Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Runaway

for all the teens out there there are runnin' or thinkin' of runnin'... I've been there... I started running when I was 13 and lived on the streets until I was 17 and went into the Army and I want to tell you there is an answer... you don't have to live on the streets. Contact your local Teen Challenge, Salvation Army, or Rescue Mission for assistance.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Faith Works Security

Continuing from my last post, this writer does an excellent job showing how eternal security hinges on faith which is revealed by the works that faith produces. Now I do not make it a regular practice of posting others writings. However, why reinvent the wheel? These authors seem to have gotten it right, and they have not had to take the side of Calvin, or Arminius, or any other man other than Jesus Christ and they used sound interpretation of scripture. Enjoy... and please visit their site... I've linked this post to their site!


Faith Works Security
What the Bible Says about
the Relationship among Faith, Works, and Eternal Security
by Mark Roth

First let's consider some Scriptures that pertain to faith, works, salvation, and security.

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5).

Our works and righteousness do not save us.

"Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:9).

Works do not save us.

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" (Galatians 2:16).

Living according to the works of the law saves no one.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

The inability of works alone to save us does not deliver us from the works. In fact, faith in Jesus produces good works. If it doesn't, it must not be redeeming faith.

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Romans 8:1).

To be delivered from condemnation we must walk after the Spirit. That is a trait of those who truly are in Christ Jesus. And we cannot possibly walk after the Spirit without doing the works of the Spirit.

"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Peter 2:9).

God's people have a purpose and responsibility in their calling.

"These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful" (Revelation 17:14).

Faithful! It won't be enough to have been called and chosen.

"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).

It is required that we be faithful to the very end.

"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13).

This strongly allows the inference that some will begin who shall not endure . . . and shall not be saved despite having been earlier redeemed.

"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway" (1 Corinthians 9:27).

Paul realized that even he could reach the end of his life and discover himself among those rejected by God.

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

Will His blood have that cleansing effect if we do not walk in the light?

"Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:17).

A workless faith is worthless. (See also verse 20.)

"Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect" (James 2:22).

Faith cannot express itself without works.

Works bring perfection to faith.

"Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only" (James 2:24).

A faith not expressed by works is ineffective and will fail to bring about the completion of justification.

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:26).

Faith needs works to live.

Faith and works are inseparable . . . if you want life.

Faith and works strike me as two dimensions of the same thing.

"And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke 9:23).

Following Jesus is a progression of daily events, not a single decision.

"Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matthew 25:34).

Those called to inherit the kingdom were commended for their faithfulness in living as Jesus would have lived. They were not given the inheritance only because of their faith, but because of what their faith worked in them.

"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Revelation 22:14).

The promise is to those that do His commandments.

"According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love" (Ephesians 1:4).

We have been chosen for a purpose. Shall we dare oblige God to keep us among His chosen even if our lives cease to fulfill that sacred purpose?

"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you" (John 15:16).

There it is again: We have been chosen for a purpose.

Now I'll respond briefly to some questions.

What about "Once a son, always a son; you cannot be unborn"?

The issue isn't being unborn; the issue is dying. As long as the believer is spiritually alive, he can rest secure in the eternal integrity of his relationship with Christ. Despite such a solid tie, if I die spiritually, my oneness with Christ is lost.
Contemporary Christianity reacts with horror and condemnation at the notion of God disinheriting someone. They point to the reality of human biological parenthood to establish that nobody can be unborn spiritually. They overlook at least two things -- my sonship to my parents was not my choice and it is not dependent on my submission to them. My sonship to God is based on an entirely different premise -- I chose to submit to Him and thus became His son.

Even if Dad's will states me as the recipient of a $5,000 inheritance, I cannot collect it if I die before he does. Did I have to be "unborn" to not collect my inheritance? No, I just had to die. So it is spiritually. If we die spiritually, how can we expect to inherit eternal life?

So every time I sin, I'm lost?
I think not. To sin is not to die spiritually (although sin not dealt with Biblically does pose a threat to our spiritual life). However, if I return to a life of sin, then I am spiritually dead. Then I am lost and need to be redeemed again.
But doesn't returning to a life of sin mean someone was never saved?

No, but that's what many a Calvinist has to say. To me that seems like real insecurity! You see, only the presumptuous would pretend to know now that he won't fall away in five years. If you were to fall then, are you saved now?! Therefore, it seems to me that the Calvinist can't possibly be secure now. It also seems the Calvinist really can't know till life's end whether he is saved or not. Then it's too late to do anything about it.

Doesn't your position also produce insecurity?
I see my teaching as underscoring the understanding, mercy, and grace of God. Faith without works is intangible and fickle, terribly reliant of feelings. God knows and understands that. Not wanting us to struggle with that kind of insecurity, He mercifully established works as the unavoidable result and proof of saving faith. Isn't He gracious?! We have something tangible to assure our hearts that both we and our eternal inheritance are secure.
Let's remember, though, that we can no more safely separate our works from our faith than we can safely separate our faith from our works. Neither can stand alone.

Doesn't your position mean that Christ's sacrifice was not enough?
No, it doesn't mean that at all.

The Bible's position is that mere faith in Christ's sacrifice is not enough. The Bible teaches clearly that saving faith produces -- and needs -- good works.

Mark Roth
© 2002

Monday, December 08, 2008

"The Security Of The Believer"

I found this post on a site once when I was doing some research on Hebrews 6:4-6 and found it not only interesting but for the first time it made all of scripture gel if you get my meaning... for far too long there has been division among Christians with regard to doctrine and I for one have felt that when you put any man's name to a particular doctrine such as "Calvinism", "Arminianism" etc... and move away from the only rightful name of Jesus Christ, you move away from the central message of the entire Bible... that is the message of Salvation of mankind. Now this doesn't mean all of mankind will be saved but salvation can be had by all. It is up to mankind to accept or reject God's free gift. So enjoy this article and visit the site it came from. Thanks!


The Security of the Believer
A Discourse on Hebrews 6:4-6
by Richard Mummau


"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If They shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame" (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Many sincere Christians after reading these two verses have become discouraged and have almost given up the faith because they have decided that they sinned and have no hope to repent again. This conclusion is arrived at because they read these verses without considering the context in which it is written. While God has given us warnings in the Scriptures, this passage is really intended to instruct us how to deal redemptively in bringing backsliders back into the fellowship with God and the church. The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians, but the truth taught here is for all times and for all Christians.

Briefly stated, this passage is declaring that:

1. It is possible for a saved person to fall away from the faith.

2. When a saved person falls away from the faith, it does not mean that he was not "born again" initially.

3. When a saved person falls away from the faith it is possible to restore them, but it is impossible to restore them the same way they were saved the first time. In other words, a person cannot be born again the second time.

The writer states in Hebrews 5:11-14 that the Hebrews were not growing in their Christian experience. He says they "are dull of hearing," and still babes. The phrase "word of righteousness" in Heb 5:13 is referring to the way in which God saves a person and brings him into a right relationship with Himself.

The Jewish religious economy is known for its many sacrifices. Every year the Jews had to bring a sin offering. The Hebrew Christians were now confronted with the truth that Jesus Christ had by one offering made the final sacrifice for all sin for all time. They were having trouble accepting and applying this truth. They had helped people through to a salvation experience with Jesus Christ. These new believers had given evidence of being saved or "born again." There was fruit that gave evidence that they were indeed Christians. But some of these Christians after a period of time fell away from the faith. When this happened the Jewish Christians thought that they were not properly converted the first time, so they had them start over again. In other words, they tried to have them become "born again" the second time rather than making things right and starting off where they lost out. They did this by discounting all that happened before and making them believe again, repent again, laying hands on them again in baptism, etc. By doing everything again they were implying that the reason they fell away was that God's work in their lives wasn't sufficient the first time. When they did this they were "holding Him up to open shame and crucifying Him afresh."

This interpretation of Hebrews 6:6 is supported by Hebrews 6:1-3. In these verses the Paul tells the Jewish Christians, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ,....not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands." Verses 7 and 8 are given as an example of what the Hebrew Christians were doing. One kind of earth was watered and blessed by God. Some earth brought forth herbs, and some of the same earth brought forth thorns and briars. What the Hebrew Christians were doing by having Christians start over again was the same as saying that God's rain and blessing on the earth that brought forth thorns and briars was not good enough, when it was the condition of the earth that made the difference. In this example the earth represents those who have experienced the new birth. Likewise, when a person falls away, it is because of some fault or failure in the exercise of faith of the persons who falls away, not because Jesus didn't do His work right when He saved that person.

There is a current doctrine that says if a person falls away, they were not saved in the first place. Often people will say that the person only "tasted" salvation, but did not experience it. This passage clearly refutes this teaching. Hebrews 6:1-8 is teaching that when a person falls away and does repent, he continues from where he left off. The phrase "For it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance" is referring to taking them back to another New Birth. Also, Hebrews 2:9 says that Jesus was willing to taste death for every man, and we know that Jesus actually experienced death. The word taste is translated from the same Greek word in both Hebrews 6:5 and Hebrews 2:9. Generally, the reason people interpret taste in this way is tomake room for their doctrine "Once saved, always saved."

The Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans says that "if we live after the flesh, we shall die", so it is possible for a Christian to come to the place when he dies spiritually and is no longer a Christian. But when this person repents and comes again into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, it is a person being brought back from the dead, not being born again the second time. When Lazarus gave evidence of being alive after he was buried in the tomb, it was not because he was "born again," but because he was brought back to life. There are numerous instances in the Scriptures of people being restored to life, and not one of them was "reborn." The account of the prodigal son is another example. He was born, left home, and returned in repentance. His father said when he returned "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost and is found."

An example of being "born again" the second time is -- if when Israel sinned after crossing the Red Sea, Moses would have tried to take the Israelites back into Egypt and let God bring them out again. Another example would be to tell a person who made a wrong turn in Indiana on his way from Pennsylvania to California that he had to go back to Pennsylvania and start over.

The Apostle Paul's statement in Galatians 4:19 where he says "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you" is only indicating that he was having to put as much effort and suffer as much pain trying to establish them as he did when he helped to convert them. He calls them "little children" and later brethren, so he was not trying to make Christians out of them, but only trying to help them grow up into fully mature Christians.

Let us consider some other implications we face if we consider those who are restored to the faith as being "born again" another time. Do we as a church rebaptize a person when that person strays from the faith and returns? Generally all they have to do is make confession of their sin, prove themselves, and we restore them to membership again. When we talk to backsliders, do we ask them to accept Christ, or do we just tell them to repent of their sins and be restored again.

I know a person who was born again and afterward had much restitution to make. He had stolen money which he repaid. If He falls away again, should he try to be "born again," and if he does, must he go back and make the same restitution again? We all know the answer is no. We only ask him to repent of the sins that caused him to fall and to make things right from the time he fell away.

This passage gives the Christian assurance and peace in that it confirms that to fail in some area of our Christian experience is not an indication that we are not truly saved. It assures us that what Christ did for us at our conversion is sufficient and that we can trust Him to continue to work in our lives. The blessings experienced by the Passover Blood in Egypt were not an end in themselves, but were continually benefited from as they allowed God to continue to lead them. Now this article is not to negate the fact that a person can depart from the faith to such a degree that he is no longer a saved person. There are many other Scriptures that declare that our salvation is conditional.

There are also Scriptures that make it clear that people can depart so far from the faith that they cannot return, but Hebrews 6:2-4 is not one of them. Romans 1:24 makes it clear that people can become so reprobate that God will give them up to vile affections. Read also Romans 1:26. 2 Thessalonians 2:11 also declares that God will send people strong delusion that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrightousness. When God gives people up, there is no hope for them any more. The reason is that no man cometh unto Jesus unless God draws him, and when God gives someone over to a reprobate mind, that drawing power is no longer working in that individual. When God gives someone up He does it by completely leaving him and allowing him to be controlled by his own lusts and desires. We must be careful that we do not decide when this is. Only God knows when a person comes to that place. We are to continue to help everyone that we can to come to salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. I know a person who was accused of being so reprobate that there was no hope for him. Well, today that person is a born again Christian and a member of a conservative Mennonite Church.

Probably we should distinguish between a backslider and an apostate. A backslider knows he is wrong, but he is not willing to change. An apostate has convinced himself that he is right and promotes his error as truth. I tend to think that the Apostate is beyond hope. This brings us to another doctrine we should look at.

We are often asked if we believe a person can "lose" their salvation. Most of us probably would say yes. But do we really "lose" our salvation? People can "cease to be a believer." When a person begins to live in sin and disobey the Scriptures, it is because he does not really "believe" the Scriptures. This is not to say that the person who commits a sin has ceased to believe. But when a person can habitually practice those things that the Bible labels sin, they cease to be a believer. Often these are practices that they at one time would have called sin.

Our terminology often leaves people confused and frustrated. When we meet a person who knows only the Calvinistic doctrine of "unconditional eternal security" and we say they can "lose" their salvation, the first thing that comes to their mind is that they can come to the end of a day and not be saved and not know about it. It is like a person working all day and when he goes to his car and reaches in his pocket he cannot find his car key. He lost his keys. This is how those who believe in unconditional eternal security define or understand our use of the term lose. It is easy to understand how this concept would be reprehensible to them.

The Scriptures teach that redemption is all of God, but salvation is conditional and based upon a conscious act of our will in the exercise of faith in Jesus Christ. The Scriptures also teach that a person who continues to exercise saving faith in Jesus Christ is secure. But when a person begins to neglect his spiritual life he will come to the place where he is not truly exercising saving faith in Jesus Christ. He may continue to say he believes, but it is only a verbal belief and not a conscious exercise of the will to live for God. That is all that saving faith is, a conscious exercise of the will to always do what we believe the Bible teaches. It is also obeying the voice of the Spirit in areas where the Scriptures are silent.

When a person continues to habitually practice sin, he "ceases to be a believer" and is no longer a Christian. So the statement "The believer is eternally secure" is a correct statement. It is the definition of who is a believer that must be answered.

Our tendency though, is to write people off quicker than God writes them off. I am convinced that true Christians are more secure then they think they are, and those who are careless in their Christian walk, are probably not as secure as they think they are. May God help us continue to consciously exercise a living faith in Jesus Christ, and may we do it in such a way that others are led to Him.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

No One Knows...

Have you ever felt that there was absolutely no one on the planet the knew how you felt... or how much pain and anguish you felt over the loss of a loved one either through death or an ended relationship? Maybe you've lost a child or a parent to disease or an accident. Have you ever been so alone in your life that you've felt as if you were the only person that existed, even though you were in a crowded room? Maybe you feel unloved, uncared for and worthless... maybe you've felt this way all of your life. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your problems seemed to compound themselves in such a vicious and unrelenting way that you thought your only way out was... "OUT!" Maybe you've just felt like giving up on life... well I can tell you... there is One who cares... who loves you with an everlasting love... He knows all your heartaches and His heart aches over you. He has been very misunderstood for a very long time... He will not push His love on you nor will He require people to force others to submit to Him at the edge of a sword... No... He wants us to love Him as a child loves a father... a perfect Father. One who wants the very best for us, and He promises us that one day He will wipe away every tear and we will remember our pain and suffering no more. Maybe you doubt what I am saying... maybe you think I am some religious zealot... well I have one challenge for you then. Ask Jesus Christ to prove Himself to you... ask Him to prove that if He is real and is truly the Son of God to unquestionably prove Himself to you. I am so confident that He will that I can promise you that you will get results. The question... are you prepared for them? Stay tuned for another word from our sponsor...

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Messy Diapers

So it’s been a few weeks since I posted anything and sitting here at 5:44PM on a Saturday evening I thought… maybe I will make an entry. I hate the fact that I can get into such a funk that I don’t want to do anything… I mean… don’t get me wrong, I still go to work and do the necessary things life requires but anything outside of that… well let’s just say I am more comfortable sitting in my mess having a one man pity party than I am in socializing and getting on with life. I guess when I am worried about something, under pressure, or depressed I have a tendency to isolate. Probably not a good thing… yeah… definitely not a good thing. But every good thing… no wait... every bad thing, must come to an end. So… that brings me to today. I’ve noticed that I have developed over the years an attitude of “Oh well” when it comes to the wreckage I have created in my life. Now I am referring to wreckage that only effects me… not the wreckage I have heaped on others. When it comes to them I am truly sorry and would do anything to right the wrongs I have done to them. What I am referring to, is things like my credit… taxes… (I owe about $25,000 to the IRS), pretty much anything that was good at one point I wrecked. Now it wasn’t always like that… at one time I did have good credit… and I was in good standing with the IRS. I remember when I was married (another lifetime ago) I took extreme care with my credit, but when my marriage fell apart I pretty much had an “I could care less attitude.” I was young and very irresponsible (which is no excuse). At any rate, I really wanted my ex-wife back and didn’t want the divorce and somehow reasoned in my mind that if she thought I wasn’t a loser, but could give her a good life she would come back. I went out and bought a car I couldn’t afford, clothes, and spent money like I was made of it. I realized after a while she didn’t marry me for my money… or lack of it and it certainly wasn’t going to bring her back. In fact, there was no money… so if she had come back for that reason, she would have soon left when she realized I was not only irresponsible but a liar… truly a “loser”. The end result was a broken marriage… broken heart… broken credit. I came home worse off than when I left three years earlier when I went into the Army. I also came home with a “F#@% it” attitude. It seemed that any time anyone gave me a little credit my intentions were good but somehow I wrecked it. Over time my income increased, my “responsibilities” increased, my “needs” increased. Seemed like I didn’t have enough money to take care of all these “necessities”. My answer… increase my take home pay and pay the IRS on the back end… once again… intentions were good… results were disastrous. Now, the IRS is coming after me… HARD… and once again I find myself getting close to saying “F#@& it!” But, I won’t. I spoke to a very dear friend of mine the other day and after him listening to me whine for a week and half about “Why me?” Why has my life been one big messy diaper?” My buddy pretty much told me that it wasn’t God’s fault because I crapped the pants of my adult life, and even though I had a rotten childhood it is no excuse for the wreck of an adult life I’ve created. He told me I needed to embrace the very Christianity that gave me peace and clarity a few years ago and start acting like a person who has been “born again”. WOW… I needed that. I am paraphrasing a lot of what was said… but this was the general idea. So… having said that… that is exactly what I am going to do. Things will be tough but I will overcome. I will write more soon… meanwhile here's another video for your viewing pleasure...


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Monday, February 25, 2008

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Have you ever watched a movie or read a good book that shows the main character going through overwhelming struggles and found yourself in tears? I know I have, and even though guys are suppose to be tough and not cry I can’t help but to relate to the struggle with the character and find tears running down my cheeks. What’s more is I relate to others in life the same way. I believe that every human being on this planet that has a heart beating in his or her chest feels the same way. Oh I know, some people are gruff and don’t wear their heart on their shirt sleeve and there are even some that have grown cold because life has beaten them up pretty badly. But for the most part people relate to the struggles of others and feel their pain. Why is that I wonder…? Seems like life would be a whole lot easier if we could be a little colder in our hearts and be able to just move on without caring all that much… then again that would make us more like robots that are incapable of feeling… feeling the love for a child and from that child, or hearing the words “I love you” from that special man or woman in our lives… or feeling the grief of losing a loved one or a friend. No… I don’t think being cold or heartless or not having feelings is a better way. I believe we all long to love and be loved. We love to see the little guy win and cheer when we see the underdog overcome. This desire drives all people everywhere. It drives the Muslim to blowing himself or herself up for the approval of a far away god. It drives a heartbroken lover to commit suicide or a jealous lover to murder. It has driven lunatics to genocide and countries to war over the smallest misunderstandings. However, it is not all bad…it drives men to find cures for disease. It drives us to build hospitals and to care for the elderly. It drives us to end wars and to find peace among our neighbors. It drives a brother to give a kidney to a sister and for mothers to give birth to babies. It also drives a man to ask the woman he loves to spend the rest of her life with him and it drives her to say “YES!” believing that her Prince Charming has just swept her off her feet and that their life together will be like a storybook fairytale. It is only after the realities of life have jaded us that we become a little colder, a little bitter, and a little uncaring. For some of us we become so cold, bitter and uncaring that even the most precious things in life become distant and meaningless.

We often look at the atrocities of the world and ask, “Where is God?” We conclude that obviously there is no God or if there is He is inept. We see things like little children being brutally raped and murdered. Husbands killing wives and their children. We see high school and college kids going on shooting sprees killing their peers. History has given us men like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Saddam Hussein that kill thousands and even millions without remorse. We have even seen the atrocities such as the Crusades and the Inquisition that brutally murdered thousands with the blessing of the government and done in the name of God. Where is God…? Does He care or is he incompetent? America boasts that 80% of its citizens are Christian, yet the whole world sees us as hypocrites. Muslims consider us the “Great Satan” while referring to there historical enemy Israel as the “Little Satan”. America has the highest rate of murder, rape, theft, pornography, abortion and gambling in the whole world… that doesn’t sound like a Christian nation to me… how about you? What’s worse is we see holier than thou Christians looking down their long noses at people they consider the dregs of society feeling as if they are secure in their place in the hereafter. Why does God allow such suffering? Doesn’t He see the brokenness of His creation? Does He even care?

I have taken much time to write on this blog the necessity of salvation. I have shown that the lost are like a blind person walking toward a cliff… the cliff is death, yet the blind man doesn’t believe he is about to walk over a cliff to certain death… so he is taken by the seeing to the edge of the cliff where ten rocks are dropped so that he can hear the crash of the rocks down below. The rocks are God’s Ten Commandments that we will be judged by on the Day of Judgment. Our blind person now sees his desperate need for a Savior and cries out “Save me!” I have made such efforts because I know the urgency in telling people the Truth… I see the urgency of getting that Truth to lost souls before they are judged by their sins that will lead to death in hell. Nevertheless, this death will not extinguish life but will be an eternal process of everlasting torment. So as I’ve already asked… does God care, can He not see our brokenness? Some may be saying to themselves… how can God allow such suffering and then punish us for an eternity in hell? The answer is YES! God does care. He loves us more that a parent can possibly love their child. He weeps over the broken-hearted. He loves us with an everlasting love. God is Love. He didn’t find it too high a price to let His only Son become a man, live sinless among us, and then to be mocked, spit on, beaten beyond recognition and then hung on a cross with two thieves until He gave up His Spirit and died on that cross. Let me give you an idea of the sacrifice… Jesus was sinless and kept all of the law never breaking one command, not even the command against eating yeast, which in the Jewish community signifies sin. When Jesus was hung on the cross, He was asked once if He wanted some wine with myrrh mixed in… myrrh in wine acted as a painkiller and it was considered humane to give to a person condemned to the cross. Jesus did not take this wine, but as He hung on the cross, He said, “I thirst” to which He was given a sponge dipped in vinegar wine. This wine had yeast in it. Jesus not only had the sin of the world on the outside of His body, but He willingly took it in to His body becoming sin completely. He that knew no sin became sin for the saving of the whole world. You see God knew that man’s heart was sinful above all else. Yet, He loved us so much and He knew we could never bare the price that needed to be paid for our iniquity that He decided that He would pay the price for us. Thus, the Law of God is satisfied and the separation from God that existed before Christ was no longer there. But, that doesn’t truly give you the idea of how extreme Jesus’ sacrifice was. When He became sin… there was a moment when God the Father turned from His Son creating a separation between the two that grieved Jesus and broke His heart. God the Father could not bear to see Him that was sin. Jesus cried out “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” it is the only time that Jesus didn’t refer to God as “Abba” or Daddy, but feeling the separation refers to Him as God. How He must have felt lonely, helpless, and fearful not being one with the Father for the first time in eternity. Yet He didn’t think it was too great a price to pay either… willingly giving Himself for us. Jesus had true faith, trusting in His Father, His God and our God to deliver Him from death. You see God is Love and loves more than we can comprehend. He is our Father and we are His children. First, God will never force us to love Him. We must love Him from our heart. Who would want forced love… in fact you couldn’t force someone to love you and consider it love. As a Father chastises his children when they are disobedient, God too will punish those He loves… this is to correct us when we get off course. Think about it like this… you tell your eight year old child not to play in the road… the child doesn’t see what the problem is… and you catch him playing in the street. What is your reaction? Some of us would yell at the child, some might spank the child, and still others would make the child come in the house and send him to his room or a combination of all three. Do you love your child any less… of course not… you are concerned with his safety and although the child doesn’t see the error of his ways you know the dangers that could hurt him if he disobeys. Sometimes the punishment hurts… but it produces the necessary effect. The child decides the punishment is too great to pay for some fun in the road. Pain produces positive results… this is nothing new, it is as old as mankind. No matter what our age… God sees us as little children who for the most part are helpless. Now I know that is going to grate on some people, especially people in positions of power, but it is true. Just look at the consequences of our behavior… let’s take STD’s for example. I know this may stretch your imagination but imagine if you can a world where one man marries one woman for life and neither party is unfaithful. Oh and by the way… sex outside of marriage doesn’t exist. So one man and one woman only have sex with each other… STD’s would not be able to exist. Ahhh… but that is not the case and STD’s run rampant around the world hopping from one bed to another infecting all its victims. Does God want this for His children…? NO! Nevertheless, this is a consequence of our actions. This is but one example… the world is replete with examples.

You might be asking yourself… OK…OK… I can see that God is correcting us for our misbehavior but what about all the evil in the world… like children being murdered? Certainly that is not a consequence of our misbehavior… Well… in fact it is. There are two important points to see here. First, the evil in the world came into the world through the sin of one man… Adam. The sin committed against the innocent child was the sin of the person committing the act, but that evil came into the world through Adam. Now the second point is this… because God will never force us to love Him, He allows evil to run through this world to give us a choice… to love and obey Him or to love and obey the lusts of the world, the flesh and the devil. To love and obey God in the midst of our trials and tribulations is the true mark of salvation.

Jesus was the friend of prostitutes, tax collectors, crippled, and the unwanted, unloved of society. The healthy don’t need a physician, He came for the sick, and the broken-hearted. He truly is Love. It is my prayer that you would ask God to reveal Himself to you… and that you would put your faith and trust in Him as you would a parachute if you were on a plane about to crash. God loves you so much… I know because He saved me… a poor wretch that certainly didn’t and doesn’t deserve His overwhelming grace and mercy. I love Him as a child looks up to and loves his father. He is my friend… and He has never failed me although I have failed Him many times. He knows your pain… and when you shed tears, He sheds tears over your hurt and pain… the same way it breaks a parent’s heart to see their child hurt. Well, enough of my droning for one day… good night.


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Hells Best Kept Secret Part 1

Over the next few days I will be posting a very important video series that can change your life... the series is called "Hells Best Kept Secret"

"Fight Like This"

A lil somethin' somethin' for ya! This song is from some good ole Christian boys... it describes the fight Christians have against the Devil, the flesh and the things of this world...ENJOY!

gift givers... forgotten and unappreciated...?

Well… it has been a very busy two weeks and I haven’t had the time to sit down and update the blog, so my apologies for not making an entry before now. Earlier last week I had gotten into a conversation with a friend on instant messenger and the subject of my faith came up. Now I still have not figured out why, but it seems that every time the subject comes up, especially with friends, people have this incredible need to justify their lives and apologize to me for things they may have said or done that would not agree with my belief system. I find it humorous to a degree, yet I also find it sad. You see I don’t believe people apologize for their actions because they are concerned about having offended me. Although this can be a part of it, I believe that the Lord has written His law on our hearts; we know it is wrong to do the things we do (lying, stealing, cheating, cursing, etc.) and Christ is the Light that came into the world that exposes our darkness. When a person identifies him/herself as a Christian, we instinctively begin to justify our lives and excuse our behavior, this is because our deeds have been exposed by the Light. At any rate, there can only be one truth, and truth is not relative. If I say I don’t believe in gravity, (I can’t see it, touch it, or smell it) but if I go to the top of the Empire State Building and jump… guess what…? SPLATTT! Just because I say I don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There are consequences for our actions regardless of what we believe. Most people treat Christianity as a buffet faith, picking what agrees with their personal belief system and discarding what doesn’t fit well or is uncomfortable. What, you may be asking, would be uncomfortable…? Well… the existence of hell and who goes there and why? Another thing I find is people make a god of their understanding… for example, they will say “Well my god doesn’t send people to hell” Oh no? well where is Hitler? What about a guy who commits a heinous rape and murder and gets away with it? Where does he go… heaven? I have heard people say “Well those people would go to hell, but not the average person.” Oh really? Who sets the standard… us? Well that would be convenient for us now wouldn’t. Let’s use some logic here. If there is an all knowing, all powerful God doesn’t make sense that He would be perfect? To say that He is not perfect is to say that there is something more perfect out there which would mean He is not God. There can be only one perfect God, one Authority on everything. So if He is perfect, doesn’t it make sense that He is going to hold us accountable for our lawlessness? Now I know you may be thinking… what lawlessness? Think about it like this… if a man commits a rape and murder 20 years ago, he is never caught, and then lives the next 20 years as a “good” law-abiding, upstanding citizen… he is then caught through some DNA evidence that comes to light… should he be held accountable? Should he be arrested, and tried by his peers? Is he still a rapist? Is he still a murderer? Should a judge just wink at his past lawlessness and let him go just because he has lived a “good” life from that point on? NO! No judge would just let him go. He must pay for his crimes. What about a thief? Same scenario… should he pay for his crime…? What about a liar? Well… you say, murderers, rapist, and thieves should pay for their crimes… but liars, adulterers, slanderers… that doesn’t rise to the level of being a “serious” offense and therefore should be overlooked… but remember what I said earlier… if God is perfect, and I think we’ve established that God must be perfect or He wouldn’t and couldn’t be God, then He cannot and will not allow imperfection around Himself. In other words, we all must pay for our crimes and God doesn’t view lawlessness in terms of one crime being worse than another… in fact He views lying to be as bad as murder. Listen to this from Revelation 21:8 from the New American Standard Bible "But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." God has told us that He “changes not”, He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. For to long people have mistaken the idea of God’s grace for being a weak limp wristed Jesus. To them I say, read the Book of Revelation. John, the beloved Apostle who held his head on Christ’s bosom, when he seen him fell at His feet as a dead man. Read this from Revelation 1:9-18

9“I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

10I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,

11saying, "Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea."

12Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;

13and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.

14His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.

15His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.

16In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

17When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man And He placed His right hand on me, saying, "Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

18and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

God has given us grace because He knew we were hopeless and helpless… we would always choose the evils of this world and the desires of our flesh over Him. We are like children on Christmas opening our most treasured gift and loving the gift more than the giver. It was the giver of the gift that had our happiness in mind when giving the gift, yet we are quick to forget them and become engrossed with the gift. We’ve seen our own children behave this way… why is it so difficult to see ourselves in the same light? Let’s take sex for example. Now I am not trying to come across as a holier than thou Christian because I have had more than my share of indiscreet relationships with many women, and I still struggle with lust. I love women. I believe they are God’s absolute best creation. However, I also know that sex was created to be a gift to a man and his wife. Yet, we try on each other like trying on a new pair of shoes, trying to find a “good fit”. Let’s face it folks, some people have athletes foot and sometimes we try on an infected pair of shoes! That’s why STD’s are rampant in the world! This is but one example. The Bible says we are all like sheep, gone astray, and the Lord has laid our iniquity on Him.

Sheep are not very bright animals. They are easily misled and are devoured by predators. Jesus came to lead us back to the sheepfold. He came to protect us, and love us. He is God in the flesh. He knew we couldn’t handle the heavy price required for our sins and decided it was a price He was willing to pay for us. This is the gift we so easily abuse, forgetting the Giver and His incredibly high sacrifice. So… what can we do? Believe in him, believe that God raised Him from the dead, cry out to Him to forgive us of our sins, which means we must see our sins the way He does, as vile, and filthy. Trust Him the way we would a parachute in a plane that is about to crash and we must jump, holding onto Him, believing He will deliver us from the certain death to come. What else? Well, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey My commands.” We don’t obey God out of duty, but rather out of love. He died for us, so we must live for Him. We owe Him our very lives… We will falter but we can overcome the sin in our lives by and through His strength.

So the question remains… what will you do?

Saturday, February 02, 2008

4:58AM... sleepless and The O’Reilly Factor

4:58AM… that’s what the alarm clock said when I woke up this morning. I had no reason to get up, no work, no appointments, no probation officer to see... yet sleep was also not going to be seen either. So, I lazily got out of bed and went into the living room after my normal morning routine and started watching FOXNews. It was a repeat of last night’s “The O’Reilly Factor” but I watched it again anyway pondering whether I wanted to write another entry in this blog. Someone once told me that “Christianity was for people that are missing something in their lives, and they fill that emptiness with ‘God’”. At first, I started to react in a defensive manner because I was offended, but I immediate bit my tongue and said “You’re right”, because she was right. She wasn’t right about some phony “God”, but she was right that there is an emptiness that needs to be filled and all my life I tried to fill it with women, alcohol, drugs, and sex, you name it I tried it and I tried it to excess, without success! That is until I tried Christ… funny thing is… I never “tried” Him, rather I like to think of it as He drew me toward Him with an unfailing love. Remember me writing in a previous post that God never left me in times when the only thing between me and death was Him... well I never asked Him in my life back then and He protected me anyway. Now, it is very easy to dismiss this away as coincidence but before you do, you would really have to know the details of my life to know that I have brushed deaths door on multiple occasions. Two occasions that immediately come to mind are once when I was 13 and a teenage runaway, I had run away to a drug house where people were shooting up a mixture called t’s and b’s or teddy’s and betty’s. During the early 1980’s heroin and cocaine wasn’t as easy to come by as it is today so this was a poor man’s mixture. At any rate, some people were getting high shooting up and thought it would be "funny" to hold me down and watch me get high… as they held me down I began to cry uncontrollably and although they were laughing and almost had the needle in my arm for some odd reason the guy whose idea it was had a change of heart or a moment of clarity and decided not to do it and he gave the dope to someone else. The second incident involved me overdosing on Xanax and alcohol and going into a drug induced coma. I am not really sure what happened to this day during most of that day or even some previous days but I can tell you this much. My father takes Xanax for some mental health disorder he has and he had giving me some of his pills to help me sleep during the day (I took a graveyard shift job, because I was also in school studying to be a network engineer). Well, I loved the effect the pills produced… remember what I wrote earlier about filling that emptiness…? The pills filled it… temporarily. It should be obvious by now that I wasn’t using them to sleep on but to get high on and it wasn’t long before I was stealing them from my father in mass amounts. Now Xanax has an incredibly long half life and for you folks that don’t know what that means… it means that if you take a pill today and it takes 72 hours for the pill to completely leave your bodies system, and you add a pill every 24 hours then you’ve compounded the pill based on how much of the pill has been depleted over that 72 hour period. So… in saying that, according to the doctors I had taken over 100 of the highest dosage Xanax over a 24 hour period and it had been absorbed by my system and my stomach could not be pumped. I also ingested alcohol making matters gravely worse. The doctor said there was enough Xanax in my body to literally kill a horse. They flew my sister in to the local airport in Syracuse, NY on a red eye flight… they did not expect me to live through the night. When I woke up about 7-8 hours later, I had a tube down my lungs and one down in my nether regions, neither of which was comfortable. The doctor told me that as a scientist he does not use the word miracle but he felt that day he witnessed one. He said there is no logical explanation for me to be walking or talking, that he had every expectation I would be dead by morning. These are only two brushes with death, there have been others. What’s the point here? The point is that there is an emptiness… my friend was right. Where she was wrong was I think we all have this emptiness… to some degree or another. It manifested itself in my life in the form of a rotten childhood, teenage runaway, troubled young adult, and equally troubled adult. By all of societies standards I would be labeled a loser. I am a 40something male, not a homeowner, divorced, have a child out of wedlock (which is not out of the norm anymore), 2x felon, had more jobs because I’ve lost more jobs than I can count and the list goes on and on. Why would God want to save me? Why didn’t he let me die any one of the many times He could have but especially the last time when I was in the coma and almost gone…? But what about the workaholic who is too busy for his family. Isn't he trying to fill that hole with his work? Or how about the shopaholic... the needy/clingy girlfriend that bounces from relationship to relationship because they just don't seem to ever work out but she desperately needs to be loved? The world is full of people and for every person there is a mental disorder that fits them in the DSM IV which is the handbook for mental health professionals. The fact of the matter is we all want to feel fulfilled it is what drives us in life. Yet the things in this life can never quite satisfy our inner most desires, so we push to even higher limits only to find they to dont satisfy. It is why a crack addict will never find satisfaction in one hit of crack and will chase the "high" to his death unless Providence intervenes. In the same way Donald Trump will pursue the art of the deal each and every time knowing that the stakes are high (millions of dollars, jobs, etc), he is never satisfied with his last deal, wanting the next bigger deal... a more extravagant Taj Mahal, Trump Tower, or Trump Plaza. The hole never gets filled... just a little more dirt gets tossed in. And now a word from our sponsor...

Friday, February 01, 2008

Lost and Found Part 3

So... where am I at now...? Well before I answer that, let me fill in a few holes. First, my ex-girlfriend was significantly younger than me. She is 22, soon to be 23 and our relationship was very much a whirlwind romance so to speak. Now, I generally don't fall so hard on short term relationships but as I already stated we got to know one another over a year period and I became quite attracted to her and she had many needs that I couldn't meet. In fact, being with her brought out issues in me that I hadn't dealt with in twenty years. Now, I'm not one for looking back at the past and dredging up old dead stuff, but I do have a tender spot in my heart when I see someone else suffer in areas that I have suffered in. I don't want to see anyone suffer ever, but there is a very special place in my heart for certain types of suffering.

Another thing I'd like to point out is the whole time the Lord was blessing me with a great job, a new car, a great new apartment, and obviously a very beautiful young girlfriend both inside and out I had been moving farther and farther away from Him. Now, at first it started off by me not tithing as much at church which made me feel slightly guilty, especially since I was making a whole lot more money. So, my answer to that was to stop going to church. Then, I felt guilty about that so I stopped praying to God, except when I needed something from Him. Now to the average reader this may sound like a big guilt trip, but it is far from that. God has been my best friend and has always been there for me, which may sound all flowery and sweet to someone who may not know me but if you knew me you would know I am far from sweet, flowery, and sugary... most of my young life was sad and rotten for a child and young adult. I had to learn to grow up very young to survive. God was all I had and He never left me in those moments when there was nothing between me and death but Him. God is very real to me; He is as real to me as my mother, my father, and my sister. I speak to Him and I feel His presence. I also feel the lack of His presence when I've strayed from Him, which is where I have gone this past year and half. I have strayed very far from my Best Friend, my Wonderful Counselor and I am trying to make my way back to Him... His Word says that if I search for Him with all my heart, soul, and strength I will find Him... and if I move toward Him, He will move toward me. I believe that. You see He made the first move to save me in the beginning, but then I forsook Him and moved away... now I need to move back toward Him again. So... what happened after we broke up? (that is the ex-girlfriend and I..., just to clarify, I have a tendancy to go off in different directions without notice) I started having some panic attacks. I went to my doctor who prescribed me a drug called colonopin to calm me down and within two days I was abusing the drug and within three days I was drinking on the pills and driving my car. I was arrested for DWI and thankfully there was no car accidents involved. I accept full responsibility for my foolish behavior and the repercussions that come with it. So... where am I at today? Most days, I am sad and depressed but... at the same time I am hopeful.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Lost and Found Part 2

So as I promised last night... more to follow... and here is the follow up. I hate starting things off with a "It all started back in..." but it kind of did start off that way. I was all gung ho about evangelizing the world. I went back to college via the Distance Learning Program at Liberty Univierstiy. I was street preaching in downtown Toronto, Ontario and handing out Way of the Master tracts in my hometown of Syracuse, NY. This was in 2006. During this time period I had lost a fairly good job and was working at the local Rescue Mission some crazy hours to make up for the lost income. Now I need to back track a bit and say that the whole Rescue Mission job started off as a volunteer gig I was doing on the side that a friend had suggested to me from my church as a way to meet some guys who might be interested in hearing the Good News. After I lost my regular job, the volunteering gig turned into two jobs. One as an overnight team leader in the men's shelter, and the second job as a chaplain. Afer being there for a year that job came to an end and I was back in my field as a network engineer at a large archtichtural/engineering company here in Syracuse. I had bought a new car and had a great new apartment. Things were really looking up. In fact, I had just returned from a fantastic trip to Los Angeles and was heading to New Hampshire both were for business but obviously these trips had pleasure built in. Now, when I say pleasure built in, I am not saying over the top debaucherous pleasure. I am saying that I didnt lock myself in my room after my meetings and didn't enjoy myself. In fact quite the opposite. If you were to see me on any of these trips you would probably not think to yourself "that is a Christian man". I more often than not was at the bar, talking to women and acting more like the world, than like a Christian. It was also at this time that the woman that used to cut my hair told me that one of the girls in her salon was "in love" with me. Which... I was elated that she had a crush on me.

I had gotten to know this girl over a one year period and had become quite enamored with her. Truth be told I had a crush on her too. I had seen this girl go through a very terrible personal traumatic experience and she had reminded me of myself, we both had gone through very similiar experiences in our lives. I seen a woman with a tender heart and I fell in love with that heart. The problem was I placed my relationship with her above my relationship with Christ. I moved away from Christ long before I became involved with her and as I became involved with her I wasn't able to give her the help she so desperetely needed because I was now lost and blind... how can a blind man lead another who is blind? At any rate, you can probably see the the handwriting on the wall... the relationship didn't work out. I didn't take it well and it has caused me some personal issues in my life... issues I am still dealing with now. The relationship is over and has been over. I still care very deeply for her but have moved on. I have realized that I tried to mix the flesh with my Christian walk with catastrophic results.
So... where am I at now...? more to come

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lost and Found

After days of procrastinating wondering what I was going to write, especially after such a long hiatus, albeit not necessarily a pleasant one, I finally decided to sit down and type out some words and see where it leads. First, I wasn't even sure I wanted to keep this blog up any longer. Truth be told, I found myself (that is such a strange statement, as if I suddenly, without knowledge awoke to find myself somewhere else...) very far from the Lord. This site started off as a wonderful site to evangelize the lost and I myself became "lost". Which begs the question... was I ever found/saved? Well in a short answer "Yes" I was and am "saved", but I was lost and I am trying to find my way back to fellowship with my Lord. So in saying that, I have decided not to close this blog but to change the format of the blog.

As I previously mentioned, I was going to close this blog and create a new one that was a theological blog. One that dealt with doctrine and dogma because I am dealing with issues in my life, issues of faith that have caused me to questionmy security as a believer. These questions have cut to the very core of the doctrinal belief system that most believers hold so dear. Some of these questions concern things such as sin, eternal security vs. conditional security, salvation, eternal life, hell, judgment, atonement, Jesus' commandments, repentance, being "born again", humility, love, mercy, forgiveness, faith, justification, sanctification, and God's sovereignty. For most folks these issues are settled, they go to church, they listen to there pastor or priest and they don't give a second thought to the destiny of their soul. Most people sin with impunity. I too have sinned with impunity. I have sinned recently willingly and knowingly to my shame. I have decided not to write another theological blog. There are more than enough blogs out there written by folks a whole lot smarter than I that can handle the theology end of things. In fact, one of my favorites, "Pyromaniacs*is written by a team of fantastic theologians one of whom is Phil Johnson of whom I've had the pleasure of having a couple of my doctrinal questions answered by Phil in the past via email. Now if you are not familiar with Phil Johnson or that crew, please check out their site. Phil is also one of the editors for John MacArthur and I believe serves as a pastor at John's church. Tomorrow I will tell you what happened, where I've been, and hopefully where I plan to be... more to come...

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