Goodbye, So Long, Farewell…Sort Of

walking-through-the-lightIt seems like such a short time ago that I was invited to become a contributing writer to DefCon. Pilgrim brought me on board when I was running a blog that received maybe 20-30 views per month. He blessed me with an opportunity to share with a larger audience about the necessity of Christians to share the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. What an amazing journey this has been.

I have been blessed by many readers who have been encouraged and edified. I have also seen the darker side of the blogging world, those who view each article as their own personal sounding board to vent anger and vitriol within the comments. Yet, it is not really for any of those for whom I write, but in truth, it is for an audience of One. I write to bring glory to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If I do not bring honor and glory to Him, then none of what I do is worth anything. I pray that I have done that.

Last year, Pilgrim approached me and asked me to take over the reigns of DefCon. I was humbled more than I can say by this. It is an awesome task to take over the responsibilities of a blog site that over 1,000 people a day visit. It requires being a writer, a leader, a mediator and much more. It can be invigorating and exhausting all at the same time. However, I saw first hand what Pilgrim became weary over, the almost constant vitriol from readers who either took issue with an article because it addressed an evangelical sacred cow, or called us compromisers because we were not “fundamental” enough for their tastes. I saw brothers and sisters bite and devour one another over things that, while important, simply did not rise to the level of the core doctrines of the faith. Such animosity toward the brethren made me weep.

It was this that led me to call for a change to DefCon. It was always my personal stance that, while discernment articles are sometimes necessary, they should never be the primary diet of the Christian. Being strengthened and edified in the word of God was one primary tasks of every Christian. Thus, my writing reflected that (I hope). As the head administrator, I made the call to change the primary direction of the blog to that end. No more would we be the instigators of so much virtual “bloodshed” by providing the steady diet of discernment to our readers. We would go back to the word and expound it for the purposes of edifying and strengthening the brethren. While some were not fond of this change, and their absence is noted, I have never once regretted that decision. The glory of God and His character are far too important to me than generating more hits on this site.

However, as I wrote earlier this year, my family took quite a hit when my wife was diagnosed with a rather aggressive form of cancer. My priorities in life changed. While I tried to maintain my administrative duties (along with those required of me on the Cross Encounters Radio program), I found that it was my duty to my family that was of paramount importance. I was grateful for my fellow contributors who managed many things during my absence. Their work made it possible for me to focus on the time of tribulation we were enduring.

We are now three months past my wife’s final treatment and are cancer free by God’s grace. She is going through the tests and medications necessary to maintain this status, but her continued ability to draw breath is by God’s hand alone. As I have noted in recent posts, this last year has given me some clarity about my responsibilities as a follower of Christ, from the worship of my Savior to the study of His word. And as such, a growing sense of change has made itself known in me.

I truly love being a part of DefCon. Being able to share the amazing gospel of Jesus Christ through the posts I have written is more joyous than I can say. To bring glory to His name and to encourage the brethren to do likewise is an amazing gift given to me by the Lord. However, God has also given me several amazing responsibilities. The first is to be a husband and father, according to His calling, to be the model and the teacher of the gospel in my home. The second is to be a faithful employee in my chosen profession, to honor my superiors with my best effort. The third is to be the assistant manager and on air producer to a Christian radio program that focuses on evangelism, the ministry that is truly my heart’s desire. And very much tied with the last, is the blessing of being the administrator of this blog that ministers to so many wonderful brethren. With such awesome responsibilities, I am faced with a choice. I could either attempt to hold to all of them, yet not give the full attention all required. Or I would have to step down from something.

Through much prayer, and discussion with some of my fellow contributors, I came to a bittersweet decision. It is with much heaviness of heart that I must announce that I will be stepping down as head administrator and contributor to DefCon. I love this blog and I love the readers who are a faithful part of it. However, at this time, I cannot be a good steward of the position given the current circumstances in which I find myself. I believe that in this season of life, the Lord has led me to this point and another must take my place. While I hate to leave this role, I know that my successor will be more than capable of handling the task.

Mark Escalera (aka, The Jungle Missionary) has graciously stepped up and accepted the mantle of leadership. He has been a steadfast and godly contributor for several years. His articles have blessed many brethren and his wisdom has been greatly appreciated. Mark held down the fort for me on many occasions during the last year and I can think of no better person to take the role of head administrator. As he steps into this role, I ask you readers to be a blessing to him as you have been to me during the last couple of years. Thank you Mark, I know this blog will be in excellent hands.

And now I must say goodbye…sort of. I am not heading off into the sunset never to be heard from again. I am still very much involved in the ministry of Cross Encounters Radio as co-host and on-air producer (and I can be found roaming the Twittersphere sharing the occasional thought that leaks from my brain). My articles will remain, if Mark finds them useful, for folks to continue to read. While I will not be part of DefCon, I am not ceasing my involvement in online ministry. So if you see me roaming the virtual halls of the world wide web, tap me on the shoulder to say hi.

I thank you all for taking time to let me be a part of your lives. I am grateful that you gave this nobody from nowhere more than five minutes of your time and read the rambling thoughts I shared. I pray it has been helpful to you in some small way. May God bless you and keep you. And may you all be busy about our Father’s business of proclaiming the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Cross Encounters Radio Addresses the False Teachings of Bethel “Church”

Kris VallotonOn Cross Encounters Radio, we have been setting up special broadcasts to address the false teachings of the Bethel “church” in Redding, California. Today, Tony Miano took to task the false gospel statements of senior associate pastor Chris Valloton. I highly recommend you check out the article Tony wrote in association with this broadcast, both of which can be found below:

“This article is the second in an ongoing series of articles looking at the false teaching and false practices of Bethel Church, in Redding, CA. In this article I will address the false gospel of false prophet and teacher, Kris Vallotton, Senior Associate Pastor at Bethel Church.

Here is Vallotton’s biography, posted on the Bethel Church website:
“Kris Vallotton is a noted prophetic voice in Northern California, and has trained prophetic teams in this region. He is a sought after speaker with a vision for equipping an “Elijah generation” for the end-time harvest. Kathy’s practical wisdom and prophetic insight combine to give her a unique and profound ministry as both an instructor and the school’s administrator. Kathy is also an anointed worship leader,assisting with the training of the worship teams at the school. Both Kris and his wife Kathy have a vision to raise up a company of warriors to impact this generation for Christ. Their goal is to see the fulfillment of Isaiah 61 with their own eyes. This prophecy begins with individual people getting delivered and healed–it ends with the ruined cities being restored. Kris says it is time for the fire of God to burn up His enemies and warm the hearts of the lost. This mandate has become their mission. God has instructed them to gather together warriors with like hearts, then train and equip them, and send them into the Harvest. Holy Spirit fortifications must be established in the midst of the darkest places of the planet earth. Kris is currently Senior Associate Pastor at Bethel Church in Redding, California and Kris and his wife Kathy are Overseers at Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry. They have four children and five grandchildren.”

Read the article here: Bethel Church: The False Gospel of Kris Vallotton

School Shooter Needed the Gospel

shootingMy heart is heavy today. As I got up and started my day, I began to see posts on Facebook that things were not well in a town near me. Sadly, a school I once attended many years ago was rocked by violence this morning. As of time I am sitting to write this, four casualties have resulted from a shooting in the school. Current reports state there have been two deaths – one being the suspect from a possible self inflicted gun shot, the other a school staff member – and two children in critical condition. The news of these events grieves my heart terribly. Partly because I once attended this school in my youth. I have many fond memories of friends and teachers there. To see it rocked by such violence, to imagine what it might have been like had my father gotten such a call as many parents did today, to think on those kids who will be emotionally and physically scarred by the tragedy, causes me to weep. But also, as I look at this I cannot but help but weep for the one who stepped out of this world in his sinful state.

While many political pundits and news agency talking heads will spend days and weeks debating the events of today, and many will ultimately blame lack of school security, others claiming gun control needs to be more strict, none will truly acknowledge the root cause of this tragedy. None will recognize that it was the sinful heart of a young man that caused the loss of life and critical injuries that happened today. From the secular worldview, our children are either blank slates or inherently good. This worldview believes that all we need are the right conditions for our children to blossom into the greatest and brightest examples of humanity. However, that is not what God’s word teaches.

Following God’s judgment through a worldwide flood, Noah and his family came out of the ark. One of the first tasks Moses did was to make a burnt offering to the Lord. In Genesis 8: 21 we read, “And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.” God promised that even though man was wicked from his youth, He would never again destroy all of humanity through a worldwide flood. God in this passage declares that there is no person that is innocent or sinless during the formative years of his or her life. We do not learn to sin later, we are not influenced to sin by environment. We are sinful from birth, as David writes in Psalm 51: 5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Because we are born sinners, we sin naturally. It is part of our character and nature to rebel against the very Creator who gives us life. It is that rebellion, that willful disobedience against God that will one day be brought into judgment. We will stand before God, with every disobedient thought, word and deed laid bare before Him. No claim that we were innocents let down by society will stand. Our utter sinfulness will send us straight to Hell.

There may be those who read this now who are very upset with me that I would choose this incident to claim the shooter was a wicked sinner deserving of Hell. Some may feel I am dishonoring his parents, trying to capitalize on their loss to promote my faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. I weep for this child. I am heartbroken that, despite the wickedness and harm he committed, he is now standing before the Judge of the universe and the evil that he did will be judged eternally. I weep because it is a child like this that we as Christians are commanded to share the truth of the gospel with. The truth that God forgives sins. That all the anger and hatred inside his heart, no matter the motivations, would be forgiven through the vicarious atonement of Jesus Christ who died on the cross to take the punishment for his sins. That if he repented – that if he turned from the anger and hatred in his heart, that if he viewed himself not as a good person, but as one who was in rebellion against God – and turned to Christ as the only source of his salvation, he could be made righteous in the eyes of God. I weep because today, many in our churches are not sharing this gospel message. Perhaps it is fear that motivates them, fear of rejection, fear of being hated for the word’s sake. Or maybe it is a lack of biblical understanding, that the sharing of the gospel is not a gift given to some, but a command to all because we are in a spiritual war for souls. I weep, because many people like this young shooter, and those he affected, will step off into eternity today, and tomorrow and next week, with no knowledge that God has made a way of salvation for them.

I know that it is the individual who must answer to God for their sin, make no mistake. I do not blame my fellow brethren for the sins of those who going to Hell. But I implore you, can you not look at this scene and weep knowing that maybe you had a chance to share the gospel with someone; however, you put it off for another day and that day never came? Parents took their children to school today fully believing they would come home. Today some are waiting in a hospital to find out if they will ever come home. Other parents are weeping, trying to understand how their precious loved one could ever have done this, and crushed that they will never have the chance to ask him why. There are thousands more who will repeat this scenario tomorrow, never believing tragedy and loss will strike them. Christians, should we be so naive? Should we believe that there is always tomorrow to give the life giving message of the gospel, when we can’t even be sure they will be with us at the end of the day? I beg you, don’t delay another moment. Proclaim the gospel today!

Be a Diligent Student of the Word

BibleApproximately two months ago, I took a leave of absence from the internet. I took the month of August and devoted my time to anything BUT the internet. That was a new experience for me. I spend quite a bit of time on social media, especially since I blog and co-host a radio program. So the idea of separating myself from the world wide web was surprising. In fact, several of my friends were quick to assert I wouldn’t last a week. They have no idea how close that came to being true. There were quite a few times I grabbed my smartphone out of sheer habit to see if I had messages or comments, only to realize that I had logged myself out of all my apps. However, the alternate effect was that, for the first time in quite a while, I had a lot more time to do the things I should have been doing all along. Chief among those things was my time of personal bible study. I won’t say that I never read my Bible, but I found that I was not making the time necessary to be a diligent student of the Word.

As I took the time that I so often spent on Facebook or Twitter to devote to other things, I began to realize that, while I had an operating knowledge of Scripture and theology, I saw that I could not readily point to the verses I needed to know to explain my position on a doctrinal matter. In fact, like many Christians, when I read my devotions, I found that by the end of my reading time, I could not easily tell you what I had read. I could read multiple chapters in a short period of time, but I found my retention was not what it should be. As I began to spend more time in the Word I began to realize that much of my own understanding of theology was informed from what I have learned from my pastor, from what I have gleaned from para-church resources (podcasts, websites, etc), and from books written on those topics. While all of these have great value, they should support my personal study of God’s word, not be the primary source.

As I became determined to become more proficient in my reading and understanding of the Bible, I decided to use a technique that John MacArthur teaches. This method involves taking one book of the Bible and reading it through daily (or for a larger text, a portion of it) for an entire month. While I would not say that this is a technique every Christian must use, I found that by reading and re-reading a text multiple times, I began to see and understand aspects of doctrine unfold and was making the connections I had always assumed based on what I heard others teach. This had a profound effect on me.

As a blog writer, a radio co-host and someone who makes YouTube videos to teach a Christian worldview, I began to realize that much of my own biblical knowledge was not gained through the constant study of God’s word. Now, I am not saying that those sources that I learned from were insufficient by any means. I am grateful beyond measure to those who take that time and energy to educate people in theology and doctrine. However, never should I make an effort to teach something, be it here on DefCon or on Cross Encounters Radio, that I haven’t thoroughly sought out in scripture myself. This understanding actually paralyzed me for a brief time as I began to question my right to do anything given my lack of personal scripture knowledge. However, I understood that God was not calling me to cease my efforts to proclaim His gospel, but to call me into deeper study of His word. His intent was not to shame me for my ignorance, but to desire more strongly to know Him as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.

I write this because I as I began to delve into the pastoral epistles, I learned that God commands us to be diligent students of the Word. Repeatedly Paul writes to Timothy, commending him to be bound to the word of God. In 1 Timothy, Paul first warns against engaging in the irreverent pursuits of those who would be teachers of the law that have no true understanding of it. He also establishes the standards for those who would be teachers within the church. Paul then writes in 1 Timothy 4: 6-8, “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed. Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” Paul commends Timothy to avoid that which is worthless and to train himself up in the scriptures.

Later, Paul writes his final letter to Timothy, the last instructions he would be able to pass on to his son in the faith. In 2 Timothy 2: 15 writes, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Knowing that he will no longer be able to stand along Timothy to teach and guide him, Paul instructs the young preacher to present himself as one who so thoroughly knows the word of God that those who hear him know he is rightly teaching and applying it.

In the following chapter Paul says, “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work,” (2 Timothy 3: 14-17). Paul makes it clear that Timothy had been a student of the word since his youth and instructs him to preach from the word alone to the church. That in the word he would find all that he needed to instruct, commend and correct those who sat under him.

As I have poured over these pages repeatedly, I have come to this understanding: that while Paul’s letter primarily instructs a young pastor in the commission of his calling, they have great application in the life of the believer. If the calling of a pastor is to know the word of God so thoroughly that he may shepherd the sheep of Christ, how much more should we, the sheep, be diligent students as well. All that we need for life and godliness are found in the 66 books of the Bible. We need not consult any other source for our daily lives. Yet today, many Christians look to outside sources and spend scant little time delving into the very words our Savior inspired.

Far too often we seek comfort in self help books, or psychological counseling to treat depression, anxiety and many other issues. Yet, God has created us and knows our hearts and minds far more intimately than we ever can. How is it we will trust other sinful creatures to give us the words of comfort and yet neglect the One who gives us the words of eternal life? We take child training courses and go to seminars on how to raise up loving, respectful children. However, those worldly minded speakers, no matter how well intended they may be, believe we are all good by nature and just need to create the right environment to cause our children to blossom. God declares that we are conceived in sin and there is nothing good about us outside of Christ. To raise up our children, we should be turning to the word of God, not Oprah, teaching them they need to repent before the blood stained cross of Jesus Christ. Our personal relationships are not about learning each others’ love languages, but knowing that, despite how much our spouse has grieved us, that we have sinned against God all the more. Our love can only grow and our relationships have true meaning when we learn to forgive one another in the manner that Christ forgives us.

Not one of these examples can occur rightly if we do not become students of the Word. We cannot understand and apply the principles found in the Bible if we have not read them. We cannot understand those principles rightly if we do not understand the context in which they are taught. We cannot understand the context until we have spent more than just a few minutes reading the one verse out of a devotional that was given to us at Christmas. Please understand, I am not saying that we must spend every single minute of everyday reading the Bible cover to cover. However, if we only give the scriptures a token review, a chapter reading here or there, how can we ever expect to understand the deep and wonderful truths that God has revealed to us in His word? How can we hope to live godly lives, marked by repentance and holiness if we do not even learn what is meant by those terms in scripture? God has bestowed upon we who believe the greatest gift of all, His mercy and forgiveness through the shed blood of His Son. And He has given to us all that we need to live in accordance with the gratitude that we should be showing in the gift of His revealed word. I beg you to read these words, consider the time and study you have given that gift thus far. Have you, as I did, taken it for granted and relied solely upon what you have heard? Or are you willing to be a good Berean, studying the word to see if these things be true? I commend you, be a diligent student of the Word.

“Evolution vs. God” by Ray Comfort

Evolution_vs._God You may have heard the rumblings on the internet that atheists are aghast at Ray Comfort’s newest film, Evolution vs. God. Their weeping and gnashing of teeth comes with good reason for Ray kicks out the legs of their worldview with one simple question, “Can you show me evidence for Darwinian evolution that I do not have to accept by faith?” This film takes professing evolutionary experts and their students to task by causing them to admit that the evolutionary theory is not provable by operational science. It demonstrates that evolutionary theory, at its heart, is really nothing more than a concerted effort to cause man to reject the knowledge of God that he already has so that he may pursue the sinful desires of his flesh. I highly encourage DefCon readers to take the time to watch this film, then go to www.evolutionvsgod.com and help support getting this film into the hands of university students across the country.

“Homeschooling From a Biblical Worldview” with Israel Wayne

20130829-084823.jpgOn August 25, 2013, I had the privilege to interview noted homeschool speaker and author, Israel Wayne. He is an outspoken proponent for the homeschool movement and teaches Christians that home education should be considered an extension of our God given parental duties. Mr. Wayne also states that homeschooling should not be done so that we can produce smarter and more conservative minded children than their government school counterparts. Rather, homeschooling should be done for the express purpose of cultivating a biblical worldview in our children, leading them to the blood stained cross of Jesus Christ and bringing God the glory He is due. Our interview was aired during the Cross Encounters Radio program and can also be heard at Sermon Audio by clicking on the link below. I pray you take the time to listen to this interview. Whether you are just considering homeschooling or you are an experienced pro, I believe Israel Wayne’s insights will be a blessing to you.

http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=827131237287

This is how good God is!

Chris Hohnholz:

The video you are about to see is Todd Friel of Wretched Radio speaking to a group of atheist students, among others, at a college. It is part of a video titled “Wretched Worldview: Atheism – A Christian Response.” Todd gives a wonderful picture of the gospel in this video as he pleads with the atheists in the auditorium to repent and trust in Jesus Christ. I ask you to watch this and observe how we as Christians can compassionately and lovingly share the gospel with anyone.

Originally posted on Wretched with Todd Friel:

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