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FAKE REVIVAL

“At a time when it should be vibrant and strong, the state of the Church is quavering and faltering. Jesus Christ has been sidelined as an addendum to the faith, no longer our “first love” (Rev. 2:4). As injustices increase and persecution looms, the spiritual condition of the Church is Laodicean: “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17), malnourished, starving, diseased, broken, lost and scattered (Ezekiel 34). For four decades prominent shepherds have neglected to issue clarion calls for solid biblical doctrine without compromise. Few have preached holy living according to Scripture. Psychology has replaced repentance. The evangelical media/publishing complex has spun a web of deceitful lusts, substituting sensuality for God’s Word. It is more lucrative to cater to the itching ear$$$ of sensationalism (1 Timothy 4:3). This is all happening at a time when many are praying for revival. Indeed, we are sorely in need of a revival — a real revival in Jesus Christ.

from Herescope:

Part 7B of Fake Awaken

    Read Part 7A: Fake Awaken

FAKE PROPHETS article seriesRead Part 1: The White Lab Coats

Read Part 2: The Fishbowl 

Part 3: Fake Normal

Part 4: Fake Choice

Part 5: Fake Enforcers

Part 6: Fake Fear

The original Reopen America Tour

By Sarah Leslie* & Gaylene Goodroad

Introduction: CHURCH & STATE TROUBLES

The focus of these reports is on our spiritual concerns (the Church), not the political issues (the State). Yet, for the past several years the State has been doing things that directly impacted the Church and this has provoked a response. 

We commenced a deep dive into researching the multiple unfolding political crises here in America and investigated how they were intersecting with Church matters. We were particularly intent to discover what is true factually versus what is false, spin, and narrative. The research was daunting due to the suppression of documentation and the clamp down on alternative voices across all of the political spectrum.[1] The very act of critically expressing a different point of view is now deemed suspicious. We learned that fact checkers are acting as fact suppressors. And we learned that conspiracy has been redefined to mean anything that falls outside the State-certified, Tech-sanctioned narratives. As someone cynically pointed out, Noah was a conspiracy theorist until it started raining.

The State of the State

We listened intently as salt-of-the-earth citizens raised serious political issues in public hearings and signed affidavits at the cost of losing their jobs, threats, stalking, doxxing, intimidation, lawsuits and smears to their good reputations. We were shocked to see highly qualified scientific and medical professionals, esteemed experts in their field, become targets — harassed, deplatformed, censured, fired, and worse, merely for suggesting alternate scientific paradigms. We have been saddened by the degradation of civil discourse, the loss of personal freedom and bodily autonomy, and the erosion of free speech. 

We ran into normal people in our daily lives — not radical kooks — who recounted how they had been cancelled, deplatformed, and frozen out of accounts, simply for expressing their opinion on social media. Through tears parents and grandparents in multi-ethnic families told us how much it hurt to be falsely labeled racists, bigots, extremists, and worse terms we can’t even use. We were shocked at the grotesque mischaracterizations of Christian believers and ordinary citizens by politicians, federal officials, and a malicious press. Then came the scary reports that the State was ramping up to criminalize nonconformists, including local garden-variety parents. In sum, the civic State is teetering on the precipice of despotism:

[Source] Read the NTAS Bulletin HERE [3]
[Source][4]

The State of the Church

At a time when it should be vibrant and strong, the state of the Church is quavering and faltering. Jesus Christ has been sidelined as an addendum to the faith, no longer our “first love” (Rev. 2:4). As injustices increase and persecution looms, the spiritual condition of the Church is Laodicean: “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17), malnourished, starving, diseased, broken, lost and scattered (Ezekiel 34). For four decades prominent shepherds have neglected to issue clarion calls for solid biblical doctrine without compromise. Few have preached holy living according to Scripture. Psychology has replaced repentance. The evangelical media/publishing complex has spun a web of deceitful lusts, substituting sensuality for God’s Word. It is more lucrative to cater to the itching ear$$$ of sensationalism (1 Timothy 4:3). This is all happening at a time when many are praying for revival. Indeed, we are sorely in need of a revival — a real revival in Jesus Christ.[5]

We are sad to report that we have been encountering bedraggled sheep everywhere we go. Pitiful souls are grasping for truth amidst a hodge-podge of skewed beliefs. The leaven of fake gospels is permeated throughout the Church. So many have verged off track from Scripture to follow conspiracy theorists, psy-op pundits, church growth gurus, prophecy fear-mongers and science fiction purveyors. Countless saints told us that they, or their family members, are entangled in the prickly brambles of sensory and substance addictions. 

It is any wonder that wolfish shepherds and fake prophets can so easily con, fleece, manipulate, deceive and mistreat the feeble sheep? Fed on a diet of spiritual junk food for decades, some are so malnourished that they cannot stand, much less “stand fast,” as a time of persecution rapidly comes upon us (1 Cor. 16:13).

Editor’s Note

We have strong sympathies with the causes of freedom and issues of civic integrity that form the backdrop to this report. We spent considerable time digging into the dishonest political shenanigans that went on. But the focus of this article series is what is happening to the Church, especially as it veers off into dangerous compromises.

RAT leader Mario Murillo on awakening the 7 mountains[6]

A Messy Mixture Corrupts the Message

Our narrow focus in this article series lies in the nexus of the Christian Right with grassroots political action. The political world is filled with snakes, fakes, spies, and betrayers. Political gamesters have their own insidious agendas for power. Novices who have entered the political realm may be unprepared for its traps and snares. Treachery is lurking everywhere. We ask: if Christians cannot discern the errors of their own errant shepherds how will they ever be able to spot liars, political plants, controlled opposition, false flag instigators, tricksters, and slick propagandists in the political realm? How will they resist infiltration, subterfuge, deception and corruption?!

Likewise, we are concerned for the earnest folks who are working side by side with evangelicals. These ordinary citizens may not realize that some of these evangelical groups hold very different endgame goals. American patriots are working to return to representative government and the constitutional freedoms exemplified in the Bill of Rights. The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and Word of Faith (WOF) spokesmen proclaim they are for the same thing. But these leaders also hold a contradictory agenda. They want to build their own Church/State “kingdom on earth.” They also desire a “Christian America,” which they envision as a prosperous utopia where they will rule. Below is the mystical eschatology taught by NAR self-proclaimed “apostles “and “prophets“ for decades:[7]…………

read the full article here.

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from The Christian Post:

Two years after being accused of sexual misconduct by several women, televangelist and Bible teacher Perry Stone is under investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, according to a report.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) has a list of at least nine alleged victims and has interviewed at least five people, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reports. 

The newspaper adds that a TBI spokesperson confirmed by email that the agency is investigating the Cleveland, Tennessee-based televangelist at the request of the district attorney general, Steve Crump, who has to decide if charges need to be pressed after the results of the investigation.

Citing multiple sources connected to Stone and his Perry Stone Ministries, the newspaper claimed in an earlier report that the Federal Bureau of Investigation began looking into sexual misconduct claims against the minister last November.

More than a dozen people connected or formerly connected to Stone’s ministry told the Chattanooga publication at the time that they were worried about what appeared to be a lack of accountability in the ministry.

Claims of inappropriate conduct involving “groping, unwanted kissing and showing women he was aroused” were first made in 2020.

Some expressed outrage that the board of directors at Voice of Evangelism, Stone’s international evangelistic outreach, did not involve law enforcement or fully investigate claims of misconduct against the televangelist.

Stone has sought to explain that the victims misinterpreted his social behavior which he described as normal in Italian culture.

“I am not a perfect man,” he said earlier, according to the newspaper. “People have taken me hugging and kissing them on the cheek wrong. I quit that. I’m Italian. My whole family holds hands, rubs backs. I didn’t know you can look at somebody and say, ‘Hey, how you doing?’ and they can take it wrong.”

He has also said that secular media cannot be trusted. “Over 32 years I have been involved with television. … I’m involved with media, I know how media works,” Stone said in a YouTube video, titled “The Truth Behind Today’s Media,” last December.

“It’s not always about what’s true or not, it’s about the advertising dollars,” he continued, explaining the relationship between the media and advertising and the need to make money.

“Information can be twisted by the god of this world so easily. So when you’re dealing with a Christian system who wants to be honest … secular individuals, it has been proven, they will give a false scenario and then you know, two, three years down the road come back and apologize for it and I don’t want to go into collusions and all that,” he said.

During a special service last November, when he tried to explain why some people were no longer with his ministry, an unidentified woman interrupted his address to suggest it was because he is a “nasty perv.”

“Why don’t you tell them the real reason why they left? Because you kept touching them,” she said before she was removed by security.

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The false Socialist narratives invaded compromised and Biblically blind churches via compromised “Shepherds” who were more eager to show their “love” for the world, rather than “rightly dividing the Word” and being persecuted for their faith!

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from Gallup:

Americans’ membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.

U.S. church membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937 and remained near 70% for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the 21st century.

As many Americans celebrate Easter and Passover this week, Gallup updates a 2019 analysis that examined the decline in church membership over the past 20 years.

Gallup asks Americans a battery of questions on their religious attitudes and practices twice each year. The following analysis of declines in church membership relies on three-year aggregates from 1998-2000 (when church membership averaged 69%), 2008-2010 (62%), and 2018-2020 (49%). The aggregates allow for reliable estimates by subgroup, with each three-year period consisting of data from more than 6,000 U.S. adults.

Decline in Membership Tied to Increase in Lack of Religious Affiliation

The decline in church membership is primarily a function of the increasing number of Americans who express no religious preference. Over the past two decades, the percentage of Americans who do not identify with any religion has grown from 8% in 1998-2000 to 13% in 2008-2010 and 21% over the past three years.

As would be expected, Americans without a religious preference are highly unlikely to belong to a church, synagogue or mosque, although a small proportion — 4% in the 2018-2020 data — say they do. That figure is down from 10% between 1998 and 2000.

Given the nearly perfect alignment between not having a religious preference and not belonging to a church, the 13-percentage-point increase in no religious affiliation since 1998-2000 appears to account for more than half of the 20-point decline in church membership over the same time.

Most of the rest of the drop can be attributed to a decline in formal church membership among Americans who do have a religious preference. Between 1998 and 2000, an average of 73% of religious Americans belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque. Over the past three years, the average has fallen to 60%.

Line graph. Changes in church membership among Americans who express a religious preference or affiliation. Between 1998 and 2000, 73% of religious Americans were members of a church, synagogue or mosque. That dipped to 70% between 2008 and 2010, and it fell to 60% between 2018 and 2020.

Generational Differences Linked to Change in Church Membership

Church membership is strongly correlated with age, as 66% of traditionalists — U.S. adults born before 1946 — belong to a church, compared with 58% of baby boomers, 50% of those in Generation X and 36% of millennials. The limited data Gallup has on church membership among the portion of Generation Z that has reached adulthood are so far showing church membership rates similar to those for millennials.

The decline in church membership, then, appears largely tied to population change, with those in older generations who were likely to be church members being replaced in the U.S. adult population with people in younger generations who are less likely to belong. The change has become increasingly apparent in recent decades because millennials and Gen Z are further apart from traditionalists in their church membership rates (about 30 points lower) than baby boomers and Generation X are (eight and 16 points, respectively). Also, each year the younger generations are making up an increasingly larger part of the entire U.S. adult population.

Still, population replacement doesn’t fully explain the decline in church membership, as adults in the older generations have shown roughly double-digit decreases from two decades ago. Church membership is down even more, 15 points, in the past decade among millennials.

The two major trends driving the drop in church membership — more adults with no religious preference and falling rates of church membership among people who do have a religion — are apparent in each of the generations over time.

Since the turn of the century, there has been a near doubling in the percentage of traditionalists (from 4% to 7%), baby boomers (from 7% to 13%) and Gen Xers (11% to 20%) with no religious affiliation.

Line graph. Changes in the percentage with no religious identification, by generation. Each generation of U.S adults has seen an increase in the proportion of the generation with no religious preference.

Currently, 31% of millennials have no religious affiliation, which is up from 22% a decade ago. Similarly, 33% of the portion of Generation Z that has reached adulthood have no religious preference.

Also, each generation has seen a decline in church membership among those who do affiliate with a specific religion. These declines have ranged between six and eight points over the past two decades for traditionalists, baby boomers and Generation X who identify with a religious faith. In just the past 10 years, the share of religious millennials who are church members has declined from 63% to 50%.

Line graph. Changes in church membership among those with a religious affiliation, by generation. There has been a seven-point decline in church membership, from 79% in 1998-2000 to 72% now, among traditionalists with a religious preference. There has been a six-point decline over the same period, from 71% to 65%, in church membership among baby boomers with a religious preference. There has been an eight-point decline in church membership among those in Generation X with a religious preference, from 68% to 60%. And there has been a 13-point decline since 2008-2010 among millennials with a religious preference, from 63% to 50%.

Church Membership Decline Seen in All Major Subgroups

As would be expected given the 20-point decline in church membership overall, the Gallup data show declines among all major subgroups of the U.S. population beyond age, with some differences in the size of that decline.

Among religious groups, the decline in membership is steeper among Catholics (down 18 points, from 76% to 58%) than Protestants (down nine points, from 73% to 64%). This mirrors the historical changes in church attendance Gallup has documented among Catholics, with sharp declines among Catholics but not among Protestants. Gallup does not have sufficient data to analyze the trends for other religious faiths.

In addition to Protestants, declines in church membership are proportionately smaller among political conservatives, Republicans, married adults and college graduates. These groups tend to have among the highest rates of church membership, along with Southern residents and non-Hispanic Black adults.

Over the past two decades, declines in church membership have been greater among Eastern residents and Democrats. Still, political independents have lower rates of church membership than Democrats do.

The smaller declines seen among conservatives and other subgroups are largely attributable to more modest change among older generations within those groups. For example, conservatives in older generations have shown drops in church membership of between five and 13 points since 1998-2000, compared with the 20-point change among all U.S. adults. However, the influence of generation is apparent, in that church membership is lower in each younger generation of conservatives than in each older generation — 51% of conservative millennials, 64% of conservative Gen Xers, 70% of conservative baby boomers and 71% of conservative traditionalists in 2018-2020 belong to a church.

Hispanic Church Membership

Church membership among Hispanic Americans in 2018-2020 was 37%, among the lowest for any major subgroup. Analysis of changes over time in Hispanic adults’ church membership is complicated by a shift in Gallup methodology to include Spanish-language interviewing in all surveys beginning in 2011. Church membership rates are significantly lower among Hispanic respondents interviewed in Spanish than among Hispanic respondents interviewed in English. Thus, a comparison of current Hispanic church membership to past membership would overstate the decline by virtue of comparing mixed-language Hispanics today to English-speaking Hispanics, alone, in the earlier period.

Implications

The U.S. remains a religious nation, with more than seven in 10 affiliating with some type of organized religion. However, far fewer, now less than half, have a formal membership with a specific house of worship. While it is possible that part of the decline seen in 2020 was temporary and related to the coronavirus pandemic, continued decline in future decades seems inevitable, given the much lower levels of religiosity and church membership among younger versus older generations of adults.

Churches are only as strong as their membership and are dependent on their members for financial support and service to keep operating. Because it is unlikely that people who do not have a religious preference will become church members, the challenge for church leaders is to encourage those who do affiliate with a specific faith to become formal, and active, church members.

While precise numbers of church closures are elusive, a conservative estimate is that thousands of U.S. churches are closing each year.

2017 Gallup study found churchgoers citing sermons as the primary reason they attended church. Majorities also said spiritual programs geared toward children and teenagers, community outreach and volunteer opportunities, and dynamic leaders were also factors in their attendance. A focus on some of these factors may also help local church leaders encourage people who share their faith to join their church.

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From Independent Sentinel:

When Klaus Schwab, the leader of the World Economic Forum and The Great Reset, talks about fusing the physical, digital, and biological world, he is also talking about microchipping everyone. First, microchips will be implanted in our clothes and eventually, our brains or skin.

Certainly, in the next ten years, everyone will be implanted with chips, he says. It will enable direct communication between our brain and the digital world.

Once chipped, we don’t need to do a thing to reach the digital world. It will be natural, notes the host.

Schwab says, “Yes, you talk and you say, ‘I want to talk and be connected with anyone now.’”

First, you will have personalized bots with AI, according to Schwab. The robot will not only be your “assistant for manual work,” but “it can be an intellectual partner for you.”

Okay, so I’m supposed to put an iPhone chip in my brain and be tied to the machines 24/7 and I can have robots for friends instead of humans. Great idea Schwab. Get lost.

Schwab wants to change what it means to be human.

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from The Register:

The charges against the 62-year-old Räsänen related to her comments in a 2004 pamphlet, her appearance on a 2018 television program, and a Twitter post in 2019.

The verdict in the closely watched trial of a Finnish Christian MP was announced on Wednesday. 

A court in Helsinki dismissed all charges against Päivi Räsänen, a physician and mother of five, and Juhana Pohjola, a bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland, after a free speech trial that drew international attention.

The court said in a unanimous 28-page ruling on March 30 that “it is not for the district court to interpret biblical concepts.”

It said that Räsänen had sought to “defend the concept of family and marriage between a man and a woman.” If some people found the statements offensive, it said, “there must be an overriding social reason for interfering with and restricting freedom of expression.”

It ordered the state to pay legal costs to the defense of more than 60,000 euros (over $66,000).

Räsänen said: “I am so grateful the court recognized the threat to free speech and ruled in our favor. I feel a weight has been lifted off my shoulders after being acquitted.”

“Although I am grateful for having had this chance to stand up for freedom of speech, I hope that this ruling will help prevent others from having to go through the same ordeal.” 

The charges against the 62-year-old Räsänen related to her comments in a 2004 pamphlet, her appearance on a 2018 television program, and a Twitter post in 2019.  

The Prosecutor General charged Räsänen, who served as Finland’s interior minister from 2011 to 2015, with incitement against a minority group, arguing that her statements were “likely to cause intolerance, contempt, and hatred towards homosexuals.”

The charge against Pohjola concerned his decision to publish Räsänen’s pamphletMale and Female He Created Them.

Finland is a country with a population of 5.5 million people, bordering Norway, Russia, and Sweden. Around two-thirds of the population belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, one of the country’s two national churches, alongside the Finnish Orthodox Church.

Räsänen, who was chairwoman of the Christian Democrats party from 2004 to 2015, is an active member of the Finnish Lutheran Church. But she questioned her church’s sponsorship of an LGBT pride event in 2019.

On June 17, 2019, she asked in a Twitter post how the sponsorship was compatible with the Bible, linking to a photograph of a biblical passage, Romans 1:24-27, on Instagram. She also posted the text and image on Facebook.

“The purpose [of] my tweet was in no way to insult sexual minorities. My criticism was aimed at the leadership of the church,” she told the journal First Things.

Discussing the tweet in court, she underlined that it was directed at Church leaders and concerned an important topic facing the Church.

Police began investigating Räsänen in 2019. She faced several police interviews and had to wait more than a year for the Prosecutor General’s decision. 

The International Lutheran Council described the decision to prosecute Räsänen and Pohjola  as “egregious.”

It said: “The vast majority of Christians in all nations, including Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, share these convictions. Would the Finnish Prosecutor General condemn us all? Moreover, shall the Finnish state risk governmental sanctions from other states based on the abuse of foundational human rights?”

Addressing the pamphlet, which described homosexuality as “a disorder of psycho-sexual development,” Räsänen told the court that she was asked to write a text outlining Lutheran teaching on sexuality for members of her church, from her viewpoint as a politician, doctor, and Christian.

She said that the pamphlet was outdated given changes in research and legislation since 2004. But she said that it should still exist as a document testifying to the discussions taking place at that time.

Crowds of supporters gathered outside the court during the trial. The American Pastor Andrew Brunson, who spent two years in detention in Turkey, flew to Finland to give Räsänen a prayer pledge of support signed by Christians worldwide, organized by the Family Research Council

A group of U.S. senators wrote on Jan. 24 to Rashad Hussain, the U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, expressing concern at the trial.

“We are greatly concerned that the use of Finnish hate speech law is tantamount to a secular blasphemy law,” they said. 

“It could open the door for prosecution of other devout Christians, Muslims, Jews and adherents of other faiths for publicly stating their religious beliefs.” 

The Christian legal group ADF International said that the prosecution argued in its closing statement that the word “sin” can be harmful.

“The Apostle Paul isn’t on trial here, but Räsänen is,” the prosecution reportedly said, calling for the defendants to be fined.  

Räsänen’s defense argued that a guilty verdict would damage free speech in Finland. They suggested that that trial had become a theological debate on the question “what is sin?”, which they said was an inappropriate topic for a court.

The defense cited the 1976 Handyside v United Kingdom case by the European Court of Human Rights, which said that freedom of expression extended to ideas that “offend, shock or disturb the state or any sector of the population.”

Paul Coleman, ADF International’s executive director, who was present on the first day of the trial on Jan. 24, commented: “I would characterize the day as a modern-day Inquisition or heresy trial and the heresy was that Päivi and Bishop Juhana were on trial against the new sexual orthodoxy of the day.”

The state prosecutor has seven days to decide whether to lodge an appeal.

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from Threadreader:

Until you understand that Marxism is Gnosticism (of the Satanic mode) dressed in scientism, you can’t understand it at all. It’s revenge against God (and your parents, and the existing society, all of which made you without your consent and thus caused your suffering) for Being. 

Marx compared Man to Prometheus, wrongly chained to the rock of Being and tortured thereupon, and said subsequently, quoting Prometheus from the myth, that he wished to cast down all of Olympus and the gods with it. He didn’t repeat the warning of Hermes that this is madness. 

Marx believed that Man makes Society makes Man makes Society, so he sees himself as Prometheus bringing the Gnostic light to Man so this process can be made conscious and intentional (thus, eugenicist). Society, under the thumb of the administering State, becomes demiurge.

Marxism is a Satanic, Gnostic theology where Man is made to realize he is his own Creator, his own true Sun that revolves around itself. Marx sees himself as the light-bringer, Lucifer, the Morning Star, that awakens this Gnostic consciousness and rebels against God and order. 

Rebellion is against the crime of Being itself, into which we are flung or thrown (Heidegger, Geworfenheit) without our consent or agreement, and which is a torment to us because we are suffering (as misfits). Marx sees God as false, a fiction created by Man to justify this state 

Ultimately, Marxism is an inversion of Christianity that replaces God as Logos with Man in his miserable Pathos, reason and truth to be replaced by the feeling of suffering and lived experience. Eyes come off the transcendence of Heaven and fixate upon the self-pitying navel.

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from Alistair Matheson:

Every Christian seems to know Matthew 11:28-29 – you know, the bit where Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weak and heavy laden … My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

But how many could tell you what He said immediately before it (- this one’s had me for weeks now)?:

“… No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him.”

Jesus is still, by the Holy Spirit, revealing the Father to people.

But not just to anyone.

Only to His friends. Yes, only His friends. Ipse dixit (He said it Himself).

But first, what is a friend?

Your friend is the one you disclose things to. We can’t go around sharing our deepest, most tender thoughts with all and sundry. Depending on the thought, we may just be asking for a kicking!

We share our deepest secrets and closest treasures with our best friends. In fact, how deeply we’re willing to go with someone is probably a measure of how close a friend they are.

Jesus was – and is – willing to go all all the way … with His friends. And His friends are those who are willing to go all the way with Him.

This is how He put it:

“… I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (Jn.‬ ‭15:15‬)

“All things.”

Now that’s all the way! Sharing everything the Father had told Him. These night-time walks up the hills, the pre-dawn meetings with the Father – the most powerful and significant things ever heard by Jesus in the deepest, darkest places – all revealed to His friends. Every word of it. Nothing held back. Full disclosure of Heaven’s best.

But then, these were the ones who’d left everything to follow Him. His friends.

It’s impossible to read John chapters 14 and 15, and miss Jesus’ understanding of what constitutes a friend … basically, His friends are those who love him, and demonstrate this love by obeying what He commands. The most obvious ways His friends outwork their love for Him is by doing right and loving each other too, sacrificially – that’s the proof of their friendship.

When Jesus finds friends like that, He tells them everything. Leaves nothing hidden. No riddles wrapped up in enigmas et cetera. No hide and seek. Nothing to do with being mystical or hyper-spiritual; just loving and obeying. (As Jesus put it elsewhere in John, “If anyone is willing to do my will, he will know of the teaching.”)

Are you a friend of Jesus?

Or is He just someone who’s useful?

“If you love Me, you’ll obey My commandments.” And His commands, as John also wrote, “are not burdensome.” He doesn’t ask the impossible; just to show we love Him by doing all to please Him.

I know what some people are thinking, and I’ve thought much about it myself, so let me try and tie all this in with grace …

There is, of course, the general, unconditional love of God – a God who loves simply because love is what He is. Love as a demonstration of His kindness, grace and mercy; no reflection on our merit. Yes, I get it.

But this here is love on another level.

The love that Jesus has for His friends, that we read about in these verses from Matthew and John, is not unconditional. It is very much conditional, and not so many experience it (- even though it’s available to everyone) …

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. … He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him … If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.” (Jn. 14:15, 21, 23‬)

I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to quote some of these words again. In fact, I’m doubly sorry for ‘shouting’! …

“… HE WHO LOVES ME WILL BE LOVED BY MY FATHER, AND I WILL LOVE HIM AND WILL DISCLOSE MYSELF TO HIM …”

This is not unconditional love; this is reciprocal love. The special love Jesus – and the Father – has for those who love Him back.

How sad if all we ever experience is the unconditional love of God.

The soul that has truly been touched by the love of Jesus cannot but love Him back.

That’s when we start to become … His friends.

And when we’re His friends, there’s no limit to how far He’s willing to take us, to go with us.

[MY STOP’S COMING UP …!]

Let me end by marvelling once more at the words I meant to begin with …

“… I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

Wow.

Just wow.

Nothing kept secret, nothing Jesus is not willing to share with His friends.

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from the Trinity Foundation:

(Photo: Former home of faith healer David Turner, from Realtor.com)

Donors, where is the money going?

When a televangelist’s ministry or pastor’s church owns a private jet, you can almost be certain the leader lives in a mansion. That is one of the lessons Trinity Foundation has learned from investigating religious fraud and excess for more than 30 years.

In April 2021 the Houston Chronicle’s Jay Root asked Trinity Foundation for assistance on an article series about church parsonages in Texas. Trinity Foundation compiled a list of megachurches and large media ministries in the state and then searched for parsonages and homes of pastors and ministry leaders.

Meanwhile, the Houston Chronicle examined the state tax code and filed open records requests with county appraisal districts seeking lists of parsonages.

Root’s thorough investigation uncovered startling evidence of pastors living extravagantly: “A months-long Houston Chronicle investigation of ministers’ tax-free residences found no shortage of extravagant homes in high-dollar locales. At least two dozen were worth over $1 million even using the artificially low values that exempt properties typically carry.”

If you are keeping track, that is at least 24 parsonages in Texas worth more than $1 million.

Trinity Foundation also investigated pastor and ministry housing in other states, discovering multi-million dollar homes of several televangelists and pastors who have received little media scrutiny. It’s time to present some of our findings.

Texas Church Parsonages and Pastor Owned Homes

Texas Televangelist Joel Osteen lives in the most expensive home we identified. Osteen, pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, owns a home in Houston appraised for almost $12 million. Real estate website Trulia estimates the 15,700 ft. mansion to be worth more than $14 million.

(Photo: Google Satellite view of Joel Osteen’s Houston home)

In 2019, Trinity Foundation learned that Osteen purchased a home in California. After an extensive investigation, we located the home in 2021 with the help of an informant.

In 2017, Osteen acquired the home in Newport Coast, CA which Trulia estimates is worth almost $7.4 million. The home, located near the Pacific Ocean, is registered to a limited liability company registered in Delaware.

Neither of Osteen’s homes would be classified as parsonages because they are not owned by his church and are not tax-exempt. Osteen could afford them because he receives book royalties.

In 2009, World Magazine reported, “Osteen’s first book, 2005’s Your Best Life Now, has sold an estimated 10 million copies-enough to get a $13 million advance from his publisher for his second book, Become a Better You.”

Read the full article here.

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