All posts filed under: Bible

Reformed pastor denounces contemporary worship

A reformed pastor with a Presbyterian church recently caused controversy when he publicly criticized the styles of worship being used in many churches today. In his presentation to the Gospel Reformation Network conference, David McWilliams, who pastors Covenant Presbyterian Church in Lakeland, Florida, criticized the modern worship that is moving away from the hymns sung in traditional churches. In his presentation, Pastor McWilliams not only focussed on such trends as using smoke, lighting and video displays in sync with the music, but as well on the type of music being incorporated in these worship services. In his presentation, McWilliams noted: “For example, who can think that a service peppered with salsa rhythms will lead the congregation to worship God in reverence and awe? Or rock music. Will sentimental tunes or music that remind one of night clubs lead us to reverence and awe?” “Therefore, certain forms of music, attitudes, and actions are immediately excluded from worship by the one principle that we are to worship our God in reverence and awe.” It is an interesting …

Revival: When God Steps Down from Heaven

By Dr. Michael L. Brown In a certain sense, God’s presence fills the universe. Yet there are times in history when God manifests His presence in a particular place or in a particular way that is unique and distinct and powerful and transformative. We call those times “revival.” During such times in the past, children would say, “Did you hear that Jesus came to my village?” Preachers would say, “God stepped down from heaven.” Something had changed, and everyone knew it. As I explained in the definition I have used for revival for many years, “Revival is a season of unusual divine visitation resulting in deep repentance, supernatural renewal, and sweeping reformation in the Church, along with the radical conversion of sinners in the world, often producing moral, social, and even economic change in the local or national communities.” Note in particular those words “a season of unusual divine visitation.” That is the very essence of revival. There are passages in the Bible that describe God’s presence as being everywhere (see Psalm 139:7-12; Jeremiah 23:23-24). …

A call for accountability in the prophetic ministry

After dozens of major Christian ministries wrongly prophesied that Trump would win re-election as US president in November 2020, to say that the prophetic ministry has been left in tatters would be an understatement. But a new organization, Prophetic Standards, has been set up to call for accountability in the prophetic ministry. Because, despite this failing on the national stage, major prophetic networks are pumping out prophecies on a daily basis as if nothing happened. There is nothing wrong with that necessarily, but in my opinion each of those prophetic words should be tagged with a small notification on whether the individual wrongly prophesied that Trump would be reelected. People need to know how much they can trust these particular ministries. These individuals may still have bona fide ministry, but prophecy may not be one of them. Just because you have an internet connection and a YouTube channel does not automatically make you a prophet. But it seems these prophetic networks are more concerned about protecting the prophetic ministries than protecting the people they are …

An Eye for Eye is not what it seems

A recent story out of Iran exposes one of the biggest misconceptions that people have about the Old Testament law. The Daily Mail reports that five Iranian men are facing the prospect of having their fingers cut off after being accused of theft. Under the Islamic code, amputation is considered suitable punishment for theft in cases where the stolen goods are not recovered. In this instance, the five are charged with burgling over 22 houses. The International Observatory of Human Rights reports that over the past 20 years, there has been at least 129 instances of finger amputation in the country. And it’s not just fingers, depending on the crime people can even have their hands amputated. In 2015, a horrific story emerged of a ISIS militants in Iraq filling a man full of drugs before using a meat cleaver to cut off his hand. Though we consider this barbaric, many are quick to point out that the Old Testament law has a similar eye for eye punishment system. Where people could have their eyes …

Finding your secret place of prayer

Sometimes, I find it hard to pray. I feel disconnected and far from God. It seems that I have to pray long prayers and work hard to get God’s attention. What is my perception of prayer that it makes it seem like such an effort? Do I feel unworthy or not good enough? Do I feel like I’m barely existing and disconnected from myself, people and God? Thankfully, there is a divine connection available to us, and we can have unlimited access to heaven, at all times. Jesus said: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) And, if you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that He died on the cross for your sins and was resurrected from the dead, you have the key to connecting with heaven from here on earth. To help me pray easily and effectively, I often create a garden, a secret place in my mind, where I can go anytime day or night. I …

The Bad News in the Supreme Court’s Recent Ruling on Behalf of Religious Liberty

By Dr. Michael L. Brown It was good to see the Supreme Court rule yet again in favor of religious liberty in the latest California case to reach the nation’s highest court. Yet the fact that the ruling was only 5-4, not to mention some of the reasoning in the dissenting opinion, gives real cause for concern. This should not have been a close vote at all. Instead, it should have been a slam dunk for religious freedoms. As reported on Forbes, “The Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 margin late Friday that California’s coronavirus-related restrictions on gathering in private homes violated constitutional rights on the free exercise of religion, the latest ruling from the high court that prohibits authorities from enforcing limits on religious services.” Chief Justice John Roberts joined with the three liberal justices, and the dissenting opinion was written by Justice Elana Kagan. As for the majority opinion, the reasoning was as follows. “First, California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise, permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, …

Justin Bieber warns of ‘celebrity pastor worship’

In many ways, Pop Star Justin Bieber, 27, summed up what ails the North American Church when he warned against “celebrity pastor worship” in a recent interview with CQ Magazine. It happens when we look to powerful men and women anointed by God for the latest word or miracle because of their special access to God. Justin said part of this stems from leaders who put themselves on a pedestal: “I think so many pastors put themselves on this pedestal, And it’s basically, church can be surrounded around the man, the pastor, the guy, and it’s like, ‘This guy has this ultimate relationship with God that we all want but we can’t get because we’re not this guy.’ That’s not the reality, though. The reality is, every human being has the same access to God.” Unfortunately, this celebrity worship often leads to disappointment, because fame is a difficult thing to handle. It is so easy for a person to be manipulated by their celebrity status. And Justin witnessed its failings first hand as he used …

Nick Vujicic: ‘Even though we don’t get a miracle, we can be one’

A recent survey conducted by Lifeway Research has concluded there seems to be one small positive coming out of the COVID pandemic — people are starting to think more about their purpose in life. According to its recent survey of 1,200 people, 57% of people stated that at least once a month they are wondering “How can I find more meaning and purpose in my life?” This is up from 51% of people who wondered that same thing in 2011. The pandemic is causing people to realize there is more to life than just satisfying their personal desires. As Christians, it is vital we grasp that God has a purpose and plan for our lives. In a prophetic word given to the prophet Jeremiah, we read that God’s purpose for Jeremiah’s life was not laid out when the prophet was born, in fact, God’s plan for Jeremiah was written up before he was even conceived (Jeremiah 1:5). When you were born, God wasn’t caught off guard and wondering what am I going to do with …

How Jesus became front and center during ‘March Madness’

Each year, the NCAA holds a basketball tournament of the top ranked colleges in the US to determine a national champion. This year’s national tournament, often referred to as March Madness, was unusual because Christian universities were the talk of the town as it ended with Baylor, a Christian university out of Waco, Texas, winning the men’s crown. But it all started on a negative tone, with a USA Today columnist, Hemal Jhaveri, writing a hit piece on Oral Roberts University (ORU). The 15th seeded ORU, referred to as this year’s Cinderella team, rose to prominence advancing to the final 16 round of the tournament. This also put a target on the team’s back. Jhaveri called for the NCAA to ban ORU from the tournament because the Christian university did not hold the writer’s personal views on homosexuality and morality. Oddly, Jhaveri, called for the team to be banned in the name of diversity. Stories about Jhaveri’s call to ban ORU were all over the internet with most condemning the article asking why woke politics …

How the Death of a 20th-Century Rabbi Helps Demonstrate the Reality of the Resurrection of Jesus

By Dr. Michael L. Brown For many years, scholars and skeptics and psychologists and sociologists have told us that the disciples experienced a form of cognitive dissonance after Jesus died. It so rocked their world and crushed their expectations that they went into deep denial to the point of believing that Jesus really rose from the dead. To be sure, other scholars have attacked this theory from a number of powerful and persuasive angles, but my book Resurrection tackles it from a different angle. Specifically, I focus on a modern-day, parallel test case that completely demolishes this argument. To give the relevant background, in 1994, a leading rabbi, one of the most influential Jews of the 20th century, died at the age of 92. His name was Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and he was known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe. But this rabbi had become so influential that, before his death, his followers began to proclaim that he was the long-awaited Messiah. Redemption had come for Israel! Toward the end of his life, however, he suffered two …

Why did Jesus die so fast on the cross?

One of the questions often asked about Christ’s crucifixion is why did Jesus die so fast? According to the Gospel writers, Jesus had been on the cross about six hours (9 am to 3 pm) before He died. Crucifixion was a favoured form of execution used by the Romans because not only was it brutal but there were tricks that could extend the excruciating punishment for days. Since people were hung onto the cross by hammering their arms and feet into the wood, they normally died by suffocation. As they hung from their arms, their chest cavity was stretched out making it impossible to breathe. In order to breathe they had to painfully push up with their feet in order to gain a breath. Death would finally come when the person no longer had the strength to push up for air. If the Romans wanted to be extremely brutal, they would put a seat on the cross so the person could rest which would extend the dying process for days. But the Roman’s crucifixion of …

Consenting Adults?

In my last three articles I wrote about sexual immorality in the areas of pornography, child pornography, and sex trafficking. Although no one to my knowledge defends child pornography or sex trafficking, there are many who defend their use of pornography. In this last article in the series, I want to address their rationale. In my research for this I read information from both sides of the pornography debate. There are some very bizarre justifications and some very extreme anti-pornography views. Yet there are common reasons for pornography use. The first reason is that it’s my business. No one has the right to tell me what to do in the privacy of my own home. While this may seem valid, pornography is not just in your own home. By its nature, it is voyeuristic because you are watching other people have sex. To do this you have to have other people.  These other people are most often found on the internet or in videos. This makes it not just a private event. As well, pornography …

When in ‘doubt’ pray in ‘tongues’

In an article on Charisma News, Ruth Zschomler shared the amazing story on how the gift of tongues saved a woman’s life. On August 9, 2011, Kathi and David Byker were abruptly awakened from their sleep in Grandville, Michigan by two men wearing hoods and brandishing knives. The pair quickly bound Kathi with duct tape on her ankles and wrists and demanded that David pay a ransom for her release. One of the assailants put a knife to Kathi’s throat saying she would be killed if David didn’t provide the money. After blindfolding Kathi and gagging her mouth with duct tape, Kathi was dragged into the family’s SUV and driven away. David was then given a cell phone number to call once he had gotten the money. The message was clear without payment, Kathi would die. As she was lying in the back of the SUV and being driven away, Kathi was terrified as the driver repeatedly warned her he would kill her if she tried to sit up. Terrified, Kathi stated she wanted to …

The Atlanta Killings: Why we need to be bold

You probably heard the news about the killings near Atlanta, Georgia recently. On Tuesday, March 16, a young man took a gun and killed eight women in massage parlours near the city. Six of the women are described as ‘Asian’ and apparently they were from Korea. The man with the gun claimed to be a Christian and attended a Baptist church. It’s a terrible event. It’s also complicated. The man with the gun claimed that he has a sex addiction and he was trying to remove temptation. The victims were all female, and most were Korean, and apparently most of them were older than forty, or even fifty. They were at work when someone came in with a gun. READ: Suspect in Atlanta-area spa shootings might have intended more shootings in Florida, mayor says That seems simple, but in the morality of our times, there is now a hunt for someone to blame. The victims were all women, and the killer might hate women. That would be a feminist interpretation. The victims were mostly ‘Asian’ …

Child Pornography

Child pornography is worse than you think. Child pornography is on many dark web sites. It is also on more easily accessible sites.  Ready for some surprising numbers? The numbers I use here come from Children’s Advocacy Centre website (cacjc.org) but I have seen similar numbers elsewhere. The article written by Tammi Pitzen, “The Shocking Facts About Child Pornography” mentions that there is no way of knowing the actual numbers since this is a hidden and secret evil abuse of our children. Here are some from the article: 3,000 approximate number of English language websites that distribute child pornography; 1 in 7 youths report being solicited for online sex; 11 is the average of exposure to adult material; 34% of teenage girls and 15% of teenage boys have shared photos or physical descriptions of themselves online; and 58% of the 1,536 pornography sites (2008) reported by the Internet Watch Foundation were housed in the United States. A young girl or boy chatting online can be easily manipulated by a predator. The child shares some pictures …

Prophecies Are Not Simply Newspaper Headlines in Advance

By Dr. Michael L. Brown Now that the New York Times, Politico, and other, major secular outlets have covered the failed presidential prophecies, why don’t we make this a teachable moment and ask a basic question about prophecy? Specifically, when prophecy is predictive (and therefore foretelling rather than forthtelling), is it equivalent to headline news in advance? The reason I ask this question is because the recent presidential prophecies were presented like news headlines in advance, informing us of specific dates and details, none of which came to pass. Yet millions of Christians were urged to believe these specific words and were rebuked when they saw fit to question them. But is prophecy normally that specific, especially in terms of dates? Is this the biblical pattern? To be sure, many events are predicted in the Bible with specificity, and on rare occasion, there are specific times and dates put on the prophecies. But that is certainly not the norm. Instead, future prophecies are frequently spoken in such a way that there is some level of …

Now Is the Time to Let Your Light Shine

By Dr. Michael L. Brown For many years now, I’ve said that I’m not as much concerned with the presence of darkness in America as I am with the absence of light. Darkness will always be present, but light can drive it out. That’s why our greatest need is to get our light shining brightly again. Otherwise, darkness will prevail. As Jesus said in a different context, “If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:23b) We all know the saying that you can’t put the horse before the cart. But before you can hitch the cart to the horse, the horse needs to be healthy. Without that, no one is going anywhere. And that’s where we stand today in America: the greatest need is a healthy Church. Then, with a healthy Church, the “cart” of cultural and moral and political change will follow as a natural consequence. But it’s not a matter of either-or, as if we must focus either on spiritual life or on cultural life. Instead, …

Are You a Fool According to the Bible?

By Dr. Michael L. Brown As defined by the Scriptures, a fool is not someone who is uneducated or a person with a low IQ. Rather, a fool is someone who is deeply deficient spiritually and morally. As summed up in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Are you a fool according to the Bible? Am I? Let’s look at just a few of the characteristics of the fool as laid out in Proverbs. 1) “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice” (Proverbs 12:15). The fool is always right in his (or her eyes), never willing to take correction, never willing to listen to sound advice, never willing to acknowledge error or wrong. Perhaps we are not this extreme in our stubbornness, but is this our general tendency? Can people approach us easily, without fear? Do we receive correction with humility and even appreciation? That’s why Proverbs 9:8 says, “Do not rebuke mockers or they will …

And They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Hate

By Dr. Michael L. Brown Did you ever hear the song that begins with the words, “We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord”? The lyrics are very simple, with the repeated refrain, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love, Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Today, we might want to change that refrain to “they’ll know we are Christians by our hate, by our hate.” We have become terribly disfigured in recent years, in many ways, the opposite of God’s intent. How on earth did this happen? If you don’t believe me, visit some of our personal, Bible-affirming, Jesus-believing, social media pages, where we savage each other and attack each other and spread hearsay and even lies about one another with reckless abandon. They are hate-filled pages, pages filled with venom and poison, yet pages that ultimately reflect what is in our own hearts. I ask again: how on earth did this happen? To give one recent, case in point, when my …

Why Kelly forgave her husband’s murderers?

There is a lot of anger in the world today, and a lot of reasons to justify our anger and certainly Kelly Saenz had a reason. While working in Colombia sharing the Gospel, Kelly and Pabel Saenz met and were married in 2008 and continued to work together, sharing their faith in the South American country. But things took a dramatic turn in November 2014, when Pabel, who was working as a motorcycle taxi driver, disappeared after going into a dangerous region in Colombia. Kelly spent the next couple of days frantically searching for her husband, but three days later she received word from the regional police that her husband was dead having been choked to death by two men in the area that Pabel had travelled to. When she found out where her husband had died, Kelly went to the village and met with the chief to discuss her husband’s murder. It was then she discovered that two of the chief’s nephews were the ones’ responsible. In a meeting with the village council, she …

Do Good guys wear black?

When I was a kid, I’d watch matinées at the Princess Theatre. In glorious back and white, the hero would fight off monsters, villains, and all forms of evil, win the love of the girl, and live happily ever after. The good guys would always win and justice was always served. It was pretty clear who the good guys were. They wore white hats. The bad guys wore black hats. In the Bible, it is pretty clear who the good guy is. He is God. And it is pretty clear who the bad guy is. He is Satan. But there is a problem. Unlike the old movies, the bad guy switches hats. This found its way into movies as well and the evil in the movies became more difficult to distinguish from the good. The formula changed and the bad guys cleverly disguised themselves as good guys. Instead of straight forward evil, it was subtle and looked the same as the good guys. And when evil was discovered it was not always vanquished. Sometimes the …

Is Communist China our ‘Canary in a coal mine’?

The Book of Daniel provides an interesting perspective on the spiritual battle that took place between two godly angels and a demonic angel, known as the Prince of Persia, for control of this ancient kingdom (Daniel 10:13-14). As a result of this successful spiritual conflict, one of the Godly angels took a position beside the King of Persia: “And as for me, in the first year of Darius the Mede, I stood up to confirm and strengthen him. (Daniel 11:1 ESV) Because of this, a godly angel was able to protect and influence the Persian Kings for the next several decades, leading to the passing of an edict allowing people taken into captivity by the Babylonians, including the Jews, to return to their homelands. But this story also provides another important detail. If the godly angel held a position of influence over the Persian government, this meant that prior to this the demonic Prince of Persia (called a territorial spirit) was in a position to influence Persian leaders. This is why the Apostle Paul calls …

Who was St. Valentine?

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, this might be a good time to look at the history of the person for whom this day commemorating love was named. Though St. Valentine is recognized as an official Saint in the Roman Catholic Church, there is a bit of confusion over who this person actually was. Over the years, several people have been considered as a possible candidate for St Valentine, and part of this is due to the meaning of the name. In the Latin, the name Valentine, means strong or powerful, so it was a popular name for men and even women. Of course, odder still, how did a name associated with power and strength become linked with love. Well, there is one man who leads the pack for consideration as St. Valentine and that involves a person who lived in Rome around 270 AD. This individual sticks out because there are a couple of historical references that point to this man, giving him a slight edge. This Valentine was serving in a religious capacity …

Do Not Despise Prophecy

By Dr. Michael L. Brown Did you ever wonder why Paul wrote, “Do not despise prophecies,” or as the New International Version translates, “Do not treat prophecies with contempt” (1 Thess. 5:20)? Why would any Christian be tempted to despise prophetic words? The answer is that prophecy can be obscure. Or confusing. Or complex. Or it can appear to be inaccurate, only to come to pass differently than we expected or have a different application than we understood. Or it can make us uncomfortable, revealing areas we would rather leave covered over. And in the case of New Testament prophecy, when every believer can potentially prophesy, it often needs correction and guidance. It is sometimes flatly wrong, with people claiming inspiration without really having it. That’s why Paul’s full exhortation included these injunctions: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good” (1 Thess. 5:19-21). Today, when the failed Trump prophecies have gained much notoriety and when prophecy itself is getting a bad …

Horror Don’t Scare Me!

Did you ever hear strange noises in the night? Perhaps you saw something just out of the corner of your eye or felt like you were being watched even though you were alone. A long time ago, I lived in a house in which we could hear the sounds of heavy footsteps coming from the upstairs bedrooms. Yet, there was nothing there. In another house, we heard the sounds of a squeaky tricycle rolling across the kitchen floor. When I was a teenager, there was a dark mass that hovered just above my bedroom door that terrified me. Many of us have had such experiences. Some have been so frightening that the people experiencing them felt threatened. Hollywood makes the most of such experiences and often adds demonic activity to heighten the fear factor. The basic formula involves people being terrorized by some entity or super human evil possessed person. The only way to fight this evil is by using human wisdom and the strength of the human spirit. Some of the scariest movies are …

From dead man walking to preaching the Gospel

Faithit recently reported on an interview Pureflix had with Herman Mendoza, a former New York City drug dealer, on his remarkable conversion to Christ. Mendoza, who now helps pastor a church in New York City, shared how he turned to drug dealing in his 20s after being laid off from his job. His brothers were already dealing Cocaine, and he decided to start working with them. Soon the money was flowing in. With millions of dollars at his disposal, Mendoza was spending upwards of $20,000 a day. His life was consumed by partying, women and drugs. But it came to crashing halt, when police found a large quantity of cocaine in his car and he was facing upwards of 25 years in prison. However, he was able to work a deal with the prosecutor, that substantially reduced his sentence. But shortly after his release Mendoza returned to what he described as “the game” — his drug dealing ways and a short time later was arrested again. While Mendoza was serving his second sentence, his brother, …