Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ 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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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!

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Ever slammed the door in a salesman’s face?

June 16, 2006

Let's suppose for a moment that a vacuum cleaner salesman showed up at your front door, introduced himself, then said,"so what kind of vacuum cleaner do you have?"  Upon answering his question, he says, "What? Are you an idiot?  That brand sucks! (pun intended)  You've got a worthless piece of junk.  I can't believe you were stupid enough to buy that brand to begin with.  Look, you might as well take a straw and suck up the dust particles then spit them in the garbage than use that clunker." 

Your response would probably be to slam the door in his face without further comment unless you had a wittier response than what I could come  up with.  You probably wouldn't even consider letting him in your house let alone buy one of his vacuum cleaners.  You might write off that brand for all time, swearing to never deal with any of their salesmen again.  You would probably tell your friends about the incident and warn them to not deal with that brand again and worst of all, you would probably question your own vacuum cleaner's ability to perform.  Maybe what he said was true.  How could you know?

Now, let's suppose instead of that salesman, a different salesman showed up at your door and also asked what kind of vacuum cleaner you had.  His response, however, is, "yes, I'm familiar with that brand.  They are definitely easy to use and have a good reputation, but would you mind if I came in and showed you how my product has improved upon the things your vacuum cleaner does well, and does things your vacuum was never meant to do?"  Your response, may be the same as with the first salesman anyway, but you would probably be much more inclined to listen to what this salesman had to say and may even refer your friends to him if what he said was true. 

This is the difference I found between Wilson  and Sproul.    While Wilson gave me a good look at his nostrils from my penitent position, Sproul looked me straight in the eye.  Maybe a little cross-eyed, but in the eye none the less.  Sproul approached the subject with humility and a genuine desire to teach what he feels is the truth.  He was able to identify with people of different views and did a much better job of representing their view.  I say better, but not perfectly.  Obviously, one can't try to cover each and every variation of a belief in a book meant for other reasons.  It would be like trying to get a scoop of all 51 flavors of ice-cream on one waffle cone.  Sproul earned my respect.  As a result, I am almost sorry to say that I am still not convinced.  There are some fatal flaws in some of the things he tries to reason out and he reasons out things that should just be read and understood as they were written.  I don't intend this to be a book report on his book, but since most of the things I know about Calvanism come from his book, I will reference it to kick start my topics.

Anyone want to buy a bridge?

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Creation

May 23, 2006

   Creation.  No, not the Biblical "it is good," Creation.  This, what you are reading, creation.  This is my first ever blog.  I've read, oh, maybe three blogs and feel somewhat out of my element.  Are there rules?  Can I offend someone with some casual slip of the fingers and worry about it?  Will anyone even read this?  And, most pressing of all: do I have to use spell-check?  So, why did I enter into this so unprepared?  Simply for one reason.  For years, I have had thoughts.  Well that was profound.  But, seriously, I have done a lot of soul searching and thinking and feel like I have things to share but lack for an audience.  Will that change after this first installment?  We will have to see, but I like the idea of being able to express my ideas in place where they might actually be heard.

   My title, "Contradict this" may seem a bit self-righteous or arrogant.  My intent is not to say that I challenge anyone to a duel who might think themselves worthy.  I am simply trying to relate what has given me cause to do all my soul searching and introspection.  In recent years, I have had at least three of my "from the womb" beliefs challenged by people.  Being a Pastor's kid, I may have been a little sheltered and finding out that my boss actually believes that God has already chosen who will go to heaven and who won't sounded absolutely absurd to me until I found out about this guy named Calvin and that there were lots of people who believed that.  And wait, you mean God might have actually created the earth in six-24 hour days?  I know that's what the Bible SAYS,but, come on, He didn't really do it that quick.  Or did he?  And just when I thought I had enough to chew on, all of a sudden a guy walks into my work-place wearing a construction worker's blind-your-eyes greenish-yellow vest with a big picture of a butchered cow's head on the front and back (just for good measure) with the words "Did your meal have a face?" written on it.  We sat down and had a civilized discussion about veganism and the Bible and then he talked.  Civilized quickly turned to dust as I became "calloused, lying, hypocritical, and hard-hearted" according to him. 

   Well, anyway, I'm not a writer.  I enjoy writing, but pale in comparisson when I read other blogs and the way the authors can wind a word around picture and feed it through my computer so that I can feed on it.  I am not a philosopher.  I am not a theologian.  I don't have kid's to provide me with that revered parental wisdom that comes with the birth of children.  I don't even have a college degree, (though I spent six and a half full-time years trying for one).  What I do have, are my thoughts and the need to communicate and if anyone finds it worthwhile, all the better.  My biggest frustration through all of my digging for the truth has been the lack of anyone to bounce my ideas off of, so, PLEASE, comment, possitively or negatively.  That is my wish.  Good night!