Sunday, August 19, 2007

Behind the Scenes No. 1

Hey folks.

I want to try something new. For the first time since the start of this blog, I've received a couple of anonymous comments that challenge what I'm saying.

I'm fine with it. I'd be foolish if I didn't expect a public blog be challenged by people who have differing points of view. I'm not going to be some kind of nazi and police comments based on their content--but I'm also not going to let them just sit there in some dusty corner for someone else to find and wonder why I didn't address them.

With that in mind, the first (and I'm thinking, less serious comment) of the two is found in the entry Breaking Boards For The Glory Of God. Here the comment is in regards to masturbation:

Anonymous said...

masturbating relieves stress, helps prevent prostate cancer, and provides for better fertillity in the future. you should tell him to beat it all the more if he wants to feel better

Ok. Well the downside is that it misdirects the focus of sexual pleasure from your current (or future) spouse to yourself. Worse yet, he'd end up probably equating sex with what he gets out of it, rather than treating it as a giving of himself.

The first two reasons for continuing have holes in the logic. First of all, you do not need to masturbate to relieve stress. The stress relief comes from a release of endorphins upon orgasm, so it's more likely that the "stress" is caused by a light withdrawal from the endorphin rush that's caused by an orgasm. The problem with this argument is that whatever is causing the stress is still going to be there after you're done, but your body isn't going to be responding to it since it's had its fix.

If it's actual stress, then a better way to relieve it is to just fix whatever is stressing you out instead of wasting time beating off.

The second--preventing prostate cancer... Whoever wrote this probably isn't in danger of prostate cancer at his age, so if he's using this as an excuse then it's a total cop-out. But if you're that worried, then a foolproof way to catch this is to have regular check-ups. Prostate cancer is not dangerous if it's caught in time. It's the slowest growing cancer that a man can get and doesn't get really dangerous until late in the game. Personally, I'd rather know about it and have something done about it, rather than taking my chances by "reducing my chances".

The final reason, while not wrong, is still redundant. Yes, it may make you have more virile sperm, but you already have means of weeding out ineffective ones anyway. Your body absorbs sperm that aren't used so that "fresh" ones are always available.

You will not die of cancer, or go crazy because of stress, and your balls will not explode from not masturbating. So it's not something that needs to be done, and with that in mind, if all the positives are cancelled out, leaving only the negatives... then don't do it.

The second comment was left in an entry titled Finally:

Anonymous said...
I have actually gone to school as a bible critic and have studied extensivelly what parts made it in and what was left on the cutting room floor. I believe what that "quasi athiest" as you put it was getting at is there are hundreds if not thousands of little mishaps that have occured in the bible ending up in the different translations we have today. If even one word is changed in a passage it completely, and has completely, changed the meaning of what is being said. I don't think that you should renounced what "good" things you've learned from the book, but I would advise that you do some unbiased research of your own about the origins and contents of the "trusted" word.

Anonymous, I can tell you're a relativist. I see that you assume that my research is biased, with (I'm guessing) the reason being that you don't like the conclusions I've made.

Let me ask you this simple question: What makes you think you're right?

I've heard so many attacks against the Bible that aren't even backed up by examples. I would think that if the Bible is full of so many flaws and contradictions that, first off, Christianity would dwindle to extinction because of people becoming more intellectual, and second, people would at least present something instead of straw men and blanket generalizations.

I have actually gone to school as a bible critic and have studied extensivelly what parts made it in and what was left on the cutting room floor.

So you went to school and other people told you that the Bible was hacked, edited, and compressed for time and content to fit your tv, and you believed it. I can guarantee you that nobody who makes these claims was present at the time even one of the books of the Bible were written. How did they get their information then? Who told them? Who told the people who told them?

I believe what that "quasi athiest" as you put it was getting at is there are hundreds if not thousands of little mishaps that have occured in the bible ending up in the different translations we have today.

What I said to the person mentioned here was that there is no way to make a simple change to such a complex book as the Bible, and have it still be logically sound. There are still no contradictions in there. It's a conditional statement, and it implies that if a change would cause a contradiction... and there are no contradictions... then there have been no changes.

I'm not saying there aren't variants that DO have changes that DO change the meaning--those ARE the ones I'm decrying. But just because some of those exist doesn't mean that all Bibles, everywhere, printed at anytime, are flawed because of "guiltiness by association".

If even one word is changed in a passage it completely, and has completely, changed the meaning of what is being said.

That's true, but again, just having the possibility of that doesn't mean that every Bible is broken. And there are examples of a one-word change that totally uproots the true meaning of something. The Jehovah's Witnesses have re-worded the passage in John 1:1 from:

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a God.

See? They've added a simple word--just a letter, really--and changed the whole idea of God's triune nature and made it seem like a polytheistic religion.

So yes, adding to or taking away from the Bible is alive and well. But ask yourself this: What are they changing it from? Doesn't having a ton of variants imply that there is an original, un-fooled-around-with version?

I don't think that you should renounced what "good" things you've learned from the book, but I would advise that you do some unbiased research of your own about the origins and contents of the "trusted" word.

Again, what makes you think I'm the one that's biased? Do you feel that you should be free to do whatever you want, whenever you want, as much as you want, regardless of responsibility for those actions? If you're human, then you do--all of us have that nature deep down. So if the Bible says that you're not made to give glory to yourself, but to God... and you really want to just give glory to yourself, all the time... then it's reasonable to say that the biased one here isn't me.

Anonymous, you need to understand that there's not a single person that knows everything, and that has everything right. No one. People, instead of taking the approach of saying, "Hey, I might be wrong about this," changed it to, "Hey, YOU are wrong about this." If I'm wrong, if the Bible is wrong, that implies that there's something it can be compared to that IS right, and you haven't presented anything to compare it against.

Can you see where I'm coming from? If it's possible to say that something is wrong, and it IS wrong, then there must be some kind of standard or model to compare it against. But you haven't got anything to compare it against, just your claim that it's wrong. So... I don't know what you expect me to do about this.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Breaking Boards For The Glory Of God

Fighting sin is a lot like a karate chop.

I know a guy who decided to quit looking at porn and quit masturbating. He came to me and expressed some concern about the concept of never looking, ever again, and never touching himself, ever again. It's understandably hard to think about it, much the same way it would be for a drug addict to imagine never using their drug of choice, ever.

I told him, "Your focus is wrong. The sin is still the focus of your attention, even if you are saying 'I'm focusing on not sinning', because NOT sinning still puts the focus on the sin."

When we focus on not sinning, we still put the focus on sin--it's just what we do with it is different. The focus should instead be, How could I glorify God now that I'm not sinning like this?

This is why I'm saying that fighting sin is a lot like a karate chop. I've heard (and am not sure if it's true but will use the analogy anyway because that's how I roll) that when you go to break a board with a firm chop or punch, the focus should NOT be the wood. You want your hand, or fist, to get to a point two feet or so past the board. Just take your hand, and move it very quickly from where it's at, to the point behind the board. Guess what: The ultimate goal of breaking the board has been achieved but the focus was different.

The reason why they say to aim past the board is because when your focus is on the board itself, whether you realize it or not, your fist actually slows down enough that you will probably fail. Much the same way, you will probably fail if you focus simply on not sinning. You will sin though, and it's going to sting. It'll sting when you break the board as well, but not as bad as when your fist is stopped cold.

Snakes on a Spiritual Plane

Today I was reading in Psalm 18 and a lot of things jumped out. Here it is for your convenience:

The Lord Is My Rock and My Fortress
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:
18:1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.
2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.

4 The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of destruction assailed me;
5 the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.

6 In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

7 Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains trembled
and quaked, because he was angry.
8 Smoke went up from his nostrils,
and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
9 He bowed the heavens and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
10 He rode on a cherub and flew;
he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him,
thick clouds dark with water.
12 Out of the brightness before him
hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.

13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
and the Most High uttered his voice,
hailstones and coals of fire.
14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings and routed them.
15 Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
at your rebuke, O Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

16 He sent from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of many waters.
17 He rescued me from my strong enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too mighty for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a broad place;
he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

20 The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.
21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
22 For all his rules were before me,
and his statutes I did not put away from me.
23 I was blameless before him,
and I kept myself from my guilt.
24 So the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

25 With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27 For you save a humble people,
but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28 For it is you who light my lamp;
the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
29 For by you I can run against a troop,
and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30 This God—his way is perfect;
the word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

31 For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?—
32 the God who equipped me with strength
and made my way blameless.
33 He made my feet like the feet of a deer
and set me secure on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for war,
so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You have given me the shield of your salvation,
and your right hand supported me,
and your gentleness made me great.
36 You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
37 I pursued my enemies and overtook them,
and did not turn back till they were consumed.
38 I thrust them through, so that they were not able to rise;
they fell under my feet.
39 For you equipped me with strength for the battle;
you made those who rise against me sink under me.
40 You made my enemies turn their backs to me,
and those who hated me I destroyed.
41 They cried for help, but there was none to save;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
42 I beat them fine as dust before the wind;
I cast them out like the mire of the streets.

43 You delivered me from strife with the people;
you made me the head of the nations;
people whom I had not known served me.
44 As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me;
foreigners came cringing to me.
45 Foreigners lost heart
and came trembling out of their fortresses.

46 The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,
and exalted be the God of my salvation—
47 the God who gave me vengeance
and subdued peoples under me,
48 who delivered me from my enemies;
yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me;
you rescued me from the man of violence.

49 For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,
and sing to your name.
50 Great salvation he brings to his king,
and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever.

When I got to my lowest point of sin I basically had the same response of just turning to God to help me. I can't believe how much my life mirrors this psalm in what He's done...

None of us can save ourselves from the kind of sin that is impulsive. That kind of sin is never satisfied with a status quo, it always wants more. The only way to get out is to just plead with God to take it from you.

Bear in mind that what I'm talking about here is the type of sin that is more of an addiction than anything else--the kind where you sin because of the manufactured desire to do it. All of us sin, even after we're saved but it's the "slip-up" kind, not the "gotta-do-it" sort.

I've been tossing the word picture around about describing sin as a giant boa constrictor. They're big, strong snakes and they kill by crushing... but they're not very fast creatures. You have to stand still for awhile for one to catch you, and even then, it takes a little while for it to get enough coils around you.

Then it starts squeezing.

How similar is that? How often do we not consider that sins like drugs, or lust, or pornography are like a very sneaky snake that WILL crush you if you stand still long enough? The first picture you look at or the first joint you smoke is like seeing the snake's head appear maybe a few feet away. But it's a few feet away right? And as long as it's over there you're safe. So keep puffing.

Pretty soon it's at your feet, kind of gliding across your shoes. Look, it doesn't even have fangs and if I stand still long enough it'll probably slither away. It can't bite me, so I'm not in any danger.

Then it's actually on you, maybe a few coils around the shoulders, around a leg, around the waist. This sure is a friendly snake, you think. But it's also fairly heavy and you can sense the rippling muscle underneath its graceful, beautiful yet deadly form.

And then it starts to squeeze.

See, the problem is that you didn't move. As soon as you saw the snake, you should have been in the next county. Why is it so hard to keep a presence of mind about ourselves to just watch out for snakes? We know they're out there.

Friends, please be aware that sin is a very real, very powerful and intelligent enemy. I used to play a game that was about a special ops team that would covertly do missions. A motto used in there was, "The more you sweat in peace time, the less you bleed in war." There is no better way to display the idea here, which is, if you think sin has given up attacking you, you're wrong. The best way to defeat an enemy is to wait between attacks. Constant wailing on a target just calluses them up and makes it more difficult to kill them, so sin will wait... for a more opportune time. Even Satan waited for a better time, and he was tempting Jesus.

Battles are often decided within the first conflict. An army will have the best chance of success when their enemy is caught off guard. Run in, kill as many as possible, and if not successful, then it'll be easier to pick them off later on.

Keep on your guard.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


Not too long ago I was talking with my friend Billsey about the topic of purification. Something he said made certain verses stand out to me, and I'd like to share with you this possibly new angle.

Take a look at Phillipians 3:8

8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

When I got ready to make this entry, I had to ask for that reference again so I wouldn't spend much time finding it. I was told this by him:

Philippians 3:8. In the King James the translators used "dung"; in the
NIV they used "rubbish". According to what I've always been told,
"dung" is the better translation. Remember to get the context.

The thing is, people often forget that being purified is a process that takes a lifetime. To use the analogy a little more bluntly, if being purified is like pooping, keep in mind that you (should) poop every day. You are getting rid of wastes that, if left in your body, can cause you harm or even become fatal.

Much the same way, in your Christian walk, if you don't take the time to purify yourself, or to let yourself be purified by God and the Word, you too will suffer the same result.

I get upset at myself that I'm still sinning. Looking back at my own life I see mistakes made that I can't take back, but then looking ahead there's a long way to go. It's hard.

The point of this entry is to let you know that the process of being purified is not something that will happen instantly. It will take ALL the time of your life, and then God brings you home. Most human attributes we try to apply to God are of things that would take time. For example: Smelting gold to burn off the dross... takes time. So does building, or creating a proper foundation. Purifying through fire is a time-taking task as well. Many things about God are in His own time. Our constant purification is one of these things.

Folks, don't let the slowness of purification stymie you. Tempering metal is not done with open flame but with hot coals. God is working to make you stronger, and this is something that will take time.

Take care,

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ministers of Holiness

It's been awhile. A lot of things of note have happened lately which have kept me from updating. When people start prodding me for some output then I know it's time to say something ;)

Last night I was listening to the radio and the preacher on there was talking about how people are usually not prone to enter confrontations. They want to serve in church in the form of a missionary, or a deacon, or a teacher... but there's an often overlooked ministry that is quite crucial to a healthy church.

If Your Brother Sins Against You

Matthew 18:15-20

15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.

16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

Here we see the protocol for handling sin. I do not mean to quote out of context since this is for sins against a person and how they should handle it, but the idea I'm talking about leans heavily on this one. Firstly, it's handled in private. Failing that, a few people are made privy and then approach that brother. The last resort is to make it publicly known in church.

This is actually the most loving, and the most difficult, ministry of them all. What's being spoken of here is what that preacher phrased as a Ministry of Holiness.

It's not often done, but there are a few people who have a drive to get up to their armpits in other peoples' lives and take a good hard look at their sin. Sin will kill, if left untreated. Sometimes it takes someone who's willing to be a target of one's anger to get the point across that they cannot continue on like this.

The Christian is to show the kind of love that is only known when a person knows God. God constantly shows people their sin. What we need are people who are willing to actually ENFORCE holiness instead of standing idly by while their brothers and sisters in Christ are being killed by internal sins like pornography and adultery. It would be hard work, yes. But, think about this: After the fact, when they're pulled up out of those sins do you think they'll still resent you for what you've shown them? Definitely not. Taking the risk and possibly failing is tons better than not taking the risk at all and assuring their destruction.

If you feel like you want to have a ministry like this for someone, seriously consider the results of taking this on. It'd be a heavy burden. But we actually do need people that are willing to make sure that people in church are accountable for their lives outside of church, and that are willing to enforce the kind of holiness that God expects.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Shaken--Also Stirred


A lot's been going on lately.

Today at St. Arbucks, Aaron and I were discussing salvation.

It's really difficult to describe to someone who's lost what it truly means to be saved. In this country, the problem of the "once prayed always saved" mentality is pervading people young and old. The problem is that people treat Christianity like a title, or a license, and then live life no differently than anyone else.

I prayed a prayer when I was 8 or so and became a Christian. Honestly I don't remember a whole lot about that time in my life because I was 8. The thing is, after talking with Aaron, I'm not entirely sure I even was a Christian back then. I don't know, I mean maybe since I was so young, it was a fear of Hell that made me want to be saved.

Here's the problem: Until about 3 years ago I had slowly slid into a sinful lifestyle, and looking back, I noticed there was more of a "license" attitude toward my salvation.

Friends, I have to say, now more than ever there's a desire to serve the Lord and to show His glory to everyone around me. I have no idea how this happened unless a) this change comes about after a certain amount of time, much like growing a fruit tree, or b) I never really was a Christian.

This spooks me a little bit... Partly because if the second option is true, then I was dangerously close to being doomed to Hell until VERY RECENTLY. It's also spooky because... how many people are in that same predicament, thinking they're saved when it's really manufactured security?

Listen, if there's something I need to tell you, it's this: Make sure of your faith. If you consider yourself a Christian ask yourself, do you show the fruits of the spirit like kindness, charity, patience, perseverance, all the others? Most importantly: Does sin bother you? I can't stress this enough, friends... if you're living a lifestyle where you're not actively seeking to eradicate every foothold sin has in your life, you are probably not a Christian. Sin, to the true Christian, should be just as offensive as it is to God. There is no way for a Christian to be able to tolerate much sin, and it gets to a point where even "small" stuff will anger you. The Christian life is not passive, it's active. It's impossible to be sitting idle, not doing any of God's work, not serving others in some capacity, and be for real about this.

If you feel like you can't go there, don't look away. Take a close, careful look at yourself. By God's standards, are you a Christian or aren't you? What are your motives for living your current lifestyle? Are you living as if you are being watched by the Most Holy God, or are you living as if you've got fire insurance? If there's any doubt here, then please, please don't rest until you know for sure that you truly are one of God's children.

Sanctify yourself, every hour, every day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'm All Shook Up


So. Last Sunday a woman came forward at the end of the service and gave her testimony. She thought she'd been saved for quite awhile and only recently realized that wasn't the case, based on her mindset of a few things. All of us were really glad for her. I kind of noticed something weird about her before, like she was "out of phase" with the rest of us, but I guess wrote it off. I didn't know her well enough to make a call on whether she was a believer or not.

But then it had the effect of making me question myself. Am I really a believer? I mean, the only thing I know for sure is what's in my own mind and heart, and don't know what's going on in the minds and hearts of everyone else. What thoughts did she have in daily life before she realized she wasn't a true Christian?

So I prayed, and read, and was all over the place in the Bible today. Now I feel a little like someone who's just snapped out of a crazy fit and is sitting there wondering what just happened.

God is always with us, but is not always visible to us. I guess that's the main problem. But it's like being led through a dark place... if you can't see the one leading you, it doesn't mean they aren't there. They're leading you, so they have their hand on you or you're hanging onto a belt loop or something.

It's kind of funny, this happened to me right on the heels of me deciding I wanted to write an entry about 1 John for the people who questions whether they're of the faith or not. Surprisingly enough, all this ruckus has happened in the course of one day. I was fine yesterday, and the day before (Sunday) was the day I asked the pastor if he thought I was a Christian and he not only said he thought I was but pointed me to 1 John where I read and agreed that I showed the proper signs. There is absolutely NO reason for me to think, now, that I'm not a believer. With that out of the way, I'll start with the intended blog before something else goes crazy in me ;)

One of the best indications of true belief is found in Galatians 5:22-23. It says:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

This is hot on the heels of the idea that if you are not of God, you cannot have these qualities, since to have them flies in the face of the natural man hating God. It doesn't serve the non-Christian to have these traits since the focus of natural man is Self, and the focus of Christians is God.

Then I read in 1 John, how it says that if you are a believer, you cannot continue in sin. I mean, it's an automatic thing, you just will gravitate away from sin and toward God.

And then again, where it says that the believer knows that Jesus was the son of God, that He really *was* God, and died for our sins. That price was paid for us so that we wouldn't have to.

So I look at my own life... Do I show these fruits? Yes. Do I continue in sin? Well, to borrow a phrase from someone I can't remember, I'm not sinless but I do sin less.

The problem here is, if you think you might not be saved, be sure that you're not forgetting something. God is at work all the time in those who truly believe. I guess it's an issue of being human, being forgetful, sometimes being in some kind of mental fog, that people get like this. I don't know. It's part of the human condition I suppose. Anyway, the point is, if you get like this and you wonder... am I just faking it? Ask yourself if how you feel about the Lord actually can be faked. If you love the Lord, there's no way it's fake because we cannot love Him through our own emotions--it comes as a direct result of Him first loving us. So right there, if you do love Him, it's a pretty big evidence toward you being a Christian.

Also, God will never start something in you He doesn't plan to finish. Maybe you're feeling a little spiritually stagnant or something. I've been there. There's no foul in praying for some "rain" in your life to keep things fresh. Renew yourself daily, preferably multiple times a day. Stay in the word. Today when I was talking to a fellow brother I mentioned that right now it was like I was in the middle of a desert. Things are fine when you can look around and see all kinds of reference points, or can clearly see a destination... but when it's nothing but sand dunes in every direction it's a little harder.

Sorry if this entry seems a little disjointed but I just needed to throw this out there. It's my sincere hope that if you're feeling a little unbalanced with your faith that something here can help.

God bless,

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I just finished MacArthur's "Hard To Believe". It's a Hard to Read book. It's been awhile since I picked up something that hurt good. It's a good feeling. Kinda tickles.

Also I've added a link to M'Cheyne's Daily Bible Readings to the list on the right. If you click it, it takes you to today's selections. If you're not familiar with how M'Cheyne's works, the ones labeled "Family" are to be read by the husband to the family, and the ones labeled "Secret" are read individually. If you decide to start this, pick a time and regularly get everybody prepared to read the word, every night, at that time.

So now it's time for me to start the next book in this fat stack sitting on my dresser, which is "A Christian Manifesto". From Hermano Urn's report of the book it should shake me up a little. Good eatin.

I'm noticing more that most people who bear the title Christian aren't living up to their descriptions. There is a numbing sea of apathy amongst American Christians that is as far as the eye can see. I'm disturbed by the lack of ambition toward improving spiritual life and there are a huge amount of people who are content to just benchwarm at church. I may have said this on here already, I can't remember.

"Hard to Believe" hit on this fact pretty heavily. He doesn't waste any time getting to the point of saying that he doesn't make any assumptions about peoples' salvation. Never assume that a person who says they're saved really is.

I guess the way to describe how we should be towards people like this is to be what I could call "fire tenders". We should be working on stirring people up and keep them hot so they don't fall out and cool off. Intead, a lot of people are practicing a form of spiritual isolationism, forgoing fellowship in favor of treating church like a roll call is being taken. Blah.

In other news, I'm in contact with a young man who started off coming across as a quasi-atheist with some questions about the Bible. After a late-night visit to his blog I've noticed that he's more or less calling down anathema against everything God-related. I almost--ALMOST--left a comment... but chose not to because his commenting reader base seems to support this view and it's not my intent to make him look like a twit in front of his friends. One of the views is that the Bible shouldn't be trusted because if even one contradiction shows up, the whole thing is trash. I told him that if the Bible has been around this long after being attacked the same way for hundreds of years, it's probably pretty stable if people are still trusting in it. So he points me to the verses Deuteronomy 27:22 and Genesis 20:11-12. To save some time, here they are:

Deut 27:22 Cursed be anyone who lies with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen'

Gen 20:11-12 11 Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife. 12 Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.

He didn't even quote the verses themselves, just the references. I'm assuming he thinks there's a contradiction here because a rule instated in Deuteronomy appears to have been broken with God's sanction before it had even been invented... It would be like being arrested for selling whiskey 20 years before the Prohibition.

In a way, I'm thankful that people like him and the American Atheists organization exist. They have a tendency of shaking the fakers off that don't have true faith. I don't have a problem saying the Bible is true because there's some kind of God-given information inside me that I can't trace logically and can't just tell anybody about either. It's just THERE. I can't deny it, and I'd be a fool if I did after seeing what all He's done in my life.

Also, I've been pressed lately on the topic of Christian persecution. I don't know why. I read these stories about how Christians were killed for their beliefs and I wonder, what would I do if that started happening here? It's a distasteful thing to think about but it's a possibility. What would you do if someone held a gun to your child's head and threatened to shoot if you didn't recant your beliefs? This BUGS me. Not because of the situation but because I honestly don't know what I'd do. Even Peter denied Christ 3 times in a pretty short time span and he was RIGHT THERE with Him.

Today's Prayer:
Lord... there is a ruckus coming and I can feel it. I would ask that you watch over all of us who truly pursue the faith and strive to live for Your glory. It's a hard road, which is to be expected. We have no idea what in particular is on this road, but You do. It's one thing to say that we're ready and another to actually believe it. I don't know where I'm at on this, but I know that You have the power to strengthen us for what's ahead. I'm asking now Lord, that You please give us that thousand-yard stare that goes along with focusing on the eternal things so that the quick lives we live here aren't what we focus on. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

This Is The Coolest Thing I've Seen All Day.

Look at this.

What you're looking at is the Romanesco Cauliflower. It's in what's known as a fractal formation, meaning there's a pattern here that repeats itself.

You'll notice that it's made of small cones that get smaller as they spiral around the center axis until it reaches the end at the top. You'll also notice that each cone is actually made of even smaller cones that spiral around, and get smaller as they reach the top.

Design in action, folks. I just wanted to show you that not only did God make this example of His intellect, but also made it, for us, to taste good with ranch sauce.

Take care,

Some Emerging Problems.

Hey folks,

I've been a little remiss about posting this blog, not because I'm afraid of the subject matter but because until now I haven't been able to accurately explain my stance.

In case you've been out of the loop on this, in Missouri (and only, as far as I'm aware) there's a movement in churches to reach out in previously unconsidered or poo-pooed methods. It's known as the Emergent Church Movement.

A local church here has taken it upon themselves to have Bible studies at a nearby bar. This wouldn't make anyone bat an eyelash but for the fact that this church claims to be a reformed southern baptist church--not quite the kind of people you'd expect to see in a bar, much less conducting a Bible study in one.

On the MO Baptist Yahoo group, there's been a huge debate about whether it's biblical to drink. There are plenty of verses that can be spun either way but it comes down to the concept of: Does it say it's ok or not? The answer is: Neither. If neither is true then it's a moot point but now the two sides of the coin are: If it's not right or wrong, then why do it... and, If it's not right or wrong then why NOT do it?

Obviously this topic is causing a lot of debate and unnecessary fighting amongst people that were really close before. A church recently split up over this. So here's my take on it...

The drinking isn't what we should be focusing on. The problem is not that some Christians might drink and some might not, the problem is: Should this church be toeing the line on where they conduct their studies? Should they be using this bar as a guise of "fitting in" with nonbelievers? Shouldn't they be doing more to set themselves apart from the rest of the world--not in some prideful, snooty way, but in a holy way, where their actions belie a different root cause?

There's something extremely reckless about choosing to have a bible study at a bar when they know full well that it's going to get out and people are going to find out about it. Why do something that's going to knowingly cause a division? Why not just preach the Gospel when people are out of the bar the rest of the time? They aren't going to stay in there forever--they have jobs and families and friends to keep up on. Make relationships and tell them. Doing it in a bar just appears "cutting edge" and increases the risk of seeding your church with nothing but weeds that are more concerned about excitement than education.

This thing is just another fad to build a church quickly. Building a church is Jesus' job, not ours--our only job is to teach the congregation (pastor) and spread the Gospel (congregation). Anything else that tries to appeal to peoples' emotions or sensibilities takes the power of God's Word out of the equation. It becomes more a function of the messenger's ingenuity rather than the dull thud of the truth in scripture. There's immense power in a message when--knowing that peoples' true nature is to hate the things of God--people turn toward Him when they hear that none of us are able to impress God, or be holy in His sight by anything other than Him reaching down and choosing us for His good purpose. That really takes the wind out of your sails.

I guess the thing that upsets me most is that once again the true Message is being obfuscated in the name of "reaching out" much in the same fashion that wine was diluted with water to make it less offensive. Done correctly, the Message is going to make some people mad. I hate seeing people trying to pad the truth and make it easy to swallow. It's not meant to be, and anybody who buys into it is getting gipped, quite possibly their soul is being damned by being wrapped up in farcical teachings, with a thin stubborn shell so there's no chocolate mess.

The Gospel is a sledgehammer, not a scalpel. Believe it. Don't be afraid to get greasy doing God's work.

Take care,

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Today's Prayer

Father, I humbly ask that you forgive me where I've failed you. I want so badly to be close to You and not focus on anything but You, but I realize as a human I'm prone to wander. That scares me to death, so I want to put my trust and faith in You that You will keep me close.

Also, I ask that you keep my heart humble and moldable for use in Your work. I don't ever want to get callused toward life, or toward people. Make me into a tool for Your glory that Your will might be realized.

Make me want to sacrifice myself daily for Your glory, so that all dross is burned off. I should not have pride, or anger, or jealousy, or fear, or mistrust in You, Lord. Instead I should have love, peace, longsuffering, kindness, hope, and charity. Help me to understand my shortcomings and surround me with people who would be able to see them better than I ever could by myself.

And Lord, please keep turning me toward You. I may fight it, but you are more than powerful enough to make it happen. You alone can harden or soften hearts, and You alone can change the will and the focus of my heart. I ask that you continue allowing me to focus on You, and form me into a Godly person, fit for work in Your Kingdom.

All these things I ask in Jesus' name, Amen.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Title Pending

Hey people. Sorry about it being so long since the last entry. Things got me all tied up and then I could NOT come up with a suitable topic.

But now I have one.

I am tired of seeing churches that graft themselves into the world to make the Gospel more palatable to people. There's a disturbing trend in this country (hopefully not any further) that causes people to try and water down the Bible to gradually get people used to what the crux of the Gospel really is--that it's not all about you, and that God didn't have to extend mercy if He didn't want to. Blending in too much takes much away from the glory of God's handiwork in converting the hearts of the lost. When well-meaning people try to be delicate about it, they're really saying "I don't trust that the God I worship can do what He says he can do, so He needs a little help". A saying I made up awhile back that I use as a sig for my emails is "The Gospel is a sledgehammer, not a scalpel". It's all about using the right tool for the right job.

I don't know, there's just a lot going through my mind on this topic. I'd like to attribute it to the fact that a lot of the lukewarm types aren't being called onto the carpet about their beliefs, or that the amazing amount of supposed religious tolerance in this country enables people to skew off in thousands of different directions. But one thing is for certain, this country, as powerful as it is, is practically impotent when it comes to spreading the Gospel. We spend so much time gossiping, and devoting hours of our precious time to infighting and arguing about STUPID topics, that nothing gets done. The workforce of God has become more of a "workfarce".

My dad and I were talking, and he's arguing online to people elsewhere in Missouri about what kinds of music are to be played in church. He's of the opinion that it doesn't matter, as long as it's within reason and is directed at God. Many other people think that certain instruments, or musical genres, are just completely out of line. I just cannot get into the argument because... I simply don't care. It's not apathy, it's just that I don't want to expend energy that I could be using toward learning more about Scripture, or praying, or sharing my time with people.

What did I even start talking about?

*scroll scroll*

Now I remember. Anyway, it's becoming pretty apparent that the American church is getting lukewarm. We aren't hot for Jesus as much as we could be, because we're handling preaching with kit gloves. The church I'm attending now is the first church I've been in where the pastor isn't afraid to preach sermons that can tick people off. Whenever I see new people show up, I think (and not in a hateful way mind you) "I wonder how long they'll stay". I've heard pastors from other countries say that they're glad they aren't preaching here because we just have too much silly fighting going on.

I can't even think of a time when an American was martyred for their beliefs on American soil. Are Christians getting to be so passe that we're largely ignored? Where's the tribulation? The worst I've endured are people giggling because they think I believe in some magical old man in the sky, or call me out on some Biblical "contradiction" that can be struck down in a couple sentences. Johnny Cash said "It's good to know who hates you, and it's good to be hated by the right people." If people don't boisterously hate us, are we really doing our jobs right?

Woo! It's good to be back. God bless.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Thickness of Praise

I don't often get the chance to go Sunday evening services because I work at a deli most Sunday nights, so when the opportunity came up I went NUTS doing things with families and friends through church. It was about 5pm before I realized I could still make it to evening service so I scarfed down the Mexican food I was eating and burned rubber to get there.

Tonight was pretty intense. I hate considering people that show up for evenings to be "for real" believers, but it does take a higher amount of dedication to show up at church when it's not normally expected. Serously, people go to church on Sunday Day, it's the American way and that's how it's always been. But to show up at night, or on a Wednesday, or maybe a Friday for whatever reason... takes some dedication.

The thing I enjoy the most (and one that I've almost forgotten the sweet taste of) is the degree of fellowship amongst us these nights. It just seems calmer and allows a heaviness take up residence that maybe isn't noticed because of the bustle of morning worship.

Tonight was no different, but there really was sort of a "thickness" about this evening. I even told somebody "that was a THICK sermon" and they knew exactly what I meant before I had to explain. Just... thick. I don't know. It's times like these where I feel so broken because I think I'm coming along nicely in my faith and then something happens where I get this feeling that I'm like a little kid who's seeing something simple, like GRASS, for the very first time.

There are a lot of people who, although they claim to be believers, maybe don't get what it means to truly celebrate God. For the longest time I thought it was just manufactured posturing but now I know better. And I don't mean just being happy that they're saved, I mean just celebrating God just because He's God. The desire to want to do that comes from God, and it's my sincere hope that everyone whose heart is Jesus' home experience just one good taste of what it's like to be fully centered on God, not caring about what else is going on, and then suddenly realizing that they're surrounded by fellow believers who are on the same wavelength. It's truly wonderful. Again, I feel blessed that a God such as ours would even allow such dirty fools into His presence, but that it pleases Him to show us His glory by doing something as simple as letting us see what He's doing... and then to take that a step further and let US be pleased by pleasing Him.

Just wow. I'm done. Praise God.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Foreign Bodies

Just wanted to put a brief description of a weird "vibe" I got this weekend during a youth retreat.

We were at church late at night, and playing a game with one of those giant "earth balls" that are like 5 feet wide. During a break a few of us were in the trailer out back waiting for the others to re-air the ball (it was an old ball and there was a hole).

I had wandered back into the room where the youth girls have class and was looking at a podium sitting on the table. It was covered in signatures, dates, sayings, from lots of people over the past five years or so.

I suddenly realized I was by myself and it was completely quiet except for the buzzing of the light behind me. I had my hand on the podium trying to see which names I could recognize and suddenly I got this vibe that I'll have to tell another story about to make an accurate analogy:

Years ago when I was a little guy I used to go to a weeklong summer camp with people from a previous church. We weren't really roughing it because we stayed in these wooden cabins. When we first showed up, the cabin was just a cabin, and completely empty. But after even half a day the place was hopping with activity and every rafter and stray nail had a purpose.

And I remember one time the week was over and I was the last one in the cabin gathering my stuff. The bus was ready to go and that antsyness of "I got somewhere to BE" was present. But I took a look at the cabin and saw it was just as empty as it was when we all showed up. It was like the walls had absorbed some of the energy that we left there through laughter and tears through growing spiritually, and in a way we had left our mark on that place. But still, the most overwhelming thought in my mind was: This is not where you belong anymore, and you have someplace to be. Home.

That's the analogy that went zipping through my head when I had my finger on the podium. What looked like dozens of people had stood right where I was and signed their name, or left a funny saying, or a date. Each marker-stroke represented one snippet in time where a person or group of people felt like leaving their mark for someone else to see and possibly leave THEIR mark too.

The connection was made that, as Christians, we are not where we belong. We are away from Home while we're here, and we are leaving marks for other people to notice. The question is, are we leaving the right kind of marks? Are we leaving the kind of good marks that would prompt other Christians to leave many MORE of the same kind of marks?

One day, we're going to be on our way Home and the bus engine is going to be idling. All of our affairs will be packed up and we'll take a last look at this temporary home where we've been staying for this short time. The small link we have here, that idea that this is home, will be like a small thread connecting us here, while a giant cable connects us to our true Home, and as soon as we turn around to head that direction, the thread will snap, and we'll have only one direction to go.


The Changing Of The Guard

Take a moment to think about all the people who've impacted your life in a positive direction. I don't mean the people that just kind of nudge you in a good direction, I'm talking about the people that have basically shot you in the best direction possible, expecting nothing in return, and having you end up someplace where you never could have gotten to on your own.

To me, one such person is my grandfather, Willis Gerald Lewis.

As far back as I could remember, Grandpa was the strong silent type. He never complained about anything, just did what needed to be done.

He was in the Marines during the Korean War. I've seen pictures of him in black and white and in uniform. Surprisingly enough, he still looks a lot like his picture even after all this time.

He served the Post Office for who knows how long. Before that he used to fix old cars with the mechanic my family still trusts to serve vehicles.

Fairly recently, after years of not really being involved in a church setting, he began coming. Soon after that, he got in with serving food at a local shelter downtown, and was well-known at church as a guy who just "got the job done". He also cut the church lawn on a regular basis, stocked the soda machines, and helped with maintenance. The little things that not many people would think of, just got done.

He came to the forefront when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer about eight years ago.

We all thought he'd probably want to slow down and eventually the disease would run its course. Surprisingly though, he didn't. He was still cutting his own lawn until about three years ago, when I took over.

Grandpa was also the only reason I made it through school financially. For whatever reason, he felt he should give me enough money for tuition per semester just to see me succeed. He turned down the offer of getting paid back once I got a good job, simply because he didn't give me the money to expect to break even or to make a profit. So I made sure to tell him all about what neat things are going on in my job now, and some of the last non-sad conversation we had was about the projects going on there. He was pretty proud.

Things took a turn for the worse about 3 weeks ago. He had to be rushed to the hospital for reasons that are fuzzy now, even that short a time ago. It wasn't long before it was decided he'd be better off in a hospice near the hospital where the staff could take better care of him.

I went to see him a couple weeks ago, while he was at the hospice, and it was a far sight better than he was at the hospital. Instead of being doped up on pain meds, he was sitting up, feeding himself and talking to me. I stayed for about an hour I think, the both of us basically dancing around the fact that he would probably never leave that room physically, and talking about whatever random stuff would come up. He was glad for the company and I was glad for the strength to not break down a number of times while I was there.

The second to last time I saw him, was when we all showed up after hearing he wasn't doing too well. My father and I were in the room together and after dad sitting there for awhile holding Grandpa's hand, we switched. Grandpa was asleep at the time so I took his hand and held it for awhile.

I sat there for awhile, wondering what it's like to be basically riddled with cancer. Thinking back, I remembered all the bad reports the family had gotten when we'd heard that cancer was found somewhere else. It was kind of odd at the time, but none of that seemed to faze him... he just kept on going. In fact, the sudden turn for the worse happened at such an unexpected time that some of thought he might pull through this, like it was a temporary relapse. Statistically, I'm probably going to die of some kind of cancer--just look at all the flavors available. And looking back now, Grandpa never really complained about the pain; once in awhile he'd wake up for a little while and you could tell because he'd be grunting a little and squeezing my hand a little harder.

I sit and think, how can I possibly measure up to that kind of dignity, that kind of resolve?

Grandpa's eyes peeked open a little and shot open when he realized I wasn't dad. It was probably a surprise for him.

"Hi, Son!" he croaked out.

"Hi Grandpa," I replied. After a pause I said "How's it going?"

"I'm dying," he returned. Shortly after that I completely lost it and started sobbing.

This man was always the soft-hearted type and would cry a little over things you and I wouldn't be bothered by. He cried at my graduation, both from high school and college. He cried a little when he heard about my first girlfriend, both when we got together and when we broke up. Little things that showed he was more sensitive than most people.

And this man, when I put my head down next to him on his death bed, stroked my hair to comfort me because I was sad. It was about that time I asked dad to leave for a few minutes.

I tried to compose myself enough to get out what I felt I needed to say.

"Grandpa, I just wanted to tell you I really love you."

"I love you too, son"

"I also wanted to say that I wouldn't have gotten where I am today if it weren't for you."

"No, you would have made it,"

and I said "No, I wouldn't. I mean if it weren't for all the money and support I wouldn't have even gone to school. I don't know what I'd be doing now if it weren't for you." Now it was his turn to pause.

"Well just make sure to give credit where credit is due," and I knew he was talking about God.

I don't think I ever saw him cry the whole time I was there.

Willis Gerald Lewis died at 9:10 am on Friday, February 23, 2007. He's the first man and first family member I've ever felt comfortable giving a eulogy for--even though I wouldn't know what to say. He's the first man I would drink to with a bunch of his buddies. He's the second man I'd feel honored to be a pall bearer for and he's the only family member I wish I'd been with right when he died.


Right now the family is still pretty tender. I cried while writing just now and I'm sure that the funeral Monday won't be fun. But I can take solace in the fact that, although technically we can't be sure of anybody's salvation, I'm fairly certain that where he's at now, he's not in pain from cancer anymore.

So yeah Grandpa, I'll hold the fort here for awhile, and tie up some loose ends. It might take fifty or sixty years, but keep a light on for me, I'll see you in awhile.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Our God Is An Awesome God

Yesterday we had a prayer meeting at church and it occured to me how great our God really is.

Here we are, a bunch of insignificant people that have no value by ourselves, but what God does for us every day makes us have value to Him.

It amazes me that God would even waste His time on a people that seem more interested in themselves than worship. But He does. He is longsuffering.

He is patient and perseveres, in that the rate of spiritual growth we have is very small if it weren't for our sin. He is constantly working in the lives of all Christians to forge them into the tools we need to be to do His work. I can't think of many people that would work with such a stubborn, unyielding material without throwing their hands up in exasperation.

He is so forgiving, and I compare each sin, no matter how small (because every sin is based in the fact that we focus on ourselves instead of on God) is like a spouse committing adultery. We still are punished for it but we are always forgiven and cleansed. What an awesome God!

He is loving enough that He would send His own Son to die in our place for our sins, simply to show His glory. We don't deserve that. Make no mistake, even I deserve to go to Hell but for God's grace set on me. None of us by our own doing can make it into Heaven since the very essence of trying is a selfish act where the aim is to NOT go to Hell.

He is also loving in the way He disciplines His children. Parents who want children who are well behaved often have to punish them for their mistakes. This is an act of love, not hate. Our God, who knows all things about our lives and the entire world, knows what's best for us and steers us in the right direction. Our God loves us enough to do that, and that is amazing.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Spend Some Time With God

I have no idea how to make introduction paragraphs for things like blog entries. I see these pastors that just fire off into the wild blue and gradually merge into something that flows and builds into something really easy on the eyes. So this paragraph, while totally unrelated to the topic, is for filler. You can completely ignore it or read it through, it's your choice. On with the show this is it.

The problem is that too many people don't really spend a lot of time with God. I heard a good analogy on the radio that sounds a lot like what some Christians' attitude toward this is. A wife tells her husband "You never spend any time with me," and the husband's response is, "I spend all kinds of time with you. I mow the grass and I fix the car and all kinds of other stuff." But the point is that he's not spending any TIME with her.

And a lot of us don't spend any time with God. It might seem like we do because we might spend time thinking about Him, or doing things in His name but really... how much do we spend time with a Bible out on a table, reading around in it and wanting to learn new things about His character? If there's any tug in your heart that says you should do it more, then you probably should.

It might seem impossible, or that there's never enough time in the day. But I want to challenge you: if you're not already reading a little bit every day, start. Keep it small, maybe 30 minutes a day, sometime when you can really sit down and focus. Then just flop it open and start reading a few chapters. Maybe pick an obscure book like Jude or Habakkuk and see what it has to say. Take some notes on what you learn and keep a list of all the things you pick up. After one week you'll have amounted three and a half hours of study, which works out to 175 per year. Pretty decent.

If you want a good start, check out the story of Joseph in Genesis 37, Genesis 39-Genesis 50

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Today, Josh Harris was on the radio talking about his book "I Kissed Dating Goodbye". This is an excellent book for singles who are seeking godly mates, and how to approach the problem.

One thing that really struck home pretty much upended the way I think about being single--it's not something to try and get rid of like some kind of hot potato, it's something you can use to increase your faith and do more of God's work. Being married or even being involved in a relationship is a heavy burden, one which shouldn't be taken lightly. Being single is actually a gift from God, and shouldn't be squandered trying to quench something in your life, or fill a hole, when God's will includes you being married sometime in the future. Just like Josh says, "The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing."

Josh's Blog

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mount Up


My name is Michael Fritzius and I started this blog to talk about some things I discover during my Christian walk. I hope you find something useful to you that reveals more about the character of God, or that strengthens your faith.

It's important to constantly try to learn new things to keep your spirit fresh and alert. There will be links to other places that are pretty informative as I put them up.

Take care,