers and sisters in Christ as family, loving them unconditionally, because you are family. And all you have in this world is one another. This world is not our home. We are a holy nation in exile like Israel in Babylon. Let’s not forget Jerusalem but cultivate her fellowship and distinctive ways constantly by investing time, resources, and relationships to strengthen her. As Theodore de Bèze said, “the church is an anvil that has worn out manny a hammer.” America will pass away, but the kingdom of Jesus Christ, which is preeminently manifested through Church on earth, endures forever.

4. Keep the main thing the main thing.

Political battles, hobbies, careers, will try to suck up your time. It takes money to live on, and we can still vote for as long as we still have the vote, but focus more on being a witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Seek opportunities to bring up the gospel in conversation instead of the 2016 presidential elections, or the Supreme Court. The latter will vanish like smoke in the wind, but our Lord Jesus Christ reigns forever, and we are his ambassadors laboring in this earthly kingdom of darkness. Let’s be found doing principally that which he sent us to do.

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6 Ways to Deal With Encroaching Wickedness

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Adventure On the Confluence of the Platte and Missouri

On Saturday I had said to my 7 year old son, my hunting buddy, that we should go camping the following evening, which was supposed to be reasonably warm, in the thirties, and get up early to call coyotes on public access land in farm country about an hour away. I had Monday off because of the federal holiday.  But on the Lord’s Day, I was tired after preaching twice and driving nearly 150 miles, and I just wasn’t up to getting out all the camping equipment and pitching an incomplete tent in the dark. Plus, while he and I were both reading theology while sitting on the back porch, and I was smoking a cigar, we saw hundreds of Canada geese flying in formation overhead. We both simultaneously arrived at the idea to hunt geese on the following morning instead of coyotes (much tastier.) There is also a convenient location nearby to hunt geese, Schilling Wildlife Management Area, at the confluence of the Platte and Missouri Rivers. I could hardly sleep in anticipation. At around four o’clock, I rose and used the bathroom. I boiled some water for coffee. When it was a quarter to five, I quietly went into my buddy’s room and whispered, “Do you want to go hunting?” He immediately sat up and nodded his head in agreement, and made his way to wash up in the bathroom. I tried the same with my eldest daughter, but she barely budged. So my buddy and I managed to find enough camouflage clothing, and our hunting gear. We ate leftover homemade bread pudding for breakfast while I drank strong coffee poured from my French Press. I threw the duck decoys and my shotgun in the truck, and we were on our way. (Geese will be attracted to duck decoys, because seeing ducks around tells them it’s a safe area.) We decided to bring our German pointer. Even though he wouldn’t be much use for ducks, it would be nice to have him there in case we wanted to go after some partridge and quail in the afternoon, and he would appreciate getting a little exercise. We slapped together a few sandwiches, grabbed some water bottles, and were on our way to Schilling. First we drove to the confluence of the Platte and Missouri rivers. It’s a spot frequented by waterfowl, though the sheer strength of the river current makes it difficult to set up decoys or retrieve game. We turned back to the other side of Schilling. When we got there we checked out a pond that we had in mind. It was too dark to see very well. But tossing a few wooden boards out on the pond convinced us that it was still frozen solid, not the best place to set up our decoys. We went back to the confluence. We waited for a while, and I finished my coffee. Within one hour to sunrise, we began to hear the honking of Canada geese. We put on our waders. My buddy was trying on his new waders from Cabela’s for the first time, the waders to replace the ones we mysteriously lost on our last outing. I chained up the pointer to the truck, so that he could not disturb our goose hunt. At seven-twenty seven, one half hour before sunrise, we were ready to go. I loaded up with three three and a half inch shells full of number two steel shot. We were locked and loaded, and headed toward the mighty Missouri. We passed the spot where we had set up our decoys last time, and spotted a flock of Canada geese on the river, about one hundred fifty yards from the bank. I immediately got the idea that we could sit in the vicinity of this flock instead of setting up our duck decoys. Live geese are better to attract geese than plastic ducks! I wished my dog back at the truck would shut up. He thought we had left him forever. The flock of geese were out of the range of my shotgun, but if we creeped up slowly and didn’t spook them, we could set up by the river under a big fallen log that lay on the bank of the river, with good cover, and perhaps some geese would fly overhead. My buddy stalked quietly, and I felt proud to see him show some woodsman skill in the way that he followed me to the cover. He was well camouflaged in his coat and hat. We got to where we had a good view of the flock of geese. What better learning opportunity could there be, than to quietly spy our game, to learn their habits and behavior? We sat quietly. My buddy was perfectly still. Not five minutes later, a few geese were flying from the north. I concealed myself under the log and got up to my knees to be prepared to fire if they came close enough. They turned toward the river and I held my fire. Two geese came flying from the Iowa side of the river toward us, and flew right above our heads. I led the first goose with my twelve gauge, and pulled the trigger. A second later I heard a great “smack” on the river. I didn’t see the goose drop because I was focused on shooting the second one too. I pumped my action, and pulled the trigger a second time. “Click”, nothing happened. I realized that in my excitement I had failed to pump the action hard enough to extract the first empty three and a half inch magnum shell. I had reinserted the empty shell into the action. Now I vigorously pumped twice, extracted the empty shell, and the remaining live shell, too. I grabbed three shells from my bandoleer and reloaded. At that moment I looked to see the goose that I had downed. It was on the river, toward the center, its neck erect and head alive. I fired twice. The second shot killed it. The head was no longer visible. I must have hit it. I watched helplessly as the goose floated toward the fast-moving current of the middle of the Missouri river. I began to run in the same direction, downstream, along the bank. I called to my buddy but he didn’t need to be told what I was doing. He was following close after. The geese were active this morning. They kept flying overhead as I was trying to keep an eye on the downed bird floating down the river. They were a bit too high, but I must have fired nine times. My confidence was up after hitting the one. While I was firing at the birds, I had left my dog’s collar unbuckled. He took off, and we never saw the collar again, with its brand new medallions for a dog license and rabies vaccination. The prized game bird floated as we ran downstream, until finally it was out of sight, hidden by the glare of the morning sun rising over the Iowa horizon. My buddy insisted that we should make every effort to go and find it, and so we agreed to take a bridge from Nebraska to Iowa to see if we could find it, if perchance it had floated to the opposite bank and been stopped by something. I thought it was worth a try, and besides, it would be fun. But I didn’t even know how to get to the Iowa side.
We stopped back in Plattsmouth, Nebraska, at the police station to get general directions on where to find the nearest bridge over the river. When we crossed the river, it was quite a chore to find out how to actually get to the river bank. “There is no public access”, I was told by a woman at a farmhouse where we asked for directions. Not letting that deter us, we found a service road right in front of a bridge leading back over the river. We got off the highway, and drove along a gravel road to a muddy spot rutted with tire tracks. That was the end of our driving. We got out, and headed out on foot, in our boots (without the waders.) I reasoned that the waders would be too uncomfortable for walking, and that if we found the goose I could get myself wet for the short period of time it would take to get it out of the river without endangering myself as a prolonged exposure might. By this time the temperature was about thirty degrees, it was sunny, and we felt quite warm. We didn’t wear our coats when we set out. We hiked from our improvised parking spot to the river. The riverbed was covered by jagged rock. The pointer sometimes stayed with us, but mostly not. We sometimes walked on the jagged rocks on the river bank, and sometimes up on the bank among the trees, alternating as the path seemed easier. I was glad to be wearing my old trusty gore text Danner boots, the ones that got me through survival and evasion training sixteen years ago.  I had flashbacks of that training as we made our way over the rocks and fallen timber.  After traveling for two miles, we were tired. We sat down as I pulled two salami sandwiches and two water bottles from my cargo pockets. My buddy was smiling the whole way. Along the way he was throwing rocks and sticks into the river, shucking corn cobs, and stuffing goose and turkey feathers in his pocket for safe-keeping.  We were having an adventure, hiking along the Missouri river, looking for my downed goose. He would not have had it any other way. We decided that we were not going to find the goose, so we backtracked. Meanwhile the pointer had managed to get himself lost. He came to us as we trekked back through woods and on the edge of cornrows. (I was not carrying any firearm as this was Iowa, and I am only licensed to hunt in Nebraska.) He regained us twice, and got lost again. We made it back to the truck about five hours after we had begun our hike. My buddy was as content as could be. We napped for forty minutes under the hot Iowa sun, removing our long sleeve shirts and keeping the door open in the warm fifty degree noon weather. The dog never returned. I began to worry that he had collapsed of heat exhaustion, frantic about having lost us. I had called, clapped, and honked the horn of the truck to call him. Now my buddy and I took off on foot to find the dog. He had lost his collar, and if anything would happen to him, we would never find out. It took about a half a mile trek back south along the river, and finally he came limping out, tired, his paws sore and bleeding from looking for us. That dog never did learn to stick close by. I poured some water out of a bottle for him to lap up, and dowsed his head and back with the rest. Finally we had him, and we headed back to the truck. I threw the dog in the truck and we headed home. It’s a true blessing to have a hunting buddy who will push me and encourage me to press on, my seven-year old son. We had seen hundreds of majestic Canada geese, shot one way overhead, and trekked for miles along the Missouri river today. What an adventure. We can’t wait to do it again.

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Takeaway from Creation/Evolution Debate 2/4/14; Ken Ham vs. Bill Nye

Today Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and Ken Ham, CEO of Answers in Genesis, faced off in a debate at the Creation Museum just over the Kentucky line from Cincinnatti, OH on the topic of “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern scientific era?

I thought Ken Ham did a good job answering the questions rationally, and continually pointing the viewers to Christ.  He was putting presuppositions in the forefront, using the transcendental argument.  He showed that the interpretation of the existing data is subject to the prior assumptions made by either Creationists, or Evolutionists, coloring the conclusions, but that only the Creationist view satisfactorily accounts for the scientific evidence.  Ham pointed out the limits of “observational science”, making a distinction between what may be observed and repeated and a theory of origins, which falls into a category that he termed “historical science.”  This is largely the same point that I have been making, for example: here, that empirical science cannot yield a theory of origins.  Bill Nye was cheerful, sincere, and predictable in defending evolution from a naturalistic perspective, which assumes that only natural processes as we know and observe them are responsible for the origin of the universe as we know it.  He didn’t know Ken’s position nearly as well as Ken knew his, which was at times painfully obvious.  But that is to be expected.  I’m sure Nye doesn’t read creationists much, whereas Ham’s ministry is largely responding to evolutionists.  At times Nye said some outlandish things about the Bible and his debating opponent.  I got excited a few times when Nye delved into biblical or theological topics, like God’s judgment upon those who have not heard the gospel, and the transmission of the Holy Scriptures down through the ages, but alas, there was not time in the debate for Ham to respond to all of his cliché objections to biblical Christianity, all of which could have been very easily answered by any well-informed Christian.

I couldn’t help but notice how Nye, playing the quintessential naturalist, reveled excitedly in not knowing the answer to very basic questions about human life and the universe, like where energy and matter came from, and how life and consciousness developed.  Ham responded a few times by saying, “You know there’s a book that’s been published which gives us the answer to that question…”  Nye was like a man digging through machine rubble in a big box, trying to reconstruct where it all came from, amid broken and missing pieces.  Another man (Ken Ham) is trying to show him the bicycle owner’s manual delivered with the box, which has a diagram of the entire construction, but he won’t look at it.  Yet he’s just giddy about what he might discover if he keeps digging through the rubble.

View the entire debate video recording here.

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Searching for the Ark of the Covenant

In a recent story by Owen Jarus, an ancient text reveals clues about the location of the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark of the Covenant is a gold-overlaid box, covered on top by the wings of two golden angel sculptures, with the tablets of the law, the manna (bread from heaven that the Israelites ate in the wilderness on their way to the promised land of Canaan), and Aaron’s rod which budded.  It was a symbol of God’s presence among His people, and the centerpiece of worship in the tabernacle, and later in the temple after Solomon built the temple of the LORD.

God gave instructions for making the Ark in Exodus chapter 25:

10 And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 11 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about…13 And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold…17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat…21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

The ark was carried on long wooden poles by the descendants of Levi.  One time, when the ark was placed on a cart, it was tipping over.  Uzzah tried to catch the ark with his hand to keep it from falling to the ground.  He was struck dead by God on the spot for his indiscretion, because the ark was holy, not to be touched by human hands.

2 Samuel 6:6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. 7 And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.

The Ark was the center of worship, the most holy thing in the tabernacle, the symbol of God’s presence among His people, from which He spoke to them.  It was to be handled strictly as God commanded and not otherwise.

The Ark was lost when the Chaldeans under King Nebudchadnezzar sacked Jerusalem and stole all the gold items from the temple of the LORD.  It was never found again.  It has been popular to speculate on where the Ark might be found today.  Some have claimed that it rests in Ethiopia.  The 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark popularized the lore surrounding the recovery of the Ark, which, in the film, struck the soldiers of the 3rd Reich with deadly supernatural power which they were trying to harness for their own evil purposes.

Is the Ark going to be found?  And if it is, what will be its significance?  Some have said, for example in the article linked above, that in the time of the reign of the promised Messiah, the Son of David, the Ark will be found and regain prominence in the worship of God’s people.  But what do the prophets say about it?  Jeremiah spoke of the future day of the reign of the Messianic King, a time of spiritual blessing and prosperity, in these words:

Jeremiah 3:14b I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:  15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. 16 And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. 17 At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.

We see a few things in this picture of the Messianic age: 1. Jews would return to Zion. 2. Pastors would feed the people of God with knowledge and understanding. 3. The Ark would not be remembered or visited. 4. The nations would gather to Jerusalem to obey the LORD.

The Ark will never again be a center of worship.  In fact, according to this prophecy, it will not “be remembered.”  Now, we know that the Ark has not been visited ever since it was lost centuries before the birth of Christ.  But how is it that it is no longer “remembered?”  It’s because now Christ Jesus, the Messiah of the Jewish people, is the center of worship.  While the Ark was merely a symbol of God’s presence, Jesus is Immanuel, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)  It is unto Him that the nations are gathering, and the remnant of the Jews, God’s elect from every nation.  The place of His presence is His Holy Church, which is Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem. (Hebrews 12:22)  He has appointed pastors to feed His flock with knowledge and understanding. (Ephesians 4:11)  Although He is now seated at the right hand of the Father, He is present with His people in Spirit, especially in the fellowship of the redeemed, which is His body.  There, that is, in every true church on earth where His word is authentically proclaimed, He speaks to His people and makes His word effective by His Spirit working in them.

So what does this mean, when it comes to stories and clues about the present location of the Ark of the Covenant?  It will probably never be found, and certainly, is no longer needed.  If it ever is found, which I doubt that God will allow, it will be nothing more than a museum piece.  It will not be remembered or visited as before.  It is not needed at all because Jesus the Messiah is God, present among His people in word and Spirit.

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Prayer for Tumultuous Times

We are living in tumultuous times, when the world seems to have been turned upside down, but many of the saints who have gone before did, too.  O, Lord, make me faithful in this wicked and perverse generation.

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The Problem with Praise Teams

The Problem with Praise Teams, by Dr. T. David Gordon, from the Aquila Report.

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