Archive for December, 2017

A favorite Scripture of mine is Psalm 90:12 which states, “Teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” As world events unfold and division in America increases, Christians need discernment today more than ever. With all that’s happening around us, it is so easy to want to avoid reality or become comfortable and complacent in life, but we must not.

At the end of each calendar year, it is reasonable and wise to look back and acknowledge God’s faithfulness, evaluate where we are as individuals and as a church, and learn from any mistakes. It is also imperative we have a sense of urgency and recognize the spiritually desperate condition of many around us. One priority should be to consider how we can be more effective in advancing the kingdom of God by sharing the gospel and living out our faith as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18).

We don’t need to be news junkies, but we should be informed and knowledgeable so we can watch, pray, and be ready for whatever the Lord will bring. In no particular order, here are some key subjects to consider:

  1. Keep your eyes on Israel.

After decades of little change in the “peace process” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, President Trump decided to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Of course, the UN Security Council rejected this resolution, and the U.S. took a bold stand for Israel and against the United Nations. This is yet another sign we are living in the most prophetic times in history.

Around this same time, Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed Israel would follow the United States in withdrawing from UNESCO. Along with signs including earthquakes, famines, wars and rumors of wars, 2018 will see increased opposition to Israel and America. Intensifying spiritual warfare is a given, and just as predicted, a coalition of nations is ready to attack Israel. For students of the Bible, times are exciting indeed.

  1. Religious Freedom teetering on the brink.

The Supreme Court case of Colorado baker, Jack Phillips will be a catalyst for future decisions as well as the direction of free speech in America. Many on the extreme Left would make it illegal to practice Christianity if they could, but that is essentially what is happening with nondiscrimination laws and “inclusive” policies giving special rights to protected classes (LGBTQ). And when Christians refuse to play the game and celebrate what is considered sin, activists and radicals often bully, intimidate, or sue them into silent compliance.

In a breaking story, the Oregon Court of Appeals decided Thursday in favor of activists that sued Christian owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa for not baking a cake for their gay wedding ceremony. Aaron and Melissa Klein are now forced to pay the lesbian couple $135,000 for alleged “emotional distress.” Justice was not found here.

3. Sex outside of marriage the new norm?

Seeing the increase of abortion, cohabitation, divorce, homosexuality, the gender identity debate, and sex trafficking, it’s no wonder some of us believe we are a nation in crisis. Nearly 70% of Americans now say it’s acceptable to live with their partner before getting married. In addition, only about half of professing evangelical Christians think abortion and sex outside of traditional marriage are sins. This should greatly alarm us. Hollywood has played a leading role in the promotion of promiscuity, sexual deviance and the normalization of homosexuality; government schools have co-starred, but we often forget so-called “higher education.”

Commenting on Young America’s Foundation survey of new courses offered at 50 top colleges in America, author Frank Turek said they “promote a dogmatic secularism with a kind of religious fervor intent on urging students to abandon reality and live in their own sexual fantasy world.” He concludes the article by saying “professors who teach these courses may have the best of intentions. They may think that what they are doing is right and true (all the while declaring truth and gender are relative). But you don’t have to support their dogmatic delusions.”

4. The Critical Fight For Life

There was some good news in 2017. Survey’s indicate today’s youth are more pro-life than the previous generation. Abortion clinic closures far outpaced newly opened abortion facilities, and forty-nine abortion facilities — 35 surgical and 14 medication only clinics — closed or halted abortion servicesThe common sense “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” passed in the House 237-189, and Trump promised to sign the bill into law. We are told the Senate will vote as well. The bill bans abortion at the point that science increasingly shows that unborn children feel pain.

America is just one of only 7 (out of 198 nations) that allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

President Trump did sign a bill allowing states to withhold money from Planned Parenthood, and the DOJ recently launched a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices and the sale of fetal tissue. But perhaps one of the most interesting pro-life moves the president made was a three-word change to an obscure HHS document that defines life as “beginning at conception.” According to Al Perotta, the Trump administration added that phrase and:

“HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life, beginning at conception.” If the U.S. government says life begins at conception and its job is “serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life” then it has a duty to protect the unborn by any legal means necessary.

5. The American (Laodicean) Church will keep conforming to culture.

New research not only indicates liberalism has infected Christianity, but more people now prefer to consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Abandoning the institutional, traditional church, some claim they love Jesus but not the church. Since the church is the bride of Christ, is it biblical to love one and not the other? Surveys also show more professing Christians accepting moral relativism while pursuing comfort and self-fulfillment.

Just as disturbing, there is a segment of Americans who consider their faith important and attend church regularly, but do not hold to biblical perspectives such as the inerrancy of Scripture and essentials of the faith. Abandoning truth, they prefer to be “inclusive and welcoming.” Because of this hypocrisy, the Christian worldview has been distorted and confusing to a watching world.

  1. Christians will continue to be hated and discriminated against.

We cannot and should not compare the treatment of American believers with persecuted Christians in restricted nations around the world, but things are intensifying. Bullying and discrimination are wrong no matter who is involved, but often overlooked is the blatant intolerance toward Christians by the very people touting inclusion, diversity, and “tolerance.” Public opinion has shifted revealing an acceptance of this double standard. Jesus told His followers that since the world hated Him they will hate us as well (John 15:18).

While Christians recently celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, atheists and scrooges took their rebellion up a notch this year attacking nativity scenes and putting up billboards. Books have been written with examples, but I’ll mention one. The liberal Washington Post came out with an article for Christmas suggesting Jesus didn’t really exist because the evidence doesn’t add up. (What evidence could he possibly be looking at?) The Post didn’t even bother to fact check nor did they provide any new research – so – why do you think they happened to publish the anti-Christian piece on Christmas?

  1. Media Malpractice: epidemic and rampant.

All through 2017, the liberal media consistently and irresponsibly parroted negative news angles on President Trump, the GOP tax cuts, the economy, borders and immigration, national defense, transgender rights, etc. The average for the year was 91% negative coverage of Trump. We’ve never seen anything like this; liberals are not even trying to hide their allegiance to the Democrat Party any longer.

That same media ignored most positive news including job growth, the Dow rising 5,000 points in a year for first time in history, unemployment for African Americans dropping to a 17-year low, and Christians freely celebrated Christmas in parts of Iraq and Syria formerly under ISIS control. But all this generally isn’t good news to the mainstream media because we have a Republican president.

  1. Lawlessness and worldliness will increase even more.

Character, integrity, and morality took a hit in 2017 as sexual assaults, misconduct and scandals rocked the headlines. Billionaire George Soros shifted $18 billion from his hedge fund to his network of godless liberal foundations. Media silence. Ready to ramp up the chaos and division, “the resistance” increased via professional protests with Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and even pro athletes protesting (Trump) the National Anthem.

Finally, our obsession with technology is in danger of becoming an addiction. Today’s kids know more about social media, gaming, entertainment, and technology than they do the Bible, the Constitution, and American history, but they sure can take great selfies! These are tomorrow’s leaders of our nation. Sadly, many adults are not far behind. It is true technology can be used for good purposes, but it is often used for meaningless, mindless entertainment. We must not conform to the world’s ways (Romans 12:2). The Internet has seduced many within the church as well.

Overall, it was a faith-testing year for many of us. Good will continue being called evil and truth will continue to be attacked and redefined. If America stays on course down this destructive road where there is no longer an objective truth or fixed standards of morality, we’re in big trouble. But thank God He always causes us to triumph in Christ (1 Cor. 15:57)! Christians have an eternal, secure hope which anchors our soul (Heb. 6:19) as well as a true peace found only in Jesus Christ. We serve a Mighty God, and we can be confident no matter what happens, God will be faithful to the promises in His word.

 

*Read more from author, David FiorazoHis top selling book The Cost of Our Silence, Eradicate (Blotting Out God in America), and his latest – Redefining Truth (Oct. 2017)

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“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

In July of 2013, actress Leah Remini left the church of Scientology after thirty years, upset about the church’s alleged control, corruption, harassment, and abuse. Knowing her outgoing personality, it is not surprising that she didn’t go quietly. Though her disappointment had been building for years, things intensified when Remini began questioning the practice of the church excommunicating people. Cults generally do such things to protect their leaders, as well as cover up lies and questionable practices.

Excommunication occurs when individuals who have been declared “Suppressive Persons” (SPs) by Scientology leadership are kicked out. Members then, if they want to remain in good standing, are forced to disassociate and “disconnect” from the person or risk being disciplined or excommunicated themselves. Due to brainwashing and extreme loyalty to Scientology, families can be and have been permanently split up.

In November 2015, Leah Remini coauthored a number-one New York Times best seller, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology. The book is described as an “eye-opening, no-holds-barred memoir about life in the Church of Scientology,” and has led to her own A&E docuseries, “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” now in its second season.

This heartbreaking series further exposing the inside secrets of Scientology is what drew me to the story. Interviews featuring tearful and heartbroken participants who left Scientology reveal how they try to pick up the pieces of their lives, often intimidated into silence and estranged from family members who remained in the organization.

From what I’ve researched about Scientology leader David Miscavige’s abusive, authoritarian behavior, his reported mistreatment of people within the church, as well as his untouchable and unaccountable God-like position, much could be written about him. Apparently, when you question Scientology leadership you are immediately brought in and interrogated.

According to PageSix, a source explained Leah Remini was already put through Scientology’s “thought modification” for five years, but when they tried it again in 2013, she said, “Enough.” After leaving the church, news got out and Remini expressed appreciation for the “overwhelming positive response I have received from the media, my colleagues, and fans.”

She also declared that she and her family “stand united” in the decision to leave Scientology. In an interview with People Magazine, Remini defended her decision, saying, “I believe that people should be able to question things. I believe that people should value family, and value friendships, and hold those things sacrosanct. …no one is going to tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can, and cannot, talk to.”

Jenna Miscavige, niece of current authoritarian leader, David Miscavige, said in an interview that Leah Remini leaving Scientology was definitely not good PR for the organization, since “PR for the most part is all they care about.” Regarding the manipulation of Scientology leadership, Jenna stated,

“Scientology definitely does use families in order to get people to do what they want them to do, they know people care and love their families. So if they have to use the threat of possibly losing them in order to get them to [toe] the line, they’ll do it.”

Miscavige also said she felt “completely brainwashed” and, sadly, had to permanently part with the friends she grew up with. Starting at age six until she was twelve, the Church of Scientology forced her to do manual labor for several hours a day such as hauling rocks and digging trench holes for irrigation. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Jenna was admitted to the church’s Sea Organization, a branch of the most dedicated followers, and was forced to sign a billion-year contract that bound her immortal spirit (known as the “thetan”) to a life of dedication. 

Sadly, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, Jenna saw her mother only twice and her father, four times.
Scientology is a religious system of beliefs and practices based on the seeking of self-knowledge and spiritual fulfillment through graded courses of study and training. A variation of religious humanism, the Church of Scientology was founded in 1954 by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard (LRH). He initially developed a program of ideas called Dianetics and wrote a book about it in 1950.

Scientology claims it alone “brings man to total freedom and truth,” which we know is a lie. 

A former high-ranking Scientologist who worked with David Miscavige, Mike Rinder is now helping Leah Remini expose the godless practices and beliefs of the so-called church. In fact, Rinder declares LRH’s writings and lectures (tapes) are considered to be infallible “Scripture.” Hubbard is known as the exclusive “source” of the only truth to lead man to all the answers.

Any false teaching in conflict with the Bible is an attempt to redefine the truth of God and Jesus Himself.

Hubbard once openly stated in a 1952 lecture in Journal of Scientology, “The only way you can control people is to lie to them. You can write that down in your book in great big letters.” One tenet of Scientology holds that matter, energy, space, and time (MEST) were created by “thetans” beyond a quadrillion years ago, including alien life on other planets.

Scientology is not at all comparable to Christianity, as the two have very little if anything in common. Scientology is based on humanism, and its teachings lead away from the authority of God and the truth of Scripture.

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”—which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. (1 Timothy 6:20-21)

Moreover, there are no scientific reasons to think Scientology will work as advertised, and no studies proving the effectiveness of Dianetics, which has been classified as a pseudoscience. One thing the organization is profoundly good at, however, is generating revenue. Critics – and there are many − claim Scientology is not a typical “religion,” but a system “built chiefly as a cover for exploitive commercial operations” based on financial exploitation, and is “a multi-national racket masquerading as a religion.”

The foundational beliefs of Scientology start with the concept that man is “basically good, and that his spiritual salvation depends upon himself, his fellows, and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe.” Core principles include the belief that man is an immortal spiritual being, his experience extends well beyond a single lifetime, and his capabilities are unlimited…

On the cover of Hubbard’s book, Dianetics, he uses an image of an exploding volcano, referring to the story of “Xenu,” an ancient dictator of a “Galactic Confederacy.” According to Hubbard, seventy-five million years ago, Xenu brought billions of people to the earth and placed them around volcanoes, killing them by blowing them up with hydrogen bombs. Scientology therefore believes that the thetans of these aliens attach themselves to human beings, causing spiritual harm.

Dianetics is the claim that each person’s painful past experiences create a lasting impression, termed an “engram,” on that person’s “reactive” (subconscious) mind. According to Dianetics, these engrams are the root cause of various diseases, conditions, neuroses, and injuries. Engrams are also blamed for psychological disorders from depression to violence.

Biblically, the claims of Dianetics are completely false. There are no prior lives from which to remember pain and trauma (Hebrews 9:27). A person’s primary moral problem is not the memory of pain but his own in-born sin (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Dianetics claims that a person can, through force of will, make himself a better and more moral person. The Bible teaches that true change only happens when a person is reformed by Christ (1 Corinthians 6:10-11). As a mishmash of pseudoscience, Eastern spirituality, and New Age concepts, Dianetics is not only factually false but also incompatible with the worldview of the Bible.

Hubbard stated there were other messiahs prior to Jesus Christ. Writing for Watchman Fellowship, an independent Christian research ministry, Craig Branch stated that Scientology’s own bizarre doctrines can literally be regarded as “doctrines of demons,” and adds:

Claiming to be compatible with Christianity and respectful of Jesus Christ, they write, “Scientologists hold the Bible as a holy work, and have no argument with the Christian belief that Jesus Christ was the Savior of Mankind and the Son of God. . . . There are probably many types of redemption.” All of this is subterfuge; none of it is true. In reality, Scientology is very alien and hostile to Christianity. Hubbard’s many taped lectures, thousands of policy letters and directives, and the so-called secret or hidden teachings contained in upper level courses, provide ample evidence of Scientology’s duplicity and its true beliefs about Christianity.

Scientology teaches that thetans continue to enter into our bodies after we die. One cannot progress unless the engrams mentioned earlier, “aberrations” from past lives, are dealt with. 

Mike Rinder said the words of Hubbard are not treated as allegorical or taken as suggestions by church leaders. They are given the weight of “absolute unalterable truth.”

Based on the 2015 book Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, which preceded an HBO documentary on Scientology, here are some of the key points:

  • L. Ron Hubbard’s life was built on a series of lies and bullying.
  • Hubbard sent letters about Dianetics to the American Psychological Association.
  • Scientology’s “clergy” formed as a response to investigations.
  • The church essentially went to war with the IRS over tax exemption.
  • Scientology blackmails its members with private auditing sessions.
  • The church broke up Tom Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman.

Later that same year, Leah Remini published her memoir, Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology.

Punishing people who dare leave the church is sad enough, but the ruthless tactics sound closer to what the Mafia employs, not a non-profit “religious organization.” The truth is, Scientology has caused people losses of marriage, babies (from forced abortions), possessions, life savings, family relationships, and sanity. But even more tragic is the loss of a future with the Lord in heaven and a relationship with Jesus Christ today.

A serious and obvious question must be asked: with all we know, how in the world do intelligent people ever fall for the lies of Scientology? It is a deceptive and seductive movement filled with sugarcoated teachings, super-human claims, and lofty promises. Another draw is the church’s celebrity members and its massive public relations machine.

Researchers, journalists, and former church members have chronicled the origin and practices of Scientology and view it as an abusive, totalitarian, business cult, wrapping itself in the cloak of religion for reasons of opportunism and expediency.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

(This is an excerpt from the book, Redefining Truth, by David Fiorazo. Click here for much more on Scientology as well as American culture, the church, and world religions.)