Archive for the ‘religious’ Category

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Is Sin Bad?

July 3, 2007

  So, before you grip your keyboard with both hands and thrust your head toward your screen thinking that you must have read that title wrong, let me explain.  Sin, by nature and at it’s core is obviously bad.  God wants nothing to do with sin.  He tells us to go and sin no more.  Sin is the root cause for our downfall.  Here is my question to you.  Have you ever sinned, asked for forgiveness and not come out a stronger Christian because of it?  Personally, each and every time I sin, I end  up with a stronger faith in God, a greater appreciation of His Grace, and an empathy for those who struggle with that sin on a regular basis.

      That being said, I could never condone sinning as an effective means to building one’s faith.  Just because God can turn our short-comings into something good doesn’t mean we couldn’t have learned the same things and come to just as good an appreciation of God without sinning.  God’s Word is sufficient.  In it, we have all we need to be the type of Christian that God wants us to be.  Unfortunately, we don’t always go looking for solutions to our problems in His Word.  I could go on and on  about this point, but it is a frequent enough topic for sermons, studies and blogs that I think you could find more on this pretty much anywhere.  Let me move on.

      Recently, I was forced to admit to myself that I have been dealing with a sin that I kept trying to justify and explain away as someone else’s fault.  God decided to wake me up.  Ever since college, the sound of an alarm sends shivers through my body because it always meant that I had hit the snooze button one too many (sometimes 3 or 4 times too many) and I was late for class.  Well, I had been trying to hit the snooze button on God and he finally sounded the alarm.  Let me tell you, the sound of my alarm clock would have lulled me to sleep compared to God’s wake up call. 

      Once He got my attention, it seemed so clear to me what I had been doing and I almost became depressed because I thought to myself, “how can God forgive me this sin when it is so hideous?”  I found that making me aware of my sin was only the first part of God’s plan in this.  I wanted forgiveness, but my own self-condemnation kept me from actually submitting to Him and letting Him take it away.  It became a process of really looking at the nature of sin and the part it played in my life.   I realized that God would not have made me aware of that sin if He wasn’t willing to forgive me of it.  If He would have been unwilling to take it away from me, then He would have just let me keep sinking deeper into the hole that it was creating.

    Then I started comparing my sin to other people’s sins and I remember thinking that this sin I considered so hideous was nothing compared to some of the sins other people were committing.  WHOA !  WAIT !  I stopped myself right there.  There I was again, trying to justify my sin.  My sin was just as bad as anyone else’s.  On the flip side, my sin was no worse than any other sin that God has dealt with and forgiven before either.  My head started to spin.  Was I good?  Was I bad?  Was I neither?  Was I both?  Was I psychologically sound?  The latter was probably closer to the truth than any of the others. 

     I am glad to be able to tell you that I was finally able to come to terms with my sin, ask forgiveness from God and with His incredible strength and help, ask those whom I had affected for their forgiveness as well.  Through this, I have learned two things, well, three things, oh, ok, lots of things, but two things that have really changed the way I think about sin.  The first is to never judge a person by how bad their sin may seem to me.  It is all seperation from God.  The second is to never think that I am beyond forgiveness because my sin is, in my eyes, greater than others.  God does not want us to compare our sins to other peoples’ sins at all.  The issue is between me and God.  Admittedly, others may be effected by my sin, but that is a consequence of that sin, not really the heart of the matter.  As a result, I must first ask forgiveness of God because I think it is impossible to truly ask forgiveness of others if I have not been forgiven by God first. 

     Well, this post didn’t really follow the path I originally intended it to, but I’m sure God has a reason for why it went this way.  I am finding that I can’t go an hour without being touched by God’s wonderful Grace and forgiveness.  I hope you can find that too.

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The Challenge

May 3, 2007

I have been challenged.  This is a good thing.  I thank God for brothers and sisters in Christ who  hold me accountable.  The blogosphere holds so much opportunity that it is almost mind-boggling.  But with that comes responsibility and accountability.  It is way to easy to see the blog as an opportunity to share “my thoughts” and forget that I am still representing God.  I may be anonymous and have no fear in voicing my opinion, but then I remember that my anonyminity doesn’t carry over to God.   As long as I write under the label of “Christian,” I am representing God.  Whoah!  Now that is responsibility! 

 A frequent visitor to the irish calvinist site (www.irishcalvinist.com) challenged me to post on my own site more.  I have been somewhat of a stigma on that site and tend to use that forum as an outlet for my thoughts when I could be doing it here on my site.  Part of the reason for this is because I get maybe 5 readers a day on my site,(30 if I post comments like I did on the irish calvinist site) and there is little discussion here.  The other part is that I respond better than I instigate.  It is much easier for me to read what people write and respond to that, than to come  up with things on my own.  However, Barry’s challenge has caused me to re-evaluate that to an extent.  So, for all you readers, this next post is something new,  something provoked, but from my own thoughts.

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The Journey

February 20, 2007

     Wow!  What a journey this has been for me.   I think that is the greatest thing about getting into God’s word and talking with fellow believers.  You start out at a run going full-steam ahead down the path of righteousness.  You don’t look left.  You don’t look right.  You don’t look back.  You plunge full ahead into the greatness of salvation.  Then, as you start to learn more about God and his grace, you start to ask questions.  All of a sudden, there are side roads that you missed before and you feel the need to explore those roads in order to better understand what it means to be a Christian.    The danger of that, is getting side-tracked from the main path which leads straight to God.  The possitive side of those paths is that they give you a greater understanding of who God is and His plan for you.  

 I wish that I could take you on that path that I have taken and show you all the things I have learned, but that is not possible.  First of all, most of this journey has been done on another site,(The Irish Calvinist, www.irishcalvinist.com)  and it would be quite a task to show you all the conversation that has happened.  Second, well, just keep reading for the second reason.

     When Moses came down from the mountain, he carried ten commandments with him.   The second one of those is, “Thou shalt have no other Gods beside me.”  This, I believe, includes theology.  Whether we like it or not, theology can become an idol for us.  When we become so intent on figuring this and that out and looking through the Bible to find what might support us in pride and need to be right, we run the risk of being caught up in things that really have nothing to do with God’s grace and salvation.  It has only to do with our pride and need to be right.  I am not saying that discussion and debate are wrong.  That is how I got to where I am now.  I just think that we need to always remain focused on what is important and remember that God loves his children regardless of how they came to know Him.  The moment we go to the scriptures to hunt for ways to prove that we are right instead of looking to them to find the truth, theology becomes an idol to us.  It is something that distracts us from the message of God and his plan for his children. 

     So, if you read any of my previous entries, I would like you to realize the following things.  First and foremost – I still hold all of the beliefs conveyed by them.

          Second – I have found myself guilty of the sin of needing to be right.

          Third – I have new insight and a new perspective of what I believe to be God-Truth.

It is this third issue which needs most attention at this point.  However, since this post is already long enough, I will just touch on it and beg for your patience once more as I plan to write more as soon as possible.

     Truth !  Who can define it?  Who can create it?  Who can hold it to it’s highest standard?  The answer can only be God.   I have talked with many Calvinists and had some good and sometimes heated discussions with them.  Are they saved?  I am not the one to say, but I do believe that I will meet many people who held to the Calvinistic view up in Heaven.  Will there be any Arminians up in Heaven.  I certainly think so.  So here is the issue:  if there is but one truth, then there is only one right way to salvation.  Any other way would be false and decptive.    Consequently, if I believe that there will be Calvinists in Heaven, then I must believe that Calvinism is right, right?  But wait, I also believe that there will be Arminians in heaven.  If there is but one truth, then how can this be?  Human comprehension will never figure this one out.  Yet I still hold that maybe God is above all this debate and that He saves people regardless of if they are Arminian or Reformed.  Unfortunately, there are pitfalls to both views of the Bible and I don’t think this debate will ever be over.

  My take on it is one of simple acceptance.  Acceptance of God Grace and mercy.  Acceptance of other people’s views.  Acceptance of not neccessarily being right and acceptance of God always being right.    So, if you read more of my stuff, please take this into account and know that I am doing my best to humbly bow before Gods’ superior wisdom and knowledge.

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In the meantime: how about a question.

November 4, 2006

 While you all wait patiently for my next post,  I thought I would give you something to chew on. 

 Mathew 12: 31, 32

      “31And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.”

     It is pretty widely accepted and Biblical that sin cannot enter Heaven.  God cannot tolerate sin.  That truth leads to the conclusion that all of the sins of anyone who enters Heaven are forgiven.  It is also widely accepted and Biblical that none of the sins of the sinner will be forgiven.  A sinner is unable to do good, seek God, or understand the path of righteousness as expressed in Romans 3.  

Now, let’s examine the Reformed view in light of this passage.  If a chosen one cannot commit this sin, and if none of the sins of the sinner will be forgiven, then why did Jesus mention it?  By the Calvinistic approach, all of the sinners’ sins condemn him, not just the unforgiveable sin.  In the same token, none of the sins of the chosen one will condemn him, leading us to the conclusion that the chosen one is incapable of committing the unforgiveable sin.  So, who was Jesus warning with this statement?  The sinner or the saved?

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Totally Depraved . . . until . . . what?

October 31, 2006

It’s dark.  It’s really dark.  In fact, you don’t even know what light is.  So, this darkness is ok.   It’s familiar.  It’s comfortable.  It’s exactly what you think the world is like.   The room you are in has no windows, no doors, no vent, not even a nail-hole in the wall.  But the floor, now that is a little different.  The floor is full of holes that you keep falling in.  Some are deep, some wide, some hot, some cold, some filled with stuff that sucks you in and some that make you wonder if you are actually in a hole or not.  There is no way to avoid the holes.  They change all the time.  Not that it matters because you can’t see anyway.   It doesn’t help to just stay in one place.   The holes open up right under you with a sigh that reminds you of a giant’s sigh of satisfaction after eating a full dinner.   Yet, hungry for more.    Then, just as you find a hole that seems pleasant, (like so many before that ended up in pain) something happens.

What happens next is what has become the CYOA version of the Bible or the Choose Your Own Adventure version.  I’m sure there are many different roads that have been taken from this point when it comes to the deciphering of God’s word, but the two that I am going to focus on are the Reformed view, and the Javarmenian view.  I make no claims to represent the Armenian view because I honestly don’t know enough about it to know if I am representing it correctly.  I am giving my view which seems to coincide with the Armenian view more than any other.    As a second disclaimer, I would like to say that the above paragraph was not intended to directly represent our sinful nature other than to try to paint a picture of total depravity.  Anything else that someone may try to read into it is not intended.   

The Calvinist finds himself in that hole that he thinks he might stay in for a while and then  —  —   —– LIGHT —–  — —  brilliant, radiant,  overwhelming light that burns your eyes and makes you want to cry, but is filled with hope and love and kindness.   Then, there is God.  He pulls you out of the hole and lifts you to himself and as you look down, you see so many other people in that cold dark room staring as if blind.  Looking around as if there was no light.  How can they not see?  You yell.  They do not hear.  You wave your hands.  They do not see.  You turn and ask God why he doesn’t save them and he says, “I did not choose them.  I chose you.”

The Javarmenian finds himself in that hole that he thinks he might stay in for a while and then – a voice – “follow the light.”  But you don’t know what light is.  For that matter, you don’t even know how to follow.  The Voice – “Follow the light.”  Then you see it.  Something so different than anything you have known.  It is a light.   As it gets brighter, you can see the hole that just a minute ago felt comfortable.  Now you see that it is full of filth and mud and things not mentionable.  You climb out of the hole and start walking toward the light.   As you walk, you notice that no holes appear in the ground along the path of the light.  As long as you stay in the light, you won’t fall in any holes.  You start to see other people walking on the path as well.  Then you notice someone start to get out of his hole to join you on the path but then look back to his hole and climb back in to his muck with a look of contentment on his face.  You wonder. . . was it really that bad in my hole?  It was comfortable enough.  It was all you knew before the light.   The voice – “follow the light.”  You look back to your hole again.  “Follow the light,”  and you turn back around to the light and there is God, holding out his hand with tears in his eyes because he knows a child has come home.  You take his hand as he leads you through a door that you never knew existed before the light.   God puts his arm around you and turns you back around to face the door you just came through and says, “I need you to shine the light for others.  Be careful that you do not succumb to the lure of your hole.  Remember, I am here with you and there is nothing on the other side of that door that can pull you through if you keep your eyes on me.”

We are utterly helpless, utterly sinfull, hopelessly lost,  totally depraved . . . until . . . the light.  Calvinists tend to say we don’t take our sin as seriously as we should.  We don’t fully acknowledge our total depravity.  I am here to say that we do.  Without the light in both scenarios, the picture is exactly the same.  Without the Light, there is absolutely nothing we can do to get out of the dark room filled with holes.  NOTHING.  You can’t get any more depraved than that.  The difference is not where we start, it is our accountablility in reaching the light.  The Calvinist paints a pretty picture, but is that what the Bible teaches? 

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On your mark . . .

October 16, 2006

On your mark . . . get set . . . 

I am finally about ready to enter the first of my posts dealing with the Reformed vs. non-Reformed view.  Forgive me for being so slow

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Apologies

September 2, 2006

So, it has been a while since I have posted and the things I promised were coming have not come.  I sincerely regret this for a number of reasons.  First and foremost because I feel that people may get the wrong impression if they read only what I have written without reading what I haven’t written yet.  I am not out to attack anyone or call anyone’s Christianity into question.  I have simply spent many,  (wait, I mean,) lots,  (no, that doesn’t work either) hundreds, if not more, hours into studying this subject and honestly seeking the truth and I really feel that God does not mean for me to keep this to myself.  It may not be for everyone, but I know I am supposed to tell someone.  My second greatest desire is to find someone that I can sit and honestly discuss this issue with, without arguing.  I’m not looking for a fight, or even a debate (though, I might be open to that)  I am simply looking for someone I can bounce ideas back and forth with.  So with that in mind, if you care to, check back on my site about once a month and I’m sure you won’t have missed much but hopefull you will have missed something.  That all depends on how much sleep I want to lose.  Thanks!