Prayer and Praise for New Joy Church Roger: Brian Sinclair called as pastor.

Well I thank God that the vote on Tuesday went as expected and Brian Sinclail accepted the call to pastor. It will be exciting to see how God moves ahead.  This part of the body of Christ has been through much and now entering a new and exciting phase.  So I just want to request ongoing prayer for God’s move in the church. It feels to me that New Joy and my life are at similar points and season.  We both are at a spring time with work to do to start moving in ways God leads.

Dear Father,

Thank you for calling Brian Sinclair and his family to serve you at New Joy Church in Rogers.  We thank you for what we have gone through, even the difficulty and painful times.  It is even in those times you taught us more of dependence on you and the depth of your love.  Guide our path and steps ahead as you prepare each of us to serve you in accordance with your will and what you have been preparing us for.  Continue to build us into what you desire.  Make your joy be full in each of our lives and overflow to the community around. May your light shine brightly in the area.  Open each of our eyes, ears, and hearts toward your leading and how you want each of us to impact others around us. Be our guide and Chief Sheppard.  And Lord protect us from the ongoing works of the adversary.  Let us continue to be united in your love and be able to stand and resist the ways the enemy seeks to drag us off course.  May we be about serving you and your kingdom not simply expanding a kingdom called New Joy Church in Rogers. Above all Lord Jesus, your will be done.   Amen.

Commentary: Nightline Faceoff Debate-Does Satan exist?

Well if you haven’t watched the Night-line Face of debate on does Satan exist, do so it is worth your while.  The debate is on-line at ABC’s website here: http://abcnews.go.com/nightline/faceoff.

 

The debate participants were on one side Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Churchand Annie Lobert from Hookers for Jesus.  The other side consisted of  Deepak Chopra, New Age author and  “Bishop” Carlton Pearson, former word of faith pastor who now teach “inclusive gospel” and no longer pastors a church.

 

The exchange was definitely interesting. Before getting into what the two sides presented, in observing the debate it definitely felt like a battle between light and darkness.  The last word went to Deepak Chopra who used some ancient Essene quote extolling being “totally filled with a presence of love” that Deepak stated that he wanted that kind of intoxication of love.  It felt like the presentation of the debate wanted to give more merit to Chopra and Pearson’s position.  However, that is not a surprise since the media in general only talks about Christianity or Christian themes when it can shed negative light on beliefs. However, it is worth examining what each person added to the debate. I will discuss each in the order that they presented there thoughts.

 

First of all is Mark Driscoll.  He did present the Gospel in a straight forward manner.  He illustrated that evil exists because Satan and people choose to rebel against God and that Jesus came and took on the guilt and shame and paid the consequences of sin.   He provided many sound rebuttals to comments made by the other side, rebuttals that usually led to avoidance and tangents from the other side. He chose to close with a reading of the word of God which presented the Gospel view of the topic, and definitely felt the Spirit of God as he read the Word of God.

 

Second is Deepak Chopra. He basically engaged in espousing clichéd platitudes that seemed to be the buzz phrases for his point of view.  He basically indicated that evil exists because we all have a shadow and that if we get right with self and get in touch with our divine self, everything would be okay.  His answer for the ever escalating presence of evil was that has change happens there is fear and has fear grows so does violence.  He also suggested that Annie Lobert’s experiences were of self and the dark dungeon she had herself involved in.  Deepak emphasized over and over that everyone has experience and their experience is valid for them.  He indicated that he trusts his spirit over his mind.  He also made a big point at de-emphasizing belief.  He indicated that if something is real, you do not need to believe.  Deepak also claimed that his views were more in line with the scientific facts.  He indicated that creation consists of evolution and entropy, with evolution always slightly ahead.  Deepak came off as arrogant and prideful, constantly referring to people with other beliefs not inline with his thinking as primitive whereas he is enlightened.

 

The third person to engage in discussion was Annie Lobert, a former prostitute is reaching out to share the Gospel with other prostitutes. She was there basically to share her story. She reported how she had personal contact with demons.  She seemed out of her element in the conversation, especially when the other side basically explained as what happened to her as being self-created.  Her main message was that demons do try and influence people and are very active.  By the end of the debate, Mark Driscoll tried to help her share her story and what it meant. She was in tears at the end of debate and emphasized that because she knows the reality of evil, she knows the truth of God and Gospel. 

 

The final person is Bishop Carlton Pearson. He emphasized he used to teach the Bible and use his past as a reason to have “authority” on the subject.  His main point is that we create what we want to create. If we want to believe in demons, we create them.  He made attempts at painting Christians as hypocritical for not being “legalistic” and caring more about money or appearances.  He initially referred to having a belief in an omnipresent, omnipotent, lustful Satan.  When corrected, he changed his statement to “almost” omnipresent, omnipotent.  He clearly expressed belief that the Bible and stories related to Jesus and Satan as being simply myth.  He brought up several times the “eternal torture” as being something in his mind that a loving God should not do.  He definitely spoke of from a morally inclusive point of view with a relativistic view of truth.

 

The debate in total showed the clear contrast between the Gospel of Jesus through the Bible and gospel of inclusiveness. On one hand, you have Satan existing due to rebellion and seeking to destroy others and the other, you have evil as a shadow part of self, that if manifests is self creation.  You have one side that looks to depend on Jesus as an answer for selfishness, the other which looks to elevate self.  One side finds peace in Jesus. The other side finds peace in tolerance or inclusiveness. The question is, what side to you lean toward? 

Lessons from a game called werewolf/mafia:

Lessons from a game called werewolf/mafia:

 

            Over the past three four years one of the ways I engaged in entertaining and distracting myself is a game called werewolf, also known as mafia.  It is a game about deception.  Basically there is a team of bad guys trying to deceive others and folks who are trying to figure out who the deceivers are.  This post isn’t about the dynamics of the game (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia_(game) but some important lessons that can be learned.

            One important lesson is that no one is beyond being deceived. The most skilled people at spotting varied ‘tells’ or spotting the deceivers can fail or falter. No one is beyond being deceived by someone else or even themselves.  In applying this lesson, we each need to be aware and acknowledge that no one is beyond deception.. Anyone that thinks they are beyond being deceived is fooling themselves.  We need to continually engage in prayerful self-examination and ask God to show us the ways we have been deceived and to show us truth. 

            Another important lesson is that people prefer to follow.  I have seen this play out on numerous occasions. As soon as someone displays proficiency at finding the deceivers, others tend to follow them.  It is much easier to follow then to examine facts and details and search for the truth on your own. If someone exhibits apparently greater skills it is much easier to follow rather then examine facts for yourself. It works out well when the person is right but when the person is wrong, the results are not satisfactory and often assist those looking to deceive.   

In applying this  lesson to life and exposing deception we need to be willing to examine and test things on our own. We need to not just simply trust the words or actions of others, no matter how often they have display accuracy.  Blindly following others is detrimental, particularly if a person relies on others for the word of God and not spending time spending time and studying the Word.  Also if we spend more time reading Christian authors and others interpretations of the word, we leave our self vulnerable to be deceived or follow error.

Another important lesson is that the greater the distractions, the easier it is to be deceived. Time and time again I witnessed where people couldn’t sort through multiple information even when there were clues to what is true and what is false. The simple application to this lesson is the greater amount of distractions; the harder it is to assess truth.

            A surprising but important lesson is that when looking for deception it is easy to become paranoid. This means we can easily see lies and deception in people that are being truthful.  Now while such paranoia can make for interesting game play, in life it makes  things confusing.  God doesn’t offer confusion but we can sure generate a lot of it on our own doing. Given how easy it is to become paranoid this stress the importance of depending on God and leaning not on our own understanding. We can easily find lies and deception where there is none, just as much as we can fall prey to lies and deception. The enemy loves when we do become paranoid and find lies in the truth.

            In watching multiple games played out another sure lesson is that deceivers have no problem ‘eating their own.’   In order to gain trust, exposing someone else engaging in deception can be a way to gain trust and greater deceive others.  The last game I actually played, it was done to perfection when one member of the team of deceivers was exposed after another with even easily sorted out lies being spoken ultimately resulting in trust for one person who ended up winning the game.  Such tactics breed pride and over-confidence as well as stimulating trust. So while “the house” may be “divided against itself” the goal is to lay ground work for other lies or deceptions to be accepted or a deceiver to be trusted. In our lives, we need constant evaluation and with the light of scripture. We need to test all things continually and be wary. 

            The last lesson I want to discuss is that any time someone discovers a tell or a pattern to sort out the deceptions in the game, once the deceivers are aware the deceptions and game play the strategies and lies adjust to take them into account.  If lies always followed the same pattern, they can be easy to spot, but eventually there comes a time when what you used to rely on is ineffective.  Of course, with God, His discernment is always accurate, and always ahead of the enemy.  For each of us though, of our own strength and power, it is easy to be deceived and trust others based on confidence in a “technique” or “test.”  The enemy is crafty, and will adjust!

            There are probably more lessons I can take from the game but the essential point is we are all easily deceived and of our own effort finding and exposing deceptions is ultimately impossible. Our enemy, Satan, is the master of deception. Each of these things I have observed about deception is but a drop in the bucket of Satan’s tools.  We need to live in surrender and dependence to God, we need to repent of relying on our own strength, we need to Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, we need constant exposure to the Word of God, and we need to the grace of Jesus the Messiah to cleanse us from our self-effort and failures.  May we all grow in truth and be sober and alert lest we become embroiled in deception.