January 21, 2013

Sins Against The Spirit III: The Fire That Should Stay Lit

1 Thessalonians 5:19

1 Thessalonians 5:19 ~ “Do not quench the Spirit…”

The context of this verse needs to be seen in 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22. As is common in the closing of one of Paul’s letters, he offers parting advice, encouragement, exhortation, edification and warnings that are both theological and practical. 1 Thessalonians is no different.

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. ~1 Thessalonians 5:19-22

We today have the hindsight and Bible to preach our message of the Gospel. At the time of Paul’s writing this there may have been assorted writings but certainly not the completed canonized Scripture that we have today (Hendriksen-Thessalonians 139, Wiersbe-Vol. 2 189). This would’ve required the likes of “prophesying” or a person who “speaks forth”. As is common in the absence of syntax in the Greek, Paul places the most important emphasis in the beginning of his statement. “Don’t quench the Spirit”. This begs the question: Quench it how? He tells us in the next clause: By treating prophecies [from God] with contempt (whether purposely or accidently). Therefore we are to test or prove the things said.

The people Paul is writing to/preached the truth to were moved by the Holy Spirit. Their spiritual knowledge was given to them by the Spirit. As is attested to all throughout the New Testament, they often they spoke in a tongue. It is possible that is why the three gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge are grouped together in 1 Corinthians 13. Because of this immediacy of the spiritual there seems to have been a high probability of deception since Satan or our very own flesh could counterfeit the received message and lead not just the receiver of the message astray but all who were listening (Hendriksen-Thessalonians 150).

Those listening that mistakenly tried to silence the speaker that was speaking truth from the Spirit of God would be guilty of suppressing the Spirit. Conversely, those that believed a false spirit would be in trouble too because they would be obeying false spirits. Because we have Scripture we do not need the prophets per se as mentioned above but in Paul’s time they would’ve needed to discern the spirits or “test them all” or as some Bible versions say “prove all things”. Paul had given specific rules for this in 1 Corinthians 14:29-33 so when Paul says uses the word quench in verse 19, Paul most likely would’ve have envisioned the Spirit as fire as in Acts 2:3. So when Paul says “quenching” the Spirit he is saying do not “put out” or cease the work of the Spirit in our lives whether this be in our hearts or someone verbalizing a truth (Wiersbe-Vol. 2 189). 

This obviously requires that we discern what type of spirit we are dealing with. Are they evil spirits, the spirit of the world, our spirit or is it the Holy Spirit within us? It is important that we allow the Spirit free reign in our hearts, our lives and in the Church to do His work. Wiersbe is clever to note that heat (perhaps from a flame) can also melt things together…like His Church. Once we decide which these utterances are, verse 22 tells us we are to either (1) hold on to what’s good or (2) reject or throw away what is evil of not of the Holy Spirit.

Shut-up, Sit Down and Do What the Spirit Tells You

To conclude this section and the paper in general, I offer this closing thought. We in the church are called by the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 to take the Gospel throughout the entire world in the name of the Father, Son….and Holy Spirit. It stands to reason that we are not to prevent this work in any way. Yet this is exactly what many do in modern churches when they attempt to promote their own agendas or try to force the Church into a prefab business model situation where everything is formulaic and choreographed. We shove and stuff the Holy Spirit into a box (or at least try to) and He is only allowed to come out except at certain times like a divine Jack-In-The-Box. Those times that we let Him out usually are right after the emotive music played to solicit an emotional response or right before the tithe baskets hit the end of the aisle. 

In this way we demean and abuse the work of the Spirit (resist, quench). We inadvertently (or worse) purposely make Him part of a circus sideshow meant to entertain people (2 Tim 4), rather than have the meaningful worship God meant to have in church…just as it has been spelled out for us in Scripture. The truth is that we may plant and water the seeds of the Gospel but it is the work of God through the Spirit that makes the seed of the Gospel germinate and take root (Matthew 13:18-23, 1 Corinthians 3:6-9). In the end it should be the Holy Spirit that dictates how He works through us…we need to let the Spirit work through us, not sin against Him by fighting Him every step of the way thinking we know better.

As it was with the Scribes and Pharisees, so to it could be with us today. We like them are fallen sinful people and it is only the work of the Spirit that would make us different from them. In other words, it is the very act or actions of the Spirit in us (whom we are capable grieving, resisting or blaspheming) that creates the very difference in us that prevents us from remaining like the Scribes and Pharisees of old. 

Hendriksen, William. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of First and Second Thessalonians and Pastoral Epistles. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979. Print.
Hendriksen, William. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979. Print.
Hendriksen, William. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1973. Print.
Kistemaker, Simon. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1990. Print.
Longenecker, Richard N.. Acts: Expositor's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1995. Print.
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 1. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor/Cook Communications, 2001. Print.
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 2. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor/Cook Communications, 2001. Print.

January 18, 2013

Sins Against the Spirit II: Resisting & Grieving the Spirit

[Continued from Part I]

Acts 7:51

Acts 7:51 ~ “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.”

It should be noted that the context of this passage is with Stephen addressing the people of Israel. This is the climax of Stephen’s speech and the words that cut the hearers to the heart and end up getting him mercilessly stoned (Wiersbe-Vol. 1 432). It recounts a grocery list of rebellion against God all through their history in the Old Testament. It shows the Jews having exhausted the mercy of God. It is harsh and direct as illustrated by Stephen’s pronouncement of “stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart”. Just as their ancestors did, so too the Jews did in Stephen’s time having rejected God and His Son/Messiah Jesus Christ (Longenecker 143-144). 

Stephen specifically says that they are, “always resisting the Holy Spirit.” Stephen emphatically uses the pronoun you / humeis in the plural. He is drawing from the Old Testament when Isaiah said that regardless of God’s love and mercy, His people (plural, the Jews) rebelled and grieved the Holy Spirit. Because of this God would not just withhold mercy, He would actually become their enemy (Isaiah 63:10, Psalm 106:33). These people actively and stubbornly were resisting the Holy Spirit and His work (Kistemaker 274). It follows that if they are rejected God through the prophets (by ignoring and killing them) and Jesus, they by default are fighting or rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit. If they reject or resist the Holy Spirit in the face of the obvious truth of Jesus’ incarnation and earthly ministry. At this point there pretty much is no hope for them. In their own Old Testament terms Stephen tells his listeners (the Jews) that they’re outside the covenant they are physically bound to through circumcision, inwardly they are uncircumcised and lack a similar sign: That sign is the obedient regenerated heart that is the product of the Holy Spirit working within them (Kistemaker 274).

In the modern church we can see a similar resisting of the Spirit. We can see people that hear from the pulpit(s) week after week the true Gospel as preached by the Apostles, yet these very same people will prefer things that tickle their ears (2 Tim 4) and prefer to hear theology that adapts more to their life, rather than their lives adapting to the Gospel. They want their “best life now” instead of wanting what God wants for them and what is in accordance with God’s will. God’s will, a will that is most often revealed through the Bible…and the prompting of the Holy Spirit!

Ephesians 4:30

Ephesians 4:30 ~ "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."

This passage is given in the context of behavior in the Christian walk. Paul has listed behaviors that we (people of Asia Minor as this was probably a circular letter) should either have left behind or should be stomping them out in our/their lives In verse 26 we are told to be angry but don’t let the sun go down on our anger. In the preceding verse 29, we are told that we are to, “let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification...”. Verse 30 tells us to, “…not grieve the Holy Spirit by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” The verse that immediately follows (v.31) tells the hearer/reader to, “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” and to, “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

I call this sin: Shaking Your Puny Fist At the Sky

So the grieving of the Holy Spirit seems to be in the context of bitterness / being bitter and being angry, being slanderous and having malice. All of which are not becoming of reflective of a true Christian. Bitterness poisons the inner man or taints the heart and can lead to the anger mentioned in verse 26. Anger is nothing more than bitterness exploding outward in a physical and sometimes violent manner (Wiersbe 42). Jesus knew this perfectly well and it is why He said what He did in Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court…”

Quite simply, this bitterness that leads to anger and inevitably to violence if not suppressed grieves the Holy Spirit. The question is why? It is because the Holy Spirit lives within all believers. It follows or stands to reason that when a Christian heart is filled with bitterness, malice or ill-will the Spirit is pushed out of a believer’s heart and it grieves Him or more specifically, the Greek says “creates sorrow”. It literally makes God sad or distresses Him. Why? God is sad or grieved because He loves His children and wants them to obey Him and inevitably conform to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

The fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) do not include bitterness and anger because these are the works of the flesh, not the Spirit (Wiersbe 43). If these are what lies within a Christian, where is there room for the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit is not forced out per se but it will get awful cramped in our hearts and we will be in conflict with the Spirit. This cannot possibly be a good thing. In addition, if it grieves the Holy Spirit it follows that we grieve the Son and Father as they are One Being in three Persons. It also stands to reason that if we are bitter, we have failed to forgive others or emulate God. Our heart therefore becomes hardened. The reality then is that we don’t so much hurt others as we hurt ourselves (Wiersbe 43).

We are to be a reflection of the One we serve which is Jesus Christ. The last I checked, Jesus was not a bitter person…not even while He was on the Cross. He realized He was fulfilling the will of God by being there. Sadly, I see a lot of this in churches. A conniving, back-biting bitterness infects certain people because things didn’t go the way they felt they should go. Many times the way these people perceived things should’ve gone were not in accordance with Scripture to begin with. When this takes up residence in a person’s heart there is very little room for the Spirit to work. Sin maintains a stranglehold on a person’s life. The Letter of 1 John, chapter 3 tells us something else altogether and it is in relation to habitual sin, “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

God’s seed that abides in a person in the Church does not produce bitterness thereby grieving the Spirit. If bitterness and anger is what habitually indwells a believer’s, what is really in their hearts then? It couldn’t possibly be the Spirit of God…could it?

[Completed in Part III]

January 16, 2013

Sins Against the Spirit I: Bad Mouthing the Spirit

Speaking Against or Blaspheming The Holy Spirit

Here is a short trilogy on speaking against, blaspheming, grieving, resisting and just being an all-around jerk to the Holy Spirit. The end result of doing things like this have eternal consequences so it behooves readers to take note. I have chosen some commonly misunderstood pieces of Scripture to make them clearer for you. So what is the unforgivable sin? Why is it forgivable (but really stupid) to bad-mouth Jesus the Son of God but if you do it to the Holy Spirit...you'll be toast? Read on...

In this series of posts I will present my exegetical research of biblical teachings. I have included the following passages that concern this affront to the most often overlooked member of the Trinity-The Holy Spirit: Matthew 12:30-32 and parallels from Mark 3:28-29 and Luke 12:8-10, Acts 7:51, Ephesians 4:30, and I Thessalonians 5:19. 

All Scripture will be from the NASB version as it is my preferred version (besides Nestle/Aland Greek) to interpret Scripture.

Matthew 12:30-32

He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters. “Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. Matthew 12:30-32

In all these Synoptic Gospel cases we need contextualization. In the case of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus had just delivered a man that was blind, mute and possessed with a demon. Since the Pharisees were not able to pull this off they accused Jesus of working this miracle by the power of Satan / Beelzebub, therefore totally missing the source of Jesus’ power. Not only was their accusation unbiblical it was just plain illogical as Jesus points out. Satan would be an idiot to fight against himself, it’s self-defeating. It is their very statement that revealed the evil condition of their hearts which were mounted up against God Himself. The words from the Pharisees were the fruits of their hearts which were nearly devoid of the God of the Bible. So what was the sin of the Pharisees? God will forgive evil words against His Son while He was on earth incarnate as any other man but not words against the Spirit. Why? Not because the Spirit is more important but because of the Spirit’s role in a person’s life.

It appears this was a sin unique to the period when Jesus was on earth incarnate. When the Spirit of God had come (after Jesus departed) after Pentecost as proof that Jesus was the Christ, and to subsequently reject the witness of the Spirit, would make rejection final. The only other recourse for one that has the testimony or witness of the Spirit and denies Him…is to be resigned to judgment. When they rejected the Spirit’s urgings, they were rejecting the testimony/witness of the Son. When they rejected the ministry of the Apostles, they rejected the Holy Spirit and that is the end or is the terminus of God’s grace and mercy. There is no more witness. Such rejection cannot be forgiven (Wiersbe 43).

In reality this could possibly be done today in the modern Church. A final rejection of Jesus before death condemns someone and there is no recourse except eternal condemnation. God can forgive virtually anything but the buck stops at the witness of the Spirit that Christ is salvation. God cannot forgive the rejection of His Son and the Spirit who bears witness to the Son (John 15:26) (Wiersbe 43). In other words, all other sins can be forgiven because of the belief in Jesus Christ but to reject the witness of the Spirit about Jesus Christ nullifies all the other possibilities because, to deny this witness is to prevent forgiveness from God in the end for salvation. Instead of repentance for sin we see the Pharisees hardening their hearts. Instead of remorse we see devious plotting to entrap Jesus…all of this working against the testimony or prompting of the Spirit (Hendriksen-Matthew 528-529).

Mark 3:28-29

“…but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” Mark 3:28-29

As with Matthew 12’s passage before and the one we will visit in Luke 12, we see a mention of the blasphemy against the Spirit. Matthew and Mark are alike in the fact that they issue a warning that Luke does not. The blasphemy being referred to in this passage though is to speak against the Holy Spirit (again). Again we will rhetorically ask: Why? Again we see the same contextualization. The scribes have attributed Jesus’ action to Satan. What is even worse is they are making these accusations deliberately possibly knowing the truth of the matter. As such they are hardening their hearts not only to Jesus but to the work and witness of the Spirit. Once this happens, there is no recourse or forgiveness. If you rebel against the last witness God gives, there will be no more. You will be doomed. The scribes have absolutely no penitence or remorse for their sin. Their own hardness would just continue to serve to push them further and further from the Truth…which is Christ Jesus revealed through the very witness of the Spirit they were rejecting wholesale. The modern application is the same as stated in the section on Matthew.

Luke 12:8-10

“And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him. Luke 12:8-10

So we saw before in Matthew and Mark, so too here. Those who sin against the Son and repent are forgiven but not for those who sin against the Spirit. For a third time we ask: Why? It is the same as before but with this one additional caveat. They refused to walk the path or create the conditions within their own hearts that leads to the forgiveness which the very Spirit that Jesus speaks of was trying to reveal to them. Thereby the callousness towards the Holy Spirit builds until the person can no longer feel His promptings. Their consciences become seared. To not even listen to the warning is to have been given over fully to one’s reprobate mind and depraved nature (a la Romans 1), therefore they have already entered a phase of judgment (Hendriksen-Luke 656). The modern application would be the same as stated in the section on Matthew also.

So the long and short of it is this...don't be a potty mouth with the Holy Spirit. The speaking and blaspheming you'll be doing is not a symptom of your mouth, its a disease of your heart. If you take this disease to the grave with you, the outcome in eternity will not be pretty as this condition of your heart will follow you into Hell. I imagine you will have a few choice words once you get there too but it will be your own fault.

[continued in Part II]

January 11, 2013

Signs & Wonders

Miracles do not need precedents to validate them. The classical argument of the eighteenth-century deists was that we can believe strange happenings outside our experience only if we can produce something analogous to them within our experience. This 'principle of analogy', if correct, would be enough in itself to disprove many if not all of the biblical miracles, for we have experience (for example) of somebody walking on water, multiplying loaves and fishes, rising from the dead or ascending into heaven. An ascension, in particular, would defy the law of gravity, which in our experience operates always and everywhere. The principle of analogy, however, has no relevance to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, since both were sui generis (Stott 47).

[Andy’s Note: Sui generis (of its own kind) is just a real fancy word for “one of a kind” or “in a class by themselves”]

So…as Christians…

…we are not claiming that people frequently (or even occasionally) rise from the dead and ascend into heaven, but that both events have happened once. The fact that we can produce no analogies before or since confirms their truth, rather than undermining it (Stott 47).

John had it right when he called miracles σημείων / semeion or signs. The greatest miracle, a sign that the Kingdom had arrived, was Jesus incarnate, God in the flesh. Unfortunately most people including the experts look right past this fact and continue to point to the things He supposedly couldn't have done like walk on water or multiply the loaves and fishes. Never mind the fact that a infinite and omnipotent God could come down to take on human flesh. Silly experts.

[Andy's Note: Therefore empiricists and people demanding a posteriori evidence or physical evidence after the fact are stepping outside the framework of what a miracle is to demand more proof to validate the miracle…which defeats the purpose of then calling it a miracle. They frame their argument so that they can win no matter what. Empiricists are being disingenuous or naïve, I’m not sure which. Probably the latter…

 Stott, John R. W.. The Spirit, The Church, and The World. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1990. Print.

January 5, 2013

Evelyn Marie Atkins: A Quiet Unassuming Diginity

Sharon (Atkins) Pierson & Her Beloved Mother Evelyn Marie

Evelyn Marie Atkins
September 29, 1936 - January 4, 2013

Well, I thought it was hard watching my father go on ahead to meet Jesus in 2010 but I have found it is just as difficult if not harder to watch my wife loose her mother knowing I can do nothing except provide a shoulder to cry on and listen when she relives the joyous moments of her past with her mother. It seems that when loved ones pass we don't so much learn about this twilight aspect of the sunset of life as we learn about what it meant to be alive. We see the importance of life. In this case Marie's. I was honored to have known her and I will enjoy telling my Grandchildren about her...especially the incident with the cigarettes. Not only because of the humor and the fact that it exemplified Marie's personality but also because she played a hand in getting me to quit and improved my quality of life. I realize now she loved me just as she love all her children.

What can be said about mom? Well...lets take a look.

For the woman of few words, it is only proper that we should use choice words to pay her the respect that’s due. For those that knew mom she was an uncomplicated & modest woman. She would've sooner have worn pants and sneakers, than dresses and high heels.  She was down-to-earth and practical. She was spirited but not overbearing. She had kind eyes, a sweet smile and a heart that shined like gold. She was the soft-spoken woman in public with the Aqua-Net Hairdo and red lipstick.

Proverbs 31:25 ~ “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.”

Marie was petite, the woman barely stood 5’1”. She would sometimes wryly state that good things come in small packages…and she’s was right, she did.  With little effort she had the ability to move a mountain with a few carefully chosen words. Marie was not one for idle chit-chat or small talk. With this economy of words she drove points home. It was as if she specifically dispensed words for impact and effect and they would nearly always have the intended effect.  As a person of few words, people knew that when she did speak…they should listen. When she did speak, her words usually carried wisdom gained from a lifetime. She would also use old turns of phrase that would stick in your mind such as, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” or “Don’t cry over spilled milk”.

Proverbs 31:26 ~ “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Along with being a kind loving woman, she rarely lost her temper and was usually quite reserved. Of course this would not stop her from saying something if she felt so compelled. As a matter of fact she could become an outright pistol when she wanted to be. First came the evil eye, then came the carefully chosen words to put you in your place. To hear evidence of this fact, a person need only ask the 240 lb. son-in-law (me) that she stubbornly chased around the lawn of his own home to rip a cigarette out of his mouth while emphatically repeating, “Those things are going kill you, don’t you see what they have done to your father?”

2 Timothy 1:7 ~ “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

Evelyn Marie Atkins & Sharon (Atkins) Pierson
on her Wedding day
Marie was completely dedicated to her family, a caregiver and a homemaker at heart. It’s what God made her to be, and she did it skillfully. If there is any doubt of this fact, we need only look at her offspring and their families. If the next successive generation is the indicator of the success of the parenting, we need to conclude that she out-shined many in this task. I speak as first-hand testimony. I married her youngest daughter & thank God for that blessing. I’m sure if someone was to ask the spouses of the other siblings, they will say the same thing.

Proverbs 31:27-28 ~ “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:

Marie was not lazy. She did not eat the bread of idleness. She understood the fruit of labor. While at home raising her family she stuck to time-honored traditional values. She liked to crocheting & making Afghans and doilies. She also enjoyed yard work and being outdoors. She did not like cooking per se but she certainly enjoyed the sweets and enjoyed baking. It was not uncommon to see various assortments of cookies at Christmas time along with Rice Pudding, Chocolate Mayonnaise cake in her home. After her children had grown and left home she took on full-time employment upon the passing of her late husband Newt Atkins. Previously she had worked part time to help make ends meet in the Atkins household. As a dedicated employee, she rarely missed a day of work. Being task oriented, she engaged in meaningful employment to support herself. She got things done. She provided for herself. She was not a dependent, she was independent. She never sought hand-outs, but instead she worked with her hands.

A giver, not a taker…it was in these times you saw the hard working farm girl in her come to the surface.

Proverbs 14:23 ~ “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.
Proverbs 31:17~ "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.

True to her humble and unassuming nature, she did not think of herself as a smart person but ironically, she knew what was in important in life…Her family. Whether by birth and blood, or by marriage and friendship, she took a intense interest in those around her. She looked after people’s better interests even when those people didn’t do it for themselves. The truth is… she had all of the intelligence and gifts needed to excel in life.

Proverbs 31:31 ~ “Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Seth Pierson, Grandmom Atkins, Bryce Pierson
It is poignant to note that…true to her simple and modest character she seems to have exited this world quietly and on her own terms. She left peacefully at the summoning of Jesus Christ so not to trouble anyone around her including her family. A self-sufficient woman that carried her own weight with a quiet dignity that shined like a beacon of humility and grace. A light…like that of the Savior Jesus Christ. And just like the One she emulated, she went on ahead of us all holding a light when it comes time for them to find the way to heaven also.

Matthew 5:14 ~ “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Through everything including the illness in the end, Mom maintained these quiet distinctive characteristics. Through all the hardship, she managed to keep her priorities straight. What more can be asked of a woman than loving her family?

A dedicated and faithful wife
A doting and devoted mother
A loyal and trustworthy friend
A virtuous woman that put others first

Can we, who are still alive, having been blessed with her presence for so long forget to be thankful to God for this blessing? I think not.

To bring this home for all of us I will state this…

It is said...that it is not what you take with you when you leave the world behind, it's what you leave behind you when you go. What Marie leaves behind is a brilliant legacy and a wonderful example to follow, not only in her actions but also in her children. She acted as a light to the world and helped keep us focused on what is truly important. She focused on what was important not only when life was easy, but especially when it is grueling and difficult too.

Please know mom that we loved you dearly and are quite proud of you. But you wouldn’t have wanted us to shouting this from the rooftops. So we, like you, will remain reserved with a quiet unassuming dignity. We know inside that you were the mirror of a righteous wife, mother, daughter and friend. As such we will let the Lord and His angels sing your praises…

"Well done good and faithful servant. Well Done."

The Dark Sucker Theory

Of course this is theoretical satire but it's as valid and as real a theory as any recent theory coming out of the acadamia nowadays. As goofy as this post is, it is not much different than what we see being claimed as the next great discovery in the likes of the Higgs Boson or Dark Matter. This is a story often passed around Boy Scout circles. The theory first surfaced in the mid-90's and keeps getting more fanciful and whimsical as the years pass. In all its shadowy and gloomy language it sheds quite a bit of light in an amusing way on they highfalutin nonsense passed off as scientific theory.

I present it with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

For years, it has been believed that electric bulbs emit light, but recent information has proved otherwise.  Electric bulbs don't emit light; they suck dark.  Thus, we call these bulbs Dark Suckers.

The Dark Sucker Theory and the existence of dark suckers prove that dark has mass and is heavier than light. First, the basis of the Dark Sucker Theory is that electric bulbs suck dark.  For example, take the Dark Sucker in the room you are in. There is much less dark right next to it than there is elsewhere.  The larger the Dark Sucker, greater is its capacity to suck darkness.  Dark Suckers in the parking lot have a much greater capacity to suck dark than the ones in this room. So with all things, Dark Suckers don't last forever.  Once they are full of dark, they can no longer suck.  This is proven by the dark spot on a full Dark Sucker. You can see and example below of a Dark Sucker in the process of sucking dark on the right and a Dark Sucker fully filled with dark on the left having completed its job of sucking up all the surrounding darkness.

A candle is a primitive Dark Sucker.  A new candle has a white wick. You can see that after the first use, the wick turns black, representing all the dark that has been sucked into it.  If you put a pencil next to the wick of an operating candle, it will turn black.  This is because it got in the way of the dark flowing into the candle.  One of the disadvantages of these primitive Dark Suckers is their limited range.

There are also portable Dark Suckers.  In these, the bulbs can't handle all the dark by themselves and must be aided by a Dark Storage Unit.  When the Dark Storage Unit is full, it must be either emptied or replaced before the portable Dark Sucker can operate again.

Dark has mass.  When dark goes into a Dark Sucker, friction from the mass generates heat.  Thus, it is not wise to touch an operating Dark Sucker.  Candles present a special problem as the mass must travel into a solid wick instead of through clear glass.  This generates an enormous amount of heat and therefore it's not wise to touch an operating candle. Also, dark is heavier than light.  If you were to swim just below the surface of the lake, you would see a lot of light.  If you were to slowly swim deeper and deeper, you would notice it getting darker and darker.  When you get really deep, you would be in total darkness. This is because the heavier dark sinks to the bottom of the lake and the lighter light floats at the top.  This is why it is called light.

Finally, we must prove that dark is faster than light.  If you were to stand in a lit room in front of a closed, dark closet, and slowly opened the closet door, you would see the light slowly enter the closet. But since dark is so fast, you would not be able to see the dark leave the closet. As light would need to push to reach you retinas, it stands to reason that the dark would be pushed out in front of it or it literally would be moving faster than the light itself.

It should be noted also that Dark Sucker Theory also draws a lot of loons with their own "alternative" theories! There are now a lot of pseudo-scientific ideas that dark is created spontaneously at all points in the universe.  It is believed that this "dark creation energy" is behind the dark matter particles which, as predicted by quantum dark sucker theory, are constantly coming into and going out of existence. 

There are many things wrong with this unenlightened theory.  The main one being that I didn't come up with it.  For another, it completely ignores the established action of Darkons being pulled from nothing material.  Another ridiculous claim is that the universal blackshift is caused by the dark suction towards the center of the universe (earth). Dark gets tired after traveling through the universe for millions of dark years so it begins to slow down the farther it needs to travel, hence an elongated blackshift similar to light's redshift.

So remember, the next time you see an electric bulb or a candle, don’t forget that it is a Dark Sucker.

...and remember, its just a theory.

[For more enlightenment on Dark Sucker Theory go here]
[For more enlightenment on Darkolution go here Oh wait, no one has devised this crackpot theory yet]

January 3, 2013

Another One Bites The Dust…(maybe)

All that know me from my writing know that what comes first in my life is God and proper theology. So it should not come as a surprise to hear the following from me. This will be my first post of the new year and it is unintentionally snarky and will start many off on the wrong foot if they are of the persuasion I will discuss in this post. If you are rubbed wrong I recommend a better grip of Scripture as this post pulls no punches (not that any of the past thousand I have written have either)
For a long time I was an avid follower and supporter of Ravi Zacharias and his ministry. Like others though I have been forced to put him on a watch list of possible candidates for apostasy or backsliding. After having received certain information from other brothers whom I consider theologically sound and doing a little online homework it has come to my attention that Ravi Zacharias did indeed endorse the "Word of Faith" teacher Joyce Meyers. Anyone with half an ounce of theological integrity can do a routine search online to see why this is a serious problem.

Joyce Meyers is an avid adherent/teacher of "Word of Faith" theology which, at its questionable core, is the sin and greed blackened heart of Prosperity Theology. Others in this flawed theological category are TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) favorites Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland (a self-proclaimed disciple of Kenneth Hagin), Paul and Jan Crouch, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, T.D. Jakes, Eddie L. Long, Myles Munroe, Joel Osteen, Rod Parsley, Fred Price, Joseph Prince, Oral Roberts (now deceased), Robert Schuller, Paula White…and the list goes on. In other words, if its on TBN, you'd better be watching with a discerning biblical eye.

In short, Word of Faith teaching is decidedly unbiblical. It is a movement that is heavily influenced by a number of high-profile pastors and teachers such as Meyers. The Word of Faith movement grew out of the Pentecostal movement in the late 20th century. It pretty much originated with E. W. Kenyon, who studied New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby and this study was called Mind Science. This "science" [found here] is even more dark and sinister than Word of Faith philosophy. The New Thought Movement is pretty much where "name it and claim it" originated. It was unfortunately piggybacked into Pentecostalism and the result is a peculiarly satanic or sycretistic mix of orthodox Christianity, unorthodox Christianity and an unhealthy serving of mysticism. Kenneth Hagin studied under E. W. Kenyon and helped make the Word of Faith movement what it is today.  Many including Meyers have learned from Hagin among others. Although some teachings seem somewhat orthodox many are outright heretical and completely ridiculous. I don't suppose it is sadly ironic that Phineas Quimby was also influential on another person that started a Christian cult...name Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science fame (which is neither Christian nor scientific). 

In this Word of Faith religion (cult) people are led to believe that their words can be used to manipulate the “faith-force”, and thus actually create what they believe Scripture promises which is usually interpreted by sinful depraved people as physical and tangible benefits in this earthly realm in this life (health and wealth). Never mind the fact that the only ones usually getting wealthy from this style of false teaching are the false teachers themselves lying to people with open wallets.

Whether it is stated or not, the flawed theology that people need to adhere to, to be able to pursue this “theological” framework requires one to  think that God created human beings in His literal, physical image as “little gods”. Many Word of Faith preachers will deny this is true of what they preach but it is logical fallout of what they preach. Following this twisted theology leads one to the following teaching: As little gods we have the ability to manipulate this “force” and become prosperous in this life. Illness and failure are the result of a lack of faith, and are remedied by confession or claiming God's promises for oneself into existence. This is horribly damaging to otherwise faithful but naïve Christians. These false teachings could lead the faithful to believe that they are poor or sick solely due to a of a lack of faith...which is preposterous (the Son of Man  had no place to rest His head for goodness sakes!), does this mean He had no faith and was/is a horrible sinner? May it never be!

In a nutshell, the Word of Faith preacher(s) put man/woman at least on par with God if not above Him by “demanding” or “commanding” God/Jesus to do the will of man. Not only this, but it makes God obligated to obey people's words which is beyond obscene, it is laughable. It also assumes God’s favor or blessing results in riches and health in this realm, in this life. The Bible does not explicitly say this. As a matter of fact Paul told us in 1 Timothy 6:9-11 that:

Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”

This is pathetic and atrocious theology and cannot even be deemed as theology per se, merely a flawed outworking of bad logic. Greedy self-gratifying philosophy yes, theology, no. It is fantasy, and bad fantasy at that. It is a false representation of Christianity and Christ. Match any of this absurdity with Scripture and it will be shot down in flames on sight.

This is the main issue I have with Meyers and Word of Faith preachers. I have not even remotely gotten into the self-indulgent, narcissistic aspect of many of this ilk or breed. Many Word of Faith teach and preach that Christians are to be focused on the self when nothing could be further from the truth. True Christians are to turn outward and die to self…daily.

1 Corinthians 15:31~ “…I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord

Romans 8:4-13 ~ “…order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Galatians 2:20 ~ “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Many are deceived by this foolishness and they end up pursuing an unbiblical way of life. It is the literal fulfillment of the Devils promise in the Garden (Genesis 3:5), “and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” It has become so infectious in evangelical America that I have seen it slowly and insidiously slither into the Seeker-Sensitive churches also.

How does Ravi Zacharias play into this? Why does he become subject to much closer scrutiny by me before recommending him ever again to new believers or Christian brethren? It’s actually quite simple. He whole-heartedly endorsed Joyce Meyers a Word of Faith preacher calling her a, “great biblical teacher” and also said that Joyce Meyers, “devoted her life to the preaching of the word.” Perhaps she has devoted her life to the teaching of the word. The problem lies in the fact she has devoted her life to teaching it…improperly. To teach God's word improperly is no different that teaching someone or something else's word altogether. This is why I must call not only Meyers to task, but also someone like Ravi that would endorse her like this knowing she is Word of Faith oriented.

Please note that my issue is not that Ravi was on her show. Frankly, that is just smart apologetics because he is using media to his advantage. This was no different than when he spoke at the Temple Square about Jesus or at the Mormon tabernacle. This is just smart evangelism and apologetics. No…my issue is what he says about the person he is supporting on her show. She is not a biblical teacher. She preaches a false gospel and Ravi of all people should understand this (he ain't no dummy folks). As such I will warn people to now listen to him with a discerning ear and beware. The wolves creep in when people are not looking or paying close attention. Usually the wolves manage to get in when the sheep have been put to sleep by pleasant sounding heresy like a lullaby.

2 Peter 2:1-3 ~ “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.”

2 Timothy 4:1-4 ~ “In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

They all look good from the outside but inside, many are rotten to the core. Am I saying Ravi is rotten? No, what I am saying is that the people he is now associating himself with...may very well be so.

Ravi is on my "watch list" now. 'Tis a shame, he is a darn good apologetic.

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