Friday, May 31, 2013

How To Proceed (J-chron)

God meets you where you are.  Some people think they are not ie., "good enough" to seek a personal relationship with God, go to church, or imagine that He would "save a wretch like me."

But the good news is, God loves to save bad people!  Precisely, God saves sinners!  And He meets you where you are; wherever that is, no matter how lost, how stone hearted, weak or crippled.  This is what He does.

It is a mistake to say "I accept Jesus into my heart; I accept Jesus as Lord and King."  He already IS Lord and King.  It is more correct to say, "Jesus, please accept ME!"  And He will and does, anyone who repents of their sinful ways and begins to put trust in Him and Him alone, turning away from sin and turning to God . . . to Christ on the cross.

You realize how much you have taken Him for granted--that He gave you life and sustains you--and how desperately you need Him to save you from your ultimately clueless, wretched self . . . and then you pray, committed to not caring what anyone else thinks about your decision but only what God thinks.  The world could all mock and persecute you and go to Hell but you will not abandon now taking up your cross and following Jesus, straight into the gates of Heaven.  You decide to believe that if you believe He is Who He says He is, He WILL save you from the fires of Hell you deserve.  There is no more questioning and doubting your "fate."  Repent, turn from your sins, and trust in Jesus and YOU ARE SAVED, beginning your eternal life from that moment onward!  What "good news" is this!

Please read below a good, brief explanation of the general three components to the Christian "Walk."  These are "justification", "sanctification" and "glorification". . . . And know that the moment you give your life to Christ, you are "justified"--your sinful record wiped clean in the sight of God!  From that moment on, when the Father looks at you, He sees Jesus, who stands in your place.  And not only are your sins taken away, but all the good works--the perfect righteousness of Jesus are ADDED to your account!
This is what turns people into "Jesus freaks" . . . realizing what a fantastic, incredible, glorious good deal for us this is!  This knowledge is compels us into "sanctification"--where we stop trying to earn God's favor through our good works, but instead, our good works flow from our love, our gratitude at what Jesus did for us on the cross.  Now, we "do good" because we are so thankful and appreciative that He died for . . . and "saved a wretch like me!"

Then you belong to a new family.  Your earthly family may not appreciate your decision, your change.  Often they will be used by the Adversary to try and undermine and attack it.  Jesus warned us that families divide over such a thing.  And He said that you must and will value HIM above your earthly family, friends, etc., far more exceedingly.  But you also now belong to a new family--an eternal family, your brothers and sisters in Christ . . . called the "Body of Believers" . . . the "living church" . . . spread throughout the various denominations, wherever a true, sincere disciple of Christ happens to be, across all cultures, in every corner of the world.  And you belong to a long and hallowed tradition of saints and martyrs through the ages who have given their all, their lives and fortunes to preserve the Gospel, to pass it on . . . as there is always a "remnant" of the Body, of Believers . . . of "The Church" . . .  no matter how wicked the rest of the world becomes.  When Jesus came He declared that the gates of Hell would NOT prevail against His church--it would not be corrupted nor removed through to the time of His second coming, which is looking increasingly nigh.

You need not understand all of the doctrine, theology, history, etc., related to the Bible and His prophets . . . to begin.  In fact, one of the best things about becoming a Christian is just how much there is more to learn and experience as you continue on in the faith!  And the Holy Spirit lights a fire in you to want to delve in and proceed . . . to where, you can't hardly get enough of it, yet there is always some more to learn.  But your salvation is not dependent on learning or doing more, but simply from the joy and motivation of being reborn you find you want to do and learn more about Him, His people--YOUR people--and His Word.

Repent . . . and put your trust in Jesus, in God alone . . . is how to proceed. . . . God bless!

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What does it mean to be justified, sanctified and what is its relationship to the law?

There are three stages for a Christian. Justification, sanctification and glorification. These are theological terms describing the believers position, activity and changes we go through as believers in Jesus Christ. We are justified by believing in Christ (in the gospel) but we are still being sanctified we reach the third and last stage- which is glorification, where we become transformed to be permanently sinless and immortal. These are promises that accompany the new covenant that begin and end our walk on earth. Rom 8:30 “Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
Justification begins our sanctification. We are both Justified (a one time event) and sanctification begins with our justification, it is a process that conforms us to Christ’s likeness (moral likeness). Justification is a legal declaration of a sinner being righteous, it does not make us righteous. Someone who is a Christian for 10 years is no more justified than when the first became a believer. It is through the process of our dying to self and being obedient to the word and the Spirit (Jn.17:19; Rom. 15:16) we are daily changed, in God’s eyes we are completed and accepted because of our faith in Jesus’ work on the cross.
Justification is a pronouncement to clear the guilty. When one is justified, he is declared right before the Lord; he is pardoned and cleared of any violation. “there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus” (Rom.8)
Rom 3:24-25 “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.”
Rom 5:1: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
Rom 5:9: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
Our justification is by faith in the work of the Son of God on the cross, his shed blood and death for forgiveness of our sins.
Sanctification-is a continual process that conforms us into the image of the Son of God (1 Cor. 6:11 it first begins, with our justification Romans 8:29). Col. 3:10: “put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”
1 Cor. 1:2: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours”
Heb. 10:10: “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
II Thess. 2:13: “because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.”1 Peter 1:2 “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ”

Glorification- The completion of our Christian life on earth, at the end of the sanctification process and occurs when we get to Heaven, either by means of death, rapture, or resurrection. We are in an eternal state, permanently righteous in our nature. 1 Cor. 15:49: “And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
Phil. 3:21 “who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body”
Phil. 1:6 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
The completion is to be glorified, which is the end result of our salvation- it is future glory of the believer.
We still have to be united with our body to be glorified.
Rom 8:17-19 and if children, then heirs-- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.”
A person is saved and justified, forgiven, sanctified and purified and regenerated, sealed with and indwelt by the Holy Spirit the moment he believes on Christ. Jesus Himself said, “He that believeth on Me HAS everlasting life” (John 6:47). When a person confesses that Jesus is Lord (YHWH) and believes in his heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, that person is SAVED (Romans 10:9).
Justification is connected to God’s grace that comes through the gospel by an unconditional covenant. In contrast, the law is connected to man's works, which is a conditional covenant. The law said what I must do to be righteous. The problem is that no one can keep the law perfectly (which is the law's requirement); therefore whether one does not try to keep it or does try to keep it, they are both guilty because they both fall short. Rom. 3:19-20: “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
If we still need anything from the law to complete salvation, then Christ is not the Savior: His work is not sufficient. Paul writes in Galatians 2:21b: “for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Gal. 3:19-25 states that the law points out our guilt and was a teacher to bring us to the Savior: once faith came we are no longer under the law; faith replaces it. All the commandments are kept by the power of the Spirit, and it is by our faith that the law is established.
As far as the relationship to the law, there is none. Justification is by faith alone. Gal 2:16"knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”

Paul makes it clear how he received cleansing… Acts 26:18: “that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” He makes it clear it is not from keeping any law or commands but through faith in Jesus Christ. And faith is not a one time event but a continual action of believing.
The law had a purpose:
Gal 3:24 “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”
Acts 13:38-39: "Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
Acts 13:39 "and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Rom. 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”
Cults will either combine sanctification with justification or say that we have neither now, that both are future tense, like glorification. The Bible does not teach us to work for our salvation but do works because you have received salvation. Confusing sanctification with justification affects how one lives one's Christian life. When sanctification and justification are confused, it keeps someone from building on the sure foundation correctly. Christ is the sure foundation and there is no other, we must build on His finished work, or else our works are not found in Christ. If one combines the sanctification process of being conformed to Christ with the once-for-all declaration of justification, it means that one always has to show works to prove that God approves of him. Eventually the standard gets tougher, and one is forced to do more. There is no rest in Christ when these are combined. 

http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp139.htm


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Firing Up In The Perseverence

(Meanwhile, a quick note to the persevering saint. . . .)

Sometimes in the Walk, as sanctification marches along in you . . . you will be in that place where you have lost that zeal of the flesh--the pride of life--that once motivated and excited you and even gave you certain abilities and strength to "get over" . . . on life, on people, situations.  Maybe it was your dream, your hobby, your muse . . . but some love, some infatuation with creature or experience that propelled you along in life, over obstacles, to where you even could sacrifice for it and grow in proficiency.

For instance, the athlete who is compelled to compete, get honors, medals. . . . Or, the drive for fame . . . or the cleverness it takes to be financially secure and powerful . . . getting titles, prestige among men . . . or art, architecture, science. . . .

Then you got saved, died to self . . . and the luster is gone.  The bloom is off the rose.  The things you use to love and that use to motivate . . . no longer provide that same energetic impetus. 

It is typical, at this point, for many, to wallow and wander a bit . . . in a new indifference, even apathy. . . . The joy in the things of the world is diminished and antipathy has replaced it.

You know this is a good thing, as you are told to "die to self" and the "things of the world" . . . but it seems that nothing as compelling has replaced it.  Oh, no, you would never trade your new position for that old, corrupt, fallen one, who was actually driven by the powers of darkness--the "seething powers of Lucifer even--God forbid!  But it can feel somewhat a "no man's land" when the old things are gone and the new has yet to really blossom. . . .

Well . . . here is where "free will", or "free choice" is actually unleashed.  Before, you were a slave to sin; but the truth has set you free. 

What God desires at this point is for your effort, your time and energy put toward Him and His direction.  Do not remain idle, waiting for something miraculous to happen, stewing in lukewarm mediocrity.  Instead, here is where you are now to use your new found freedom in Christ, to seek Him all the more!  Where once you esteemed the world and creatures MORE than God, now you exert to esteem the Lord above all.  During this dry spell, pray, pray, pray and search out the Spirit; get in to the Word, study, and look for good works, ie., witnessing or helping the poor or encouraging ministries, preachers, teachers. . . .  Engage! 

What you once loved, you no longer do.  Now you love what you once did not; exercise that love (of God and fellow man and brothers and sisters in Christ) . . . making effort to go God's way, away from the old things.  Do not root around in the past, lamenting the days of yore. . . . Turn to God, asking for His Spirit, His correction, His wisdom and love . . . to increase in you, to guide and motivate you anew!  And not just once, but throughout the day, like one infatuated, focused, obsessed!  Do we esteem (glorify) Him truly more than all else?  We say we do, but do our thoughts and heart reveal it?  If not, then dive into this, asking for more, refusing to remain lukewarm, distracted, wandering.

There is nothing more wondrous, profound, incredible, fantastic . . . than that we get to be disciples of the Master of the Universe--the Creator of All--the Great I AM THAT I AM!  This fact should so overwhelm our petty, daily, physical, emotional, intellectual concerns, that they are like dirt or horse dung in comparison!

In the days of muffled, muted perseverance . . . it is the perfect time to rear up, reject complacency, demand (of self) MORE energetic, fiery, compulsive devotion . . . to the Lord and His cause!

Amen? Amen!
:)
God blesses you in this! Now ignite!

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Beginning Of Wisdom

Memorial Day . . . . A perfect day (like every day) to remember first and foremost JESUS!  And what He has done for us!
Then, remember the dead . . . .

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J asked:
"Where does one begin if one wishes to begin the journey? Is it really as simple as offering up a brief prayer and asking Him to come into my life? There are things that... if I dropped stone dead in 12 seconds from now... I'm pleased to report that I did not... but if I had... I'd have gone with all of the obstacles (some of which seem wholly insurmountable at this time, and have been so for a long time), all of the sins still on my head and no way to even attempt to repent or turn away from them, and... that idea is beginning to scare me, whereas not that long ago I was all but certain that it didn't matter. In other words, I'm coming to believe that I have been completely wrong in my beliefs and/or knowledge of the past few years."

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"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."  --Proverbs 1:7

This is sooooo true!  One of the most--if not the most--terrifying, exhilarating, ominous, portentous, profound, thrilling moments in a person's life . . . is that time . . . when you deeply, truly begin to grasp and appreciate the dire, awful, hopeless situation you are in (by and of yourself.)

Paramount in this moment is the dawning realization of just how serious sin is and how thoroughly hopelessly (by yourself)  bound to sin you are and have been all your life.

There are many videos of this--open air preachers on the streets engaging people asking folks, "Do you think you are a good person?" . . . and in almost every single case, the person replies "yes."

Then follows, "do you think you are going to Heaven?"  . . . with the typical reply, "I think so . . . I hope so . . . yeah, I'm a pretty good person. . . ."

The Bible teaches that NONE of us are "good persons!" 

In those preaching encounters, the evangelist then walks the person through "the law" . . . to see, if indeed, according to GOD'S standard . . . they really are a "good person."

Have you EVER lied?  Yes.  That makes you a liar.  The Bible says "all liars shall have their place in the lake of fire."

Have you EVER stolen anything, even if it was small--seemingly insignificant?  Yes.  The Bible says, no thief can enter Heaven.

And so on. . . . And, in fact, most people have broken all of the ten commandments, which are God's standard for righteousness.  But what about "murder" you might ask?

Well, the Bible teaches that to even hate--to have hateful thoughts towards another person--is a murder.  "Whoever hates his brother is a murderer: and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."  --1 John 3:15

Jesus taught that it is not enough to avoid the physical act of lust and adultery . . . but that merely the thoughts of such acts are just as bad!  And do you "love God with all your heart, soul and strength?  No.  Do you love your "neighbor" as much as yourself?  No.

Then there are the specific sins we know we have committed in our own lives, besides these more general categories. . . . And most of all, when the Holy Spirit begins to awaken your dead conscience, you start to realize how all of these things boil down to a deep, pernicious love of self and permeating pride from which you operate.  It is an awful, devastating realization . . . during what I have called "the great dressing down" . . . when God shakes you, puts a mirror up, so that finally, for once, you sincerely see just what a wretched fool and hypocrite you have been.  God's standard is absolute perfection and holiness.  And the gravity of the situation is in WHO you have offended in all this.  It is not just the neighbor, the spouse, the friend, the magistrate, the mother or father--another creature.
No, it is GOD--the One who made you, gave you life, gives you air, food, a beating heart, a brain--everything! . . . and you have ignored Him, taken Him for granted, blasphemed His Name, hated His other children created in His image . . . and so on; probably never once or maybe barely here and there giving Him some faint thanks or vague recognition.

Meanwhile, eternal life hangs in the balance.  Because He is perfectly holy . . . and perfectly JUST . . . He cannot and will not abide with sin forever.  It must be punished. Justice must be served.  We are told by Paul that: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness. . . ."

So, yes . . . it SHOULD scare you!  AND . . . this is a righteous fear, appropriate . . . and the beginning of wisdom!

God is also merciful.  None of us deserve anything but the fires of Hell--for our offenses against the Creator are abominable, damnable.  There is NO good in us, in our "natural" fallen selves.  "There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God."  --Rom. 3:11

But the Good Shepard seeks His lost sheep . . . and He says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. . . ." --John 10:27

Now, when you start to feel the weight of the situation . . . and understand just how far off the mark you have been, the burden of your sins against God can seem insurmountable.  And don't worry, the devil will chime in and try to convince you that they are!  "God doesn't love you.  God doesn't want someone like you!  You have done too much bad, been too neglectful . . . give up hope, you are a goner!"  he whispers (or shouts) into your mind. . . .

But listen here. . . . You can't out-sin God!  It is precisely because you are a hopeless, rebellious, unworthy, God-hating sinner . . . that you need a Godly Savior!  And why He sent One! . . . to take upon Himself ALL of the sins of the world--taking the punishment WE deserved, making Himself lowly, poor, abused, beaten, mocked, crucified--a sacrifice . . . on our behalf!

The Apostle Paul, who wrote nearly half of the whole New Testament . . . and is considered the greatest of Christian missionaries . . . started out as a strict Jew . . . who hated Christians, vowed to destroy the early church . . . hunted, tormented and participated in the killing of the first of Jesus' followers.  There are countless examples of Believers who once were murderers, rapists, blasphemers, tyrants and mockers . . . who came to faith, got saved, and became selfless, saintly preachers of the Gospel.  Indeed, one of the most powerful arguments FOR the Christian faith . . . is its ability to change lives!  To transform carnal, rebellious, prideful, lustful, cheating, lying, murderous thieves and adulterers . . . into people-loving, God-loving, honest, faithful, selfless servants of truth and righteousness!  It is an astounding thing to witness and there are many, many examples to be found all through history to current times.

First, however, a person must be convicted . . . by the law . . . and by how short they have fallen from God's standards.  You come to the point when the Spirit awakens your stone heart and dead conscience--the first signs of real life, actually . . . and the dawning knowledge that . . . you need Someone to save you, rescue you from darkness, from inevitable death . . . and damnation, which you fully deserve.

What to do next?  How to proceed from here?  Many a "false convert" is made at this point, when false teachers appear saying all you need to do is recite some formulaic prayer, as if there were a magic set of words that you only have to speak, and then the thing is done, you are saved.

No, there is more to it than that, God forbid!  And that . . . I will get to next.  But it is pointless to proceed until you have really come to that broken, contrite, humiliated place where you no longer are fooling yourself that you are a relatively "good person."  Or, on the other hand, that you continue to disbelieve that there IS a way from where you are . . . to salvation and being made whole in Christ.  Often, a subtle form of pride persists in thinking oneself BEYOND God's grace and mercy.  "I am just too far gone, too bad, God would not save me. . . ."  This too shows ongoing unbelief and stubbornness, lack of humility, though couched in self-loathing.

In Acts 16:30-31, the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas: “ . . . ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved . . . .’ ”

It really does come down to believing.  Must you be 100% sure that Jesus is Who He said He was?  No, not at this point.  Otherwise it would not be "believing" . . . it would be "knowledge."  There is bound to be a certain "leap of faith."  You have seen enough, thought enough, determined enough of the situation to believe . . . that Jesus Christ is Lord . . . and THE only way to God.

I did that.  I got the "great dressing down" where God showed me my real condition--my love of self, hypocrisy, fraudulence in claiming to love Him above all.  The preponderance of the evidence at that time I leaned on--the historicity of the Bible, it's prophetic proofs . . . and how it had always only been when I put myself under Jesus, that my character ever really, truly changed.  And so, I leapt, deciding to believe and go forward in following Him and His Word.  In time, after, the proof in my life and in the lives of others I have witnessed changing . . . my faith has grown strong . . . to where I can reasonably say I have no doubt now . . . and that early "belief" has turned into full and powerful "knowledge"! 

But more on this shortly . . . as to "how to proceed" . . . .

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Answering The Voices (re "J")

As far as distinguishing what "voice" is from God and what is not . . . one of the big "A-ha!" moments for me in coming to Biblical Christianity was learning that feelings are not to be primarily trusted.  I say "primarily" because, yes, it is true that the Spirit will at times impart a strong feeling or intuition to avoid something or to confirm something, but in general the Bible teaches that, "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked."  --Jer. 17:9

One of the main things we come to realize in being reborn . . . is just how constantly sinful our "natural" (fallen) heart is.  Many times, even when feeling compelled to do some "good" thing, even a "selfless" thing . . . if you dig a little within and look behind the curtain, you will find that really there again is just concealed pride, self-righteousness--a lurking ulterior motive, however subtle that is not actually so "selfless" afterall. . . .

We are in a desperate pickle here. . . . We are inclined to nothing truly good and the lengths to self-deception are stunning the more you progress in sanctification.  You begin to realize just how utterly we need a Savior--to save us from ourselves.  You also begin to honestly appreciate, with great thankfulness and humility, that if and whenever you DO do something "good" . . . it is not YOU who does it, but Christ--the Spirit--Who is in you.  All glory, all credit go to Him. 

A major temptation which most suffer from, also to be noted, is the feeling or belief that we ("I", "me") are meant to do something "special" and profound in this life, in this world.  Here is where many go off the rails and claim to be "hearing from God" a unique "revelation" . . . and then proposing novel and new interpretations of scripture, which somehow nobody "saw" before.  Before long, the would-be "prophet" is leaving the text of the Word, coming up with "new" instructions, fomenting a "following" and yes, the cult is soon to follow. 

The simple, hard beauty of having the Bible--the Word of God--is that He HAS spoken to us, and He speaks to us through His Word.  Which is why so many hundreds, thousands, have fought and suffered and died to preserve the Word, through the centuries . . . and why, as true Believer, the Book becomes increasingly so precious.  If a person never gets a single "personal revelation" from God, it does not matter, because we have His living Word already revealed and kept for us to access any time we want and need it.  And there IS a supernatural component, you will find, as the Spirit indwells you, that the Spirit teaches you, interacts with you, as you interact with His Word. 

The great danger in considering the Bible casually or valid only "so far as translated correctly" . . . such as the Mormons do, is that there is no longer an anchor and test for truth.  You can present a foot high stack of historical FACTS to the Mormon . . . about, for instance, the deceitful, perverse, con-man-like character of Joseph Smith . . . and the mountain of contradictions, un-Biblical teachings and occultish doctrine and sordid history of his church . . . and the Mormon will figuratively stick their fingers in their ears, shut their eyes, and say "I know the church is true, I know Joseph Smith was a true prophet etc." and you ask them how they know . . . and they usually will reply that their "feelings" confirm it--the proverbial "burning in the bosom". 

But a person can get strong, emotional, "positive" "feelings" at a good rock concert, or from a poem, or at a movie or from a million different situations, none of which necessarily confirm the truth of the thing.  Feelings are NOT to lead us to truth.  Once saved, feelings may indeed follow, but they are like the weather and not to be relied on. 

As far as "voices" or  certain of that internal dialogue that goes on and on, you should know that the devil is real and demons are real and I would suggest that they are often quite busy in this area.  One of their favorite tactics is to accuse--to recall to your mind all the mistakes and sins of the past and to tell you that God hates you and that you are not worthy to be loved by Him . . . you could never be forgiven . . . and to cause you to doubt that you are saved.

Again, the Word of God comes to the rescue, which is why it is called a "weapon" . . .  "the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow,"

In answering the accusatory spirit that hates you and does not want you to find the peace of the Lord, you can say, "tell me something I DON'T know!  Of course I am unworthy!  Yes, I HAVE sinned terribly against God.  No, I don't deserve to be saved!  Which is why I LOVE THE LORD, because He died for me while I was yet a sinner!  JESUS is worthy!  HIS righteousness, not mine, is why I get to be with God, perfected in HIM, HIS work!"

The Believer has abandoned trying to please or impress God with his own self and works.  We rely on Jesus' character and works, which are perfect.  The moment you are saved--when you repent and thereafter put your trust in the Lord, God the Father no longer sees your sins.  Christ stands in your place as your advocate and there is nothing the devil can say or do to defeat Him.  When He said "it is finished" . . . it was and is!  This is what the Bible teaches and what we rely on.

Something else to know. . . . Oftentimes, though not always, it happens that when a lost soul is finally found and saved, there is a special grace period, where you will hear from God in a closer, stronger and more personal way than usual.  This is to strengthen and confirm the "babe" in faith.  This may happen, but you don't really want to be looking for it.  It is a quiet, sort of private thing, between you and God and I think you will be able to clearly recognize it.  Just know that He will not put thoughts or feelings in you which will contradict His Word.  The Bible is always that anchor and the template against which to test all things.  A lot of Christians kind of freak out when this grace period goes away, thinking that they have done something wrong, displeased God, or have lost their faith.  While actually, it is simply a matter of . . . that the Spirit helps you in the beginning get your "sea legs" in the new Walk . . . but then, we are expected to mature and be able to weather things without that constant extra touchy-feely support.  Not that He ever leaves, but the Spirit does seem to withdraw sometimes, where He is hard to detect, as we are encouraged to strengthen the FAITH side of our progress, continuing on faithfully, through those valley/desert/dark night moments.

Knowing His laws, His commands is enough to have, without extra or special communications "in the Spirit" . . . when we are in those times when the Spirit withdraws.  Don't lie, don't covet, don't lust, don't cheat . . . and above all, which pulls all those commands into line, is to learn how to love others as yourself.  Impossible, yes, in our natural self, but you can pray to God and ask Him for this ability and . . . in time . . . you will startle yourself as you find yourself reacting to others' annoyances or affronts . . . with real, supernatural even, compassion . . . and yes, love.

As you focus more and more on Him and His Word, you will find that the internal dialogue and suspicious whisperings within . . . you tend to ignore and slough off.  They lose their poignancy and power and fade away.  A shield of protection begins to develop around and in you, the more the Spirit abides in you (whether you feel that Spirit or not) . . . and a hunger and craving for righteousness sprouts and grows, so that all you want is more of Him and anything to do with Him and His work in this fallen world. . . . Key to ALL discernment, which ARE commanded to practice, along with judgment . . . is to test what is heard, felt, intuited etc. against what He speaks to us in His Word.  Everything we need . . . to conduct our life, our choices . . . is found there.  It is the treasure of all treasures!

Friday, May 24, 2013

"Voices in the head" (Jchron)

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. --Heb.12:1
 
Jesus says there is great rejoicing in Heaven whenever a single person gets saved and come into the living faith.  I imagine there is nothing in this world that is so valuable, so profound, so fantastic, so important! . . . as when one of the living dead . . . are awakened by the Holy Spirit . . . shed their chains, and begin to SEE . . . with new Eyes . . . and new Heart! . . . .
 
All these crazy news stories and scandals going on . . . yes I keep a loose on them . . . and I am quite aware of what's going down; indeed I predicted quite accurately the gist of things years ago . . . how it would look, especially in this country (America) when others scoffed, rolled eyes, and told me I was maybe too "fanatic" or "paranoid" . . . .

So, yeah . . . I am very well aware of what's up . . . or down, rather, in the world right now....but I know that ya'll have access to the many websites and talk shows that are going over such things, and so I don't bother much restating the obvious .. but rather, try here to invite you to maintain down a different path--one that is in the world but not of it... and not just to say that... but LIVE it . . . for real! . . . by daily, as much as possible ... staying in the Word, in His Spirit . . . focusing on HIS story, HIS news--the news of the Spirit, which transcends time and space . . . and touches borders with the eternal . . . here, now! . . . . . .

And to that end, among other things, I have been including my ongoing dialogue with my friend "J" who is (praise God!) beginning to question many of the thoughts and reasonings that he took for granted . . . and starting to look at the real possibility that Jesus IS the only true way, light and life! . . . . For in our day to day attentions, again, I say there obviously can be little or nothing more important than witnessing to others about the matchless gift He has offered--that of salvation and eternal life, perfected in Him, our sins utterly washed away--a new creature, friend of God! . . . adopted into His Family . . . . The Heavens rejoice!  "A cloud of witnesses" . . . attend the returning of any and every SINGLE SHEEP . . . that is brought back into the Fold! . . . .
 
Also, "J" is asking some fantastic, top shelf questions--very probing, earnest and intelligent, and of the kind that I know most of us have also pondered and may still do . . . . 

So, I am continuing to share this . . . and alert you that one of the issues he has brought up is quite touching and personal . . . and he gave the ok to share it  . . which is brave and shows his seriousness here . . . (and which I will bring here shortly) and the lovely, burgeoning humility beginning to dawn in his growing awakening (I dare say) to the Truth . . . . Oh . . . it is an amazing thing that any of us ever are able to SEE . . . but that is God's glory--taking lost, blind, proud sinners . . . and restoring them to holiness!
 
Anyway, here's another of his thoughts . . . I will get to asap....
God bless!
bro,t
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"I won’t presume to speak for anyone else, but at any given moment when I’m conscious, there’s an internal dialogue underway in my head. Occasionally, irrelevant comments appear and I simply attribute these to the subconscious mind doing something on a lark because the comments are so far afield of the central topic in the internal discussion that they don’t make sense. Now, my neurosis aside, I’ve always heard that people hear God speaking to them. I mean, sane, normal people, not lunatics like Jim Jones.
 
The question is how does one distinguish between their own internal dialogue and God? Is it possible that some aspect of the unconscious mind is being misunderstood? I’d think it’d be obvious that an external voice had entered the conversation, but how does one KNOW (and here we venture into the prickly field between knowledge and belief) such has transpired?
 
As an aside, I was basically raised Mormon and the catch phrase there was that you’d know by “a burning in the bosom”. I have to honestly report that the ONLY burnings I’ve felt in my bosom have been those induced by pepperoni pizza when I’ve forgotten to take a Zantac in conjunction with said food. I’ve never felt the sensation otherwise. Needless to say, I began wondering at an early age what was wrong with me, but I certainly didn’t share my lack of religiously-induced heartburn with any of my Mormon friends."

Thursday, May 23, 2013

On Being Alive Not Dead


We should be careful lest it should happen to us that while we are
talking about the journey along the narrow and hard road we may
actually wander onto the broad and wide highway.
St. John Climacus

It is no great thing not to judge, and to be sympathetic to someone who is
in trouble and falls down before you, but it is a great thing not to judge
or to strike back when someone, on account of his own passions, speaks
against you.  Likewise, it is a great thing not to disagree when someone
else is honored more than you are.

Dorotheos of Gaza

Humility protects the soul from all the passions and also from every temptation. Dorotheos

The novice said to the expert : There does not seem to be any conflict in my heart. He received this reply: You are like a house that is open to the four winds, so that anyone who likes can go in or out without you noticing. If you only had one door to it, and choose to shut it in the face of wicked thoughts, then you would notice them and you would have to fight against them.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Why Not Gold Bowls Filled With Incense?

Rev. 5:8 – When He took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

God ought to be a force--maybe pure energy, impersonal . . . something so vast, incomprehensible and unlike anything we see or know or conceive of. . . . Or perhaps He is like a massive translucent insect, alien looking with nothing like emotion that we could understand . . . or a 10 dimensional all-knowing cube so far beyond our understanding that nothing in our physical world is anything like Him.  We shouldn't even try to relate to Him . . . and shouldn't even call Him a "Him", for that denotes gender.  Instead, "It" must be unspeakable, for who are we to come close to imagining and suggesting what such an infinite, transcendent "being" would be like. . . . It must be the height of arrogance attempting to apply any descriptors --for how dare we think that the One Who created all things is in any similar to . . . what looks to be like not much more than a highly evolved ape driven by passions, instinct and brute chemicals interacting within a brain?

At best, we can have a vague, loosely held broad conception of there being something--some ubiquitous power or force, beyond space, outside of time, inscrutable, undefinable, ultra-exotic and far remote. . . .

. . . . . . . . But . . . why?  Why do we think that He is probably like that?  Or, rather, why does the skeptic, the unbeliever, the conceited tinkerer . . . predictably insist on such a view?

Of all the possibilities . . . is there really any better reason why it can't simply be . . . that God is a personal being? 

How about we start first . . . with what God actually IS and how He describes and shows Himself TO BE? 

We think, "there aren't really 'gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of saints'" in Heaven. . . . Surely this is metaphor, allegory. . . ."

But what if there are?  What if it just happens to BE . . . that God--Who is self-existent, eternal, always was and always will be . . . that the foundation and creator of everything IS a person . . . Who . . . "sits on a throne of holiness" . . . and that the reason we have things like bowls and incense and gold is because we, being created "in His image", tend to imitate, in a our own small ways, what He is like and does? 

You see, if we start with what God always and already was and is, then it is not odd or presuming to accept that He is indeed somewhat like "the old man in the sky" . . . and that it happens to be that He is a Being with "passions", qualities such as what we call "holiness", "love", "justness", "righteousness" . . . and these are subsequently reflected in us.

But if you start from the "outside", in unbelief, you project onto "reality" random, unfounded imaginations of what and how God "ought" to be, presuming, for some (inane) reason that "certainly He/It must be something totally unlike anything we can relate to!"

I think . . . however . . . that it might very well be the case . . . that there are gold bowls in Heaven filled with incense, which are the prayers of the saints!  Why not?  Why shouldn't there be?

It is actually our small-minded pride and vanity . . . and at the root of it our "natural" enmity towards God . . . that impels us to reject so many of the plain and precious revelations of His Word, presuming to know better. . . .  

Monday, May 20, 2013

J-Chron: Standing On Who's Reason?

[This is in answer to "J"s first of his recent set of questions....which question is reiterated at the bottom of the page here.  ps, I didn't have time to proofread for typos--will check back and correct them later, God bless:)]

My story of the Designer's machine and the tinkerers is not meant to squelch questioning.  God wants us to question things and use the reasoning and logic He gave us to search and wrestle with the philosophic and spiritual truths He provides . . . such that our faith is not a blind, dumb faith but a faith born of discernment and of solid understanding so that we are "always prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within us."  --1 Peter 3:15

But there is a difference between someone sincerely questioning in order to seek the truth versus those who have no desire to find truth and merely question out arrogant pre-supposition, with mind and heart already closed and presuming to be smarter than God as to Who He is and how He ought to have done things.  You, J, are clearly of the former type. . . .

Your question in this case refers to the very hot topic (among Christian thinkers) of the "doctrine of election" vs. the "doctrine of (libertarian) free will."  (Does God choose/elect whom He will save or is it up to man to choose God to be saved?). . . . In broad terms, this is also known as the "Calvinist" vs. "Arminian" position, and the debate between the two sides has been rather rancorous over the centuries and continues today as verses in scripture can found which suggest that both sides are correct.  We know, however, that scripture does not contradict itself, no matter how many armchair internet skeptics and self-approved "scholars" assert it does (according to their cursory readings) and many of the actual top "doctors of the faith" are resigned to accept that the conundrum of the apparent contradiction of  "man's free will" vs. "God's sovereign will" is beyond our grasp to comprehend at this point in our mortal existence, along with a few of the other divine "mysteries" such as the Trinity (God is three Persons/one Being) and Jesus being both 100% man and 100% God.

I have written a fair amount on the topic of "election" vs. "free will" as it has always fascinated me, and having a penchant for looking at the "mysteries". I fall more on the so-called "Calvinist" side of the debate as I find it hard to accept that God is somehow wanting everyone to be saved but  powerless or unwilling to decree that all ARE (saved) unless MAN himself chooses to be saved . . . as this to me puts man's will above God's . . . and I find the scriptures too numerous and forceful which show that man can do nothing but for God giving him the ability to do so (including choosing God) . . . and, from much studying of the issue and observing the arguments of those on either side I tend to find that those asserting the "Arminian" (man's free will) view do so more from an emotional an opinionated position while the "Calvinist" adheres more strictly to scripture. . . .

Now, this is big generalization, I know--what I just said--but I stand by it, having listened to scores of debates on the subject, read many books, and heard preachers propounding either cases.

The "Arminians", in fact, often sound almost exactly like the atheists and agnostics I've heard in other debates, when they decry the "pernicious doctrine of Calvinism" saying it is abominable to imagine that God would create some to go to heaven and others to go to hell.  They simply can't accept such a God--He does not fit their idea of how or what God ought to be.

. . . . . . I remember sitting in my 6th grade classroom, having been "self aware" already for several years, and looking around at the other students, the teacher and wondering why could I "see"?  How come nobody else seemed to be conscious of the heavy implications of life--of this life?  What made me so different?  I realized then it could not be something I had attained on my own.  It was simply the fact that I was, for whatever reason (that must be God's) born with the type of mind that early on looked at this existence and stood in awe that anything existed . . . and that mortal life was short so it had to be that finding the meaning and purpose of it should be the most important driving force going.  Why did others not seem to care or really even be much aware that they were alive in the first place, but just moving along in unconscious habit, upbringing, instinct?  God made it that way.  He made some people to yearn, search, crave for truth . . . whereas others . . . not so much. . . .

The "Arminian" bristles at the idea that God chooses who He will, insisting that it is freely up to each person whether or not they find Truth/God. . . . But I look at scripture and see that He had a Chosen People.  Indeed, it fits the divine template that He chooses some for a "special" purpose while others He does not.  Why does He create some who are smart, beautiful, healthy . . . while others dense, ugly, weak?  Is that "fair"? 

I look at nature and see the millions upon millions of insects, fish, animals . . . small and large who live, eat, procreate, die--most never having been seen or enjoyed by any human.  And He is aware of each and every one of them!  For not a single sparrow dies without God knowing it.

To the skeptic, disbelieving mind--the tinkerer who would "better" creation--what could be the reason for so much seemingly pointless lives, coming and going?  But I think, "how dare I second-guess God's purposes and methods!  He creates life where He wills, brings death when and how He wills . . . hardening or softening hearts . . . according to His holy intentions.  " . . . God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden."  --Rom. 9:18

Paul, in his Romans passages, where he reiterates God's sovereignty in all things, anticipates the skeptic's complaint suggesting that God appears to be unjust/unfair in His dispensing of mercy.  "God forbid!" Paul roars in answer.  We know that God is not unjust, so the dilemma must not be with God, but in the way we ourselves are handling the issue!

What do the militant atheists say?  They indignantly bellow, "How can there be a God who made a world like this with so much suffering and 'evil' . . . allowing ie., the Holocaust, earthquakes, disease!?"

The Believer starts with, "We know that God is good, just, omnipotent, all knowing, love . . . so we proceed in faith trusting that 'all things work together for the good for them that love Him.'"  And that the ultimate purpose is for His glory.

A person can either resent . . . or rejoice in this. . . .

Using their limited, mortal and fallen reasoning I hear the atheist or the skeptic say (usually with seething vitriol), "What kind of God would allow so much suffering!?  What God makes a place like Hell and sends some there to suffer eternal torment!?"

 I've heard the "Arminian" say (with near the same angry chagrin and spirit), "What kind of God would create some people just for Hell?!"

And in either case I see someone standing on their own reason, offended by God, wanting Him to be a different way according to their imagination and opinion.

We are Told, however, that all who go to Hell . . . are culpable.   The whole of Scripture teaches that those who are condemned are responsible, guilty, which includes everybody ever born (except Jesus) but that, in His mercy, God CHOOSES out for Himself an elect people, whom He will save, to live with Him in the eternal hereafter. 

The fantastic thing actually is that He saves ANY!  That He "elects", pre-destines" ANY who deserve Hell to be saved out to go to Heaven.  For, since the Fall, ALL have sinned and NONE are worthy. 

The un-regenerate sinner--the "tinkerer", the skeptic, the atheist--starts from the outside, standing on his or her own limited reason, and looks at God and creation and the way things have gone, and questions, why this way?  If I were God, I would have done it like _________!"

The surrendered Believer starts from the inside, standing on scripture, on God's Word, NOT being limited to his or her pittance of mortal knowledge and reason, and says, "This is the way God does it--has done it!  It is a blessed and holy, good and loving thing . . . whether I fully understand it now or not."
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

"J"s question:

 "I cannot for the life of me recall the passage in the Bible, but somewhere it’s stated, and I’m paraphrasing here, that God is going to choose those whom He wants to extend salvation to. (In fairness, it goes on to say the number of people He will extend such to is akin to the grains of sand on the beach, i.e., numbering in the billions.) However, it does make me wonder… why go to the trouble of allowing the existence of individuals He doesn’t want? If He’s sent His Son to redeem mankind, but He’ll only acknowledge certain people’s acceptance of His Son, it almost makes the Crucifixion seem like a cruel joke. (As you’ve mentioned before, context is everything. Since I can’t recall the passage in question, and when I heard it discussed the discussion was limited exclusively to a couple of verses, it’s entirely possible I’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick regarding this matter.)"

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"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."  --Rom. 8:29

“Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”  --Eph.1:5

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:”  --Eph.1:3-4
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ARMINIANISM is a teaching regarding salvation associated with the Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius (1560-1609). The fundamental principle in Arminianism is the rejection of predestination, and a corresponding affirmation of the freedom of the human will. Shortly after his death, the followers of Arminius (later called Arminians) presented a statement to the governing authorities of Holland in which they set forth five articles of doctrine. These were: (1) that the divine decree of predestination is conditional, not absolute; (2) that the Atonement is in intention universal; (3) that man cannot of himself exercise a saving faith, but requires God's help to attain this faith; (4) that though the grace of God is a necessary condition of human effort it does not act irresistibly in man; (5) that believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace. In essence, the Arminians maintained that God gives indispensible help in salvation, but that ultimately it is the free will of man which decides the issue. After a period of sharp theological controversy the Dutch government convened a National Synod of leading churchmen, which met in Dordrecht in the years 1618-19. At this "Synod of Dort" the members adopted five articles in direct opposition to the five articles of the Arminians. The articles of Dort have come to be known as the "five points of Calvinism."
http://www.bible-researcher.com/arminianism.html

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Damn The Tinkerers' Eyes

Imagine an elaborately designed machine.  It is huge and parts of it run through every household.  As in, everybody in the world has access to observing--an albeit miniscule--portion of the machine.  No one can see the whole thing at one time, but can see tiny parts of it, within their own homes or different sections, when they visit others in their homes.

Also know that every single component of the machine is absolutely necessary for the final, complete perfect running of the thing.  As in, there is not one superfluous part.  Nothing can be removed or altered from the object (the machine) which won't change its intended purpose.  Nothing.  Each and every part, whether it looks merely decorative or obviously integral or not, MUST remain or it won't function properly, as intended by its designer.

Now, regarding the designer . . . he knows precisely what he is doing.  He is the greatest genius ever and has exactly created his machine to produce perfectly the end result he desires.

But immediately, upon installation of the device, the people through whose homes it runs, begin to question it.  They cannot see the whole thing and do not understand its operation, but when they look at various of its individual parts they think, "What in the world is this?  Why is this part here?  It looks unnecessary," and they begin to tinker.

Many even fancy that something is wrong with the machine.  They cannot see the end result or how it all works together, but looking at the small portions in front of them, they think, "I could do better than this?  What is this thingy here?  And what does that do?  Why is it not constructed this way?  Why did he put this part there?  I wouldn't have done it like that!"

Despite the machine running absolutely as designed and destined to produce its desired result, many people become skeptics and critics and form committees and clubs, combining their complaints and ideas, with the intention of changing the machine to what and how they have imagined it ought to be done better.

Which is absurd and ridiculous, as none of them--and not even all combined--have even the most infinitesimal fraction of the required knowledge it would take to adjust even one part without the whole thing then breaking down and ending in disastrous ruin. 

But, in their myopic, small-minded vanity, they continue to tinker and twist, alter and pervert the machines design, and the more they do, the more it seems to misfire, clank, cause problems and run improperly.  This doesn't stop them though and in fact they organize new committees and panels to address the new problems, all the while blaming (the problems they just made) on the original designer.

What they don't know is that the designer is so brilliant and far-seeing, that he took all this into consideration beforehand.  He knew there would be trouble-makers and that everyone would be confused and uncomprehending when viewing only the limited parts of the machine within their respective views. . . . And he knew they would fiddle with and damage its components in their ignorance and hubris. . . . So, he ingeniously constructed the thing so that, even when people meddled, their crude alterations did not actually harm the device (though it looked like it for a while) but instead became another part of the intended design so that, at last, it produced its intended end more fantastic, beautiful, glorious even, than ever anyone (but he) could have imagined!

This is a (admittedly rough) picture of what it is like when we question why God does things this or that way.  We only see a teeny, tiny fraction of what He has in mind--what He has purposed for His creation.  We cannot see how it all fits together--how all the various, nearly infinite parts work together for the final result He intends.  We look at some element that happens to be within our proximate view and, not comprehending how it relates to another element maybe three counties over, we argue against it, though both are inextricably linked and vital to each other's operation within the whole.

The vastness and intricacies involved with creation and creatures . . . with personhood, life . . . are such that it is laughable and not just a bit pathetic, that we ever feel inclined to critique or imagine to improve what God does and has done.

This was the first sin--questioning God, the Designer--and imagining to know better or doubt how things ought to be done--what might be permissible or not to alter from His original, divine commands.  Bottom line it is love and infatuation of/with self MORE than love and infatuation of/with God that initially leads astray and continues to with us this very day.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Pleasing God Above All

God bless you each and thank you for your kind spirit-filled sentiments!  I am scrambling a bit to catch up but am eager to share some of the insights that have come along through this past little period of the warfare . . . things that might be helpful, I pray, as you also find yourself  in the midst of the intensifying battle going on right now, up close and in relation to the culture at large. 

We take up our crosses and follow Him.  As we grow in our sanctification--which means being 'set apart'--there will be generally just two basic reactions.   Think of our Master. . . . There were those who understood and accepted Who He was . . . and these same were willing to die for Him--and not just quick, simple deaths, but deaths fueled by the rebel's black, seething hatred.  The others . . . wanted to kill Him . . . and did.  Two responses to the same Man. . . .

Likewise, our relation to the world is bound to result in similar ways, to varying degrees.  Those with the Eyes to See and Ears to Hear--our eternal family--are with us and for us, and we are together.  We rejoice as one; we grieve as one. . . .

Through all, our mind and purpose must be single toward pleasing God above all, not worrying or lamenting the pleasing of 'men'.  His presence must be more real, more personal, more present, more overshadowing than any one or any thing . . . in this fallen world!  Praise God!

Back with more, asap:)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A Minute's Difference. . . .

First let me say it is a very real thing . . . that the devil comes at you with greater force when you are being effective for the Kingdom and against his fallen kingdom in this world.  He doesn't really bother much with those who claim to follow Jesus but do nothing in and for His Name's sake.  Such as those one-day a week so-called "believers" who make it to church to have a personal emotional experience for an hour or two, then get right back to living in and for the world.

But when you and those with you are actively engaging the fallen realm, seeking to save the lost and pulling souls from the clutches of the destroyer, then "ol' Scratch" fights back.  He does not like it when people he thought he had utterly deceived begin to hear the Gospel, wake up and reverse course.  So, the more effective a Believer becomes in the service of the Lord--on the front lines of the battle--the more attention you can expect to receive from the arch-demon and his henchmen/spawn.

And when you have the eyes to see it, it is not hard to see such spiritual warfare swirling about--it is obvious and not easily sloughed off as merely over-dramatic imagination.  This thing is real. . . !

At the same time there is little more faith strengthening and confirming to also see how God works things out for the good for them that love Him, whatever the devious intended purpose of the enemy.

Saturday I helped an old friend with a little job he had, to spray some linseed oil on an old, dried-out cedar shingles roof.  During the process, among old-friend banter, we talked about the dangers saturated rags, whether of lacquer product or, in this case, linseed oil/thinner mix.   If just folded up and left in a pile, there will be a chemical reaction--they will begin to heat up, smolder and self-combust.  Many a house has burned down this way. . . .

Well, I ended up with just those kind of rags after the job was finished and didn't want to leave them at that house and took them with me to neutralize and dispose of properly when I got home.

But when I got home I found my wife upset over something and we immediately began to talk and address the issue (she wasn't upset with me, but instead something that had happened just prior related to someone else.)  So, I focused on her, forgetting all else

Then it was time to take Isaac to his regular Saturday night church youth group activity.  We all left and then Lindsay and I afterwards went to the Christian store to get some Mothers' day gifts and also the grocery store.  She was still quite ruffled and we talked and talked, keying in on the proper Gospel-centered way to deal with things.

Night wore on and around 11pm she fell asleep, Sky came home, and I was waiting to hear from Isaac--when he needed to be picked back up (which didn't happen until 2am). 

Suddenly it came into my mind to go out to my car in the garage and take the sprayer out and put it away--and, oh yeah, the soiled rag.

When I entered the garage, I smelled smoke and instant horror gripped me.  My car, with the windows all rolled up, was filled with thick, grey, swirling smoke and I realized what had happened.  The rag I had forgotten to take care of, had combusted.

Frantically, I opened the car doors and the toxic fumes billowed out, filling the garage, which luckily was already open.  Then I went to the back hatch of the car and opened it, where the rag had been.

Black smoke and a heap of crackling embers greeted me--my eyes and my lungs burning.

With my bare hands I started scooping out the sizzling cloth and plastic onto the ground, but having to run away for moments to get fresh air, then back again.   There was not time to do anything else but hurry and get the smoldering mess quickly out of the car.  My back hatch area is full of other rags, drop cloths, paint brushes, plastic buckets, paint containers and paint spray cans.  The spray can caps were melting and were soon to possibly be exploding missiles. . . . 

After I got the initial scary, fiery clump out, I ran for water to soak the plastic "coals" and sizzling shards and pieces of cloth--the toxic smoke surrounding me.  Meanwhile, Sky was happy, oblivious, directly above in his room, playing on his computer and Lindsay slept unawares on the couch in our family room.

Blech!  There is nothing so noxious and stinking as burnt plastic smoke!  A good dose of which I had to breathe as I hurried to calm the situation. . . .

Alexander, who is a firefighter, later informed me that that kind of fire is the one the firefighters dread most.  Plastic turns into a form of cyanide when it burns.  If it is thick and one is trapped in it for even minutes, it is easily enough to kill or permanently damage (the human body.) 

Now I was smart and careful as I could be under the circumstances, but it was impossible not to take in a fair amount of the plume as I worked to prevent a greater disaster.  And disaster is exactly what it could have been.  Besides the two cars in the garage, with their gasoline tanks, in my car itself was a 5-gallon container half full of the thinner we had used on the job--which is effectively a potential large bomb.  Al has watched training films showing how devastating a "bomb" of that type can be--a sealed, air-tight container, full of combustible fuel, getting heated.  He says that it if the car had broken into flames, the resulting explosion could have easily leveled the house, and probably the neighbors as well.  Yikes.

I have no doubt that God saved us that night.  Only a minute or two more, if I had not gotten the strong prompting to go out to my car . . . and the smoldering rag would have burst into flames, which would have been the end.

The following day, I was nauseous and threw up a few times and blood would pour from my nose.  But I have no insurance (thanks Obama and other traitors in our government) and so, short of a total emergency, I am leery of going to the hospital and racking up a bunch more bills that I can't afford to pay.  I'm not a complete fool, however, and, had my health got any worse, I would have gone--but I prayed and have trusted God to protect me as He wills it to be.

Who knows if I sustained any long term damage, but Monday, I finally started feeling a bit better and the initial exposure symptoms have gone away.  I'm thinking that I was careful enough not to breathe too much of the junk nor for too long. . . .

But wow! that was close!  Literally, a minute or two more . . . and things would be very different right now. . . . It took a couple days just to come out of the shock of it and the heaviness considering how tragic and awful it could have been. . . .

I mention the spiritual warfare because this event was just the culmination of several apparent "attacks" within days, including that day, and the lessons learned were clearly put into our minds and souls as it related to our walk in the Lord and because of some recent effectiveness we have all experienced in witnessing to others and proclaiming the Gospel to certain souls put in our way--for instance, Alexander likely saved an acquaintance of his from suicide just days before, by preaching Jesus to the fellow.  Indeed, all of us in this household have recently been actively engaged in the "Great Commission" . . . in our respective zones of influence, and have felt the blowback from the wicked one who is furious by the same. . . .

 Following this episode, I have not been able to work, though I am going back today, as I have been trying to get my car back in drivable condition and feeling better.  It could have "totaled" the car because of the horrid odor and toxic residue, but I don't have that option and so have been taking the time to clean and clean and clean it to a degree that is tolerable to be in.  Today will be a good test of that.

So . . . yeah, THAT happened, heh . . . and I praise God through all!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Close Call

Well, had the Spirit not alerted me to the danger . . . before a minute or two more went by, I likely would not be here; except as part of blip of a tragic story on the national news.   A very, very close call . . . and I could still benefit from your prayers, health-wise for the after affects. . . .

I will return in just a bit to elaborate. . . .

God bless,

Saturday, May 11, 2013

UFO's of late

There is a lot strange stuff going on up in the skies.  An upsurge in ufo reports worldwide and then oddities like the mysterious government airship reported in Quincy Mass.

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/05/09/mystery-aircraft-frightens-quincy-residents/

We live on top of a mountain and have our own share sightings quite regularly, but over the past month it has been more than ever.  At night, Isaac and I often step outside on the front porch to look around--Isaac loves to watch for meteors when there's a shower.

There was one week a couple weeks ago where I saw something on four different nights.  My wife saw one with me, Isaac another.  I have never seen anything like it.  It was the same type of thing in each case.

Here is a description. . . . I was looking up at the night sky, the stars . . . and noticed one star that was bigger and brighter than the others.  Suddenly, as I watched, it flared up and I thought it must be a plane as it looked closer and bigger than the stars around it.  It appeared to be moving very slightly.

Anyway, it grew big and bright and then . . . *poof* . . . it vanished.  I waited and observed thinking that it must be a plane and had maybe just turned, but it never reappeared and there was no trace of it in the sky.  It was odd enough that mentioned it to others when I went back inside the house.

A couple of nights later--same thing, only Isaac was with me.  A star-looking twinkle suddenly flared up huge and bright . . . then extinguished and disappeared.  We had binocs and looked for it but there was nothing in the sky where it had been.

Another night my wife and I were out on the front porch, around 10pm when I pointed out a slowly moving bright white-ish yellow orb slowly bobbing and moving through a wispy dark cloud.  Helicopter?  No, there was no sound.  Small plane?  No, it was moving to slow and again, no noise.  I ran to get the binoculars, came back, but my wife chuckled "too late."

"Where is it?" I asked.

She said that she had been watching it . . . as it began to dim and then . . . just vanish.  I looked in the sky where it was to see if it somehow was an aircraft that had simply turned it's lighted side away, but nope . . . nothing.  It was gone, disappeared in the thin night air.  Which was odd, because it seemed quite close and large, just at the bottom of the small cloud.

Then I saw another one--same thing.  My eyes were drawn to an area of dark sky, spotted an odd seeming light, or star . . . which suddenly grew bright, big . . . then just as swiftly faded and disappeared altogether.

Night before last, I had gotten out of the shower--it was around midnight, and was heading toward our bed when, for some reason, I stopped to look out our bedroom window toward the city valley and the sky above it to the north.  I settled on a patch of stars--a little faint cluster and kept looking too see if there was something odd about them.  I felt that there was and went down to get the binocs.  Looking again, in the same direction but to the left of the cluster, I saw a pin-prick of what looked to be a deep, dark orangish-red star flickering wildly.  Then it leapt.  It disappeared and reappeared an inch (in relative terms) to the left.  It sputtered, sparked, then vanished and reappeared now up higher, to the right.  A little stunned I kept looking as it seemed to teleport with great rapidity all around the night sky in that area I had been drawn to look at.  Very bizarre, dimension-shifting quality, this sparkly dark orange light, flitting about. . . . 

Anyway, that's it for now. . . . Just thought I'd mention it.  Definitely it seems like something is going on, and meant to be obvious, blatant.   I don't doubt the way things are going--the surreal quality of the days' events, news stories and irrational perverse behavior of "officials" and gov. "authorities" that . . . they may actually, finally be ramping for the big "alien" contact motif--the return of our so-called "creators" . . . or whatever devious misdirection story they have prepared. . . .

take care and vigilance in Him,
b,t 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Chronicles of J, next batch of Q's

Dear "J"
 
real quick.. thanks for the new questions.  I so appreciate the thought and time and elucidation you have put into them and am honored that you'd give me a crack at them.  I can relate to them all! . . . --heh, sorry, but brilliant minds think alike :)
 
No, really, . . . you have the kind of probing, relentless mind I soooo appreciate, myself being one whose logical needs drove me from "pillar to post" as they say, searching . . . searching . . . for "the truth" which I needed desperately to satisfy my inquisitiveness and deep down belief that there must be "a truth" and that it should be able to be found (IF there really is a God) . . . .
 
And for what it's worth, I want to reiterate that the answers I will attempt to provide . . . come not  from my own opinion but rather from what is known generally as the "reformed, 'classical' Biblical" understanding.  As far as possible, I don't intend to give you my opinion on these matters, but give you what the Bible--God Himself--teaches.
 
 Just as I made my way through various religious "paths" until I was at last given the knowledge that Christ is The Way . . . then I set about sorting through the different "Christian" sects and understandings of the Bible to find which of those represented the best, closest 'interpretation' of "the Word", though I should add . . . that while there are a myriad of different "Christian sects" . . . and this is a common critique . . . what I have found is that there has always been a "classic" so-to-speak understanding of we would call "Biblically Christianity" and that for the most part, the mainline denominations agree on the fundamentals.  In Christian parlance, the admonition is to "major on the majors, minor on the minors" . . . and/or "don't let 'secondary' issues divide The Body" . . . and, they don't really . . . . I know of many top Christian Apologists, preachers and teachers from different denominations (ie., Presbyterian, Baptist, Reformed Anglican, Charismatic) who, though differing on certain "minor" doctrines, nevertheless count each other as "brother in Christ" and fellow "Believers". . . .
 
There are indeed some "sects" however, that, while calling themselves "Christian" . . . are not, or at least, they follow a "different Jesus" and have added all sorts of ceremony, doctrine, beliefs and even added "revelation" to what the Bible teaches.  Overall, these would be considered "cults" or "false teachers" . . . . I would include in these such "religions" as Mormonism, Catholicism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Scientist, Oneness Pentecostal, Unitarian . . . to name a few. . . .
 
This won't make much sense to you now, but after all my studies so far, I would roughly call myself a Reformed Charismatic Who Lives And Acts As Though Arminianism Were True . . . which appellation, lol, contains about 3 or 4 seemingly contradictory descriptors--but more on that later. . . .
 
Your 1st question in this next wonderful batch you've sent me touches on a topic I am quite fascinated by and interested in and regularly write about.  I look forward to addressing it yet again as it relates to one of the greatest of mysteries and paradoxes pertaining to the reality of this situation (our life in this world as creatures of the one true and living personal God). . . . And I thank you for allowing me to share this discussion with my sweet blog readers as you are expressing deep, profound, vexing questions that probably nearly every seeker/finder has pondered at some point or other. . . .
 
Back shortly with more,
God bless,
t
 
J wrote:   "I cannot for the life of me recall the passage in the Bible, but somewhere it’s stated, and I’m paraphrasing here, that God is going to choose those whom He wants to extend salvation to. (In fairness, it goes on to say the number of people He will extend such to is akin to the grains of sand on the beach, i.e., numbering in the billions.) However, it does make me wonder… why go to the trouble of allowing the existence of individuals He doesn’t want? If He’s sent His Son to redeem mankind, but He’ll only acknowledge certain people’s acceptance of His Son, it almost makes the Crucifixion seem like a cruel joke. (As you’ve mentioned before, context is everything. Since I can’t recall the passage in question, and when I heard it discussed the discussion was limited exclusively to a couple of verses, it’s entirely possible I’ve got hold of the wrong end of the stick regarding this matter.)"
 
 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Riding That Train

This little rough vignette shows the current state of my learning and thinking on the matter of the so-called "free will" of man:

Imagine this. . . . You wake up on a train that is going somewhere.  You don't recall how you got on the train--you just came to your senses and there you were, along with some other people rolling down a line of tracks, headed unstoppably toward a certain destination. 

The destination is the place: "God's Glory".  There are but two large cars, full of people, making up the train, which is pulled by an engine.  The engine/engineer leading the train to its destination is God/God's Sovereignty.

The cars are connected so that while the train is moving the passengers can mingle back and forth but everyone has been issued a seat number from the beginning and must return to their seat, in their respective car once the train reaches its destination ("God's Glory").  There the cars will be separated and sent in opposite directions.  But for a while, you likely don't know you have a ticket, which is in your pocket, until someone you meet on the train (who discovered their own ticket) comes to you and tells you to check and see which car your assigned seat is actually in. 

Now, the destination is guaranteed--meaning people in both cars will arrive at "God's Glory", regardless of their individual desires perhaps to go somewhere else, while in the meantime, the passengers are able to exercise a variety of relative "free choices" within the train's enclosure.

No, they do not have complete "free will" to leave the train, or arrive at a different end, but within the confines of the rolling carrier, they are able and allowed to spend their travelling time doing various different things; ie., some may study, others mostly sleep . . . some play games, site-see out the windows--there are gatherings, talk, fights, debates, buying and selling--various and sundry activities.

This is a rough picture of the difference between "free will" and "free choice".  The Bible does not really teach the man has (libertarian/complete) "free will" apart from God's Sovereign decree (God's will).  Man does have "free choice", however, within the train as it continues inexorably to its ultimate destination. 

At that destination, which is "God's Glory" the people with seats in one car will go to Hell, those in the other car go to Heaven.  The seats were assigned before the train left the station, by God, and no passengers' so-called "free will" can change that.  God is Sovereign.  Man's will can not be superior to God's.  Within certain limitations, however, the passengers, as they move to the final stop are allowed "free choices" ie., as to how they will utilize their travelling time.  Although no one with a seat in the car that will finally be sent to Heaven can change their seat to the other car (going to Hell) they will be giving extra rewards for their "free choices" made in extra service during the temporary ride.  Likewise, those of the car going to Hell can earn extra demerits related to their final destination (compounding the wrath that is due them). 

I think we have no idea the hubris it takes, and the wickedness involved in a passenger (a creature) questioning the "fairness" or goodness of a Creator Who creates what He will for His own glory.  Of course, we being fallen, corrupt, and naturally at enmity with God project our desperately depraved notions on God as to how we think it all ought to be done--what seems "right" or "fair" according to our opinion. . . .

Instead, those finding themselves chosen of God (Who "mercies who He will and hardens who He will") recognizing that they have done nothing to merit their glorious destiny . . . and are filled with undying gratitude and thankfulness and their hearts are eager to express compassion and service for all of God's creation knowing that all of it redounds to His eternal glory.  Those who hate God were created so, for His unfathomable purposes, as Hell is locked on the inside, and those who go there reject the Lord and would never have worshipped Him.

Are we to believe that God hopes everyone will choose Him, but that He is unable to save them because their "free will" precludes it?  Or that while Jesus died for all, He fails in His task that all be saved?

No, it must be that God gathers all His sheep and none that He created to be His eternal family in Heaven will be lost--His victory complete and perfectly accomplished; the Potter making some vessels for honorable/exceptional use while others for dishonorable/common.  --Rom. 9:21



Saturday, May 4, 2013

Regeneration Now!

Let Him be not some far off idea, drawing at your conscience but vague, shrouded, distant . . . where layers of the day's worries intervene, demanding immediate attention. . . .

Too often we go around giving our attention and care towards other creatures, self-centered concerns, so-called "wants" and "needs". . . .

He is an afterthought . . . where maybe at one brief, half-hearted point or another in the day He is recalled and superficial and tepid assent is granted Him--maybe a quick prayer of sorts, but then back to political gossip, regular gossip, shocking news stories, conspiracies and other news of the day. . . .

Following this we then vainly hope to make it through the breach of death and finally, at last, pay attention as He stands there in His devastating glory, and would offer Him our plate of supposed "good works", claiming "I believed in You--I am on Your side, so take me to Heaven" . . . except that the moment we are there, in His presence, the horror of our actual superficiality and hypocrisy is all we have to show and the lie explodes in our withering faces . . . as He then says, "I never knew you."

Oh, let Him be alive in and to you today!  For He IS alive and present:  feel and sense His presence, right there, calling your devotion to awake. . . .

Do not listen to the slithering voices which say, "it is too much, too fanatical and extreme, all this thinking and talking and studying and worshiping of God--back off a bit, be more 'normal'. . . ."

Instead, pray unceasingly!  Be in communion with Him constantly!  Let no thing and no one intervene to divert you away from the One most astounding reality--Who is a Person--in all existence, past, present, future!  THAT is what this life is for and what is should be all about!  NOT all these distractions and seductions. 

The world and the evil one would take you away from the Path and work at it every day, every hour, never sleeping, and so, you too, as a soldier in Christ, must remain alert, on guard and mostly just staying mindful of His matchless presence and purpose in your meager, fast-flying mortal vapor of a life.  The deceiver would take you away every moment down a hundred pointless rabbit trails, keeping you busy with tricked-out dross, to have you ignore and shunt and shrug off the ONLY THING THAT MATTERS, which is Person--the One without whom you could not take another breath or move one more step. . . .

Turn to Him constantly, facing the Gospel, especially now as the enemy is in full frontal attack and swarming the ramparts of every bastion of society, both church and state.

Now is no time to be slacking, coasting. . . .

Now is the time to rededicate, return, regenerate within the Holy Spirit's supernatural grace and power---that power which transforms and changes the dead into the living!
God bless you in this, my spiritual comrades!
Your brother in the Lord, Thomas

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Artist's Restoration

For the glory of God . . . . Everything revolves around this . . . is as close as we can get to the "why" of it all.

Another picture of this. . . .

So, the skeptic, the so-called "atheist" rebel God-hater is always wanting to second guess the "why" and "how" God does what He does; for example related to this creation.  Why not just make everything good and perfect and leave it alone?  Why did He make it so that sin could enter in and corrupt the creation . . . such that He then seemingly has to come back in and "fix" it through His Son?

Well, imagine you are at an artistic event.  There is the stage and the artist has created some masterpiece which you and the audience are sitting there appreciating.  Wonderful!  His exquisite work shows His glory, His vast creative ability. . . .

But then, picture this:  The art-piece is completed, there on the stage, with everyone admiring it . . . and a bunch of dirty, mean, violent, thugs suddenly burst onto the scene and begin trashing the Artist's creation.  You all watch in horror as they do their best to upend the piece, beating it into something unrecognizable, dumping trash on it, burning it, smashing it, twisting its once beautiful and symmetrical parts and portions into a stinking, debris-strewn mess. . . .

The Artist waits until the saboteurs are practically finished with their destruction, then retakes the stage.  He could have stopped the mocking, perverse and hateful trespassers early on in their orgy of mayhem and started over, barring them from entry onto the scene, but instead, he let them have their run.

But the creation--the Artist's work--is now a near complete shambles. . . .

The audience watches with sadness and anger as the Artist rummages through the rubble, thinking the whole thing a loss.

The Artist, however, begins cleaning the stage while also taking and using the garbage the vandals brought in . . . to restore the creation. 

The audience's grief begins to transform to wonder and awe and amazed appreciation as He remakes the work into something even more beautiful, more impressive, good and perfect, even while utilizing what the destroyers did in their destructive frenzy.

Which shows the Artist's character, ability, creativity, genius more?  If He had merely started over at the beginning of the corruption of His work . . . or by having allowed the corruption its course and then using it to remake, restore His first effort?

Finally, he nabs the vile gangsters and sends them off with the authorities to get their punishment, imprisoned, although some of them feel remorse and repent of what they did, and these He forgives saves to include later as fellows in His next astounding project. . . .

This scenario popped into my head the other day as I was pondering this life, the Fall and the complaints of unbelievers. . . .

I know it is not a perfect analogy . . . but yet I think it shows in simplistic fashion something like the "why" God is doing things the way He is related to this creation/corruption/restoration. . . . Though, ultimately, His "thoughts are not our thoughts" and it is futile to expect to understand fully, from our position as creatures, the magnitude and mystery of HIS "why's" . . . should there even be any in the way WE conceive of it. . . .

God bless  

Brother Thomas ©2015

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