Biblical Counseling Byte: The Doctrine of Hell

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I’ve been a certified biblical counselor 18 years or so. The vast majority of people that have been helped are serious Christians who take the Bible seriously. They understand repentance and heart change and seek to live for the glory of God. Sadly, there has been a small minority that do not repent; yet claim Christ. I do not believe a person can lose their salvation. I do believe there is such a thing as a false profession of faith. Jesus said, by their fruit you will know them. The doctrine of hell ought to be sobering for us all. A profession of faith is not mere fire insurance. Matt 7:15-27

This article by RC Sproul is sobering: What is hell?

Barbarians at the Gates

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While ghouls prowled the streets feasting on the dead, an army of Goths waited for their kinsmen to open the gates. The 410 Sack of Rome soon began .https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/2017/01/20/barbarians-at-the-gate-the-410-sack-of-rome/

The Goths sacked Rome in 410 BC a date that precedes the official fall of the Western Roman Empire by 66 years-yet in hind sight very predictable.

Historians debate the reasons for the fall of the Western Roman Empire (the Eastern half would endure for another 1000 years) but in the end it was the will of God that made it so.

Why? It’s hard to say other than to note that throughout biblical history God raises up one empire and takes another down. That even included his chosen people who fell into widespread idolatry.

The nations that were raised up the Assyrians and Babylonians respectively. God eventually punished both of those empires with yet another nation he raised up-the kingdom of the Medes and Persians.

Why should we Americans think we are any different or immune to be taken down?

Although the Founders were heavily influenced by Christianity we never were a Christian nation per se. The influence that Christianity has had over Western Europe waned long ago and it’s waned here as well. The signs are every where if a person chooses to look.

I’m not a prophet but I see things getting worse. God will put on the throne whom he chooses for his reasons. Stay tuned and involved but share the gospel in the hopes of changing the world one soul at a time.

In the meantime the barbarians are clearly at the gates.

A Change of Heart on Abortion

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My wife and I were married in 1974, not long after the Roe v Wade SCOTUS decision that declared that abortion was a right.

At the time, my wife and I were nominal Catholics. We were young. I was barely 21 and she was 19.

Our attitude toward abortion seemed similar to other young people at the time. We personally didn’t think we would have one; but who were we tell others what to do.

Our position on abortion did not require a lot of thought. We were married, so we figured if my wife did get pregnant we would have a baby. Had we been still single and she got pregnant we would have married since that seemed like the right thing to do. I suppose we were influenced by our Catholic parents more than any official Vatican pronouncement since like I said, we were nominal Catholics.

The idea of not telling anyone else what they ought to do didn’t require a lot of though. It just seemed “normal” to not judge someone else’s personal decision. We would not have looked at ourselves as having any kind of moral high ground. I suppose in that way we were pro-choice when it came to others, but pro-life when it came to us personally.

As I said, not a lot of thought goes into a position like that.

About five years into our marriage my wife had a miscarriage.

To this day I cannot explain how she and I at that moment became solidly pro-life. My wife had the miscarriage in our home and virtually at the exact same moment we recognized the central issue in the whole debate.

The miscarriage was not a blob, it was our first child that was dead-once alive and safe in the womb, now dead by a process that is not uncommon. Our child was dead.

That realization changed our hearts, from the inside out.

A miscarriage is not a voluntary thing. Abortion is. Abortion takes a life just as the miscarriage took the life of our first child.

Our world view began to unravel that day. We started to look at a lot of things differently. I believe that the Lord used that miscarriage in leading us to being born-again a few years later.

Laws do not change hearts. God does.

Here’s what the Bible says about the heart.

HeartAccording to the Bible, the heart is the centre not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. “Heart” and “soul” are often used interchangeably (Deut. 6:5; 26:16; comp. Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33), but this is not generally the case.

The heart is the “home of the personal life,” and hence a man is designated, according to his heart, wise (1 Kings 3:12, etc.), pure (Ps. 24:4; Matt. 5:8, etc.), upright and righteous (Gen. 20:5, 6; Ps. 11:2; 78:72), pious and good (Luke 8:15), etc. In these and such passages the word “soul” could not be substituted for “heart.”

The heart is also the seat of the conscience (Rom. 2:15). It is naturally wicked (Gen. 8:21), and hence it contaminates the whole life and character (Matt. 12:34; 15:18; comp. Eccl. 8:11; Ps. 73:7). Hence the heart must be changed, regenerated (Ezek. 36:26; 11:19; Ps. 51:10–14), before a man can willingly obey God.

The process of salvation begins in the heart by the believing reception of the testimony of God, while the rejection of that testimony hardens the heart (Ps. 95:8; Prov. 28:14; 2 Chr. 36:13). “Hardness of heart evidences itself by light views of sin; partial acknowledgment and confession of it; pride and conceit; ingratitude; unconcern about the word and ordinances of God; inattention to divine providences; stifling convictions of conscience; shunning reproof; presumption, and general ignorance of divine things.”

M. G. Easton, Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893), 316–317.

God owns it all.

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bible.com/bible/59/psa.24.1.ESV

Having a Heart of Thankfulness

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Ghost Lake, Hayward , Wisconsin

We vacationed in Wisconsin’s beautiful north woods in early July.

We took our eight-year-old granddaughter Elyse. Elyse loves to fish, collect bugs, chase frogs and truly enjoys nature.

I enjoy fishing but sad to say I did not have much luck during our vacation. Although, I am not angry, I have said I am disappointed I have not caught a bass (my favorite sport fish).

One day, I brought the boat  back to the pier after fishing alone. Elyse was was waiting for me on the pier. She was quite content to catch the small fish around the pier. She said as I approached, “did you catch a bass grandpa?”

I said no honey, I am disappointed.

Elyse said very kindly, “grandpa, you should be thankful just for the chance to try and catch a bass.”

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:18

What Did the USS Omaha Witness?

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Let me tell you a story.

This is a book review of The Hynek UFO Report: The Authoritative Account of the Project Blue Book Cover-Up (MUFON).

Why put it on my blog that deals mostly with my ministry or occasional political post? Well, here is the story.

I was born in 1953 or the earliest days of UFO flaps. My dad, who worked on space program projects in the 1960s and early 70s, had an interest in Astronomy and UFOs. He was hardly a nutter or a fanatic, but rather someone just plain curious, as I’m sure many were back in the 1960s when I grew up.

I distinctly remember the great Michigan UFO Flap of 1966 when I was thirteen. My dad followed the story intensely and we discussed it-me, with a certain amount of fear. After all, aliens in that time were never all that friendly and a far cry from Speilberg’s cute little E.T.

It was during the Michigan Flap that I first learned of J. Allen Hynek. Hynek was the Air Force’s consultant on Project Blue Book. Hynek’s “job” was not so much getting to the truth about UFO sightings, but rather to find a simple explanation for them. 

In the book I’m now reviewing Hynek explains his job and his change of heart that he had in the course of being involved in Project Bluebook.

In 1966 however, Hynek was still doing what the “company” wanted, that is, finding something that could explain away sightings without alarming the public..

The Michigan case of 1966 is still a case that is surrounded by mystery even though there were many professional type observers to the events. The media of the time took their testimony seriously and as I said, I recall it being a huge deal on the nightly news and the newpapers.

Hynek spent what I’d call a minimal amount of time on the case. His verdict was “swamp gas.” My dad didn’t buy it then and to this day people that study UFO phenomena do not either.

I heard many years later (Hynek died in 1986) that Hynek documented his time in Blue Book with a couple of books including the one I’m reviewing. His change of heart is apparent in the book, although he only alludes to the well-known Michigan case of my childhood.

Hynek’s purpose in writing the book was to expose the Air Force’s rather insincere efforts to investigate UFOs. Hynek cites many encounters of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd kinds to show that often times the official explanation didn’t line up with the available evidence. At times, the Air Force allowed “unidentified” as the explanation in the closest they ever came in saying, we just don’t know. 

So, what prompted me to read Hynek’s book that was published over 30 years ago?

The short version was watching Senator Marco Rubio of Florida discuss the most recent UFO flaps involving our own US Navy. The videos have been out there for months now and apparently the government is finally admitting to being perplexed. The events surrounding the USS Omaha are particularly unsettling as options to explain the UFOS are rather limited.

It’s been enough that the military is required to issue a report this summer on what is going on.

That’s what made me curious about what J. Allen Hynek said about government reports back in the days of Blue Book. 

The question today is, will the military tell the truth? What will have changed since Blue Book? 

It appears that the military and government’s options are limited to 1) we really don’t know, 2) the UFOS are of a foreign power with far more technology than we have, 3) the UFOs are ours and experimental or 4) they are extraterrestrial.

In other words, the same possibilities that Blue Book dealt with so long ago.

There is one more possibility that was not thought of, that I know of, back in the days of Blue Book. That possibility is the one of inter-dimension craft and beings. That possibility raises a lot of issues; including theological ones which I why posted this review to this blog. 

For that angle I recommend Dr. Hugh Ross (scientist) and Kenneth Sample’s, Lights in the Sky & Little Green Men: A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and Extraterrestrials 

Parenting 101

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We live in a semi-rural area in Southeast Wisconsin. Our area has many farms and quite a few feature horses and stables.

The other day I was passing by one of the farms with horses and saw an older man, perhaps a grandfather, stooped over one of the farm’s smaller tractors. There was a young man alongside of the man and I guessed him to be either a son or possibly a grandson.

The scene was ordinary. It was the type of thing you glance at and pass by without a second thought. Except, I didn’t.

My “back ground” thoughts if I can call them that revolved around some of my recent counseling cases.

My wife and I do counseling with Reigning Grace Counseling Center (Zoom) out of Kansas City, MO as well as within our local church.

Many of our cases involve marriage issues and one of the issues is parenting.

The scene I witnessed at the horse farm drew me to the Book of Proverbs and some of the recent cases we’ve worked on.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6, ESV)

The Proverb is often misused by well meaning Christians who seem to think that if they do everything right (they won’t) the child will grow up to love the Lord.

The Hebrew thinking behind the Proverb is that child training is to be oriented toward “the way” he should go, meaning a right moral direction, so as to please the Lord, by first fearing the Lord (Proverbs 1:7). This is necessary, because “folly is bound up in the heart” of the child (Proverbs 22:15). Love, instruction and discipline are necessary to deal with the foolishness resident in a child’s heart. (Heart means inner person.)

I have no idea if the father\son or grandfather/grandson scene I witnessed meant they were believers. It was clear that the older was training the younger so that the younger had some skill in life (fixing stuff).

One of the things I want to know from parents (especially dads) is what is their plan to disciple their children?

Are they being intentional about the way they are training their children? Are they being taught to fear the Lord? Do they believe that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child? Are they persevering in their child training? Do they seek heart change in their children as opposed to simply acceptable behavior that does not stress out the parent? What exactly are their goals?

I have found that unless a church teaches this approach most parents are left with “winging it” or some general principles from psychology (often not helpful) and\or behaviorism. Yet, the Scriptures contain much counsel on the topic of parenting. See Deut. 6:6-8; Jos. 24:15 and Ephesians 6:4 to get started.

As I drove away from the scene I could not help thinking that dad or grandad may have started with their young man with Proverbs 22:6 when the lad was a baby. Now they were on their way to teaching the life skills that are necessary to navigate life in a way that pleases God.

My recommendation as a biblical counselor is that parents get a copy of Tedd Tripp’s, Shepherding a Child’s Heart with the handbook in order to become more intentional with their parenting.

Religious Liberty and Tyranny

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As I write this blog I see religious liberty being threatened right here in the good old United States of America. This can be seen in a number of ways that include closing down houses of worship for Covid reasons but at the same time permitting left wing rioters ignore Covid restrictions. The hypocrisy is stunning.

Another way religious liberty is being squashed is via the cancel culture and the ominous hate speech rhetoric if someone opposes the LGBQXYZ agenda. These are clear symptoms of an ideology opposed to God and our 1st Amendment to the Constitution. I could go on.

It’s a far cry from that which goes on around the world. Totalitarianism fears people who take their religious faith seriously. The reason for that is people who take their religious faith seriously answer to a power higher than the state and that cannot be permitted. From a Christian point of view this boils down Christ is Lord and Caesar is not. That upsets totalitarian caesars.

People who are nominal in their faith are not threats to the state because they will in the final analysis conform to the state’s wishes and demands so as not to rock the boat.

Whatever else we might say about “Orange Man Bad” otherwise known as Donald Trump, he took a keen interest in religious liberty and the defense of basic human rights. That interest translated into then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveling to Rome to meet with top Vatican officials while requesting an audience with Pope Francis.

It was an unorthodox approach to be sure but the issue he wished to discuss would have been one of importance to Roman Catholics since the Communist Party of China closed down more than 100 Catholic Churches in the country. (For a more in depth view read the UK’s Guardian, China Jailing Pastors…)

Pompeo gave a key note speech in a symposium attended by Vatican officials as well as American and British officials that highlighted China’s threats to a number of diverse groups that included Catholics, Protestants, Uighur Moslems and Tibetan Buddhists. The basic idea being that people of religious faith are a threat to a tyrannical regimes for the reasons I stated above.

Pompeo’s request to meet with Pope Francis was turned down and the Vatican instead renewed their cozier agreement with Communist China for two years which seems weird given the fact China shut down 100 Catholic Churches.

The action by the Vatican seems to stand in stark contrast to Pope John Paul II (the Polish Pope) who took action against Communism and helped crack the communist stranglehold on the East Block countries.

I highly doubt that the newly elected Joe Biden will take a serious look at religious liberty. He may give the matter lip service sine he claims to be Roman Catholic) but it’s hard to believe he will criticize Communist China given his connections no one wants to discuss. Furthermore, free speech does not favor the new administration which is why you see Big Tech serving as the enforcers of a radical left-wing agenda. That left-wing agenda has no tolerance for those who refuse to compromise their faith.

We tend to talk around details rather than central ideas or ideology. We get stuck on “Orange Man Bad” and a harpy double standard media and so we miss the big picture.

A totalitarian states fears people of strong faith because it represents a type of freedom they cannot control. Watch carefully-if you take your faith seriously you are the enemy of tyranny and tyranny will seek to first silence you, then squash you until you submit.

Details for this blog were taken from the World article titled First Freedom Agendas in the 01.16.21 issue.

Evangelicals and Race Theory by Carl R. Trueman | Articles | First Things

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Evangelicals and
Race Theory by Carl R. Trueman | Articles | First Things
— Read on www.firstthings.com/article/2021/02/evangelicals-and-race-theory

Three Civil Wars and A Secession of the Heart.

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In 1776 the North American Thirteen Colonies of Great Britain issued the Declaration of Independence. From that point on any hope of reconciliation with Great Britain was fantasy. Either Britain would win the war and the colonies remain part of the empire or the colonies would win and go on to form a “more prefect union.”

Historians have often referred to the the War for American independence as a civil war. The colonists after all, as a whole, came from England and were citizens (second class citizens in my opinion) of that country. The fact the colonies did not have representation in the British Parliament is where Patrick Henry’s famous line of, ‘taxation without representation is tyranny’ came from.

King George III was the ruler of not only Great Britain itself but also the far flung colonies of the British Empire. At the time, the British monarchy was still powerful; and could over ride any parliamentarian decision or recommendation. Our Declaration of Independence actually serves as a declaration of secession from the British Empire that had KGIII as ruler.

The War for American Independence was fought between largely between Englishmen. It’s been said that 1\3 of the colonists supported independence. They were called patriots. Another 1\3 supported the crown and they were called tories. Still another 1\3 did not seem to care one way or the other or just wanted to be left alone. Battles between patriots and tories were especially bitter and had the marks of a bitter civil war between peoples who had irreconcilable differences. After the war many tories lost their homes to unforgiving patriots and had to flee to Canada where their descendants live to this day.

The War of American Independence was our first Civil War. What emerged was our Constitution and Bill of Rights. These documents were intended to balance power among factions and to hold the emerging country together by creating mechanisms where diverse interests could function with a high degree of unity. The Supreme Court was established to sort out the most important differences.

Fast forward to 1860 when Abraham Lincoln was elected to be president. At the time there were 33 states in the union; fifteen of which were slave states. The issue of slavery dated back to the earliest days of the republic. The northern colonies favored the end of slavery while the southern colonies would have none of it.

It should be pointed out that France took steps to abolish slavery in 1794 and Great Britain didn’t get around to it until 1834. People argue about those details, but whatever your view on the particulars, it was clear that at least two those countries were moving to get rid of slavery and the slave trade. The emerging United States was hardly alone in the west in fighting through the issues. In fact, the framers of the Constitution and later Bill of Rights were fully aware that the southern states would never join a union that did not permit slavery. This is why slavery was permitted in the fifteen slave states.

By 1819 there were 22 states in the union. eleven were free states and the other eleven were slave states. The idea for the balance was once again to hold the country together while trying to work on a solution to the problem that would never go away. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 brought Maine into the union as a free state and Missouri into the union as a slave state to preserve the balance. The compromise was flawed on many levels but it was a compromise. As part of the compromise slavery was banned from any states that might emerge from the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. As the nation expanded westward this became a critical issue since it upset the balance. The southern slave states feared economic ruin should the free states outnumber the slave states and congress move to abolish slavery altogether.

Things came to a head in 1854 with the Kansas-Nebraska Act that determined that states north of particular boundary could decide for themselves if they wanted to be free or slave. One immediate result of the Kansas-Nebraska Act is that the territory of Kansas erupted into a civil war over the issue of whether or not it would be safe or free.

“Bloody Kansas” gave the rest of the US a foretaste of the Civil War to come as free staters battled pro-slavery factions for control. John Brown and his supporters were free state abolitionists from Kansas. They hoped to incite a slave rebellion in the southern states when they seized the Federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in Virginia in 1859. Brown and his supporters were confronted by the US Marines that included future Confederate General, Robert E. Lee. John Brown was hung for treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Since the Missouri Compromise of 1820 the country had been moving toward irreconcible differences and by 1859 talk among the southern states about secession was common. Their argument revolved around the issue of a state right to secede from the union. To the southern states the nature “of the issue” did not interfere with their right to secede. Frankly, they had a constitutional point to make, but slavery was the catalyst for a constitutional crisis. That should sound familiar as we go down the path we are going.

When Abraham Lincoln, an abolitionist, was elected in 1860 eight southern states did secede and would be followed formerly by three more when Lincoln mobilized 75,000 militia to put down what was called the War of Rebellion in the north and the War for Southern Independence in the south. It is estimated that 620,000 soldiers lost their lives in the war. At the time that was about 2% of the population. The Union was preserved at a very high cost. What we call “the” Civil War was our second.

The point of this brief history lesson thus far is too illustrate the notion of irreconcilable differences between peoples. In both cases a significant minority of people decided that they could no longer be part of Great Britain in the first instance and the Federal Union in the second instance.

It is my belief we are at a tipping point in our country where our differences have split us wide open. Those differences appear irreconcilable given the values on both sides.

On one side you have “Blue States” that seem determined to radically change America with a Neo-Marxist agenda that has affected every area of our lives. On the other side are the “Red States” that seek to preserve the rule of law and go by our Constitution with its provision for a balance of power. The election of Joe Biden and the radicals does not bode well for a country so divided. The division certainly did not start with his election; it’s simply the result of what has become two very different visions of what the US was and what it will be.

Pat Buchanan put it this way in a recent column titled, Is Our Second Civil War–Also a Forever War:

Some see secession. But though secession is unlikely, a secession of the heart has already taken place in America. We are two nations, two peoples seemingly separated indefinitely. Can a nation so divided as ours, racially, ideologically, religiously, still do great things together, as did the America of days gone by, to the amazement of the world?

The geography between the Red and Blue States do not seem to favor secession but given the fact we do seem to be two peoples divided racially, ideologically and religiously I personally would not rule a third civil war with secession a possbility. A secession of the heart has already occurred..

Explaining Pagan Gods and Human Idolatry

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Great stuff here.

Reflections

People were created to be worshippers.That’s oneway of defining the image of God in human beings.Humans are alsofallen worshippers. Thus,ourreligious-based tendency to worshiphasexpressed itself in distorted waysin human history.

Recently I was asked a question about how to understand the pagan gods of the Old and New Testaments and human idolatry. Here’s thequestion:

I’ve always dismissed other“gods”in the Bibleas nothing more than imaginary to the people back then, and that they were prone to worship them as an excuse to live in sin. Recently, I’ve rethought my quick dismissal of these gods. Couldthey befallen angels that were visible to people? How could people seriously worship, in the form of statues and temples, false gods unless at some point they had actually been real?

Pagan Gods and Human Idolatry
I thinkthat accounting for the pagan gods of theBiblefrom a Christian perspective would involve the following biblically based factors. I offer them…

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