Friday, June 28, 2013

Only Two Religions

The more I study (as directed, to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord" -2 Pet.3:18) it becomes clearer and clearer . . . that there are really only two religions--two worldviews . . . just two different pre-suppositions upon which we base our existence:  Humanism vs. Christianity.  That's it.

All we see of conflict in the world is the battle, the war between those two positions.  Even within so-called "Christianity" there is a contest between the two standpoints.  Which is the foundational basis for every following interpretation and conclusion?  Do we look at things from Man's point of view . . . or from God's?  Who has the original say?  Who determines the working out?  Who has the final say?  Man or God?

Worked out in the social, political, economical, moral realm . . . you see Humanism always attacking and trying to destroy family, property, religion.  MAN decides what is right and wrong and hates the decrees of the Supreme, Sovereign Lord.

Those submitted to Christ . . . push aside and let go Man-centered authority and only want to know what GOD ordains.

"But I can't believe in a God who sends people to Hell!  If that's your God then I reject Him."

Yes, we know, Humanist.  You do not believe in the true God.  You reject Him.  You concoct a god in your own image, an idol, and that is what you worship.

It is not a far step from the atheist who complains, "what kind of a God creates a world where there is so much suffering?  What kind of sadistic God condemns those who don't worship Him to an eternal torment of flames?  Why doesn't God step in and get rid of all the evil in the world?"

The Humanist disguised as a "Christian" also complains, "God is love--surely there is not really an eternal Hell!  When God says He hates sin and even doers of iniquity and causes hearts to harden, eyes to be shut and a fig tree to wither . . . it doesn't really mean that. . . . My God loves everybody and wishes all to be saved. . . ."

But in either case, you refuse to accept the "whole counsel of God."  You look in the mirror and imagine what YOU would do if you were God.  You create an idol--a false image, based on your finite, fallen and unholy self . . . and THAT becomes your God."

Meanwhile, His Word states "The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”  Prov. 16:4 . . . according to which the Potter has "power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonor?"  Rom. 9:22

"But that's not fair!  That's not 'loving'!  I wouldn't do it that way!" the Humanist cries.

To which the Apostle answers, "who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it?"  Rom. 9:20

And there is the rub.  The Humanist answers back to God, "How dare you!"  Or, as in the Garden, with the Original Sin, the serpent, whispers, "Did God really mean He makes some vessels for destruction?"

His Word says He does.  And not only that, it is Good that He does, purely Just and works to show His glory.

His thoughts and ways are not Man's thoughts and ways, He says.  But who has the arrogance and hubris to question God's methods and design?  And then to create a false god, worship it and hate the God revealed in scripture?  The Man-centered rebel, child of the devil, whose father is a murderer and liar from the beginning! 

And between the two factions, the battle rages on.  All for the glory of God.  All to reveal His whole character, forever and forever!  Praise God!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Pilgrims Grumble....

What a clusterschtoop . . . things are right about now . . . . . . . . heh........

Very rarely, but occasionally I too get discouraged.  Not in a deep, desperate way. . . .

More like a tired, weary of the struggle kind of ennui . . . and just wanting Jesus to come back already and wind this thing up.  The blindness, wickedness, apathy and confusion which is the world, sometimes gets to feeling like being stuck at the bottom of a sewer, surrounded by muck and stench, and the loud, angry fools there are rioting and shouting for more--MORE sewage and all that has led to it!

And the struggle--the constant, relentless fight for mere survival; things breaking, falling apart . . . the tax man, high prices, dishonest workers and clients, food and energy prices rising, rising . . . with no hope in sight as the megalomaniacal collectivists/Utopian-"humanists" rob and destroy capital and any opportunity to climb out of the hole . . . with all the brainwashed mushrooms sprouting in the muck attacking and hating the very people, messages, truth that can save them and rectify the deteriorating situation. . . .

And to know that I could use my talents and charisma, if I wanted, to concoct ear-tickling stories and product which would gain a following to entice, seduce interest and support, as so many charlatans do, amassing fortune . . . while the plain truth and integrity towards the Word elicits shrugs and disinterest or worse--betrayal and backstabbing; for it is ever obviously so true that "none seek after God" . . . but a few, for the way to destruction is broad, wide, easy. . . .

Yeah, sometimes--not often, thankfully--I feel disgusted by the whole, stupid rot of it!  The lukewarmness . . . the prevaricators professing love for God but still just loving themselves . . . fair-weather friends . . . people who get money and "change", their real hearts revealed once opportunity arrives . . . did I mention backstabbers, gossips who smile to your face but subvert and collude in the darkness? . . .

Blah, blah, blah, lol . . . . . . Heh, and yes, I'm sick of myself too and the areas where I fail and  deserve to be in a crap situation where practically all I can do now is barely manage to hold on.  I've known for years and years where society, politics and the economy were headed--been talking and warning about it . . . yet am in no better condition to deal (materially) with it than if I had been clueless like most everyone else has been (and the many, stunningly, who still are.)

BUT . . . . . . Then, like I say, thankfully, I don't get fed up too often.  Hardly ever.  Just sometimes, it all seems to pile at once and I look around exasperated . . . and think, "Man, is this stupid!"

And then, fairly quickly, I recall the "hope that lies within" . . . which is REAL . . . and far and above and beyond . . . the pesky, discouraging temporal concerns.  HIS story is what it's about.  I recall that the "present sufferings are not worthy to be considered against the future glory" He provides.  I consider all those who have it so much harder even right now--millions, billions even, having come and gone, or still here, suffering miserably at the hands of the wicked and the fallen state of this corrupt world.  There, but for the grace of God, go I. . . . . . . . . . .

Then, a sense of humor kicks in; at myself, at the ridiculousness of the situation; at how desperately mad and insane and foolhardy and moronic . . . this world is as it is run by those who hate God and hate God's people.  We are definitely getting a good, blatant object lesson . . . in Man's utter inability and ineptness . . . to "call the shots", beginning with the First Couple and ever since. . . .

And no, I won't shape my writing or avoid certain thorny issues' won't sugar coat and ear tickle with syrupy "new agey" garbage or Christly-cloaked humanism.  I will not concoct "novel" theories and "new" interpretations which fascinate for a while, but lack veracity; will not angle to be "hip and relevant", "seeker-sensitive" while hiding the blunt, hard, awe-striking character of the Most High along with His gentler side . . . . . . . I just want the truth, plain and simple, and I praise God He made me so . . . to want it and able in any way to share it with other like-minded . . . as we walk the pilgrim road . . . . . . . . .

So . . . . . praise God . . . . . . back to it and God bless! :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

When Did Death Start?

"The Bible makes it obvious that death is the penalty for our sin. In other words, it is really our fault that the world is the way it is—God is a loving, merciful God. When we sinned in Adam, we effectively said that we wanted life without God. All of us also sin individually (Romans 3:23). God had to judge sin, as He warned Adam He would (Genesis 2:17, cf. 3:19). In doing so, God has given us a taste of life without Him—a world that is running down—a world full of death and suffering. As Romans 8:22 says, ‘the whole creation groans and labours with birth pangs’. Man, in essence, forfeited his right to live.
However, even though we are sinners, those who have turned from their sin and trusted Christ for forgiveness will spend eternity with their Creator in a place where righteousness dwells—and there will be no more crying, suffering or death.
The true history of death, as understood from a literal Genesis, enables us to recognize a loving Creator who hates death, the enemy that will one day be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14).
Which history of death do you, the reader, accept? Is it one that makes God an ogre responsible for millions of years of death, disease and suffering? Or is it one that correctly places the blame on our sin, and correctly represents our Creator God as a loving, merciful Saviour who wept at the tomb of dead Lazarus (John 11:35)?"

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Eternal Presence

The Eternal Presence

Every morning . . . when you awake . . . He is there.  Your mind, the chattering monkey is already off and running, like a machine oiled and fueled by input from the material senses. . . .

But stop.  Connect.  Run first to the Eternal Presence.  He is there, He is here, now.  This moment. Now.

He is all there Is, Was and Will Be.  Astounding!

He is the primary meaning and purpose to every thing and every one.

And YOU get to know Him.  Personally.  Person to person.  The source and foundation of all that matters . . . is a Being.  That's it.  He is the beginning of all force, of all power, all motivation, all moving, all resting. . . .

Then to think . . . that this Being--the One God, Creator of all that is--made worlds and a special world, to fill it with people and creatures and living things like plants and insects and bacteria, to share His creative Being with. . . . And designed a creature "in His image" to have dominion over it.

Then, in a brilliant display of the reality of the situation, among the creature's first act is the action to claim autonomy.  God says "don't do this . . . " and the creature, presuming to know better, does just that.  Exhibiting the instant insanity, chaos, ultimate death . . . that must result from turning away from the Creator of all.

The Eternal Presence . . . what mystery . . . three Persons as One Being. . . .

Father, Son and Holy Spirit. . . .

Then the Son lovingly deigns to come down into the material creation . . . to save the day; to save all those the Father gives to Him.  Stunning, alarming, profound, shocking, wonderful . . . !

He enters your life, your soul, your mind and heart, transforming the darkened beast into a being of light, eternal going forward.

What an honor!  What a gracious act!  What mercy He shows and we get to witness and experience these divine attributes, His eternal Character!

The rest . . . is just dust in the wind, blowing clay and withering weeds, meant to be burned.

Rush this day--the day that was saved--to meet and praise and worship The Lord!  The King of the Universe, the Eternal Shepard, the Prince of Peace, the Warrior of Righteousness, your intimate Friend and Counselor. . . .

Praising God, Abba, Father . . . now and forever!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Participation In His Will

Feb. 10, 2007---"Well, I’m not sure the immediate significance…..but I always take special note of a triple ‘confirmation’ . . . . . ."

Oct. 7, 2007---"I mentioned certain “protocols” (on last show with Zeph) that I believe the Lord has established for me to note, helping to discern when there is something He wants me to emphasize."

April 30, 2008---"Another thing that has not happened in a while too much, has been what I’ve my “protocols” or confirming signs, upon which I find extra help to determine the veracity of “inspired” intuition, knowledge . . . whatever you want to call it. To me it’s just “seeing”."

I've related for years here something I have observed when "packets" of "supernatural" information seem to be arriving--ie., a "prompting", "warning", "vision" regarding future trends and/or events of note.

So, if I have a dream or something like a waking "vision"--a strong impression, inspiration--then I look for 2 or 3 quick follow-up "confirms" related to the first "message."  When I had that intense dream/message the other night I thought, "well, if there is anything to it, I would expect that something will happen in the news, ie., an announcement or the stock market will tank. . . . There will be a couple of obvious indicators specifically related to the subject/content of the dream which should follow within a day or two. . . . "

Again, I emphasize I don't want to put too much stock in this--just sharing, fwiw--but yeah, so I blogged about that strange, poignant message that came within a dream on Wednesday morning.... I wondered primarily if the stock market would do anything weird . . .  and, well, it did.  Wednesday was a surprisingly and suddenly terrible day market-wise, and then yesterday was one of the biggest drops in a long time. 

I only mention it because what I "saw" was so stark, so radical . . . that it really looked like a game changer.  The "message" was . . . basically, "you will have to find other ways to survive than what you've been able to do so far."  As it looked like there was just a complete shut down practically of all commerce, trade, work . . . . .

I'm a little more vague on the time frame, but I'm fairly certain I was "told" one to one and half years away.

I don't worry, however.  Fear, concern, worry, anxiety about the future have largely, if not totally, gone from my mind.  I chalk it up to the work of the Holy Spirit effecting "sanctification."  Jesus is so radical in this way--way more than most realize and put into their own practice.  He really meant it when He told us not to fret about tomorrow.  It reveals a lack of faith, of trust to worry. 

I find such great comfort and assurance in knowing that He is sovereign--in total control, with perfectly arrived at intention--over ALL things.  Not just some things.  Not just certain "important" things while He lets other things wander willy nilly while He wrings His hands hoping WE make the "right" decisions.  No.  He has got it all.  And either He does or He doesn't.

His Word says He does.  And He says He won't lose A SINGLE SHEEP that is His.  Which means that goats are goats, sheep are sheep.  There is not an evolutionary thing going on where goats evolve into sheep. 

One of the things that most irked listeners in His day, and still does, is the EXCLUSIVE claims of His Word.  Ie., that HE is the ONLY way to the Father.  And that, He came for His sheep while even shutting the ears and eyes of goats--which message, goats don't like one little bit. . . .

So why even mention the dream or ever make plans or provision for the future?  Because He also effects the means of His decrees through our actions, through us, here in space and time.  When He says He will provide, it does not mean we sit on the curb and wait for food and shelter to "magically" appear.  We are meant to work for it, participate.  It is a great joy and honor that He includes us in His daily will. . . . There is no such thing as will FREE from prior conditions.  We are limited to either being a slave to sin, or slave to God.  Within either of those parameters, it appears we go and make choices.  But we are either dead . . . DEAD in sin . . . or ALIVE in Christ.  We are not some neutral character, autonomous, looking at two paths to choose, free of either until we "make a decision."  How could that be?  For the Word says we are dead in sin,  not seeking God, until we are made ALIVE with a new heart of flesh.  
God bless you today!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

10,000 Adulteries a Day

Argh it was bugging me all day thinking about some of my semi-ramble hoping I wasn't misunderstood.... And it may be a minor issue, but still I don't want to be mistaken.  Hey, I admire websites with bells and whistles!  I have designed several in my head--fantastic ones, that I've never been able to get to since about 1999! .... One day I still hope to have one.  For now, all I was saying was that in the meantime I am grateful for just managing a now old-fashioned style blog, no twitter, no facebook, no ads, as it, in its own way, by its sheer lack of pizazz, lol, perhaps carries some quaint cache' . . . what with time racing on and technology and gadgets and "apps" and the rest making obsolete, or at least passé within minutes of a thing being put out there.... that's all . . . ..

On another random note... I was listening to some good street preaching today while I worked (I've been on a street preaching/street-debates kick for the last few weeks) . . . and the preacher was suggesting a person might easily commit 30,000 sins in a life [ I had figured the number more in the hundreds of thousands, which I still think is very low, but anyway] . . . it occurred to me that people--mostly men . . . who are hooked on pornography . . . are committing dozens if not hundreds of acts of the sin of adultery every day they view the trash.

Then I thought of how wicked our culture is nowadays where porn and porn stars etc., has become so common place ... referenced in songs on the radio, in hamburger commercials, on mainstream magazine covers (subliminally) . . . on t.v. in "sitcoms" and dramas... video games, video game t.v. programs.... EVERYWHERE . . . it has become practically ho-hum and "the culture" would have you believe that it is expected and "normal" for boys, men, women even . . . to partake of it as regular viewing fare.

Then I think of that statistic again.  Seriously . . . if someone views various porn images for 10 minutes . . . to an hour or more every day (which most addicts do, at LEAST) . . . then it must be acknowledged that every one of those separate viewings (lusts) is A COUNT OF ADULTERY!

How many might that be in an average dude's life?  10,000?  50,000?  a million?

Yikes.  What is wrong with people!  Jesus Christ was humiliated, beaten, mocked, crucified! for you!
And you [I'm talking to the hypothetical, typical "modern culture" imbiber] joke about how you love strippers, whores and porn stars, committing adultery with them every time you lust after them in your heart?  Made in the image of GOD you are!  And so are they!  And this is what you do (literally or in your mind, which is the SAME to God) with them?!!

Myself, I resent it.  I resent that satanic ploy shoved in my face everywhere I turn, on nearly every show, program . . . in so many songs, magazines, internet ads, promos unwanted--.  I resent it when I see women dressed like hookers--out in public causing shame, to themselves and in the men they want to provoke.  I don't admire them.  I turn away.  I confront my own sin nature on the spot and disallow it to wander, resentful, righteously indignant at the whole situation.  Oh, yes, I have compassion for all involved.  I get it, our awful condition. . . . So I pray for them and I immediately put my mind's eye on the things of God--turning away (literally and spiritually) as commanded; for we are to repent and TURN AWAY from our old sin nature--NOT give in to it and let it in through little side doors when we think no one is looking.  God, angels and demons are always looking, besides the Holy Spirit Who I do not want to grieve within my heart and mind--soul.

Anyway, it just occurred to me today, considering the quantity aspect of it, just again how serious sin is and this particular sin (lust/adultery) is . . . where it has become so ubiquitous that the soccer moms and children have become numbed and blasé about it. . . .

And if anyone reading this right now . . . has any kind of problem in this area... drop to your face, repent and knock it off--its grievous and disgusting and unworthy of one who intends to walk in holiness. . . .

And In Other News. . . . .

Our son Alexander is back from his tour of fire fighting safe and sound.  A couple days off then back into the fray.  He has brought lots of tales from the desert mountains of New Mexico--their adventures and the various cultural experiences from Taos and all the strange, otherworldly cowboy and Indian ghost towns, meth-making outbacks, militias in the hills and the new exotic fire-fighting aircraft he got to see in action. . . .


Meanwhile, I'm thinking a quick update on my current status in the faith--I am prompted to express, fwiw.

For one thing, since I first started writing on such matters, back around 2004-5 and then the spate of "radio" interviews following . . . not much has changed doctrinally.  I have immersed myself in study since that time, so clarification on some issues has occurred, but I pretty maintain the same opinions and p.o.v., though with different emphasis. 

I do not "have" a pastor--not that I'm against it . . . it just hasn't presented itself at this point.  We go to a church to worship--a place Isaac really likes and has finally met some people his age who are not clueless, atheist and lost deviants . . . which is great.  But I don't "belong" to a particular church.  I have never, in fact, been much of a church goer and remained leery, probably mostly due to a "poisoning of the well" via my early experiences of "Mormon" "church" . . . but I do now thoroughly enjoy getting together with other believers to praise and worship communally . . . and hear some solid (albeit a bit "milk" style) exegesis.  We had been going also what I have more called "Bible study" at another place . . . but that "teacher" has suddenly swerved into presenting tired and worn-out old heresies (as if they were new ideas) . . . and so, sadly, we must take our leave of there. . . .

I am interested in a systematic, fairly literal reading of scripture with, what I understand as the classical biblical reading--what the early Church taught and what has been presented here and there through the centuries, in contrast to the ongoing many man-centered cultish teaching that have continued to spring up.  From my in depth studies, what is commonly known as the "Reformed" view is what I find most correct.  I believe in an eternal Hell, election, 6 day Creation, "young earth" and all the "miracles" recorded in the Word.

I think abortion is one of the greatest evils and tangible horrors of the day.  In general, I support and applaud Christians who are prompted and led to protest politically and publicly against the state sanctioned murder of babies.  I See that God uses people in all kinds of capacities in this world to effect His will . . . and that includes when and where He inspired people to "get involved" with political issues, governance, public policies etc.  It is not for me . . . at least at this time . . . but it may be in the future, as He directs, and I think it is quite fine for those who do NOT want to get involved and spend their time in other ways furthering the Kingdom AS WELL AS those who DO "get involved" . . . even to the point of being activists, as I believe God uses each, according to their temperaments, talents, inspiration etc.

I have noticed that since I turned my own focus on matters more specifically Biblically related, I'm probably not a "popular" as I once was, and a few who supported me before have dropped off . . . but that's ok.  I also go where He leads, and for me, this has been into a deeper, more thorough study and understanding and exposition of doctrine, theology. . . . As far as the crazy events going on in the world, I feel like I pretty much have already said what needs to be said, predicted a lot of exactly what is going on now . . . and have clearly stated for quite a while where I see it all going.  So, why repeat myself in that area, except for the occasional observations and commentary along the way.

Truly, I find that immersion into the things of the Lord is the best anyhow to deal with and prepare for . . . the socio-political machinations . . . of the devil, HIS kingdom, the fallen and all the absurd evil garbage that surrounds us at this point.

I have also found, that as I have gotten more securely and literally in The Word . . . although my language and expressing of such ideas and experiences has seemed more "traditional" and staid, so-to-speak . . . (as in, it would appear my more "mystical" tendencies and depictors have diminished) . .. . in fact, I have never observed, understood nor experienced such deep, mysterious, profound "mystical" heights as I do now.  A problem is, they are SO subtle . . . and personal . . . that it is very difficult to share in words.  And what I find is that, the words and concepts and teaching related in the Bible, in their most basic, obvious examples . . . do the best job of expressing it . . . so that is what I have been using.  To the unregenerate mind, it likely appears that I'm just regurgitating typical "fundy" "bible-thumping" rhetoric, but I suspect that those with the eyes to see and ears to hear are tracking right along with me, as we each continue to progress in the "Walk" of "sanctification".

I am ever more astounded and grateful . . . to be experiencing the grace and mercy of the Lord as He brings me back into His fold, cleans my up, and regenerates my mind, heart, soul. . . .

The further I go on . . . the more I see how much I need Him!  I get more broken, humbled, submitted, crushed, dependent etc., on Him . . . while at the same time experiencing greater confidence, strength, purity, clarity, fearlessness, love. . . .

My blog looks the same as when it started, having forsaken new bells and whistles, preferring the plain template; mostly just words on a page.  Nothing against bells and whistles, but I find the longer I keep it simple and sparse, the more it perhaps stands out in an old, quant, comfortable way.  As well, I have not added the various advertising and promotional gadgets that most blogs now use to get and profit from traffic, and probably suffer for it, but oh well.  So it goes, at least for now and as far as I can see.

Hey, I think I'll mention what I am taking as a message of warning that came to me night before last.  I have not had such a dream, if dream it be, in quite a while.  It was stark, intense and blunt.  Basically, I was shown/told . . . that in about a year to a year and a half . . . there was finally going to be the big "crash"/other-shoe-dropping . . . we have been expecting.  It showed me that things were indeed going to get very suddenly disastrous, primarily it seemed, economically.  The message was . . . to be ready, as far as possible, to survive in a totally different way as the normal means and ways of trade, work, etc. were going to change and suddenly.  In the dream it was urged that, if I were smart, I would immediately be saving up some provision for that moment, as work, as it has been, would no longer be.  I hesitate to mention this, but have decided, fwiw, to share it.  I'm not saying it's a "thus sayeth the Lord" of course . . . but it had a different quality and intensity and prompting sense than anything I've had in a while.  I am tending to expect it to come about as shown.  Although, materially, there really isn't much I can do to prepare as I am already just getting by without anything "extra" to put away.  Foremost, I think being prepared, solid psychologically, emotionally, and above all spiritually . . . is the best preparation and learning to trust completely in His providence.

Anyway, just thought I'd mention it . . . .

God bless and take care,
brother, thomas

Monday, June 17, 2013

Doctrine Matters

What kind of preaching and doctrine . . . causes people to hate and violently attack those giving the "whole counsel of God"?  Certainly, it is not the mushy, feel-good "Oprah-anity", new agey, anything goes, all dogs go to heaven message. . . . Right?

What message enrages people to shout at, spit on, hit, burn alive, torture, imprison, crucify the preacher of the Word of God?  For instance, is any one really too offended at the one who proclaims . . . that "all will eventually make it into Heaven?"  No.  The sinner, the drunkard, the liar, thief, adulterer and murder laughs, shrugs and replies, "Good!  I will keep to my wicked ways and, hey, one day, I too will get to sit at the Lord's feast!  But for now, I eat, drink and be merry.  I like this message!"

Or, does it matter whether you think are saved through your own will or whether it is God's will alone that saves?  Well, one way is man-centered; the other is God-centered.  All the parsing and twisting of words and concepts does not change the fundamental premise.  Is it YOUR will (above God's) that determines your salvific outcome . . . or is it God alone who determines the end from the beginning?

Does it make a difference which way you look at it?  Well, if TRUTH matters . . . then yes, THE TRUTH of the answer to that question . . . is vital.  Error . . . leads to more error, for once you have veered off the straight and narrow path of truth . . . delusion stacks upon delusion, lie upon lie, to shore up the original false premise.  This is how heretical cults are started and flourish. . . .

I tend to question the seriousness and purported "love of the truth" in anyone who shrugs these difficult issues off and wants to just float on the surface of a basically emotional, sentimental "experience" of Jesus . . .or the more pleasant parts of Word of God.

MANY Prophets, preachers, teachers . . . and God Himself suffered and died proclaiming the Truth.  It greatly offended the fallen, unregenerate listeners to the point of riotous violence and hatred against them.

God bless, and I pray you too are serious about seeking and learning the truth.  What else is there really worth pursuing?  Everything else, of error, lie, falsity, perversion (of the truth) will be burnt in "the fire that is not quenched."
"For the overseer must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Titus 1:7-9)

 I remember well the night the membership of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church considered my calling to be an elder amongst them. I remember contemplating the qualifications of an elder found in the Pastoral epistles, and, as I believe is proper, trembling at them. I do not believe any elder in his right mind and God-tuned heart can look at those qualifications and not see areas in need of improvement and growth. Thankfully, absolute perfection of sanctification is not the standard of the eldership, and God uses imperfect men in the service of His people.
   Yet, He gives standards for a reason. When these standards are ignored, Christ, and His Church, suffer. Not only are the people who are subjected to unqualified elders hurt by the resultant imbalanced or impoverished ministry, but the wider body is hurt when those without the qualifications of eldership pretend to do what they have not been called to do. The world loves to put such men forward, place them in the spotlight, and use them as a means of ridiculing the Christian faith." (an excerpt from a James White writing on Joel Osteen)


Doctrine is Unavoidable
Non-doctrinal Christianity is impossible. The teaching of non-doctrinal Christianity is doctrine. It is bad doctrine, but it is doctrine nonetheless. Some argue that “doctrine divides,” and, therefore, that we should avoid it. True, doctrine sometimes divides, but that is what the Lord intended. In Luke 12:51–53, our Lord expressly taught that He came not to bring “peace on earth” but rather to bring “division,” even among family members. We cannot hereby justify schismatic behavior in the church, which Scripture condemns repeatedly, but we cannot accept the notion that division is inherently evil.
The real question is not whether Christians will have doctrine but which doctrine or whose doctrine?

Our Lord and Savior Himself advocated a host of doctrines. The Gospels are replete with His doctrinal teaching. He taught about the nature of God (John 4:24), humanity (Matt. 10:28), creation (Mark 10:6), sin (John 8:34), redemption (John 3), the church (Matt. 16), and the end of all things (Matt. 24). He taught doctrines about the history of salvation and how it should be understood (Luke 24). Anyone who advocates non-doctrinal Christianity must do so without Jesus.

Doctrine is Practical
The history of salvation and of the church is, in part, the history of the struggle between true and false doctrine and the moral consequences of error. Satan came teaching false doctrine about God, man, sin, and judgment. His doctrine led to death. Moreover, those who mocked Noah and those who called for Barabbas believed false doctrines, and they acted upon them.

In Scripture, there is no divorce between doctrine and practice. In Proverbs 8:10, instruction is a synonym for knowledge, and both come in the context of getting wisdom, that is, an understanding of how to live in God’s world according to the patterns He has established. Nothing is more practical than wisdom, and doctrine is built into wisdom. It is impossible to be wise, in the biblical sense, without doctrine.

The Apostle Paul warned the Roman congregation (Rom. 16:7) about those who divide the congregation, who seek their own gain, and who contradict Apostolic doctrine. The noun doctrine occurs in a similar context in Ephesians 4:12. Paul contrasts crafty, self-aggrandizing liars who are immature and who may cause believers to be tossed about “by every wind of doctrine,” that is, every passing fad, like a small boat in a big storm. Here, bad doctrine and moral corruption are intertwined.
True doctrine is never mere theory. This connection is explicit in 1 Timothy 1:8, where Paul lists a series of gross sins and categorizes them as “contrary to sound doctrine.” To deny biblical doctrine is immoral, and morality is based upon fundamental Christian teaching.

There is another consequence of denying Christian doctrine: chaos. Dorothy Sayers, in the 1940s, predicted this outcome in her book Creed or Chaos? Today, partly as a result of the misguided search for non-doctrinal Christianity, there is virtually no consensus as to what constitutes evangelical Christianity. The first step back from the abyss and toward order is to recover the biblical and Reformed conviction of the necessity of “good and necessary” consequences (WCF 1.6) drawn from the careful reading of Scripture.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Eternal Sinning

"Can a Christian fall away? Yes. Can someone who is truly regenerate, elect of God, an eternal Christian, fall away? No, clearly not."

This is an interesting statement I found in a writing by Pastor Doug Wilson--a fellow I like and who debated Christopher Hitchens as shown in the movie "Collision" (good flick, btw.)

Following on the heels of my last entry, and having heard some recent opinions on the matter of "once saved always saved" . . . and thinking on it some more as of late, I hope to delve in a bit tomorrow "God willing and the creek don't rise."

Meanwhile, here is something to consider:  Often you will here from the God-haters and unbelievers that it just doesn't seem "fair" or "loving" or really make any sense at all . . . that people are punished with an eternity of Hell . . . for having lived and sinned for just one, short life.  An infinite punishment for a finite amount of crime?  "No way," they say.

Well, look at this. . . . For one thing, ponder how many sins we actually commit, even in this one life.  It is a lot.  Against the standard of God's commandments I don't think it unruly to suggest that we commit 5 or 10, 20 or a 100 infractions per day taking into account deed AND thought.

But lets just say it was 10 a day.  In 70 years worth of a life that would amount to 255,500 crimes against God--no small thing.  Especially if we see, for instance, how one crime against . . . lets say, the president of the United States--a threat or attempted assassination--will land a person in prison for life or execution.  How much more serious is the crime against God, the Creator?

Still, a person might think, "Yeah, but punishment for ETERNITY?  Even if a person committed a million crimes against the Almighty?  Does that warrant a sentence for eternity?"

But here is what is not being considered.  When a person is sent to Hell for their sins, and without God's restraining hand of grace, that person will continue in sin.  They will sin and sin and sin . . . for eternity, warranting their punishment "daily" . . . AND GRACE WILL NO LONGER SAVE THEM.  That is a key feature of Hell.  God's grace will not be there to rescue the sinning God-hater. 

That is why THIS LIFE is sooooo important.  We are in an age of grace and mercy where the Lord and His sacrificial act stand ready to be believed, accepted.  But God says He will not abide forever the lawlessness of His subjects.  There is a cutoff point--a end, a Day of Judgment where the whole thing wraps up and sentences given. 

And once in Hell, where God's grace is not available to the willfully wicked, those there will continue to sin and sin and sin . . . on into eternity, receiving their just penalty for so doing..........

Friday, June 14, 2013

Concering the Fruits of Rebirth (J)

From the "J" Chronicles, "J" asked: "I've heard it time and again in regards to Christianity that deeds are meaningless and belief in Christ is all that matter.  In other words, provided I believe, I could opt to become a serial rapist and murderer tomorrow . . . but as long as I believed in Christ, it'd be OK because deeds don't matter at all. . . . Seriously?" 

Well, deeds are not meaningless either before or after rebirth as a new creature in Christ.  Indeed, it is our deeds (both in thought and action) that would send us to Hell.  We go to Hell because of our sins against God.  And I would like to reiterate that what hardly anyone has, is a real, deep appreciation for just how serious sin is--even a so-called "small" sin.  We do not appreciate the holiness and perfection of God and how astonishingly horrible and damnable out rebellion against Him truly is.

Your question here is a common one from unBelievers; interestingly, it is also one that many Mormons, who believe in a works-based salvation also level at Born Again Christians: "So, all you have to do is say you believe in Jesus and then you can go on and do whatever you want to, like lie, steal, rape, drink and do drugs and you're still saved?"

But Jesus says, 23 “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." --John 14:23-24

And this is a description of what actually happens.  First off, when the Lord comes to you and He shows you the utter depravity and desperation of your sinful condition, you are devastated.  At last, you recognize and understand your need for a Savior.  Then, you realize, for the first time the profundity of what He did on the cross, taking your sins upon Himself, so that you can be presented spotless before God.  The exchange is mind and heart-blowing.  He takes YOUR wickedness and rebellion away, and YOU get to wear His perfect righteousness.  From then on, you accept that when God looks at you, He sees His perfect Son in your place, so-to-speak. 

As the momentousness of this transaction sinks in, you are filled with a new peace and gratitude and love and devotion to this Savior that becomes a hallmark of your new, ongoing self.

But, you are still in this corrupted body and world, and remnants of your old self--that dead, old sinner and child of devil--still remain, to varying degrees.  The Apostle Paul himself complained of a "thorn in his flesh" that he prayed would leave him, but God told Him it was to remain, and it acted as a constant reminder to humility, although God also said that His "grace is sufficient", meaning that, despite there still being some hangers-on from the old, lost self, God's grace, in the end, is going to see the disciple finally perfect and residing in Heaven.

You will find, once you are Born Again, that, while you yet make mistakes--continue to sin--you no longer revel in your sin.  You don't seek it out.  Your conscience does not bear it.  You repent and get back to holy Walk.  And as time goes on, sins that use to beset you, begin to fall away.  They lose their grip on you.  This is commonly known as the process of "sanctification" and I can attest to its validity.  So can my wife, and every other authentic "born again" Believer that I have ever met or heard speak of such things.

Another common descriptor of this is when you say, "I am not yet where I want to be (spiritually speaking) BUT I am not where I was!"  It is one of the most pleasant and convicting of experiences in the Walk . . . when . . . after trekking for a while as the new "you" . . . you look back and see that, indeed, you are NOT the same person you use to be, in big major ways, as when you lived in unbelief and doubt.  Startling things, like being able to love enemies or other difficult people that use to trigger you with resentment and anger.  You find you have more tolerance and compassion for others' faults and failings, realizing that you too once were blind and lost. 

One of the most pleasantly amusing (to me at least) changes that I see in myself and everyone else I know that is Reborn . . . is that you get an almost insatiable thirst and hunger for the things of God.  Honestly, you become what some have called a "Jesus freak."  You can't get enough!  The things of the world lose their luster and become paltry, foolish and a waste.  You crave hearing the Word and all matters pertaining to It/Him.  You look forward to Church, or gathering with other Believers.  You voraciously want to learn the scriptures, the spiritual teachings, the histories and seek out teachers and preachers who know well how to "divide" it (exegete, explain it) and . . . well, you can't get enough! 

Anyone who continues to live in sin and "willfully" break God's commandments after claiming to be saved . . . is what we would call a "false convert."  And there are plenty of them about.  But being saved is not just saying some formula or claiming Jesus as Lord.  It is not even in recognizing who Jesus is.  The devils know who Jesus is, but they are not saved.

It requires true repentance . . . and then putting your full trust in Him as Lord of your life.  The alternative, and what the devils do, is keeping your SELF as the Lord of your life.  This is the crux of the whole thing.  Who is your God, your self or . . . God?  When God becomes the Master of your reasoning, of your heart, of your purpose . . . you simply do not want to do things that displease Him.  You are so grateful to Him and love Him for what He has done, that, like anyone else you have ever loved, only more, the last thing you want to do is hurt or harm or disrespect or disparage or mock . . . the person, the object of your devotion.

Furthermore, regarding deeds, they do continue to have meaning, as the good ones, in His service, are rewarded in Heaven.  We will receive extra "crowns" of glory depending on the degree of our sacrifices and works in helping build The Kingdom.  All who have Jesus as their Lord will inherit the Kingdom, and their sins are wiped away, but there are additional rewards for some more extraordinary in the faith.  There are "many mansions" in the Kingdom. . . .

If someone claims to believe in Christ, but continues to sin and there is no evidence in their life, in there deeds of having been reborn as a "new creature in Christ" . . . then they most likely a liar and false convert.  When you believe in and put your faith, your trust in Christ, becoming a new creature, your life will bear the fruits of that rebirth.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Being The Means

A few things that have been coming to mind I am praying will come to fruition. . . . God willing and I can get it together enough, take the time and forge through. . . . First off, and probably the most difficult, is still trying to get something going musically--a new project  I'm contemplating. Kickstarter for that and have talked to a couple musicians, though would need more, to get a Christian band organized to play live and record an album.  Slowly but surely, when possible I have been working on some new tunes.  Finding musicians willing to commit and capable as players, with the right spirit . . . is probably the biggest hurdle.  I think I've got a great name for the band, I dare say was Given to me one morning a few weeks back, along with a template (what kind of band, the instruments, general style of music) . . . . It all came at once and I was buzzing with the Spirit considering its potential.  I have failed many callings before, though, and I am usually almost instantly "attacked" and with attempts to thwart . . . and have lost some heart over the years, giving up the fight (with respect to similar "projects") . . . but I intend to try again.  I believe it could be a vibrant source of encouragement and evangelization to others if it comes to fruition.

Another idea that has come up involves writing.  I have met a couple of people who have incredible stories of how they came to faith . . . from behind the Iron Curtain.  I am thinking of  documenting their testimonies which involve things like gulags, suicide attempts and possession.  Fascinating and convicting histories they are and I know I would certainly enjoy reading them if they were in print.

Also, the once distant but real . . . and growing call to open-air preaching is steadily coming up me.  Isaac, one of our saved boys, has long expressed a desire to hit the streets, and, in fact, on his birthday last week, we took him downtown to an open air shopping mall corner where some of the brethren we know regularly hold forth . . . and Isaac for the first time spent an hour or so passing out tracts with them.  Heh, he loved it and wants to do more.  I've been getting some ideas for that and how to do it in a more ambitious way . . . and, God willing, am looking at eventually getting into action that way as well. . . .

Time is short . . . and the culture is spinning out of control, with many agitated, confused, scared and not a few searching for answers and peace--and the Lord, whether they know it yet or not.  The Shepard calls to His sheep and His disciples are tasked with reaching them.  I am continuing to find it a most pleasant mystery . . . how, even though I generally believe in "election" and, thus "predestination" . . . it has not diminished in me one whit the prompting of urgency and calling . . . to go out and find the lost.  Although my finite mind does not fully grasp it, it yet makes sense to me . . . more and more . . . how God both authors the end AND the means to the end.  It all has to do with His purpose of willing that we are to have a relationship with Him . . . and then, how He effects that relationship (as an eternal, transcendent, sovereign Being) with finite, created, submitted individuals.  He knows the beginning and the end of all things--indeed AUTHORS them--and where we see in the Bible certain anthropomorphic descriptions of His ways and means, ie., where it appears as though He "changes His mind" according to our responses and actions . . . it is not really that He "changes His mind" . . . but that . . . that is how it appears to us and how we experience it in the flow of time and space and as limited creatures.

From a removed, intellectual analysis . . . I understand and have some sympathy with . . . the opinion that "if God has already chosen who will and who will not be saved, why bother going to evangelize?" . . . in practice and in fact, I personally experience that this offered conundrum . . . is simply not how it ends up going.  For instance, the man who is oft considered the "father of modern missions" William Carey . . . was a Calvinist.  George Whitefield, the preeminent missionary, evangelist of the "First Great Awakening" . . . was, so-called "Calvinist". . . .George Muller, Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, John Knox, the Huguenots, the Puritans, the first American colonists, the founders of the first American colleges, John Eliot ("the first missionary to the American Indians") . . . and the list goes on . . . of those who believe in God's Sovereignty, "election", "predestination" etc., and how they have often been at the forefront of missionary efforts in all fields of endeavor.

On the other hand, I think I see that many, if not most, of the various heretical and cultish offshoots of the Church . . . tend to be "free will" thinkers, "Arminian" in point-of-view:  Modern money-grubbing televangelists, "word faith" hucksters, "oneness Pentecostals", Mormonism, Catholicism, and the loads of liberal "anything goes" wings of the mainstream faiths (liberal Methodists, Unitarians, "universalists" (everyone gets saved in the end), the "Emergent Church", Purpose Driven drivel, New Apostolic Reformation, Joel Osteen, Rob Bell) and that list goes on . . . and on.

I'm afeard that once you begin entertaining that MAN has something to do with his own salvation and keeping it (which is WORKS, no matter how you slice it) . . . then the door is opened to a whole host of potential doctrinal pitfalls and dangerous beliefs that tend to lead one right off the rails of the straight and narrow . . . and into the heretical ditch.

There is a pastor whom I have cherished and loved . . . and from whom I have learned some deep and great things . . . but who is "Arminian" . . . who is now suggesting that maybe God is NOT all omnipotent, omniscient, and that Hell is not eternal, believes in old earth and, I think evolution.  I trace his new ideas directly to his man-centered theology and fear I see a burgeoning of heretical opinions growing like mushrooms in that mental mind-field.  At what point does it stop being Biblical Christianity and become something else?  The Mormons, the Jehovah's Witnesses, The Roman Catholics etc., all have their own versions of the Bible . . . for instance, because they reject certain plain teachings IN the Bible and now need buttressing from some other source.

Anyway, sorry . . . back to the point I was making . . . that I find little if anything in history and in my own experience that shows that believing in God's absolute Sovereignty and the "Reformed" position . . . that diminishes or thwarts evangelical zeal, self-sacrifice, effort and motivation . . . to spread the Gospel and "make disciples."  It appears to me that God uses us precisely to do just that--we get to participate and have relationship with Him AS THE MEANS to reach and gather His flock.  The passages in the Bible which appear to support the idea of independent, libertarian free-will . . . such as "whosoever believes" . . . are DESCRIPTIVE . . . not prescriptive. . . .

Sunday, June 9, 2013

I Am A Slave, Free At Last

Considering further . . . the issue of ubiquitous surveillance . . . . . . .

Look at how the people (understandably) are riled over the news that "the authorities" are monitoring virtually every aspect of their lives.  And how suddenly many are deeply concerned and fearful of what "the authorities", "the powers that be" . . . that their private lives may come under extreme scrutiny and any "infractions" or law breaking might be used to punish them and perhaps deprive them of their "freedom."

Yet, notice how so few fear THE Authority, THE Power That Be . . . and how HE will punish law breaking and consign to an eternal prison! 

Do we fear the power of the government or God more?  Despite what many say, they do NOT fear God and His surveillance . . . and so, lack wisdom.  God Himself says they are fools. 

Ah, but I can hear the self-proclaimed "free thinker" now . . . raising her voice, offended, shrieking, "But I don't want to be 'surveilled'!  Not by the government, not by 'god'!  Why can't people just be left alone?  What about my 'right to privacy'?"  She complains and decries a "god who has to look into everybody's lives" calling it "creepy" and "intrusive."

And, regarding the government, it IS "creepy" and "intrusive".  Assuming there IS a "right to privacy", what right do they have to spy on and record the private activities of any citizen not engaged in criminal activity?  None.  Although, we should note that from a liberal, secular, humanist, progressive point of view, the government ("man") IS the ultimate authority and makes "law" up as it goes along, depending on relative circumstances and whims.

But here is the problem with having a complaint or irritation with GOD being One who monitors and records (all) "private" activity, including thoughts and feelings.  We are not our own.

God is the author, creator and owner of our lives.  He has full right to do whatever He wishes with us.

This is a fact that even many so-called "believers" do not really comprehend or accept.  And, paradoxically, it is one of the most liberating truths to realize--that we are "owned" top to bottom, by God Almighty!  It is the illusion of autonomy and unhinged independence that causes so much suffering, resentment, complaint, chaffing. . . .

But it is the truth of our ultimate and foundational subjection, which "sets us free", as we then submit our "will" to that of the Lord's.  For He IS free and autonomous!  And once we abandon our darkened delusion of self-centered sovereignty . . . and realize we actually live, move and breath ONLY at His behest . . . it is then that we begin to taste, move and breathe something like REAL freedom and independence, because it is "no longer I who live but Christ lives in me" . . . where our will is conformed to His unbridled, autonomous Sovereignty! 

We are either a slave to sin, or to God, where the "right to privacy" is a mere delusion.

And it is but the slave to Lord Jesus . . . who is truly free. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Damned & The Dead--Walk On By

Huh. . . . whataya know. . . . Still no contrite, apologetic word from the eye-rolling scoffers . . . who smirked and once called us "conspiracy theorists" . . . "fanatics" . . . "paranoid" . . . even though it is finally now "mainstream" discussion how thoroughly and secretly we have been immersed into a Marxist-tinged, total surveillance, Bill-of-Rights suppressing police state. 

Oh well, God love 'em, what much can you expect from small-minded, brainwashed, self-serving, dead-in-their-sins atheists and idolaters?  Not much.  It is a sad truth that unbelief breeds rank stupidity, blindness and overall irrationality . . . quaffed in vain, dumb hubris.  And there, but for the grace of God, we too would be.  Praise God.

One of the great blessings of being rescued by The Truth . . . is that your intelligence is restored.  You are able to see things more clearly all the time, as The Walk goes on.  Your mind gains in ability to reason, analyze, properly discriminate and use logic whereas before it is hopelessly lost in a mush of circular relativism, selfish expedience, deluded fantasy, yet all the while assuming a smug arrogance and unfounded condescension.

Oh, I hear a protest immediately from the gallery, "Hey, YOU are the one who sounds arrogant and condescending!"

Well, first off, yes, no doubt there is truth in that.  I am a sinner and my carnal (albeit dead-in-Christ) self still makes noises, as do corpses, freshly deceased sometimes rattle and moan and twitch though the soul has departed.  But where I boast, I boast in Christ, granting nothing worthy in myself, but only what He has granted me--nothing I warranted or deserved . . . and I look down on that corruption which the devil wrought and am thrilled to hate what God hates--the lies, rebellion, violence and blasphemies spoken and acted against His sovereign glory!

Now, here is the good news . . . among the disturbing (and we saw it coming, didn't we?) news of the day, which the worldly powers at last are releasing--and note that they want us to know that we are being recorded, monitored, tracked etc.  For, to those who love God . . . and "have been called to His purpose" . . . ALL things work together for the good!  We cannot be outflanked by ANYTHING the world and the wicked do against us, no matter how insidious and pervasively they try.

Listen, several years ago, when I was a guest on Zeph's early broadcasts, I urged and warned that as we progressed into the totalitarian regime's grip, it was vital to "live blamelessly".  Remember that?  It was for just such a time as now that I was specifically using that terminology.

Where a follower of Jesus has the advantage at this stage . . . is in the fact that we already are conscious and sensitive to being monitored, recorded, tracked.  The unbeliever and/or false convert or idolater . . . thinks they commit their sins in secret.  They imagine that their vile, hateful and perverted thoughts are unknown and hidden while they put on their false face to the world.  IF they are even aware of their devious, deceitful hearts, they persist in their sinful ways fancying that no one will really ever know. . . .

But WE know that God sees the heart and all the hidden things and that all of it will be shown and known one day, at Judgment.  We do NOT live in the vain hope that our pretenses and "good works" will save us in the end.  We know that God is omniscient and omnipresent and no one escapes His tracking. 

The world, "ruled" for now, by the Lying Imitator, is attempting to install, through coercion and terror, a similar omniscience, but we have nothing to fear from him.  An awareness of being surveilled is nothing new to us.  And, as Believers, walking in faith and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we already confess our faults and have laid them at the Cross, and are growing in holiness anyhow, such that we ought be having less and less things to ashamed of anyhow, as we progress in our sanctification. 

Live blamelessly.  As living disciples of  Lord Jesus, we ought not be involved with behavior that grieves the Holy Spirit anyhow; such that--although it is a horrendous trampling of our civil and moral rights, what the oppressive powers are doing to us--we live in the open, righteously, un-apologetically, rejecting secret dalliances and otherwise shady dealings, letting our "yeas be yeas and our nays, nays!"

Listen. . . . The living disciple, follower of Lord Jesus . . . has nothing to fear from the dead and the damned, and our daily lives reflect His grace and glory in us, as we shun the works of darkness, walking in the Light, unafraid, proclaiming His victory!  We simply cannot be outflanked by the dead and the damned, no matter how much money, time and power they spend trying it.  Truth wins in the end.  Lies, tyranny, corruption, rebellion against God are put down.  What we have here are but the foul odors and strange sounds emitting from the bejeweled corpses of the doomed.  Walk on by.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Power In Quietude

Quietness in God our true resource.
Warmth of imagination, ardor of feeling, acuteness of reasoning, and fluency of expression, can do but little. The true agent is a perfect abandonment before God, in which we do everything by the light which He gives, and are content with the success which He bestows. This continual death is a blessed life known to few. A single word, uttered from this rest, will do more, even in outward affairs, than all our most eager and officious care. It is the Spirit of God that then speaks the word, and it loses none of its force and authority, but enlightens, persuades, moves, and edifies. We have accomplished everything, and have scarce said anything.

On the other hand, if left to the excitability of our natural temperament, we talk forever, indulging in a thousand subtle and superfluous reflections; we are constantly afraid of not saying or doing enough; we get angry, excited, exhausted, distracted, and finally make no headway. Your disposition has an especial need of these maxims; they are as necessary for your body as your soul, and your physician, and your spiritual adviser should act together.

Let the water flow beneath the bridge; let men be men, that is to say, weak, vain, inconstant, unjust, false, and presumptuous; let the world be the world still; you cannot prevent it. Let every one follow his own inclination and habits; you cannot recast them, and the best course is, to let them be as they are and bear with them. Do not think it strange when you witness unreasonableness and injustice; rest in peace in the bosom of God; He sees it all more clearly than you do, and yet permits it. Be content to do quietly and gently what it becomes you to do, and let everything else be to you as though it were not.  fenelon

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"WOW", says the living

Re you question JC . . . about why I would be more inclined to think that nothing should exist as opposed to something. . . . And thanks for query:)

Hmmm. . . . Well, all I can really say about that is . . . for about as long as I can remember, back to my childhood days . . . I have always been astounded at the sheer fact of existence--of there being an existence and "IS-ness" at all!  I have always been struck with awe and wonder . . . at the brute fact that there is anything at all--especially consciousness and identity (personal, individual, self-conscious identity.) 

Then on top of that . . . I find it wonderfully astounding that there is a God . . . Who is a personal, identifiable (relatively) being . . . Who always was, is and will be . . . at the foundation, the base, of everything else that exists or is created.

But, looking at it with my mortal, finite mind . . . and loosely considering the matter . . . when I've meditated/pondered on it . . . it just seems more "likely" that there would be nothing at all--no transcendent, all-knowing, omniscient, omnipotent Being, let alone matter, time, space, creatures etc.

However, there also seems to be a part of me--probably the spiritual part which rests in a type of knowledge and comprehension . . . that says, "Yes, of course there is a God . . . Who "precedes" and is the source and cause of all that exists.  OF course He "is that He is".  God is!  He is "I AM THAT I AM."

I believe that a big part of what Heaven is like . . . and what the angels are involved in, is experiencing the vast, profound, unending joy and wonder and awe and appreciation (worship) simply . . . of the divine fact . . . that GOD IS!  People who secretly imagine that Heaven might be a boring place to be if the primary experience there is "praising and worshiping God forever" . . . are people who have not NOW grasped the mind-blowing, wondrous profundity . . . of the brute, glorious fact . . . in the first place . . . that GOD IS . . . and that He is a Person, a Spirit . . . good, holy, creative, the pre-eminent Self Will, Who is love. . . .

It is the difference between being alive and dead.  The dead are not much impressed that God Is.  They shrug, they don't really care.  But the living . . . fall on their face, on their knees in wide, teary-eyed wonder and praise and worship!  It is astonishing!  HE is astonishing!  . . . . That He Is, always was and always will be . . . AND that we, as discreet, created spiritual beings, get to bask in His eternal, omnipotent, omniscient omnipresent . . . close, relational-ship Presence!  "WOW", says the Living!  The dead are like . . . "meh . . . ", shrug . . . "whatever....."

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Fire In New Mexico

Our oldest son, Alexander is back on the wild-fire fighting crew this summer season--now one of the leaders of the bunch.

A prayer request, I'm asking, is for his protection and success . . . as he got the call Sunday, just after we had made our church/Bible study rounds, to bolt down to New Mexico to help with the "Tres Lagunas fire" . . . which is only 5% contained.

It is just east of Santa Fe . . . and I'm wondering if Zeph and Trish are getting any of the smoke....?

It is dangerous work but exciting and our son loves being able to help people in such situations--protecting them and their property as far as possible in those extreme, treacherous conditions....

God bless, and thank you again for your prayers, support and encouragement....

PECOS — More than 900 firefighters were racing against increasing winds and dropping humidity levels Monday as they sought to contain two wildfires raging in the northern New Mexico mountains.
In the Santa Fe National Forest, the Tres Lagunas blaze had burned more than 12½ square miles by midday Monday, and firefighters were working to protect a group of homes in the Holy Ghost Canyon and prevent the fire from spreading east, where ash and runoff could endanger the city of Las Vegas' watershed.
Some 140 homes, mostly cabins and summer residences, have been evacuated since late last week, and officials said the fire was too unpredictable to say when the evacuees would be allowed to go home.
To the west, the Thompson Ridge Fire near Jemez Springs remained at nearly 3 square miles. And 40 to 50 homes remained evacuated as the crews battling that blaze faced similar weather condition.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Grasping Imago Dei

More than anything, it seems, what we so dangerously lack . . . is an appreciation of the magnitude, glory, wonder . . . of just Who and What God is.  And tied to that is an over appreciation of our selves in relation to Him.

. . . . There He IS . . . THE Being Who always was, is and will be.  A personal Being, with the eternal attributes of justness . . . righteousness . . . love . . . grace . . . mercy . . . creativity . . . will. . . .

He is complete forever, in and of Himself, needing nothing, whole, perfect. . . .

From a purely existential consideration . . . it blows my mind . . . that ANYTHING should exist at all in the first place.  It seems more likely that there would just be NOTHING.  But then, there He IS.  No, there is not only NOTHING.  There is SOMETHING; and more than that, that "something" is a SOMEONE!  The basic, foundational, extant fact of all that there is, was . . . and will be . . . happens to be a Person, a Being--conscious, self-willed, creative, with certain personal attributes, characteristics!

I find this fact, this truth . . . absolutely astounding!

Now, going a step further, there is this:

The Creator speaks the universe into physical existence. . . . Light flashing contrasting with darkness . . . water being formed, galaxies spinning . . . gases and particles exploding in color and sound . . . organized, intricately designed . . . super stars, planets, moons, time and space. . . .

And He makes life--millions and billions of creatures to populate a special world in that creation. . . . Plants . . . insects . . . fish and foul . . . and then a shocking variety of beasts of all shapes, types and sizes who roam that world, marvelously constructed, beautiful and awesome. . . .

And then . . . the crowning jewel of His breathtaking creation . . . He makes Man!

Can you believe this?!  Is this not utterly astonishing?!  The Creator-God--Who is the only and eternal self-existent Being . . . Subject . . . Object . . . Source . . . of all that is, was and will be . . . deigns to create a being . . . in His own "image" and "likeness" . . . separate . . . to rule and have dominion over that special world.

But here is the rub.  Here is what we so pathetically (and dangerously) fail to comprehend and remember.  We are born, go about our business, self absorbed, self seeking, bumbling about, half-conscious (if that) . . . without realizing what a profound gift and opportunity we are given; first off, to even exist at all. . . . THEN, to exist as individuals, with choice, volition, the capability to experience life, self, diversity, creativity. . . . CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD HIMSELF!

Look at how small, ungrateful, pinched, narrow-minded, stone-hearted we live and think and feel . . . in the face of this staggering gift . . . of life and being we are offered . . . by the Supreme Eternal Being--TO BE . . . and TO BE in His image--IMAGO DEI--to share in His sensational Kingdom, given a mind, a heart, a body, an eternal soul!

THIS is why sin--our sin against Him--is so horrendous!  Can you imagine?  The holy, divine King and Creator of the universe (time, space, identity) makes us IN HIS IMAGE . . . to share, to live and love and create and persist and to rule within His sovereignty a certain dominion in space and time--a kingdom, in a sense, of our own . . . and we immediately turn our backs on Him, drag our bodies, hearts, minds and souls . . . through the sewer . . . putting on wickedness, rebellion, perversity, hatred (for Him and His creation) . . . and then sadly, horrifically prancing about pounding our chests, mocking or ignoring Him, taking credit for this and that, prideful, boastful . . . trashing His good creation . . . seeking to upend, alter His magnanimous, wonderful design and plans--FOR US!  Using what He made and gave us . . . to fight against Him. . . .

Here is what we so fail to grasp--and why a single lie . . . or even one theft . . . or adulterous thought and action . . . or even one flash of hatred, idolatry, covetousness . . . is so terrible.  He deigned to create us in His own image . . . and we take that--His holy, perfect, profound image--and do EVIL with it!  We spit in His face.  We scoff and deride and pervert HIS IMAGE . . . IN US! 

Oh, my friends, brothers and sisters . . . I pray we quickly appreciate the depth, breadth and range of our affronts against the Supreme Holy Creator of all that is, was and will be!  And fall on our faces daily before Him, contrite, humble, gracious . . . holding on the knowledge of His mercy and grace in and for us, nevertheless, despite our desperate folly!  It is no small thing what we have done . . . and do! 

I pray, Lord, that we understand, to a meaningful degree . . . just how serious is our predicament--the many things we gloss over, which are each and alone . . . enough to warrant eternal punishment, considering against Whom we have sinned! 

Let this appreciation consume us, daily, nightly . . . just how merciful You are, that You yet came down into our corrupted world, which WE tarnished through disobedience, to offer us a way out of our madness . . . to rescue us . . . so that we still have the hope-the confidence even--of returning to Your fold, to be with You, in love and perfection and righteousness, forever and ever!

Brother Thomas ©2015

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