Monday, November 17, 2014

Undrawn Lines

 It's been a great long while since any posts have been made, but not for lack of inspiration or interest. On the contrary, the inspiration and desire to write new entries has been only increasing, it's the issue of time that restrains. 
 As it stands, my perceptions of things are going through a bit of a metamorphosis. Only time will tell if they're good changes or not.

 On one side, i'm being pulled towards something i can identify as being a narrow line to walk. I will never be justified by rules, and this is apparent because Christ justifies me by grace so that i can never boast. Nevertheless, i've determined to view all things as polarized;
"Those who are not with Me are against Me;"
"Here is how one can distinguish clearly between God’s children and those of the Adversary: everyone who does not continue doing what is right is not from God;"
"We know that we are from God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One;"
"...every spirit which does not acknowledge Yeshua is not from God — in fact, this is the spirit of the Anti-Messiah;"
"Turn my eyes away from worthless things;"
"All of us are like someone unclean, all our righteous deeds like menstrual rags;"
 It would seem as though the very Word of God tells me to polarize everything i may; to view things as holy or absolutely unrighteous. According to Levitical Law (which many seem to think we can ignore because Christ came), a man who has been touched by the menstrual flow of a woman is made unclean by it--all our righteous deeds are equivalent to the rags by which this blood is absorbed; anything it touches is to be considered unclean. Of course, my attempts at holiness are just the same, but Christ in me is righteousness. Only through Him can anything i do be made clean.

 If the best effort towards righteousness that the world can offer is something that, by contact, makes me unclean, how do i resolve my life to this? God draws pretty sharp lines here, and i'm in conflict as to how to proceed with this. Do i go about in fear of everything so that i don't be made unclean? Of course not! I'm not given a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of self-discipline!
 Nevertheless, how do i approach the world? With power and love and self-control. Does this mean all things are permissible? Maybe so, since the whole earth is the Lord's, as well as everything in it. But not all things are helpful or edifying. So again, this same question returns; how do i resolve my life to this?
 If God has drawn such sharp lines, why can't i so easily see them? He knows the false Christians, i don't. He detests the facetious in faith, yet if something proclaims Christ i flock to it. Is it a lack of discernment?

 This is an introspective post. A great deal of turmoil is raging inside of me, and i know that each line i draw just pushes me towards legalism, which i know separates me from God and perverts the Law. But having fewer lines lends my eyes to the side of worthless things.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Problem of Complacency

Pilate asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?" And he answered him, "The words are yours." Pilate said to the head cohanim (priests) and the crowds, "I find no ground for a charge against this man." Luke 23:3-4
 In this moment, Pilate questions Jesus by asking if He is the King of the Jews. Jesus says neither yes or no, but instead says, depending on translation, "The words are yours," or, "You have said so."
 The question Pilate asked Jesus was now turning back to him, just as when Peter was telling Him who the people said Jesus was; the real question was, "Who do you say that I am?" Jesus answers Pilate by stating something rather unexpected, "You have said so." Jesus, i believe, is saying that Pilate had at some point acknowledged Jesus as the Christ.

 So how does Pilate react? He turns from Jesus and tells the Jews that he finds no guilt in Jesus. Jesus has been charged with claiming to be the Messiah, and so Pilate asks him a simple question--and he finds no guilt in Him. Jesus didn't deny the charges. It was common knowledge that He was going around preaching the Gospel, healing the sick, raising the dead, making broken people whole. If He called Himself the Christ or the King of the Jews, He was in stark opposition to Caesar, yet He did make the claim.
 Pilate found Him innocent because He was not subverting the government. Speaking truth gives no guilt. So he turns to the crowds, "I find no ground for a charge against this Man." In other words, He claims to be the King, which puts Him at odds with the Emperor, but He is not wrong in Pilate's eyes.

 When the crowd demanded that Pilate carry on his tradition of releasing one prisoner during a festival, he succumbed; he looked for a murderous rebel. He picked someone the crowds would've hated worse. He picked someone who would safeguard Jesus' release.
 Nevertheless, the Jews were stirred into a commotion and asking for Barabbas.
Pilate appealed to them again, because he wanted to release Yeshua. But they yelled, “Put him to death on the stake! Put him to death on the stake!” A third time he asked them, “But what has this man done wrong? I haven’t found any reason to put him to death. So I’m going to have him flogged and set free.” But they went on yelling insistently, demanding that he be executed on the stake; and their shouting prevailed.
 "Why?" he asks. What crime did Jesus commit? Pilate still saw no guilt in the Accused. He didn't see Him as having done a thing wrong, not even in His claiming to be the Christ ("Everyone who claims to be a king is opposing the Emperor!" - John 19:12; in saying he found no guilt in Jesus, he was claiming that Jesus was not wrong in opposing Caesar).
 Even as they demanded Christ's death, Pilate still asked their reason, but according to Matthew's account, they only got louder in demanding His death, to the point that a riot was starting. So in order to keep the peace, he gives in and allows Jesus to be crucified.
When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water, washed his hands in front of the crowd, and said, “My hands are clean of this man’s blood; it’s your responsibility.” (Matthew 27:24)
 He washed his hands because he didn't want the death of the Messiah on his head. Let someone else take the blame. And the Jews agreed to shoulder the responsibility. It would appear as though Pilate got with compliance Scot-free.

 It may seem i'm defending Pilate in all of this, but such is not the case. This particular perspective creates something perhaps worse than seeing him as an accuser.
 He washed his hands. He didn't want the burden. He didn't want the blame. He didn't want the guilt. He wasn't willing to risk his reputation for the man he himself had admitted to believing in. He wasn't willing to change for the sake of the Lord.
 He embodied the modern Church's stance; "I won't let acknowledging Him change my life; won't let it make me uncomfortable or hated."

 What's worse: to not believe, or to believe and not act? Surely the man who can see evil and does nothing about it is far greater an accomplice than the man ignorant of it. If Pilate had not known, that would've been one thing. But to believe and yet still allow it falls on an entirely different order of complacency.

 If we truly believe Jesus to be the Messiah, we better be ready to defend that belief. We must be ready to lay down our reputation, find enmity in our friends, become an enemy of the government, and to lose everything we know and care about for His sake. Because if we don't, we will appease the crowd, wash our hands, and say, "Don't let this affect me."
 In doing so, we are as guilty (nay, more guilty!) as those who don't believe.
 The only way to have clean hands is to have them bathed in Christ's redemptive blood.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Marriage and Definitions

 I've been asked more than once in recent months what my opinion on homosexual marriage is. And my answer isn't the Biblically-based one most people expect.

 Using a Biblical reasoning to make a case about something has little effect when speaking with someone who A) doesn't base their life around Biblical moral or principles, or B) doesn't believe in the Bible.
 That's why, in debates about abortion, we use scientific data showing that the heartbeat is steady before the first missed cycle, brain and nerve development in the first few weeks, and pain reception likewise.

 Quoting Scripture about how God knows us before He forms us, how He's loved us since the foundation of the world, how He's thought about us and planned us; these things have no weight to an atheist. After all, the very cross of Christ is foolishness to those who are perishing--why should they heed any other God-breathed truth as anything but a joke?
 It's a fairytale to them. Fables to be told to children alongside stories of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy . . . Besides, they were most likely taught about Christ by the same people who taught them about these myths; why should they believe in the Bible?

 So if i want to make a valid case to someone who doesn't believe that my sourcebook (the Bible) has any use today, it only stands to reason that i must use their "truths."

 Aluminum is a light, softer type of metal. Copper is also a malleable element. Combine the two, and you have brass. Something interesting about brass is that it's a very sturdy alloy that is hard, and it doesn't bend easily. It is the concoction of mixing two "soft" metals together to create something new, different, and useful.
 Mix aluminum and aluminum, and you have not formed an alloy, you have not fused two elements, and you end up with nothing but more aluminum. It does nothing unique, nothing marvelous, or spectacular. It has not made a "better" composition.

 This goes for most, if not all alloys; the components work together to make an entirely new, entirely better creation than either was on its own.

 The reason for mentioning metals and alloys is that, when mixing different elements together, it is called, "marriage." When mixing multiple amounts of the same elements together, it does not, by definition, fit the term.

 What's more is when two elements are combined, we'll go with copper and tin for brass again, there is no longer copper or tin. There is simply brass.
 The two still exist, but not separately, within the compound (within the marriage). They can be identified as copper and tin within it, but the marriage has eliminated the independent identity of both. The mixture is stronger than either was before. And it creates a new version of both with a more useful result than copper or tin could have managed alone.

 The prefix, "hetero-" comes from the Greek for, "different."
 The prefix, "homo-" comes from the Greek for, "the same."

 Marriage is wholly reserved for the fusing of two unique and different elements.
 Or else it simply isn't marriage.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Fear of The Lord

 It's said several times through the Bible, notably in Proverbs but also in Psalms, that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The Hebrew word used tin these instances, יִרְאַ֬ת, means fear, awe, or dread. Many of us should set aside the notion that the "fear of the Lord" is simply reverence or respect.

 If a child does something their father has instructed them not to do and the father finds out, there's a myriad of reactions from the child, but some of the more common are confession or denial; either of these relates to the punishment.
 Confession, like pleading guilty in court to minimize your sentence, is used when the child wants to make right and face less discipline. Denial happens when the child wants to get out of the repercussions of their actions, even if it means piling on more disciplinary action when the truth does comes out. Both of these stem from fear--two different versions of fear, but fear nonetheless.
 On the one hand, there is wise defense; on the other, foolish "shrinking away." The fear of a judge's sentence may lean a defendant to either of these, and only the one has wisdom in it; confession leading to repentance.

 The fear of the Lord, when we dig into it, is not running away, but confrontation of one's own wrongdoings, confession and repentance of sin. This isn't simply respect, though.
"...fear him who can destroy both soul and body in Gei-Hinnom (Hell)." Matthew 10:28
 Revere Him who can destroy the soul? No. Reverence is an aspect of fear, but only a fragment of it. We are to revere God above all else, but this is not the intended context at this particular time. In this verse, Jesus is saying to be afraid of God for He can kill the mortal, temporary body, but He alone can also destroy the eternal soul in the fires of Hell. For another verse to put this into context . . .
"It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!" Hebrews 10:31
"We are not the kind who shrink back and are destroyed; on the contrary, we keep trusting and thus preserve our lives!" ibid. vs. 39
 We are to come before Him with trembling and fear, for, as it says, it is terrifying to fall into the hands of the living God. Terrifying. Not respectful, not reverent, not any of those things. Terrifying.
 We come shaking in fear. But nevertheless, we approach. We approach Him because we can. Despite the knowledge that He may throw us into Hell for the sins we've committed, we are to step forward.
 And with the boldness we have to approach Him (how presumptuous of us!), we dare not shrink back nor hide our sin. We tear our clothes, lay ourselves spiritually naked before Him and declare, "Have mercy on me, a sinner!"

 This is another way of seeing the beginning of wisdom: approach God with terror in your heart--but approach nonetheless!
 To recoil is foolishness.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Go To The Ant!

 Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. (Proverbs 6:6-8)
 Planning ahead, especially in finances, has never been a strongpoint for me (sometimes a verse just gets personal, you know?), and only recently has any major attempt to change that been made. And while this is often seen as a message for financial responsibility (and sometimes a call for an end of procrastination), there is another, more subtle application we can get from this passage.

 To put this softly, i've been around too many churchgoers outside of church-related functions to be anything but a cynic, and only the fewest (a remnant, if you will) haven't proven the resulting assumptions correct.
 To be slightly more blunt, a lot of people going to Hell will arrive there on a pew. And it's such a tragic thing, it should bring tears to our eyes. In fact, God showed Ezekiel that His judgement would fall on the heads of those who didn't mourn; of the men, women, children, regardless of age, He tells the executioners to "Slaughter them all!" and to "Defile the house! Fill the courtyards with corpses! Get going!" What's more, there's a startling command given; "Begin at my sanctuary."

 The first to receive judgement, it is saying, are those who believe in God, who claim to follow His Law, and yet pass by the crippled man on the side of the road. Those who "love God," but not their fellow man.
And don't get me wrong, "Love always trusts, always hopes, always--" I know. And there is little defense to be made for cynicism, excepting perhaps the fact that we're commanded strictly to avoid those who "retain the outer form of religion but deny its power."
 See, there are those we're to avoid, not just blindly embrace. Love is blind, but it's certainly not stupid. Keeps no record of wrong, but isn't naive. It hopes, but hope is usually encompassed by doubt--or else it would simply be expectation.

 And where this ties up; just because we have witnessed sin and immorality by churchgoers outside of church, if we watch them raise their hands on Sunday and then hear them start cussing or talking about sleeping around with people by Monday, that doesn't mean it has to change us. This is simply those who "retain the outer form of religion but deny its power." They deserve your pity, your groaning, your weeping, your compassion and, if they will hear you, Biblical correction. After all, judgement will come first to those in the sanctuary.
 But go to the ant! It has no leader, no overseer, no ruler; it operates not based on the actions of those around it, but by its own purpose, its own mind, its own work. If you have been wounded because some people look Christian on Sunday but do it all for show, that's between them and God; it's up to each of us to do what is necessary to maintain confidence before Him, which is behaving as His children should.
 Go to the ant. Do not be led astray. Do not look to the left or to the right. Do not look at your "Paul" (your spiritual leader) unless he is of more semblance to Christ than yourself. And should your "Paul" ever stop following Christ, stop imitating Paul, stop following Paul. Look to Christ.
 Imitate Christ so that you may be "Paul" to someone else.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Different View of Favor

 The purpose of this is to maybe set askew the common thought that God's favor somehow implies ease in life.

 Starting off early, we have Noah. Honestly, if i witnessed what he witnessed, i'd have preferred to have been swept away by the waters. All his friends and neighbors, extended family, everyone; wailing and screaming in fear as the first few drops began to fall after the doors of the boat were supernaturally closed. The cries would've grown louder as the rain grew heavier; as the earth itself split to release the firmament from below, the shrieks of men, women, and children would've faded into the roar of water crashing against the sides of the ark. It's hardly a wonder one of the first things he did (after setting up an altar to God) was begin fermenting beverages.
 Next would be Jacob, ever-shadowed by his elder brother, the hunter-gatherer, Esau. His mother, nigh as deceitful as himself, devised a plan to get Jacob the birthright. But what good is a birthright if he leaves his home? He works for his uncle for the better part of a decade, only to get the wrong girl, and then another seven years he labors for the girl he truly wanted--and her womb was closed up. Leah bore him child after child, and yet Rachel, his love, is left without child for decades. She became desperate (as did Jacob) and, after Leah had stopped bearing children, offered Jacob her slave-girl, Bilhah. He bore two sons through her. And Leah then offered her own slave-girl, Zilpah, who then bore two more sons. Eventually, Rachel is able to conceive, and her son is named Joseph, who is betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, leaving Jacob to mourn his faked-death. Joseph, the favorite of Jacob, eventually led the Hebrews into Egypt.
 Next comes Moses, that one fellow who was abandoned as a child, raised by those who oppressed his family, flees, marries a woman of another land (and is ridiculed for it), and mocked by his adopted brother.
 Job, the besieged, is chosen to be the target of Satan because God saw him to be a faithful man. God favored him, therefore torment was everywhere in this man's life as Satan wreaked havoc in all the authority that God allowed him to have over Job; wealth, possessions, family, health, everything. Boils upon boils, resulting an insatiable itch covering the entirety of his body that would've felt as an acidic burn if he'd tried to scratch. This man was favored by God. This distraught, helpless, poor man sitting in the ashes of his life.
 Ezekiel's wife dies, and he's commanded not to mourn or weep for her.
 David is hunted by his king like an animal.
 The author of Lamentations, presumably Jeremiah, describes his skin having sloughed off, his bones broken, his teeth shattered by gravel; he speaks of children fainting in the streets, begging for something to drink, dying in the arms of their mothers ("gasping out their last breath in their mother's bosom"); "the children I held in my arms and raised, my enemy has destroyed," he says. If there is a more tragic sight (other than that of a Father watching His only begotten Son, blameless and holy, beaten and tortured, naked and nailed to an execution stake like a criminal) i'd rather not know of it.
 Paul is described as not knowing what he would suffer for Christ's sake, and yet was one we would call favored.
 The greatest affliction, that of Christ on the cross (dubbed his "being glorified"), dripping with the sin of the world; this Man, the only begotten Son of God. Hardly an image of favor. Or is it?

 In all these examples, it would seem the greater the suffering, the greater the favor God has for the object of affliction. We are told in Romans 5 that tribulations bring...hope.
 God promises to withhold no good thing from those He favors, and that all things work out for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Some examples of good things are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control; what of these do not come about except through some sort of suffering? 1 Corinthians 13 says love is, first and foremost, long-suffering; that, if we love, we will suffer long for it. Understanding of joy does not come unless one knows misery. Peace does not come without war; patience without situations that would call for great unrest; kindness without circumstances where one has been treated cruelly; all of these qualities require a grasp of their antonym, an understanding of their absence.
 And God will withhold no good thing from those He favors. Those who love Him and are called according to His good purpose are guaranteed scenarios in which these fruits of the Spirit will have the fertile, volcanic soil where they may blossom and grow (intense struggles). He also promises that, through perseverance, these fruits will set.
 Without rain, there is no harvest. Without trial, no judgement--or mercy.
 He will not leave His favored ones without struggle, or else they would bear no Spiritual fruit.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Going To The Romans As The World . . .

 "But in the prophets of Yerushalayim I have seen a horrible thing — they commit adultery, live in lies, so encouraging evildoers that none returns from his sin. For me they have all become like S’dom, its inhabitants like ‘Amora.” (Jeremiah 23:14, CJB)
 Adonai-Tzva’ot says: “Don’t listen to the words of the prophets who are prophesying to you. They are making you act foolishly, telling you visions from their own minds and not from the mouth of Adonai. They keep reassuring those who despise me, ‘Adonai says you will be safe and secure,’ and saying to all living by their own stubborn hearts, ‘Nothing bad will happen to you.’" (vs. 16-17)
 Adonai’s anger will not abate till he fully accomplishes the purpose in his heart. In the acharit-hayamim (latter days), you will understand everything. (vs. 20)
 When [someone from] this people, a prophet or a cohen (priest) asks you, ‘What is the burden of Adonai?’ you are to answer them, ‘What burden? I am throwing you off,’ says Adonai. (vs. 33)
 I will lift you up, burden that you are, and throw you off, away from my presence — you and the city I gave you and your ancestors. (vs. 39)
 There's more, but i encourage each person that reads this to read the chapter (or, better yet, the book) for themselves.

 There are many modern ways of evangelizing. And, lately, many have become caught up in "going to the Romans as a Roman." They mistake this for "going to the sinners as a sinner" or replace the word "sinner" with "world." This may be of the best intentions, but it is no less dangerous than a false doctrine.
 At the church i visited this past weekend, it was said that, "salvation is not by our works, so there are no works we can do to lose it." Another interesting quote was, "It's impossible to disappoint God. He knows your past, He knows your future, and so you can't surprise Him. If you can't surprise Him, you can't disappoint Him."

 Even with this kind of warning as given through Jeremiah, we still have so many social clubs operating as churches. People, preachers, saying, "God told me..." and following it up with some sort of infectious doctrine that would not encourage God's people to become too unlike the world for sake of looking "too holy," or "holier-than-thou," (and we dare not consider it a race, or should we refresh ourselves on 1 Corinthians 9:23-25?) and by doing so dissuading others from Christianity. But i tell you in the words of my Savior, "If you belonged to the world, the world would have loved its own. But because you do not belong to the world — on the contrary, I have picked you out of the world — therefore the world hates you."
 If the world loves you, there may be a problem. If the worldly look at you and aren't confused, perplexed, hateful, or angry, it wouldn't be a gamble to say that Christ hasn't picked you out of it just yet.

 Anyone who says you can be in Christ and not only live with your sin but be comfortable with it (even worse, that any facsimile or measure of worldliness as a good thing . . .); they're nullifying the sacrifice of the Messiah, the God-sent Holy Man, Immanuel Himself, Jesus the Christ, beaten and tortured and killed. If what they say was true, why did Jesus even hang, naked and bloody, on the cross? The answer is simply void. By His wounds, yes, by His stripes, by His resurrection we can be called children of God. If there was no way by our works to fall from salvation, how, then, did David cry out, "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation" after he had committed murder for the sake of having adultery? David felt God's salvation abandon him, and with it God's peace, joy, and Holy Spirit.

 A friend of mine shared this on Facebook. It's a snippet from Eric and Leslie Ludy;
 As Christ-followers, why should we think that friendship with the world is something to be proud of? When Hollywood and the secular music industry feels comfortable with us (and we feel comfortable with them), it means that something is wrong with our Christianity. Many of us have come to believe that we must participate in the things of the world in order to reach it for Christ, and that the more attractive we are to the culture, the better witnesses we will be.
 But Jesus said something quite different. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-29). And, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). Let us remember that true Christianity will influence the world - but it will never be applauded by the world.

 And this is true.
 Some may say, "But we have to attract the world!"
 To them, i say, "You go. Attract the world. Be loved by them."
 "The Lost" is something wholly different from "the World." The Lost are those who would seek to be found. The World is that which believes it already is found.
 Many preachers would do well to consider, when trying so desperately to fill pews, that Jesus offered bread, and all ate till they were filled. John 6 tells us that the crowds followed Him, and Jesus would give them no more physical bread, but rather Himself, the Bread of Life, and they became angry and bitter. It says that many turned away and no longer followed Him. And Jesus' response was rather unexpected; He let them go and kept to His twelve. The reason He lets them go is because, as He says in the very same chapter, "Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will certainly not turn away."
 All who see and trust in Him will not be turned away; those who make the decision that they will starve the flesh to feed the Spirit; those who take up their cross daily and follow Him; those who trust upon His name; these are the ones He will raise up on the Last Day. The Father's will is that none should perish; we are to turn to Christ and repent of our sins or else we will perish not by His will but by our own.
 This choice is given each of us. And we would do well to share it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

How He Loves His Children

 Want to hear an unpopular opinion?
 God doesn't love everyone.

 Before claiming i'm some sort of heretic that has no place making such a claim when the Bible clearly states that, "God is love," (1 John 4:8) please hear me out. What better place can we learn of God's characteristics than in the Bible? And when i look at the Bible, i see a doting Father, a caring Provider, and a loving Friend. He is those things. I also see a very jealous and wrathful God. For instance, i see Him ordering the Levites to draw their swords against the rest of Israel, mercilessly and violently killing their own brothers and friends (Exodus 32).
 He is jealous, and in His jealousy for His people, He will destroy anything that tries to come between the Church and Himself. A husband may turn to violent rage against the man who seduces and leads astray his wife, perhaps especially so if the other man happened to have once been his best friend. God hates evil and wickedness because it draws us away from Him, but He also hates the wicked who would turn us from Him because He is jealous.

 Psalm 2 starts by telling us that the kings and rulers have set themselves up against God's people. God's response isn't, "I love these wicked kings and will have compassion for them, and I shall make a covenant with them to prosper them." No, it actually says, instead, "He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision."

 Let me open this one up real quick; "He who sits in the heavens (God) laughs..."
 God sees them plotting against His people, and it entertains Him not because His people are being attacked, but because the nations rage and the people "...plot in vain." He sees them planning the destruction of Israel, and it makes Him laugh. He sees it, and gets a kick out of the fact that they plot in vain. Knowing their plans and efforts have already failed, He laughs.
 "... the Lord holds them in derision."
 Here's the first definition of derision: "contemptuous ridicule or mockery." God is contemptuous of them. He mocks these people. With contempt. He points His finger and snickers, saying, basically, "You're losing." And, again, this actually somewhat entertains God to know that those who would corrupt His people have failed miserably and pathetically.
 This isn't love towards these rulers and kings, so how do we justify God being love if He is the same God in the Old and New Covenants? Because He loves His people, that's how that question resolves. He doesn't want anyone to die (Ezekiel 18), but He is particular towards Israel.

"The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man." (Psalm 5:5-6)
Here we have the statement that God hates all evildoers, and He abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful. Hates is a simple enough word. Sure, we can muddy it up with translations enough to where it means something like "favors less," but really, in this context, it means nothing other than intention of violence. What's more, abhorrence is hard to get lost in translation; it means to regard someone with disgust. I know what it's like to abhor someone quite well; i was embittered and resentful towards someone at one point that seeing them make my stomach turn, my heart rate to spike, my hands to tremble. It was unhealthy, but this is what it means to have abhorred them. And God abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.

 He hates. And violently.

 He loved the tribes of Israel. Greatly. They're the ones He chose to be His. But look a little closer, and you'll see that He picked the tribe of Levi out of them. He favored them to the point that He made them His cohanim, His priests. This was His favored tribe (favor implying favoritism). Israel was to be God's favorite country, Levi to be His favorite of the tribes, and Moses specifically to be His favorite Levite.
 He picked David from His brothers because He was a man after God's own heart; a man who, though he might stumble pretty badly, he would try, and he would try, and he would try, because he loved God. God favored David from his brothers.
 It was asked how God loved Israel, and He says, "Is not Esau Jacob's brother? Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated." (Micah 1)
 He distinguished between brothers which He loved and which He hated, and judged not by their father's actions but by theirs. This passage later speaks an entirely resentful view of Esau by God; Esau's country was destroyed and his legacy left to jackals, unclean and scavenging beasts. And should Edom have rebuilt, God says that He would have torn it back down. In fact, God says they are, "the wicked country," and "the people with whom the Lord is angry forever."

 And to really set things off, it would seem that we have a part to play in His disposition towards us.
 The modern Church may shriek at the thought, but our works are what actually define how God sees us, not just our faith. We are justified by faith, yes, but we are glorified by God by our works of faith. As example, i'll use David again; it was his desire to serve God that God saw and picked him for. It was the Levites' willingness to do anything for God that He chose them for. It was Job's faithfulness and devotion that made God say, "Him!" It was Joshua and Caleb's ferocity and reverence that God chose them to lead Israel for. It was Abraham's subjection that God made Him father of nations for. It was Isaiah's fervency in saying, "Here I am, Lord! Send me!" It was Daniel's staying strong in faith by acting on his faith that got him a death sentence--and favor.

 He loves, and His favoritism towards us is dependent on our humility before Him. And it's our works and sacrifices by faith that gain us that favor.
 Not only this, it is our works that make us loved or hated by God. If we are bloodthirsty, deceitful, wicked, evil, He will simply hate us. If we follow His law, obey His commandments, love as Christ loves, forgive, and get over "self," we will be loved by Him.
 He loves all of His children. And we are told by John that those who are not His children, the ones that do not practice righteousness, are children of the devil.

 And here i want to address a more personal matter; some think that, because one holds to these views, i am devoid of joy, or that i'm not as happy as i could be because i'm not seeing the positive side of things.
 One would be hard-pressed to find someone more enthralled with life than myself; i look at things, even tree leaves, pebbles, clouds, insects, animals; these things are beautiful and brilliant, and to think that God could -and by justice should- make my life a living Hell, mutilate me, annihilate me, and cause my life to slowly and painfully wither away, yet He blesses me, and lets me talk to Him, and He listens. How futile are possessions when you have a source of joy such as this! How exuberant this fascination makes me! How giddy am i knowing that the Maker of all things sees me, knows me, cares about me, loves me, calls me His!

Saturday, June 14, 2014


It's time to unpack some stuff from my phone. Little jotted notes and phrases and quotes that have come to me over the past few months are stacking up and cluttering it. So here are a few.
If we are incapable of discerning anything of the Spirit, we must ask ourselves if we have the Spirit.
Often we find ourselves asking God, "What do You want from me?"
The answer is very simple. "Everything."
We were entrusted with the Law, but we broke and disfigured it.
We were entrusted with the prophets, but we broke and disfigured them.
We were entrusted with Christ, but we broke and disfigured Him.
We are entrusted with His blood, and it restores everything.
There has been war between Heaven and Hell. Jesus came to implant the world with millions of people as far from the ways and appearances of this world as He is; millions of Jesuses; soldiers who would assault the gates of Hell.
Only now, as we approach the time when we are to be glorified, instead of saying, "Take this cup if You will, but Your will be done," these soldiers turn to lukewarm pacifism and say, "God wouldn't expect a sacrifice of me when Jesus already sacrificed it all."
Christianity is the only belief system that encourages fidelity to the spouse as fidelity towards God;husbands, love your wives; to even look at another woman with lust is adultery; to break either of these rules of faithfulness to the spouse is sin and, with sin, unfaithfulness to God.
Non-profits usually equal non-prophets.
The greater the threat from the outside, the stronger and thicker the walls must be. Make the home safer by building stronger, more fortified walls as society makes its attacks.
Those who live with the most dangerous faith rest in the safest death.
The need for consecration is a reflection of the need for temperance. God does not want abusers of His grace, but people who will receive it with control and the patience to extend it to others. This is the reason for consecration is such and important element in such a flippant world.
There is no way to know God and live the same way. To believe that you're His son, or that what He says about you is true means there is no doubt, not giving way to self, no submission to the world, no struggle-free clashes with sin.
If thought and consciousness are actually mere atoms that are in our mind, moving and firing in nerves, can those same atoms, freed from the cage of the human skull, not become part of something infinitely greater?
Water your garden with blood*
Minimalists realized something true to music that is also true to conversation; as much is said in silence as is said in sound.
It's the subtle, immemorable words that convince us to believe what we once doubted, not the memorable ones. The forgettable ones stick with us as seeds that germinate as our own ideas, though we know not that they were planted as quotes we so easily overlook.
I've been reluctant, yet God has been more than faithful, bestowing blessing on top of blessing, and grace upon grace upon grace until i can stand it no longer. My mentality forces the idea that a gift must be repaid, and i can't repay Him, because He gave me more than i have to give. It's impossible. If i don't, He still blesses me all the more. What, then, is to be done? I can't escape His blessings.
Love is jealousy. That's why God is jealous for us; He loves us. Jealousy is hating anything that is trying to come between us and our greatest love. He hates sin.
When we love God, we can't help but to hate the world because it's trying to come between us and Him. When we love the world, we hate God because He's trying to come between us and it.
We will hate the one and love the other.
Getting saved, we become like empty warehouses; all has been wiped clean. As we mature spiritually, we fill the warehouse with theologies and philosophies which are as our wares. We must be careful to keep only the worthwhile ones, ridding our shelves of the worthless ones. Only God can sort through it and, with His Spirit, discern in us which are profitable and which are a waste of space.**
There is a terrible moment when the Bible ceases to fit our lives.
It is then that our lives must fit the Bible.
And then a bunch of cheesy rhymes fill much of the remaining notes.

*This came to me in the middle of the night, and i never have figured out the meaning . . . But it sounds interesting.

**Over the past year, maybe year-and-a-half, my "theology" has changed drastically. I was of the type who always said "God is love," which is true, He really is. But my view of God was shaped more by modern theologies than by the Bible itself; God is unchanging. He is exactly today as He was before He said, "Let there be...", and He will be the same after the end of the age. God did not change when Jesus was born, God was simply with us. The same God that cursed nations, mocked rulers, hated the violent, purged Israel of all uncleanness, swore vengeance, shakes the earth at the sound of His voice; this is the same God we serve today--and He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Eyes On The Giver, Not The Gift

 Today suffered a rather weighty realization. I say suffered because, frankly, it was far from pleasant. It's as another of those things mentioned in the prior post that hurts. It burns, but it cleans too, like hot water. It must hurt if it does good. Gold is refined in a furnace, iron must be heated before it can be formed, and we are no exception; if we are to bend to the will of God, He must first allow us to suffer. After all, how can the Perfector of our faith work if we're cold and hard? He must set us in the kiln and immerse (read: baptize) us in the fire, and only then can the Perfector perfect.

 The aforementioned conclusion was this: God tests us.
 Yes, we've all heard the accounts of people being tested by God, such as Job, David, S/Paul (and Ananias for that matter), Abraham, and so many more, the list being quite overshadowed by God's very own Son.  And He tests us as well. It may not be of Biblical proportions, such as the laying down of one's own son as Abraham endured, losing family and health and wealth and pretty much everything as Job experienced. It might not even be the trials the nation of Israel suffered in Egypt as they waited for God's promise to be fulfilled, seeing Pharaoh time and time again deny them their freedom, his heart apparently hardened by God Himself. But that doesn't mean it's any less real. And He has promises for us. Sometimes we don't see those promises come to pass, but that doesn't mean they don't come to pass, it simply means we must do our part in lifting up the ancient gates, so that the King of Glory may enter in.

 Back to the Israelites in Egypt thing, as it seems to be the most apropos thing we can relate to (in this instance at least).
 God promised them freedom--not just freedom; He mentions a land, that is, the Promised Land. But it is said rather specifically that God told Moses in chapter four, "...I will harden [Pharaoh's] heart so that he will not let the people go."
 It almost looks like God is teasing these people with promises He will withhold. Not to say God isn't allowed to tease us. He is God after all.
 Firstly, God shows Moses how He's going to convince people to have faith, and that's by turning Moses' staff into a snake. "This," He says, "is so that they may believe..." God shows Moses another sign and says that the second is in case everyone doesn't believe the first. And then a third. The reason there were ten signs is so that they would be wholly without excuse. God was giving a sign so they'd believe. For the sake of those who wouldn't believe the first, He hardened the heart of Pharaoh long enough to perform a second. And a third. And... a tenth. And to think, i stop saying "Bless you" at three sneezes.
 He had set in front of them something they greatly desired, but before He gave it to them, He laid some stumbling blocks. That is, things that would ensure they would focus on Him instead of getting out of Egypt.
 Nine times, the people most likely became disheartened, thinking they would never go free. But those who held on till the tenth were rewarded with so much more than they were promised (err, after a substantial misadventure they caused themselves).

 My point is this: God tests us. He sometimes sets in front of us everything we've ever looked for. And He takes it away.
 He places before us things that may become idols, and then He says, "No." Hardens Pharaoh's heart again.
 Then comes that hope again--"No."
 And again.
 This isn't to tease us. It's to ensure we focus on Him, not on the thing He's offering. So that we will know He is God, that He is in control, that we have nothing but Him as our solid source of any hope either in this life or the next, He takes away the thing He lets us see. "Look at me," He is essentially saying, "Not the promised thing."
 Stop looking at potential idols. Stop looking at wealth, stop looking at a career, stop looking at a relationship, stop looking at your health even. Look at Him. Look upon the snake that was raised up in the wilderness. Eyes up! Heavenward! A horizontal gaze will never get us over a mountain, but only looking up.
 He tests us. Lets us see things, then takes them away, not for the sake of taking them away but for the sake of readjusting our eyes so that, when/if we do get it (if He has promised us, we have the full assurance of faith that He will make it come to pass!), He is still our focus, because we know it can be taken away.

 I pray we learn to walk with the mantra of a Heavenward gaze.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Truth Hurts

 There are many times that the Bible makes me mad. Really mad, even. There are times i want to slam it shut and put it on a shelf and not read from it again. It offends me. It throws some pretty heavy stones right at my head, and i have little room to move out of the way. Other books don't ruffle my feathers this much. Sure, there is a lot of peace, hope and the like to be found between its covers. But there's also some stuff that just makes me squirm.
 Take, for instance, the book of Psalms, one of the greatest sources of inspiration for modern poets, a one-hundred-and-fifty-chapter wellspring of comfort and joy.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
 That's Psalm 1:1-3.
 I read that and think, You know, maybe i'm this blessed fellow. Maybe i'm this man, this one who delights in the law of the Lord, who meditates on it and grows and flourishes and becomes firm in foundation and yielding a great harv--
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
 Ow. That would be verse four.
 See, the Old Testament, which the apostles called Scripture, is God-breathed and, therefore, "is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..." (2 Timothy 3:16) Basically, in other words, it is for us. It is an examination tool, and a method of correction and instruction. And it hurts. Because, as a human, i am evil. Horribly evil. My heart is deceitfully wicked. Every inclination of the thoughts of my heart are only evil all the time (apparently the amount of wickedness within us is sufficient to make God become rather redundant in His descriptions). So as much as those first three verses apply to me or you, that fourth one applies to us.
 This isn't a one-time ordeal. This is throughout Scripture. Proverbs, or "The Book of Wisdom," if you will, takes only seven verses.
 This book, or these sixty-six books if you like, is intended to cut. It's intended to cut. It isn't a feel-good-book. It's a two-edged sword capable of dividing soul from Spirit, and marrow from bone--and it is pointed directly at you and me. Because, by nature, we're evil.
 Yet again i say, it's intended to cut. Sharply. Swiftly. And it doesn't stop until it's separated you from your very nature.
 The marrow, the interior region of the bone, the very core of it, the heart of it, is severed from the rest of the bone by this, the Word of God. It hurts.
 It hurts because it cuts deeper than any physical sword may come close to touching, and it splits you from your core, your thoughts from your mind, your intentions from your heart. It cuts away all that exterior stuff we call the flesh. So then we may be the blessed one that doesn't walk in the way of sinners.

 You'll find cancer must be cut away, infected tissue must be torn off, and necrotic limbs must be severed. And only then can life be preserved, only then can the body be healthy. It's painful.
 The truth hurts. And the truth doesn't care about our feelings. Just because it causes pain or it offends or it's not popular; that doesn't negate the truth of it in the slightest. In fact, it may serve to compound the factuality of truth when it hurts, because it's at that point that it's being quite effectual.
 There have been times i've been reading the Bible and fell into tears wishing that God didn't ask that of me, or that He didn't say that about people with my particular mentality or sin. But He did--nay, He does. The Great Physician had to start slicing away at my flesh, splitting it from my spirit. And He still does so nearly every time i open His Word.

 Pick up the Bible. Let it . . . Hurt you.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Forgetfulness Or Remembrance?

Many of us Christians think that, when God sets us free from our sin, that He is telling us to forget it, or better yet to glory in it the fact that it happened. This comes from taking verses from the New Testament out of context (Romans 5:20 comes to mind; "...but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more"). But He does not often give us such a command.

Here's a summary/exposition of some events; Jesus is preaching, and while doing so He talks of the hypocrisy and immaturity of "this generation," and says they're like children in a marketplace, talking to each other. He speaks of how John the Baptist, His own forerunner, came in abstinence (not just sexually, but in the dietary sense), and they said he had a demon; then they say, of Christ, that He's a glutton and a drunkard because He does not observe the same dietary restrictions--and they say He's a friend of tax collectors and sinners.
After this, He is invited into the house of a Pharisee, and a sinful woman comes in, and soaks His feet with her tears, wipes them with her hair, kisses them, then anoints His feet with her jar of perfume. Simon, the Pharisee, is thinking that if Jesus was truly a prophet that He would know what kind of sinner she was and that she was unclean and unfit to touch Him. But Jesus knew. He says, "Simon, I have something to say to you..." and proceeds to tell a parable about two debtors who can't pay back their dues, one who owed tenfold the other's debt, and the creditor cancelling their debts. Simon says it's the one who owed more that would love the creditor more. Jesus concurs.

Because Simon, a "holy man," had been brought up in a godly manner, lived according to the Law, had little to be forgiven of, he did not love Jesus as much as the woman who apparently didn't stop kissing His feet the entire time He was in Simon's house.
Simon didn't put oil on His head, didn't greet Him with a kiss (as was the custom), yet that woman, seeing herself unfit to put oil on His head, anointed His feet--if she were a prostitute, the "expensive perfume" was crucial in her craft, and the condition of her hair was no doubt just as important. Yet she matted her hair with mud (the tears and dirt), and poured her perfume on His feet because she was giving up what she had been.
She basically says, "I don't want to be like that anymore, so I lay all of it at Your feet." She surrenders everything for Him, not the following day, not a week from then, but at that very moment she poured it all at His feet.

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little. (Luke 7:47)
She was crying because of her sins, because she had sinned against Him. These were not tears of joy, these were tears of remorse. She knew He was the friend of sinners (read: He was the friend of her). And she knew this was her only hope, this man who spoke with authority from God, who the Pharisees feared, who preached a legitimate Gospel ("Good News"). And because she knew that, a Godly sorrow welled up within her until she poured tears about the floor and His feet, and she worshiped Him by giving up her livelihood to anoint not even His head but just His feet.
He did not tell her to forget her sins. He said they were forgiven--that He would forget. But she remembered her sins. And wept. And that's what anointed Christ.

See, we all have sins, and we all have a past.
Those who have been found guilty and yet forgiven for, say, stealing five dollars worth of merchandise will not be as happy and thankful to the judge as the person who has been found guilty but forgiven of attempted murder. And, sometimes, to sear one's conscience, we forgive them without reprimanding them.
This can serve to create a higher sense of guilt than punishing them. What's more, tell them that someone else decided to take their punishment; this will (or at least should) stir them up inside to the point of their tears flowing enough to soak the feet of the person who bore their sins. And they will (again, should) turn from their crimes and even say, "See this way I was? He took the blame for me. Because of that, I set my old ways at His feet and now they're an evidence to His love for me. And He'll do the same for you."

But how do we reconcile ourselves to our pasts of sin? How do we live on after this sin? Is remembering it and being filled with grief in itself a sin? After all, the New Testament says that sinful flesh, that old person has died; is remembering that equivalent to bringing it back?
Having spent time dwelling on my past, hating myself for it, i felt like i was doing something wrong because so many pastors say our sins are forgiven so we shouldn't even think of them anymore. That we should only think of good things (as mentioned in the New Testament). And now we have pastures filled with flocks acting like spotless lambs, when it was the only spotless Lamb chosen from the vile, filthy herd that we are to take our filthiness. Yes, we have been washed, but we must never overlook the fact that we were filthy, mangy, and unclean lest we forget the weight of the sacrifice of the truly perfect One sacrificed for us.
What glory does a Redeemer receive when those He redeemed act as though they're not even the same thing as was bought back?

And even so, we still have people saying we're to live like it never happened because we're a new creation. I once heard someone say we shouldn't refer to ourselves as sinners forgiven, because it in a sense dims-down the beauty of God's creation, and that it makes Jesus' work on the cross seem like less because we still focus on what we were before. Are we truly called to forget our sins? How do we resolve this?

Simple. Remembrance. Visit the grave of your old self, and do so often. Don't try digging up the body.
The Bible does say we are a new creation. But our past happened. We're not to be liars, and we're not to be ignorant. Keep reminders of the old self's death. Never forget it.
I remember my sin. And i don't want to forget it. Because i know i've been forgiven much; i never want to forget, because i don't want to love Him less. I want to see and to dance on that grave marked, "Joshua David Isaacs," because i know that self is dead, but i don't want to act like he never was a part of me or that he never lived.

I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 16:62)
Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel. (Ezekiel 36:31-32)
Remember. Be ashamed. Be confounded. Loathe yourselves. All the while, praise God for Christ's sacrifice!

And what's a blog post without some lyrics?
Won't You please come and remind me?
I need to know what I've become. I need to know where I've come from.
Take me from this madness, take me from this pain.
Take me from this sadness, but don't take my memories.
 ("Memory" by Decyfer Down, from the album, "Scarecrow")

Sunday, June 1, 2014

On Bearing Fruit . . .

 Wisdom is know by her children. Another way of saying that is she is know by her fruit. What we reap is evidence of what we've sown. Everything planted underground, which is that what we put in secret and cover and water, will sprout. If one is, in secret, a sinner, it will grow into greater sin. If one is righteous in secret, it likewise will grow into greater righteousness. This is the nature of the supernatural; it is always a seed that will grow. This is why Jesus constantly refers to the Spiritual as having to do with fields, vineyards, crops, seeds, soil, etc. It's because it must be watered, must be kept, must be weeded, must be guarded. All things, we are given accountability to.
 But when we ourselves become the proverbial fig tree . . . What must we do?
 Bear fruit.

 Now, i'm not talking about some simple thing we can manage of our own accord; "Random Acts of Kindness," anyone can do. Not to say that specific gesture is without credence, but it's hardly a fruit of the Spirit when the world is just as capable as us. That could be, with the correct motive (glory given to God), a fruit of the Spirit, if we are led to it. But that's not what separates Christians from the world.
 Anyone can love those who are pleasant and lovely, which is why Jesus told us specifically to love our enemies. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and our neighbor is anyone put in our path, not merely the person of close residence. Neighbors are often our enemies, and enemies are often our neighbors, because those who wish us harm are oftentimes those who we are or have associated with.
 Do you know what it means to love an enemy? Do you know what it feels like to shake hands and to hug someone whom you know to be devising against you? Do you know what it's like to genuinely hope for their well-being?
 It's probably pretty difficult. In fact, i'd even dare say it's impossible for the flesh to accomplish some such feats.

 In 2006, in Pennsylvania, an armed man entered an Amish schoolroom of girls ranging from 6-13 years old with the intention of molestation. He killed five of them, and shot more. This would seem an unforgivable act. But there are those who are entirely unworldly, who are no more of this world than Christ is, who are able to attend the funeral of the perpetrator, look his family in the eyes and embrace them, and even contribute to his family's well-being. They forgave something i (and most others) could never dream of forgiving.

 Mark 11 tells us of Jesus being hungry and seeing a fig tree in leaf, though out of season for figs. Regardless, He approached it and found none on it, so He cursed it. The next morning, He and His disciples were passing back by and saw that it had died completely to its roots. It concludes with a message about faith, and He says, "whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses." (v. 25)

 There are some interesting details about that little occurrence. For one, it was out of season for figs. Despite that, Jesus still cursed it. Another thing is He would've known before approaching it that it had no figs, not just because it was out of season but also because He is Christ--He knows things.
 Christ doesn't want us to produce only when we're in season, only when we're strong in faith or ready to take on a mission. He wants us producing now. At His approach. And the sad thing is, that tree reflects so many Christians. It's green. Looks healthy. It's in leaf. But it has no fruit.
 A quote i often sarcastically use is, "We're all about appearances here." That's exactly how so many Christians these days are, though; as long as we look Christian, as long as we give the appearance, we're okay. But no, this is fruitlessness!
 We don't even produce fruit in season (when things are going well), let alone out of season (we curse the sky when it falls--praise God for holding it up as long as He has!).

 If we're patient and loving and gentle and faithful (and the rest of the list from Galatians 5:22-23) when we have a roof over our heads, financial and emotional and physical security, and when we're healthy and have a computer to blog on, that we're doing pretty good at living by the Spirit and bearing good fruit.
 Take it all away; no water, no heat, no shelter, sleeping on the ground in the rain, eating the refuse of others, what do we have? Joy? Peace? This is the out-of-season that God expects us to bear fruit in. This is His approach. And if we can't offer such fruits as He asks for when we have nothing else, when we just have Him before us and asking us to be patient and self-controlled, we will be cursed and will wither to the roots, fit and ready to be thrown into the fire.

 It's not enough to simply be Christian. We have to be like Christ. It was not yet His "season," and even still He turned water to wine--the best wine at that.
 We can't settle for loving those that love us, but no less than compassionate for those that harm us. While we are still enemies, we must be reconciled to others that wish ill against us. This is bearing fruit out of season. Any fig tree can produce in season, but it takes one living for Christ to produce fruit out of season. Any worldly person can love those that love them, but it takes a Christian to truly and selflessly lay down their life for someone that hates them. And this is what Christ demands of us.

 Disclaimer: i am by no means perfect. I could not, presently, do as i've been writing. Forgiving a minor offense is simple enough. Love always trusts, though, and i'm one of the most untrusting people there is. I have witnessed too many hypocrites (of which i am the chief)--i don't want to see a perfect person, i just want to see people genuinely trying. And that's where the problem lies; i have too long been around too many churched people outside of Christian gatherings to trust but the fewest of few, because "nobody's perfect," so they refuse to even try to be Christian outside of the church walls.
 Tallying it up, there are literally six people outside of immediate family that have my legitimate trust. And i've learned that people are people; my faith does not rest in their faith. To see any of these fall, i've learned to callous myself in this way, would not make me falter.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Who Are You?

Then some of the Jewish exorcists who traveled from place to place tried to make use of the name of the Lord Yeshua in connection with people who had evil spirits. They would say, “I exorcise you by the Yeshua that Sha’ul is proclaiming!” One time, seven sons of a Jewish cohen gadol named Skeva were doing this; and the evil spirit answered them. It said, “Yeshua I know. And Sha’ul I recognize. But you? Who are you?” Then the man with the evil spirit fell upon them, overpowered them and gave them such a beating that they ran from the house, naked and bleeding. (Acts 19:13-16)
 This passage has one of my favorite ideas regarding our spiritual duties as Christians.
"But you? Who are you?" the demon asked. Yes, of course demons know Jesus (James 2 says the demons believe--and shudder!). And Paul had a reputation in Hell, such that they recognized him. In a sense, they revered him. Like the soldiers of one army hearing the name of an opposing army's general; they would recognize it and it might even stir them a little to know that he was the one commanding their enemy's forces.
 But these seven sons? Who are they? Nobodies as far as Hell is concerned. Seven brothers, sons of the high priest no less, who were all overpowered, stripped, and lashed by one man with one demon (never forget that Legion had thousands, and they trembled before Christ; let that be an image of power).

 What really caught me about this today was that they tried to cast out on authority with degrees of separation; from Jesus to Paul to them. They had no first-hand experience with Christ, yet they cast out demons, "by the [Jesus] that [Paul] is proclaiming!" They knew of Jesus, but only because they knew of Paul's message.

 How sad would it be to know of Jesus exclusively through the words of another? How vain our pursuits, to be shaped by only the image given us by mortal men? Without experience of Christ, what have we at all?
 Here's something else to think about; the Bible is the true and infallible Word of God, but it was written/logged/chronicled by fallible men. In man's language. Translated into another of man's languages by other men. And then the translation process happened again.
 The Bible as the Word of God has no flaw, but we, humans, do. So debate all you like about NIV, KJV, ESV, NASB, whatever translation you think is the right one; we're farther from the original Hebrew and Aramaic/Greek than these seven sons of Skeva were from Christ. Slight variations in wording is hardly consequential at this point.
 To go a step further, take into account that the Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and that Acts was also chronicled by Luke.
 Again i say, how sad would it be to know of Jesus exclusively through the words of another?

 Now look around. We have preachers, straight out of seminary and Bible college, who have had no firsthand encounter with the Almighty (ironically, there's even a book titled, "How to Stay Christian in Seminary"). We have Biblical scholars whose connection with God is purely mental and not in the least bit Spiritual. We have missionaries that can only give a reason for believing in Christ from the text in the Bible (not to discount the authority of the Scriptures, but allow me to refer you to Revelation 12:10-11. Now a simple question: How do we overcome the accuser of the brethren?).
 Because you have read someone's autobiography and believe it to be true does not necessarily mean you know the author. You may be capable of quoting it backwards and forwards and still not know the author.

 How do you know Jesus Christ? Have you read his biography? The collected words of those witnesses?
Or have you met Him, known Him, trusted Him, and been a witness yourself? Can you look someone in the eyes and say, "Apart from the Bible, I know Him"? Is it in the mind only, or in the heart?
 We must yada (know something by firsthand, witness' experience) Christ.

 No one can stress enough the universal-scale of importance of Scripture. Each time you read the Bible, you are reading accounts of His qualities, you are being better-equipped to recognize Him. And how are we to know and to claim genuine witness about someone unless we recognize them?
 But unless we have met Jesus and we have received Him and been witnesses in our own lives and people who do the will of God, He does not know us.
 Reading the Bible does not save. Going to church does not save. Preachers and pastors don't save. Knowing Christ, with Christ knowing you, and having a relationship with Him does save.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

God Is Love

 Let's address something real quick; God is love.
 That's become such a cliche phrase that i'm almost tired of hearing it (if that were even possible). The saying itself is truly undeniable. It's not the quote that i'm tired of hearing. It's the context. The context is modern. And, like almost all thoughts modern, it disturbs me.
 To understand love, we should also look at pride. Many would think hate is the antonym, but it's actually pride. I honestly believe the Spirit revealed that to me a year or so ago, and the more i read and know of love, the more i understand that it is true.

 To love something is to put it first in your life--or at least hold it in high regard (to submit in humility). If you love someone or something, you do what's best for them. If you love someone, you sacrifice some (or all) of your comfort for them. If you love someone, you raise them above yourself. If you love someone, you keep no record of wrongs,
 To be prideful is to hold the image of self above all things. Hate is a symptom, but the disease itself is always pride; it is a desire for having your own way (Ever had someone cut you off in traffic? Or how about someone who feels it's their right to meddle in your life? Obviously, your own life is worth so much more than theirs, your time and comfort invaluable by comparison . . . At least that's what i tell myself under such circumstances, and this is a definition of pride, and hate being a single thread of it). The love of money, even, as the "root of all evils," is, again, pride; a craving for more for yourself.

 The reason it's so important to understand pride, though, is because to support one thing is to oppose another. That's just a fact, and it will make enemies.
 And discipline -how beautiful is the Latin root, discipulus!- is not hate, nor is it pride. Discipline, true and honest in method and motive, is a form of love. In fact, Solomon once said of it, that, "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." This is because a lack of discipline allows a child to wander a path that the parent knows leads to destruction. How do you keep a child from playing in the street? Incessantly warn them not to, and discipline them when they do. You train them. You disciple them. And then, when they are old, they will teach their children, God-willing, to also not play in the street. This is not cruel, this is love. And this is precisely what God does to us.
 Regard your endurance as discipline; God is dealing with you as sons. For what son goes undisciplined by his father? All legitimate sons undergo discipline; so if you don’t, you’re a mamzer (literally: bastard) and not a son! Furthermore, we had physical fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them; how much more should we submit to our spiritual Father and live! For they disciplined us only for a short time and only as best they could; but he disciplines us in a way that provides genuine benefit to us and enables us to share in his holiness. Now, all discipline, while it is happening, does indeed seem painful, not enjoyable; but for those who have been trained by it, it later produces its peaceful fruit, which is righteousness. (Hebrews 12:7-11, CJB)
 This is why modern ideas disturb me. We have forsaken a selfless and true definition for love and replaced it with, tolerance. If we don't tolerate a behavior, people inevitably think we hate them. When you see someone smoking, if you truly care for them, you will tell them the undeniable, common-sense truth, "That will kill you." That's not bigotry, it's care.
 Now, there are several responses, but a common one is, "I'm trying to quit." Sorry, but you'll quit in due time, either because you died, or else because you heeded logic for a change. Yes, it's an addictive drug, but when does an addiction trump life? When you love it. When you love self to the point of pride, and you ignore the feelings of those who love you (in other words, you cease to love them, at least more than you love yourself).
 Another common reaction is excessive defense, even to the point of becoming offensive. This is the world's reaction to hearing that sin is doing the same thing to their spirit; they get bitter. Do you think that when i was stuck in an addiction to sin, i enjoyed hearing that it was killing my soul? Of course not. I hated (read: prided myself over...) that kind of message--but it is the Gospel of Christ that says, "Go and sin no more," that led me to repentance. It was discipline that allowed me to become a disciple (two words that are, quite literally, joined at the roots).

 I'm all for growth and maturity, and even the evolution of ideas, but at a point we must start over, get back to the basics, stop worrying about offending people--the Lord does offend people. If He didn't, He'd not have been executed. If He didn't offend people, none would hate their sins enough to come to legitimate repentance.
 That wasn't a pass to be malicious, but it was an example of how the world will see us, and we must give no credence to the threats and preoccupations of man. For what can man do, after all, but kill the body? This is the beginning of wisdom, that we fear the One who is able to destroy our bodies and throw our souls into Gehenna.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Choosing Friends

 Something has been plaguing me lately, and it's a matter concerning those i call friends. This is not a post intended to share anything that has been learned, but rather a bit of a rant tinged with introspection.
 Second Timothy has a clear warning that, in the "last days," perilous and terrible things will happen.
People will be self-loving, money-loving, proud, arrogant, insulting, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, uncontrolled, brutal, hateful of good, traitorous, headstrong, swollen with conceit, loving pleasure rather than God, as they retain the outer form of religion but deny its power. (v.2-5, CJB)
 What's worse is these things are taught as not only normal, but good.
 "Yes! Love yourself! Be empowered! Do what you want to--" No! This is not the way it's supposed to be.
 And the love of money? Well, golly, nobody loves money, they just want more of it!
 Proud, arrogant, insulting . . . Our society tells us that we should love ourselves, and the result is just these things; we think we're better than everyone else.
 Disobedient to parents. Scarcely in a secular (read: popular) children's program are children actually encouraged to obey their parents. In fact, some actually discourage it. And the generation is evil, wicked, lawless, faithless, and so on.
 I could go on with each topic listed, but i'll cut to the chase.

 One sentence was left out from that passage.
Stay away from these people!
 Other translations (KJV) say, "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
 This isn't aimed at heathens--at least not at heathens that don't know Christ. This is aimed at those falsely claiming to be Christians; people that clap their hands on Sunday, pray a prayer, maybe even shed a tear, then go back to their sexual immorality, their vile tongues, their intoxicating drink, their cigarettes, their sports worship, their idolatry, their obsessions with money, their obscene gestures, their crude joking, their filthy forms of entertainment . . .
 Shall i go on, or would that step on even more toes?
 People who claim to follow Christ but ignore the voice of God, are without conviction, teach a false gospel, say something is "innocent enough," make God into a magic genie, repost everything that says to repost it in order for God to bless them (this is a contrary gospel) . . .
"People whose minds no longer function properly and who have been deprived of the truth, so that they imagine that religion is a road to riches." (1 Timothy 6:5, CJB, emphasis mine)
 Stay away from these people (CJB). Have nothing to do with such people (NIV). From such people turn away (NKJV).
 Basically, don't associate with them. Avoid them. Get them out of your life. Purge the contaminate before it makes you sick.

 Again, it does not say to avoid those who don't know any better; Jesus ate with sinners--find me one instance where He chose the company of anyone who claimed to follow Him but only publicly. He didn't. He kept company with sincere hearts and those who had not heard.

 And here we are in the twenty-first century, where ungodliness and vulgarity are praised, where Christ is more often used as a curse than a blessing, where music and movies and television shows openly deny God to the point of portraying anyone who does believe in Him to be stupid. And it has seeped into our churches.
 If a pastor actually condemns sin, he's got a small congregation. If a person speaks of God in daily life, he's laughed at*. If anyone chooses a stricter way of life, they are scorned and people cry, "legalist!*" If one abstains from sexual immorality or from alcohol, they are repeatedly invited to bars and strip clubs*.
 Because people hate a Gospel that actually changes you.
 Because it's all supposed to be on the outside.
 Because nothing that flows from the mouth (the overflow of the heart) should have anything to do with God.
 And if it does, it bothers them. They cringe. They don't want to believe that anything is honestly wrong with acting like everyone else. They don't want to see it change someone else because they don't want to have to change themselves. They want to be comfortable with their flesh.
 They're lovers of self.
 Lovers of sin.
 Stay away from these people!

 Who, then, are we left to fellowship with? A circle of honest believers we can count on a single hand? Are we to seek purposeful naivete? Not so! for Christ knew the hearts of those He walked past--He discerned, and yet He chose only eleven (a twelfth that He knew would betray Him).
 And here is a glorious promise, unknowingly fulfilled by the world: If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:18-19, ESV)

 We will be hated. Though i have never been beaten nor spit upon nor threatened, merely mocked and ridiculed, for my faith, we should greet it as the apostles; "...overjoyed at having been considered worthy of suffering disgrace on account of Him." (Acts 5:41, CJB)
It is sad for sure when people can insult the idea of Christ dying for them, and that often brings me to tears. But our personal disgrace in the eyes of the world we will count as a grace from God. It means we're doing something right.

 And then there are certainly those who will say, "Well, you know, you have to look at who that was written to," or, "That was for a specific person or group," or, "That doesn't apply anymore because of Christ."
I am taking for granted those same people are discounting the fact that, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is valuable for teaching the truth, convicting of sin, correcting faults and training in right living." (2 Timothy 3:16, CJB, emphasis mine)
 All Scripture. That does not have an asterisk, a footnote, a cross-reference, it is just simply put that all Scripture is applicable. That the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the same God who wrought destruction and wrath on Sodom, the same God whose anger makes the earth shake and tremble, the same God who has wrath and fury, is in all actuality the same God that loves us enough to give us Christ as propitiation for sin. Christ did not abolish Scripture, but fulfilled it.
 All Scripture, regardless of who it was written to, is valuable to us for the things mentioned because it is God-breathed.

 *denotes that which i've experienced from Christians

Sunday, May 11, 2014

We Stick To Our Guns . . .

 It has been my prayer that God teach me to mourn over those who are perishing, and He has. I can't look at my fellow man, namely those who loosely tout the term, "Christian," while living no differently than the world save for an hour and a half on Sunday. And now my prayer also includes a reputation in Hell.
 This song that's played on the radio where i work ("This Is How We Roll" by Florida Georgia Line--thank you, Google, for supplying lyrics and title) sums up the state of Christianity so well, and it grieves me:
Yeah, we're proud to be young,
We stick to our guns.
We love who we love, and we wanna have fun.
Yeah, we cuss on them Mondays,
And pray on them Sundays.
Pass it around and we dream about one day.
 That is what Christianity consists of in today's world. "Cuss on them Mondays, pray on them Sundays."
 If this doesn't make your stomach turn and your heart ache, then that song may very well apply to you. "The mix in [your] drink's a little stronger than [i] think." It pains me to see those i respect that call themselves Christians turn around and follow the rest of the world as it heads towards destruction.
 Israel, people of God, Church, Bride! Weep! And do something about it! If people apologize for cussing around you (this is a remark on my own complacency after this past weekend), then by all means apologize to them for not caring enough to impact their lives! Apologize for not desiring to see such a radical change in their lives that they can coexist with a Christian for forty hours a week and not want to experience what you have! Apologize for not caring about their soul enough to show them something real! That's who needs to apologize: you and i, not them.

 God has given each of us mission fields. Yours may be your neighbors, for some of you it may be your families, for others it could be coworkers or friends. That is your mission, and that is your responsibility. You will be held accountable for those put in your path that you don't reach.

 In the name of Christ, make for yourselves a reputation in Hell (Acts 19:15).

 There is a war raging, and Christians have been brainwashed by a very appealing angel of light that we're supposed to be on the defensive, laying down our weapons . . . But gates don't move; they open and close--why, then, will the gates of Hell not prevail against the Kefa, or rock, on which the congregation of Christ is built upon? We are made for siege. The gates of Hell cannot stand up to the battering from the rock of Christ.

 Here are some interesting words in red.
...let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. (Luke 22:36)
 If you are clothed and yet unarmed, you are misprepared. If you have dignity but lack a blade for which to hold against the throat of the devil, you are ill-equipped.

 Our armor of God, which is primarily defensive, conveniently contains a Sword: the Word of God that can separate soul from Spirit, bones from marrow. This is far from defensive; this is a weapon of assault -dare i say, of mass destruction even- in the spiritual realms. This is that Sword which proceeds from the mouth of Christ in Revelation chapter one.
Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the Lord!
 (Psalm 149:5-9)
 This is not subtlety, this is not passivity, nor even passive-aggressive tendencies. This is full-on warfare. Capturing kings, imprisoning officials, these are acts of war. We are to be exacting justice swiftly all the while singing praises to God.

To quote a song ("Devastator," by For Today),
Hell, fear me. I am the one that will bring you down.
And when you fall, feel me. You’ll see my face on the battleground.
Let my name be feared at the gates of hell, as I exalt the Savior,
The One that died to buy my victory, and gave me a new name.
Let my name be feared at the gates of hell, as I exalt the Savior,
In the name of the Holy One of God!
I will cast you down at the foot of the cross He hung from.

 This is a proper stance in the realm of spiritual warfare; taking the fight to Satan, all the while exalting Christ.
 Weep, friends, and groan over the abominations committed within the Church (Ezekiel 9). We can't sit idly by and watch the world perish--not while twiddling our thumbs and whistling a catchy, trendy worship song. If the world is going to perish, it must only be allowed to do so as we rush in without care to our reputation while dragging others out.

From The Beginning

 After nearly a month and a half of not writing on this particular medium, things have been weighing too heavily to keep in any longer. And what has been screaming in my head most today is the person of Christ, the Son of God, as Man, and as God.

 Last night's reading brought to mind something about the Man of Christ. Brief summary of the chapter i'm about to quote from, a man was born blind, Jesus restored his sight to him, so the Pharisees and Judeans questioned his testimony by saying that he hadn't really been blind since birth. They wanted to believe Jesus to be a fraud and a liar, which sometimes proves quite difficult to do.
Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” (John 9:35-37 ESV)
 Jesus refers to Himself in the third-person rather frequently as the Son of Man, but this is a unique example; "It is He who is speaking to you." The Spirit is revealing His identity to the once-blind man through the flesh of Christ. Working through the flesh of Jesus, the Spirit opened this man's physical eyes to see the physical incarnation of Jesus, and again through Jesus' flesh, the Spirit opens this man's spiritual eyes to see that in doing so he has beheld the Messiah.
 The Son of Man is the embodiment of Christ as He walks and talks, the mortal shell that would be killed and resurrected.

 Now the Spiritual being of Christ is a little more difficult to pin-down, because He is rather encompassing.
So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. (John 8:25 ESV)
 A word used in most translations in that verse is, "beginning," instead of, "start." For the most part, same definition. There is a reference in chapter nine (specifically, verse thirty-two), where it's said that never since the world began had someone been given sight that had been born blind. In essence, not from the beginning had someone who was born blind been healed. The Spirit is revealing through the flesh of Jesus again exactly who He is; He has been telling them from the beginning who He is.
Another example is John 8:56-58.
Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
 That seems to have rather upset them, seeing as they then tried to kill Him . . . Again.

 My point in saying this is that He has been telling them (us) of Himself through the prophets since time immemorial. Before He used prophets to speak through, witness was made of Christ, even so far back as Genesis chapter three, when He declares that the woman's offspring would bruise (or, as Paul says, crush) the head of Satan.
 From the beginning, He has been telling us who He is. Through His Word, through His prophets, through His Law, through creation. We are, therefore, without excuse.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Unabolished Law

 We do not love more than Christ did. This has been a repeating idea in several of the books i've recently read, and it's true. As much as we water down the Gospel to make it purely "loving," we overlook the idea of Christ in the temple with a whip, shouting, and throwing tables. He also spoke truth to people's sin, cast out demons from people who hadn't asked for prayer, and had little regard for public opinion when He spoke. Much of what He said was harsh.
 We skip much of the Old Testament because, frankly, God just seemed rather ticked off. We don't want to mess with God when He's grumpy.
 But here's the thing; we write off unappealing passages and entire books of the Old Testament because, well, we say, "That's Old Testament." Christ fixed all that, didn't He? Who needs Levitical Law when we have Christ? Who needs Deuteronomy, Numbers, or Exodus, either? Might as well drop part of Genesis, too, since it has a mitzvah or two that we aren't overly fond of, right?
 This is idolatry.
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law (Torah) or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law (Torah) until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments (mitzvot) and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
 Is Heaven still here? Is earth still here? Then the Law, the Torah (the Law of the books of Moses), does still apply. He, Jesus, even went so far as to say we're not even to relax even the least of them.
 Why would God have written it if only to void it later? Is not the Bible infallible? Is it truth? Or is only part of it of concern for us in the Anno Domini? You may say, "That's Old Testament," but i tell you right now that it is still Testament. If the Ten Commandments are still worth following, why not the rest? I'll tell you why--because the Ten Commandments aren't all that hard! We're okay with them because we can manage them without it creating too much derision between soul and Spirit.

 You may say God's not like that anymore, but i tell you that He is eternal and unchanging! He is the I Am (not to be confused with "I Was;" this is not a temporary statement, but a statement of His nature; He Is)! He does not change like the seasons, He does not go back and forth as the tides.
 You may say He is ruthless, and i would agree; He is ruthless in His pursuit of those He loves. And He is ruthless against those He hates. But how can God hate when God is love? Well, reading over the book of Psalms will confirm that He hates a great many things, including violent and wicked people.
 "But that's not my God," you might say. Precisely. A god made in our finite definition of "good" is much more appealing to us than the universally "good" and true God. To deny the Old Testament God is to deny the One Christ calls "Father."
 He was, He is, and He is to come. Anything that He was, He also is and also will be.

 Do not think this a fit of rage, for this is a moaning of remorse.
 I do not wish to condemn, i only wish to encourage teachers to do what is necessary in order to become "great in the kingdom of Heaven." So often preachers give potent laxative to the order of the Old Testament in some attempt to nullify its authority, but the Word of God is eternal authority, Old or New Covenant. This, again, is an idolatrous misconception. This is a futile attempt to make God in our image, to set Him in a cast to be formed as small, weak, and impotent. The truth of the death of the Law of sin is that the sacrifice has been made.

 I also understand how Paul said that death with Christ and resurrection with Him has made the Law dead to us, but looking at it from Christ's words, the Law is fulfilled and certainly not to be relaxed. The Law of sin, the rituals determined for redemption, this is what is dead to us. The Law has been fulfilled, Christ our provident propitiation. The Spirit descended like a dove, the Lamb was slain, the birds have been rent and their blood spilled and sprinkled with hyssop, whatever it was that had to happen for sin to die, it happened. But that doesn't mean the Law is to be ignored. We can't behave as though it has been relaxed or abolished.

 This is not a free pass to live however we wish. This is a costly pass to enter into the holy of holies, or rather it is a costly pass for the holy of holies to enter into us.

 God was wrathful, He is wrathful, and He is to be wrathful.
 God was ruthless, He is ruthless, and He is to be ruthless.
 God was patient, He is patient, and He is to be patient.
 God was compassionate, He is compassionate, and He is to be compassionate.
 God was merciful, He is merciful, and He is to be merciful.
 Above these things, and Christ our proof, God was love, God is love, and He is to be love.
For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)
 Christ is the single offering to prove that God was, and is, and is to be loving, faithful, merciful, and compassionate.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fringes of Revival

 Something is happening in the state of Christianity, and it's both depressing and exciting. The Church is evolving, in a sense. Some ways for the better, some ways not so much.

 For the bad, many of us are becoming more and more like the world, which is tragic. The image of God is becoming the likeness of society, and it's cancerous. We have reasoned the Holy Spirit out of our teachings of the Bible because, frankly, we don't know how to handle Him. He frightens us. Makes us uneasy. What we most see about Him is the unforgivable sin of blasphemy of the Spirit, and so out of fear of committing this sin we instead completely neglect the fact that He is referred to as a Comforter, Advocate, Helper, and the like. And in our exclusion of the Spirit we have made ourselves double-minded and wayward. We can preach and teach, but without the Spirit, it is all hollow. Nevertheless the Gospel has been preached, but what example is a Gospel that has no power for those preaching it?
 When those who are easily influenced see a Christian leader on stage (or anyone merely claiming to be a Christian) living an adulterous life with the world (in love with the things of the world), flippant in morals and loose in conviction, carefree with their words, actions and very thoughts, they think, "Real Christianity doesn't look too hard." What they see presented as "real Christianity" is actually a facade.
 When a person's public life and private life have shewn themselves to be entirely at war, it's easy to think they have two kingdoms at war with one another inside of them, but there is only one, and that kingdom is capable of showing itself as a work of "light."

There is supposed to be a difference, and it's supposed to reflect at all times instead of in beneficial circumstances alone.

 Here's the good; not to say it's exclusive to any specific age-group, but this has caused a great mass of young adults in the 18-24 year old age bracket to stand up and say, "We will be different!" There is a great nation of believers who have grown worse than cold; they have grown lukewarm. But like Joshua and Caleb, some are taking their stand and saying, "Choose this day who you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve YAHWEH!" and, in essence, "Though there be giants about, the greater the struggle, the greater the glory!"
 It is indeed far worse to be lukewarm (or halfhearted) and to act like being saved is no big deal, because it shows no power of redemption to those who are lost; it causes them to see something that can be ignored because it has all the appearance of being a mere option. This damages the image of Christ. If He has saved you and called you His own, you are a new creation, not in part but in whole, and you are not the same. If you are truly saved, you are no more of this world than He was when He walked the earth. We need to get our mind right and act not just like something changed in us but that we are not at all the same. After all, it's not for our glory but for His that He has saved us.

 There are those who have contrasted the halfhearted and apathetic by becoming radicals. We call them radicals, at least. These are, simply put, those who have conceded to the fact that they're remade, reborn, and reformed in His image. These radicals are those who, when they walk into a room (or a church), every head turns. The mutterings of various conversations become hushed tones. They bear an image unlike anything commonplace, they exude something like conviction but also like love. And everyone notices how drastic the difference in these people is. Before a word is spoken by them, people say in their hearts, "I want to know what that peace and grace is like."
 It's been my prayer to one day be so apparently born of this unworldly race that people feel the love of God flowing from me in such a manner.

 It is something to be striven for, of course, but i've tried hard enough to know that it can't be managed by my own strength or will. It doesn't take as much fight as it takes surrender.
 To quote a band called My Epic,
"I used to think I had to write these songs just so.
For Heaven's sake and for my own, I put myself through Hell,
But I quit striving for perfection; surrendered up to it instead.
And now the songs keep pouring out, and I cannot contain myself."
 (from the song, "Lazarus")