Never give up .

If there is one thing I have learned in my life with Jesus it is this . Never , never , never give up . Don’t panic , keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times , and don’t you dare close your eyes . W I have walked through loneliness , times of plenty , and experienced times of need . Through it all I have become convinced of this one truth . He will never leave us or forsake us . Christians are the only people on the earth who have the true ability to face whatever the world or the devil throws at them with absolute fearlessness . I say we dishonor the one we say we trust when we shrink back in fear or give in to despair over the sufferings of our lives . We need only look to the cross and find strength in our risen Lord . He set His face like flint towards Jerusalem for one reason . To die as a sacrifice in our place . He went into the garden that night sweating blood sorrowful unto death . He went to the garden for one last interlude with His Father , one last moment of communion , and instead of finding Heaven open before Him it was Hell that appeared . He staggered and fell to the ground as the foretaste of our burden and the great price He was to pay became palatable to His soul . The wages of sin is death and He is about to drink it’s cup to the very bottom . “Oh Father if there is any other way… Not my will but yours . ” He stands and again sets His face like flint to do the will of His Father . He stood alone , His disciples were asleep all hell bearing in on Him as He prepares to bear the wrath of God in our place Ah what a Savior ! How mighty in battle when they come for Him He lays down His life . No one took it from Him He laid it down . Look , look , look He bears the rejection of Men and God in our place . Do you see it . This is how the Almighty goes forth to battle , This is how my Jesus rolls . He hangs naked and mocked utterly alone and forsaken in excruciating pain , but the pain is nothing compared to the anguish of His soul as the curse of separation from God falls . My God , My God , why have you forsaken me ! The answer is quite simple really . He was forsaken so that you and I would never have to be . Now here is the real kicker as far as I am concerned . This was his plan all along . He came to do the will of His Father . He was sent by the Father to Die for our rebellion . To under take the greatest rescue mission of all time . The eternal Son of God clothed in weakness wrapped in frail humanity came to earth at the command of His Father . He bore Death and Wrath in our place at the command of the Father . What could God possibly ask of us that would be too much to offer to Him ? What situation could He possibly put us in that would be too much to bear in light of all He bore for us . Oh please church don’t forget that He is making us into the image of His Son. We will be like Him . If we are desirous to be like Him in joy , then we must be prepared to be like Him in suffering . we must expect to be growing in likeness to Him in His absolute trust in His Father . We must anticipate to be made more and more like Him in His Fearless loyalty to do the will of the One He loves .

Do you ever feel forsaken ?
Do you ever feel like your circumstance proves God doesn’t care ?
Do you ever fear that He will leave you holding the bag in the end ?

Then to the CROSS you must flee , He was forsaken , you never will be. His circumstance proves that God so loves the world with a passionate sacrificial love that is unfathomable . He was the one who was left to hold the bag or foot the bill if you like . He did it willingly for the joy set before Him , The Joy of bringing us home to the praise of His glory in grace forever and ever .

He will never relent , never give up , never throw you away , He will complete what He started and none can stay His hand .

Never , Never , Never give up . He sure as Heaven won’t.

4 Comments

Filed under devotional

It Is Written, A Defense of Sola Scriptura

Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

2 Peter 1:12-21 ESV

In this passage, Peter is asserting that in order to get the straight facts about Christ and the faith, we are to look to the ones who were “eye-witnesses of his majesty” (v.16). Then we see Peter speaking of “the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place”. Clearly that says we are to look to Scripture, in this case, the Old Testament, in order to see truth in the midst of lies. The lamp shining in a dark place is indicative of seeing truth in the midst of lies, we are to cling to that which is light, in this case, the prophecies of Christ e.g. the Old Testament. As Peter says this, he of course speaks from the same authority that he gives to that of the Old Testament. For who is he to give such instructions about clinging to the Old Testament if he is not also being carried along by the Holy Spirit? Much less, he walked with Christ Himself, and he is attesting to his own authority. Furthermore, we find more from Peter in chapter 3, which speaks of Paul’s words as Scripture also:

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

2 Peter 3:14-18 ESV

We see in this passage that Paul’s writings are also to be considered as Scripture. So, we have Peter saying that the Church should take heed the ones who walked with Christ himself (Peter, John, James, Matthew, Mark, Jude). We do not know who the author of Hebrews is, or if he was an eye-witness or not, but we do know of his association with Timothy. This adds to build a strong foundation for why Hebrews is canonical. Hebrews is doctrinally sound according to the rest of Scripture, and it’s author was associated with Timothy, a disciple of Paul:

You should know that our brother Timothy has been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon.

Hebrews 13:23 ESV

Then we have Paul, Luke who were definitely not eyewitnesses. Paul’s epistles are obviously to be treated as Scripture, as shown above. Then we have Paul’s own affirmation that he should be read as Scripture:

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

1 Corinthians 2:11-13 ESV

Paul says that his words did not come from human wisdom, but by the Spirit. Now that has been established, let’s see what Paul says about Scripture itself:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

In essence, these two verses show that all that a man of God needs in order to be competent and equipped for every good work is Scripture. Yet Rome teaches that people need more than Scripture in order to be competent and equipped for every good work. This is demonstrated in their reliance on “tradition” as equal to that of Scripture. These traditions are said to be what the Apostles themselves passed on, but if this is true, then why did Paul seem to not address it in 2 Timothy 3?

Paul does mention the word “tradition” three times in the New Testament regarding church traditions:

Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.

1 Corinthians 11:2 ESV

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV

Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 ESV

So, what are the traditions spoken of? Let’s start with 1 Corinthians 11:2. Here Paul says that the Corinthians have kept the traditions that he delivered to them. Specifically what he delivered to them is spoken of in v.23-25 of the same chapter:

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-25 ESV

That mention of tradition obviously isn’t that of the extra-biblical ones that Rome speaks of.

Lets examine 2 Thessalonians 2:15. Paul passed on doctrinal traditions and practical ones by his own word and by epistles. (Romans 6:17; 1 Corinthians 11:2,23; 2 Timothy 1:13). Paul equates the traditions that he passed on with Scripture, does that seem to in any way imply that there are traditions that we must know that are not in Scripture itself? Why would Paul omit things of such importance?

Finally, we see 2 Thessalonians 3:6, this is easily demonstrated that the tradition that Paul passed onto them was that they should not be idle in their work. There is certainly no mention of the extra-biblical traditions that Rome espouses.

Now, do we see Papal infallibility in these? What about purgatory? What about the assumption of Mary, or her Immaculate Conception? What about Mary’s sinlessness? None of these you will find in Scripture, and the verses that speak of church tradition do not warrant the belief that they were referring to the traditions of Rome. Again, if these were essentials for our Christian life, why would they not be in Scripture? In light of 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Scripture is all that we need when it comes to instruction on Godliness and right doctrine. That includes the Church as an institution and it’s functionings, as that is a matter of good instruction.

Let us not forget how Christ responded to the Pharisees, and even Satan himself, with Scripture.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,

lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God

and him only shall you serve.’”

Matthew 4:5-10 ESV

“It is written…” – Jesus

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Let’s take a walk. How a nice-guy-stoner became a Christian. A tell all about God’s grace.

Starting out:

I smoked a lot of weed. I didn’t really drink much, but I did sometimes. The whole time I was active in some sort of church thing. I hid it very well. My really close friends in that time knew how I really got down, but didn’t know all the church/faith stuff. I wasn’t exactly raised in a Christian home, but my Mom always showed Christ to me in her tender care for me.

God really hit me hard a couple of times in those days. The first real party I went to as a Junior, I was lighting up in a friend’s back yard, and this dude I didn’t even know walked up to me and said “Hey aren’t you that preacher guy?”.. Talk about awkward, embarrassing and shameful. I played it off, said “Yeah, kind of.” He asked me (and he was hammered, very hammered) “What are you doing getting stoned?” I replied with complete irreverence of God saying “God wants His kids to have fun!” I didn’t even believe that at the time, I just said it to save face, a weakness I’ve always had. Anyways, there was that time, after that I sort of stayed out of that particular public scene but kept on doing my dirt. Still did church stuff, leading up to a time where I was allowed to speak during a contemporary church service, there was maybe 40 people there. I spoke on “In the beginning”. That’s all I remember, but people told me they liked it. Shortly after that service I went to a friend’s house where myself and 6 other people each rolled up a blunt to smoke to the head (for those who don’t know what that means, it’s weed rolled up in a cigar wrap, and “smoke to the head” means we each had one for ourselves, no sharing). That night I had a very scary experience. It was only after about 5 minutes of smoking, we were standing in a drive-way, I was leaning against a friend’s car, a bright white light flashed. I woke up about 30 minutes later (so they told me) sitting in the driver’s seat of my “friends” car at the time, they didn’t care to take me to a hospital or call 911. Anyways, the picture was clear to me. I just taught God’s people the Bible, then I just mocked God by denying him with my actions shortly after. Boom, knocked out. Weed never did that to me, not even the strongest I’d had. No doubt, it could have been the weed itself, but I can certainly see that as a means that God nudged me with. I still didn’t stop living the lie. I kept on with it, tried to be a cool kid, learned a lot of scripture at the time too. I was so deluded to believe that smoking weed and reading the Bible would actually enhance my spiritual understanding. It didn’t. Anyways, life went on, I graduated from High School by the skin of my teeth and the fake charm I showed to the teachers and counselors. At the time I just lived by every moment, I didn’t think deeply about the big picture of life. That today may be the last day I live, and it may not be. When you put life in that perspective, you see (I hope) that no matter how spiritual you are, you aren’t doing life right. Maybe we never feel that assurance, but I have something close to it.

On with the story:

I graduated High School, got an apartment at 18 years of age. Many of you remember those times. I had some parties, lots of friends crashing there and smoking a lot of weed, eating mushrooms, drinking a little. This was probably the time that I see as the darkest in my life. I was happy in a sense that I had friends, people who would take a bullet for me, all that. But what good is that really? Security provides a little bit of comfort, but the fact that we have that need for security shows that we are incapable within ourselves to achieve total independence. Anyways, after two room-mates (who are still my good friends now) came in and out of my apartment, I was left alone. I couldn’t keep a job for the life of me. I tried construction (basically the only job in my hometown) and I nearly killed my boss, seriously. I almost dropped a gigantic ladder on him. Needless to say, that didn’t work out. I started selling weed, not much, but a little here and there. This gave me some pride to think that people were dependent on something that I could provide that could in turn make them happy. Basically, I gave some weed to some guys (who were also ecstasy addicts) and they got busted with it, and ratted me out. So, this is where it all gets interesting. I had about 1/2 lb of weed with me that I had to sell. I get a call asking for that same amount, so naturally (and idiotically) I accepted the offer. Four random guys show up at my house, not the guy that I had planned the deal with. Their car backed into the parking spot, they came in weighed out the bag, broke some out of the brick, and said we could have a smoke, as I started to roll it up, they were out the door, speeding off.

They robbed me. At the time I was so furious about it. Right now I am extremely grateful to God for letting it happen. It was God’s providence that it happened. It was in God’s pursuit of me that He allowed me to see where my path was heading, in a real way.

Remember me mentioning that these guys ratted me out to the cops? Well, the whole setup was supposed to be a sting operation. They come in, make the transaction, leave, cops show up, cart me off to jail, and that’s it. In their minds, if they rob me, they’ll get the weed, and won’t have to worry about my retaliation. Which was something to worry about considering the people that I supplied, and the network of friends I had. There has been no other time in my life when I have seen exactly how pathetic I was. On top of the world, have a gang of friends, but completely pathetic, and prideful in the midst of it. To end this part of the story, ultimately nothing ever came of the sting operation, other than that the guys who robbed me went to jail for a while shortly after the whole thing happened. I can’t disclose how I know about the whole issue of me about to get arrested. I have a completely clean record, and the justice that I deserved to fall right on me did not happen.

More stuff happened in between that, in short, me hiding from people who busted in my house (guys who really wanted to hurt me). Also, me coming up with an escape plan. Escaping that town, where I had left a trail of bones. Friends, girls, Christians, I was just evil. They probably don’t think so now, I was always a pretty nice guy (I think) but in retrospect, it was all a game in order for me to get what I wanted.

So, off to Asheville I went. This was something new, going somewhere that I don’t know anybody, don’t have a job, but in a safe, and really cool place. This time was peaceful, I remember that. Although my demons followed me, I eventually found a source for some weed, and even traveled back to my home town to get some if I had to. My real friends kept in touch during this time, but we had all grown apart. We all had our own issues going on, maybe that’s just what happens after High School with people. I’ve noticed some people just stay in the same place, and do the same stuff they did in High School after High School. I admire a lot of those folks, but I’m just not one of them. I even think that some of them don’t want to be that, but they’re afraid to step out and move for various reasons. So, as a side note, if you’re one of those folks. Leave, but leave in a smart way, make plans. I was basically forced to go for a job by my loving Mom who I was living with at the time. This landed me at a grocery store, third shift stocking. What a crappy job. This too, was God’s grace flooding me. I got to working there and I met the person who is now one of my best friends, Michael Moody.

Me and Mike:

So, here I was, this little wannabe hip hop kid who just came from a world of self-deception which was fostered by his lifestyle, working 3rd shift at his first real job (that he could do, unlike construction). To describe my spirituality at the time, I really thought that I was above the religious stuff since I’d read the Bible, and knew it pretty well. I’d argued against those of other faiths. For some reason that led me to think I just had it all under control. I was 19, haha. I called myself a Christian, but there wasn’t even a bite of fruit in my life. So, this tattooed guy Mike who I worked with was a brand spanking new Christian. He may not remember this part, but I do. One of his friends from school had just died (we are the same age). He talked to me about Christ that night, but he was basically asking questions, and I found myself being able to basically answer them, or at least explore them in some fashion. This was pivotal for me, I all the sudden woke up and realized that I actually learned some things, and speaking about scripture felt natural to me. I asked myself… am I actually answering questions about Christianity? How could I do such a thing with the life I just came from?! Anyways, I had made a friend (he’s easy to become friends with, I’m going to tag him in this note, you should add him). He said I could go to church with him, and boy, talk about a journey.

We land at a very charismatic church. Some of you don’t know what I mean when I say “charismatic church”, basically it’s a church who believes in the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, which is stuff like speaking in tongues, prophecy, stuff like that. When I got there, I really let loose. I raised my hands in the service, and I felt this pull in me saying “submit to Christ”. At the time, it was just another piece of security for me. I did feel free, I do think I had some spiritual experiences, but I wasn’t whole. After 3 hours of church, we went to another church in downtown Asheville, where all the hippie Christians were. It was pretty cool, intense too. The church was meeting in Pritchard Park, during the service a man practicing voodoo walked through with incense and speaking curses on the fellowship, everyone just stared at him, didn’t react. The congregation showed amazing patience. The man was gone, and it just kept on going! What security! Then, after that, Mike dragged me to ANOTHER church! Well, this wasn’t considered a church, but it was a sanctuary for about 30 hippie kids and myself for a few years. This fellowship was something very unique. They too believed in the charismatic gifts, and the group was small, so I had a little more up close and personal experiences with the use of the gifts (to this particular group). Worship was different, guitar, and bongo drums. Everybody there loved the scripture. There were people there (very hippie’d out people) who could recite long passages of scripture from memory. I was amazed, this is something I wanted. Again, to shorten this story, I met some awesome folks who told me about a ministry in California called Prodigal Project. This ministry was primarily to the New Age kids in San Francisco and at Rainbow Gatherings. If you aren’t familiar with New Age or Rainbow Gatherings, search it out on the internet to find out about it.

Road to leaving for Prodigal Project:

So, remember, Mike and I worked 3rd shift at a grocery store, the job was getting a little better, I was still smoking a little weed (much less than I used to). Mike and I were entertaining the idea of going to check out Prodigal Project. We sold some of his stuff, I used my last paycheck to buy a Greyhound Bus ticket from Asheville, NC to Leggett, Ca where Prodigal Project was located. Mike couldn’t come yet, had to set some things up before he could come. Maybe he’ll write out his part of the story, that’d be cool.

Greyhound Nightmares:

There I was, boarding a bus with more bags than I could carry, I had books, clothes, a bag of oranges, some drinks. Preparing for a 2 day road trip with every kind of person you could imagine. Smelly homeless people, gang members (real ones, not wannabes), met some skinheads, you name it, it was on the Greyhound. That trip was just exhausting every moment of it, I was loaded with bags to carry, and we stopped at so many sketchy stations, I didn’t use the bathroom the whole time because I had so many bags I couldn’t lug them around with me. I couldn’t go buy any food either for the same reason. I literally remember saying “Jesus, prove that you can keep me from dying on this trip.” There was even some young girls I met on the ride who I talked to, they got off in St. Louis, they were on their way to somewhere else, they never showed up to the bus (after a 5 hour layover). I still wonder what happened to them. Well, I arrived in Leggett, CA, the bus stop was right in the middle of the Redwoods, at a little gas station. I had some change, I was supposed to call Prodigal Project and they would pick me up. The first thing I did was set all of those bags down, I felt like I was on a cloud, I laid down on a picnic table and fell asleep for about an hour. I got up and called, and called, and called, no answer! Then I remembered that the ministry was within walking distance of the gas station. That could mean anything, 10 miles, 5 miles, 100 yards, who knows, but it was getting dark. I walked left down the 101 for about 30 minutes. That was the wrong way. So I turned around, got back to the gas station (it was closed) then laid down again for a bit, grabbed my stuff, turned right out of the parking lot, then this young hippie girl (who I expect was maybe stoned out of her mind?) walked out of the woods to the road. I recognized her from the Greyhound, I didn’t know she got off at my stop. Anyways, I asked her if she knew about Prodigal Project, she said that’s where she was going, and went on to tell me about how she ran away from there and stuff. So, we arrive at the ministry after walking a while (can’t really remember how far, probably less than a mile). I met some of the staff there, and it was so funny, they were just like me personality-wise saying “yeah we heard the phone, but we didn’t want to answer it” haha. It was funny to me at the time, and plus I was delirious and sleepy too. So they set me up in a cabin with some other guys who were there, and there I was, on the other side of America, in a very different place, with mega-huge trees.

The land of big trees:

I was finally at Prodigal Project. It was dark outside. I was laying on a top bunk in a tiny cabin with 3 other guys snoring in other bunks. I laid there thinking about what was going to happen next, trying to get a grip on the reality that I was hundreds of miles away from home. No family here, no friends here, nothing that I was really familiar with, but Jesus was there. To be honest, I didn’t know if I was joining some cult, or if I was with a bunch of loony tunes who claim Jesus. I had a little cash and an escape plan just in case. After thinking for a while, I remembered that I hadn’t slept in nearly 3 days, other than on a picnic table for a little while. So I slept like I never had before.

I woke up the next day, maybe around lunch-time. I walked out of the cabin and was really amazed at how gigantic all of the trees were around me, and the beauty of the land in general. I saw some little kids running around and playing, there was a small pond with a bridge and cabins all laid around in a circle with a small gravel walkway. I didn’t really know where everybody congregated, I didn’t know anything about the place. So I walked up to the porch where I first sat and laid my bags at. I saw the door on the side and knocked on it. Somebody came and opened it, I told them “yeah, I’m new here, where is everybody?” I was let in and told that the building I was at was called “The Big House”. This is where we had classes, times of prayer and worship, and the general “kick it” place. As a newbie there, the main assignment was to read 3 chapters of the New Testament every day and write a paragraph (or more) about what I thought about it. I wasn’t asked to exegete the passages, I was just asked to write what I thought, maybe how it made me feel, very relative to each day. I liked that, even though I didn’t really do it as much as I should have. The coming months that I would be there were the most influential time in my Christian walk and life. I had huge struggles there, and experienced God more than I ever had prior to getting there.

Whoa, this is spiritual!:

One thing about the group of folks who were at this ministry, everybody was very different. Most of the folks were very charismatic. Meaning they believe that the more miraculous gifts in the Bible were still going on today. Healings, speaking in heavenly languages, prophecy, all that is what they believed, and that they were a normal part of the Christian life. At the time I believed that also, but I didn’t have as much exposure to that movement as many of them did. Many of them started their Christian walk in those sorts of churches, so I had a lot to learn. I heard countless testimonies of people receiving prophecies, falling down speaking in tongues, hearing the audible voice of God, hearing that they had seen demons cast out of people. I spent hours listening to those sorts of testimonies during my time there. I was completely gung-ho about that kind of stuff. The church we attended had a “prophecy team” who would get up in our service and prophecy over different people in the church. It became something that I longed for, for somebody to prophecy over me, basically so I could hear that God had some sort of big thing for me in my life, and in retrospect, so I could hear that I was doing well in God’s eyes. It was pretty selfish of me, but at the time I didn’t know any better. I think it’s a big danger I see in the movement, but I don’t believe every person who believes this way is like me, as many solid churches believe that these gifts are still around, but they have a central focus on the Gospel itself, not just signs and wonders. But that’s another conversation.

Traveling with the brothers and sisters:

The first weekend since I arrived they had a trip to Santa Cruz (I think it was in Santa Cruz at least…) planned. I was really excited about this as I got to see more of California and have some adventures traveling with this band of believers. The group was so eclectic, I loved it. Many were total hippies, very “green” and had seen a lot of things in their life. They were all amazing testimonies of God’s grace. Saved out of very deep spiritual oppression from the New Age spirituality that goes with most of the hippy culture. We all crammed into a large RV and made our way down Highway 101 towards Santa Cruz. Along the way we stopped to meet up with the folks from the ministry who were living on Haight Street in San Francisco. This was really cool, I remember not even knowing what to do while I was there. We parked in the McDonalds parking lot right across from Golden Gate park. We were just chilling in the parking lot, talking to people who were walking through, asking them what they thought about Jesus while we waited for folks to come and load up for the trip. This is where the first (of the many) strange things I saw happen in California happened.

The man whose followers call him Jesus:

While in the parking lot we met a guy (who seemed to be drunk, or on drugs, or both) was wearing a really dirty suit with spray paint on it, and somebody asked him “Do you know Jesus?” to which he replied “Yes, he’s right down the street.” We all kind of laughed, but soon realized he said it very seriously. He emphasized that he was serious, and he’d bring him over to meet us. We all thought that he was just messing with us, and he wouldn’t come back. Sure enough about 20 minutes later he returns with a small African-American man and about 7 or 8 other people. He said “Here he is, here is Jesus, he’s God”. At this point I just stepped back a little, and let the men who were familiar with this kind of thing talk to him. I, coming from small-town NC didn’t even know this kind of thing existed! A man from our group told the man that he was not Jesus, and he needs to fall on his knees and pray to the real Jesus for forgiveness, and receive new life. The man had very large eyes, and looked “off”? The man didn’t say a word to us, but he did see this large basket of tomatoes we had and pointed at it. So one of the guys handed the whole thing to him, and he walked away with his head down. The outspoken guy who told us about him just said “thanks guys!” and ran off with him. The other people who were with this “Jesus” were others who “followed” him. Talk about strange.

Camping with new friends:

The drive to Santa Cruz seemed long, but it was really fun. We were all crammed into this RV, some of us having to stand the whole way, but just having a good time, playing cards, talking about the Bible, just having a good time. We arrived at where we were going to camp, I believe it was a National Park, but I’m not sure. If anything, the place was beautiful. It was covered in massive trees, soft ground, and a couple out-houses. I didn’t really know where I fit in with the bunch, as my background was the complete opposite of theirs. I couldn’t play a bongo drum, didn’t really know how to strike up a conversation. I only knew who some of the leaders were, and most everybody’s names. I kept to myself most of the time, and tried to connect with folks as much as I could. When it got dark we started a fire and had a little gathering, where we all just had our Bibles, played and sang worship songs, screamed loud proclamations, danced around. This was a very cool experience, I felt freedom there, and it was really strange. To be with a group of people who lived in their certainty that Christ is the only one they want to impress. I saw a lot more of how everybody got along, witnessed some arguments and squabbles, that was helpful, I felt vulnerable, and realized that I liked being vulnerable and open.

Back to Northern California:

We had gotten back to “The Land” from our camping trip and that’s when I got to really get more into the community there and see it’s every day functions. In the morning a staff member would clang a bell and everyone would go to breakfast within the next 30 minutes (well, supposed to be 30 minutes, it usually ended up being the next hour). Our food variety was really funny. The food we got was from the San Francisco food bank, and whatever we as individuals could afford from the grocery store we went to every Sunday after church. There was practically no milk (other than powdered milk) no meat, and no butter. Myself, being from NC was used to only eating the things that we typically didn’t have. So that made things interesting, and I was nearly forced to become a vegetarian! I’d never eaten Lentils, quinua, sprouts, none of it! Thankfully, my mom put money on my debit card so I could walk down the road to the local pizza place.

After breakfast we’d all congregate in the Big House to read and go through scripture, or other sorts of topics like that. These were always cool, and even pretty different from teacher to teacher. This also brought up something that I was going through, and God really made me face it.

Tearing down the Trinity:

At the time I didn’t really know the severity that some doctrines have. My Father is a member of “The Berean Christadelphians”. Which denies that Jesus Christ was God in the flesh. During this time, I was pretty convinced of this also. After one of the Bible studies, I thought more about this and realized that everybody I was with, and the ministry itself believed in the doctrine of the Trinity. If my Father’s group is right about this, then I’m living with anti-Christs. That didn’t sit well with me, and I had to face it. This would lead me to more Bible study than I’d probably done in my life leading up to this point. For a while I only talked about it with a couple people in the group, I convinced them that the Trinity was a made up doctrine, and that Christ wasn’t really God, merely a creation of God to be the Messiah. We visited another church that wasn’t the usual one we went to, and after the service I went up to the Pastor and asked him about the Trinity, and he explained a little to me, and I just laid into him the memorized verses I had that I believed demonstrated that Christ wasn’t God in the flesh, and he didn’t respond to me. I felt victorious. Every time I would hear somebody pray to Jesus I would mock them in my head and make fun of them.

Then one day our director was teaching us about the book of Hebrews, where this verse is:

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. ` Hebrews 4:15

We had discussions about what we had read, and when we came to this I openly said that Jesus couldn’t have been tempted in every way like we are. I also showed that this verse shows that Jesus wasn’t God at all, because God could not be tempted to sin.

Things got really real at this point, and our director showed me my folly, but I didn’t accept it, and walked out and went to my cabin (I had a room by myself at this point). I refused to go to any more classes, go get food, or anything until I hammered this whole issue out. Over those couple of days I went all over the Old Testament, and New Testament, got out my papers that my dad had sent me about the Trinity and did what I can to see if they lined up with scripture. During this time I nearly rejected the New Testament altogether, and thought about just becoming a Jew, or anything but a Christan. I was depressed, angry, and flat out confused. This time lead to a lot of self-reflection, and in that I realized I didn’t know God at all. Everything of the Bible that I knew was just so I could spout out some verses here and there, and fit in with the crowd.

At this point the director had come to visit me and talk to me about stuff. He was so humble about the whole deal. He told me that he respected me for really trying to understand it and study the scriptures. He handed me a set of tapes by Steve Gregg (who I now disagree with on some things, but still love him). The tape series was called something like “The Authority of the Scriptures” or “Knowing God” I can’t remember, but there were some tapes on the Trinity. I listened to them, paused them to think about what he said, debated him in my head while listening. I came to accept that the Bible does teach that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. It became inescapable to me. Also that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all called God in the Bible (Philippians 1:2/John 1:1,14/Acts 5:3.4) and that God is one (2nd Samuel 22:32). It all began to come together for me and spiritually it was all different. My prayer life became one of dependence on God, not just telling God how awesome I am like the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14. This is the point where I felt like I had really been saved by God. I felt His mercy, and all the sudden Hebrews 4:15 (the verse I quoted earlier) became a life-line for me. A little while after this we went back to San Francisco for a prayer conference that was 10 days long, and we were going to stay there and live in the church for 10 days straight! This time was absolutely amazing, they had worship bands playing 24/7 for 10 days. On the first day that I was there, a complete stranger walked up to me and said “welcome to the fold, Christ is King, God Himself”. I just cried, the guy thought I was crazy, but who cares. He was gracious, I told him my story and he praised God for it, and really showed a ton of outward joy for me and literally sort of jumped around about me coming to Christ. He then asked me if I had been baptized.

Baptism:

I had been baptized before into a Baptist church at the age of 15. Though it was a baptism into a Christian church, I honestly became to not accept it as real. I wasn’t taught a lick of doctrine, especially on who God is! If I was, perhaps I would have never fallen into the heresy of anti-trinitarianism. So I went to my mentors in the ministry and expressed to them my case for being baptized. That summed up was “I just got saved out of heresy”. They accepted, and I was baptized in the Eel River shortly after. It was a glorious time.

6 Comments

Filed under charismatic, devotional, personal, theology, word of faith

I Believe this video will help to prove my point.

Please forgive the disturbing nature of what I am about to post . The topic I have been following lately is a disturbing one that I feel needs to be addressed in a more reality based context  . The atheist cannot give an answer , simply because he has none to give .

11 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The existence of God .

This is from Ravi it supports what I am trying to say.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The weakness of a moralistic Atheism.

What motivates men to be moral if not an absolute outside of themselves ? Why should I listen to the whiny  platitudes of the anemic moral agnostic / atheist ? If life is fleeting and then no final justice then I am more inclined to get mine then care whether or not you get yours . This is my heart without the presence of my God. A few nights ago I listened to a debate with Bart Ehrman a very articulate and educated atheist . In his closing statements he talked about the good life in the midst of a suffering world . He said we should eat steak and drink fine wine , we should give to the poor , we should help our neighbor , we should sacrifice for the starving , oh and we should eat chocolate . While I share his sentiments for chocolate and fine wine and red meat I found myself asking this question over and over again  . “Why?” Why should I help the starving ? why should I give to the poor ? Why in the world should I care what happens to my neighbor ? I mean unless it suits me ? Who in the hell is Bart Ehrman to presume to tell me or anyone else what we should do in light of an fleeting life that is completely over  when it’s over ?

While I think it is ridiculous to believe that all atheist are doomed to become moral cannibals or degenerates . I believe it is equally ridiculous to believe that some wont , or that the ones  who do are wrong somehow in their conclusion. I have no desire apart from my belief in the love of God to be good to any soul . Not for the reasons you may think. Hell is not my motivator I don’t wanna be good or kind because I fear punishment . No indeed It is His compassion to me that motivates me to love . It is His person that changed my self centered worldview not fear of Him . I actually admire and want to be like Jesus , because I believe He is the only one who knows what it means to be human.

However if he is a myth , a dream , a fairytale , then well thats another story isn’t it ? Without Him my worldview will go back to where it was long ago. ” Look out for number one cause aint nobody gonna do it for you .” I like red wine , I might hurt my neighbor to get more , I might not , but no one can tell me definitively that I should do either. I might eat good steak , I might take from the weak to get my good steak , But to hell with any man who would tell me I shouldn’t . Spare me the  “It’s better for our survival if we help each other” tripe . Why do I care if we survive ? If it’s over when it’s over and no final makin right of wrongs ,  and no true  example of what good is since that is up to the individual , then I dont care if you survive or not . I mean unless your hot . then I might care for a little while. Mostly I would be indifferent I would love and help my friends as longs as I wanted to but only because I wanted to not because I should. My point is simply this . The idea that atheist can’t be moral is false. The truth that they have no authority to stand against tyranny or injustice is self evident. They can still stand against it but only because they don’t like it , not because it is actually wrong. The fact that they have no right to tell any one period what is good or bad is equally self evident , they can say this is how i ought to behave in my society ,  but that is all ,  and if I am strong enough to change society… well ? The atheist can say he doesn’t like what Hitler or Stalin or “George Bush ” did but he can’t say they are evil or wrong . in fact they of all people ought to be respected by the atheist , simply because they had the power and strength to dictate their morality as law for millions while we are resigned to ourselves.

So again my question is Why ? why If there is no moral absolute outside of us , why should we be nice or even care unless it suits us to be ?
Why should I listen to the whiny  platitudes of the anemic moral agnostic / atheist ?

20 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Pleading the blood…a Charismatic misapplication.

“It is not enough that Jesus died. Someone must apply the blood of Jesus to the national sin of USA.”

This is a direct quote which may be found in the teaching notes of IHOP as “The Call Kansas City”—The Doctrine of the Shedding of Innocent Blood—by Lou Engle.

Lou Engle is an itinerant prophet who is affiliated with IHOP and The Call and appears in the movie “Jesus Camp”.  With no further explanation Lou Engle makes this statement referring specifically to America’s national culpability for abortion.  His solution confuses the accomplishment of atonement and application of atonement.  Would a Savior who is able to accomplish our redemption also be able to apply it?—(John Murray wrote an excellent book called Redemption Accomplished and Applied).  Apparently Lou thinks that the application of Jesus’ blood for an atoning work is somehow dependent upon some sort of NT priestly ministry.  We are speaking of a vicarious national atonement here people.

“The raising up of priestly ministry is to bring forth the blood of the Lamb on behalf of shed blood. Individual guilt and communal guilt must be atoned for”.

Does he want to start convening mass?  That is what these types of statements imply to me.  That is a far cry from using Scripture to promote intercession.  Lou likes to use Scripture. He says, “that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, (Lk. 11:47-50).  Lou mostly misapplies OT passages but he manages to misapply the one in Luke 11 above as well.  The Lukan passage is dealing with indictment against the nation of Israel (specifically the religious leaders) who have abandoned the weightier matters of the law and murdered God’s messengers.  He disregards the historical context and the audience of the text in order to promote a priestly application of atonement blood for national sin.  This necessarily means an interpretive analogy between God’s covenant nation Israel and the USA.  I don’t remember ever reading about God’s covenant with America.  Israel yes, the church yes.  But, America?  Hmmmm….

Now I don’t have a problem with moral culpability. People who are complicit in abortion are accountable before God.  But, God does not judge America as he does the nation of Israel.  Israel is a type of the church, it foreshadows the NT covenant community.  America is not a new Israel.  The day of atonement typology entailing a mass national expiation is fulfilled only (and once for all) in Christ for the church.  This act of redemption accomplished and applied is foreshadowed in the Day of Atonement under the Old Covenant.  While this yearly ritual was specifically for the nation of Israel, the Calvary event WAS (note the past tense) the premise of intercession for all time.

It seems that Mr. Engle is more interested in his agenda than a Protestant orthodox view of soteriology.  Is it not enough that Jesus died?  Is atonement an activity which is fulfilled through the church’s vicarious application of Christ’s blood via intercession?  I’m sure that Lou wants to wake the church from ‘a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest’.  But I don’t think that a naïve, modernized extrapolation of OT cultic practice, nor Roman Catholic conceptualizations of ecclesial mediation are the answer.  Do we plead the blood of Jesus over America to expiate sin or do we preach the gospel of Jesus to America proclaiming that HE HAS expiated sin?

19 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized