Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Vision that Changed my Life!

Welcome to the blog entry that will convince you I am totally and completely out of my mind. For that reason I haven’t shared this story with many people, and those I have shared it with, for the most part are not people I know in real life, I just did it via email. I have only actually told this story in person 4 times, but it changed my life forever. If you are close to me and are wondering why I never told you specifically, it probably because it is long, personal, confusing and to be honest I can’t really get through it without crying. Those that know me, understand that I would never dare to make this up because I fear the Lord way too much.

It happened Jan 16, 2004. This experience was a vision, not a dream, that is it was happening while I was fully awake and conscious. This is also the very brief and condensed version of the story, my journal entry is 10 types pages long. I don’t believe God “zaps” people often so I realize this experience was quite rare. This experience turned my spiritual life around, setting me on fire for Christ in a way I didn’t really think was possible.

I was with my friends, unbelievers and we started speaking about God. It wasn’t a very productive discussion, but I was trying. I started to fade, my thoughts were slowing and everything around me seemed to go into slow motion until it eventually stopped. Time was frozen, nothing moved. I could not move myself; my friends were stuck in their same position, the same image flashed on the television screen. Even though everything else was frozen my mind was running at its normal speed. I heard a loud pulsating noise which began to grow in intensity along with a flashing light. With each pulse and flash my mind said "Oh my God I am a being trapped in Hell, Oh my God I'm a being trapped in Hell, Oh my God I'm a being trapped in Hell, "Oh my God I am a being trapped in Hell,” If I said it once, I said it literally thousands of times. I remained frozen and the words sped up in my mind. The pulse became louder and stronger until I could no longer see or hear.

Each time it pulsed, I relived my entire life over in a flash, there was no way out. I experienced my entire existence every second, with every pulse. I said God, if I had one wrong belief that put me here, please destroy me annihilate me. I had wished I had never been born. I begged, please have mercy on me and make my existence cease. I did not feel the presence of God. It was the absence of time, yet it felt like I had been there for eternity. Then the thought was placed in my head by God... "No, I should not be here, I have been made clean by the blood of Jesus Christ. As I said that in my head and the pulse weakened and slowed. I began to relive my life at a slower pace until the point in time I was at in what seemed to be the present, but this time remembering only bits and pieces. I was able to see again.

God put the thought in my head, that I could break this cycle and come into consciousness again, live in the “frequency” man was created to live in. I just needed to break the cycle by doing something I had never done in eternity because I kept reliving my life until the present point. So while I was in eternity I was still in the present if that makes any sense. I saw a glass of water and began to reach for it and I began to doubt the cycle would break, and relived my entire life again up to that point in the pulse. The night was filled with these exercises of God pulling me out of what seemed like the reality of Hell, which was eternity in the present, devoid of hope and absent from God’s presence. Although after the proclamation that Jesus had saved me I felt his presence, but it felt far. I wondered if I would ever function normally again, but at the same time it was more real then anything had ever felt in my life. It was only through faith in his son that I was saved, through his grace.

I’m sparing a lot of details here, the process continued through the night as God grew my faith, but God was prompting me to leave and drive to my one day wife who was babysitting about an hour away. I was afraid to go because of my mental state, but God filled my heart with hope. I was convinced if I did what he asked the struggle would be ok. I knew I was going to go, and I knew I was going to be fine, I just had to get my heart prepared. The second I committed that I would leave right then, time quickened immensely, I was not slowed by even one pulse, or reliving of my life when I had done it countless times in that night. In the car he spoke to me through every song on the radio. Even though they were not spoken by believers, his truth was revealed through them. That night there was only one more pulse when I began to doubt.

When I got to my “wife to be” I told he the story while I was sobbing. My wife remembers this well, she has never seen me like that before or since. I felt if I just went home and fell asleep things would be much better in the morning.

And so it was. I awoke on Saturday, and although I did not have to relive my life in the pulse, God was still speaking to me and I was still in a state completely unaware of time. God taught me much that day, new lessons to strengthen my faith and reliance on him. He also placed many random thoughts in my head to be used as symbols that he strategically used throughout the day to confirm what he was showing me.

At times during the day I grew frustrated and impatient at my total unawareness to time, I wanted just to feel normal again. While at work I heard a train and God placed a thought in my mind, "the train will remind you to be patient." Later that day, when I was about to get frustrated, I heard the train another two or three times, the timing was perfectly inline with my frustration. Clearly it was God. Later that night I went again to visit my future wife while she was babysitting. After a few hours I tried to go to sleep on the couch, hoping sleep would correct my state of being. Then I heard one of the boys come home and immediately I was upset knowing the boy would want to play and keep me up. He came in the door wearing a train engineer's cap and blowing a wooden train whistle. Later that night when again I was about to sleep the younger boy came to talk to me and I was annoyed, then he asked me to read him a story. It was the "little engine that could", the children's story about the train. That was the sort of thing that happened throughout the day as God instructed me and spoke to me.

After that day I again knew sleep would bring me closer to my normal state. When I awoke Sunday morning I was healed completely and filled with the spirit for days, more than I have ever felt in my life. Ever since then I have been on fire for the Lord.

As I said early on this is a very abbreviated version, that really skips over some of the ways God confirmed and spoke things to me. If you are interested in the long version send and email to and let me know. Just be prepared to read 10 pages worth and I suggest you read it all in one sitting.

Torah Observant Christians???

For years I have been intrigued by “Torah Keeping Christians.” Sadly, until recently I never allowed myself to hear their arguments. The Torah Keepers I ran into had little intellectual integrity and was afraid I’d be to easily swayed, unable to separate the truth from their propaganda. Their attitudes were so clearly legalistic in nature I felt I had no choice but to dismiss them before they spoke a word. Many of them would say ridiculous things like, “if you don’t keep the feast days you are not a true believer”, or “if you use the name of Jesus Christ instead of Yeshua you are worshiping a false idol.” I had hoped that one day I could find a compassionate Torah keeper because frankly, I knew they had some compelling points. Until then however, I just had to wait.

I was quite taken back when my pastor had asked me if I was interested in participating in an intense study group of the Jewish foundations of Christianity. He assured me that this program was not rub by the same kind of people I had met years before. Naturally I was quite excited to begin study. While I have a long way to go through the class, I feel like quite a few doors have opened, my faith is becoming richer and simpler at the same time.

Let me just give you a few teasers of things I have learned. Christ himself said he came not to abolish the law (Torah) but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). He also said that those who love him would keep his commandments (John 14:15). If we look closely at the covenants God made with Noah, Abraham, with the Israelites at Sinai and with David we find they did not nullify previous covenants as they were given, but that each one built on top of the former. We know that Christ himself in order to be considered a spotless lamb, had to himself to keep the Sinai covenant, The feast days, Kosher laws etc. Those laws that Christ “broke” were not Old Testament law, but they were in fact part of the oral law and extra-biblical traditions. Even then Christ did not break all of those, just some of them. We also know that the scriptures proclaim we will all keep the Torah in the future and that at least some of the disciples continued to make sacrifices after Christ died and rose. The sacrifice was never meant to redeem anything, it was merely symbolic, even during the Old Testament.

A lot of what we consider our standard theology is based on assumption of what scripture says without the Jewish context. For example many Christians assume the scriptures tell us it is okay to eat pork based on two references. One, the dream of Peter in Acts 10. Here Peter is given a dream in which he is told to kill and eat unclean animals, and is told not to question if something is clean when God has told him that it was. No where in the chapter does Peter actually eat anything unclean and verse 28 clearly implies that Peter interpreted the dream not to be about food, but about people. The dream was telling him that gentiles are able to be saved as was evidenced in the rest of his meeting with Cornelius. This was an issue many in the early church struggled with because they understood Christ as Salvation only for the Jews.

Here is the other verse that is often used to defend the argument against Kosher laws.

Mark 17:18-19 "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him 'unclean'? 19For it doesn't go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods "clean.")

The problem with this verse is the translation, the part in parenthesis is not in the original greek. If you read the verses in context Christ is not talking about eating an unclean meats, but about eating while being “ritually unclean” because some of the disciples did not wash their hands which was again oral law and tradition not part of the Sinai covenant. The words for unclean meats and ritually unclean are totally different. The Young’s Literal Translation also has a very different translation of verse 19 from that of the above version and gives it a new meaning.

I suppose that one could still argue that Paul’s argument about circumcision and the Judiazers could circumvent this situation. However there are still ways that you could interpret Paul’s arguments from a completely different perspective. Paul never attacks the Torah he only speaks of circumcision. You could also interpret what the Judiazers were saying was that you cannot be saved UNTIL you are circumcised and a Jew. In that case Paul was arguing that in fact these people certainly had already been called by Christ and were brethren and that they should not be “thrown into” observation of the Jewish law when they were still trying to understand and keep the basics as new converts.

I Still haven’t discovered how I feel about Torah Observance and this New Perspective on Paul, but I have certainly found it fascinating and worthy of further study. While I still understand the theological basis for Covenant Theology reasonable, I cannot say that I find a scriptural basis for it to be as reasonable. While I am leaning toward Torah Observance I am taking my time as it seems many who hop on right away without full understanding are actually hoping on a very dangerous Legalism train. For me I view torah observance sort of like I view baptism. Is it necessary for salvation, no. Does it put me in better standing with God, no. The Hayesod Program emphasizes that gentiles are not required to keep the Torah to be saved, but that we are invited to participate with the Jews.

I have since finished this program, and taken it a second time as I am preparing to help lead classes for our church down the road. There are many more amazing things that have been revealed through this program especially about the writings and person of Paul, and I loved it! I cannot recommend this study enough. It has turned a lot of my biblical perspective upsides down, it’s made my theology simpler and cleaner but deeper at that same time. If this topic interests you please look into First Fruits of Zion at The study I did was called Hayesod. It isn’t something they allow you to do on your own, because sadly many people have taken their work and used it to suit their own purposes. (like the people I mention in the first paragraph of this blog) You need to get together and have a study group, but I cannot recommend this study series any more highly.

Dragged Away and Enticed

but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. –James 1:14-15

Instinctively we know we shouldn't allow ourselves to experiment with sin. Yet, often when we are feeling pulled in a direction contrary to scripture we intentionally start blurring the lines and create webs of lies and self delusion as a pretense to allow ourselves to follow the lusts of our human nature. There are dozens of better reasons why we should not "experiment with sin" then the one I am about to mention, but this one is probably a little more concrete for you if you have surrounded yourself with a false reality.

While I nor anyone else can really keep you from “dabbling” with sin I insist you make one concession. Ask yourself, would I be okay with struggling with this sin or issue far more intensely and on a daily basis? Once you have broken down a barrier and committed a sin for the first time there really is no going back. You cannot walk away, and I need to be frank, that logic is nothing more than pure trash.
Once you taste something that gives you any kind of satisfaction it becomes that much harder to resist. If you had the desire to try something then you can almost be guaranteed that desire will only increase once you’ve actually done it, especially because you have probably already reasoned away the consequences that may have prevented you from doing it in the first place.

Some people insist they are strong enough to handle it, even if that is the case (unlikely as that is), and you are strong enough to resist it, you will have to expend a lot more energy on resisting. So even if you are not much weaker in that particular area, you will become weaker everywhere else because you have to focus more energy on that particular issue.

If you think you can try a sin once and walk away unscathed, think again, you are at best a fool. You cannot magically go back to where you were. It takes a lot of time, effort and most importantly grace to be brought back to where you were. If you have already crossed that line, there is hope. Pray, and

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. -James 4: 7-8

We cannot do it on our own but we must remember that

…“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
–Matthew 19:26

Eventually sanctification comes, but it is not my experience that this process ever comes quickly. It must advance slowly or the foundation is weak. By allowing the sin in the first place we are backtracking so much that it often takes years to rebuild.

Inherent Faults of Socialism and Capitalism

Did Christ support wealth redistribution? It sort of depends on which biblical passages you are speaking of. I think specifically about the parable of the talents in Luke where those who were given much were given more in the end for being good stewards. I also think of Paul who told the Thessalonians that they should not take care of those who do not pull their own weight and portrayed an attitude of laziness.

But the early church if you remember shared everything, they took care of each other.

Acts 4:32-35 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.

Redistribution is Socialism. Any economist will tell you that as nice of an idea it seems, it just doesn't work. People become lazy, unmotivated and dependent on government. Capitalism on the other hand rewards hard work, which does not have the weakness of socialism, but its weakness is that many in need are often left behind in the dust. This however can be remedied if the general population is a moral society which willing to take care of those in need who are not able to care for themselves. These depend wholly on the charity of the moral people who live in it's society.

The problem arrives in the form that our society is no longer dominantly Christian and the Church in the present age has been far too lax in providing for those in need. The solution, government puts in place redistribution and socialism. It is a horribly sad day for capitalism because capitalism 'in and of itself' can be a good thing if run properly. By being uncaring Christians we need to blame only ourselves for this situation because we do not care enough for those in need as we should. James also tells us that perfect religion is to take care of orphans and widows in their distress.

While we have as Christians have learned a generous loving form of capitalism can be a better solution, we do not employ it correctly rendering it ineffective and we oppose socialism. Society then sees us as selfish Christians who don't show the love of Christ. Can we blame them? We do not give and we ignore the need. This is why the founders said our great experiment of liberty could only work in a moral society.

Good Capitalism is dead in a society that is not moral. Unfortunately many Christians think preserving a moral society means creating a church state, which violates the rights of others and turns people off even more to the Gospel. Remedying that problem is not so simple, there are no easy answers. I don't have a big picture solution, I'm just asking us to see that no matter what we do it's not perfect, because humans are not perfect. All I can suggest is that we try to help those in need the best we can on our level instead of buying a TV for every room or whatever else we might otherwise do with it

Our Perspective during Prayer

James 4:13-15 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."

Many who pray take here a wonderful scripture and believe misapply it. It seems so often that people end every prayer and every request with some rephrasing of “if it be your will.”

Matthew 21:22 is quite clear that anything we will ask for in prayer we will receive it. Of course there is an extreme application in this verse as well, mainly that we start asking for things outside the will of God. My main contention with the common application of James 4:13-15 is that ending everything with “if it be your will” begins to sound more like a disclaimer statement for something in case it is not fulfilled as we would expect. It is an action carried out based on a lack of faith.

I believe that when we pray and make requests we focus too much on the specifics and not enough on the abstract concept. We focus on our wants and needs instead of how God can be glorified through what we ask for. We forget 1 Corinthians 10:31 and we forget that we were created primarily to worship and glorify God

For instance We might pray that God give us a specific job… “if it be your will” of course. I’m sure most of us realize we shouldn’t be praying for things outside the will of God. No doubt a righteous God could not answer those requests. We could however pick those things apart and pray for the abstract concepts with confidence. Ask yourself why do you want the job? Do you want security, do you want to provide for your family, do you want a work environment that honors God, do you want it because it is more convenient then another job? Then examine those things to see what you know to be consistent with God’s character and pray for those things. Pray that God would be glorified through providing you with your needs, instead of a specific solution. Pray that if God would be glorified through placing you in a work environment that builds you rather than destroys you. Pray that God would be glorified through allowing your family to be more efficient with a more convenient job. Pray for whatever your request should be if it is tuned in with the will of God.

I don’t want to say that we should never pray for specifics, but I think we all need to be more careful and reflective on what specifically we are asking God for. Is our ultimate goal in our request to meet a want or even a need, or is it to bring God glory?

Reconciling the God of the OT with the God of the NT

Reconciling the Old Testament God with the New Testament God, 3/3/09

One rather looming criticism of Christianity has been that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament are completely different characters seemingly inconsistent with one another. The solution does not seem rather difficult to comprehend, but the clarification is rarely presented and this causes unnecessary strife among believers. Rather than deal with the answer to “difficult questions,” many believers often assume the Old Testament to be irrelevant. ....

The answer is not that God is changing, but that our understanding of him must be based on principals that are slowly revealed. For instance we cannot truly understand mercy and love if we do not first understand what we deserve. If God is truly perfect without sin and holy as we would want and expect him to be, then by nature he could not tolerate any evil. We cannot have it both ways, he is perfect and just, or he is unjust and imperfect. Very early in the scriptures God presents the law in order for us to receive an indication of how wicked we are. At that time man however can have no closer relationship to God other than to know he is unworthy of God. Therefore God to some appears only to be a God of Wrath. (I believe however the Old Testament is clear that God has a loving side we just forget that sometimes because we glaze over those parts.)

Christ of course is the pivotal point if the whole thing. Remember though he said he did not come to change the law but to fulfill it? God did not hold back his love because we are unimportant to him, but because God is holy and we need an intercessor. When Christ comes however, he is God in the flesh. Suddenly we are able to talk to and relate to God in human form. Christ becomes our intercessor and our high-priest. Man now also has a direct way to connect to God the Father and the deeper truths of his character can be revealed. That is that we deserve death, but God loves us, wants a relationship with us and wants us to love others, but until Christ comes, man could not be reconciled to God and looking back we have trouble understanding that truth that God was Love then as well.

In the Old Testament the highest aspiration of man is to have faith, be righteous and just and to reflect God in that way. Christ in no way changes the fact that God is holy and just, but he provides us a way to be justified before God allowing us understand the deeper truths of God. The Father is not just angry and the son is not just a loving friend who pleads for us. Both Father and son must judge and have wrath because they are Holy and perfect, but they are also both loving.

Calvinism VS Arminianism

Many people assume Jocob Arminus and Calvin were total opposites, completely incompatible. If that is true, one would have to be wholly right, and another wholly wrong, making somebody a heretic. I find it unfortunate that this is the conclusion of many concerning Arminius since I respect both men. If such a thing were truth that they were in fact incompatible polar opposites, what in the world do you do with something like this?

"I recommend that the Commentaries of Calvin be read…. For I affirm that in the interpretation of the Scriptures Calvin is incomparable, and that his Commentaries are more to be valued than anything that is handed to us in the writings of the Fathers -- so much so that I concede to him a certain spirit of prophecy in which he stands distinguished above others, above most, indeed, above all." - Jacob Arminus

Calvinism and Arminianism always made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. It wasn’t just because of the logical conclusions these theologies lead to, but because I believe both of them to be clearly un-scriptural. Both theologies suppress and “reinterpret” verses that are contradictory to their teachings. Calvinism and Arminianism seem incomplete at best, heretical in the extreme.

I am not endorsing or condemning anyone the following sentences, they are just to help you understand that key people of the faith are not all from one side or another. For instance, those that are in the Arminian camp or are Arminian leaning include the likes of John Wesley, C.S. Lewis, Billy Graham, Charles Finney, Methodists and Assemblies of God. Those who would be of the Calvinist persuasion include Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, John Piper, Jonathan Edwards, Presbyterians and most Baptists.

In out theology we spend much time trying to “assist” God’s word so comes out clearer, but often we end up changing what it actually says. The theologies of Calvinism and Arminians are by no means minor; these key interpretations of scripture create the structure for how we as Christians live out our lives. What is theology anyway other than an attempt to place our mighty God in a box that wouldn’t even hold his toe.

Let us remember that the great debates took place not between Calvin and Arminius, but between their followers. The followers these men took the ideas of both to their natural conclusions. Instead of a compromise between biblical truths to see the whole picture, some truths were held high and exaggerated and other truths had to be suppressed as a byproduct. Did these men intend to ignore biblical truth? No, I don’t think so, but as faulted men they could not help but do so. We don’t have to choose sides even though the theological descendants of both would have us do so. Both Calvin and Arminius knew that scripture was God’s word, and God’s word must agree. Even though the idea of predestination and free-will seem opposed. There is no need for division among us over this, that division is a result of our inability to comprehend complex perspectives of God.

While the anagram of TULIP and the brief explanations contained here cannot accurately represent every perspective or interpretation of the theologies it may help us get at least a base to work with. Please also note on each of the five points Calvin and Arminius did not completely agree with what their spiritual descendants taught. Both sides have demonized the other man as a form of propaganda.

The Five points of Calvinism

1. Total Depravity: Sin controls every part of man. He is Spiritually dead, blind, unable to obey believe, or repent. He continually sins for his nature is completely evil.
2. Unconditional Election: God chose the elect solely on the basis of his free grace, not anything in them. He has special love for the elect. God left the rest to be damned for their sins. Nothing outside of God's will can happen.
3. Limited Atonement: Christ died exclusively for the elect, not all men, and paid a definite price for them that guaranteed their salvation.
4. Irresistible Grace: Saving Grace is irresistible. He sovereignly gives the new birth, faith and repentance to the elect.
5. Perseverance of the Saints: God preserves all the elect and causes them to persevere in faith and obedience to the end. None are continually back-slidden or finally lost.

The Five points of Arminianism

1. Free Will: Sin does not control man's will. He is sick and near-sighted, but still able to obey, believe and repent. He does not continually sin, for his nature is not completely evil.
2. Conditional Election: God choose the elect on the basis of their foreseen faith. He loves all men equally. God passed over no one, but gives everyone an equal chance to be saved. Some Arminians believe God plays little role in any events of mankind, that God is distant.
3. Universal Atonement: Christ died equally for all men and paid a provisional price that made salvation possible for all, but guaranteed it for none.
4. Resistible Grace: Saving Grace is resistible, for God does not overrule man's free will. Man is born again after he believes, for faith and repentance are not gifts of God.
5. Falling from Grace: Only a few Christians continue in faith and obedience to the end. (Arminians are divided over whether one can actually loose his salvation.)

If these doctrines seem so diametrically opposed, is any sort of compromise possible? I believe so. I am well aware this solution may have errors and I do not proclaim to be a perfect solution; overall I think this is a compromise at least worthy of discussion. For verses whose content might be more commonly disputed I have it laid out word for word.

God has a will for every man's life. All men are sinful and completely unworthy of salvation (Rom. 3:23, Jer. 17:9). No man with his sinful nature would ever choose to follow God's will (John 6:44, (Phil.2:13) and is in a state of total depravity. The sinful nature is too cowardice and arrogant to humble itself before God. God gives men moments of clarity and grace that reveals his will for our lives, but that does not mean they have received salvation (Acts 17:26-27). Man can deny the work of the Holy Spirit and so resist him (Acts 7:51, 1 Tim1:19). If a man repents, it is not the man that repents, but the Holy Spirit working within him, this is where salvation begins (2 Tim 2:25). If a man offers himself as a living sacrifice, it is not himself. Again, it is the Holy Spirit. God however, being holy cannot sin and desires the salvation of all men (II Peter 3:9, Mat. 23:37, I Tim 2:3-4). He died for all men, even those who rejected him (Heb. 2:9, 1 Tim. 2:6, 1 Tim. 4:10, Isa. 53:6), therefore we cannot have limited atonement. To desire men to sin and fall away would be as evil as the actual sin itself (Jam. 1:13). Just because God wills something does not mean that it will happen (John 21:21-24). As we saw God’s desire is for all men to be saved, but scripture is clear that will not be the case. There is no need to question God’s ultimate sovereignty in these cases, but there is evidence God allows our wills to have some purpose. To remove that concept is to say that everything good and evil was pre-designed. It exaggerates predestination to mean more than it actually does. Accounted for, allowed, foreknew and planned around yes, because God is outside of time, but to say God planned men to commit certain sins would mean God causes evil, which is not possible (James 1:13-14), for they would have no choice. That is “double predestination,” the only natural conclusion from the definition Calvinists have given. It would also imply that we are nothing more than robots. If we are nothing more that pre-planned programs do we have any reason to feel emotion? If all that happens is God’s will then who are we to be upset by anything that happen in life? If that is true would Christ have sinned when he wept? Was his will opposing that of the Father’s? Why else would he be upset? Why would has ask that this cup might pass from him if it were possible. No, of course not, this is more proof that Calvinism must be incomplete. God desires the salvation of all men and man’s free will to resist is demonstrated in the following.

I Timothy 2:3-4 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (NASB)

Matthew 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. (NIV)

God allows man freewill, but not that he may choose God, for God alone draws us to him, so that no one may boast (Eph 2:8-9). Man’s freewill is available only that he might choose to continue in his natural sinful state, that is disobedience thus resisting God's will to change his life (Jam 1:14). Man’s will always causes him to rebel against God unless God enables him to see clearly (Phil.2:13) . For this reason the term “free-will” doesn’t seem appropriate. Man’s “natural will” or “sinful will” would seem to fit better. Then man, enlightened only by God may submit his will to God’s will who conforms us to his image. This can only come through God’s movement. This seems to be reflected in the heart of Peter (John 6:68). God enables men saved and unsaved alike with moments of clarity to see the word that they would otherwise not have seen. That enabling does not save; salvation is merely an end result of that enabling when man is finally broken. Man can allow himself to be overcome by his sinful will and deny God at any time during the process. God may also speak truth directly to a man and purposely allow his heart to harden. Since salvation is by grace alone, individual sins do not cause salvation to be lost. Man can reject the workings of the Holy Spirit and God’s will on a temporary basis, not loosing their salvation, but merely faltering; although, one who loved God would not abuse this practice (Rom 6:1). At times God voluntarily yields his sovereignty so that we might continue to surrender our sinful will by trusting in his revelations of clarity and enabling truth. But it is him who initially enables us to see and accept his will, that is not our own doing, for our natural will would have us look away from his truth.

Man can also choose to disregard the workings of the spirit (Acts 7:51, 1 Tim1:19, Mat. 13:20-21) and do so on a permanent basis, so closing out the Holy Spirit after he has already repented. They would never allow the Holy Spirit to work within them again; this alone may lead to the loss of salvation. It is a spiritual divorce of God. If we separate ourselves from God on our own accord we loose our purpose and become empty. We, by rejecting God, place ourselves in his position and therefore falling pray to the same lie of the Serpent from the beginning, "That in our knowledge of good and evil we can be like God." For salvation is not nearly words but commitment,

James 2:17-26 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (NIV)

Hebrews 6:4-6 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. (NASB)
Calvinists have suggested several possible loopholes around these verses, but they must be stretched. Often it is suggested these people were never “really” saved. The scripture states they were made partakers. Can you fall away from something you have never reached or attained? Can you be renewed to something you never had? No, so they must have had it. It has also been suggested this only a hypothetical scenario which explains what would happen if someone fell away, even though it is not really possible. That doesn’t make any sense, why place a warning in a chapter if it wasn’t actually possible? Recognizing traditional Calvinistic interpretations don’t seem to fit, R.C Sproul has suggested that the author of Hebrews recorded Hebrews 6:4-6 as a popular false teaching he then attempted to prove false in later verses. Reading the verses in context this too seems to be quite a stretch.

Hebrews10:26-31 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (NIV)

II Peter 2:20-22 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." (NIV)

Even though some may loose salvation, we can still have assurance (Rev 3:5, 1 Pet. 1:5, II Thess. 3:3, John 10:28-29, Phil. 1:6). Often our assurance of salvation is an area of weakness for us continually attacked by demonic forces. Guilt comes from of what we perceived to be slow growth or weak faith. We are tempted to doubt our salvation, which says in essence we don’t believe God’s blood or word is enough. The combination of these verses is clear: if you do loose salvation you cannot renew it. Because of assurance verses listed above and the sins of Peter in his denial of Christ and the treatment of gentiles (Matt 26:69-75, Gal. 2:11-16) we can assume it must be a very serious turning away, not a mere single sinful act. We do not loose out salvation every-time we sin, but we are expected to be on our guard continually repenting and growing, faith without works is dead (Jam 2:14-26, Rom 1:5, John 15:5-8).

The faster we get about doing the work of the Lord the more he can bless us. Our purpose for being created is to reflect the glory of the Lord and complete the work he has given us. The quicker we respond the more work and tasks he can give us allowing us to participate and be blessed even more in him. That is how we can find Shalom, yes it means peace, but it also means be full and complete in the Lord and your purpose. God keeps knocking. God hates the lukewarm, he wishes we were either cold or hot, and will continue to push us to one extreme or the other through trial.

If you still believe in Calvinism and disagree with me, truth is you can’t be angry with me. If God chose only to save a specific few then by default, he chose to predestined the others to hell. If you are right, you must also acknowledge God predestined me to argue against Calvinism, so you have no right to be mad at me or even bother arguing. Don’t blame me for my sins either, for God created me to do them. If that is true is there a hell? I am merely doing as God will, how then could I be punished for that? You have no reason to feel sorrow, the only reason you feel sorry is because you are unaccepting of God’s will. The reason so many of us resist Calvinism is that it really seems to be nothing more then a sophisticated form of dualism wrapped in the concept that God is one.

I have noticed that churches holding tightly to reformed doctrine have a tendency to slip into a nature of legalism. Leadership becomes overly dominant and gifts disappear. It seems rather ironic that many Calvinists spend so much time trying to determine the will of God. That sort of action contradicts their own theories of God’s sovereignty and they forget that according to their own theology they can do nothing outside of God’s will. So what is the point? Many abuse that practice and in the search for God’s will they become lazy not doing what is right in front of them to, always looking for something bigger or more to their liking. We can't sit around and be idle as Paul reminds us in II Thess. 3:6-15. We must be efficient with the little things as Paul tells the Colossians. It also leads to inconsiderate evangelism; removing the responsibility God has given us. Often it is thought all we must do is speak truth and God will do the rest. That does seem to be what Paul conveys when he says he becomes all things to all people (I Cor. 9:19-23).

Many Arminians are completely not satisfied with Arminian teaching and continue in humility to search for answers. I can tell you that I have observed most churches adhere strictly to Arminainism often find themselves in dangerous waters. If you hold to too tightly to free-will, then you don’t give enough credit to the Holy Spirit, God’s mercy or grace (Rom 9:15-18). It might not seem like a big deal, but it will always hinder your relationship with him. You will never learn to rely fully on him, trusting in him, and because of that you are a house built on sand. Because you take credit for your salvation, you will have a difficult time coming to grips with your pride, the root of all our sin. Humility is an essential part of growth.

Churches that adhere to classical Arminian teaching often become man centered and humanist, they fall quickly into liberalism. Liberalism causes leadership to become weak. Often gifts can become chaotic or worse, or become virtually non-existent based on the theology of gifts in that particular church. We also know liberalism reaches to question the inerrancy of scripture, once that line is crossed there is no going back. While Calvinistic churches may become dominantly legalistic, but those in Arminian churches may become instead to liberal. Is one really worse than the other?

I believe one of the best things we can do is take delight in the mystery of God in that we don’t know all the answers, bury ourselves in scripture and continue to have respectful discussion on the subject.

Dream: A Prophetic Correction

After my vision experience which will be posted soon on this blog, I began to have a lot more prophetic dreams, I haven't had any in a a few years, but this is one of the few dozen I had that turned out to be true It is dated in my journal as 10-26-04

Last night I had a prophetic dream concerning someone I don't know very well. In the dream she spoke to me and told me she had had it with God and his refusal to answer her questions. She was seeking answers concerning the whereabouts and future of her estranged son and husband. She consulted occultist practices. I argued and pleaded that she would repent. It was a very short dream and then I woke up. 

The next time I spoke to her, I asked her outright if she was messing with the occult. She asked me why and I told her about my dream. She then confirmed that she has consulted psychics and sought out other methods to practice divination for that specific reason. She also said she had been receiving  message all week from God that said "trust me." She said she even heard an audible voice saying it loud and clearly. She repented immediately and we were both a little dumbfounded at how the Holy Spirit had just moved.

Dream: Assurance of God

I prayed very hard that God would speak to me tell me what to do, where to go, who to talk to and what to say. I knew he would answer me that night I could feel it. He gave me a dream in which I was looking at a computer screen, but I knew and could see the person I was talking to. They had a whole list of questions written out in a test form. I would wonder what I would say in response to all the questions asked of me, but they were all being answered, one by one, right in front of me as I watched the words type themselves. I knew that it was the Holy Spirit answering these questions not me and that God was telling me all I have to do is be open and seeking him and he will say what needs to be said to those who ask, I'm just sort of along for the ride. I woke up from the first one remembered it all in great detail, but very quickly fell asleep. Then I had a shorter version of the same dream, except I was talking to a different person and later on I had another dream where the Holy Spirit was speaking with yet another person; it was a great encouragement to me.

Dream: Man Oblivious to God's Judgments

This is an excerpt from my journal from a few years ago 2004, but it is still interesting

Then the dream skipped or at least as I remember it to me being with my wife and we were in a safe place. She had me look across a chasm and on the other side were situations everywhere in which God was working through people in supernatural ways, bringing forth judgment before the final end. It was a birth pain of the end times. I remember in detail only the scene of the last example. There was a minister who was caught in a stream with his son. The minister had committed the sin of adultery and he had repented of it and genuinely. They passed over a waterfall the son went through unscathed, but the minister fell into a whirlpool at the bottom of the falls and died. Most people were not alarmed because many were dying in whirlpools, but they failed to realize the whirlpool was forming in a counterclockwise motion... which is contrary to the natural order and physical law. It was made clear to me it was a supernatural event. I do not feel that the minister was being judged, but the point seemed to be that there are still consequences for our actions, because he accepted it and did what was right by repenting, he was brought home to heaven quickly, without much suffering and his son remained unharmed. He knew that he still must be punished, it was now the law of nature on earth, yet his punishment would not harm his eternal life. His successor however was also an adulterer and it was his successor who was judged much more severely because he did not repent. Other judgments were going on and no one seemed to noticed that they were out of the ordinary, that had just grown to accept them as part of their life.

Then I woke up, it was fall and I looked out the window and see huge flocks of birds larger than any I have ever seen migrating, but they were migrating north, opposed to nature. I took this as confirmation that many have turned a blind eye to the judgment of God, and because they do this, there judgment will be much more severe.

Accountability of the Prophetic Gift

Ezekiel 13:1-8 The Word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, prophecy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophecy out of their own imagination: Here the words of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Woe to you foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Your Prophets, O Israel, are like Jackals among ruins. You have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel so that it will stand firm on the day of the Lord. Their visions are false and their divinations a lie. They say, “The Lord declares,” when the Lord has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, “The Lord declares,” though I have not spoken? Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign Lord.

I need to start off by telling you I absolutely believe the gift of prophecy still exists, I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it, although it clearly happens in God’s timing not our own and not as often as we might like. I think some of us have gotten so excited over the fact that God works this way that we have let a lot of our discernment fly out the window, and instead of holding the prophet accountable, we look the other way. We enable them to continue being irresponsible because we are afraid to “shut up the word of God.” Truth is we can never shut up the word of God! To think so is arrogance. We care called in Matthew 18:15-19 to hold each other accountable in love. I’m sure we have all read the following, but we seem to forget the content of these verses.

Deuteronomy 18:20-21 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.” You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.

I’m not suggesting we should put a prophet to death if he makes a false prophecy, but certainly the scriptures carry a strong rebuke for such a person, yet we look continually away as they are made right in front of us.
Certainly I am not telling you anything you don’t already know but it seems we are just too often afraid to act. Personally I have refused to refer to myself as “a prophet,” it seems to self important. It is a title I feel needs to be bestowed on us by other people. If someone is “a prophet” it is also important to remember, they are still real human beings, not super saints which is also why I only call people with the prophetic gift a prophet when I am referring to a specific instance or word from them. When it becomes a common title I think it can become quite dangerous because it honors and gives glory to the prophet not God the giver of the prophecy.

A prophet must be aware of every stroke of his pen. If they are unsure they best hold their tongue or change their wording. How can one teach a truth he does not yet understand? Do not say it until he has fully prepared you, and you are certain of what is being revealed. Do not speak for him, unless you have consulted him and waited patiently for his answer. Prayer must be sought ought before during and after recording the prophecy and over every line. There is no shame in saying “I felt the Lord was telling me” instead of “Thus saith the Lord.” When we speak with authority we better be certain, and if it fails to come about, even if it is only 1% of the prophecy, that prophet must repent and repent loudly. You cannot simply tuck away or hide a false prophecy because it has shamed the name of Christ and cannot be revoked. That time of repentance and humility should be lasting, months, not hours and the prophet should be seeking desperately where he went wrong because the Lord certainly does not make mistakes.

A prophetic gift is a wonderful thing, but it must be under the authority of someone with strong character, humility and deep integrity, otherwise it is not only worthless but dangerous and destructive. I think we also need to remember that the prophets of old did far more correcting and rebuking and exercising their gifts of discernment then they did telling people about the future events. I implore you all to hold each other accountable in love so we don’t sabotage the work of the Holy Spirit. Do not allow false prophets to continue in their claims. If they do not repent then we need to call them out. And remember that the greatest gift is love which is something we all need to be doing better.

How we React to Church Problems

When we notice problems in the church, how do we react? To my knowledge there are only four basic types of reactions we can have. Ultimately three types die of some form of spiritual malnourishment, and only one type survives.

The most common thing to do when we encounter poor or bad leadership is nothing except to sit back and ignore the call to initiate change. In doing so, we inactivate and numb ourselves to the prodding of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes we convince ourselves we don’t really know what is going on so we shouldn’t speak. We may feel too uneducated to have an opinion, or not consistent enough in living out our daily faith to possibly have insight. What is the root of that really? The same root as all sin, pride. We are afraid to make fools of ourselves. Yet we all know God delights in using the weak (1 Cor. 1:27-29); who are we to refuse that? If God can use an donkey to speak to Baalam can he not use us? Sometimes we think, “Well even though it is wrong, it isn’t my business.” Our church is our business; just like our family is our business. When we numb ourselves to the call we doom ourselves to die a slow spiritual death. We stop listening to our “nagging” hearts all the time. We loose touch with God and our relationship with God becomes an empty shell.

Another way people react is by stopping to go to church all together. They feel the same way, they can’t fix anything, and it isn’t their place to speak. They’re afraid leadership will eat them alive. Sad to say in some cases they might, but that is not reason enough to just give up. When Leadership does that you have to take a step back and evaluate what you are saying and the way you are saying it. Pastors are shepherds who are trying to protect their flock. If you send them mixed signals with a poor attitude they will be far less likely to listen to your concerns because all they will see is someone trying to divide. It is sort of like taking your pet to the veterinarian. Your pet does not understand the vet is trying to help. If the vet moves quickly or makes the pet uncomfortable and feel threatened, the pet will not react well. No one can read your mind so be careful like a good vet is careful and loving. There are honoring ways to speak your mind and dishonoring ways, our natural tendency is dishonoring, even though we don’t realize it. My Childhood pastor told me every word we utter we are using either to build up or to manipulate another person. Ask yourself which one you are doing at all times. All us need keep this verse in mind.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (KJV)

Another reaction is of those who stop going to church all together. This is in some ways better than the first. I mean at least these people are reacting, at least the act of leaving the congregation sent the message once that something was not right even if it was unclear and confusing to those who received it. Truth is, to walk out on the church without a word is cowardice, just like the first reaction. I cannot sum up any better the words of Charles Spurgeon…

I know there are some who say, “Well, I have given myself to the Lord, but I do not intend to give myself to any church.” Now, why not? “Because I can be a Christian without it.” Are you quite clear about that? You can be as good a Christian by disobedience to your Lord’s command as by being obedient? There is a brick. What is it made for? To help build a house. It is of no use for that brick to tell you that it is just as good a brick while it is kicking about on the ground as it would be in the house. It is a good-for-nothing brick. So you rolling-stone Christians, I do not believe that you are answering your purpose. You are living contrary to the life which Christ would have you live, and you are much to blame for the injury you do.”
- Charles Spurgeon

If you are in fact one of these people, I really believe it’s your Christian duty to find a church or a house church. If you don’t like any maybe you need to compromise and join one anyway. That is, after you have dealt with your own pride and self-righteousness if it is an issue, and it quite likely is if that is the case. How you might ask, do I go about finding a church I might participate in? Well if you’re looking for a church that can address your concerns, you’ll probably need to pick a smaller one, one where you have a voice and can get to know other members intimately. If you can learn to defend yourself scripturally, and you can get a fair hearing for what you have to say (even if they don’t always agree with you) then you’ve probably found a good church. Again the key is saying it lovingly and respectfully.

Start there and remember we are here to serve the Church, not for the church to serve us. Stop taking the seat at the head of the table where it is all about you and insisting on being first served. Those who wish to be first must become the last by serving. Regardless, you need to learn the basic principal of contentment in wherever God has placed you. Without the church you will be cutting off a vital and life sustaining artery of encouragement, opportunity, correction and other spiritual needs.

The third type is the kind that stands up, but when they do this they do it arrogantly, or self-righteously, or they do it without talking to the proper people in the prescribed order of Matthew 18 and in doing so bring division. They even might be correct in everything they say, but perhaps they are not doing so in a loving or respectable manner. These reaction hurts the church and ultimately hurts the reactor as they end up without any fellowship, or continue in the pattern and destroy often more churches in the process.

The last type type is only one that survives and grows stronger, at least in their personal faith, not necessarily in that specific church. Those that survive are the ones that lovingly speak their hearts and put their faith into action. From there, who knows how the Holy Spirit will guide you, but if it keeps you spiritually alive, what choice do you have? That person may fix the church, but they might also need to leave. If that is you, please don’t be afraid, do what you think you should do, continually measure it against scripture and make sure your are doing it with as much love and respect as possible every step of the way, and if you fail at it along the way, humbly apologize quickly and fully, otherwise you are only stalling if not destroying potential healing.

Message to Laodecian Churches

This was written in a far more intense form then I typically write. I wrote it after having visited a church I had never been to. Writing has never come out of me this fast, and with very little editing. I realize this is strong language, but that is how I felt, and to edit that I think real takes away from it's rawness.

You honor me with your lips, but your hearts are far from me! You who have a reputation for being alive but are dead... now is the time wake up! Your gatherings are only ritual there is no meat. You do not support the nourishment his sheep are in such great need of. The outsides of your Churches are beautiful in construction, with luxury that spoils you, but inside, it is as dead as a tree stump! If you place a prostitute in an extravagant wedding dress it does not make her beautiful, you have defiled the dress! Your good deeds and your works are empty! Yes you do much service, service around the world, often more than those who truly love YHWH do, but your deeds are empty! Empty! You meet material needs, but you pay no attention to their spiritual needs, you are afraid to offend and fear accomplishes little . You must learn courage and boldness. You no longer rely upon the Strength of the Word, but upon the strength of your traditions. What good is it to meet only a physical need? Meeting that need is opening a door to meet the far greater spiritual need and you have squandered it! You fools! You have prepared, the dinner table for your guests and teased them with the smells of wonderful food, but you have only brought out that which you would otherwise throw to the dogs! Do you think they will go on in starvation forever, They will rise up and seek out real meals that they might be filled and many that could have been taught will turn away to false idols and as for you; God will take away the meal he has prepared for you because you have refused to share it and it will be given to someone else. You provide only empty promises that lead to empty dreams, empty dreams that lead to empty lives, empty lives that lead to the fiery furnace! Faith and deeds must work together. Good deeds do not earn you a place in the kingdom, but have you forgotten a good tree bears good fruit. Your fruits are superficial, they look good but taste bitter, bad fruit! You believe in God and the most important mission of Christ’s Sacrifice. You believe in hell and the punishment of sin. Even the demons believe this and shudder! But you are not committed to him who freed you from bondage! He who has an ear let him hear! He stands at the door and knocks if anyone of you would listen and let him in you will be spared. If you do not let him in your doors, he will barge into your churches and take your lampstand from it’s place and the few of those that remain in him will be taken from among you, so then, that little life you have left will be taken from you, just as the talent was taken back from the wicked servant who hid his entrusted money in a worthless hole! They will be part of the bride of Christ and you; you who are so pompously self-righteous will be gathered as the dried up fallen twigs during the time of God's judgment and thrown into the fire to be burned! I pray you all repent for that time is near in its coming. Near than many of you think, just as in the days of Noah. Call out to Yeshua the only one who can save you!

Why the name Jehoiakim?

No, Jehoiakim is not my real name, it's Jesse. For quite a few years though I have been blogging under this name on another now basically defunct site. I never intended to be a blogger, but as I randomly and occasionally wrote on that other social website, I was quite startled to see how many people were actually reading them. I have lost contact with most of my readers due to the now irrelevance of that site, but I thought I should start over with the few contacts I still have, and invite some new ones as well.

A few years ago while I was praying I had the clear name of Jehoiakim placed on my heart. I felt God was addressing me with that name. I had forgotten who the man was besides a king. I went to research the name. At first I was pleased by this because the name means “raised by Yahweh.” I thought this was an appropriate fit because while I was raised in Christian circles, I learned most of what I know through the observation of hypocritical Christianity. I was not one to follow the guidance or teaching of another without my own comparison of the scriptures and through prayer. However, it wasn’t long after this I was reminded how wicked a king he actually was, he did not listen to the prophets and lost the kingdom to Babylon. This was a very humbling thing for me to consider. Now when someone asks me who are you in the Lord I answer a name I would not have chosen for myself, Jehoiakim, a name with no trace of honor which must always keep me humble. It serves as a constant reminder that I am nothing outside of Christ.