Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Fun Faces at Gigantic Cookie Baking Day

We are all totally pooped! We baked so many cookies today. Exhaustion has set in, but I did manage to snap a few pics. Good thing our fearless leader reminded me.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Cult Savvy Devotional 5

Things can get kind of jumbled doing these weekly devotionals, but I'll try to keep things tight and interesting. I uncovered a few more tidbits about the onset of Mormonism. When I first wrote about the golden plates I hadn't uncovered the "spectacles." Joseph Smith claimed that the angel Moroni had given him the pair for translating the hieroglyphics. Magical glasses? Magical Seer Stones? Hieroglyphics?

Joseph Smith's father-in-law began helping Joseph with the translation. A teacher named Oliver Cowdery became acquainted with the translators and he began to help also. Three men spending hours writing down whatever they believed they were reading in hieroglyphics. The three claimed that their relationships became so spiritual that they were visited in person by John the Baptist, Peter, James, and John. This visitation was supposed to have happened in Pennsylvania on May 15th 1829. The four biblical patriarchs were said to have ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic Priesthood.

The Book of Mormon was published early in the year of 1830. Later on in the same year, Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, and friends of Cowdery: David and Peter Whitmer Jr. officially founded a new "religious society" entitled,"The Church of Christ." Later the church was renamed "The Church of Latter-Day Saints." One of the more fast spreading cults had come into existence. This brings to mind some bible verses starting with:

Proverbs 30:5,6 Every word of God is tested; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words Or He will reprove you, and you will be proved a liar.

Deuteronomy 4:2 You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Revelation 22:18,19 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

Mark 7:13 thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that."

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cult Savvy Devotional 4

Cult Savvy Devotional 4

Several of our cookies are named after people. We have a Sandy, a Clayton, a Charlie and a Mazie Mae! Ever wonder where the name Mormon came from? Well, I'm about to tell you! Mormons are taught that around 600 B.C. Jewish people from the Middle East settled on the North American continent.

Two civilizations grew out of these immigrants. They were called the Nephites and the Lamanites. The Nephites and Lamanites were at war with each other. The Book of Mormon was written on golden plates by the commander & chief of the Nephites. His name was Mormon. Mormon later gave the golden plates to his son named Moroni. Moroni added some of his own writings to the gold plates and hid the plates in a hill called Cumorah. If you recognize the name Moroni that is because Moroni is the name of the angel who later on appears to Joseph Smith. The Nephites were all killed during a last and final battle with the Lamanites. The Lamanites went on to become ancestors to our Native Americans.

Mormons claim that there were 38 mighty cities during this time, but there is just one really BIG problem. Absolutely no archaeological evidence of these two peoples or their 38 cities has ever been found. No institution of higher learning other than Brigham Young University has ever tried to substantiate these wild claims.

Mormons choose to ignore studies of the Bible that consistently confirm the validity of the Bible. Their focus instead is on finding ways to legitimize their writings. There are no historical manuscripts for the Book of Mormon whatsoever. Joseph Smith claimed that the gold plates were taken back by the angel called Moroni after revealing its text to Smith. Mormons rely fully on Joseph Smith's word as a prophet. See you next week!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cult Savvy Devotional 3

Cult Savvy Devotional 3

For the next little while we'll be covering the cult of Mormonism and today I thought I would start with some Joseph Smith quotes: "I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole stood by me. Neither Paul, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the latter day saints never ran away from me yet."

"No man knows my history."

"The Book of Mormon is the most correct of any book on earth."

Well, I don't need to tell you that from a Christian standpoint these quotes are insulting, dishonest and downright blasphemous. In the first place, the followers of Jesus were tortured and martyred for their faith save John. I wouldn't call that running away, but quite the opposite. Secondly, people actually do know Joseph Smith's history. It includes many improprieties including dabbling in the Occult, treasure digging with seer stones, and adultery before his revelation concerning polygamy. Joseph Smith was just a man. This isn't to say that we aren't all sinners, but the point is that Christ was not a sinner...because He was the only perfect man that ever existed. Joseph Smith, and other sinners like him, are not who we should put our trust in. We worship and trust in the Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit....not sinful man. I find that leaders of cults never claim to be God, yet followers put all of their faith in these sinful people by trusting in their supposed revelations. Jesus is the only one who walked this earth, claimed to be God, and showed Himself as God through His miracles and life-giving crucifixion.

So, where did the book of Mormon come from? It was given to Joseph Smith in 1823 during a visitation by an angel of light named "Moroni." Joseph was 17 years old. Moroni told the young Joseph that there was a book written on golden plates by a former inhabitant of the continent that would contain the full gospel.

Four years later at the age of 21 Joseph used his seer stones to find the plates and dug them up. He then used his seer stones in his hat to look into the plates and was given the text of The Book of Mormon. Using seer stones is still prominent today used by people who are involved in contemporary witchcraft. Experts of the day recognized that the symbols used in the writing of The Book of Mormon as Egyptian.

In 1830, Joseph Smith published The Book of Mormon and founded the Mormon Church. Joseph continued to receive revelations and in 1833 these were published in a book called Book of Commandments. By 1835 a second such book would be published called Doctrine and Covenants and would go on to be considered divinely written alongside The Book of Mormon. Smith's revelation concerning polygamy came in 1843 while married to his first wife Emma who was threatened that she would be destroyed if she didn't acquiesce. Non-Mormons were shocked by the practice of polygamy and wrote newspaper articles exposing the cult. By then, Joseph had become arrogant and he decided to destroy the town newspaper. He was thrown in jail. The jail was surrounded by about 200 people who wanted to kill him. Mormon's claim that he died a Christian martyr, but the truth is that he died fighting with a six-shooter someone had smuggled into him and managed to kill at least two of his assailants.

Following his death, Brigham Young won the struggle for leadership and led his fellow Mormons west. They settled in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake. Mormons expanded their practice of polygamy with Brigham Young having 20 wives and 57 children. Joseph's wife Emma started a branch of the cult in Missouri. Mormons practiced polygamy until 1890 when pressure from the federal government made it illegal. Utah was denied statehood 6 times due to the practice of polygamy. It was rescinded as a practice of the cult, but not as a doctrine.

Let's leave off right here and take this up next week. Great study! So much information!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Cult Savvy Devotional 2

Cult Savvy 2

Mormonism or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a large and ever-growing cult in the world today. The administration of the church is complicated and includes from top to bottom: First Presidency with two counselors, Council of Twelve apostles, First Quorum of the Seventy, Second Quorum of the Seventy, and the Quorum's President. All being presided over by a group of Bishops. Mormons call territories made up of 500 to 1000 believers "wards." Each ward has a bishop and two counselors. Wards are grouped together into "Stakes" which are all overseen by a Stake President with two counselors. The Stake President is aided by twelve high priests who are known as the "Stake High Council."

Nearly every male Mormon who is at least 12 years of age belongs to the "Aaronic" priesthood. If deemed worthy these young men are ordained to the "Melchizadek" priesthood at the age of 18. Youth spend two years in missionary work and learn to quote the Bible at length.

Most Mormons are in almost total ignorance of the shady historical and theological sources of their religion. The cult was started by a man named Joseph Smith Jr. Joseph Jr. was born in Sharon, Vermont and was known as Joe Smith. He was a mystic, treasure hunter who used Seer Stones to find objects that were invisible to the naked eye. He would put the stone in his hat and walk around supposedly looking through the stone. He also used divining rods, talismans, and other implements of ritual magic. Joseph Smith Sr., the prophet's father, also participated in these rituals. The father also said that the Junior told people's fortunes with his Seer Stones. The prophet's mother said that her son became known for his use of a Seer Stone. In 1826 Joseph Jr. was taken to court and found guilty of using Seer Stones. In later years, Joseph Smith Jr. denied his use of these stones in spite of his parents acknowledgment of this and of a clearly documented court case.

Next week we'll talk about where The Book of Mormon came from and how this particular cult is yet another based on the revelation of one man.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Cult Savvy Devotional

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." Matthew 10:16

Sheep among wolves? For real? What in the world could God be thinking? Us little old sheep out here with all these wolves? What is our defense? Shall we choke them with some wool from our coat? Now I'm just being silly. Jesus meant that He had to leave and that we were gonna get persecuted by bad people...the wolves. Everything that they did to Him will be done to us in one form or another. However, if we put God's armor on everyday by studying our Bible we will be okay no matter what happens. We may be ridiculed, mocked, or tortured or we may lose our life, but we will be OK. Truth.

You know God could have said we should be as wise as owls, but He didn't. Owls just aren't sneaky enough I guess. "Serpents" has a much more powerful meaning. Serpents are sneaky, quiet, camouflaged, and lethal. I call this my "don't be stupid" verse. Doesn't sound very nice, but once you read the verse over and over you'll get my meaning. We need to be as quiet, sneaky, camouflaged and lethal as a snake. Sound too harsh to you? Well, put it in the concept of a sheep surrounded by wolves and then read those descriptive words again. Not too harsh now is it? It's called survival.

Jesus says to be as innocent as we are lethal. When we were children we were the perfect combination of this. Trusting to a fault, but we could accidentally burn the house down. Now, I'm just being silly again. This concept is very similar to Christ's perfect balance of grace and truth. Walk in faith, but be smart about it! Be nice, but be smart about it! Love, but be smart about it! Look at life through a biblical lens because if you don't you are not being wise as a serpent!

For me part of having wisdom is knowing as much about the wolves as I can. Teaching our children about the wolves will safeguard them their entire lives. I've decided to do a study of the major cults looking at each one separately. There are however some psychological traits that all cults have in common. They are as follows:

Closed-mindedness

The structure of whatever organization the cultist is participating in takes precedence over rational thought. In other words, they focus more on the cult and its founders as the ultimate source of all information than they do on their own thought process. These beliefs are so ingrained into the cultist that it is almost impossible to penetrate their thinking. Cultists are completely committed to the authority of the cult.

Conditional Love

Cultists have a personal dislike of anyone with opposing beliefs. This is taught in cults. Sometimes it is a dislike of the Christian message and with non-christian related cults it could be in opposition to any belief system including political or environmental issues. Cultists don't just reject the beliefs, but reject the person who holds those beliefs.

Authoritative Dogmatism

Cult founders make supernatural claims about spiritual revelations made to them personally. These revelations are meant to condition and control the minds of followers. Followers conform to the cult in an extreme way that is completely intolerant toward opposing facts. Cult leaders use their spiritual authority to change the rules and control the followers. Jehovah's Witness founders and Christian Science founder both claim that their personal writings are on par with the Bible itself. They go so far as to say without their literature the cultist cannot truly study the Bible. Cults require absolute faith in the supernatural revelations of their founders.

Double Think

Cultists are able to compartmentalize opposing facts and never connect the dots. These are the people Paul talked about in II Corinthians 4:4. The prince of this world, Satan, has blinded their minds. The Watchtower predicted that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would appear before the end of the 1920's, but of course it didn't happen. In spite of that their followers still cling to the prophetic principles of these same founders. All cults adhere to the peaceful harmony between contradicting facts.

There is one conundrum that I am curious about. Concerning the christian cultist: Why identify with Christianity if you don't accept Christ's claims about Himself? Is there any point other than to oppose Jesus? Thanks for reading all the way to here. We'll start with Mormonism next week and see where it goes and how long it goes. Love to all!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Truly God Devotional 12

Truly God Devotional 12

I love sitting in my yard. I love decorating it in the spring and summer. I have outdoor cats and they sit with me outside nearly every day. Each one has a unique personality and they add a lot of joy to my life. Still, nothing adds the joy that my relationship with Christ does. No matter what is going on in my life I rely on Him completely.

The cookie ministry has really been taking off and being a workaholic well, let's just say that I am up to the task. The Reachers Sunday School class is made up of the hardest working women I know. Our class includes a missionary to Africa, a Gideon, a registered nurse, a pastry chef, and me...a church librarian/workaholic! We really want to live out our faith by reaching others for Christ.

This is the last devotional in this Truly God series. It's not over because I wanted it to end. It's over because someone needed the book I was using more than I did. So, God ended this devotional on the number 12. I don't have to tell you that there's some serious 12 stuff going on in the Bible. Anyway, I thought I'd end by listing the titles or descriptions that Jesus told us about who He was and is. I'll end with another little story about a dream that I had concerning cookies and Jesus if you can imagine that!

Here's the list: Jesus is: Spirit Renewer, Gift Giver, Deity, Ascender, Water Giver, Messiah, Anointed One, Son of Man, Gift of God, Life Giver, Healer, Judge, One with the Father, Bread of Life, Securer, Protector, Holder, Raiser-Upper, Last Days Champion, Deliverer, Sacrificial Lamb, All Powerful, Light, Rock, Leader, God Glorified, Missionary Messiah, Good Shepherd, Rescuer, Blood Payment, Universal Authority and Savior.

Here's the dream: I'm sitting in a very homey kitchen and someone is at the oven with an apron on. The oven is open and cookies are going in or coming out. I'm not sure which. The person turns around to me and it is Jesus. He is baking me cookies! He smiles really big and says, "You think you make good cookies just wait until you taste mine."

Has Jesus ever came to you in a dream? I'm thinking probably so. If you don't mind commenting I'd love to hear your story. They say that many people have had a vision of Jesus or a dream of Him. I like that! Thank you Jesus for being my savior, my friend, my cookie baker! Woot! Gonna start a new devotional next week. Not sure what yet, but I know the Lord will send someone to tell me what it should be or He will tell me Himself. Love to all!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Truly God Devotional 11

The Jews are so underappreciated! It's important to remember that if it weren't for the Jews we wouldn't have our Christian faith. All of the disciples were Jews. Jesus was a Jew! Muhammad tried to get the Jews to abandon the Torah and they refused. Many of them were killed by Muhammad for their faith. Most of the disciples died for their faith. God chose the Jews as a people in order to bring Christ into the world and save humanity...His most wonderful creation. Jesus was payment for the price of our sins. God's covenant with Abraham still exists today. How we treat Israel is how we are treating God. That's just how important they are to Him.

John 10:17-18

"The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father. "

People like to say that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. Sure, they were highly involved as were the Romans, but Jesus makes it quite clear here that no one took His life but that He laid down His life of His own accord. Blame has no place in this event. The same circumstances would have happened no matter who was involved because God had ordained it. The plan from the beginning was for Christ to sacrifice Himself for mankind as payment for sin and then rise from the dead and return to Heaven. Jesus claims His authority and fulfillment of His Father's command. He is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. He is by choice the sacrificial lamb. The blood payment for sin. The creator and authority of the universe. Our Savior Jesus Christ! Praise God for His sacrifice.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Truly God Devotional 10

Truly God Devotional 10

Our neighbor has a beautiful pasture and they used to have lots of sheep in it. One day I was coming home and I noticed one of the sheep with his leg stuck in a tree branch. At least I thought it was stuck. The sheep kept picking its leg up out of the branch and then putting it right back in. I had to laugh when I thought about the fact that Jesus called us His sheep. Sheep are gentle animals, but unfortunately they are not too bright. We need Jesus just like sheep need a shepherd.

John 10:14,15

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-and I lay down my life for the sheep."

I think this is such a wonderful description of our relationship to Jesus. Let's think about what a shepherd does for his sheep. He protects his sheep and is willing to give his life up if necessary. He offers his sheep rest from wolves and other predators. He leads them to places where they can be fed and watered well. He rescues them from thorny bushes where they get hurt and tangled. He knows where each sheep is at any given time. He knows what makes each of his sheep unique and special. His goal is to give them a life of abundance and what he gets in return is their love and trust.

Jesus is the greatest shepherd who has ever lived. He is the good shepherd!!