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Stop trashing Lakewood, read the real story

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Lakewood Church, the Houston mega-church led by celebrity pastor Joel Osteen has suffered a lot of criticism–most of it aimed at Osteen–for not doing enough to help victims of Hurricane Harvey and unprecedented flooding.

But much of the criticism is unwarranted–or even spurred by jealousy.

It’s true that Lakewood Church cancelled services for Sunday, just after the category 4 storm lashed the coast and dumped nearly 50 inches of rain on southeast Texas. What church wouldn’t have done that–especially one with 16,000 seats and people driving from miles to get there?

Osteen’s most ardent detractors hit him for this tweet:

People who don’t like Christians, or Osteen in particular, jumped right to the conclusion that if the tweet says to pray, it automatically excludes doing anything concrete to help. That’s a ridiculous assumption, especially since Lakewood has been known in the past to provide aid to victims of previous floods. (Houston

The church announced it was inaccessible due to flooding, prompting area activists to try to verify those claims.

Lynne Gabriel, a Houston fashion blogger, tweeted these pictures showing that the church’s lower level is indeed flooded.

Another Twitter user, Keaton Milburn, also tweeted images (some of them are the same pictures).

Lakewood reached out to Faithwire Monday evening to set the record straight.

Don Iloff, a spokesperson for Lakewood Church, told Faithwire late on Monday night that the house of worship has been in touch with city and county officials in recent days and has been planning outreach efforts.

But considering that the church’s building — inside what was once the Compaq Center sports arena — is prone to flooding, Iloff said that Lakewood chose to instead focus its energies on the ways in which the church could serve as a food and resource distribution center, among other outreach efforts.

Iloff noted that the bottom floor of the building is historically prone to flooding, making any decision to use it problematic.

“The fact is that we knew that we could not put anyone on the bottom floor,” he said, noting that the first floor is where the most space exists for housing flood victims. “We were very concerned about putting anyone on that bottom floor given the history.”

One major detail everyone seems to have ignored:

Iloff: “The [church] doors have never been locked.”

On Monday, the church tweeted:

And true to form, people began to bring donations, because that’s what Christians do.

Lakewood’s Facebook page noted Tuesday that the church’s “doors are open to anyone needing shelter,” and that they are needing volunteers and donated items.


It appears that Lakewood’s, and the Osteens’, critics aren’t really upset at the speed the church responded to the disaster. They were more interested in the Osteens wealth.

I’m not a pastor or a psychologist, but could it be jealousy? (That’s a sin.)

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Culture and Religion

PragerU: Does race really matter?

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PragerU Does race really matter

Leftwing talk about race frightens Dennis Prager and it should frighten you as well. There is a dangerous precedent being set by the left that is creating division where it no longer exists. Unfortunately, it definitely did exist in the recent past, but modern America generally does not look at race as much of an indicator anymore EXCEPT when the left makes it an issue. This is ironic, of course, because in their quest to supposedly eliminate racism, the left tends to make race a bigger issue than it needs to be.

We hear about cultural appropriations, certain races whose lives apparently matter more than others, and the deconstruction of our nation’s history based upon cultural norms from the time that are no longer acceptable now. Yes, many of America’s first people were racist. Some even owned slaves. Even after slavery was abolished, we experienced racial divides that continued through the civil rights movement all the way into modern times. But today, those divides are no longer as prominent. A black President was elected with a strong number of non-black voters behind him. Congress is more racially and sexually diverse than ever in our country’s history. We have more CEOs of major corporations who aren’t just “old white guys” than ever.

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America is making strong strides to effectively eliminate racial inequality, but the push to keep the divide as wide as possible isn’t coming from the general conservative side of the political aisle. Yes, there are white supremacists who claim a portion of the right-leaning mantle, but they are infinitesimal compared to the standard masses of conservatives who have seen beyond race. The real cultural and racial divides are being perpetuated by the left, and in particular by our leaders from the Democratic Party who cannot have a future if they do not play the race card incessantly.

This video by PragerU shows the stark difference between Dennis Prager and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). As she vies for votes by playing the race card, Mr. Prager calls out the real racism in America that’s coming from the left.

 


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What are the spiritual beings in the Bible?

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What are the spiritual beings in the Bible

Most people, even those who haven’t read the Bible, are likely familiar with it enough to know there are two primary groups being discussed: humans and God in his three forms, also known as the Trinity. Those who have read the Bible realize there are other groups of being as well. These are the “spiritual beings” of the Bible – angels, demons, and everything in between.

While I don’t always agree with everything taught by the folks at The Bible Project, most of their perspectives are excellent. More importantly, they’re able to break down the complex elements of the Bible and retell the stories in ways anyone can understand.

They’ve begun a new series focused on spiritual beings that I’m very hopeful will be enlightening and exegetically accurate. This is an important teaching to understand. While I’d recommend reading one of Michael Heiser’s books on the subject, those who aren’t ready for lengthy research should at least take a look at this or other teachings. It’s an important topic, one that gets much less attention than it deserves.

As we continue to work on our Principalities and Powers Podcast, it behooves us that more people are aware of the forces that we don’t necessarily see that are at work around us. This is why we’re hopeful about this new series from The Bible Project.

 


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The Catholic-Mulsim fraternity deal is anti-Biblical

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The Catholic-Mulsim fraternity deal is anti-Biblical

Before I get into the meat of this subject, it’s important to be perfectly clear about one thing. This is not an anti-Catholic perspective. I not only love my Catholic brothers and sisters who follow the Bible and embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I’m actually related to a great deal of them. Yes, the majority of my large family on my mother’s side is Catholic. Spent the day with about a dozen of them yesterday.

With that stated, the leadership of the Catholic Church and the direction of the Vatican are so far off course, it’s odd that so few are actually calling them out for what is arguably the most anti-Biblical action they’ve ever officially taken. As bad as the action was, I’m more concerned that it’s not getting nearly the press it deserves.

I’m referring to the agreement signed by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious seat of learning. In this agreement, the truth of the God of the Bible is intermingled with the falsehood of the god of the Quran, Allah. Moreover, the call for the unification of religions in a fraternity of secular peace is disturbing, not because we’re against peace but because the call to make peace is done with an understanding that or beliefs are supposed to be secondary to the collective good in this world. Lastly and most disturbingly, there’s a line in the document that is drawing some ire, though not nearly as much as Bible-believing Christians might expect:

“The pluralism and the diversity of religions, color, sex, race and language are willed by God in his wisdom, through which he created human beings.”

The wording here is very careful. They’re trying not to say God willed other religions as a path to find Him, but when read in context with the rest of the document, that’s exactly what they’re trying to imply. They’ve put Islam on equal footing with the Judeo-Christian religions by insinuating God and Allah are the same entity.

They are not.

Defenses of the document seem to focus on two notions. First, in regards to the controversial line above, they’re saying that religious diversity is similar to sex, race, and other things that are willed by God because many are inherently predisposed to follow the religions of the culture surrounding them. Their second argument is that God wants his children to find Him, and if that path must go through Islam or Hindu or any other religion, so be it.

This is heretical teaching. One must do some pretty aggressive hermeneutical gymnastics to say that since God created everything, and other religions fall into the category of being included in “everything,” then God created the other religions. As a loving God, surely He didn’t limit which people could find Him and live eternal life, right?

The Bible cannot be more clear on one important fact: there is only one way to everlasting life: belief and worship of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The document insinuates Islam is a path to salvation since, hey, they believe that Jesus was a very important prophet, so they’re not totally wrong. If it leads them to Christ through a non-traditional path, so be it.

This is a very dangerous road, one that harms the way the Catholic Church leads its people. It’s time for Bible-believing Catholics to speak out against the heretical teaching their leaders have embraced.

 


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