Thursday, April 24, 2014

Stone Cold Steve Austin, Jars of Clay, Gay Marriage, Atheism culture, How do we respond?


The world we live in is currently facing some of the most trying dilemmas it has ever faced.  We live in the bloodiest times of humanity, yet often in the United States, in the west we end up feeling like we live in a bubble...  In a place where such backwards things as warfare are far behind us.

Of course that isn't true.  But sometimes our leaders like to pretend we've become superior to our corporate history as humans.  Have we?

One of the things that I've come to deeply appreciate about Christianity is it's uncanny ability to pinpoint the truth.  And it's the very unpopular truth.  Let me tell you a secret: I love being on the side of the undesired truth.  I've always gravitated towards that, whether it was being a libertarian, a political activist, or even an investigative truth seeker.

It reminds me of Steve Turner's poem called "The Modern Thinker's Creed."  Have a look:

We believe in Marx, Freud,and Darwin We believe everything is OK as long as you don’t hurt anyone to the best of your definition of hurt, and to the best of your knowledge.
We believe in sex before, during, and after marriage. We believe in the therapy of sin. We believe that adultery is fun. We believe that sodomy’s OK. We believe that taboos are taboo.
We believe that everything’s getting better despite evidence to the contrary. The evidence must be investigated And you can prove anything with evidence.
We believe there’s something in horoscopes UFO’s and bent spoons. Jesus was a good man just like Buddha, Muhammed, and ourselves. He was a good moral teacher though we think His good morals were bad.
We believe that all religions are basically the same-at least the one that we read was. They all believe in love and goodness. They only differ on matters of creation, sin, heaven, hell, God, and salvation.
We believe that after death comes the Nothing Because when you ask the dead what happens they say nothing. If death is not the end, if the dead have lied, then its compulsory heaven for all excepting perhaps Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Kahn
We believe in Masters and Johnson What’s selected is average. What’s average is normal. What’s normal is good.
We believe in total disarmament. We believe there are direct links between warfare and bloodshed. Americans should beat their guns into tractors. And the Russians would be sure to follow.
We believe that man is essentially good. It’s only his behavior that lets him down. This is the fault of society. Society is the fault of conditions. Conditions are the fault of society.
We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him. Reality will adapt accordingly. The universe will readjust. History will alter. We believe that there is no absolute truth excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.
We believe in the rejection of creeds, And the flowering of individual thought.
If chance be the Father of all flesh, disaster is his rainbow in the sky and when you hear
State of Emergency! Sniper Kills Ten! Troops on Rampage! Whites go Looting! Bomb Blasts School! It is but the sound of man worshiping his maker.

You can read through something like that and think yeah, that is how our culture tends to think.  "Man is essentially good, it's just his behavior that lets him down" and that's just how it is.  

Looking back at how I felt, how I thought living in that materialistic psycho-therapeutic materialistic mindset, I realize how oppressive it was.  Everything they were telling me about filling out resumes, working a high paying job, coping mechanisms, anti-depressant medications, as I dealt with increasing depression in my early teens.. everything they were telling me well defined the material American society I lived in.  The oppressiveness was that something utterly and completely essential was missing, there was a giant vaccum in the middle of all of it.  None of the lines were colored in.  There was no way to describe what was missing to them, the doctor, the therapist, the student counselor, or family members.  They had very well placed the various areas and ideas on the consumer man and it all fit together so well, yet it was crumbling and just beneath the surface was the lies, the dead bodies, the suicide attempts, the drug addict world, and the child sex slave industry.  Quietly and conveniently ignored when discussing the essential good of man.

So let's step into today, United States, April 24th 2014.  I read recently that Stone Cold Steve Austin has come out saying gay marriage is ok, because stone cold says so.  The culture applauds, on their feet, cheering.  No surprise there.  The front-man of a Christian band called Jars of Clay has come forward now in support of gay marriage.  No doubt the country will welcome him with record sales and open arms.

Once again hardly anything of interest.  I don't even want to talk about gay marriage.  I really don't.  I mean look at the incredible challenges facing our world.  Entire continents of people starving.  We've got the middle-east on the brink of explosion in the divide between the Arab nations and Israel and her allies.  The sex slave industry, poverty, unemployment, drone wars, the European economies collapsing and we want to talk about tolerance and gay marriage? 

No, we Christians want to talk about how awesome Jesus is.  But they hit us with the question in the mainstream media, time and again, "What do you think about gay marriage?"  And why?  Because once we stand by the conviction of believing the Bible, they've pigeon-holed us as intolerant.  So for the rest of the interview no one can hear anything about how wonderful Jesus is, because they've tainted us first off.

It's important for another reason though.  If culture, people, opinion, even scientists or sociologists can prove that gay marriage is good and right, they've just proved that God, the Bibles, Christians no longer have the moral high ground.  Our ancestors have proven that personally Christians are sinners, but we always point back to our teaching, the Bible, and it's perfection.  They will continue to attack it.  

Ricky Gervais has taken to teaming up with Richard Dawkins to hatefully bash the Bible, and point out that the Bible is full of intolerance, hatred, bigotry, sexism, and misogyny.  I actually feel personally responsible for this one.  I had taken an interest in Ricky Gervais, and I took to tweeting to his twitter account about Jesus Christ, and finding faith, and how it might help him and so forth.  Then I see a month later he's teamed up with Richard Dawkins and the new atheists.  I have no idea if it's just a coincidence, or what, but in any case there it is.  

As many of you know I'm a conservative leaning Libertarian, and so I occasionally check in on the developments as far as civil liberties and government go.  Of interest, Princeton University recently released a study indicating that the United States of America is no longer officially a democracy, but now more closely resembles an oligarchy.  An oligarchy is where an elite group of influential individuals controls the course of the nation.  In our case it's generally bankers, mega-corporation CEOs, industry leaders, and so on.  If you'd like to read the full story click here.   

So Christians friends, seekers and brothers and sisters, that is where we are at in developments today.  What are your thoughts?  How should we respond as Christians in a rapidly atheistic nation?  

Do we fight to reclaim Christendom?  Or is it gone for good?  Should we redefine ourselves or flee the changes?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Resurrection Sunday: Living a life of Worship

Colossians 3:14-17 ESV And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 


Hi everyone :)  How are you all doing?  I hope you're spending some time with family and enjoying a life in constant fellowship with the risen Lord Jesus Christ.  For this resurrection sunday sermon there are several thing I'm not going to do: I'm not going to explain the roots of easter, their pagan connections and so on and so forth.  I'm not going to give an angry cry for the return to Jesus Christ in the foundation of the holiday.  I'm also not going to teach regarding any doctrines or traditions regarding Good Friday or Resurrection Sunday, or any of that.  What I am going to do, is teach on how awesome and cool Jesus is, and how great it is to worship and love him.  Sound good?

Awesome.

Hebrews 13:15 ESV Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 


What is worship?  Is it singing on Sunday at church?  Is it bowing before God on our knees before bed?  Those are definitely examples of personal corporate worship and personal worship in it's simplest form.  But included are many other forms of worship.  In Hebrews 13:15, acknowledge his name.

What does that mean?  Talk about Jesus!  If you don't know what to say about Jesus, read about Jesus.  The Bible, or some good commentaries or some good books on the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  There are many.

1 Peter 2:5 ESV You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.


 Do you ever read 1 Peter in star-struck awe?  I do.  I love Paul's writings in a different way, but in Peter's work you can just sense a powerful clarity of interpretation of the grace of God.  1 Peter is a powerhouse book, it just blows me away every time I read it.  Romans chapter two and three, same thing, Paul knocks me flat off the chair every time. 

But truly, it's not Peter or Paul is it, it is certainly their styles of writing, their understandings of God that speak through the word, but it is the Holy Spirit that is upon me, given to me by Jesus when he saved me, that allows my mind to flower in understanding of the scriptures. 

Before Jesus saved me, did I give a crap about the Bible?  Nope.  Some old book?  Why would I?  But once I was saved, I could not put it down.  I was reading, listening, learning, studying, and it's still the same.. I can't put it down.  It's such truth.  It shines like a beacon above the din of lies, consumerism and foolishness that clouds the culture. 

Psalm 77:13 ESV Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? 


The Psalms are just wonderful aren't they?  I like to listen to Max recite them before bed, on my phone.  By Max I mean the audio NIV Bible.  It's quite well read.  I love the Psalms, and if you read through them you'll notice references to Jesus Christ, all over the place!  Just right here in Psalm 77:13, David writes your way is holy.  What is Jesus referred to as in John?  The way, the truth, and the life.  How does Luke refer to faith in Jesus in the book of Acts?  He calls it "The Way."

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. 


Isn't it wonderful to know, totally know that God is with all of us right at this moment?  He's as much with me as I write this, as he is with you as you're reading these words.  He is with the persecuted Christians in Pakistan.  He is with the starving Christians in Gambia.  He is with the luke-warm Christians in Europe.  He is with the backsliding Christians in the United States.  He is with us.  Always with us.  He is not limited by space or time, with you he has all the time in the world, he's not rushing off to deal with something else, he is able to both rush off to deal with something else, and patiently and attentively minister to your heart, your mind, your intellect, and your very soul.

In Zephaniah it was prophesied, "a mighty one who will save."  Well now we may say with certainty and rock-solid assurance, "a mighty on who did save."  Who has saved me.  And you.  And if you don't know him, if you can't seem to muster interest in scriptures or old books, don't worry.  The interest comes after you make your commitment to Jesus.

And in Zephaniah 3:17 we see a good picture of how God ministers to us.  When we know him, he rejoices over us with gladness.  When we please him, which is conditional on loving his son Jesus, he is well pleased in us.  Because he is well pleased by his son Jesus.  And so we are adopted family.  But more than adopted, we are blood family.  We are made new.  Our old selves are dead.

God rejoices over us with gladness.

God quiets us with his love, when we want to cry out in pain.

And God exalts us with singing.

1 Chronicles 16:29 ESV Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;


So knowing that God is full of love and expresses it and actively gives it daily, how will we respond?

We ought to respond in worship.  Not because we're suppose to, but because we want to.  Worship is transformative in that way.  When I pray for a few minutes, read the Bible, attend studies, and go to church, my interest and wisdom grows.  As a result I've sown good seeds, and a garden blooms in my heart.  Let the garden bloom in your heart.  Plant seeds, a year later, shorter, longer, see them grow.

God can and will use you, if you know and follow.  A year and a half ago I received the Savior and started this blog.  Today it's reached over 20,000 views worldwide.  That's a blessing.  When I first received Jesus Christ, I had no car, no work, I wasn't in college, I didn't have any friends, and I was bankrupt.  I didn't attend church, or Bible study, I didn't attend support groups, see a counselor, I didn't serve or help those around me.

Today God is doing a work in my life.  Today I write a blog.  Today I have a vehicle.  Today I attend counseling and support groups regularly.  Today I tell people about Jesus.  Today I have a job at a Salvation Army homeless shelter in town.  Today I'm a baptized member of a church, serving on three ministries in the church.  Today I attend Liberty University with a 3.85 grade point average.  Today I have friends.  Today I attend Bible studies.  And today I'm clean and sober from drugs and alcohol.  These are works of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit he gives.  I can take no credit, only that followed directions and found myself with the Holy Spirit within, and new motivations to love wisdom, love holiness, and love helping those around me.  That is the testimony, the rock solid, concrete scientific data that cannot be ignored.  Empirical evidence shows, that a doomed drug addict has new life today.  How can it be..

I was talking with a young man and he compared faith to Jesus Christ in believing in Leprechauns.  I don't know any leprechauns who are worshiped by two billions Christians worldwide.  And I don't know any Leprechauns that can cure hopeless drug addicts and turn them into serving, adoring Christians of powerful faith.  

Psalm 103:1-4 ESV Of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy



My point here is that Jesus Christ can do the impossible in lives.  For that reason and for so many others, he is deserving of our worship.  Our worship is not simply singing or praising or prostrating before him.  No.  Our worship is a daily song, and it's sung by acts of worship.  You volunteer at a food pantry, you sing before God.  When you share the gospel with a friend, you sing before God. When you play with your kids, you sing before God.  When you give food to a homeless man you sing before God.  When you smile to a stranger.. when you give a hug.. when you share a Bible verse.. when you help those in need.. It's all daily song, throughout the week to your loving Maker. 

Psalm 147:1 ESV Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.


 So as we go out and enjoy the holiday, and attend church on Resurrection Sunday, let's remember to have an attitude of daily worship in action and thought to God Almighty. Recall what Jesus Christ did on the cross.  And believe and know that he rose from death, by the power of God, and now sits, alive and well at the right hand of God the Father. 

I'll leave you with this powerful description of the life of Jesus Christ to close out today:

"He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men. Yet he spoke of coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out in terror at his coming, yet he was so genial and winsome and approachable, that the children loved to play with him and the little ones nestled in his arms.

His presence at the innocent joy of a village wedding, was like the presence of sunshine. No one was half so kind or compassionate to sinners, yet no one ever spoke such red-hot scorching words about sin. A bruised reed he would not break. His whole life was love. Yet on one occasion he demanded of the Pharisees, how they were expected to escape the damnation of hell.

He was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark realism, he has all of us self-styled realists soundly beaten. He was the servant of all, washing the disciples’ feet, yet masterfully he strode into the temple, and the hucksters and moneychangers fell over one another to get away in their mad rush from the fire they saw blazing in his eyes. He saved others, yet at the last, he himself did not save.

There is nothing in history like the union of contrasts which confronts us in the gospels; the mystery of Jesus is the mystery of divine personality."

James Stewart, Scottish theologian

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Sinful Heart of Man & Jesus Christ



Regarding Christian Counseling:
Tim Clinton defines Christian counseling as, "a triadic healing encounter with the living Christ, facilitated by a helper who assists this redemptive, healing process, helping another get unstuck and moving forward on the path to spiritual maturity and psycho-social-emotional health." Unfortunately perfection is not attainable for human beings in this life. As much as we'd all love to be perfectly conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, it just isn't possible. However there are many issues that can be cured of people within the church. It's very difficult in secular therapy to get rid of issues that just won't disappear. But in Christian counseling, the miraculous power of Jesus Christ is at work and can remove all kinds of addictions and difficult problems. I can attest to this truth personally. I was an active drug addict and alcoholic for twelve years. I tried to quit once on my own power and stayed sober for a year, but then relapsed. After calling out to the risen Lord Jesus, I've been clean and sober sixteen months. Jesus really makes the impossible suddenly possible. It's not mystical, magical, or theoretical, it's real. I was near death, and now I'm alive and bearing fruit in the lives of others.

According to Hebrews 10:14 (NIV) "For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." That is the great hope of Christianity and the powerful changing power of Christian counseling. The helper is not the changer, Jesus is. Biblical sanctification is one of my favorite topics. I write about it a lot on my blog. It's important that day by day I become more and more conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit will point to an area of my life where there is a problem. I'll feel the shame of it, and decide it must be removed. Then I go to Father God in prayer and ask him to remove the defect. Often through the Holy Spirit he'll guide me to a book I need to read, or a support group I can attend. Step by step my crooked places become straight. Issues can be cured, that's sanctification. It's also true that it's important to be caring, because some trials never end. Through Jesus and effective caring and curing, much progress can be made in the lives of the lost and in my own life personally.
Regarding the Heart of Man:
Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) says "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"  It's clear from scripture that the very nature of every single man or woman born on the planet Earth is to sin.  The only man who didn't have a sin nature was Jesus Christ, the God-man.  Yet even Jesus was tempted, but did not fall to that temptation.  It seems to me that scripture uses the idea of the heart to describe the wicked desires (sin) inherent in all people.   

I never wanted to know Jesus or anything about God.  I wanted to make up my own gods, or play spiritualism all the while sinning.  And it took a very broken heart for things to change in my life.  Psalm 34:18 (ESV) says "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."

It seems like often God will wait until someone is truly brokenhearted, and perhaps that is the time that one will be willing to receive a new heart of flesh, to replace the heart of stone (Ezekiel 11:19 ESV).  Scripture also tells many times that God is able to see the true intentions of the human heart, and he will "test" the heart (Hebrews 4:12 ESV). 

One we have received the savior, the Lord Jesus we can then draw near God.  Hebrews 10:22 (ESV) says" Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."  So once we know Jesus, it's important to have faith in him.  Proverbs 3:5 (ESV) says "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding."  Once we know God, two essentials are trust and faith, these are responses within the renewed heart.  

In conclusion, apart from God my heart is wicked.  Upon receiving the savior Christ Jesus, I am then able to slowly be sanctified through my life.  Inevitably though I will continue to sin, my heart is being changed, but it is not completed in this life.  In fact, it has already been completed by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  My heart has compassion and it grows better now, but the completed work is Jesus Christ.  I received the gift of a coat of righteousness from him, so that Matthew 5:8 (ESV) is now true for me when it says: "“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

References

Clinton, T. E., Hart, A. D., & Ohlschlager, G. W. (2005). Caring for people God's way: personal and emotional issues, addictions, grief, and trauma. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Recipes for the Babylonian Captivity: Guarding against Temptation in a Consumer Society

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No, I'm sorry this post doesn't actually have recipes.  Not food recipes anyway. The question I'd like to ask is this: How do we go about living in the highly consumeristic society within the United States, and western culture overall?  It's a challenging question and the answer might not be as obvious as we might think.  

Because there are ugly little truths that hide just beneath the surface of our suburban paradise.  Our material prosperity has lead many to walk away from God, hate God, mock God, and deny God's very exist.  The result has been secular humanism, the idea of the superiority and flourishing of man, fueled by science, inherently quite useful, turned into a religion and worldview unto itself.  The result of materialism and the glorification of man in his career and sexual prowess has *ding* you guessed it, led to spiritual bankruptcy, addiction, depression, and depravity of all kinds.  

Let's go even further, because our country's surface has a great way of materially convincing itself that it's all for the good.  That's the surface view, the average modern American in the suburbs, the city, and so on.  The picture is of school buses, green lawns, super stores, and shadow lit marble top bar restaurants.  We've even got culturally bent churches, come once a week, play holy-time and head off for another week of sin.  

Now here we are, actual Christians, who actually believe and know Jesus is alive and well in heaven at the right hand of Father God.  We know everything around us is temporary, we know for a fact that soon all things will be made new, and we will literally enjoy a new world where God has made all things new.  We're saved from the fate of this backwards little smoke in mirrors society of the US of A.  We are no longer consumers, we are Christians, servants of the Lord God, by the work of Jesus Christ.  

When considering recipes for the modern Babylonian captivity one must ask: are we captives?  We are stuck in the flesh until this world ends and our bodies our renewed for membership in the eternal city, on the eternal planet designed and built by the Author of life, the eternal Lord God of Heaven and Earth.  We are not living in a Holy nation, despite what hawk republicans might say, or what optimistic liberals might claim.  This is not the Israel of old.  I'm not saying the United States is the Babylon of Revelation, though it could be, but it certainly does resemble the Babylon of old, the nation King Nebuchadnezzar ruled over. 

Daniel 1:3-7 (NET) The king commanded Ashpenaz, who was in charge of his court officials, to choose some of the Israelites who were of royal and noble descent— young men in whom there was no physical defect and who were handsome, well versed in all kinds of wisdom, well educated and having keen insight, and who were capable of entering the king’s royal service—and to teach them the literature and language of the Babylonians. So the king assigned them a daily ration from his royal delicacies and from the wine he himself drank. They were to be trained for the next three years. At the end of that time they were to enter the king’s service. As it turned out, among these young men were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. But the overseer of the court officials renamed them. He gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar, Hananiah he named Shadrach, Mishael he named Meshach, and Azariah he named Abednego.


In the book of Daniel we see that the nation of Israel had been judged by God.  God allowed the Babylonians to invade and take captive Israel, and they were forced to live in exile in the foreign nation of Babylon.  When they were brought to Babylon, certain Israelites were selected to be brought up in the courts of Babylon.  It's interesting what they tried to do, first they gave them new names, and then they tried to acclimate them to Babylonian depravity, by feeding them fine foods and giving them fine clothing.  Daniel was very wise in his response.  He refused the food tactfully, by requesting vegetables from the guards arguing politely that he would grow stronger by eating vegetables instead of all the fine foods of Babylon.  He also did not keep the name he was given, but continued to use the name Daniel.  

There are two important lessons here, first Daniel separated himself from the luxuries of the culture.  He mindfully and tactfully refused to indulge.  We can do the same.  The small compromises we choose to make can very easily lead to larger compromises in the future.  We can eat simple foods, wear simple clothing, and be careful stewards of our possessions and money.  The second lesson, notice Daniel did not consider himself to be Belteshazzar.  He knew his name was Daniel.  We are not consumers.  We are not employees.  We are not evolved apes.  We're children of God.  Know your identity, as Daniel knew his in a foreign land.  Daniel was careful regarding sins inherent in the culture of Babylon.

We need to be careful regarding sin.  A lot of the sins in our society are just beneath the surface.  Some of these things aren't even sins, it's just best to avoid these areas.  So I'm going to walk through a list, and a lot of changes happened in me by work of the Holy Spirit over time.  Later the Spirit allowed me to see where he was adjusting me.  Deep down the Spirit was adjusting me, and guiding me away from sins, and useless endeavors.  So here we go.  I'm going to list a truth, followed by what our response can be as Christians in exile:

Truth: Many of the Super stores we shop at employ barbaric business practices.  The most notable of these is Wal Mart.  Wal Mart in no small way, treats their employees very poorly, and worse they use near slave labor practices in foreign countries to create their products.  To view a documentary called "Walmart: The High cost of Low Price" Click Here. 

In general many manufacturers, and super store companies will use products made in foreign countries, so it's a hard thing to avoid.  But as Christians, we ought to be mindful of such compromises.

Response: Shop consignment when possible. Without even realizing it I found myself shopping at places like Goodwill, where almost all the products are donated, reused.  That can be a small way of standing against human slavery.  I tend to shop at Aldi's for my food.  I'll go to thrift stores and dollar stores for my daily needs.  And it's hard to be perfect in this area, but we can be intentional about learning to get by with less.  Not only do we support reusing products, we also stand against human slavery, as well as train ourselves to be humble in our property and appearance.  Not to mention it just feels good to do it this way.  I can't explain exactly why, but it just does.  So give it a try.  

Truth: The music you listen to is communicating messages to your subconscious.  Symbolism, lyrics, messages.  Artists like Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Eminem, and so on contain lyrics that will impact your mind negatively.  You'd be surprised how many people, a lot of them Christians will miss this entirely.  The culture is communicating demonic images, symbols, lyrics and messages via music.  It just is.  In fact it's becoming more and more obvious in it's presentation of such.  So be careful what you're listening to.  This actually happened to me recently, I was listening to Death Cab for Cutie, an indie rock band that I've enjoyed over the years.  Soon I realized I was listening to lyrics that were quite atheistic.  Same thing with another of my favorite bands, Dismemberment Plan.  It's everywhere.  Just as God works through us, the enemy will communicate his messages through non-believers.  

Response: Just be careful.  I'm not saying you have to, have to, have to switch to all Gospel rock all the time.  Not at all.  Just be cautious.  Pray, and use discernment.  It's not rocket science, if Eminem is making a horn symbol with his hands on his forehead, don't listen to that music!  If Miley Cyrus is half naked twerking on a guy in a demon outfit, turn that music off!  What are you people stupid?  A blind moron could tell that this is use of depravity and demonic imagery to impact children.  "Oh shes just expressing herself" wow, what are you a hollywood apologist?  Get real.  Its intentional, and it's wicked, back away Christian brother.

Truth: Movies are also communicating messages to your subconscious.  Sex, sex, sex.  It sells.  Of course it does.  Violence, blood, gore.  Some people want to dress up like zombies, some people want to dress up like survivors.  It is making an impact on your mind.  We all have certain desires to be part of epic adventures, to be a righteous hero against evil. Those desires are God given, and we can use them in our efforts at being powerhouse Christians in the world.  But what if the movies we watch are our attempts to meet those internal desires?  What if we're vicariously living through the adventures of superheroes like Batman and Luke Skywalker?  Maybe we need to start being aware of how much of our healthy desire to make a difference are being gulped up by thrilling movies.

Response: We can still enjoy movies to a certain amount.  Just don't go overboard where it's becoming an addiction to television or media.  If you're starting to care more about the latest releases then about Jesus, *ding* red flag.  Total abstinence is possible, if you'd like, or just have healthy boundaries and limits on how much you'll watch.  Gather your healthy desire to make a difference, and sign some online petitions.  Post on social media regarding Jesus.  Volunteer at a local homeless shelter or food pantry.  Start a prayer group or Bible study.  Start a blog even ;)

Truth: Television commercials are designed to successfully tempt you into indulgence.  Of course they are.  That's how money is made.  Here look at this ice cream sunday.  Don't you deserve it?  Here look at this beautiful half naked woman, if you drink this kind of vodka you'll have her for sure.  You need this kind of insurance, look at this brutal car accident, that could be you, see how much you need it?  Diabetes testing supplies, kitchen supplies.  Look at this majestic valley, and oh my, look at this shiny new car and we affirm your individuality, if you buy this car you're a true outdoorsy rebel.  You wouldn't want to be left behind would you?  You need this product.  

Response: Do you see what I'm hinting at here?  It's a barrage of enticement and temptation.  Learn to shut off the television.  Angle your furniture so it's not all facing the television.  Better yet, put the TV is storage.  Invest in a book case.  Cancel the cable, limit yourself to basic channels.  Or get rid of all channels, and limit yourself to occasional movie rentals only.  However far you wanna go with it, it's your choice.  Just consider the larger implications. 

Truth: Being a sports fan can lead to idolatry.  Sports are fun, sports are awesome, sports are great to watch.  No sin in any of that.  But when you've got tens of thousands all dressed up, drunk, screaming and shouting, surrounding a field where sports are being played, you've got something that would look a lot like congregational worship to outsiders.  Is our internal desire to worship being gulped up by following sports?  Is our internal, God given desire to follow and be a part of something special... being drank up by our allegiance to certain sports teams? 

Response: Enjoy in moderation.  Consider wearing a sweatshirt with scripture on it, instead of a Green Bay Packers logo.  Get a Jesus saves bumper sticker, instead of that New York Giants emblem.  Redirect your passion to the support and propagation of the Kingdom of God.  That's the best team to be on, it's the best team to root for, I'm 100% on that one.  Plus it really means something and it really matters, forever. 

Truth: Time is very important.  Consider how your time is being spent.  Are you having to work more often, and spend less time with your family, because of unhealthy spending?  The culture says "time is money."  Well they're wrong.  The truth is, money costs time.  Time is infinitely more important than money.  The enemy, the evil one, when you've got lots of good things happening in your life, will try to squeeze you by claiming time.  It'll appear quite innocent at first, take some extra overtime at work, spend more time refining the bills to save every possible penny, overspending, etc.  Pretty soon prayer time is squeezed out of the schedule, so is Bible study, and eventually the television is spending more time with the kids than you are.  Not good at all!

Response: Budget responsibly, learn to exist on less, and then allow yourself to work less.  50 hours a week is ridiculous.  In my view, 40 hours a week is too much as well.  Shoot for 30-38 hours a week.  Spend more time with your kids.  They need it so much, they really do.  Television is tempting them left and right, media is exposing them to sex at very young ages, their media role models are druggy sex addicted psychos like Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus, public school pushes scientific evolution as complete fact always all the time, and the doctor wants to force feed them amphetamines and anti-depressants.  They really really really need you mom and dad.  They really do.  Make time, and make even more time to teach them, instruct them, guide them up in all truth of the Bible and Jesus Christ.  Please, I'm begging you, gather the time.  

Truth: Prescriptions medications (like anti-depressants, ADD meds, anxiety pills) are screwing with your head.  Believe it.  The number of recalls alone should trigger bells and whistles.  In my considerable experience, of being addicted to medications like Adderall, Clonazepam, and Ambien, Doctors downplay consistently how addictive and mind-altering these chemicals are.  It's just scary.  Anti-depressants it's the same thing.  I've been on prozac, lexapro, and many others.  These medications are hard to get off of, and the true impact they make on the human brain is still largely a mystery to medical professionals.  

Response: Regard the Babylonian medication industry with severe skepticism.  Medications can be a wonderful thing, for diseases as well as some mental concerns.  However, we've taken it too far.  Giving such young children amphetamines is not just a bad idea, it's downright wicked.  Of course there are exceptions.  But many of our children are not those exceptions.  In addition, research birth control options to make sure what you're using isn't an abortifacient.  Don't ever take any bio implants.  It's not science fiction.  They already regularly "chip" household pets.  And now they're starting on children.  "In case they get lost."  Of course.  Be careful.  Recall the book of Revelation.  "The mark of the beast" in the right hand or forehead.  This stuff is real folks, it's in the Bible, get on board with it.

Truth: Processed foods, and genetically modified foods are making you sick.  There is a reason you have so little energy.  The FDA is very lax on how they monitor GMO foods (Maybe because a former Monsanto employee is the current head of the FDA).  In fact they aren't even required to be labeled.  You can thank Monsanto for that one.  Chances are almost all the foods you eat are both processed and genetically modified.  This was really eye opening for me.  If you'd like to learn more, a good documentary on the food industry is called Food Inc.  Click to view it. Also here is the trailer for a documentary called "Fat, Sick, and nearly Dead."  It discusses GMO foods and suggests juicing as a healthy alternative.  Consider renting it.

Response: Obviously switching to an all-organic food diet is the solution, but unfortunately I'm not able.  Because organic foods are so ridiculously expensive.  I'm too poor to eat all organic, so I definitely understand that this is a tough one.  But I try to at least be eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and nuts, even if they are genetically messed with garbage that's polluting my body.  Oh well, it's a goal for the future when I'm not quite as broke. 


Do you see how almost none of these issues of truth are readily apparent in our society?  Our media and television are very good at quietly avoiding the truth behind so many of our cultural practices as Americans.  Why?  Because media relies on advertisers for funding.  Advertisers of course want to make sure consumption is encouraged... you get the idea.

As Christians we don't have the luxury of ignoring these issues.  We know we'll all be called to account one day.  Thankfully Jesus Christ had made it possible for us to evade judgment and eternal damnation.  But while I'm on Earth, I want to please my heavenly Father whenever possible.  So I want to be considering these issues.  

I know it's a lot.  Make small adjustments over time.  Pray to the Holy Spirit for help discerning these issues.  We all have grace enough for all our failings.  For me, I want to be the best Christian I can be.  That means going against the stream when needed.  Remember what Daniel did?  He made up his mind, and stood his ground.

Daniel 1:8-21 (NET)But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the royal delicacies or the royal wine. He therefore asked the overseer of the court officials for permission not to defile himself. Then God made the overseer of the court officials sympathetic to Daniel. 10 But he responded to Daniel, “I fear my master the king. He is the one who has decided your food and drink. What would happen if he saw that you looked malnourished in comparison to the other young men your age? If that happened, you would endanger my life with the king!” 11 Daniel then spoke to the warden whom the overseer of the court officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: 12 “Please test your servants for ten days by providing us with some vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who are eating the royal delicacies; deal with us in light of what you see.” 14 So the warden agreed to their proposal and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days their appearance was better and their bodies were healthier than all the young men who had been eating the royal delicacies. 16 So the warden removed the delicacies and the wine from their diet and gave them a diet of vegetables instead. 17 Now as for these four young men, God endowed them with knowledge and skill in all sorts of literature and wisdom—and Daniel had insight into all kinds of visions and dreams.
18 When the time appointed by the king arrived, the overseer of the court officials brought them into Nebuchadnezzar’s presence. 19 When the king spoke with them, he did not find among the entire group anyone like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, or Azariah. So they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and insight the king asked them about, he found them to be ten times better than any of the magicians and astrologers that were in his entire empire. 21 Now Daniel lived on until the first year of Cyrus the king.

Daniel didn't flee for the hills to become an amish.  He didn't start a hippie colony on the fringes of society.  He stayed where he was, but resisted temptation.  He drew lines in the sand against indulgence and compromise.  Meanwhile he remained in the society to engage it, and God blessed him for doing so.  
 


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A bit of encouragement for my friends

John 3:17 (ESV) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

My brothers and sisters in covenant with the God who is real,

Blessings be upon you, blessings upon blessings as we serve out our remaining time on the planet earth.  Our God is love and he is power and he is mighty in strength!  He stands in power over all things, who can explain him?  Who can see his boundaries, or stand in judgment over his decisions?  

Yet the Earth is a spinning ball of trouble.  What sin has yet to be committed?  What sorrow have we spared ourselves?  Sometimes I'm so discouraged by the incredible problems facing our generation, but I take heart, for our savior has overcome the world. 

Conspiracy upon conspiracy, corruption on wall street, criminal governments, international banking scams, satanic imagery in the media, marxist atheism prevailing on college campuses, and the abortion genocide, just to name a few of these issues, and the task seems quite daunting at times.  I look puzzlingly at Christians who seem to mesh into the culture and embrace it, but it's not for me to judge their actions. 

Day in and day out I find myself faced with new situations where I may represent a bit of God's grace and mercy.  Mercy is forgiveness we have of our sins at the cross of Jesus Christ.  Grace is the redemptive work the Holy Spirit does in our lives on a daily basis.  

We are richly blessed to know and be in communion with the author of life.  

1 John 3:2 (ESV) Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 

 Is your heart directed by God?  Draw near to him not in word only, but also in your emotions, your feelings.  Surrender yourself to him on a daily basis, give yourself over obediently to his direction and loving guidance.

Give yourself a nudge to the homeless and the helpless.  When you consider walking away, or driving off, instead, fight through the fear and awkwardness, and serve those who have nowhere to stay, and suffer all manner of affliction.  This is pleasing to God.

Isaiah 58:10-11 (ESV) If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
 
I'm honored and humbled to be here to encourage you: Don't give up the race.  Don't grow weary in doing good.  Keep the faith, day in and day out.  When your start getting tired of loving and helping others, go to God and confess your confusion and sadness to him.  He is not offended at words spoke in emotion, in fact he prefers our genuine tears to any false religious ceremonialism.  

Our God laid the foundations of the Earth.  He wove galaxies and nebula between his fingers, with no effort at all.  He rested for pleasure not necessity.  His thoughts planted the burning centers of stars in the far corners of space-time.  His whims sent rocks hurtling between solar systems.  His righteousness and curiosity set humanity on the Earth.  His justice saw the results of sin in the human heart pervert the creation into futility, but his mercy and grace sent the savior Jesus Christ into the world, and as such, all things will one day be made new.

Revelation 22:1-5 ESV / Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

Friday, April 4, 2014

I'm outraged by the forced resignation of Mozilla's CEO over his support of traditional marriage, and you should be too.




"Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich resigned under pressure after gay rights activists demanded that he step down or recant his support of traditional marriage laws.
Eich donated $1,000 to support Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that amended the state's constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
"I don't want to talk about my personal beliefs because I kept them out of Mozilla all these 15 years we've been going,” Eich told The Guardian. “I don't believe they're relevant.” "
- The Washington Examiner article

They've gone too far.  And we as a people, as a Christian nation must respond. We must respond politely, but we must also respond directly. The issue of marriage equality has gone from equal rights, to bullying and harassment of those in the apposing view. 


Is Brendan Eich guilty of any discrimination?

None.

Is Brendan Eich known for making lewd, or cruel statements regarding same sex marriage?

Nope.

Did Brendan Eich seek to represent Mozilla as a corporation that is pro-traditional marriage?

Not even close.

Did Brendan Eich use company funds to support proposition 8 in California?  

No.

In the United States we have the freedom to endorse either same sex marriage or traditional marriage.  Obviously people will be upset if we're rude about how we support issues, but even then, we still have fundamental rights.  

This is not an issue of tolerance.  If it were about tolerance, then tolerance ought to go both ways.  I support traditional marriage, you support same sex marriage, and tolerance means that we both respect each other, care about each other, and respectfully disagree.  This is not a tolerance issue.  This is "you need to endorse and support our position or we're going to get you fired."  Period.  

And that's organized insanity.  We take a lot of punches as Christians.  Sometimes we have to.  But imagine if it were the secular community, the liberals, atheists and so on, dealing with a Muslim dominated religious society, instead of us?  There would be a lot more violence.  So maybe they think they can walk all over us because we're Christians.  I don't agree to that. 

It's time to speak out, and get loud about this issue.  I'm calling on all Christians to start signing petitions, and writing media, writing legislators, sending emails, and posting on social media.  Let me emphasize that we need to be polite and respectful.  Do not be bigoted or hateful toward gay activists or their agenda.  Instead, defend what you believe, offer love and respect, but also demand your right to religious beliefs.  Demand your right to support traditional marriage without being pressured into being fired.  

This was a crime committed by these gay activists.  It was work place harassment against this CEO.  And it will open a flood gate of religious intolerance against us, if we don't draw a line in the sand today.  

Be in prayer, seek Jesus Christ, seek God's assistance as we return our nation to it's traditional Christian values.  Mistakes were made in the past, bigotry and hatred were used against these people.  They fought back, which it was good and right for them to do, but they have gone too far this time.  Don't hate them for it, don't return to bigotry or condemnation, simply demand your right to take the apposing position.  We will not stand for this kind of intolerance against our beliefs, we will not be harassed in the workplace for our legitimate positions.  This nation, the United States was founded on the right to respectfully disagree.  That's freedom of speech, that's liberty.  Mozilla made a terrible mistake by falling to the intolerant harassment and pressure.  So let's get loud about this issue, and turn the tide in this country.  

Go in Peace, but do Go.


Monday, March 31, 2014

I'm very encouraged by Son of God, God's not Dead, and Noah. We're engaging a media obsessed culture in a Biblical manner.



"Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?
Not even close.

Has quantum cosmology explained the emergence of the universe or why it is here?
Not even close.

Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?
Not even close.

Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought?
Close enough.

Has rationalism in moral thought provided us with an understanding of what is good, what is right, and what is moral?
Not close enough.

Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?
Not even close to being close.

Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?
Close enough.

Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?
Not even ballpark.

Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt?
Dead on."

-David Burlinski, The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions


I thought I'd start with a rather engaging quote by David Burlinski, which I borrowed from Ravi Zacharias, he's used this reference once or twice to illustrate his points.  It's quite thought provoking and describes something that you kind of know is there, but it's hard to put a finger on... that is, the pretensions of the scientific community, and the actual situation being not in line with reality.

It's a feeling I love, when someone scratches a spot I know is there, but I couldn't seem to find it before.  Just like when I read G.K. Chesterton and he talks about the quiet oppressiveness of materialism.  

I spent Friday and Saturday with my mother, which was absolutely wonderful.  In the wake of the divorce of my parents, there was so much destruction.  And I guess through all of it, 12 years plus, we really were divided.  My mother and I used to be very close when I was a kid.  So it's been hard.  On both of us.  But watching her first born slowly kill himself with drugs was probably especially difficult.. for someone so sensitive.  My mom is a nurse, a care-giver.  

But it was nice to spend some time with her.  So thank you Jesus, for giving us time together.  I spend a lot of time somewhat separated, whether at work, at home, on the internet, at church, or at support groups.  I feel a part of, yet different. It's hard to trust these days.  The only one I trust is Jesus.  No one else was there for me at rock bottom but Jesus.  Everyone else had left.  But Jesus was there to help me up.

Anyway, when my mom and I hung out among other things we went to see Noah.  And I loved it!  (Gasp, blasphemy.)  I know.  I'm not even gonna cut it down on my blog.  It wasn't particularly biblical perfection.  But like Lord of the Rings, it had biblical themes running through it.  Second chances, judgment, faith, trust, and the theme of sin was quite powerful in it.  

So, instead of blasting the movie, condemning it, and pushing it away... I enjoyed it for what it is.  And that way I can then engage culture, and pray for those who are seeing it, that their interest would be sparked, that they'd be saved eventually by Jesus.  That's just my approach, my concern isn't to self righteously blast anything, but to become all things to all people, just like Paul, and to see as many saved as possible. 

The picture at the top of this post is just awesome.  I love how it simply breaks down the tenants of the Christian faith so plainly.  The builder of it does a lot of such pictures, definitely be sure to like their page on Facebook: Christian Digital Artwork.   

I'm feeling quite encouraged actually.  The atmosphere is changing bit by bit.  Of course Christians fight it every step of the way, which is so incredibly frustrating.  I'm so tired of Christians being so negative.  Just rudely trashing the Noah movie, rudely trashing this speaker or that pastor, this church or that church.. arguing over predestination, arguing over "seeker-friendly" services, arguing over evangelism, and on and on and on.  Divisions!  Divisions!  Too many divisions, we cannot reclaim the west if we divide, divide, divide, over small issues.  And any moron ought to know that.

Never-the-less people are standing up, and putting things together.  Just like the Christian digital artwork page.  Things are happening in the national media that are just wonderful.  Three movies now very recently in theatres across the entire nation!  Do you understand how wonderful that is?  That's millions of people we tend to never interact with in our local churches being engaged.  For the part of "Noah", their artistic curiosity is powerfully engaged.  For the part of the movie "God's not Dead" their intellectual questions, interest, and skepticism are being engaged on the national level!  Wow, Praise to God!  And with the movie "Son of God", it's just straight up sharing the gospel.  God is being very gracious with these three developments, and I can't say how pleased I am.

Are there problems with all three, minor issues, even with Noah some larger issues?  Yep.  But I don't care.  Because the gains far outweigh any costs.  And I have to think about how I'm representing Christ with my reaction.  If I'm getting all bent out of shape, crabby, complaining, and rudely mocking these things.. I'm not being a good picture of Christ.  I'm showing people that they were right about Christianity being a closed-off, judgmental, hypocrite den of fools, backwards, and behind the times.  We don't have to compromise our theology by discussing these movies in a friendly way.  

"Oh yeah I saw that Noah movie, it was fun and engaging, but let me tell you about how it really happened in the Bible.  This, this, and this were great from the movie!  But this, this and that actually happened this way.  But isn't it great to see elements of what it might've really been like?" 

See how we can be polite and courteous, and while engaging their interest in the movie, and applauding certain parts of the movie, we can then lovingly share the truth?

Again and again I read these blog posts from others, and I'm thinking my goodness, is the purpose to share Christ and be a good Christian, or to self righteously condemn everything around us, put our opinions out there no matter what and drive ourselves into monk monasteries?  

Alright, rant over.  The point is, God is working in the United States.  When you see three movies in rapid succession on the national level, being seen at theatres everywhere, well wow.  That's really something.  Millions of people who would never, ever think to walk into a church, but when we meet them where their interest is, like television, movies, movie theatres, and the internet (we're really a media addicted culture at this point) then we're meeting them on their terms.  Just like Paul did on Mars Hill, when he engaged the cultural religious beliefs of the Greeks and found a place to interject the truth of Jesus Christ.  And some heard him and believed as a result.  

The debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye recently is also encouraging, see we're claiming the front stage for a renewed interest in Christianity.  We're reaching far beyond the borders of our church walls to relevant levels of interaction.  

It's the same with the Veritas forum visiting major colleges across the country with the message of Jesus Christ.  It's the same with Christian apologists debating the new atheists on campuses around the country as well.  On the international level, it's RZIM, Razi Zacharias and his crew of apologists taking the message across the world.  And it's missionary organizations sending to countries in the troubled 10/40 window, countries like India, Pakistan, China, Iran, and Syria.  

So I'm greatly encouraged, and also willing to exhort and admonish American Christians to abandon their fundamentalist condemning attitudes and embrace a more culturally engaging, yet still doctrinally sound view on sharing the truth of Jesus Christ.  

This is wonderful, keep praying for non-believers and the renewal of the church body.  Keep working hard at your evangelism efforts whether it be at home, in the streets, on the internet or at the pulpit.  We're starting to move in the right direction, but it will take long and hard sustained work, by a very dedicated few.  That's us.  Most Christians will not be on board with that kind of work.  But we are.  Keep sharing Bible verses on social media, keep talking to friends, keep inviting, even when turned down, or yelled at, or mocked, keep going friends.  The riches of eternal life await us all.  I can see the ball beginning to roll, for another great awakening for Jesus.  Keep it up, God be with you.  Amen.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Father, Comforter & Savior



Loving God for the sake of His holiness is a perfect form of love. Loving God for who he is, because he is worthy. And in practice this makes perfect sense to me, because I have always longed for justice in politics, and even my heroes in politics are flawed. My heart aches for true justice in world poverty, in the abused under classes, the minimum wagers. My heart aches when I see a prideful but just leader, because they have succeeded in one area but failed in another. But when I look to the life of Jesus I adore, because of his perfect holiness, humbly serving, and despite all the lies about Christianity and Jesus, none can take away from me what the Bible actually says, and when it's objectively inspected, there is no sin in the life of Jesus, perfection. Unheard of, truly. At that moment I am adoring God for the sake of his holiness. That is worship. I can also love God for the sake of his love. But that's another direction entirely.

There are three areas that God provides for us, as his children.  He comes to us as the loving parent, the Father.  The Father who throws a party when we stumble into his arms.  The Father who keeps us safe, who shields us and protects us.  The Father we take refuge in.  The Father who raises his anger at those who hurt us.  The Father is the sovereign role, the sun to my earth as it were.  I revolve around the Father, his sovereignty, his desires for me.  He is the ruler.  He is the God, I am the servant.

Another role is that of the comforter.  God comes to us as the friend, the encourager.  He comes as the changing spirit within us.  He comes as the face to face companion in day to day life.  He speaks through us in very personal ways.  He hears our prayers even when we whisper them, or say them in our heads.  God the sovereign sun in my sky, yet he is also the light in my heart.  He is also the presence next to me, encouraging me, comforting me, loving me, and filling me with all joy.

Then there is the wonderful role of God, the Savior.  He comes as my hero, as my king, as my wonderful redeemer.  He is the source of all my inspiration.  His life is the perfect example for me to follow.  He makes a way for me, when there was no way at all.  He removes my sin, on the cross.  He saves all humanity, all across time itself.  Jesus Christ is the completion.  He is the finished work.  He comes as the suffering servant, providing the example, but much more, he provides the removal of my sins.  There is no role like this, in any other religion, nothing touches the life, death, resurrection, and heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ.  Jesus washes away my sins on the cross, and gifts to me a coat of perfect righteousness.  

Without Jesus, there is no Father in my life, and there is no changing Spirit.  

Together these roles of God make up the Christian understanding of the trinity, which I hesitantly accept.  Very simply, it's like this, there is one God and he has three hats, sometimes he has his Father hat on, then sometimes his Spirit hat on, and sometimes his Savior hat on.  That's as simple as I can put it, one God, three hats.  (I heard that from Tim Keller, I know, I'm just borrowing the analogy.)

I was praying the other night, you know, just my nightly prayer before bed.. and something happened.  I'm not sure exactly what.  But I felt a powerful presence in the room with me, and the most vague outline.  I don't know exactly what happened, but it was like my Lord was in the room with me.  And.. you know I thought about it.  That's what I believe, whenever I pray, anywhere, God is hearing, God is near, God is listening intently.  The powerful presence though, wow.  I trembled at it..

Becoming a Christian has been the most wonderful and trans-formative journey I've ever been on.  It's also been the hardest thing I've ever done.  But a strength comes that just wasn't there before.  I'm doubly challenged, yet I can also feel the strength given from God to complete every task.  He is that kind of provider.  His only requirement is that I dedicate myself entirely to him. 

I feel special.  Often challenged.  Sometimes lucky, other times blessed.  Sometimes I'm angry, other times.. tired.  Being human is odd like that.  We have victory, yet paradoxically the evil seems to grow.  The church grows as well in the world, stride for stride, matching move for move against the kingdom of Satan.  It's mysterious.  I wonder, when will it finally end?  When will we finally have the renewal of the natural world, and the renewal of our physical bodies? 

I often struggle to understand the mysterious words of the book of Revelation.  It really ought to be known.  The issue comes for me in Revelation chapter 20.  I don't understand the timeline, the progression of events.  I don't trust interpretations I've read, so I'm waiting until I have the chance in my studies to go through Revelation extremely carefully to best understand things after death.  That's the focus, after death, and the idea of the 1st death, and the 2nd death.  The city of New Jerusalem, with walls and gates, and some sort of darkness outside the gates... so incredibly mysterious.

We tend to get it wrong as humans.  When Jesus came two thousand years ago the Jews thought the coming messiah would restore Israel, and bring the kingdom by military conquest.  These people, the religious leaders of that day would routinely memorize the entire Old Testament.  And they got it that wrong.  I don't trust the evangelical books and established ideas too well, unless I've also put my hand in and actually read the scriptures.  I watch diligently now as well for anything the modern church is doing that is not biblical, but culturally based.  The oppression comes when old non-biblical traditions are forced onto people as law.  

There is so much failure, mis-allocation of funds, corruption, greedy mega-churches, division, condemnation, foolish decisions, selfishness..  I feel like I always have to be on guard.  

The situation today, reminds me of the situation in the movie the Lord of the Rings, the fellowship of the Ring.  The kingdoms of men are divided and leaderless.  There is corruption everywhere.  Everyone is kind of half asleep at the wheel.  The church can't seem to hold the evil at bay anymore.  

Compare Gondor to America, kind of past it's prime, spread too thin, becoming corrupt, poor leadership, and it's armies of Christians can't hold the evil orc hoards at bay much longer.  If Rohan is Europe, they're kind of scattered about, unprepared, way past it's prime of living Christianity.  Their leadership is corrupted and ineffective.  Compare Isengard to the Vatican, extremely corrupt, about to join the enemy.. it's just a ripe situation for evil to prosper and grow exponentially.  

I guess that's just how it is.  Christianity since it's very beginning has been rejected and hated.  It's always been on the very edge of destruction.  Whether after the crucifixion of Jesus.  Or later during the Roman persecution of the church in the 1st and 2nd century.  At the time of the fall of Rome to the barbarian tribes.  And again, when the Muslims invaded Europe.  Yet again as the Catholic church became corrupt, all the way up to the reformation and the divide of the universal church.  It's just been one desperate situation after another.

But God always shines through.  Jesus always makes a way.  Just like Gandalf, riding about between Rohan and Gondor, here and there gathering up the strength of humanity to face evil.  In the same way we're always facing destruction, desperate odds as Christians.  Always a new evil overruns, splashes across the gates in flood fashion.  Yet we can always rely on our wonderful risen Savior Jesus Christ.  He is the returning King.  Jesus is always there to gather the church into unity, at the last moment, to face down endless millions, hoards of darkness, with just a few hundred brave Christians, just a few obedient servants.  

He is our light and our salvation.  No matter how dark and twisted the evil on Earth becomes, in Jesus our victory is complete.  Our work of obedience to him in these dark days, unconditionally, is what brings glory on us, and more so, on him.