Sunday, December 18, 2016

Put the X in Xmas.

The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible:
"Gradually a number of prevailing practices of the nations into which Christianity came were assimilated and ...were combined with the religious ceremonies surrounding Christmas. The assimilation of such practices generally represented efforts by Christians to transform or absorb otherwise pagan practices.
The Feast of Saturnalia in early Rome, for example, was celebrated for 7 days from the 17th to the 24th of December and was marked by a spirit of merriment, gift giving to children and other forms of entertainment. Gradually, early Christians replaced the pagan feast with the celebration of Christmas; but many of the traditions of this observance were assimilated and remain to this day a part of the observance of Christmas. Other nations, the Scandinavians, Germans, French, English and others, have left their mark . . . as well (pp. 804, 805)."

The Christian Encyclopedia:
"Various symbolic elements of the pagan celebration, such as the lighting of candles, evergreen decorations, and the giving of gifts, were adapted to Christian signification. Later as Christianity spread into northern Europe, the Celtic, Teutonic, and Slavic winter festivals contributed holly, mistletoe, the Christmas tree, bonfires, and similar items."

Unger's Bible Dictionary:
"The giving of presents was a Roman custom; while the yule tree and yule log are remnants of old Teutonic nature worship. Gradually the festival sank into mere revelry . . . . The custom was forbidden by an act of parliament in 1555; And the reformation brought in a refinement in the celebration of Christmas by emphasizing it Christian elements."

And then there is what the Bible says:

Deut 12:29-32
“When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations which you are going in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ 31 You shall not behave thus toward the Lord your God, for every abominable act which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.32 “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

Daniel 7:25 He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time


Thursday, December 15, 2016

No, I don't think that's it.

When I was first attending church as a teenager I was mostly attending for the company. There were genuine loving people that I could be around and not get into too much trouble. As I attended services I would hear things that were taught, and I would to a degree, accept them blindly as they were being preached by people who had more years in the faith than I had. This acceptance of whatever was being taught lasted for a few years until I started really reading the Bible on my own. I started seeing scriptures that disagreed with some of the things that we were commonly taught. This caused me to start asking questions, and finding that a lot of people didn't have answers. This made a lot of people uncomfortable.

One of the things those questions was about the Sabbath of God and God's decree of what is or isn't food according to scripture. After all, it's all spelled out by God in the text and I wondered why we didn't follow those commands. Those questions usually got an answer that probably went something like this: Those were all part of the old covenant which was made only with the Jews, and the Jews had to follow the laws in order to be saved. We're now part of the new covenant in Jesus and we don't do those commands. Instead we're saved by faith. That might sound familiar because it's commonly taught as part of a system commonly referred to as replacement theology.

Here are a couple of issues with this line of reasoning that I have found from a scriptural platform.


 Hebrews 11:24-29
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.  By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned

This is just one part of this chapter that clearly illustrates that Moses was saved not by adhering to commands and earning salvation. No, this a man who was saved by God by way of faith and God being gracious. That's no different than you or I.  We're taught that we are part of the New Covenant, and yes we are... but few seem to know the details of that Covenant. In that Covenant, there are still God's Holy appointed times and there are still the rest of His commands of what is and is not Holy.
Some want to dismiss all the commands of God as being for the Jews, but that isn't what scriptures seem to show.
Deuteronomy 31:10-13
 10 Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”

That seems to say that the same law for Jews was to be for gentiles too, as if there was to be one law for all of Israel.  Numbers 15:15  As for the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the Lord. 16 There is to be one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.’”


If you're being taught that the Law of God is in opposition to the Grace of God or Faith in God... then you need to understand that God is not against Himself.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Importance of Being Properly Informed

According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, 70.6% of the Americans identified themselves as Christians. That almost seems impressive. After all one of the major thrusts of many churches is "soul winning" Where when you come to church you are told to go out and get more and more people to come to church. Then those people come to church and they bring people to church. Then a lot of those people say that they believe in God, or they believe in Christ.
You  won!!!

Except,
"You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!"-James 2
Getting people into a church is a good thing, but then what? Get them to believe? Demons believe. Could it be that there is more that comes out of belief? Lets look at this passage.

"But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question." - Acts 15

Here we have a division between people in the church, on the subject of belief. One group believed a heretical doctrine of salvation that was predicated on an action in the flesh, the other group walked with the Savior/ Scribed books out of the NT. They felt it best to be PROPERLY informed and took it to James the high priest/ Brother of  the Savior and Peter, the Saviors main guy.

"But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.”- Acts 15 still.
I've been to some parties with pharisee type people... they're not as fun as you'd imagine, a lot of man made party fouls.  Long story short the conclusion is a few basic instructions to keep from getting kicked out of church so that
" For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.”- Acts... 15. ( you want the exact number read the chapter)

Moses = Idiom for God's instructions/ Torah/ Scriptures

They wanted new believers to hear and learn proper instruction and grow in the truth. NOW, lets bring this back to my ranting that opened this up. You have people out there bringing people in to hear the truth. Then the people they bring in bring others in to come hear the truth. This practice is  great, with a few flaws. The people going to get other people, are generally not studying the word for themselves. They go and grab people and bring them into a building where a guy talks about God for an hour or two. That guy is a believer, but then again, so are demons.  How exactly could Satan possibly tempt Christ in the wilderness? By taking what is true and twisting it. Misapplying  the truth is a pretty big deal. A lot of the time, Satan doesn't even care if you bring people into the church because he knows that the guy behind the pulpit is teaching his doctrine and calling it Holy.
Don't believe me? Lets take a look at Aaron the brother of Moses:

Exodus 32. 
And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the Lord ( Strongs H3068 Yehovah)
And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

The Golden Calf incident was a worship of GOD done in the ways that are detestable to Him.
It wasn't building a false God, it was taking the ways and practices and examples of the things that are not of God and applying them to GOD. Lets be properly informed here on our unchaining and faithful God:

"take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’  You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods." - Deut. 12

Aaron the priest, Moses #2. A really Holy and Righteous dude was responsible for teaching the believers, the church, the congregation, something that was abhorrent to God.

If you can't get people to buy a false doctrine because they've heard the truth in church then obviously, the adversary is going to invade the church.

Are your pastors teaching something that is against the word of God by way of "lets make this a feast to the Lord"?

Are you?
Are you even prepared to check what they're preaching, not to make it difficult for them but to keep them accountable?  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Heart of the Matter

I'm tired. I've been up since about half past four in the morning yesterday, and I would like to go to sleep, but I can't yet. There are times when I lay in bed and I fall right asleep and then there are times like this, where I have the suspicion that God isn't ready to let me. There are times when I've got to process out what I think he's impressed upon me and he wont let me sleep until I do.

There is a  few lines from one of my favorite songs by Don Henley where he says
"I've been tryin' to get down
To the heart of the matter
But my will gets weak
And my thoughts seem to scatter
But I think it's about forgiveness"

 That is pretty much exactly how I'd surmise this post. I've been trying to get down to what I think God would have me write about this month, and I wrote about the 1st commandment of not having any other gods before him... but I didn't get the notion of completion that I usually do when I know I've worked through a post.  My will gets God adjacent instead of inline with God some times and my thoughts are many.  

But this post is about forgiveness. 

I have found it surprisingly easy to forgive people that have committed great sins against me when they admit that they've wronged me. Often my joy at reconciliation eclipses everything else and I am pleased that there would be peace in a relationship again. This is the easier side, when both parties want peace and can own the faults of ones own. 

The part that God has shown me that I struggle with is forgiveness when the other party hasn't sought it. I'm talking when they know they've wronged you because you probably let them know is some kind of loud and clear way. When I screw up, I'm pretty quick to own and apologize for my mistakes, out bursts and creative vocalizations of pain. ( My family can tell you that I'm pretty funny when I'm angry once you get past the brutal barbs that I can throw out, that I try and work hard to not get to the point where I get angry about a thing)  I'm pretty quick to own my blame and my guilt and seek forgiveness. I know I can say ugly things to people I care about when I'm raw and vulnerable. I'm rarely ever vulnerable for that reason actually, and that  well, that is a whole spiral of other things. 
Grace is something that I do my best to apply to people who hurt me out of ignorance. I can even extend that out to things said in anger with the intent to inflict a jab. I have a hard time extending forgiveness to those who show malice, or spite or hatred. 

I might be contradicting. Its nearly 3am and I don't know if this is supposed to be about how we need to forgive people even when they haven't asked for it, or a confession on how I struggle with forgiveness in both giving it and receiving it.  When I've wronged someone that I love, I don't think I ever really forget it. There is this awareness that I care so much about a person, but something gross in me inflicted them. The awareness is something... learning is healthy, guilt is not maybe. At what point can I forgive myself for hurting people that I care about with some truth too harsh to be spoken. 

" “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”  Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.”- Luke 7


I hold a grudge in some cases. I usually try what ever I can to be at peace with people... but others... the offend my ... well, pride probably. I was going to say my sense of justice, but it's probably pride.
Am I loving them right? I doubt it.
Not long ago I had a falling out with a family of friends and I was justified and right to walk away from a fountain of weirdness that sprung up... and that's what I did. As I was going on of the brothers in this family was grieved because he didn't do anything wrong, but I just needed some distance from the lot. I think that's one thing keeping me up tonight. There are people in that family that I should probably forgive. It's who I should be.

70x7.

A person forgiven much loves much. I know that I don't want to be a person that harbors forgiveness. I'm Italian for crying out loud, Hospitality and family are serious issues for me.

If my Savior can cry out to God as he was crucified in a plea begging Him to forgive us...

What right do I have to not forgive?
I'm working on that, along with everything else. I'm rough around the edges I know.
Love more.
Forgive.

Forgive like HE forgave.
Like HE forgives.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

First Things First

"Then God spoke all these words, saying,
 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

 You shall have no other gods before Me." - Exodus 20


In my men's group Bible study we've started going through the ten commandments and this week was this one.  I try to put out at least one post a month for anyone who reads them ( and If you do, I am glad and thank you) but for everyone post that I start, there are about 2 or 3 unfinished ones that sit in the box unfinished. God tells me things in his word but not everything that he tells me is what I'm supposed to share with everyone else. Sometimes I get incensed over something I can see biblically or I have a commentary on something that is said. This time, I was sitting in the Bible study and I knew that this was going to be the post today.

This one command has a few parts in it:
1. I am the Lord your God
2. who brought you out of the land of Egypt.
3.out of the house of slavery
4. you shall have no other gods before me.

"I am the Lord your God" Seems easy enough for most of us to say in our minds, because he obviously is God. He doesn't say I am A Lord who is A God, though. He makes it personal from the start. He's commanded that we recognize him as OUR God. If I had done all the things that God has done, I'd probably insist on recognition too, lest I get mad at a bunch if ingrates and want to smite them all and start over with like, Moses or something. ( Not saying I'm godly, saying I can relate on some things that God feels to a marginal degree)
I think it was Jeff Durban that said "Everyone is already in a relationship with God, and that relationship is either at hostility with God or at peace with God."  I can see that in this.
"Who brought you out of the land of Egypt" I personally see this as God brought me out of the area in which I was afflicted and the land in which harshness occurs. This comes to mind:
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
 He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.- Psalms 23

When I read that I believe that God takes me from the place of hardship and he gives me peace.
"Out of the house of slavery" Sin is bondage. God commands that we be taken out of bondage, out of the house of slavery. This one is difficult for me. Knowing that often I choose sin in all its disgusting ways, I often feel unworthy of being brought out of the house of slavery. I some times think that punishment is warranted. God wants me to be free of that, free of all that would hinder me from him. I, in my own mind sometimes think differently and that is something that on occasion makes me believe that I fail at...
"You shall have no other god's before me"
I don't worship Zeus or Moloch and I don't make offerings to Baal. I try to not get wrapped up in the ways of Mammon and I don't praise Neptune, Dagon or any one of the water types. I do often think that I live by my own hand. I do often think that what ever I do is good enough and that it doesn't matter to God. I do often put my time and effort in things that aren't centered around him. I do sometimes think that I don't deserve to be forgiven. I do some times think that other people who have wronged me don't deserve to be forgiven either, and you know what.... isn't that nearly the same?
When we say, "God doesn't care if I do this" when God's word says that he does, aren't we really having another god before him? Aren't we really making God into OUR own image INSTEAD of being conformed to His?
It comes in various forms. It could be something as simple of eating something that God says isn't food, or something as complex as taking a life that God says wasn't yours to take.

I feel pretty guilty writing all of this because I always know the ways that I could be a better doer of what I believe in. I hold tight to the grace that God has afforded me, and I am glad for His mercy. I lament all the times that I build gods before Him. he still loves and is faithful to save me from bondage and hardship even though I am often not a great believer.  




Monday, September 19, 2016

Chartography


For fun and because I'm a little bit of a nerd, here are doctrinal charts that I made out of love and for fun, because I care. Feel free to check the work and share.

God's Unchanging Nature



The Torah in the Life of a Christ centered Believer

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Build a Better World

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, ‘Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord.- Jeremiah 29

Build houses
Live
Plant gardens
Eat.
Get married,
Have kids.
Let your kids get married.
Seek the welfare of the city and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.

This passage came to me as revelation. These verses when placed next to my life are revolutionary. In the old church I went to everyone was a buzz about the latest doomsday event, or how God was probably going to lift up a specific set of believers over everyone else in the town. They'd dream dreams that coincided with whatever the "leader" was choosing to do and they'd brand those who disagreed as heretics in a sense. I used to be okay with this. Their case was on the surface good. It's a pawns purpose to march forward in defense of the king and queen after all, but my mindset was instilled before I showed up to that church.
For as long as I could remember I have been mentally prepared for the whole world to fall apart. Coming from a set of broken homes where characters drop in and out, I guess I got used to the idea that the future was nothing special. I got comfortable with the idea that life was something we suffer, that we endure, that we make the best of until we can finally be free of it and rest in the arms of God. I've become familiar with these concepts lately when sharing with a friend where I come from as it feels like doom comes out, or perhaps pessimism.

My mind is stuck on this passage. In the midst of captivity, the diaspora, the outcasted believers God tells them that in their punishment... Live. Live well. Live and flourish and be a blessing to those around you. In the midst of your captivity, be Joseph. Seek God and be a blessing to your warden and captain of the guard- Potipher.

I am not only permitted to live a healthy and prosperous life, but I'm commanded to.  
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

For the past two years I have been living a life not rooted in dysfunction. I've walked out the door each day and looked at the world around me, happy. I work on things, God and I. I'm in a healthy church that I serve in. I have lives that I try to pour into. With this outlook and this breathing room, I experience a freedom in my service to others, not a mandate.


In this speak truth. Tell the truth of things that are sin, to a people that do not wish to hear it.  For some will accept it. Some will repent. Some will  join into the covenant of God through Yeshua the Messiah.  If we are ashamed of the truth, and it is rejection of the truth that brought God's people out into the diaspora... can we ever hope to be gathered back in? 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Jesus take the wheel?

Do we trust God to be God?
How man any times in the walk of believer do we come to a point where we want to make people believe. Some times we don't share the gospel, sometimes we shove it.
This is something that God has been working on with me.  When presenting a scripture, or Biblical truth I tend to become zealous for God in a way. I have a desire for people to see God, and I have a hatred for falsehood and sometimes that clouds my vision. It clouds my vision because instead of looking at GOD to do HIS work in the life of whom ever I have presented HIS word to, I look at a sense of logic, I look at a sense of a lie that needs correction. I see the avenues of the falsehoods propagation and it bothers me. The zeal is almost right, but it isn't tempered with the grace and patience of God.


I had lunch with some friends a while back and I shared with them leviticus 11, and how God saying that something is not food will not become suddenly food without God changing His mind, something scripture states that He does not do. Bacon is a big issue for a lot of people.  We had this conversation and as it always does every time this conversation takes place, passions flared on both sides. My passion was for these people to see something that the Bible calls a sin, as such.  When I presented the logic, I sought prayer from friends. I prayed that I not get in the way of whatever God would do. That I not lay awake at night upset about the doctrine. I prayed for peace. What my friedns and family kept emphasizing to me, and what I felt impressed by God was the the same. " Don't push"  That was not exactly what I wanted to hear in my desire to make people believe, but I've been working on compliance.

Fast forward to Sunday, I'm having lunch with a friend. I'm paying and they ask me to "Please don't be mad if I order bacon"  It gave me pause. On the one hand, I know it's a sin. I know that it shouldn't be consumed and it's something that God equates to being an abomination. On the other hand, it is something that they are to work out with God. It's up to the Holy Spirit to impress upon them what they already have been presented.  They knew the word because I had shared it with them. I didn't need to hammer them with it. I reminded them that its something between them and God.
Same thing happened today at lunch with a different friend.  He asked if I'd get angry if he ordered a superslam sandwich with bacon on it.
It occurred to me by the  fact that both of these friends were asking this, that the point was made. the seed is there. My part in sharing the truth is done. The part where I give them the truth is fulfilled, but it isn't my job to make them believe. It isnt my job to make them walk as I would walk. People are at different points in their journey with God. Somethings that others have so easily, I struggle with. Some things that I have have down, others struggle with. We're each reaching toward God and working out our salvation with fear and trembling, I hope. I take myself out of the equation and let God be God. I would be a terrible Holy Spirit.

So let God be God. Share scriptures,  share the truth, but don't shove it.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Feelings, and the Feeling Feelers that Feel them.

At a Thursday night bible study we've been making our way through 1 john and at the time of my writing this, we just went through chapter 4. It starts off with this:
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world."

After we spent some time ripping into a popular greasy mulleted Caucasian television pastor who often dawns a plastered smile beneath his beady alligator eyes I began thinking about the greater body. God gave us feelings and those feelings reflect attributes of His nature and personality, but they are not the bedrock upon which decision making is to be built upon. There is this mentality that permeates the church in, well America for sure, I don't know about everywhere else. The idea that Faith in God/ Christianity is all about the individual and that isn't what the scriptures show in full context.


Yes, Christ died to redeem you personally from your sins. Yes, you must have a personal relationship with the Father through Him by the Holy Spirit. However there is this idea that as we are the recipient of so much love and adoration by God that we are some how exalted into a place where our ideas; concepts, and own standards of what we think is right is lifted up above God's ways and word.

Creepy greasy tv pastors wife was even on tv once telling people:
""I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we're not doing it for God—I mean, that's one way to look at it—we're doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we're happy. That's the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you're not doing it for God really. You're doing it for yourself, because that's what makes God happy.

For those who do not know the Word of God, this has the appearance of being right. It's shiny. God is love after all and we being the recipient of his love only wants us to be happy right?

Actually wrong. What God wants for you and I and everyone in the history of ever, is that we would be Holy. That we would be like Him instead of our own selfish selves. That instead of listening to our own flesh, we'd seek out what His will is, and His word. Here is the scripture that directly refutes what greasy pastors wife said


2 tim 2
But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such peopleThis is the heart of what "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world" means.

Where did sin start?
"The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate"- Gen 3

It started with feelings that were swaying people into actions that are contrary to the ACTUAL Word of God

Friday, June 3, 2016

Dating is "Garbage"

“How many dates have you been on this year?” She probed. I pretty much knew that once I gave my answer that I was going to sound strange so I pretended to evade the question. “...So, zero” she followed up with, “Why not?” The inquiry put me on the spot while I stumbled through an answer that while not being a lie, wasn’t entirely the truth. “ It’s a lot of work,” I stammered knowing that later I’d probably pick apart the very words falling out of my mouth this moment. “I go out and people get attached and I end up not liking them and then it’s awkward and people get upset” I replied.  “You need to go on more dates” She advised while I smirked at the notion that this very woman advised me to guard my heart just a few months prior.
Fast forward several hours and I am trying to sleep, but I’m having difficulty because the answers to the questions have started stringing together in my mind.  Why don’t I date?  As the hours ticked away and my 5am wake up call was closing in, I found myself pulling the puzzle apart.  What I was able to come away with before I finally drifted out may have been an over simplification that I think I really do see dating as garbage.
    To clarify, not all of it is garbage. Just the modern standard of what we call dating. There are these rules that you’re supposed to follow that nobody is ever really trained to understand. If you like someone you’re supposed to wait a certain amount of time to call. You’re supposed to pretend that you’re not interested. You’re supposed to act a certain way, which may or may not even be you. There are parts of it that seem strange to me, two people each pretending to be someone else while gradually revealing who they really are in hopes to not alarm the other. All the posturing involved for a man to come across as some decisive Alpha who is always in control and knows how to take care of a woman, or some woman to position herself in a way that is be seen as not having vulnerabilities or minimal emotions.
    I get that this whole system is meant to weed out people who would be predatory or take advantage of another person, or at least I think that is why. Most are afraid of vulnerability and know that there are others out that that would exploit that. It’s something no one wants and I understand . This is one reason that I spend time with people to find out if I even like them before I figure out if i’d be interested in dating them. I personally try to evaluate someone’s character before I let my idiot heart run wild. How does this person treat other people? How does this person handle adversity? How does this person react in the midst of actual real life grit, do they respond with compassion or do they try to brush over things with a plastered smile? Are they tough? Are they tender? It’s possible that dating as we know it is supposed to flush all that out, but it’s done under strange pretensions. Maybe it’s me, it’s probably me but I see the whole system as garbage. In a perfect world I should be able to tell a woman I’m interested in taking her out, because I’ve deemed that I have seen enough that it is worth it. That isn’t some dramatic profession of love, it’s just the truth. More often than not people get hurt because they play some game in dating where they’re not sure how much to invest or divulge and the “relationship” becomes unbalanced. Some people are JUST looking to have fun, whatever the connotations. Other people are looking for fun, and romance. Other people are looking for something real and deep that is honest, that can be heavy and light, fun and serious… balance I guess.
    Maybe this is something everyone gets from casual dating. Maybe I’m pretentious or old fashioned or the like. I think that one reason that I don’t date often is because it’s rare that I find people on the same page.. To be honest, I don’t often find many people with the same values that I hold and investing in that situation usually isn’t beneficial for anyone. In my experiences it’s lead to angry words and broken hearts. I’ve finally come to the understanding of the verse about being unequally yoked. I want a right relationship, with honor and truth. I’m not desperate, I’m not frantic, not urgently searching through a pile of people trying each one on to see if one fits well enough. I’m not that guy, I’m pretty certain. I am not about the conquest to prove something to other people. The only expectations that I feel I need to meet are the ones I have set for myself.  Another point that the modern idea of dating misses is the foundation of friendship. It holds the position that you do not want to date a friend, period. It dismisses the really important factor that the person that you’re going to be with is supposed be your best friend. The system isn’t designed like that. In this system a friendship is something that shouldn’t be considered for a potential romantic interest because the ‘friendship’ is deemed ‘too important’.
I don’t really advocate this or courtship either I suppose because each has it’s own flaws.The imposing drawbacks of courtship where half a community is “involved” in a potential relationship can go so far as to regulate how often two people talked on the phone with each other. Instead of two people learning about each other in order to see if they’re compatible you have the involvement of far too many people scrutinizing your words, your actions and thoughts.  If dating is garbage and courtship is overbearing, what is a person to do? I don’t know.  Become a monk and teach kung fu or something.
 


 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Virtue

The other day I was having dinner with a woman at an Asian food place that she suggested. I had ordered the teriyaki chicken which came with some vegetables that I was trying to eat with chopsticks. I was managing fairly proficiently with the sticks until one carrot that was doused with sauce managed to shift between the two prongs and do this aerial maneuver that would impress an Olympic gold medalist, before landing on my shirt. The carrot did a bank shot off of the right side of my chest and landed at the base of my shirt making it look like I had a strange sweat stain the shape of the Mediterranean sea. I grabbed my napkin to dab up the goo as I glanced at the woman that I was dining with and noted that she was holding her attention out the window. I thought, I know she saw that. I know that this was funny, but it gave me pause because she said absolutely nothing about it, where as I think almost everyone else I know would have.

The moment reminded me of the beauty of virtue.

I was driving down the road the other day and I saw a homeless man holding up a sign that said "BEER: any change helps" I rolled down the window and fumbled in the center console where I keep my change and grabbed a short stack of quarters. I think about Proverbs 31:7 where it says "Let him drink and forget his poverty And remember his trouble no more." It made me think about momentary respite from suffering. It made me think of people on food stamps who occasionally buy a steak, and how hardship and suffering should not mean that one is only meant to suffer. I thought about how an act of benevolence in the midst of painful circumstances has the power to break through some negative mindsets in a way that judgments cannot.

This moment reminded me of the complexity of virtue.

This past week I have been moving. I've been lugging boxes up a set of stairs, driving across town, unloading and driving back, down the stairs and repeat. In my mind I was trying to work the calculations and the time restrictions of renting a truck within the busy part of the work schedule. I often have a never say die attitude, which can be problematic when a problem is slowly killing me. 
Wednesday I was sitting on the couch in what was soon to be my living room with what was to become one of my roommates. He stand up and casually looks down at the ground in front of me and says "You get off work at what time tomorrow?" "6pm, why what's up" "We talked about it yesterday in mens group, we're all helping you move tomorrow. We've got a truck" and then he walked away.
I sat there overcome by the surprise.

In this moment I was recipient of the virtue of others

Monday, April 25, 2016

Judgements


"God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him"- John 3:17

This month has been a wild ride. My Granny died and I had to go back to Arizona, the one place that I didn't really ever want to set foot again. I started thinking it all through and that maybe if I didn't go, who would.  Granny was mean, and most people remember that right off the bat. In fact, one of the second phone calls that I made, 20 minutes after learning that she had died, someone reiterated that point. Never the less, I scraped some money together and with the help of my family was able to get on a flight back to the wasteland. It took a while to find the words I would say, but I had some time before the actual memorial to put them together. I spent that time visiting with my other Grandma, my Brother and some friends.

My brother and I had been fighting for some time over well, lets call them growing pains. There was a false sense of peace in our visit as we almost kept things superficial. I don't do superficial very well. I'm not that guy.  We pried open a little real dialogue where he said that I was bitter and I laughed a sharp laugh and said that I'm just aware. In that moment I started thinking about judgment.

When the memorial started my Uncle read something he prepared on the life and times of my Granny, Peggy. I learned a lot about the woman that made the worlds greatest sauce and used to break wooden spoons over my backside. The fuller picture of who she was beyond the judgment of a mean old lady. As I stood up to speak I hadn't any idea of what I was going to say beyond an opening joke, but then the words came. I spoke of her faithfulness to reach me when I was far away, in a dark place in my life, that did not have much love illuminating it. A place of deep grief and sadness, that her remembering me and sending me care packages may have been something that kept be afloat some months. My brother shared about how he was right across the street and didn't visit enough. How we can be so caught up 'doing ministry' that we don't minister.
And I think about judgment again.

I think about how often we're refusing to love those in the world because we've judged them.
I think how often we justify our own prejudices because we've judged someone else as being a certain way, when they're merely just working out God and Life and Salvation in a way that isn't how we'd do it. I think about how we judge based on appearance both to the detriment of those we should be reaching, and also to the detriment of those we are to protect.

"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 
 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves" Acts 20:29-30

We often do not righteously judge those inside the church who do harm. We often turn a blind eye to their injustices and their abuses because they look clean, or authoritative. We do not judge them righteously because they have the appearance of prestige and we make excuses for their sins why strictly condemning others. We often judge on things that have nothing to do with morality.We often judge without any knowledge of the issue in front of us, out of some misguided attempt to appear holy or smart or better than...

And this isn't the way Christ did it. This isn't the way that we're supposed to.
"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”- John 7:24


 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Wheaties

But the multitude of your enemies will become like fine dust,
And the multitude of the ruthless ones like the chaff which blows away;And it will happen instantly, suddenly. - Isaiah 29


And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves *said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he *said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”- Matthew 13


Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.” And answering they *said to Him, “Where, Lord?” And He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.”- Luke 17

So this month the entire post is this:

Don't be the type that easily blows with the wind, it is just as damaging as being the type that cannot bow.
 
 
 


And now for no other reason than the title fits and the song is cool:







 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Perhaps You May Have Misheard



You know how there are a bajillionty different denominations all ascribing to one book, and people get frustrated because the other denominations aren't doing things the way that they would have it done? Why is that? Why is there so much splintering and fracturing and weirdness? I mean, some people dance with snakes, and I personally don't really see that as something of which to make a doctrine. At the heart of many of these divisions and denominations is a mind that probably said this:

"God told me..."

I am always very fascinated when someone tells me that God told them, well, anything really. That isn't because I doubt that God speaks to people, because I very much believe He does. It's more that I always align my ear to try to evaluate if what this person has heard is in agreement with what the Word of God actually states. 

This is a big deal:
"The Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him. So the Lord called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the Lord was calling the boy.  And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”-  1 Sam 3

It is worth noting that these are not typical results.  Can God do this? Absolutely. Is this the standard way in which God does this? No. I'm not just saying that because every failed romantic relationship I have been in has been expressly due to someone "hearing from God" that we weren't supposed to be together. You know, instead of actually talking about real issues that arise in a relationship. I mean, if you have personal convictions, you can say that you have convictions. If you've had a change of heart, say you've had a change of heart. People don't need to toss God in as a cop out for things that they themselves should be justified in feeling or doing or not doing.

There have been several times in my life where I have FELT God lead me in a specific direction. There have been many SIGNS that I have interpreted as God communicating things to me. There have been times when I have FELT God was leading me a direction and thought I saw SIGNS and then realized that (sometimes not early enough) it wasn't in fact God leading me. Sometimes my flesh leads me into temptation.  I'm reminded of this:

"You shall eat it as a barley cake, having baked it in their sight over human dung.” Then the Lord said, “Thus will the sons of Israel eat their bread unclean among the nations where I will banish them.”  But I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I have never been defiled; for from my youth until now I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has any unclean meat ever entered my mouth.” Then He said to me, “See, I will give you cow’s dung in place of human dung over which you will prepare your bread.”" - Ezekiel 4

What I see in the heart of this passage is God is actually asking a question.  Sure He's giving instructions, but in the midst of these instructions is the test of the heart to see if it will obey God. The question God is asking here is, "Is it me you're listening to?" That "Do you know my voice well enough that you aren't actually following your own flesh?" question.



I've been walking this walk in the direction of God for years. Several years. There have been many times where I have felt the presence of God. There have been two times where God has directed me. I know that he directed me because the circumstance was not the way that I wanted to go or would logically have gone because it realistically should have been my downfall but wasn't. God has spoken to me twice in an audible whisper. Both times it wasn't a fleshly, warm, burning sensation where I was reaffirmed and rising up in my valiant glory in which I was going to share with God.  No. It wasn't like that at all.  Both times I was actually terrified at the sound.  The first time that I heard God whisper I was with my roommates in our living room praying for our church, family, and for a situation where in retrospect my heart wasn't where it should have been. I was praying, and had prayed and prayed for this thing to work out even though I had felt like God was trying to tell me it wasn't going to happen. I mean, I was lock-jawed on this prayer bugging God about it for months. All the while, he's directing me towards no. My roommates and I were praying and I heard him whisper as if he were sitting next to me on the arm of the couch and he said "give this up". I was instantly terrified. It took me still another several years to give up that thing. I still struggle with the longing from time to time and even moved across the country.

The second time I had been in an argument with a lady in the church that was part of the board or leadership or something. She was selling weight loss shakes and things, her husband and her had turned a lot of the church into a multi-level marketing platform. I was upset and I was ready to confront her about everything. In a dream that I had, I FELT that God was telling me not to. I obeyed that, even though it was the opposite of what I really wanted. She was diagnosed with cancer shortly after. The cancer got worse and one of the leaders got up in front of everyone and gave a big speech about demanding the promises of God and believing without doubt that God would heal this woman. He called for everyone to lay hands on her and pray. I was the first to get up and I laid my hand on her shoulder and I heard the voice that I knew was God say out loud as if He were standing right behind me and He said, "I will not heal her".  For the next several months, I watched as she got worse and as people made demands of God not accounting for His sovereignty.

Twice in the, what…sixteen years I've been walking after/with/near/in-relation-to God, only two times has God, without a doubt, 1,000 percent for certain, audibly spoken with me. Other times I have had encounters with God where He's impressed on my heart a message, taken correction, or received  encouragement. Hearing from God is no light thing as it's thrown around many churches these days. If everyone was right in that they exactly heard from God 100% accurately, then my brother would have been right and I was supposed to marry Becca Pettit after high school. She’s doing great, happily married and I do believe she just had another baby. He didn't hear from God, even though he was so very certain he had. His ex-girlfriend didn't hear from God about them getting married even though she was certain she had. I didn't hear from God about my ex-girlfriend and I getting married the way that I once had thought that I had.... and when I faced that fact, it threw me and made me re-evaluate the way that I thought God speaks to me. Perhaps we misheard. Perhaps we heard something that we wanted to hear in a way that we wanted to believe it.

I guess all of that was to say this: when you hear something from God...be sure. Be sure as Ezekiel clarified that it was God's words conforming to God's Word.  Be sure when you're really FEELING God is telling you something or the SIGNS are being interpreted away, that it's lining up with the Word of God. Check it when people in the church tell you God told them something to tell you. Check it when people in the church tell you that God told them something.

"Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest gain.  Her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken" - Ezekiel 22



Monday, January 18, 2016

Carnitas

 
If you are to endeavor to have an encounter with God, the means  you utilize, if they are opposing to Him in nature, will not get you to the place you want to be. 

When God reached out to me, I was not angry-eyed and trying to rationalize my way into a relationship with him via knowledge and a detailed list of likes and dislikes.  I didn't walk in a pattern of steps and worship in a specific way to grant special audience. All the reconnaissance on someone in the world isn't the same as meeting them, and finding out for yourself who they really are.

"For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God."- Romans 8

There are some out there who see God as a means in which they can serve themselves. "God, give me this", or, "God, I really want this to happen".  They treat a relationship with God, maker of heaven and earth who ransomed us from our own sin, as if He is a slave and we are somehow worthy.
This is the flesh. Carnality.

"Guard your steps as you go to the house of God and draw near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools; for they do not know they are doing evil. Do not be hasty in word or impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God. For God is in heaven and you are on the earth; therefore, let your words be few." -Ecclesiastes 5

Some people, in their quest for God, demand answers that they're not owed, the very same way my boss doesn't answer to me for the way the company is run.

When God found me, my heart was grieved and I had sin on my hands. I was dirty. All of this isn't to say that God doesn't/can't/won't love you until you get yourself clean, because that isn't how this works. When he found me, I wasn't contemptuous. I wasn't arrogant or proud or seeking knowledge to assert an intellectual dominance over others. I didn't read scripture for a sense of acceptance in some inner circle. I was just some kid that had a faint awareness of how lost he was.

Sometimes I believe that God ignores our prayers, because if he dealt with them righteously, we'd be dead.  Look at the sons of Aaron. Treating God like they themselves knew better than He:

"Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the Lord spoke, saying,
‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.’” -Leviticus 10

When you're trying to encounter God, have as little flesh as you can. Little flesh, carnitas... Lol, carnitas.