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DEFINITION:

     Webster: “a religion that is considered or held to be false or unorthodox, or it members.”

     Theological: “In the context of traditional doctrines and practices of biblical Christianity, a cult is a group that believes and practices beliefs that are contrary to the (1) Divinity, (2) eternal existence (3)incarnation, (4) virgin birth, (4) exclusive saviorhood, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ. Plus many other teachings and practices that contradict the Bible (e.g. 66 books).

21 CHARACTERISTICS OF A CULT:

     A cult associated with “Christianity” may be identified, according to basic definitions, by one or more of the following characteristics:

  1. Usually identified by a human founder: (1) Joseph Smith, (2) Charles T. Russell, (3) Mary Baker Eddy, (4) Ellen G. White, (5) Sun Myung, (6) Jim Jones, (7) Ron Hubbard, (8) Hare Krishnas, etc.
  2. Members are taken though a psychological indoctrination (“brain washing”).
  3. Their belief system is characterized by closemindedness and a superiority complex.
  4. Members tend to be antagonistic and rejecting of others who don’t share their beliefs.
  5. A high level of intolerance toward any position, doctrine, or practice not like theirs.
  6. Most cults were founded by persons—men and women—who claimed to receive divine authority, revelation, and appointment by God or angels. Some claimed to be God or a god.
  7. Most cults are apocalyptic believing in the future there will be some cataclysmic, Armageddon, or other major event that only faithful members will survive, etc.
  8. A cult member will usually stop studying with you if you don’t readily accept their teachings or ask questions they cannot or don’t know how to answer. They are always right, you are always wrong.
  9. Most members accept organizations teaching without questioning. Usually afraid to question.
  10. There is usually a national headquarters that controls members and practices.
  11. There is usually a magazine, book, Bible translation, radio and TV programs to propagate teachings.
  12. Beliefs are propagated by outreach and “evangelism” efforts (door-to-door, street corners, etc.).
  13. Members are required to participate in various programs—disciplined if don’t.
  14. Members support with time, money and participation.
  15. Some cults emphasize a strong ethic and morality; some just the opposite. Some are inconsistent.
  16. Some practice “anti-government” and “anti-medical” behavior (Reject all holidays, blood transfusion).
  17. Have a form of discipline, shunning, and shaming of “unfaithful” members.
  18. They have members, like all groups, who aren’t faithful to teachings and practices.
  19. Members are isolated and prohibited from marrying or dating a “heathen”, “unbelievers”, etc.
  20. Bring reproach on the simplicity of the Gospel, worship, and Divinity of God, etc.
  21. Perpetuate behavior that brings “persecution” proving they are right and approved by God.

READ: Galatians 1:8, 9; 2 Corinthians 11:1-4; Romans 1:14-16.

If you are wearing a wedding ring or own a wedding ring, you have a continual reminder of the wedding promises you made to your spouse. Think about this fact!
 
The wedding vows you swore when you married, if they were the traditional ones, had these sobering words: For better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health… until death parts us. These vows made it clear that there may be some challenges ahead in your marriage. But for some reason you may seem surprised to discover the vows are prophetic. Wedding vows do come true!
 You hold in your hand a small book that is powerful enough to turn an unhappy marriage into a joyful and re newed adventure. As the title says there are 101 dynamic marriage promises in this book. This is more than just a list of nice promises one may take or leave. These are promises that every married couple or couple thinking about mar riage, need to take seriously.
 
I have been married to the same woman for more than 50 years. Like most marriages we have had our ups and downs. I wish, however, I had known and applied these 101 promises early in our marriage. The good news is it’s not too late.
 Whether you have been married one day or decades, you need to look seriously at these promises. If you are engaged or contemplating marriage in the future you would be wise to begin making some of these promises now; as well as knowing what some of the promises are you need to make once you are married. Knowledge is power only if used properly.
 
This list of 101 marriage promises has grown out of my own marriage, 48-years of ministry, counseling married couples, pre-marital counseling, earning a master’s and doctorate in counseling, teaching workshops and seminars, and writing several books on marriage, family, and parent ing. I am pleased to share these promises with you I believe if these promises are made and kept every couple can experience Brownings’ promise, Come grow old with me, the best is yet to be.
 
101 Marriage Promises Cover ArticleIf you are serious about having a successful and happy marriage, this book is for you. If you are not, please pass it on to someone who is serious.
 
Why yes, you can read it if you are only curious.

Growing up I constantly heard that there were two things you didn’t engage persons in conversations about, religion and politics. Why? Most conversations in these two areas, especially politics, gender strife, disagreement, and categorizing.

     For the past year, starting in 2015, our nation has been engaged in one of the most heated and contentious discussion and debate about Presidential candidates, in modern times. During this time 20-25 persons, from major parties, were seeking the highest office of the land. That number has dwindled down, as of March 31, 2016 to five. During this time numerous media forums misnamed “debates” have been conducted on TV and in town halls, which were nothing more than question and answer arguments. During these periods of wrangling a new cloud—called ANGER—was formed that hangs heavier and heavier over the heads of politician and the American people.

When most people hear the word capital they think of investing in gold, silver, shares of stock, investments in company's startups, and so forth. These are some of the various ways of gaining assets that yield rewards and income over a period of time; usually over a long period of time. There are, however, other forms of capital that a person may invest in and gain continual assets. Education is one of these capitals. Time, effort and money spent in educational pursuits are investments in human capital. Investment in educational capital will never result in a loss. You cannot be separated from the knowledge, values and skills in the way you can be separated from your physical and financial assets. Lifelong education produces lifelong results. Education in ministry is one of the most important capital investments you will ever make as a servant of God.
 
Worth is a key word that is related to capital. Continual investment in education increases your worth as a minister and member of society. Because of your continual investment in education capital you are able to stay ahead of the ever changing curve in culture, ministry methodologies, and personal challenges. Doctrine doesn't change; methodologies do.
 
"Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson, "you will never grow." This is in harmony with Paul's statement in 2 Timothy 2:15, as translated in the King James, "Study to show thyself approved unto God." This is not a onetime pursuit; got my diploma or degree, and now I'm set for life. It is our continuing quest to "grow up into the fullness of the measure of Christ" (cf. Ephesians 4:11-16). Nothing is sadder than a man who thinks he knows it all, while life and opportunities are passing him by.
 
Almost daily we hear the research stats relative to the monetary gains from a high school diploma, bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees. This makes sense because the more you know, the higher your skills, and the variety of experiences you have gained raises your chances of advancement in life; even in ministry.
 
Many professions require continuing education units every year in order to stay qualified. This is an investment in education capital. Unfortunately the church doesn't require such continuing education of her ministers. This may be why many ministers seem to be content with remaining status quo. They are wondering why their yesterday training in methods isn't producing fruit today.
 
I am not a prophet but based on what I have seen, and am presently seeing, the church is fast moving toward requiring higher levels of educational capital of the ministers they hire. As the level of educational capital increases in the pew, it will be required in the pulpit and classroom. Right or wrong-this is reality. Even if this wasn't true; the minister should want to be a lifelong learner.
 
There are four basic areas that make up the whole (synergism) of education capital relating to ministry. These are the fields that must be addressed in a relational manner in order to insure a balanced result:
  1. Continual growth in knowledge (cf. John 8:32; 2 Timothy 2:1- 3; 2 Peter 1:5-7; 1 Timothy 2:15).
  2. Continual development of skills needed for a balanced ministry; this includes methodologies to address a changing world.
  3. Continual development of character (i.e. Integrity, ethics, morals, etc.): "into the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-16).
  4. Continual passion for the ministry and growth in Christ-"fire in the bones" must continue to glow (Jeremiah 20:9). Passion is the driving force behind acquiring education capital.
There are numerous ways to invest in education capital: reading, attending seminars and workshops; study groups; watching media presentations, and so forth. The possible limitation of these is they don't require work. This is why a sound academic program, such as the MBS provides an excellent opportunity to invest in education capital.
Before you would invest in any physical investment opportunity for capital gain, you would investigate it thoroughly. Right? You need to do this also relative to our online MBS offering at the World Bible Institute. Does the education offer meet some of these requirements?:
  1. Does it have a solid, well-managed portfolio (curriculum, faculty)?
  2. Is the plan diverse (requires research, study, participation, etc.)?
  3. How regularly do you have to invest (study habits, deadlines)?
  4. Is it affordable (how much does it cost, how may I finance it)?
  5. Will it pay continuing dividends (in my ongoing ministry)?
  6. How flexible is the plan (may I enroll at any time)?
  7. What are the rules (qualifications for enrollment, etc.)?
  8. May I complete the program in my present ministry?
  9. Is the program delivered online?
  10. Are required books and course materials easy to acquire?
These are but a few of the observations that will help you decide on how, when and where you will continue your lifelong investment in education capital. DO IT NOW! Investment in education capital will pay dividends the rest of your life.
J.J. Turner, Ph.D.
Chancellor, World Bible Institute
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Few Scriptures are quoted and written about in congregations more than Hebrews 10:24, 25: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, NOT FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

   These two verses, especially verse 25, are used to remind Christians that the assembly of the congregation is very important. You don’t want to miss it. In fact it has been used to shame, intimidate, encourage, and even dis-fellowship members who don’t regularly attend the assembly on Sunday morning. They are charged with abandoning the assembly.

     Church attendance is one of the major concerns of most church leadership. The question is always being asked, “Why do certain members choose to miss church services? Next to the contribution the attendance number is a priority. The lingering question remains, “How can we encourage church members to attend the assemblies?”

     Here’s a wake up truth you may not have thought about. The arch enemy of God and all people, Satan, never misses a church meeting. Actually it doesn’t matter when the meeting occurs: in a home, in a retreat, seminar, etc. Satan never misses a meeting where the Word of God is being considered, even in private places when a person is considering God’s word.

     Several times in his Revelation letter to the Seven Churches of Asia, the apostle John called to their attention to the influence of Satan (cf. Revelation 2:9, 13, 24; 3:9; 12:9; 20:2, 7)

Satan (Devil) is Real

Sadly, Satan has been relegated to a creature in horror movies with red glowing eyes, horns and a long forked tail. He is a character who comes out on Halloween dressed in a red suit, with horns and his most potent weapon is a pitchfork, and he loves to scare children as the “Boogie Man.” Surveys reveals that numerous Christians don’t believe Satan is a real being; only a symbol. This places him in a position not to be taken serious, which is a major step in conquering believers (He already has nonbelievers, 1 John 5:19).

     The apostle Peter writes a very graphic description of our enemy: “Be sober, be vigilant, because your ADVERSARY the devil walks about like a ROARING LION, seeking WHOM he may DEVOUR” (1 Peter 5:8). If you’ve ever had the occasion to visit a Zoo at feeding time and watched the hungry lions roaming in their cages, you’ve seen a picture of what Peter is writing about.

     As we correlate the Scriptures relating to Satan’s activities, we see numerous examples of how he tries to deter, derail, discourage, and destroy people. It all started in the Garden of Eden with our greatest grandparents, Adam and Eve. He has not stopped—he is “roaring this very hour.” Here are some example of Satan’s attacks:

  1. After fasting for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness; at a time of physical weakness, Jesus is confronted several times by Satan. In His last response to Satan, Jesus said, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:1-11). If Satan was bold enough to challenge (tempt) Jesus, do you think he will bypass you and me? In the Book of Job we see his boldness as he challenges God (cf. Job 1 & 2).
  2. The apostle Paul didn’t underestimate the presence, power, and persistence of Satan. “Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and time again—but Satan hindered us (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Satan instigated persecution, ridicule, jailing, and other “wilds” in trying to stop Paul. Paul affirms the power and pseudo signs Satan continually attacks: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
  3. Satan gets involved in the stewardship practices of Christians—the church. The first “church funeral” involved Satan. A husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira, lied about the proceeds they received from the sale of property. Here is the apostle Peter’s remarks about the sin of the couple: “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of land for yourself? (cf. Acts 5:1-11).
  4. In his epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul wrote about the influence of Satan in the universe: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principles, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11, 12).
  5. The attacks by Satan were relentless on the apostle Paul. Here is what he wrote to the Corinthians: “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure” (2 Corinthians 12:7). He made it clear that “Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).

     Satan is real. God thinks so. Christ thinks so. Paul thought so. Peter thought so. The Bible presents the truth that he exists and is out to destroy.

Why Satan Never Misses a Church Meeting

Now to address our subject for this lesson: Why Satan Never Misses a Church Meeting. Before why look at why he never misses a church meeting, we needed to be reminded of one thing. Satan has “faith and believes God is real.” Here is how James wrote about Satan’s faith: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19). James’ point is that mental assent and verbal encouragement, no matter how politically correct it may be, is impotent. Satan has mental assent that there is a God. Contrary to the lack of spiritual behavior by Christians, Satan trembles.

     Here is why Satan never misses a church meeting: “Those by the wayside are the ones who HEAR then the DEVIL comes and takes away the word out of their HEARTS, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12). The Devil wants to steal the word out of hearts. And where is the word most frequently and persistently presented? In church meetings! In Bible classes, sermons, prayer services, group studies, seminars, workshops, etc.

     The Parable of the Sower was taught by Jesus to reveal what happens when the “seed of the kingdom”—the word of God—is sown in human hearts (Luke 8:11). When the seed in sown the first response comes from the Devil as he attempts to “take away the word out of hearts.” The next two hearts reveal how even those who receive the word, in time fall away (Luke 11:13. 14). The one-out-of-four hearts that make it is described in verse 15: “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who having heard the word with a noble and good heart, KEEP it and BEAR FRUIT with patience.” Satan loses one-out-of-four; wins 3 hearts.

     Satan is not overly concerned or excited about a Christian attending a church meeting; certainly he had rather they not, but what really matters is not being affected by the word—not intentionally doing anything about or with what is heard. Attend every meeting, sing all the songs, concert in prayer, take the Lord’s Supper, give your money, which are great habits. But don’t be a “DOER” of the word (James 1:21-26).

     How does Satan go about taking the word out of hearts? How about your heart? How about my heart? Here are some possible ways:

  1. By not thinking the Word applies to you (cf. psalm 119:11).
  2. By not being concerned about studying the Word (2 Timothy 2:15).
  3. By doubting what is heard. Skeptical or agnostic in thinking.
  4. By not understanding what is heard. Unanswered questions.
  5. By not willing to repent or change one’s life. Love a certain sin.
  6. By believing they can’t live the Word. “It’s too difficult”, “I’m not perfect.”
  7. By being sidetracked or distracted from what is being said. Daydreaming.
  8. By procrastinating—maybe tomorrow, or later; not now.

     The next time you are in a church meeting, regardless of where it is, or in private alone with the Word of God, remember: SATAN IS THERE WITH THE GOAL OF STEALING THE WORD. What intentional plan do you have to keep Satan from stealing the word from your heart?

© Dr. JJ Turner and ©Jeremiah Institute - All Rights Reserved (usage)

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