Yay! I'm on holidays. I'm spending them at home. I love my job, but it is great to stay home, to not have to get dressed up and go anywhere. It is wonderful to have some time to work on my website. Other than my newsletter, I haven't added hardly anything to the website in the past year.
What happened in April? Well, I thought long and hard about Kat Kerr's teaching on Heaven, and finally shared my thoughts about it in my last newsletter.
I finally also got a copy of Dr. Petti Wagner's book Murdered Heiress – Living Witness. I heard about this book several years ago and listened to an interview that Sid Roth had with her. It isn't on his website anymore, but this LINK provides a brief summary of the story.
To sum it up in my own words, the story is about a wealthy woman whose personal assistant who had her lured to a trashy hospital where she was held prisoner, while the assistant and her lover plundered Petti's bank accounts, offices, and home. Petti was beaten and then killed by electrocution, but God brought her back to life and helped her to escape from the hospital room where she had been locked up. She testified in court against the people who murdered her. Now how's that for a story line?
I wanted to find out more about this story. Over a period of a few years, I searched online for information about Petti Wagner and to see if the book could be downloaded for free, but didn't come up with much. I thought I would just let it go, but every now and then, my curiosity would have me searching the Internet again. I came across an item where a woman who had read the book enthusiastically stated that she was thrilled when Petti mentioned three baptisms, because it really bore witness to something she believed already. This was apparently something that Jesus had told Petti when she was in Heaven.
That did it for me. I had to get that book and find out for myself what this heresy was that Jesus was supposed to have spoken to Petti about in Heaven. I found a copy online and ordered it. It cost a pretty penny to have it shipped, but it was worth it. I think God used that woman's silly statement about three baptisms to bait me into getting the book. As it turns out, all Petti was saying is that when we receive Jesus as our Saviour, we are baptized into the body of the Christ. In other words, we are received and immersed into His body. It's not a ceremony like water baptism or an event like receiving the baptism of the Holy Ghost. It's just a doctrinal truth.
I was skeptical about the book when I started reading it because of people's criticisms that they had aired on the Internet, but the book settled all my doubts about it. Someone on the Internet criticized the death certificate, saying that the dates were wrong. They lied. The dates were correct in the copy of the death certificate that Petti showed in her book.
Another critic scornfully disdained Petti's account of how she had to escape, which took hours. They supposed that, if God had raised her from the dead, He could have transported her outside of the hospital without her having to dismantle 200 screws from a window screen. God's ways are not our ways and the carnal man can never understand spiritual things. As I read Petti's account of her escape, it was apparent to me that it was a new thing for her to trust God. She had been caught up in inventing products and marketing them and building up her bank account. She hadn't given God much time, though she had received Jesus as her Saviour when she was a little girl. The escape was designed to teach her spiritual lessons about trust, obedience, and endurance.
The book really blessed me. I believe that Petti Wagner's story is true. It is quite an exciting story and I highly recommend it. I bought my copy through Amazon.
Another thing that has been on my mind is the Scripture in 1 John 4:3, "And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world." I think that most Christians don't really think about what this verse means.
What it means is that those who are genuinely born-again recognize that Jesus is God come down to Earth in mortal flesh, so that He could offer up Himself as the perfect sacrifice on our behalf. Remember that Jesus, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Yehoshua, means "God saves." Also, in Isaiah 9:6, the Bible says, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, THE MIGHTY GOD, THE EVERLASTING FATHER, The Prince of Peace." In the New Testament, Jesus clearly told His disciples, "I am the Father." Someone protested to me that He was just saying that He was so in tune with the Father and united to Him that He meant that it was as if He was the Father, but He said He IS the Father, and the Old Testament also states that He, the Son, IS the Father.
I had a dream a several months ago where the triune nature of God was explained. In my dream, I drew a circle and explained to some people about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I jammed my finger down inside the circle and said enthusiastically, "He's ALL God the Father, and He's ALL God the Son, and He's ALL God the Holy Spirit!" Then I drew another circle and divided it into three. I said, "The Catholics explain it this way:" I pointed inside each section and said, "They believe that He is the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." In other words, that the Father is part of God, and the Son is part of God, and the Holy Spirit is part of God, and that together, they are one God. But what the Lord showed me in my dream is that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are completely integrated with each other. There is no division at all.
Maybe it's like the Father is the Heart/Mind of God, and the Son is the Voice of God, which expresses His Heart/Mind, and the Holy Spirit is the Breath of God, which carries the Voice. Does that make sense to you? At this point, it makes a lot of sense to me, because the Bible says that the Son is the Word of God, and God made everything through Him, but the Holy Spirit was also involved, hovering over the frozen Earth, and when the Voice spoke, there must have been fire, the fiery Breath of God, melting the elements and bringing everything in alignment with what the Voice said, which proceeded from the passionate Heart of God. The Heart/Mind, the Voice, the Breath are all integrated in one Being.
Just think of it of what an insult it is to God to reject Jesus as Saviour, after all that He has done for us. God Himself came down to Earth as a man, taking on a mortal body, so that He could pay the penalty for our sins in our stead. He gave us the Torah, the Laws of Moses, to help humankind know good from evil, so that we would know that we are evil and need His redemption.
There's nobody who hasn't broken the Law. Oh, there were some who kept the Law to the letter, but God came to Earth as Jesus to teach us the spirit of the Law, which we all have broken. Who hasn't lusted after someone whom they weren't married to? Who wouldn't have stolen something, if they knew that nobody would ever know and they would never be caught? Who hasn't felt resentment and even hatred towards those who have mistreated them? Jesus said that if we hold hatred in our hearts towards others, it is the same as murder, as far as He is concerned. And then, after giving us clues that we are much more evil than what we thought we were, He went to the cross to pay the ransom for our souls.
That transaction does not benefit us, though, if we do not sincerely, from the heart, repent of our sins, and put our trust in what God did for us when He came to Earth as the Son of God. When the Bible speaks of the Son of God, it is referring to God's ability to become visible and physical, so that He can interface with His creatures more on their level.
Why wouldn't He do that? He's the Creator, after all. He is able to do whatever He wants, as long as it doesn't violate the Law of Love, which would be going against His nature, because He is Love. As the Father, He remains on the Throne of the Universe, to keep it under control, but He can also send Himself forth in a physical body to interact with His creation.
He made a lovely planet to be the nursery for Mankind, and wanted to set foot on it, and talk to the man and woman He had made, and pet the animals, maybe even take some rides on the animals, but He had to make Himself smaller in order to do that. He wanted to enjoy His creation. He wanted to hold His children in His arms, like any loving father. It would have been pretty hard to get any satisfaction out of cuddling Adam and Eve, if they were just teensy, little specks sitting on His arm.
The Bible tells us that God interacted with Adam and Eve face to face; it was His habit to walk in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day. It also tells us in Genesis that He appeared as a man to Abraham and talked to him face to face. I believe He was also the Angel who wrestled with Jacob, to help Jacob develop spiritual muscle. Jacob was determined that he was not going to let go, until he got a blessing from the sacred Being who visited him that night. A big clue is that when Jacob asked the Angel to tell him His Name, the Angel asked him why he asked. I think this implies that Jacob suspected that it was God Himself whom he was wrestling with and God was saying, in essence, "You know who I am."
I am certain that it was God who appeared to Joshua, before the Israelites marched into Canaan, and presented Himself as the Captain of the Host. He allowed Joshua to bow and worship Him; the Bible teaches that God's angels never allow people to bow and worship them. The Bible tells us in the book of Daniel that He appeared to the three Israelites who were tossed into a fiery furnace, because they refused to bow to idols. He was in the furnace with them, and they didn't burn.
So, before Jesus came on the scene, God appeared to people in physical form, always in the context of Torah, the Biblical concept of God. Others have come and gone, claiming to be God, and they died as men. Then Jesus showed up, right in line with all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah.
He was an Israelite, descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Further, He was descended from King David, as God had promised David. Mary was descended from David's son Nathan; Joseph, the adoptive father, was descended from Solomon. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as promised, born of a virgin, as prophesied.
He lived a completely sinless life, demonstrating His worthiness to be considered the spotless Lamb of God, and died right in accordance with the Old Testament prophecies. He was betrayed by a friend, as prophesied, for thirty pieces of silver, as prophesied, He did not raise a defence for Himself to prevent His death, as prophesied, He was crucified, as prophesied, yet none of His bones were broken, as prophesied, though it was normal to break the legs of a crucifixion victim, if their death needed to be hastened, as His would have needed to be because of the Passover Sabbath, and He was pierced, as prophesied, which also demonstrated that what He died of was a broken heart.
Why did He die of a broken heart? Because He lost the sense of the Father's presence. People shudder at how Jesus suffered physically, from the beatings, the whipping that gouged chunks out of Him, the spitting on Him and being stripped naked, and nailed to a cross. The pain was gruesome, no doubt, but it was nothing compared to the pain of feeling that the Father had rejected Him.
He had never before felt separation from the Father. As He told His disciples, I and my Father are One. When God manifested as the Son, He limited Himself, turning over the direction of what He did as the Son to the Father. In a physical form, He couldn't see all that was going on. He could see only what was in His range of eyesight. He left it up to Himself as God the Father to inform Him about what He needed to know and to tell Him what He needed to do.
This is in accordance with Love, because love is obedient to that which is good, and love demonstrates obedience to all whom it expects obedience from. Good parents are good examples. God chooses to demonstrate what He wants from us, to show us that, by being united with His Spirit, it is possible to be obedient to His Spirit. But when He hung on the cross, Jesus lost that sense of being connected to God, and it was devastating to Him beyond what any of His creatures can ever understand.
Why did He lose that sense of connection to the Father? Because when He hung on the cross, where we, as Law-breakers deserve to be, our sins were rolled onto Him. The revulsion of that was beyond horror to One who was absolutely spotless. Think of how you would feel about being pushed into a filthy septic tank. It was worse than that for Him. Because God cannot abide sin, the Father turned His face away, which caused Jesus to lose His sense of connection to the Father, and it left Him feeling confused. He had agreed to this plan to redeem Man, but now He wondered why God had forsaken Him. It caused His heart to burst with grief.
In accordance with prophecy, Jesus' body was placed in a rich man's tomb, and in accordance with prophecy, He arose from the dead after three days and nights. If you read the Bible, and it seems like He was there for less than that, it is because you lack knowledge about Hebrew feasts and Sabbaths. Jesus was not crucified on Friday, as Catholic tradition says, but on Wednesday, right before a special Passover Sabbath, which was on Thursday. He was in the grave Wednesday night, Thursday day, Thursday night, Friday day, Friday night, and Saturday day. He rose from the dead on Saturday night, which the Jews count as the first day of the week, and it is when their normal Sabbath ends. They count their days from sundown to sundown, not from dawn to dawn, like the Gentiles.
After He rose from the dead, Jesus was seen by many, including 500 people at one time who attended His last meeting. They saw Him rise up and return to Heaven, and two angels appeared to them, and told them that Jesus would return to Earth in the same manner. He would descend from the sky.
The Bible says that heavens will be rolled together like a scroll when He returns. It will be a huge, cosmic event that everyone will see, and this Earth will be burned up. That does not mean burned to a ruin and then gradually restored, but instantly burned, with all of the elements reduced to gas, and then it will be remade. We are 2000 years closer to that day from the time that Jesus returned to Heaven. How much longer do you think that He will put up with Mankind's wickedness, and the worst of its wickedness being its rejection of Him as Saviour, after what it cost Him to become our Saviour?
Do you see Mankind becoming godly? I don't think so. Homosexuality and other perversions are being flaunted in the streets and pushed on our kids in school. Millions, probably billions, of babies have been aborted in the last fifty years, after it actually being made LEGAL! Can you believe it? Murder is legal, if it is done to a little child before they are born. Call them fetuses, pretend they aren't human until they emerge from the birth canal, and then it's okay to murder them.
Sociologists are suggesting that it should be legal to kill children under two years of age, if the mother can't support them or feels emotionally unable to deal with them. They are even suggesting that they aren't people until after the age of two. Is this not insane? To a sane person, it is. I surmise that they foresee a time of great economic collapse, and they don't want a lot of little urchins running loose on the streets, abandoned by their parents, stealing for food and being a nuisance.
This evil is all the more apparent when we learn that the economic collapse is being engineered, to make people so desperate that they can more easily be herded into giving their allegiance to the Antichrist. There are enough resources on this planet to support everybody with necessities, and even some luxuries, if weren't for the greed of those who want to be its overlords.
The resources just need to be developed, but many of the people who had the ingenuity to discover how we could utilize this planet to the full were aborted in their mothers' wombs. The Bible tells us that the strength of a king is in having a large population. The more people there are, the more potential there is that some of them have wholesome solutions to a nation's problems.
Proverbs 23:11 says that He is mighty to save, and in Isaiah 45:22, He says, "Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other."
Satan promises rewards in the afterlife to those who give him their souls, but he can't deliver on it, and he wouldn't deliver on it, even if he could. He is a liar. Lies are his standard equipment. How could he do anything but lie, when it became such an integral part of what he is, after he rebelled against God?
He cannot win against God. God is good, and everything He made is good; because it was designed to be good, every creature He made has within itself a self-destruct mechanism, if it should ever turn against Him. Sure, He gave all the angels and us humans free will, so that we could choose to love and obey Him, or rebel and serve Self instead, but because He is good, He could not do that without putting a failsafe system in place, to prevent the Universe from being totally taken over by evil.
Jesus said that no man comes to the Father, except through Him. He said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the Bible says that whoever calls on the Name of the Lord (Jesus means God saves), will be saved, and that there is no other Name under heaven whereby we can be saved. Only Jesus of Nazareth, who died and rose from the dead, is able to save our souls.
He has done His part; He waits for us to do our part, which is to believe that He is God come down from Heaven and to receive Him as our Saviour. When we sincerely ask Him to forgive our sins and come into our heart, yielding our lives to His direction, He sends the Holy Spirit to live in our spirit, which becomes regenerated when we receive Jesus as our Saviour. The power of the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead, and that is the power that enables us to overcome our sinful behaviours and obey Him. Do not delay to obey. If you do, you may find out that the gift of repentance is no longer being offered and that you cannot repent, no matter how hard you pray.
I kicked off my vacation by reading The Visitation by Frank Peretti. It was well worth the time. The story was about a pastor who stood up against a cult in his town and was subjected to persecution for it. He also lost his wife to cancer around the same time. He is left disillusioned with the Church, after years of seeing its flaws. He lets his pastor's license lapse and vegs out at home, until a false Messiah blows into town.
The false Messiah was a guy whose father is a very legalistic, judgmental Pharisee of a pastor, who abused his wife and son. The kid was nailed to a fence by his father and a policeman who served as his bully boy, supposedly to drive the devil out of him, I guess. The kid had been running amok in rebellion, which embarassed his father.
Is this far–fetched? This type of "exorcism" goes on a lot in Africa, where children are accused of witchcraft. Their parents, who are already poor, are extorted by the accusing pastors for fees to demons cast out of their kids. The whole community turns against the child, and if the parents do not pay off the pastor to exorcise their child, the community turns against them, as well. These children are frequently kicked out of their homes, left to fend for themselves on the streets, many of them ending up trafficked as sex slaves. The methods of exorcism involve chaining the children up, beating them, and perpetrating other tortures on them. One poor child had a nail driven into her head. The problem got so out of hand in Nigeria that the government passed a law making it illegal to accuse a child of witchcraft.
Anyway, this part of the story about how abusive the false Messiah's father was reminded me of Marjo Gortner. Marjo was a child evangelist whose parents named him after Mary and Joseph. He was a highly intelligent little boy who had a lot of Scripture committed to memory. He was quite a sensation and people flocked to his meetings to hear a little boy preach the Gospel.
Marjo continued to preach as a young adult, but then he blew the lid off of his ministry by making a film about what a racket it was. He apparently did not believe what he preached; he was using it to rake in money from offerings. In the film, he warns the film crew, who posed as Christians so they could follow him around and film his meetings, to not fornicate with the Christian girls they met, as that would blow their cover. He boasted about how he left them alone and focussed instead on picking up stewardesses that he met on his airplane flights.
I remember the impact that Marjo's documentary had, first as an unbeliever and then as a Christian. When I was sixteen and seventeen, I hung out with a rough crowd. A group of them watched the movie and lapped it up. One of the rangytangs waved his hand towards the TV in disgust and made an angry remark about how phony evangelists are, assuming that they were all like Marjo Gortner. There have been many faithful men and women of God who never did any of the things that the movie portrayed, but worldly people know nothing about them and are quite willing to believe that the abuses of some represent the practices of all evangelists.
I got saved when I was seventeen and by the time I was eighteen, I was immersed in church life. Marjo Gortner was a topic of conversation. I didn't recall at that time that he was the person whose movie had been watched by my former acquaintences. I hadn't paid much attention to the movie and I didn't really watch it until only a couple of years ago when I came across it on YouTube. As a teen, I judged Marjo as a heretic and didn't feel that I could pray for him. I figured that his soul was beyond redemption. I changed my mind about that, after watching the movie and learning that his mother used to dunk his head under water and hold it there when he was a little boy, to force him to memorize Scriptures. Just think about the effect that it would have on a child, to associate the Bible with torture. His parents used him as a gimmick to get money out of the people who attended their meetings.
The main character in The Visitation flashbacked to the church experiences of his youth, and I could relate to some of it quite well, as I attended charismatic churches after I got saved. I am very thankful for the churches I attended, though there was error in the preaching and practices. Mostly, I got a lot of good out of attending those churches. There isn't any church that does everything right. Frank Peretti is a pastor, and it was edifying to see that a pastor can objectively assess the abuses and silliness that happens in churches and understand how Christians can get very tired of it all and not even want to go to church anymore. In the story, the pastor does go to church again in the end, which is the way it should be.
I liked the way that Frank Peretti treated the phenomenom of the false signs and wonders that occurred in his story. Indeed, when you get something from the devil, there is always a bite. It is only the blessing of the Lord that truly makes rich and adds no sorrow to it. We shouldn't take every "blessing" that is offered to us. We need to think about where the "blessing" is coming from and what the motive could be for offering it, as well as the outcome of taking it. Abraham refused to take anything from the king of Sodom because he hated what the man stood for and knew what a scoundrel was he was.
Are people as looney and tacky as Frank Peretti painted some of the characters and scenes in his book? Yup. It may seem improbable that so many of them would congregate in a small town, but small towns have been taken over by cults before. There are people running about, doing strange things; some are directed by the Lord, and their results are good, but most of the theatrical types who are out there are doing their own thing and creating big messes that bring a reproach on Christianity.
Especially after reading Frank Peretti's book, I appreciate solid ministries like the Stendals' who minister in Colombia. I have been reading Chad Stendal's book High Adventure in Colombia and I admire how Biblically sound his doctrine is; what I have read of it, so far. I admire the family's patience and persistance and zeal, as well as what they have accomplished. Colombia is a dangerous place to minister and the Stendals are among the very few who have managed to stay in the country and stay alive. It is a good ministry to support. Please also pray for Chad Stendal Sr.; he has been dealing with serious health issues.
I'm looking forward to getting back to writing about Moses in my MAJESTY OF GOD series again while on vacation. I got stuck on the part about Moses the Pastor because the journey in the wilderness contains so much that is remarkable. But how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. It will be interesting to see how much progress I can make on it over the next week. Please pray for me. I want to help people understand that the loving nature of God is just as evident in the Law as it is in the New Testament.
Copyright © 2013, Lanny Townsend
Page modified by Lanny Townsend on April 27, 2013
Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.