A more upbeat plot twist: Total remission!

 This is a follow up to Plot twist: I’ve got cancer and Cancer treatment update: So far, so good.  Thanks for the prayers!

Short version: Total remission! I had my 5th chemo treatment today and will have one more treatment next month as precaution. I’ll probably just have annual scans after that. Thanks for all the love, prayers and support and thank-you to Jesus for countless answered prayers.  By the way, I thought tumor was only golf ball sized. Turns out it was about 3 inches!  But it is gone.

It is interesting to rewind the tape at this point and ensure we’ve learned all we can from this and celebrated all the seemingly countless blessings God brought our way.  I had cancer, but I also had Jesus — and still do — and that made all the difference.

I imagine that it works this way for many cancer patients.  At some point you get an official diagnosis, but you realized you had something serious long before that.  For me it was when my general practitioner called after an ultrasound (they had suspected kidney stones).  He said that there was a triangle shaped thing on my kidney.  I immediately knew that it was cancer, even though they wanted to do a CT scan to confirm it.  In an odd way, it was good that it was cancer instead of something benign, because either way it was causing serious problems.  Chemo took care of it, but had it been benign it would have involved a tricky surgery to remove.  And if the cancer was part of my kidney and stomach, as it first appeared, that would have required removing the kidney and some of the stomach.

Before the PET scan that was the final confirmation that I only had this one cancer, I sat there and realized this would go one of 3 broad ways: (1) a miraculous healing, (2) the Lymphoma they had predicted that would be treatable, or (3) that there were other more serious cancers that could require more testing and/or serious procedures or be more life-threatening.  By the grace of Jesus, I was at truly content and at peace with any of those and was that way through the entire process. But to be candid, my reaction to range of options when you know you have cancer – which was before they officially told me — was more about laziness than fear – though I’m not sure which is worse.  I was content either way trusting in Jesus, but I wanted the least amount of work for me to get the maximum glory for Jesus. I suppose that’s my Spiritual Gift of Laziness — one of the lesser known gifts, along with my Spiritual Gift of Rationalization.

The medical team was amazing.  Every last person.  The doctor and many of the nurses were committed believers.  Oncology is a tough discipline even for the medical field.  I am so grateful for their education, their hard work and their dedication in a truly challenging field.  Many cases don’t work out like this.  And their jobs get tougher daily with all the bureaucracy and funding requirements they deal with.

God can and does do miracles, but He will ultimately draw to him whomever He wills.  But He doesn’t always do miracles.  If he had cured me immediately or even partway through with a miracle I would have missed out on so many blessings.  I have zero complaints about any of this.

Many people prayed for it to be miraculously removed, and that would have been fine with me.  But Jesus is still the same King of Kings and Lord of Lords regardless of how this played out with me – live or die.  He can be glorified in so many ways.  See If I Have Enough Faith, Will God Heal Me?  for more on that important topic.

And since we will all eventually die, we need to think carefully about eternity and whether we are right with the one true God.  Make no mistake: I know people have been wounded by church and by Christians,  heard bad theology, been repulsed at prosperity gospel preachers and seen much hypocrisy (and the Bible predicted many times that all those bad things would happen).  And I’m well aware that every day Christianity becomes more in conflict with the world’s values — though that is a design feature, not a bug.

But do those things mean Jesus didn’t rise from the dead or that you should reject Christianity?  Not at all. That, my fiends, is the central question of human history. If He didn’t rise from the dead, then Christianity openly admits that it would be false (1 Corinthians 15). But if He did, that changes everything.  The only miracle I really need is the resurrection. Everything falls into place from there.  It proves all his claims.  And He affirmed the Old Testament  to the last letter and authorized the New Testament, so we can trust what He has delivered to us.

Sadly, most people — even in churches! — don’t know about the evidence for the resurrection.  I love pointing out how that even atheist historians concede many facts of history that support the resurrection and debunk the alternative theories (i.e., that the disciples stole Jesus’ body, that He didn’t really die, that people had mass hallucinations, etc.).  Nearly 100% of historians of that time period agree that a real person named Jesus died on a Roman cross, that his followers believed He rose from the dead, that the Apostle Paul went from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist in history and wrote nearly half the books of the New Testament, and more.

The cross was simultaneously the greatest evil and greatest good in history. The only perfect human ever – and God in flesh – was found guilty in a mockery of a trial, beaten, humiliated and nailed to a cross like a piece of meat until he died.  Why?  To save us from our sins, if only we would repent and trust in him.  Please carefully consider these claims and don’t think that you will be able to sit in judgment of God or dictate the terms of eternity to him.

So whatever you do, don’t believe either of the opposite but equally wrong lies that you don’t need God because you are good enough, or that you are beyond his forgiveness because you are too bad.

Again, this is my #1 book recommendation outside of the Bible: If you would like a great summary of the Bible and Christianity, check out The Story of Reality by Greg Koukl.  Though it is easy to read and less than 200 pages, it covers the major themes of the Bible from beginning to end and provides evidence as to why Christianity is true and other worldviews are not.  Even if you don’t end up believing you will have a much better understanding of what you disagree with.  It gives solid answers to common questions while showing how Christian worldview best conforms to reality.  And if you believe it will strengthen your faith and give you something to share with others.

Again, the blessings haven’t stopped coming with this adventure.  I have such a great wife and kids and extended family, and countless friends who have prayed for us and offered to help in any way.  I had it fairly easy.  Really, I just laid down for various scans and had medicine pumped in me while sitting in a recliner. Mrs. Eternity Matters did so much more and with such love.  We had countless relationships that thawed/renewed/grew/started, and those alone would have been more than worth the price.  We learned to give people the benefit of the doubt more and to be more assertive in reaching out to others who need encouragement.   And so much more.  So our main prayer — that we wouldn’t waste any of this — has been answered countless times, and we thank God repeatedly for that.

In short, we’ve lived what we believed, and that would have made this process better regardless of the outcome.

Thanks to everyone who offered prayers and encouragement to me and my family throughout this.  You have no idea how much every comment meant.

Be blessed!


A couple pictures: We got Daisy, a French Bulldog rescue, shortly after treatments started.  We weren’t in the market for a dog, but a good friend runs a small pet rescue and had the perfect one for us.  The timing was great.  She was a great nap-dog as I slept through the chemo crashes.  Here she is drunk-Tweeting.  Again.

Here she is sobered up.  Truly a blessing.  Sweetest dog you can imagine and a great stress relief.

Despite the chemo treatments, Mrs. Eternity Matters and I were able to continue practicing and had a joyful time at a ballroom dance competition.  The process was a great distraction and staying active really helped me feel better.  One of the many tender mercies from God.

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“Why do you believe in Jesus? And how can I?”

Are you equipped to answer those questions in a clear, winsome and biblical way?

I actually got an email with those two questions in the subject line.  The sender was a guy from  a Sunday school class I was teaching.  He attended with his wife, who was a committed believer, but he was a skeptic. We ended up having a great conversation about the real Gospel, the importance of reading the Bible, etc.  (We ended up leaving that church so I’m not sure of his current beliefs.  But I trust the process.)

Those are the ultimate softball questions for Christians, right?  They recognize that you believe in Jesus, they are interested in the reasons and they want to know how to do it as well.  Not all encounters will be that tailor made, but my question is this: Are you ready to give effective answers to those questions?  If you aren’t then you need to equip yourselves starting now.

I always start any evangelism / apologetics training with that anecdote.  I want people to get away from thinking that evangelism is only about knocking on doors (not that there is anything wrong with that) and pushing through hostile encounters (Jesus gave us the pearls before swine commandment in Matthew 7:6 for a reason).  I want people to be prepared, but not to give up before they start.

I highly recommend reading this book and having extra copies to share with people.  You will learn how to give an effective presentation of the Gospel, explain the main themes of the Bible and Christianity and address common objections.

P.S. There was an interesting side note with the email.  The guy was a trustee of a 3,000 person Methodist church at the time.   They didn’t even know he was an explicit non-believer.  I knew the church had agnostics in other roles who thought they are Christians, but this guy knew his real spiritual status.  Maybe churches should get to know their leaders first, and as a bonus, their members.  /sarcasm

The one good thing about The Passion Bible “Translation” . . .

. . . is that it will make it easy to spot wolves.  It is bad as The Message, just for different reasons.  From GotQuestions.org:

The most important problem with The Passion Translation of the Bible (TPT) is actually found in its name—specifically, the term translation. In truth, The Passion Translation is a re-worded and re-written Bible, apparently intended to support a particular strain of theology. If the same material was marketed as a “commentary” or as a “study guide,” it would still be concerning. As it is, The Passion Translation cannot honestly be called a translation or even a paraphrase. The TPT goes well beyond the idea of “translation” and reimagines the Bible as one human author thinks it ought to be written.

The article goes on to list many of the places where the book makes huge translation errors to fit bad theology.  It was written by one guy, which a red flag.  But here’s the biggest problem to me: The author, Brian Simmons, insists that his changes were divinely inspired.

The work, according to Simmons, was commissioned directly by the Lord in a spiritual encounter. Simmons explained that in the encounter, God breathed upon him and spoke to him, clearly commissioning him to do this work. Jesus promised Simmons he would help him, there would be persecutions and misunderstandings because of the work, but he would be with him.

I’m skeptical.  Then again, it was endorsed by Hillsong and Bill Johnson of Bethel Church, so there’s that . . .

Seriously, run from this translation and avoid any church or teacher who uses it.

Most charismatics are closet cessationists

Until recently I was a fence-sitter on the continuation/cessation of spiritual gifts debate topic, never really researching it enough to pick a side.  My position was that while the gifts could continue, I’d never seen them done properly (e.g., those enamored with the gift of tongues never obeyed the handful of verses governing their use, the faith healers were obvious fakes, etc.).  Other than some “sloppy God talk” that I’ve addressed many times, I never went to a church where leaders took things too far (e.g., the Benny Hinn / Bill Johnson – Bethel / etc. nonsense).

Now that I’ve done more research (including reading Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship by John MacArthur) and understand the history and Bible verses better, I’m a cessationist.

But in a very real and relevant sense, both sides are cessasionists, just with one side being less so than the other.  Many who believe in the continuation of the “sign” gifts (healings, tongues, prophecies) are very sound when it comes to the essentials of the faith, the inerrancy of scripture, etc. , yet they concede that many things have indeed ceased since the 1st century.  Consider these:

  • The canon of scripture is closed.  Even when you point out the claims made by books like Jesus Calling, which insist that the authors heard directly from Jesus, the continuationists don’t think that anything should be added to the Bible.
  • The New Testament-style healings have ceased.  The healings of Jesus and his apostles were vastly different from what charismatics claim to do today.  Biblical healings were 100% successful, immediate and public.  The continuationists explicitly redefine “healings” to be private, partial and not always successful — and of course, dependent on the faith of the healer and/or the sick person.
  • The office of apostle has ceased.  Even charlatans like Bill Johnson and Bethel don’t embrace the “New Apostolic Reformation” tag (although their buddies consider them part of it).
  • The gift of foreign language tongues has ceased.  In Acts 2, people miraculously spoke in foreign languages that they previously didn’t know, and the other references to tongues use the same terms.  Continuationists explicitly redefine what “speaking in tongues” means because none of them have that gift of speaking in foreign languages.  That is why their “tongues” aren’t recognizable to anyone.
  • Infallible prophets ceased.  Continuationists explicitly redefine what prophecy is to allow for the obvious errors of their “prophets.” In the Bible, prophets had to be 100% right 100% of the time – and the penalties for being wrong were severe.  The charismatic “prophets” readily concede many errors and can’t name a single infallible prophet among them, yet they cling to their belief that their random correct “prophesies” are divinely inspired.  They have to ignore 2 Peter 1:21 and more to do that (For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit).

Also, the receiving of gifts has also been redefined.  In the Bible, the gifts were immediate and full.  With the continuationists you usually need to be trained to heal, prophesy or speak in tongues — hence the Harry Potter Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (it makes up for its cost by being unaccredited).

That is a significant list of things that we agree have ceased or changed.  So there is no debate with these folks that some things have ceased, just about what other things have ceased.

And I think it is significant that, as noted, above, they have had to redefine healings, tongues and fallability of prophets from the original biblical definitions and even the nature of what a gift is.  That is a huge liability for them.   If the three main things they focus on don’t resemble what we see in the Bible and now you have to be trained in the “gifts,” have they truly continued?

And even with the redefined gifts, did they really continue?  No.  History is clear that they did not, so the continuationists need to twist scripture to say that they did cease for 19 centuries but are back now.  Again, most agree that even the redefined gifts didn’t exist during that time frame.

Other considerations:

  • If babble tongues (my term for non-real foreign language tongues)  is a gift of the spirit, why do some fringe Catholics and many other non-Christians practice them?  Since when does the Holy Spirit give supernatural gifts to non-believers?
  • These healing ministries unwittingly breed contempt for those without enough “faith” to be healed.  The sick and hurting people feel pressure to at least show some improvement so they don’t let the healers down or give “evidence” of a lack of faith.    Then groups like Bethel chalk up those improvements (not even full healings) as miracles.
  • John Piper acknowledged that one charismatic leader was completely wrong about multiple prophecies about him, but then was impressed when the guy got one right about someone else.  But the prophecy was about a guy who was nervous about whether a visa was going to come through.  How do people like Piper forget about Satan and his demons?!   The man’s visa issues were easily known to the demons, and the “prophet” got one right.  So what?  But Piper et al have let the charismatics’ redefinition of a prophet stand, so they can’t be dismissed even when they get loads of prophesies wrong.

So many things have ceased and even those that allegedly continued have significantly different definitions — making them more like new gifts — if real — than continued ones.  How is that biblical?

One of the biggest problems with the continuationist/charismatic movement is that it conditions people to look outside the Bible for new revelations and experiences.  It also encourages people to speak for God when He hasn’t spoken.  Those things are dangerous and blasphemous.  The movement claims to be all about the Holy Spirit but they ignore what He really does and fixate on things that He doesn’t do.   Giving lip service to the Bible while constantly seeking experiences and allegedly new revelations from God is not Christianity.

Even if the gifts of prophecy and/or tongues continue . . .

  1. It doesn’t mean that you can give someone else the gift.  Only the Holy Spirit does that.
  2. It doesn’t mean you need to be trained to use the gift.  Gifts, by definition, are ready to use.
  3. It doesn’t mean the gift of prophecy would involve telling the future.  The context of 1 Corinthians 14 is that the prophecies are immediately assessed by the church body.   Even if they did involve the future, they wouldn’t necessarily always have good news.
  4. It doesn’t mean that you’d get vague messages from the Holy Spirit about possibly “living on the East coast” or that you “had financial problems” in the past.  Those are about as meaningful as “prophesying” that someone is a carbon-based life form.  Those are Psychic 101 tricks.
  5. It doesn’t mean that non-believers would have the gifts.
  6. It definitely doesn’t mean that you’d give affirming “God is proud of you / no need to change anything / don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise” type prophesies to non-believers (that literally happened to a self-identified unrepentant, polyamorous, pagan witch).

The Continuationists I’ve come across get most or all of those wrong.

Once again, you should start with the gift of discernment.  If you don’t have it, ask God for wisdom and He’ll grant it.

Bill Johnson, Bethel Church and the Jesus Culture band: Super-creepy, super-false

Bill Johnson is the pastor of Bethel Church, and Jesus Culture is their band.  I hadn’t heard of them until recently, but they are popular, blasphemous and dangerous.  Whether you hold the view that the “sign gifts” (miracles, signs and wonders) ceased at the end of the apostolic age or not, you should still steer clear of them.  Here’s a good overview of them and many of their theological errors and dangers.

Bethel Church of Redding, California was founded in 1952 and was affiliated with the Assemblies of God until 2006, when current pastor Bill Johnson led the church to dissociate itself from the denomination. The current attendance at Bethel’s Redding location is just under 8,700 each Sunday. The now denominationally independent church operates on a $9 million annual budget.

We downloaded a Bill Johnson book (“God is Good”) and scanned it.  He got an ejector seat from me in his introduction, claiming that God “mandated” that he write it.  That’s rather passive-aggressive, as if to disagree with the book is to disagree with God.  God told me to tell you to ignore the book.  He gets original sin wrong and ignores obvious teachings like Job and 1 Peter 4:19 when trying to get God off the hook for the existence of evil.

But it gets much worse than that.  Johnson claims this his church gets hit with gusts of wind, angel feathers and gold dust falling on them regularly, and that they had a glory cloud come and hover over them (start at the 2:20 mark for all that).   Sounds to me like they have an issue with their HVAC system.  I assume that the angel feathers were identified with DNA tests.  Seriously, how would you even know what angel feathers would look like?  Those claims alone should send you scurrying from this wolf.  This video also tells you about the Jesus Culture band.

Even when they defend themselves they concede their weirdness.  This came from an article that describes some wise people in an Irish church who opposed Bethel.

One of its leaders, Kris Vallotton, wrote an online article in 2012 addressing what he believed was miscommunication about the church by its detractors. In the article he said that while he had personally tried to raise people from the dead twice, he was not successful. He added that some of the church’s students had formed DRTs (Dead Raising Teams) and that he had personally witnessed the manifestation of gold dust on followers’ faces and hands “hundreds of times”.

You can make appointments for them to give you prophecies psychic readings.  I listened to part of one that someone had recorded.  It was Psychic 101, with vague comments such as someone being from the East Coast (uh, the place where 1/3 of people currently live, where many more have lived or want to live, etc.) — as if the Holy Spirit speaks that way.  And the people I know who believe in Johnson’s ministry said the same things about the “prophecies” as this witch does.  Yes, a witch who self-describes as a polyamorous pagan.  She went to Bethel and recounted her experience.  And you can go here to read how their “prophecies” are just like the “East Coast” gibberish.

Annika: When the children waved their scarves in front of us, I thought about how I was just  like them when I was their age, completely involved in whatever ministry was happening at our church, dancing, performing pantomime, praying, worshipping. Suddently the woman sat next to me, placed her hand on my knee, and said she “had a Word” for me. I was excited to hear it. Just a few months ago I had met a couple of women from Bethel and they gave me an amazing prophecy, astonishingly accurate and full of things they couldn’t have known about me.

“I feel the Lord saying to you that He is very pleased with you. You have been so faithful to Him. You have been faithful to His Word, even when though there are many people telling you that you are now going the wrong way. But God knows it isn’t true. He wants you to know that He is proud of you. God knows that you are walking with Him and He is so proud of your faithfulness.”

I smiled and nodded, and said “I know”. Then she looked into my eyes, repeated how important it was for me to know that God approved of how I lived, and implored me to keep doing what I was doing. When she stood up and the girls wrapped up their scarves, I sat there speechless. This was essentially the same prophecy I had received from the two women several few months back.

Got that?  The witch wasn’t told to repent and believe, and, by the way, to stop being a witch!  She was completely affirmed to do exactly what she is doing and to ignore those who would tell her otherwise.  Did they know things about her?  Sure, but so do Satan and his demons, and the “prophets” can pick up the rest with basic fortune-teller techniques.  As I like to say, Satan knows where your car keys are, so if you pray to the patron saint of lost stuff and get an answer you shouldn’t assume it was from God.

The people who seek things like this insist that the prophecies must be positive because 1 Corinthians 14 speaks of prophecies “building up” the church.  But the passage never hints that prophecies are for individual bits of good news.  These people are basically going to see fortune tellers — only with the restriction that the fortune tellers can only tell them good news!  How can they be so blind?

There is an old trick that stock hustlers can use, where they tell half of a list of people that a stock will go up and the other half that it will go down.  If it goes up, they split that group and tell half that another stock will go up and the other half that it will go down.  They repeat until a small part of the original group thinks the broker is a financial genius, because they don’t realize he stops contacting anyone to whom he gave the wrong advice.  Prophetic predictions are similar!  You don’t hear about the false ones.  Via a great overview of Bethel’s false teachings:

“Bethel was the beginning of realizing, like, this is all bullshit.”  Chris was a good prophet, his teachers told him. While he was studying at Bethel, he once had a vision from The Song of Deborah as he prayed over a woman whose name he did not know. As he told her this, she cried out in surprise: Her name was Deborah.  “What I see now is, those are random thoughts,” Chris says. “Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, your prophecies are horrible misses. But you don’t remember them being a terrible flop — you remember the one time it worked.”

Here’s a Bethel youth pastor who says Jesus apologized to him and asked for forgiveness.  That previous sentence is so ridiculous that I had a tough time typing it.  Yet here we are.  He is either making up the entire experience or he was visited by a demon and thinks it was Jesus.  Either way, that’s really bad.  And Bethel put this up on their own site, so they obviously support it.

Their youth ministry is demonic, coaching kids to interact with alleged angels.  This may be the creepiest video of all.  They also coach little kids – who may not be saved – to interact with Jesus in their imagination.  He falsely says that the Greek for heart also means imagination, and then twists it for his purposes.  Praying to Jesus would be fine, but not imagining his response.  Saying otherwise is really bad for adults and even worse for kids.

They teach kids how to prophecy?!  (2:25 mark)  They claim you have to learn how to hear his voice.  That is transparently false.  Either God is talking or He’s not.  If He is talking you cannot miss it.  If He isn’t there is nothing to hear.

The church thought it was cute that the kids were practicing raising the dead.  They claim to take kids on visits to Heaven on a regular basis.  Their “proof” was that kids separately shared the same vision – as if Satan couldn’t plant that vision in the minds of unbelievers or that the “tour guide” didn’t plant a similar vision.  This leaves kids wide open to demonic influences.  This is Satanic and child abuse.

She claims to teach the prophetic, but if it is an authentic gift then you don’t need to teach it.

Again, they take their youth to Heaven, and apparently the adults get to go as well.  Just your average field trip, eh?  “Angels are out of a job . . . angels are being assigned to you  . . .”  Who believes this?

Johnson’s daughter (she is in Jesus Culture) says the Holy Spirit is a sneaky blue genie?!

They are your basic prosperity pimps — and purveyors of gibberish — as well.

Bethel Pastor, Kris Vallotton, has revealed an important principle:

“Wealth is not just a condition, it’s a power. God is the one who gives people the power to make wealth, which is the magnetic attraction to prosperity.”

“His celestial mission was to make us wealthy. He didn’t become poor so He could demonstrate the power of poverty; quite the contrary. Actually, He became poor to demonstrate the process to prosperity.” -Kris Vallotton from his blog

Johnson is so busy with his prosperity gospel / healing ministry that he distorts or ignores the real Gospel.  Jesus’s death on the cross atoned for the sins of the believers, not the sickness, but Johnson teaches otherwise.

As John Piper explains, The prosperity gospel in action “minimizes sin, minimizes pain, and only talks about how well things will go for you if you follow Christ.”  In listening to Bill Johnson’s sermons, I noticed all of these trends. Specifically, Johnson teaches a doctrine known as “healing in the atonement.” This view holds that in Christ’s death, all true believers are given physical healing and can expect deliverance from all disease and infirmity in this life.

On this topic Johnson declares “I refuse to create a theology that allows for sickness” arguing that “The price Jesus paid for my sins was more than sufficient for my diseases.” But Johnson goes a step farther. Referring to 2 Corinthians 12:7, where Paul refers to his “thorn in the flesh” Johnson states “[this] has been interpreted by many as disease allowed or brought on by God… That’s a different gospel.” Johnson believes a gospel that allows for Christians to suffer from disease is a form of the false gospel Paul warns about in Galatians 1:8.

Via John MacArthur’s Strange Fire conference that addressed charismatic errors and excesses, here’s more on Jesus Culture at the 43 minute mark.  And see the “fire tunnel” at the 51 minute mark.  And the International House of Prayer (IHOP) at the 58 minute mark.  The trademark charismatic spasms are straight from Hinduism.

Not surprisingly, Johnson associates with and supports a Who’s Who of false teachers like Benny Hinn, Todd Bentley, IHOP, and more.  I put that in as an aside, not wanting to use a guilt-by-association comment as a primary argument.  But it is a huge red flag.

Here’s an account from a reporter who visited Bethel.  Whether by design or not, the constant pressure to affirm these “healers” led the woman to lie and say she felt a little better.  Bethel documented that as a miracle.  Keep that in mind when they make claims about how many they have healed.  It is another one of the downsides of the word of faith / healing movement: Making people feel like it is their fault they aren’t getting better.  Nothing like a little guilt to make your cancer/injury/sickness worse!

I can tell I’m a tough case, because a third healer comes over to us, and then a fourth. Soon I’m surrounded by people praying for me, one woman’s hand on my shoulder, another on her knees in front of me, and the force of their expectation — desperation, almost — is palpable. Unrelentingly, every few minutes, they ask me how I’m feeling, whether I’m better.

I try to deflect some of their questions, but it never works. When one healer asks me what I feel, I tell her I feel “your energy and prayers.” She jumps back, “But what about your knee?”

“Well, it’s a really serious injury,” I try. “So I think it might take some time.”

The woman seems almost offended. “Time?” she says. “Jesus doesn’t need time! Jesus can heal you right away.”

We start praying again, and I start feeling a little desperate, like I’ll never get out of here. The next time they ask me how my knee feels, almost automatically, without thinking, I lie.

“I think it’s more flexible now,” I say. I move it back and forth, and I can see my healers’ eyes light up. “I think it’s getting better. Thank you.”

“Thank you, Father!” one of them cries out, taking my hand. We’re both, I think, relieved, though maybe for different reasons. “Thank you for beginning this journey to healing.”

It’s finally over, and my healers ask me to give them my intake form. When I take the paper off of the clipboard, I notice there’s a back side, too, meant to be filled out by Bethel staff: a checklist labeled “Miracles Performed.” It includes healed shoulders and knees, zapped tumors, cured cancer, and limb-straightening, as well as soul-saving. At the very bottom of the list is the very miracle that the Stanford professor told Stefan would convert him: “Limb regrown.”

I hand the form over, wondering if they’re going to check me off as a Miracle Performed. As I leave the room, I think I see one of my healers do just that.

I initially didn’t include anything about Bethel’s grave-sucking / grave-soaking and their belief in the power of soaking.  It was so outlandish that I feared people would think I had made it up.  But one of my favorite people mentioned it as his top Bethel creep-factor so I added it.

There’s more, but you get the idea.  Run, don’t walk, from anything tied to Bill Johnson, Bethel Church or the Jesus Culture band.  They are dangerous and bring mockery to the name of Christ.  Just because they allegedly do some good does not mean you should get involved with anything by them.  Using that standard would let you partner with any religion or cult.  And recommending their not-as-bad-as-their-other-creepy-stuff resources is like offering a gateway drug.  If someone likes an author of a book, don’t they often see what else he has to offer?  The discernment starts to drop when trusted people position the author as “respected.”

The more I learn of Bethel, the more I think they use the strategy of those employing the iconic “Nigerian Prince funds transfer” email scam.  We know those emails are ridiculous, but they write them that way on purpose.  If they made them more plausible they’d attract too many responses from people who would eventually figure it out.  So they make the emails so extreme that only the truly gullible would reply.  Same thing with Bethel.  They say and do such ridiculous things that only someone with a discernment vacuum or some deep emotional needs would give them a second glance.  God’s word isn’t enough for them, so they seek experiences and “new revelations.”  It is one of God’s graces that He makes these phonies so obvious.

Before anyone seeks the “greater” gift of prophecy — however one defines it — he should seek the “lesser” gift of discernment.  I’ve never had a strong position on whether certain spiritual gifts have ceased or not.  I see merits in both arguments.  But while I left the possibility open that they could remain, I can’t avoid two truths: I’ve never seen them applied properly (i.e., those who focus on tongues as evidence of salvation brutally misuse the few and clear verses that address them) and I’ve seen countless examples of abuse (false teachers, fake healings, guilt over “not having enough faith” to be healed, etc.).  But this post wasn’t about which side is right on that debate, it was a warning against a ministry that has serious issues either way.

P.S. Here is a recommended reading by John MacArthur on miracles, signs and wonders.

Leftists — including “Christian” Leftists — are pro-abortion, not pro-choice

The Molech-worshiping ghouls of the Left — including the “Christian” Left — are busy celebrating the “free” (read: tax-funded or government coercion-funded) abortions that will just happen to kill minorities at a disproportionate rate: Governor of Oregon Holds Ceremony to Celebrate Law Making Abortion Free in State.  And note the skin color of those celebrating . . .

When you use the force of government to increase abortions you can no longer pretend to be pro-choice.

This came with the usual pro-abortion fallacy-fest.

To lead productive and thriving lives, Oregonians must have the ability to control their bodies and make informed decisions about their health care,” she said in a statement. “I am proud to sign legislation that expands access to basic reproductive health services for all Oregonians regardless of where they live, where they come from, or how they identify as a person.

So to improve your life you need to be able to kill your children to their 1st breath and to have someone else pay for it.  Check.

The “how they identify as a person” is comical.  Apparently they had to ensure the bill covered women who pretend to be men yet still want to kill their children.

And as always,  “Reproductive health services” is a false, Orwellian, anti-scientific term. It applies to birth control, not abortion, because abortion destroys a human being who has already been reproduced. That is a scientific fact confirmed by any mainstream embryology textbook and basic logic. It is a deadly and evil phrase. Yes, they have a right to reproduce, but no, they shouldn’t have the right to kill human beings who have already been reproduced.  Never let pro-aborts get away with using that phrase.

According to the Washington Times, those in attendance “regularly broke into rousing cheers and applause.”

That’s just creepy.  Predicable, but creepy.

It allows an exemption for religious businesses and nonprofits . . .

That will last about 15 minutes, because if killing your children to their 1st breath for “free” is really a right then how dare anyone limit that right?!  But don’t worry, because the state will make your neighbors pay for the murder:

Employees can still obtain the desired contraceptives and abortions . . .

They falsely claim that women have to be able to murder their children to be able to work outside the home and that even if it was true then it would justify child-killing.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton similarly said that she believes legalizing abortion has helped to keep women in the workplace, and thus has aided the economy.

Well, OK, then, continue the slaughter.  And they say Republicans are greedy?!

Paul vs. Jesus? Not exactly.

False teacher Jory Micah made a silly claim about the foundations of the Bible, presumably to prop up her true religion, which is radical feminism.  I’m re-running this post because all the arguments apply to her bad theology as well.

 


A thread over at the false gospel-preaching Sojourners Blog had multiple accusations against a commenter about whether Jesus and Paul taught the same Gospel, saying things like:

. . . the question of whether the Gospel according to Paul agrees with the Gospel according to Jesus seem largely ignored.

A commenter there referred to someone quoting Paul as a “Paulian” instead of a “Christian” and a commenter here literally said that “Jesus trumps Paul.”  And there have been whole TV shows and analyses about the alleged differences.  But is this really the case?

The “Jesus vs. Paul” debate is what is known as a false dichotomy, or a false dilemma.  It implies that you have to choose one side or the other, when there are actually other options.  Please consider this:

1. Jesus is God.  The Bible is the word of God.  Therefore, it is all the word of Jesus.  The original writings turned out just like He wanted them to, including Paul’s letters.

2. The “red letters” (direct quotes of Jesus sometimes printed in red ink) carry no more authority than any of the other verses, let alone the ~3,000 verses saying, “God said,” “The word of the Lord came to me,” etc.

3. Roughly 10% of the “red letters” quoted the “black letters.”  Jesus unapologetically and frequently quoted from the Old Testament, including the most controversial parts such as Adam and Eve, Noah, Jonah and Sodom and Gomorrah.

4. Peter referred to Paul’s writings as scripture, along with a marvelous take-down of those who misunderstand him.

2 Peter 3:15–16 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

5. None of the people making this argument seem to question what Luke wrote in his Gospel, so why do they question what Luke documented about Paul in the book of Acts, including his encounters with Jesus and his acceptance by the other Apostles?

6. Unless you think Paul made up his whole story — which would raise a whole new set of issues — then his claims are just as authoritative as the Gospel writers.

For example, Luke was not a direct follower of Jesus but was a careful historian and under the tutelage of Paul.  Mark was not an eye-witness but leveraged Peter for his Gospel.  But Paul heard directly from Jesus.

7. Think about how much you know about the concept of grace and where that came from.  Do you really want to toss that out?

8. Jesus and Paul don’t disagree.  The clear trumps the unclear, but a Gospel writer’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings doesn’t trump Paul’s presentation of Jesus’ teachings.

9.  Much of Paul’s writings pre-date the Gospels.

So I don’t think Paul disagrees with what others documented directly and indirectly about Jesus, and even if they did you wouldn’t necessarily go with the Gospels.

Quoting Paul doesn’t make one a “Paulian” instead of a Christian, it just means you are quoting the word of God.  Don’t let anyone dismiss your claims because you quote Paul.

Just quote scripture, in context.  It’s all good.

We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.