2011: The Year of Living Religiously

2011: The Year of Living Religiously
Vol: 123 Issue: 31 Saturday, December 31, 2011

The first major event of 2011 was an act of religious devotion.  On January 1, religious Muslims bombed a Coptic Christian Church in the ancient city of Alexandria, killing 21 Christians and wounding 100 others.

“No one in Egypt or outside the country should be surprised by this attack,” said Heba Morayef, a Cairo-based researcher for Human Rights Watch.

On January 4, a Muslim street vendor in Tunisia who had been humiliated by a female police officer died of self-immolation.  The death of Mohamed Bouazizi sparked a revolution in Tunisia that spread like wildfire across the Islamic world.

Spurred on by both al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood shouting Islamic slogans, Western-friendly Arab dictatorships began to collapse like lawn chairs. 

First was Tunisia’s Ben Ali, who abandoned his 23 year rule and fled into exile in Saudi Arabia. By year’s end, Tunisia had a new government dominated by the formerly-banned Nahba Party, originally founded as the ”Movement of the Islamic Tendency” in 1981.

“In 1989, it changed it name to Hizb al-Nahda.[11]The party has been described as one of many parties/movements in Muslim states “that grew up alongside the Iranian revolution“,[12] and it was originally inspired by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.[13]

The religiously-inspired Arab Spring revolt jumped to Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood fomented a ‘spontaneous’ revolution calling for the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s four-decades of secular rule. 

It began with a call by Mohammed Baradei, former head of the IAEA, for a “Tunisia-style revolution” — a call that so stirred the revolutionary heart of Barack Obama that he actually sided with the Muslim Brotherhood against one of America’s staunchest allies in the Arab world.

When Mubarak’s government fell in January, so did Mubarak’s ability to enforce the peace treaty with Israel. 

Within days, terrorists began using Egypt as a staging area for attacks on Israel, blowing up oil and gas pipelines, permitting infiltrations, and threatening to pull the plug on the thirty-three year old peace agreement.

For reasons still not clear to most Americans, the Obama administration created, and then abandoned, a coalition of NATO countries to “intervene” in Libya’s revolution, siding with the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda in the fight to bring down Ghadaffi.

In Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s twenty-one year dictatorship was overthrown by Islamic elements loyal to either al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood.

Protests against Bashar al Assad’s Ba’athist government in Syria marked the whole of 2011 and remain ongoing, despite Assad’s brutal crackdown on the mainly Sunni Muslim majority that has already cost the lives of thousands of Syrian, including women and children.

Syria’s ruling elite come from the minority Alwawite sect of Shiite Islam that only comprises about 12% of Syria’s three-quarters Sunni population.  A Wikileaks cable revealed that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is secretly working with the US and Israel to bring down Assad’s co-religionist regime in Iran.

In a column discussing the importance of religion to the politics of the past year, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered this insight:

“My experience as prime minister taught me that none of the problems of the Middle East and beyond – including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia – can be understood unless we comprehend the importance of religion. I don’t mean the politics of religion, but religion as religion. We cannot treat the influence of religious faith in purely secular terms. We must address it also as a genuine issue of faith.”

While religion was reshaping the face of the Arab world in the Middle East, in 2011, Americans were beginning to learn a little more about the “American religion”, for such is Mormonism.  

Mormonism was invented and presented to pre-Civil War America by American Joseph Smith of Palmyra, New York.  

Mormonism spread to the American mid-West, and ultimately to Utah, where it dominates and controls the state at all levels of government and religion.  Mormonism is also prevalent in the American states surrounding Utah.

Until 2011, I had given Mormonism only scant attention.  I knew it was a cult, but so are many others.  I haven’t paid much attention to the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Scientology, either.  

But thanks largely to the efforts of Glenn Beck to convince mainstream Christianity that Christian doctrinal purity was the semantic equivalent of religious bigotry, Mormonism has bullied its way to the center stage of American religiousity in 2011.

With three Mormons vying for the Republican nomination for President and with a Mormon leading the United States Senate, referring to Mormonism as “a cult” has become the cultural equivalent of an ethnic slur and arguing that Mormonism is not Christian has morphed into an egregious example of “Christian intolerance”.

Glenn Beck has also alluded on a number of occasions to the Mormon “White Horse Prophecy” allegedly uttered by Joseph Smith in 1843. 

Briefly, LDS founder Joseph Smith prophesied that the LDS would go to the Rocky Mountains and become “a great and mighty people,” whom Smith identified  figuratively with the rider on the white horse of Revelation 6:2.  

Mormon theology envisions America becoming a Mormon theocracy, similar to what it attempted to create in Utah (in the Rockies) under Brigham Young and the early Mormon leadership.

“Writers such as Richard Abanes and Elaine Wolff have speculated, on the basis of the prophecy, that Mormons expect the US to eventually become a “Mormon-ruled theocracy divinely ordained to ‘not only direct the political affairs of the Mormon community, but eventually those of the United States and ultimately the world'”,[2] and that “a Mormon, if he were elected president, would take his orders from Salt Lake City.”[3] In addition to many LDS members of the Republican Party, some LDS Democrats have also been inspired to run for office by the White Horse Prophecy.[18]

The LDS is split over the authenticity of the White Horse Prophecy but what is at issue is whether it was uttered by Joseph Smith, not the prophecy itself.

Mitt Romney’s father, George Romney, was born in a Mormon colony in Mexico.  He was a high priest in the Mormon Melchizedek priesthood.  When he was considering a run for the White House in 1967, he said of the White Horse Prophecy,

“I have always felt that they meant that sometime the question of whether we are going to proceed on the basis of the Constitution would arise and at this point government leaders who were Mormons would be involved in answering that question.”

Mitt Romney is himself a high-ranking member of the Mormon Church who, when questioned, offered this carefully-parsed response:

“I haven’t heard my name associated with [the White Horse Prophecy] or anything of that nature. That’s not official church doctrine…. I don’t put that at the heart of my religious belief.”

Note carefully how he worded it, because he sure did.  It wasn’t “I don’t believe it. ”  Just, “I haven’t heard my name associated  . . . and “that’s not official church doctrine, and it is not “at the heart of my religious belief.”

Romney has done his best to disassociate himself from Mormonism, apart from admitting he is an member of the LDS.  He was a Bishop for Belmont, Massachusetts, and later presided over the Boston “Stake” a level of hierarchy similar to a Catholic diocese.

Mormons have set their sights on the White House ever since Joseph Smith announced his own candidacy in 1844.  Apart from the two Romneys, there was Morris Udall in 1976 and Orrin Hatch in 2000. 

But with three Mormons running for the GOP nomination this year, (Romney, Huntsman and Johnson) and the wildly popular conservative hero Glenn Beck cheerleading for the installation of Mormon values as the benchmark standard for American conservatism, 2011 may well mark the year that the LDS went mainstream.

And the year that Bible-believing Christianity became a cult. 

Assessment:

CNN ran a Year in Review feature called “My Faith 2011: Year in Review.”  While Islam is rapidly retaking the Middle East and the LDS is making plans to install a Mormon in the White House, this CNN piece is a showcase for the state of mainstream American Christianity.

(You know, that part of American Christianity that would agree with Beck that calling the LDS ‘a cult’ is religious bigotry.) CNN’s tease spoke volumes on the subject:

“Our top five stories for 2011, in no particular order, focused on a U.S. senator, a Muslim congressman, a recovering alcoholic who’s an atheist, a labyrinth walker, and an unlikely patriot.”

On closer examination . . . 

  • The US Senator is Joe Liebermann, whose devotion to keeping the Sabbath CNN found “surreal.”
  • The Muslim Congressman is Keith Ellison, of whom CNN gushed: “The congressman allowed CNN all-platform journalist Chris Welch to follow him for a day in Minneapolis for this surprising and intimate look at his faith.”
  • The alcoholic is an atheist who found a way to overcome her disgust at references to Jesus in order to find sobriety at AA.
  • The labyrinth walker is Sally Quinn, the Washington Post’s “religion reporter.” Quinn is admired by CNN for her faith in a circle she sat in, which she credited for her son Quinn’s remarkable cognitive recovery.  I dunno, you have to read it to make sense of it.  If you can.
  • The unlikely patriot is a Mennonite pastor who refuses to sing the “Star Spangled Banner.”

What?  In all of America, not a single admirable Christian?

Well, CNN did make mention of Rob Bell, who teaches that Jesus isn’t entirely necessary to salvation . . . and a priest who spent Christmas at the South Pole.  

Then there is the phenomenon of Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback.  To listen to some of Tebow’s critics, one would think Tebow is the football equivalent to Kim Kardashian

I don’t know a lot about football, but evidently, Tebow frustrates his critics by not being the loser they keep saying that he is.

Tebow became the target of liberal hatred when his mother told the story of how she refused a doctor’s recommendation to have an abortion because she is pro-life. 

That rankled the  “pro-choice” lobby, who decided to hate Tim Tebow, evidently for one of two possible reasons.

  1. He makes a big show of his Christianity and gives glory to God for every victory, and,
  2. because his mother didn’t choose to kill him before birth.

The top “hit” from a search of “Christianity 2011” at Google yielded a Youtube video from Christopher Hitchens! 

Is that revealing?

According to the Bible, the religion of the last days will be overseen by a character the Bible calls the False Prophet.  The Bible reveals several major characteristics of the end-times religious leader that kept coming to mind as I was looking over our files on the year 2011.

First, he will oversee what amounts to a theocratic religious system married to the government of the antichrist. (Revelation 13:12)  (Theocratic religious systems have done very well in 2011).

Secondly, this theocratic system will resemble Christianity, and may even claim Christianity, but it will not BE Christian.  Revelation 13:11 describes it as having two horns like a lamb, but speaks as a dragon.

And thirdly, he will demand worship for the political leader. (Revelation 13:17)

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

There is an old Chinese curse that says, “May you live in interesting times.”  The past year certainly qualifies.  And next year is shaping up to be even more interesting. 

I pray that each of you and all of us are blessed with a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.  Until He comes. 

Maranatha! See you next year. 

What’s So Great About Heaven?

What’s So Great About Heaven?
Vol: 123 Issue: 30 Friday, December 30, 2011

It think it fair to say that most unbelievers are motivated to come to Christ more by the fear of going to hell than they are by the promise of heaven.  It was certainly true in my case.

I’d heard about heaven all my life.  An eternity of praise and worship and singing . . . ummm, an eternity?  (My enthusiasm starts to wane a bit.) 

But given the alternative. . . heaven sounds just great!

It is that comparison that motivated me to seek salvation.  By itself, Heaven sounded a lot like an eternal church service.  But truth to tell, I’m good for about an hour in church before I start squirming in my seat.

It was fear of the alternative that drove me to my knees.  Perhaps that might be why the Bible has more to say about hell than it does about heaven. 

Here’s what we know about hell, and the Lake of Fire to come after that. 

Luke 16:19-31 reveals that in hell, one has no name.  Abraham is mentioned by name. So is Lazarus.  But the rich man is not named.  What good is a name when nobody will ever call it again?  In hell, while you have no identity, you know who you were.

The rich man remembered his father and five brothers.  His memories are intact.  In hell, one is tormented by flame.  The rich man begged for a drop of water to cool his burning tongue.

We addressed the three-fold nature of man in detail in Volume 123, Issue: 20 during our discussion of the death of Kim Jong il.

In life, the body is the sensory input station for the soul.  The soul also receives input from the spirit, after it has been regenerated at salvation, but the soul’s primary source of input is still physical; sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.

Absent the body, the spirit becomes the eyes and ears, so to speak of the soul.  The body’s sensory gates close, but the spirit’s sensory gates swing wide-open.  We (that is, the soul, the part that makes you ‘you’) remains aware of what is going on. 

So when you die, the spirit functions much as the body did, as the primary sensory gateway into the soul.   The soul of a person that dies unregenerate, like the rich man of Luke 16, has lost its physical sensory input.  His spirit is dark, dead, and incapable of getting any spiritual input.

He is conscious and aware, like the rich man, but he is buried in hell where the only input he gets is burning pain.  

That lost soul will have his physical sensory input restored to him just before being cast alive into the Lake of Fire.  There, he will be deprived of spiritual comfort, since his spirit is dead, but his resurrection body will be eternally alive.

Brrrr!  Considering the alternative, suddenly the idea of eternal church sounds, well, heavenly.  

Isn’t it interesting that heaven is practically impossible to imagine, while the image of hell is not only easy to grasp, it is almost impossible to erase from one’s mind?

Assessment:

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Heaven sounds boring because we can only imagine it through our own eyes and from our own, earthly perspective.  What can we learn about heaven that we can sink our teeth into, the way that the concept of hell tends to seek its teeth into us?

First, the Bible tells us that heaven is the spiritual realm in which God’s Presence is manifest.  It is the dwelling place of the angels of God and of all believers that have gone on before. (Hebrews 10:22-24)

Because it is the place where God dwells, heaven must consist of many more dimensions than just the three we can comprehend.  The Apostle Paul reports an out-of-body experience in which he describes heaven.

“How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (2 Corinthians 12:4)

Since Paul said it occurred “fourteen years ago” he is referring to his own conversion experience on the road to Damascus, (as he admits in  v. 7). 

Whatever Paul saw, it made him long for more. 

Here and elsewhere, the Bible confirms the truth that there is no cessation of consciousness at death, no “soul sleep.”

We have the testimony of the Lord Himself, when He said to the thief on the Cross, Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

When our physical inputs shut down and our souls leave our bodies, they are immediately present with the Lord: 

“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8)

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul re-confirms, from his own experience, that when we depart, we go to be with the Lord.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. . .  For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.” (Philippians 1:21,23)

The Bible reveals that when we get to heaven, our spiritual nature changes.  The dual nature of man exists only until the carnal part dies.  What we have now is ‘imputed’ righteousness, whereas in heaven our hope of righteousness is realized.

The Apostle John says that when we see Jesus, we shall be like Him as we are transformed.  When we do, we will be purified from sin and eternally bonded to Him. 

We cannot imagine heaven, we can only compare it to earth and all its beauty and wonderment, remembering that the earth is the universe’s garbage dump.

It is the only place where sin can exist without throwing the entire universe out of balance, thanks to the fact it has an environment that contains it. 

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12)

Think of our beautiful planet.  Try to imagine what it must have been like when it was still pristine and pure, back when Adam walked with God in the Garden in the cool of the evening.  

When Satan and his crew were cast from heaven, they were cast to the earth, what the theologians call the ‘cosmos diabolicus’ or literally, a world of evil.

To Satan and the rebellious angels that actually have seen heaven, it was the worst place they could imagine — a place of involuntary and horrific exile.  The elect angels share that opinion: 

“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” (Luke 15:10)

The angels know what that sinner has just escaped from. Jesus also describes what we become in eternity in Luke 20:36,

“Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.”

Paul tells us that we will receive new, immortal bodies at the Rapture:  

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

But first, our loved ones who have gone on before get theirs.  Then we who are alive and remain get ours.  

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Despite being changed, we will recognize one another. (1 Corinthians 15:49) Together with those we love, we will meet with the Lord in the air, and “so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 

“Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)

America 2012: ”Nobody Is More Admirable Than Obama or Clinton”

America 2012: ”Nobody Is More Admirable Than Obama or Clinton”
Vol: 123 Issue: 29 Thursday, December 29, 2011

According to a year-end Gallup poll, Barack Hussein Obama is the second-most admired man in the United States.  The second-most admired woman in the United States is Hillary Rodham Clinton.

But before you reach for the Maalox, to come in second in this poll, Obama needed to be chosen by only 17% of respondents. 

Hillary Clinton, who has come in second on the list 16 times, came in second (again) in this year’s poll, tying Obama with 17% of the vote. 

But nobody is more popular than either of them.  Literally.  Obama’s 17% showing pales by comparison to “Nobody” who garnered a full 32% of the vote for most admired man.  And “Nobody” beat Hillary with a popularity score 29%.

That may be why the rumors persist that Obama is considering dropping Joe Biden in favor of Hillary Clinton.  Nobody is more admired than Joe Biden, too.   

Nobody is more admired than Hillary, Biden and Obama combined

“The Most Admired typically hail from the worlds of government, religion, business, entertainment, or humanitarian causes. Of the top 10 Most Admired men, four are government leaders (Obama, Clinton, Bush, and Newt Gingrich), three are business leaders (Buffett, Donald Trump, and Bill Gates), and three are religious leaders (Graham, Pope Benedict, and Thomas Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

Of the top 10 Most Admired women, eight are from government roles and two are from television (Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres).

One change in the list of Most Admired women is seen in Palin’s fall from second place each of the last three years to fourth place this year. Minnesota Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is the only first-time entrant among the top 10 women this year.

There are two new entrants in the top 10 men — Buffett and Monson. Buffett and Monson have been mentioned in recent years but never made the top 10 until now. It is common for the president of the Mormon Church to receive mentions, but Monson is the first to make the top 10.”

According to Gallup, the man that has made the “most admired” list more times than anybody else is Billy Graham, who has made the top ten list fifty-five times since 1955. (Graham came in third in 2011).

The top five most admired men in 2011, according to Gallup, are “Nobody”,  Obama, George W. Bush (surprise!) Bill Clinton (tied with Billy Graham) and Warren Buffet (tied with Newt Gingrich).

The five most admired women in America in 2011 are “Nobody”, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin and Condoleeza Rice.

But Nobody beats them all.  That says something.

Assessment:

It is impossible to separate politics from Bible prophecy and make any sense of the Bible’s outline for last days.

The antichrist is a politician.  He comes to power through the political process.  His platform is deception on a global scale.  To be successful, he will have to have the support of a broad global constituency already conditioned to believe a lie, if properly packaged and repeated often enough.

Throughout my lifetime, one of the prophecy questions that always troubled me was how someone as overtly evil as the antichrist would be able to pull the wool over the eyes of the kindest, most generous, and most sophisticated people the world has ever known, for such is the America I know and love.

The fact that Nobody is more admired than everybody running for the White House this season helps me see how he’s gonna do it. 

America has become the mirror image of the Apostle Paul’s assessment of the social conditions as they will exist in the waning months or years of the Church Age, a time Paul described as “perilous.”

The description offered by Paul fits everybody so closely that it should come as no surprise that nobody is more admired.

“For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:2-5)

I have no problem seeing the DNC described here. Indeed, it reads like this year’s Democrat talking points list. I can see Barack Obama in there.  I can see Hillary Clinton in there. 

“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)

It also goes a long way toward explaining the rumors of an Obama/Clinton ticket — heck, they are even in the Bible together! 

Let’s take a closer look.  The DNC and its operatives are long on;

Did we miss any? To be sure, one can also match most of these (but not all) with some of the GOP talking points, which explains how Ron Paul and Mitt Romney ended up tied for first place in Iowa.

As 2012 bears down on us, just LOOK at our choices; Obama/Biden or even Obama/Clinton vs. a Mormon, a “dangerous” nut that wishes Israel did not exist, a serial adulterer with ethical challenges, two other Mormons (Huntsman, Johnson), and Rick Perry, Michelle Bachman and Rick Santorum, none of whom would have a ghost of a chance defeating Obama.

What is at stake in this election? 

  • The continued survival of US capitalism. 
  • The basic role of government and taxation.
  • The continued political survival of the United States as the world’s premiere superpower. 
  • The continued existence of the Jewish State.
  • The US role in global affairs.
  • The US role in Middle Eastern affairs.
  • The war in Afghanistan.
  • The Iran nuclear crisis.
  • The survival of American Christianity

Honorable mention goes to the ongoing collapse of Europe and the euro, the economic aftermath, Vladimir Putin retaking Russia, the steady Islamic encroachment, sharia law, the energy crisis, the Occupy anarchists, the Mexican drug war, illegal immigration and rampant unemployment.

These are the values of the elected government officials of what is universally acknowledged as “the world’s most Christian nation”.  They reflect the American values that the rest of the world sees. 

Barack Obama. Nancy Pelosi. Hillary Clinton. Harry Reid.  This is the face that America currently shows the world.  And America’s other face isn’t looking much better.

As we prepare to enter the Year of Our Lord 2012, the most admired American man and woman, chosen by other American men and women, is Nobody.

And, given the field, I can’t think of anyone that deserves it more.

The Performer

The Performer
Vol: 123 Issue: 28 Wednesday, December 28, 2011

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Romans 11:25)

The “fulness of the Gentiles” — that’s the key phrase here.  The word translated into English as ‘fulness’ is from the Greek word, “pleroma” which means, “completion, what fills (as in contents) what is filled (as container, performance or period) that which is put in to fill up, full, fulness.”

So, blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the completion of the Gentiles have come in.  Clearly, the reference here is to the complete number of Gentiles to be saved.  And so also follows, just as clearly, that there IS a completed number of Gentiles to be saved.

Eternal security is a hugely significant doctrinal point that most Christians either miss altogether or refuse to acknowledge.  Let’s look at why they refuse to acknowledge it, first.

If there is a finite number of Gentiles that signify “pleroma” or completion, then it follows that God knows how many, and who they are.  That freaks out Christians that cry “Calvinist” at the mere mention of predestination.  

Because John Calvin included ‘predestination’ as one of the Five Points of Calvinism does NOT mean it is a “Calvinist” doctrine.  It is a Bible doctrine that Calvin happened to get right, kinda.

There are plenty of Arminians (the opposite of Calvinism) that deny predestination and all other points of Calvinism, and yet believe in Bible prophecy.  But if there is a difference between Bible prophecy and predestination, it is too fine a distinction for me to be able to see.

In Bible prophecy, God predicts what certain men will do at a certain time, and because He is omniscient (all-knowing), we can be certain that the prophesied event will unfold precisely as foretold, or, predestined.

Predestination simply means that God already knows what YOU will do at a certain time, but predestination is rejected because it somehow interferes with free will. 

So when it comes to everybody doing what God says they must at a certain time, that’s prophecy and therefore, doctrinally correct.  When it comes down to God predicting the fate of an individual¸ that’s Calvinism, and therefore somehow, not Bible doctrine. 

Even though both describe precisely the same thing!

Arminianism rejects predestination in favor of doctrines that give all the power to the people, by denying that power to God.  Opponents of predestination say that because God knows what you will do on a certain day, it affects your free will.

That might be true if you were God and knew what you would do in the future, but since you aren’t, it has no effect whatsoever on your free will.  The decisions you make are your own — the fact God knew what they would be is irrelevant to free will.

The word ‘predestinate’ is used four times by the New Testament; Romans 8:29, 30, Ephesians 1:5 and Ephesians 1:11

It is translated from the Greek word, “proorizo” which means, “to limit in advance, predetermine, determine before, ordain”  or simply, “predestinate”.

To  summarize before moving on, you were predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son before the world began.  The Bible says so. 

“For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)

The Bible says that you were elected to be saved.

“Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” (1 Peter 1:2)

Do you see the three separate elements here?  We are 1) elected according to God’s foreknowledge, then we were 2) sanctified (hagiasmos- purification by a purifier) because of 3) the obedience of Jesus Christ Who shed His Blood for you.

What does the word “elect” mean?  In Greek, it is eklektos and it means, “select, by implication, favorite: — chosen, elect.”  So it means, selected, or chosen. 

On to the next question: When were we chosen by God to be saved?

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

God saved us, NOT ACCORDING TO OUR WORKS, but according to His OWN PURPOSE, and given to the elect through Christ BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN.

Where are you in this narrative?  Are you the hero of this story?  Are you saved because you had an epiphany and turned from your wicked ways and now live a life of total dedication and purity to Christ?  Did YOU do it? 

Or were you saved because you trusted Christ’s promise you are saved by grace through faith and by trusting that He can keep you saved by sending His Holy Spirit as your hagiasmos purification agent?

Did YOU make the decision for Christ based on your own best judgment of what is best for you?  Or are you saved because the Bible says God elected you for salvation before the world began?

The doctrine of eternal security hangs entirely on those distinctions.

Assessment:

If you saved yourself by your actions or conduct, then it follows that you can lose your salvation by your actions or conduct.  If you were saved by grace through faith, then your actions and conduct are irrelevant.

The Bible gives seven distinct and unassailable proofs that salvation is an eternal condition that begins when we are saved, not when we die.   If you are saved now, you are saved forever, because you are not who you were anymore. 

At the point of salvation, seven distinct and immutable changes took place. At the moment you were saved, you were forever;

  1. Converted — your life is irrevocably turned around. (Acts 3:19)
  2. Sanctified — purified by the indwelling Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 1:2)
  3. Reconciled – we are at peace with the Father (2 Corinthians 5:19)
  4. Regenerated — or given new life (1 Peter 1:23)
  5. Redeemed — purchased, or bought back for a price (1 Peter 1:18)
  6. Adopted — made a permanent part of God’s forever family (Romans 8:15)
  7. Justified — declared righteous by God. (Romans 3:282 Corinthians 5:21)

From the very first second one comes to faith in Christ, all this becomes equally true for every believing child of God.  They are what are called “positional truths” because they are unrelated to changing human emotions and feelings. 

If your salvation was conditional on your performance, consider what that means.  It means that God must reverse all these actions in the lives of uncounted millions every single day.  Then, assuming you get born again (again) He must change it back (again.) 

Some Christians believe that at the moment of salvation, God only forgives the sins committed to that point.  From that perspective, it is only logical that a person could lose his salvation. 

But look at the logic.  It also means that a Christian, once saved, can never sin again.  If he does and loses his salvation, he would have to be born again. (Again). 

But that not only violates Scripture, it violates Christ Himself.

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

Let’s look at what it doesn’t say here, first.  It doesn’t say it is impossible to fall away.  What it says is impossible is to be renewed to repentance.  IMPOSSIBLE! 

The reason it is impossible is because it would put the Lord to open shame.  Why?

“But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.” (Hebrews 10:12-13)

He offered ONE sacrifice for sins, FOREVER, and then He sat down.  Why is that significant?  Because He was done.  It was finished.

It is impossible to justify a person twice.  Why?  Because it would mean that His sacrifice wasn’t good enough the first time.  The Scriptures say differently.  Note it carefully:

“For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)

“Aha!” you say. “But what about the Bible’s command requiring us to confess our sins daily?” 

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Confession is necessary for us to maintain communion with Christ, but NOT to maintain union with Christ.  Union with Christ is a function of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  

Communion with Christ is what we have when we pray.

Nowhere does this verse link confession with salvation.  It links confession with cleansing, not regenerating. 

I’ve noticed that those who discredit eternal security as a false doctrine often avoid giving specific answers to questions about their position.  

For example, if one can sin oneself out of God’s grip, which sin is the soul-killer?  Is it a particular sin?  A pattern of sin?  How much sin?  How often? 

How can an individual know he has lost his salvation?  If there is a way of knowing, is there a way of recovering it?  To get saved, one must believe and have faith.  How does one believe again?  How does one have faith  — again?

Are there any Scriptural examples of saved Christians who lost their salvation and then recovered it?  

My email box is eager to receive concrete answers to any of these questions.  But what I anticipate in reply are different questions, like, “Oh yeah? What about this verse?”,  instead of answers to the ones I posed.  

In hand-to-hand combat, there are certain target points each combatant must protect.  The Apostle Paul used hand-to-hand combat as an analogy for how believers should prepare for spiritual combat:

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” (Ephesians 6:14-17)

First, the truth.  Note the anatomical analogy Paul uses.  In battle, that is an extremely vulnerable target.  Strike a serious blow there, and the victim is rendered helpless.

Secondly, the ‘breastplate’ of righteousness.  The torso is the biggest and easiest target to strike, but it is also the easiest to armor.  If one is covered by the righteousness of Christ, the heart is protected.

Thirdly, the feet.  A battle tactic commonly employed in Paul’s day was to sow the battlefield with nails and other sharp objects.  Foot soldiers with injured feet are not very effective. If one is fully prepared (‘shod’) with the Gospel, one can engage the enemy uncrippled.

Fourth, Paul says, “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (v16) If one is certain of his standing before God, the enemy’s whispering campaign falls on deaf ears.

Finally, Paul says to, “take the helmet of salvation, and the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God:”

The ‘helmet of salvation’.  In battle, the most effective way to take an enemy out is a head shot.  If the enemy can convince you that your salvation is in doubt, he has sidelined you as a threat.

Without truth, the righteousness of Christ, knowledge of the Gospel, faith in its promises, and the certain knowledge of your standing before Christ, the Christian’s only offensive weapon, “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” is pretty much useless.   

And without the Sword of the Spirit, the Christian is defeated before he even steps onto the field.  Opponents of the doctrine of eternal security sometimes deride it as the ‘doctrine of demons’.

Scripture — and logic say exactly the opposite.

Why would ‘demons’ promote a doctrine that renders the Christian invulnerable in battle, rather than the one that guarantees the Christian’s defeat — since all Christians sin?

Bottom line: If eternal security is a false doctrine, then we are defeated, and even Jesus can’t save us from ourselves.  

“Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

If He began it, and He will perform it, then I can be confident.  Because if it is up to me, well . . . let’s just say I know me better than to count on me to perform it. 

I’ve already let me down, lots of times.  I’d be a fool to trust me with anything this important again. 

”We Are Legion”

”We Are Legion”
Vol: 123 Issue: 27 Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The hacker group, Anonymous, reportedly hacked into the client area at the security think-tank, Stratfor, on Christmas Day, stealing the credit cards and personal information of thousands of subscribers.

Evidently Stratfor did not think it necessary to encrypt the information.

Consequently, thousands of Stratfor subscribers are at risk of having their credit and other personal information either used to make purchases or published on the internet.

(Among the Stratfor subscribers at risk?  Me.  We canceled that card yesterday and updated our file at LifeLock).

Before going on, let me say that NOBODY is at risk should the OL’s database ever get hacked.  We don’t collect ANY financial information online.  Or any information that could be useful to an identity thief.

Credit card transactions are through PayPal — we have no access to it, and neither could anybody else.  Whenever we process a credit card transaction, we do so over the telephone, and none of that information is ever stored online. 

That said, who is “Anonymous” and what do they want?  The emergence of such a group was inevitable — it is the product of something called “online disinhibition”.

The core concept of the online disinhibition effect refers to a loosening (or complete abandonment) of social restrictions and inhibitions that would otherwise be present in normal face-to-face interaction. 

For example, few people would break into a circle of friends having a meaningful discussion with the intention of disrupting the discussion and ridiculing the participants, hoping to incite as much anger as possible in the process.  

Part of the reason that happens so seldom in the real world is that in the real world, that might earn somebody a punch in the nose.  In the online world, there is no risk of any meaningful reprisal. 

In most Internet forum environments, the worst thing that can happen is the offender might be banned, but as a sanction, this is essentially meaningless.  One can circumvent the ban by registering another username or by disguising one’s IP address. 

As I mentioned earlier, the emergence of a subculture of similarly disinhibited individuals was inevitable — one might credit the phenomenon of online disinhibition for the development and design of the Omega Letter forums.

The purpose for the OL’s $10.00 per month membership fee was never about making money.  It has always served instead as a gatekeeper to our member’s forums, by deliberate design.

Nobody is going to fork over cash, not even ten bucks, just for the fun of disrupting a Christian forum.  Even if they did, once we banned them, it would cost them another ten bucks to re-register under a different username.

That could soon get expensive.  And, since our membership is relatively small, they tend to stick out, so they don’t last long.

In any case, it’s hard to disrupt a forum where every single member has the authority to make an offensive post disappear via our ‘dust button’.

(Wanna make a bunch of Christians mad?  Cost ya ten bucks.  Wanna do it again?  That’ll be another ten bucks.  See ya!)

Returning to the concept of online disinhibition in general, psychologist John Suler has isolated six primary factors behind online disinhibition.

  1. You don’t know me.  The hacker group, Anonymous, takes its very name from this principle. When a person remains anonymous, they are protected from retaliation.
  2. You can’t see me.  If you’re invisible, you can be anybody you want to, and nobody is the wiser. You can’t see whoever you are tormenting, because they are invisible, too, which makes it easier to drop one’s natural inhibitions.
  3. See you later.  A person can post something inflammatory or personal or just plain mean, and then run away by simply logging off.
  4. It’s all in my head.  Since you don’t actually know a person on the internet, one can invent traits and characteristics to another online poster, reading into a post some emotional barbs that aren’t there, and responding in kind.
  5.  It’s all just a game.  To the one pressing the online attack it becomes a game where the normal rules of everyday interaction don’t apply.  A user can separate his online persona from his offline reality, sort of like a secret identity.
  6. We’re Equals. Online, everybody is the same.  You don’t know if the person you’re interacting with in a forum is a war hero, a fraud, the head of a major corporation, a retired janitor or a US Congressman.  People are reluctant to speak their minds in front of an authority figure. On the internet, levels of authority that would be present in real-life don’t exist.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the hacker group, Anonymous, emerged out of a sense of shared identity on internet message boards, ultimately becoming a collective of unnamed individuals operating on the principle of online disinhibition.

“We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”[10]

Assessment:

So, Anonymous is a group of hackers that operate on the principle of online disinhibition.  It is reasonable to assume that they don’t see themselves as criminals.  Or thieves. 

They probably see themselves as modern-day incarnations of Robin Hood.  According to a warning issued by Stratfor:

“It’s come to our attention that our members who are speaking out in support of us on Facebook may be being targeted for doing so and are at risk of having sensitive information repeatedly published on other Web sites. So, in order to protect yourselves, we recommend taking security precautions when speaking out on Facebook or abstaining from it altogether.”

It’s good advice.  I have no intention of speaking out in support of Statfor.  If I hadn’t already canceled my membership, I would have canceled it again today.  I can’t believe they kept that information online, let alone unencrypted.

As a group, Anonymous has adopted the Occupy Wall Street (and its various incarnations) and has promised to disrupt as much as possible the US and global banking systems. 

Why?  They don’t know.  What will happen if they succeed?  They don’t care. What is their goal?  That is the most fascinating aspect of this whole phenomenon. 

Their goal is evidently murder-suicide, since they hope to murder the global system, of which they are a part.

If the system fails, what makes them think the internet will continue to operate?  The internet is a commercial enterprise.  Remove the commercial aspect of it, and what happens?  

Maybe it will continue to operate for free? 

The internet is also a collection of computers linked by phone lines.  Computers run on electricity.  Do they think when the economy crashes that electric companies will keep on churning out the juice for free — to go along with a free internet?

Will the telephone linemen keep on coming to work and maintaining phone lines after they crash the system?  And that is the point. 

The goal of Anonymous is no different than the goal of your typical forum crasher.  The goal of the forum crasher isn’t getting banned — that is simply the price demanded for achieving their goal — which is the disruption itself.

They’ve given no thought to what will happen if they are successful. The goal is lawlessness — or more specifically — getting away with lawlessness. Just like a forum disrupter whose goal is to see how far he can push before getting banned.

Look back up the page to the six factors that together create the phenomenon of online disinhibition. It’s lawlessness in six easy steps.

“Online disinhibition” as a term, could therefore be defined as follows:

“And because iniquity [lawlessness] shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

The word translated ‘iniquity’ by the KJV translators is anomia which means “lawlessness.” 

“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth [katecho: withhold, restrain] will let, until He be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming:” (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8)

Paul calls it a “mystery” (musterion)  — a Divine secret being revealed for the first time.  Well, the secret is out.  Every day, we have a new example of what is rapidly becoming a kind of institutionalized lawlessness. 

Starting at the top with the UN and working downward through the various government administrations, (Obama, Putin, Ahmandinejad, Abbas, Assad, Kim Jong Un, etc.,) and moving down through the various corporations, ultimately ending up at the media’s embrace of the “occupiers” and the emergence of Anonymous, the central theme of the 21st century so far has been lawlessness.

The entire theme of lawlessness has been dumbed-down to the degree that nothing we read seems really shocking anymore.  Honestly, how shocked were you to learn that a guy dressed in a Santa suit gunned down his entire family on Christmas Day?

It’s awful — we can all agree on that.  But shocking?  It used to be.  But that was before iniquity abounded — and love waxed cold.

“So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:31-32)

The generation of whom the Lord spoke will turn sixty-four in May. 

Tick. . .tick . . .tick 

”Beware The Mythical Baby”

”Beware The Mythical Baby”
Vol: 123 Issue: 26 Monday, December 26, 2011

I was thinking that they’ve come a bit early this year, but, no, they are right on time. Every year the legions of atheists, agnostics, animists, pagans and other assorted malcontents come together as one to launch a concerted attack against what they claim is a Mythical Baby.

Not one of these groups or individuals believes that the Mythical Baby has any supernatural power or authority. Not one of them believes the Mythical Baby is alive today, arguing against such nonsense in the name of ‘reason’. 

But every year, they unite to do battle with the Mythical Baby and His followers, claiming that the Mythical Baby hates them and wants to do them harm. They usually band together in groups that, under the banner of ‘freedom’ or ‘reason’ or ‘liberty’ oppose all three. 

One of the more prominent Mythical Baby Haters is a guy named Dan Barker, founder of a group called “Freedom From Religion.” Barker is another one of these guys who defines “freedom” as “something to be taken away from others”. 

Dan Barker got his fifteen minutes of fame because of a sign he posted in the name of ‘reason’ alongside the Christmas display at the Washington State capital in Olympia.  The sign reads:

“At this season of the winter solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

We’ll get back to the sign in a moment, but first, a little background. 

The Christian Alliance Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against the state last year on behalf of a man who wanted to display a Nativity scene in the state capitol rotunda. The suit alleged that since a menorah and a “holiday tree” were displayed, officials cannot discriminate against a depiction of the birth of Jesus.

The case was settled with an agreement that the Nativity scene would be displayed and that the state would broaden its policy on religious displays. 

Enter Dan Barker and his group who demanded that the state accommodate their view, including its judgment of religion, alongside the rest of the displays. As we move on to the discussion of the display itself, keep two things in mind: 

The request was made in the name of ‘reason’. It was granted in the name of ‘freedom’. 

Assessment:

I Googled Dan Barker this morning and among the returns was an about.atheism.com page containing a list of some of Barker’s more memorable quotations. 

The one that seemed most relevant to our discussion was this one: “There is joy in rationality, happiness in clarity of mind. Freethought is thrilling and fulfilling–absolutely essential to mental health and happiness.” 

I thought it was relevant because, in his public comments, Barker sounds anything BUT happy. In an interview, he told CNN, 

“When people ask us, ‘Why are you hateful? Why are you putting up something critical of people’s holidays? — we respond that we kind of feel that the Christian message is the hate message.”

(Reflecting on the relative hatefulness of the Christmas sentiment of  “peace on earth, goodwill toward men” — that argument doesn’t sound particularly rational. Maybe it’s just me.) In the same interview, Barker told CNN;

“On that Nativity scene, there is this threat of internal violence if we don’t submit to that master. Hate speech goes both ways.” 

“The Mythical Baby threatens me?” That’s his argument . . . from reason? Well, no.

That’s his argument for why a display that essentially calls people of faith fools isn’t hateful — but why a display of a Baby, His parents and some barnyard animals is.

Let’s get this straight. Barker justifies his sign declaring the Baby mythical and His followers to be hard-hearted, superstitious and mentally enslaved on the grounds that they (the hard-hearted, superstitious and mentally enslaved) are hateful. 

Because he says so.

And otherwise logical and intelligent people accepted this argument — in the name of reason? Barker told CNN that:

“Most people think December is for Christians and view our signs as an intrusion, when actually it’s the other way around,” he said. “People have been celebrating the winter solstice long before Christmas. We see Christianity as the intruder, trying to steal the holiday from all of us humans.” 

I’m not sure if that falls into the ‘clarity of mind’ category or the overall thrill of ‘freethought’. Let’s see. We’ll start with ‘clarity of mind’.

When do ‘humans’ in, oh, South Africa or Australia ‘celebrate’ the winter solstice? Mostly, they don’t. Why?  It doesn’t commemorate anything, but if it did, it still wouldn’t matter.  (Winter solstice Down Under is in June.) 

When do ‘humans’ in, oh, South Africa or Australia celebrate Christmas? You’ll never guess, so I might as well tell you. (It’s only reasonable.) December 25th. 

The same day that they do in the Northern hemisphere. Except Down Under, it falls three days after the summer solstice. So, although Christmas is the same in either hemisphere, only the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere is anywhere near Christmas.

Now run that “Christians stole the winter solstice from humans” argument by me again? Just for ‘clarity of thought’, I mean. 

Christians stole the holiday from “humans” even though it is on a different day — and off by six months for half the world? That’s the argument from reason?  Does that mean the inhabitants of the southern hemisphere aren’t  humans?

Bundle that with with the published contention that religion attracts hard-harded bigots of inferior intellect, and  that must be the argument from ‘humanistic kindness’) 

“For my money, I’ll bet on reason and humanistic kindness. Even if I am wrong, I will have enjoyed my life, the existence of which is under little dispute.” Dan Barker, “Losing Faith in Faith” (as quoted at about.atheism.com.)

To see the benefits of ‘freethought’ one needs to consider Barker’s belief that his sign judging religion and religionists as “mentally enslaved, superstitious and hard-hearted” as ‘reasonable’. 

That seems at least as ‘reasonable’ as launching an annual assault on that hateful and dangerous mythical Baby.

Members Note: Today’s OL is a retread from 2009 — I hope you enjoyed it. Today is our family’s Christmas Pie, so for me, it isn’t too late to wish you one last “Merry Christmas!”  We’ll resume our normal publication schedule starting tomorrow. 

See you then. 

Christmas Pie — 2011

Christmas Pie — 2011
Vol: 123 Issue: 24 Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas at my house is always a busy time of year.  As the kids grew older, it got even busier.  Our family tradition was something started by my maternal grandfather in the late 1940’s.

Granddad had five daughters, and he realized he was going have to compete with five sons-in-law if he hoped to continue his own Christmas tradition.  So Granddad adopted the English Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) as HIS Christmas celebration. 

They called it the ‘Christmas Pie’.  The ‘Christmas Pie’ was an old refrigerator shipping box filled with presents for all the parents and grandchildren.  We’d all gather, the day after our individual Christmas celebration, for an extended Christmas. 

All the time I was growing up, I thought that Granddad did it all for us grandkids, something that I thought odd in light of the fact that the rest of the year, he was a very proper English grandfather.

But at Christmas, all that British reserve would evaporate.

It wasn’t until my kids had kids that I realized what a brilliant man Granddad really was.  His Christmas Pie celebration was NEVER about us.  But we never knew it. 

It was really about my Granddad and his daughters never losing their own special Christmas traditions. 

Granddad headed off any competition with the out-laws about who went to whose house last year — whenever some young fella married into the family, it was firmly understood from the outset that Christmas was for them — but Boxing Day was Granddad’s. 

I share my grandfather’s love of Christmas and could not imagine not having my day with my kids.  So when Mike and Kari got married, I sat down with Mike and told him that he could have Kari for eleven of the twelve days of Christmas, but that Boxing Day was MINE.

Or he’d have to find himself another girl.

At our house, Christmas is a two-day affair.  Christmas Day is for Gayle and her mother and I.  We read the Christmas Story from Luke, remember the Greatest Christmas Gift of all — eternity — and have a traditional American Christmas.

Then, we spend the rest of the day preparing for tomorrow’s Main Event.

Mike and Kari and Hanna and Mikie and Sarah; Johnny; Ricky and Nikki (we call them the “Ickeys”) and Jacob and Bradley and Carlie; Mike and Kerilyn and Tristan; Charlyn and Taya;  sometimes Jerry and Jessica and Bailey and Justin and Jeremy and Lori– all together and at home with us — for one glorious day.

Lots of food, a Christmas ‘Pie’ and a chance for the parents to take a day off to be kids again.

Our Christmas wish for you is that you are surrounded by a family that loves you.  We wish you laughter and love and fun and joy. 

We pray our Lord Jesus Christ will envelope your family with an unspeakable love for one another — and for Him. 

We wish you a merry, merry Christmas.  And may you be truly blessed. 

With much love, from all of us, to all of you.

Member’s Note:  We’re very busy today, last minute wrapping, getting a jump on some of the cooking, getting ready for Christmas Pie.  (We were at Wal-Mart at four this morning).  

So most of you will recognize today’s OL as my favorite retread — I run it nearly every year.  I hope nobody minds.

We pray your Christmas is filled with family, friends and joy.  

Remember those in our OL family who are enduring trials this season in prayer.  You are all so special to me — thank you for being such a blessing.  

Thank you all for being my friends.  We’ll have one more retread on Monday, when we open the Christmas Pie.

See you Tuesday.