Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Can Our Credibility Be Restored After Being Sullied by a Hacker?

Joe Ortiz' Emails, Blogs &
Web Sites Have Been Hacked, Big Time! Why?

     While searching the Internet to better understand the insidious act of hacking a person’s email accounts, their blogs, web and network sites, I ran across an article that stated: “Privacy woes continue to plague Face book this week following the revelation that a spam campaign is hijacking user accounts and posting messages on the Wall feature of user profiles.”
     I could relate to this because this past weekend I was a victim of an immense hacking attack I never thought I would ever experience. The sad but ironical aspect about the headline above is that the article was written on March 31, 2008 by Negar Salek in the SC (For IT Security Specialists) Magazine’s web site. Almost two years ago! I’m not na├»ve about Internet Security issues, I try to keep up with the numerous PC protection programs and I am extremely diligent about cleaning my PC at least twice a week.        
     Nevertheless, I was HACKED big time.
     The more horrific aspect is that all the folks on my email address books (over some 2000 names) were all sent a “Help” email under my email addresses to send me money because I was supposedly robbed of my wallet, credit cards, cell phones, laptop and other items at gun point while supposedly vacationing in London, England. To make matters worse, I was really vacationing for a few days in Palm Springs, California and did not have access to a computer to alert my contacts as soon as I found out this devious ploy had been launched on February 19, 2010.
     My daughter Christen was the first to alert me of this attack when she called me at 7:30 AM on the 20th: “Dad? What are you doing in London?” Then she burst out laughing because she knew I was already in Palm Springs and we were going to connect later that day to enjoy a barbecue at my brother Pete’s house in nearby Indio, California. She went on and read me the “Help” message that was sent out while at the same time my wife Martha checked her Blackberry and read the same message. “Yup” I was HACKED big time.
     Three days before this incident I had worked for about 24 hours (which also cost me about $300 in protection software) to fix and clean up another major virus attack (which restored my PC back to normal, if that is ever possible); but, I never imagined the attack also included the “Help” ruse launched against friends, relatives and colleagues.
     After my daughter and I spoke, my cell phone continued to ring for the next 48 hours and still hasn’t stopped yet. The calls came from many loving and beautiful friends, family members and colleagues from throughout the country who were worried I was stranded in London. I told them the “Help” message that went out under my name was a hoax, and told them to disregard it.
     At the barbecue party my daughter and I searched my web sites and email directories and could not access any of them. I was frozen out completely and there was no way I could warn any of my contacts as to what had happened. I was able to communicate with several friends and asked them to at least tell the folks in Face Book that I was not in London and to not fall or respond to the hoax. It helped! I just prayed and asked God to protect my contacts; unfortunately (so far) one person responded and sent the hacker $100 to the Western Union office in London, England. I apologized profusely but he told me not to worry; it’s only $100, but, more importantly, he was glad I was OK.
     As an author and a blogger, the Internet is an obviously great venue to promote my published books and to also share my many years of Bible studies with friends, family, colleagues and even strangers, which is my ministry. Credibility is crucial for any ministry (and individual ministers as well) and I hope I have conducted myself in a professional and integrity-filled manner. My pain with this attack is that my credibility has been sullied to a certain degree, where probably some of my contacts immediately deleted me from their “contacts” list after seeing the despicable “Help” email message. I don’t blame them. Some folks emailed me on my newly created face book account (which I quickly created to send out warnings to former contacts on the compromised account I had before the attack), who apologized to me for even thinking I would stoop so low as to send out the “Help” email message. Nevertheless, my reputation has been besmirched.
     I have always believed the greatest asset one can ever have is a good reputation; better than even power, fame and riches. Those eventually dissipate, but good or bad reputations stay within the annals of history forever!
     As a veteran of many years as a journalist, radio and television talk show host, news reporter and columnist (and now a blogger of theological issues), I have always tried to be as ethical as is humanly possible. This attack has not helped my credibility; however, as some of my dearest and closest friends have consoled and encouraged me since the attack, they remind me that the devil does not like it when he is discredited (which is my goal as a blogger) and he and his demons will do anything within their powers to bring me down. But they can’t!
     I have no idea who is truly responsible for this attack. It may a single individual who lives in London. England, or it may be a cabal of anarchists who have launched an attack on bloggers who share God's words and wisdom throughout the world. Whoever it is, we have been promised that he or she or they will pay (big time) in the long haul!
     My friends reminded me over and over again of that one Bible verse that assures us that we will eventually be vindicated for our efforts and to continue the fight: “Greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world, (1 John 4:4)”
     Although we may come under many more attacks in our ministerial journey, the biblical truths and wisdom found in God’s word that we preach and share with mankind will prevail in the end.

Joe Ortiz is the author of The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation (published by Author House). For more information, click on Joe Ortiz

Great Tribulation Has Begun ~ Click Me

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What Is Prophecy?

     One of the more rewarding aspects to blogging (for me) is it provides me the opportunity to have various colleagues (and dear friends) as "guest authors" ~ especially if their contributions chime with my doctrinal positions. It is rare to find a person who has been able to present a strong hermenuetical case concerning my belief that much (if not all) of the "predicting" of future events (which is rampant on media and the Internet) to come, based on the "predicters" so-called ability to discern news items and thereby call it "Prophecy."
      The word "Prophecy" has evolved from its original meaning and much of the material that has been produced for centuries concerning events anticipated in these "last days" (such as earthquakes, storms, political upheavel in certain countries) has distorted God's word to the point that such activities (such as date-settings) has lead the church down the wrong path.
     I write much about this problem, having studied the issue for over 35 years. And yet, a dear friend of mine wrote an article that speifically points out the fallacy of implying that to  "prophesy" means predicitng future events. With that in mind, read (and download) this article and use it as a resource when any of your friends and colleagues believe they have been blessed with the Holy Spirit gift of predicting future events. Please meet, Brother Roger Hubbard:

What Is Prophecy?
Roger Hubbard

(Originally posted on The End Times Passover web site on 2/7/08)

Prayer is man talking to God in a known tongue.
The gift of tongues is man talking to God in a supernatural language. In I Cor. 14:2, Paul says:     “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit”.

Prophecy is:
1)              God talking to man- a supernatural utterance in a known or familiar language.
2)              A merging of the divine and the human.
3)              A cooperative effort/intimate partnership between the Holy Spirit and you. One partner is perfect the other is imperfect (Sometimes we don’t prophesy with 100% high fidelity).
4)              The result of a supernatural overflow. The product of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
5)              The actual living testimony of Jesus. In Rev. 19:10 it says: “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”.
6)              God’s direct channel to us. His “pipeline” to us. It allows God to communicate with man in the same manner prayer allows man to communicate with God.

Old Testament prophecy dealt with every aspect of Jewish life including the spiritual, messianic, social, political, economic, military, environmental, family, health, and agricultural issues. It also exposed national sin and publically affirmed national rulers. Prophecy addressed all manner of local, regional, national and world issues, especially in the affairs of Israel, its neighbors and even its enemies.

Did you know that God considered Abraham a prophet? When Abimelech King of Gerar took Abraham’s wife Sarah- God spoke to him in a dream and said: “Now then restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you, and all that are yours.”

Did you know that God promises to raise-up prophets? Moses, when talking about the forbidden pagan practices of the people they were about to dispossess, said in Gen 18:15: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed”

New Testament prophecy, in contrast to Old Testament prophecy, is highly seasoned with grace, love and mercy. It reflects two things: The redemptive nature of God (it aims to redeem and restore everything lost in the fall and to return to a new Kingdom era) and the personality of Jesus Christ (Sacrificial love incarnate). In I Cor. 14:1, the great chapter on gifts of prophecy and tongues, Paul says: Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.” All New Testament prophecy strengthens, encourages and comforts. In I Cor. 14:3 Paul says: But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” This is a guideline on Prophecy directly from the Apostle Paul. Prophecy always conveys hope and increases faith. Prophecy reminds us of His unending love and grace in guiding our lives, while imploring our continued trust in His wisdom. Prophecy challenges us to obey His commands.

New Testament prophecy is not:
The gift is not designed to contain revelation (God says statements), direction (You should statements), prediction (God will statements) or chastisement (God punishes statements). It is essentially forth-telling: an immediate explanation of the facts as God sees them. It is a nonrevelatory, nondirective, nonpredictive, and noncorrective  gift.
Traditionally, prophets: Give warnings.  In I Sam. 8:9:  The Lord told Samuel, “Now then, hearken to their voice; only, you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” This was a classic “And how did that work out for you?” type of question. God is already laughing in advance.

Prepare the People: In Isaiah 40:3 is the classic : “A voice cries: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord…and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” Amen, isn’t that what we are doing here tonight, preparing the way for the glory of the Lord to be revealed?   Hallelujah!

Point to a time of Restoration and Restitution which means: The Great Giving Back. In Acts 3:21 it says: …”And that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.” Restitution of all Satan has stolen from us!

Along with Apostles reveal the Secret Mysteries of Christ. In Eph 3:5 Paul says: “When you read this you can perceive my insight into the mystery, of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the spirit…”

Help Prepare the Foundation: In Eph. 2: 19-22 Paul says: “So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” WOW! That’s a big wow!

Tell the People What God is Doing. In Amos 3:7 it says: “Surely the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”

The New Testament gift of prophecy has a single purpose. It edifies, exhorts and comforts the believer. In I Cor. 14:4 Paul says: “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.”

Foundational Gift:
Prophecy is the second of two foundational gifts of the Holy Spirit. In  I Cor. 12: 28 Paul says: “And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.

Available to All:
The gift of prophecy is available to all Spirit-filled believers. In I Cor. 14:31 Paul says: “For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.” Any spirit-filled Christian can hear from God and speak for God (forth-telling). The gift of prophecy is merely one of the supernatural benefits of His marvelous new covenant with the church, and it is available to you today. In Acts 2:17 Peter quotes from the prophet Joel and says: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy.” What part of “ALL” don’t we understand? In Acts 21: 8,9 Paul says: “Leaving the next day, we reached Caesaria and stayed at the house of Phillip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.”

The Amos Mandate:
In Amos 7: 14,15 it says:
Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go prophesy to my people Israel’. Amos was not a professionally trained or educated prophet of any kind but one of the brethren.

Highly Desirable:
As Paul says: “But eagerly desire the greater gifts” (I Cor. 12:31). “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy (I Cor. 14:1). “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified (I Cor. 14:5). “Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt (I Thess. 5:19; As it is disallowed in some churches)

An Aid to Evangelism:
“But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand (tongues) comes in while everyone is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (I Cor. 14: 24, 25; Catching the spirit of revival).

The Warning Ministry of the Holy Spirit:
Sometimes the warning ministry of the Holy Spirit is given by a prophet. In Acts 21: 10, 11 it says: “After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, the Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jews of Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and hand him over to the Gentiles’.” (This is an example of forth-telling: an immediate explanation of the facts as God sees them).

A.    Prophecy is a supernatural utterance in a known or familiar tongue.
B.    It is the speaking forth by man of the mind and counsel of God.
C.    It is the divine declaration of what cannot be detected through the five senses or human reasoning.

How Does the Gift of Prophecy Operate? Four Ways.
1  Always by faith. In Rom. 12:6 Paul says: “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.” To prophesy one must have an aggressive, bold hungry faith. A faith that wants to bless others. A faith that wants to be used by God. How do Spirit-filled Christians prophesy? Always by faith! Every time you prophesy, you prophesy by faith. 
2  Always in love. Love is God’s greatest motivator. To prophesy effectively one must be motivated by a love for God and His people. Faith works by love. In Gal 5:6 Paul reaffirms this: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Prophesy should always be motivated by love.
3  Always by accepting risks and possible failures. Also by embracing experimentation, trial and error and practice. Overcoming the ever-present temptation to quit. Faith is spelled R-I-S-K. There is always risk in obeying God.
4  By understanding and accepting that prophesy is always the result of total submission to the Holy Spirit. Peter says in II Pet. 1:21: “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” And in II Pet. 1:20 it never came by human impulse: “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation.”

Not Surprisingly, Prophecy must be prophesied.
My former pastor told me that if I received a Word, speak it forth. Don’t bother to analyze, interpret, judge for timeliness or appropriateness. God just wants you to be faithful in delivering and repeating what his Holy Spirit has imparted. The intended form of the gift (its delivery or presentation) separates it from the other eight gifts of the spirit (I Cor. 12: 8-10). Prophecy is felt as a sanctified urge, a stirring, a prompting, a thought, a sudden inspiration, an inner sense or a knowing. I know it in my spirit. I know that I know that I know. It will always take faith to prophesy each and every time you are called upon to do so.

Prophecy: Four Types
There are four types of prophecy listed in the Bible: the prophecy of Scripture, the “spirit” of prophecy, the “gift” of prophecy, and the “office of prophet.” These are defined as:

I.               The Prophecy of Scripture:
The prophecy of scripture means the “closed” canonized prophesies found in the Bible. Peter says in II Pet. 1:20: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” This is the highest level of prophecy: errorless, perfect, “forever settled in heaven”. These prophecies are a part of the infallible orthodoxy of scripture. Examples are the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

II.             The Spirit of Prophecy:
It is a prophetic atmosphere which can inspire any believer to prophesy. In Rev. 19:20:  John says: “For the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.”

Examples are:
The Day of Pentecost:
In Peter’s Pentecostal sermon in Acts 2:15-18, Peter said: “These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’” So… if you want revival- prophesy.

Twelve men at Ephesus:
In Acts 19:6-7 Paul baptizes John’s disciples who had not heard of the Holy Spirit: “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.”

The Corinthian Example:
In I Cor. 14: 29-33 Paul says: “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”

III.          The Gift of Prophecy:
This is a distinct manifestation of the Holy Spirit given specifically to certain Spirit-filled believers. In I Cor. 12:10 Paul says: “To another… the gift of prophecy.” Not all Christians will have the “gift of prophecy” This “gift” empowers a believer to operate more frequently, more consistently, and with greater accuracy in prophecy than one who occasionally comes under the “spirit of prophecy”. Some would call this level of prophecy a ministry gift (Rom. 12:6, proportional to faith). Still, this level of gifting does not qualify one to be called a prophet. Examples are Phillip’s daughters (Acts 21: 8,9) and the twelve men at Ephesus.

IV.         The Office of Prophet:
This is a five fold, ascension gift. In Eph 4:8 Paul says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” It is a gift of church government: In Eph 4:11 Paul says: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers…. A prophet is an anointed and authoritative “equipper” to the body of Christ. He regularly functions in numerous gifts of the Holy Spirit. Along with the gift of prophecy, a prophet will emphasize all the revelatory gifts of the Holy Spirit; word of knowledge, word of wisdom, and discerning spirits. Clear revelation, accurate prediction, strategic direction, and necessary correction are a regular part of a prophet’s spiritual weaponry such as Agabus (Acts 11:28). In Acts 13:1, the Amplified Bible describes the prophets at Antioch as, “…inspired interpreters of the will and purposes of God…”.

Cessationist arguments are the false demonic arguments of devils which want the Body of Christ to be blind spiritually. The prophets have not died out. Watch out church, here come the prophets!

In Acts 15:32 “And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, exhorted the brethren with many words and strengthened them.”

Finally, many years ago I prayed to the Lord: “Lord, where have the spiritual gifts of prophecy, signs and miracles and wonders gone?” And he answered me: “They are at your feet where you lay them down.” And I was crushed and after a while I said: “Why Lord?” and He answered me: “You forgot about the Spiritual Tool Box.”  And I remembered that everyone receives a Spiritual Tool Box and when you discover your purpose, you ask the Lord to give you each gift you need like tongues, prophecy, discernment, wisdom, healing, seeing signs etc and you keep from losing them by keeping them in your spiritual tool box. Have you asked Him to refill yours lately?


Roger Hubbard 2.jpg
Roger W. Hubbard, Ph.D is a Consultant and Formerly Directorate Director, Environmental Pathophysiology Directorate, U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. He is retired to Nova Scotia, is an avid hunter and fisherman, and teaches and writes about things theological.

For information about this blog and the web sites that have information about books written by Joe Ortiz, please click on Joe Ortiz

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Theory Is the Prevalent Doctrine of Today’s Church!

     Theory! What is Theory? According to most dictionaries, the word Theory basically means that a set of statements or principles are devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
     Theory is also abstract reasoning; speculation: a decision based on a belief or principle that guides action or assists comprehension or judgment. For example, police stake out a house that was recently burglarized on the theory that criminals usually return to the scene of the crime. Basically a theory is an assumption based on limited information or knowledge; and is actually more conjecture than proven fact.
     Sadly, this is the current trend amid the theological community as many of us view the incessant and predominating activity by the so-called “end times prophets” and the myriad of eschatology pundits who have staked their own pulpits primarily in the Christian publishing community and more rampant on the Internet. While there may be some accounting in the Christian publishing community concerning the material being considered, the Internet prophets have no accountability whatsoever and their web sites and blogs can pretty much present what they want. I can be accused of committing the same crime!
     However, most of the material I blog has a considerable amount of research behind it and I ask my readers to undertake the task (the time involved of) pouring over hundreds and even thousands of historical and academic material to arrive at the same conclusions I did, that can absolutely be verified. Unlike “end time” pundits (actually, I call them theorists) machine-gun spray their beliefs (usually handed down to them by other theorists) all over the Internet, many with beautifully and professionally designed web sites. Some of them are actually kind of spooky and one can well imagine they haven’t a basic hermeneutical clue if what they purport has any validity whatsoever. Those novice pundits can be seen instantly as the runaway Chicken Little of today, of which we have had since time began (Think of a nude dude covered by a sandwich board)!
     What freightens me more than those “Repent, the world ends tomorrow” whackos are those very clever, professionally designed web sites that feature Dr. So and So, who primarily adds his (or her) Theology degree after their name, and spew esoteric theology phrases (Preterist, millennialism, historical premillennialist, pre-wrath, Messianic, et al), of which most readers (or even adherents) have no clue what they mean. I call this theological smokescreen, which is a ploy mainly used to sell their books (another allegation that has been cast upon me). But at least (if I use big, esoteric words like the aforementioned), I try to explain what they mean the best I can. To that effort, I have been accused of being verbose (long-winded or rambling), so there is no winning here. But, I digress. (See what I mean?)
     Without getting into a major debate concerning the prevailing “end times” doctrine of today’s Christian church, if one takes the time to read its history (especially of the last two centuries) they will find that we have had amid our society “sandwich board” preachers who predicted the end of the world on a daily basis.
     Names like William Miller for instance. Miller, a former military man who became a pastor after service to his country, claimed to have received visions from God about the imminent return of Jesus Christ to earth:
    “My principles in brief, are, that Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, cleanse, purify, and take possession of the same, with all the saints, sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844,” Miller is quoted.
     [March 21, 1844, passed without incident, and further discussion and study resulted in the brief adoption of a new date (April 18, 1844) based on the Karaite Jewish calendar (as opposed to the Rabbinic calendar). Like the previous date, April 18 passed without Christ's return. Miller responded publicly, writing, "I confess my error, and acknowledge my disappointment; yet I still believe that the day of the Lord is near, even at the door."
     Sadly, we have had date setters for years, an action that was denounced by Christ in Matthew 24:36, when he answered His apostle when asked about His return: No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Yet, prognosticators (date setters) continue to this day!
     Others would say, “Yes, but today it’s different. We see prophecy being fulfilled in media on a daily basis,” they crow! “Look at the movies like “2012” and “The DaVinci Code” and all the things that have been happening in the state of Israel.”
     Theory! Theory! Theory! And there are thousands of elements that contribute to this “end times” madness and preoccupation by the majority of the church. This is one of the main reasons our youth are pulling away from the traditional church, because its focus is not on its primary assignment! Yes, Jesus told us to broadcast the goods news (the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice to atone for he sins of mankind), and this has (and is being done, for the most part) throughout the world! Through its early missionary endeavors, the church sent out its salvation armies to almost every corner of the earth. Countries and democratic societies have been born through the Gospel in heretofore heathen regions. What many missionaries also discovered was the extremely poor economic and social conditions that still exist there today, which need to be addressed as we speak. Instead (especially here in the United States of America) the church’s mission has basically come to a screeching halt.

     Christians in the US are more concerned about their own personal finances and community status (many preoccupied with personal issues like physical augmentation, beauty enhancement, new health and diet fads, personal love and romance issues, job advancement and security) rather than doing what the church is supposed to do. Work and employment are important, no one denies this. But should the work and its environment dictate our mission as to how we do Christ’s work? We place a greater importance on how we look and dress for work than the mission at hand.
     Sadly, one of our biggest preoccupations is food! We can understand that! The incessant strategy by the money-making elite is to indundate today's society with the subject of food, food, and more food, while others throughout the world go hungry! America is the fattest nation in the world!
     Now, not all workers (and their jobs) can be considered “ministerial” but Jesus told us that whatever we do, do it as unto the Lord and we will be blessed. Whether a garbage collector, landscaper, business executive of Bible salesman, whatever we do we do it as unto the Lord, not ourselves nor for the amount of money we can earn.
     But, yet, the works of the church today are dry, passive, obligatory, clocking in, a lunch bucket mentality that we need to attend services or we will lose favor with God. To keep parishioners pumped up and excited, leaders use the same white flag tactics our government uses, instilling fear and urgency that they could be Raptured to heaven at any moment, because the Lord will come as a thief in the night.
     Therefore, church leaders preach (about 90% of the sermons) around prosperity, double your money by giving back to the church until it hurts. It seems like most churches are struggling due to dwindling membership and their sole focus is on using whatever techniques they can employ to keep them afloat. Most of the money collected actually goes to feed the pastor, his family and his staff. This demonstrates (to me especially) the lack of faith by the leadership that God will provide if they would only focus on delivering the true Gospel to a dying church!
     Yet, the only thing leaders give back in return is the titillating news they have gleaned from CNN that the crisis in the Middle East is escalating as never before and the increase of earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunami and the political instability throughout the world means that Jesus should return any day now. Therefore, if they increase their tithes and offerings, they assure an ignorant church they will be Raptured and at the same time relieve them of their guilt feelings because they in essence are selling salvation to their flock rather than provoking it to repent, pray unceasingly and be about the business of charity to their neighbors instead of the church’s administration. Secular entities (such as the motion picture industry and media, and politicians running for office) feed into this frenzy as they fan these flames to keep Christians occupied with so-called “feel good” church activities and entertainment that have nothing to do with God’s will whatsoever. The circus atmosphere of today’s church fills the vacuous void in the heart of way too many of God’s disciples, knowing better that a greater calling has been revealed for ages.
     The guilty parties, those titillating preachers and teachers like Tim LaHaye, Hal Lindsey, John Hagee and thousands more Christian Zionists who influence God’s children into an alarmist stupor, neutralizing them from having any positive effect on the immediate needs of a suffering world, will be held accountable. I have been challenged and negated by many who read my blogs for taking such a confrontational attitude towards these writers and preachers (some even charge me with slander), but my singling these individuals is no more or no less a warning against those who rob the poor, who get rich off the masses, who use deceit in their marketing techniques to promote lasciviousness while calling it freedom of choice, or those who advocate the mistreatment of our fellow human beings and call it patriotism.
     More importantly, we believe these myths neutralize Christians from effectively serving God in areas that are more important to him than political issues, such as feeding the poor, orphans and widows and healing the physically and emotionally damaged souls that reside next door to us.
     Thousands of American children go hungry today, while single parents struggle to care for their kids, husbands leaving wives for younger woman, former churched woman leaving husbands for that new and young evangelical preacher who has swept her off her feet with his charismatic persona, one that makes her feel more significant to Christ because her husband is bound by the sins of alcohol and this is her way out. Yet, the preachers give rousing sermons that extrapolate funds from their parishioners they say will be going to missionaries in Africa, disaster relief funds for victims in Haiti, all the while these injured souls right next door to us, our neighbors and relatives in pain, go unattended.
     Yet, these ersatz prophets continue to feed the frenzy, making predictions that the Rapture is right around the corner, that the news on CNN confirms prophecies they read in Ezekiel 38, Daniel 12, and Revelations 19. They fail to realize that the word prophecy does not mean predicting future events, but rather it’s proclaiming the will of God. The prophesying they think they are performing no longer exists. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John the Baptist arrived on the scene to announce our true King is here, (Matthew 11:13). All that God wanted His creation to know about the future and His soon-to-come-Kingdom was completed and went no further than John the Baptist’s testimony.
     Once again, one of the great masters of theology, Matthew Henry, an English commentator on the Bible and Presbyterian minister from the 17th Century, ever so eloquently explains what the word prophecy truly means, and its roll in today’s predicting circus that parades the airwaves, non-stop:
   "In John the Old Testament dispensation began to die, v. 13. So long that ministration continued in full force and virtue, but then it began to decline. Though the obligation of the law of Moses was not removed till Christ’s death, yet the discoveries of the Old Testament began to be superseded by the more clear manifestation of the kingdom of heaven as at hand. Because the light of the gospel (as that of nature) was to precede and make way for its law, therefore the prophecies of the Old Testament came to an end (finis perficiens, not interficiens—an end of completion, not of duration), before the precepts of it; so that when Christ says, all the prophets and the law prophesied until John, he shows us, First, How the light of the Old Testament was set up; it was set up in the law and the prophets, who spoke, though darkly, of Christ and his kingdom. Observe, the law is said to prophesy, as well as the prophets, concerning him that was to come. Christ began at Moses (Luke 24:27); Christ was foretold by the dumb signs of the Mosaic work, as well as by the more articulate voices of the prophets, and was exhibited, not only in the verbal predictions, but in the personal and real types. Blessed be God that we have both the New-Testament doctrine to explain the Old-Testament prophecies, and the Old-Testament prophecies to confirm and illustrate the New-Testament doctrine (Hebrews 1:1); like the two cherubim, they look at each other.
     The law was given by Moses long ago, and there had been no prophets for three hundred years before John, and yet they are both said to prophecy until John, because the law was still observed, and Moses and the prophets still read. Note, the scripture is teaching to this day, though the penmen of it are gone. Moses and the prophets are dead; the apostles and evangelists are dead (Zec. 1:5), but the word of the Lord endures for ever (1 Pt. 1:25); the scripture is speaking expressly, though the writers are silent in the dust.
     Secondly, how this light was laid aside: when he says, they prophesied until John, he intimates, that their glory was eclipsed by the glory which excelled; their predictions superseded by John’s testimony, Behold the Lamb of God! Even before the sun rises, the morning light makes candles to shine dim. Their prophecies of a Christ to come became out of date, when John said, He is come!" (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Book of Matthew 11:13).
     Does God rejoice when self-appointed prophets go about making these types of predictions? Predicting future events based on a theory or an erroneous interpretation of scripture? We think not; at least not about scripture in the Bible from either the Old and or the New Testaments. It is written that Jesus Christ will return to establish an eternal Kingdom here on earth. Prognosticators (secular or otherwise) have for centuries proffered predictions about myriad of topics, mostly about The Return. With the exception of Old Testament prophets (up to John the Baptist, that messiah Jesus would arrive in the flesh, during the first and second advents, have already been recorded. We can add nothing new to this. If any self-proclaimed prophet on television, radio or the Internet tells you to begin storing food and supplies, to get ready for Armageddon, that he or she has rightly interpreted the news on CNN, or had a vision, a dream or a direct revelation from God about a future and specific event that is about to happen in the Middle East, ushering Armageddon, immediately pray for that person because he or she definitely needs help.
     Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, (2 Peter 1:20-21 NIV):

Many blessings to you and yours!

For more information about Joe's two recently published books that refute the Left Behind and PreTribulation Rapture, please visit our other web sites and blogs by clicking on Joe Ortiz

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Moratorium on Religious Activity

Search me O God and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)
     I suppose my suggestion will not receive much serious attention, but I should like to suggest that we Bible-believing Christians announce a moratorium on religious activity and set our house in order preparatory to the coming of an afflatus from above.
     So carnal is the body of Christians which composes the conservative wing of the Church, so shockingly irreverent is our public services in some quarters, so degraded are our religious tastes in still others, that the need for power could scarcely have been greater at any time in history.
I believe we should profit immensely were we to declare a period of silence and self-examination during which each one of us searched his heart and sought to meet every condition for a real baptism of power from on high.  The Pursuit of Man, pp94, by A.W. Tozer.    
     "Lord, I do pray that you would move in the hearts of leaders in churches everywhere to prompt this time of silence and self- examination. So often activity feeds on itself and it takes a conscious effort to step off the treadmill to re-evaluate. Stimulate our hearts, and quiet us today to hear from you. Amen."