Thursday, December 17, 2015

Apostles' Creed: Maker of Heaven and Earth

I finished going through each of the ten commandments to examine my sin.  I plan to start going through the Apostles' Creed to examine the glorious solution: our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I started doing this because I had been attending Celebrate Recovery: a place to deal with your Hurts, Habits, and Hangups.  I call those the 3 Hs.

During CR, people either recite the 8 steps to recovery based on the Beatitudes or the 12 steps to recovery based on AA's twelve steps, and then we say the Serenity Prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr.

Although there is a lot to glean from this, I want to explore real time-tested creeds and Biblical lists.  So, we just finished the Ten Commandments; here is the Apostles' Creed.

Did you know that the church historically has divided the Creed into 12 sections?  This could go along with the Twelve steps.

The first section: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

The first thing to know is that God created all the heavens and earth.  He also created me and sovereignly decided where I would be born, when I would live, and how long I would live.

He also wants me to be faithful to him and obey his commandments.  If there is sin in my life, then I cannot stand before a holy God or I will be consumed.  I have a real problem, but I also have hope because I know God always knew that I would sin and planned a way to fellowship with him in a way where I would not suffer His Wrath for all eternity, something I very much deserve.

Read through Genesis 1-3 to know the story of his creation, his love, and his betrayal by his own creatures, the humans, a betrayal that lives in all of Adam and Eve's children, you and me.

Romans 3:9-20
What then? Are we Jews[a] any better off?[b] No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
11     no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being[c] will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

October Flood lesson

Once a month, I teach Sunday School at CBC.  I teach 1st and 2nd grade girls, and Erica and Amy, the children's ministers, determine the lessons.  Right now, they are not in any certain order.  In September, I taught on Abraham, October I taught on the Flood, and November I taught on the parable of the Good Samaritan.

I'm really satisfied with how my October lesson went.  I taught on Noah and the Flood. 

Before I started the lesson, I had them color the "sides of the ark" which was really just giant paper on the desks.  This kept them occupied before I started the lesson.

I am reading through Long Story Short by Marty Machowski.  It is a family devotional book that I hope to do with my kids whenever they come into existence.  This book has weekly 5-day devos that go through the Old Testament.  He also has a sequel called Old Story New about the New Testament.

I had just finished reading the section about Noah, so I incorporated those into my Sunday School lesson.  I started the session by opening an umbrella in the classroom.  I asked the girls what they would think if I told them it was going to rain in the classroom.  They agreed that would be very unusual and unbelievable.  This is how the world felt when Noah started building his ark.

I taught the first part of the lesson about the wicked world of Noah's time and how big the ark actually was.  Then, I had placed different pictures animals around the room, and I handed each girl the copy of the animals.  They had to look around the room to find the match of that animal like an Easter egg hunt.  The animals came on the ark in pairs.

Then I taught about the animals coming and the rains starting.  I also moved to the computer because there were Bible picture Power Point slides provided by Erica and Amy.  I used those to recap the lesson and also bring them to the end of the flood.  I also taught that just as the ark was the only way to be safe from the Flood, Jesus is the only way to be safe from God's eternal wrath that we deserve for our sins.

In this lesson, even the more talkative kids paid attention, and I feel like the girls understood what I was teaching.

3H: Commandment 10 and all the things I covet

Do not covet.  I think this may be the number one source of any co-dependency.  We want something.  We want to trust God to bring it to us in his time.  We still feel like we need to help God.

This is why Sarah and Abraham decided to have Ishmael through another woman.  God promised Abe a son, and Sarah and Abe wanted to trust God, but they were old, still childless, and Sarah thought she should help God by giving Abraham a concubine.  We still suffer from this mistake 4000 years later as Islam is still a bane to us.

But now that I'm done examining my sins and I'm about to move on to the Apostles' Creed which talks about the solution, I think of all the things I want but am having trouble trusting God for it.  And he's taking a long time with it from my perspective.

Let's see: Tim graduates college and will be on a job search.  He has been applying for everything he can, but you know how that goes.

I will be the one with the job but I just had major surgery and am recovering so I can't work right now.  But the good news is I am taking my pain meds less.  I pray for less wooziness and more strength.

My current job is low paying.

The ACA prevents us from moving forward with anything.  Insurance will cost $500 a month and we don't make that much in a month.  Getting a break is nearly impossible without being on hold for hours and then talking to someone who doesn't understand.

But the thing is: I do have a very loving and supportive church.  Despite me not living near it they have done what they could to care for me in this time.  And I feel more optimistic today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

3H: Ninth Commandment

You shall not bear false witness.

This includes lying.

I think for codependents this could include trying to look good toward the world but not being genuine.

Christmas is a perfect time to do this.  In many minds we have to make the perfect Christmas card, host the perfect party, make all the food, play music and sing for every church production, but all at the same time you are not properly worshiping Jesus or remembering his birth.  Like Martha, you forgot the most important thing and that is to sit at Jesus's feet and listen.

The next perfect time to do this is simply every Sunday at church.  You can be so busy with music, Sunday school, socializing, cooking, etc., that you forget that you simply need to worship the Lord.

So, is business bearing false witness?  No, but it can be included when you try to have it all together but you don't.  And nobody is fooled.  We all know we need to rest and not overcommit.  We need to remember that God takes first priority, then family, and then job.  If you are distracted from God or not spending time with your family, then your priorities are out of order and you need to learn to say "no."

And with all these commandments, it still just boils down to us not worshiping the Lord properly, making them all the first commandment.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

3H: 8th Commandment

The eighth commandment: You shall not steal.  The negative meaning is that you should not take what is not yours.

But the Westminster Shorter Catechism is great in that it tells you what you should do instead.

Question and Answer 74 say that you should lawfully procure and further the outward wealth and estate of yourself and others.

Basically, if you work and buy something, that is good and even required by the commandment to not steal.  Also, if someone gives you a gift, you accept it graciously.  That is also lawful gain for yourself and your estate.

When someone is co-dependent, they want to give everything away, never accept gifts, and they not only rob themselves of their own rightful possession of things, but they also rob their families as well. 

The answer to question 75 affirms this sentiment:
The eighth commandment forbiddeth whatsoever doth or may unjustly hinder our own1 or our neighbour's wealth or outward estate.2

Those footnotes link to the Scripture references.  But even if you steal from yourself it is still theft just like suicide is still murder.

Overall, Commandment 8 discourages believers in Jesus to simply not be preoccupied with possessions.  If you don't have something, then work to get it.  If someone gives you something, then rejoice and use it to God's glory.  If you do have something, then be content.  If somebody needs something, then give them something, of course making sure first that it is yours to give.  God wants us to not obsess over our possessions but to simply live and not rob ourselves of the graces he has given us either directly or through someone else.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

3H: 7th Commandment

You shall not commit adultery.  It mostly means that if you follow the God who revealed himself to Moses and Abraham and then revealed himself ultimately in Jesus Christ, then you will not have a sexual relationship with somebody that you are not married to.  As a woman, I am only allowed to have sex with my husband.  Before I married him, I was allowed sex with no one.

But adultery goes deeper than that.  Jesus said in Matthew 5 that I only think sexual thoughts about anybody other than Tim, then that is the same as committing adultery.  Long before I knew Tim, I had those thoughts.  I am an adulteress on the inside.  It is the same as being an adulteress on the outside.

How does this tie in to co-dependency?  How do love affairs start?  If I was to try to help another person with her marriage or child-raising and it was destroying my relationship with Tim, would that not be an emotional affair?  I believe so.  I remember when I was a teenager and AOL instant messenger was still the thing, a married man would sometimes confide in me about his struggling marriage.  I had a penpal relationship with him before he met his wife at the time and married her, but I was too young to realize, that that is kind of an emotional affair.  Sure I want to help him and give him advice and pray for him, but to let a married man confide in me about his personal life is a kind of affair.

Women especially need to be careful when they try to help people, whether men or women, outside of their family.  God calls us to be witnesses and to love our neighbors, but we also must love God first and our husbands second.  I love other people, but I cannot help them in such a way that it would endanger my relationship with Tim or with God.  It's just something to think about.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

3H: 6th commandment

The sixth commandment is to not commit murder. 

The Westminster Shorter catechism is best to define this. 

Question 69
Q: What is forbidden in the sixth commandment? 
A: The sixth commandment forbiddeth the taking away of our own life,1 or the life of our neighbour unjustly,2 or whatsoever tendeth thereunto.3  

Question 68
Q: What is required in the sixth commandment? 
A: The sixth commandment requireth all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life,1 and the life of others.2 

How can this commandment apply to a codependent, someone who wants to fix everything and everybody?

I know I have not taken anyone's life.  I know according to Jesus, simply hating someone is the same as murder, and I have done that.  I have had anger toward people.

I suppose the best example of this is when you want to protect someone, that you would do anything to destroy whoever harms that someone.  Do I want to protect all the unborn children snuffed out in abortion legally every second in this country?  Yes.  However, I also oppose someone bombing abortion clinics or trying to assassinate our blood-thirsty president.

But I also will not hesitate to email YouTube if they run some ad from Planned Parenthood or other websites who have Hillary campaign ads.  I may sound like a fundamentalist, and I am one, but you don't need religion to know that killing unborn children is at least questionable when there are so many other and better options.

Did I support the execution of Saddam Hussein?  Yes.  I also support capital punishment.  Is that inconsistent?  I don't think so.  Was I dancing in the street when it happened?  No.  All death is horrible.  Especially for some fellow human created in God's image.  But I believe if someone takes a life then his life should be taken to prevent further murders.  And Genesis 9 practically commands it.  If you shed man's blood, by man shall your blood be shed.  But I am also grateful for God's mercy that he can save the souls of even those people and even their current lives.  I also believe that one day my Redeemer will come and bring all justice to fruition.  He's already done that through Jesus Christ's death on the cross.  He will do that for those who have not received that gracious gift and still insist on atoning for their own mistakes even though that is impossible for anyone other than Christ.  The cross was enough.

But back to my point.  Have I murdered in my heart recently?  Am I too willing to quickly sever relations with someone over one disagreement?  Is distancing myself from someone for fear of trying to be codependent the same thing?  I don't know.  If someone answers, I will be glad for it.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

3H: Honoring my Father

In CR, I got a blue chip in trying to honor my earthly father.  I think I can probably boil all my problems to not honoring my Dad properly and not forgiving his shortcomings.  This is not written to try to fix my Dad.  It's to fix me.  It's also to acknowledge that my Dad is human, but he raised me to be a Christian, still provides the roof over my head, paid for my vacation back in July/August, usually pays for my prescriptions, will give money if I ask him.

He's human, but he does care for me, my brother, and my husband.  Any flaw I see in him, I certainly see in myself.

So, yeah, I need to honor my dad and forgive him his flaws.  I find that whenever I have made a resolution to do so, it has stuck for the most part.  I have relapsed.  But the thing is, I need rely on God's grace poured out through Jesus to heal my sins.  Not a resolution that I made.  Praise God, he uses resolutions, too, but the true answers are not through meeting God halfway; if we had to do that we'd never make the first step.  No, the Holy Spirit has to come all the way, pick me up, and walk me to my goal.  The goal is not me honoring Dad.  It's His Glory alone.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

3H Club: Commandment 4

The fourth of the ten commandments is the one that commands believers to remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

Christians are all over the place when it comes to this commandment.  Is the Sabbath still Saturday, or is it alright to take Sunday off?  Should we rest on Saturday and worship on Sunday?  Do we now have two Sabbaths?  Is one of those days meant for simply housework for those busy the other five days?

The way I see it, Christians need to take one day off to rest.  The whole day.  Have I done this?  I don't know.  I've tried. 

But also, Christians need to physically meet with a local church once a week that sees Christ as the head of the church, and they need to sit through the sermon as God uses the preaching of the Word to awaken people to following Jesus.  If you do not sit in the sermon, then you are not being fed and are spiritually starved.

I have the worship aspect down.  The resting, I still do not know how to do.  Like Martha in Luke 10, I need something to do with my hands while listening to Jesus.  On Sundays, usually my hands play a guitar.  Some Sundays, I teach Sunday School to kids.  Still, am I resting?

On a typical Sunday, Tim and I wake up at 6:30, get dressed, leave our house in Conyers around 7:30, get to church so I can start practice with the worship band at 8:15 or 20.  During that hour, I'm on guitar and Tim is in the sound booth running sound and Power Point slides.  9:30 starts the first service.  After the music is over, I go to the sound booth and sit with Tim and listen to the sermon.  11:00 starts the second service.  During the sermon, I sit with Tim in the atrium and read.  Then we eat lunch with Tim's family and spend the afternoon at his grandparents' house.  I think if I was not at his grandparents house, I probably would not relax.  I'd be thinking of things I need to do to prepare for Monday.  Although, Sundays are an all day thing, it has both hectic and restful aspects.

I think the thing for a co-dependent on Sunday is that I must not try to do everything at one time.  At Community, everything is at the same time, so it is not possible.  God has gifted me with musical abilities.  God has also called me to Children's ministry which I do mostly during the week at CCS.  Sometimes, if I do Children's ministry on Sunday, it conflicts with my ability to play guitar for the service aspect.  But God has called me to both, and it humbles me because I have to realize that things will go on without me.  God simply privileges me to be a part of it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

3H club: 3rd Commandment

Before I move on to commandment three, I have one last thing to say about commandment two and how it connects to co-dependency.  Basically, if I should today get a picture of Jesus when I am convicted that such a thing does indeed paint a graven image of him, then it would be another example of me thinking that I know what I'm doing better than God does.  That is classic co-dependent.

Okay, commandment three: You shall not take the Lord's name in vain.

The most common example is when someone at school or work or on TV says, "O my God!" and has no plan on talking to God about this.  She uses his name without really meaning it.  This is a serious offense to our Lord.  It's even worse when people move on from God to Jesus's name.  Seriously, why do people think it is alright to take the name of the man who left his glorious throne, lived as a human, and died to take away your deserved punishment for your sins as if it is the name of your dog or as if it's a curse word or as if it is his fault that you had to say whatever you said?  Jesus has done everything for you and deserves only your complete praise.

How can misuse of God's name tie into co-dependency?  Let's look at my job.  I play music for the kids at the CCS afterschool.  I do a mix of old songs, new songs, cool songs, odd song.  I mostly do Christian songs so that there is no mistake that I love Jesus.  The kids on the other hand, react in as many different ways.  Some sing along and love the songs.  Some sing in a mocking manner.  Some simply lay their heads on the desk and look bored.

One time, one kid was there who normally loves Jesus but also likes to try to fit in with the cool culture.  I'm singing some of the best songs, and she has her head on the desk like I'm the incarnation of Barney the Dinosaur.  I tell her, "Get over yourself!"  Now, that is advice many people, including myself need.  But at the same time, I have no idea of her home situation, whether her parents are going through anything, if she's faced some tragedy, etc.  And as a representative of Jesus, saying words like that can tarnish his name.  I took God's name in vain.  And I still have not been able to amend for that.

Praise God for his endless mercy and grace because I am much more careful in what I say to these kids.  I must not lose my temper.  I must not work as if I'm the only one that can fix hearts and attitudes.  Only Jesus can do that.  And he continues to change my heart so that I can represent him better.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

3H club: Second Commandment rights

It's been over a year since I worked at the LifeWay in Atlanta that used to be the Berean Store.  In that brief time, I have many memories of conversations with people that I will probably talk about the rest of my life.

One time I was at the Point of Sale counter checking a woman out of the store when she said, "I think we need a picture of a black Jesus."

Keeping the conversation going, I said, "If you want a more accurate picture of Jesus, you would paint him as a middle eastern man since he was Jewish and from Israel."

As the conversation progressed, she said, "Well, Jesus was a spirit anyway."
"No he wasn't," I said, " he was a man with a body."
"But we're not supposed to have graven images."  Then we ended the talk and she left.

Then one of my co-workers said, "I agree about Jesus being portrayed as Israeli."  Then she gave the example of someone painting a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. as a white man.  It's just not accurate.

But beyond all this, nobody knows what exactly God the Son looked like when he came to earth.
And there are people who blasphemously accuse God the Father of breaching the second commandment to not make graven images by sending Jesus.  But these same people think it's okay to paint a picture of him when they don't know what he looked like.

Then it also just brings up the issue of whether making a painting of Jesus is a breaking of the second commandment.  I actually think it is.  Not that I enforce it much.  I have a picture of a "Laughing Jesus" in my old bedroom that is now Tim's office/man cave which I also use, too.  It does portray him as a middle-eastern looking guy.  And I would never bow down to it or worship it.

I do agree with Calvin that to portray God in any way is breaking the commandment when God is invisible.  And agree with me or not, it is plain that if you do attempt to draw Jesus, it won't look like him as we don't know what he looked like.  Am I going to get on the case of people that do have them, knowing that I myself have a picture?  Or get rid of my picture?  Probably not, but it is good to know.  I also rejoice that God the Spirit always leads me to righteousness whether gradually or even painfully.  And in the end, I'm happier knowing that he has made me right with himself.

What does this have to do with CR or me trying to recover from co-dependency?  Not sure yet.  Any suggestions?  I've been pondering it all week.  It's in the Ten Commandments.  And ultimately, God wants us to follow them for his glory.  Our recovery is a result of that glory.  Recovery from us and back into his Paradise.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

3 H Club: the First commandment

The first commandment: You shall have no other gods before me.

How can this help if you are recovering?  A lot of personal problems can all be traced back to someone having a god that is not God.

Let's see, at CR, I'm in the co-dependent and anger group.  What is co-dependent?  The short answer is that I want to help everybody.  How can this be a worship problem?

Suppose a friend is having a hard time finding a job and you want to help.  I suggest something, but that person says no and still has a hard time finding a job.  As a co-dependent, I would want to expend effort and time going through the job-search process with that person while at the same time, I need to focus on my own healthy job as a CCS afterschool worker and as a wife to Tim.  How is this a worship problem?  I'm not trusting God to deal with the situation but relying on my own means, making myself the idol.

Let's go for a more national issue.  Suppose abortion is still legal and that my tax dollars are still funding Nazi-ish organizations such as planned parenthood when smaller agencies who work to keep children alive and mothers from having to go through the permanent trauma of having an abortion can barely keep their lights on.  Do I get angry or do I trust that God hates this more than I do, that Jesus was more innocent than even these victims, or do I simply act like God is not there?  Do I lose hope knowing that this is still going on, or do I rejoice that God saved at least one life if not more because someone came to my pregnancy resource center and talked to me and he protected me from putting my foot in my mouth?

What if your issue is something not caused by sin, like cancer or losing someone to cancer?  Or is it a result of sin.  My mom died 6 years ago through cancer.  Did she sin?  Did I sin, or did her parents sin?  Not exactly, but you know who did sin?  Our first parents, Adam and Eve sin, and that is why cancer now exists in the world and why people die and will keep dying until Christ returns.  And why is this?  Because Eve and Adam thought that they knew better than God and decided to eat the one fruit he said not to eat when they had every other option available.

So, yeah, all our problems are because of idolatry and making gods when there is only one God who revealed himself through Christ and still lives in believers through the Holy Spirit.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hurts, Habits, Hang-ups, and Contrived Means

It's been a while hasn't it?  Yes, I was blogging, and then my life got busy with working at my church's school and doing music and generally tending to my husband and family.  Such is the cycle of women who have blogs.

But I have a thought that I want to think out loud.  Over the summer, I decided to start attending my church's Celebrate Recovery program.  CR is a place where people can come sort out their "hurts, habits, and hang-ups."  It is basically Alcoholics Anonymous but it's based on Jesus and it's for people with all kinds of issues.  In fact, only 3% come needing help with alcohol or drugs.  I've never been on drugs, alcohol, and mostly kept all my sin on the inside my whole life.  I'm just there because I was born, I'm a sinner, and I've been redeemed by Jesus.

That's not the point, however.  It's only a tangent.  This past Saturday was Charles Finney's birthday.  The infamous preacher who influenced many people such as Billy Graham and Keith Green in their evangelistic methods.  The problem with Finney, however, is he was not a believer.  He did not believe that Jesus's death on the cross paid for the sins of redeemed man.  In fact, he did not even believe that man had original sin.  He only needed to find the right path for living, and Jesus provided that example.  Billy Graham and Keith Green, while true believers who preach the true Gospel, followed the methods of this man who never went to seminary and only believed that revival was not a work of the Holy Spirit but in his own words, a result of "contrived means." 

I think that if Finney had a true disciple today, it would be a man that the world loves and who impresses me from time to time.  That would be Rick Warren.  Rick knows the Gospel, and loves Jesus, but sadly, his methods can be boiled down to things men and women can do to improve their lives with Jesus simply as a sponsor and a guru and nothing more. 

Why pick on Rick?  Because I genuinely love the guy and I think he has good ideas.  Why bring up CR?  Because it started at his church, Saddleback. 

I like CR because it provides a safe place for me to talk about all my past issues and find healing.  It's like having a counselor but, it's free and I don't need insurance.

Where can CR improve?  As a woman who follows Reformed theology, a la John Calvin, and who believes this theology truly follows the Bible's teaching, I want to take what I like from CR, and include it in what Jesus has already established in his Church. 

CR already involves creeds and memorized prayers.  Granted, they are their 8 Principles based on the Beatitudes according to the Message Bible, the 12 steps based on AA but with Jesus as the focus, and the Serenity prayer written by Reinhold Niebuhr who had terrible theology (but don't get me wrong, I like the first half of the prayer, the part that ends up in greeting cards).  Martin Luther thought it much better to simply pray to the Lord by remembering the Ten Commandments, the Apostles' Creed (not Scripture but a precise nutshell of what we believe), and the Lord's prayer, and to pray to the Lord for his grace in following his commands and living out his Gospel as a result of his saving work in our lives.

Perhaps I can examine all of this and see how it could simply lead to true recovery in the Lord and not just following his principles without looking to him.  I suppose I can start such a series on my blog but you must also remember that I don't blog consistently these days.  May the Lord help me.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

My True Caretaker

Ephesians 5:22-24 is the passage that says that husbands should love their wives the way Christ loved the church.  Christ gave up his life for the church.  Christ, the Church's only husband, has exclusive right to worship and adoration from his bride.

Revelation 12 is that odd passage about a woman who gives birth to the Christ child and a dragon set to destroy both her and the child.  Well, the dragon did destroy the child, but the Child came back from the dead and has defeated the dragon.  He now can take his bride, the woman distressed by the dragon, and live happily ever after.

All people know that Mary physically gave birth the Jesus.  If we take the passage literally, then it would be taking about her.  This being a vision given to John about salvation and the kingdom's consummation, this is actually more than Mary.  It is the whole Church.  Just like Mary's son happens to be her own Creator and Redeemer, so we are the reason Christ came to earth.  We carry his Holy Spirit in us as his redeemed.  In a sense, we gave birth to him, but he is our Creator, Sustainer and eternal Husband.

In some odd way that defies human logic and relations, the Church is both my mother and myself while God is my Father, and Jesus, who is God the Son, is my husband and brother. 

A true local church will allow you to be wed to your husband.  You have doffed the name of your former household and taken on the name of Christ your king.  Therefore, the church needs to allow you direct access to your husband since we no longer need a mediator between us and God the Father.  We should not have to go through anybody other than Christ to get to Christ.  Not a priest, pastor, elder, deceased person, mother, grandmother, father, etc.  You have complete privilege to come into Christ's presence because Christ was slain by the dragon and then defeated that same dragon by rising from the dead and taking his power.  He did this for you the Redeemed.

On my wedding day, Chad who officiated stood by Tim as they watched my dad light a candle in the front of the chapel.  Chad told Tim that the candle symbolized the truth that responsibility for my care no longer falls on my mom and dad.  It now falls on my husband, Tim.  Therefore, if I'm in trouble, I will go to him before I call dad and trust him to take care of me completely.  We need to love our Lord the same way but only better.  Tim may fail me, and I may fail Tim, but Jesus will always succeed for us and bring us to our proper home.  We simply need to let go and trust.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Stunted Trees

Back in February, Tim and I went to Panola Mountain and took a guided tour up the mountain.  At the top we saw these amazing trees that had grown through the rocks.  Turns out that the mountain had actually stunted their growth, but the State Parks of Georgia do what they can to preserve them.

Today, with Tim out of the country, I went to the park and walked the trail with my brother Andrew.  Seeing a toddler in a 25-year-old man's body trail along with me was so relaxing.  Autistic people like Andrew are considered inferior in society and even a waste of resources.  These people are usually the same people who want to save the stunted trees on top of Panola.  Which is more valuable in the long run?  Definitely the Andrews.  You don't know joy unless you get lost on Panola's Watershed trail and help your brother down big steps and try to protect him from tripping on tree roots.

Desiring God made an excellent article linking Bullying with Abortion.  The main idea behind bullying is to prevent people from making other people feel inferior based on race, religion, disability, beliefs, etc.  What they always forget is that this applies to developmental stage, too.  Most abortions are aimed at people like Andrew, the stunted trees.  Planned Parenthood goes to the most impoverished neighborhoods, the neighborhoods with the most racial minorities.  Doctors can abort a baby simply for being the wrong gender.  Only 8% of Down Syndrome kids are born. 

How is this not bullying?  Why is it wrong to cut down a stunted tree on a monadnock but perfectly alright to pass laws that can euthanise amazing people like my brother?  Why can't people see the amazing uniqueness caused by their challenges?  Sometimes I even hypocritically think like these people when it comes to people who have terrible personalities and do nothing but sit and watch TV and eat and try to boss other people around.  We are all to blame for this.  How can we take the most annoying person we know and try to see his or her uniqueness and cherish that?

C-bomb: Harry Potter spoilers

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has a bizarre time travel sequence that also reminds me of the Reformed tension between predestination and free will.  Harry and Hermione are lost in the woods.  These scary Dementors arise and try to kiss out Harry Potter's soul.  Harry tries to do his Patronus charm but can't.  Suddenly a stag Patronus comes and saves Harry.

Not too much later, Harry and Hermione go back in time and wait for their past selves to get to the same point.  Harry sees the Dementors preying on himself on the other side of a lake and wonders why that stag Patronus has not come.  Then he realizes that he sent the Patronus to himself!  He then sends it and saves himself.

In JK Rowling's world, Harry was destined to send his Patronus to save himself.  It was already planned.  At the same time, Harry had to make the decision to send his Patronus.  The whole of history was already planned, but Harry is still responsible for his decisions.  He still has a free will.

It will always be a mystery, but the Bible teaches it and I believe it.  Acts 13:48, "And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

C-bomb with fandom spoilers: Link and Zelda

I want to see how many days in a row I can blog while my hubby is out of the country.  Here is my first day.

I started reading the Legend of Zelda manga series.  I don't have time to play the game, but after putting together a puzzle of the map of Hyrule, I decided I needed to explore those places.

To the dismay of some people, the first book, "The Ocarina of Time," reminded me of the Calvinistic struggle between God's sovereignty and man's decisive responsibility.  Link, the main character, travels to Hyrule Palace to see if he can help solve the darkness that has come over the land caused by the evil Ganondorf.  He meets Princess Zelda who claims she dreamed of a green angel who dispelled the darkness over the land.  He was destined to be the Hero of Time, and on learning that he collects the three stones that make the Tri-Force that summons the goddesses and opens the Temple of Time so that Link can play the ocarina, sleep for seven years and age into a teenager, and win against Ganondorf. 

So, it's rather pagan, but it goes to show that everyone knows they do not completely control their lives, but they still have a responsibility to carry out their purpose in life.  Link did not decide to do nothing while he became the Hero of Time.  He actually worked to find the stones and then to fight Ganondorf. 

In the Bible, you can see this same tension.  In Romans 4:3, Abraham is credited with righteousness because he believed.  He believed simply because God gave him a promise and chose Abraham to bless the world through that promise.

At the same time, James 2:14-17 talks of people who wish to end poverty and hunger but do nothing to help the people.  "Faith without works is dead."  Abraham became righteous because God chose him, but he waited mostly patiently for 75 years until he could have a son with his lawful wife Sarah.  Yes, he tried to help God by having a son with another woman, but despite his flaw, God sustained his faith so much that he was willing to sacrifice his long-awaited Isaac on an altar as a burnt offering because God told him to do so.  No questions asked.  He just packed up and went to Mt. Moriah, and then God pre-enacted Christ's crucifixion and resurrection by sparing Isaac and sending a lamb to take the punishment for Isaac's sins. 

I'll do another geeky illustration of this in my next blog.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Zombie Day

It was Easter, and I was on facebook.  I scrolled to a post from a person I knew in high school, an open atheist.  Easter is the first "Zombie Day" according to her post.  I cannot remember if it was an article or not, and I never read it if it was, but it had me thinking.  Can the Christians call Easter a Zombie Day?

From what I can tell, the popular culture defines zombies as dead corpses who come back from the dead in all their decayed glory and roam around looking for brains.  So 1)dead corpses who 2) walk 3) still decayed who 4) seek out living brains.

I can affirm the dead corpse part of the answer.  Ephesians 2:1-3 is clear that "And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind."

The next part confirms the second section, we walk. Verses 4-7: "But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."  Praise God, I was dead and am now alive.

Now, am I still decayed? Romans 7:24-25: "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin."  So yes, although God has made me alive to holiness through Christ, I still have a part of me still attracted to sin.  Only when Christ returns will he give me a new body free from sin and decay.

Do I seek out other people's brains?  I suppose that would mean I have no brain to start with.  All I know is that I lived, then I died to the law, and now that I'm alive in Christ, my heart, soul, and mind all belong to Jesus. So my brain is not my own.  It belongs to my King.  And I do want to see people give their brains to Jesus.  It gets worse than that, I want to give him their souls and hearts, too.

So yeah, I guess I'm a zombie.  However, it's a resurrection from a life to which I would not return.  Jesus lived a perfect live and died the death I deserved so that I could live on his righteousness.  And one day, I will be a complete human because Christ will come back and complete the ones he saved.

During Spring Break, I had to work at the school and watch kids while their parents worked.  I played some YouTube videos.  One girl requested "God's Not Dead" as done by Newsboys/ DCTalk 2.0.  It's a great rocking song, but do the kids at CCS really believe that God is not dead.  Sure he's out there holding things together, but is Jesus really alive?  They want to go to heaven, but do they want Jesus to be Lord of their lives?  Praise God, he is alive.  I know because he sent Jesus.  Jesus is real and I want him to be my Lord.  I want the kids to want him as their Lord.  Maybe then they won't have spells of insult and unforgiveness.  They would love each other even when not happy with each other.  They would do what I say the first time I say it, not argue with things I say, and simply listen to me.

I don't know, but Jesus is truly alive which is good news for the sinner.  He can raise you up and make you whole.  Please show your kids the importance of letting him be their Lord. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Casting Sad Songs

Casting Crowns always baffles me.  They have such theologically rich songs and good tunes, but the radio plays their more depressing songs over and over again.  They are from Atlanta area so our stations play them all the time.  Sometimes I hear them and think "yay!"  Sometimes I think "Casting Crowns again?" and turn on a Skillet CD.

I still think they are great people and when I heard that Mark Hall had surgery for kidney cancer it was like I was praying for a friend.  He at least goes to church with women I do Bible study with.

We did a song in church today by Mark Hall called "Love Them Like Jesus."  Some people complain that praise and worship songs in church are too happy and don't deal with the real world like the Psalms do.  This song is for you guys.  It has one verse about a man leaving his wife and kid behind and another about a baby being stillborn.  Those parents have already painted the room and have the shower gifts.  It tells people who know them to "love them like Jesus."  It's heartwrenching and comfort at the same time.  It's like, yeah, God is wonderful and has a plan, but it's still alright to grieve even hopelessly at times.  Our hope is in Jesus, the high priest who experienced everything we had but never sinned.

Psalm 13 and 88 were not afraid to honestly express anger and frustration.  Psalm 73 is also a good one that points the the big picture of God in his temple.

I'm thinking, what are other good Christian songs that deal with grief?

It's been on the radio a while, but the Afters have a song called "Light up the Sky."  Apparently they wrote that album when a friend of theirs died.  The song is not very interesting to play, but the video will break your heart.  It shows a woman weakened by chemo and facing terminal cancer, another woman abandoned by her husband, and a man who lost his job.

It's like I've discovered this song that's been around for 5 years now for the first time.

There is also a terrible joke about a photon, or light particle that checked in at a hotel.  When asked if he needed help with his bags he said, "No, I'm traveling light."  With that, here is an excellent duet from Joel Hanson and Sara Groves called "Traveling light."

I can just find myself heeding the advice of Hebrews 12 to throw off everything that hinders and run the race marked out for my by God.

And speaking of Joel Hanson, he has plenty of amazing songs that are just right for hurting people.

Jeremy Camp has helped me in grief.  Switchfoot has helped me in disappointment.  And whenever I think that I'm one step away from everything falling apart, I have to remind myself that I don't hold it all together anyway.  Jesus holds it together and there is no hope apart from him.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Two Rocks and God's Will

I keep thinking about a Charles Spurgeon sermon about the two rocks that gave Moses water in the wilderness.

On the first one, God told Moses to strike the rock with his staff.  He did and it gave water.  To Spurgeon, this first rock was Jesus.  We nailed him to a cross and he suffered God's wrath.  Because of that, his blood cleanses us and makes us part of his family.

On the second rock, God told Moses to only speak to the rock.  There was no need to beat it.  The first one was beaten once and for all.  Still Moses was so angry at the Israelites that he beat the rock anyway.  He disobeyed God, but God mercifully gave him water.  Then he banned Moses and Aaron from the earthly Promised Land.

To Spurgeon, that second rock is us.  Christ suffered and died for our sins.  His blood flows through his saved people and people only need to come to us in the Church to be revived by it.  Sadly, although God tells people to leave Christ's people alone, they still receive scars and martyrdom in Christ's name.  Even so, Christ's blood flows even faster in a land where people die for the Faith.  Onlookers notice that people would rather die than give up the richness they have in Christ and they come to know Jesus too.

I think of last Sunday's sermon about God's gift of free will to his people.  I had to really think of this, because although I'm a Calvinist, I do believe in free will.  God really did give it to us.  Nobody is going to be forced into the eternity that they come to when Christ returns.  People will either gladly live in God's presence forever, or they will suffer God's wrath forever but never be ashamed that they never gave their lives exclusively to Jesus.  God forces no one's hand even though he has to save us in order for us to willingly come to Christ.

There was a quote from CS Lewis about how God does not always get what he wants.  I love CS Lewis, and I see why he says that, but it's not right.  We know what God wants.  He wants people to live forever, free from sin, happy in Christ, obeying his rules.  We know this does not happen.  But we also know that God is almighty and could stop this.

But in his love and wisdom, God has a secret decree that will come to pass and in the end he will receive all the glory as the God who sent God the Son to take God's wrath on our behalf.  Either way, whatever God plans does come to pass and in Christ's completed kingdom, all people will obey him.  By then we will see the beauty of the journey God created for us and praise him for doing it just right.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Heart of Gnosticism

I write so I can remember.  I had a polemic streak a few years back and declared war against folks such as Rob Bell who denied the existence of hell and the need for repentance.  I still have that streak but I'm backed by people in the Reformed blogging community, and I have since moved on to charismatic leaders such as Joel Osteen who preach useless positivity because it never leads to the Gospel.  Or worldwide heads of the church who can't stop opening their mouths causing me to lose more respect for them.

Though confusing, I do find Irenaeus fascinating.  He's reviewed some of the more infamous heretics: Simon Magus, Marcion, the Ebionites.

Among these people are a man who based a whole cult following on his personality, an exegete who rejected all Judaism, the OT, the OT God, and only read the Gospel of Luke, and a group of Jews who insisted the Christians still need to follow the empty rituals that have already been fulfilled by Jesus and which no longer apply.

Does any of this happen today?  Yes, and sincere Christians still fall prey to it all.  Praise God for his salvation because without Christ, nobody has any hope.  There are more obvious heretics who seduce women, team up with Oprah, deny Christ as the only way to salvation from the Father's wrath, support a libertine lifestyle. 

Then there are people who I believe are sincere Christians but seem to think that simple Bible reading and prayer are not enough to have a satisfying relationship with God.  I can talk more openly about this, but Sarah Young of Jesus Calling is one such woman.  Sola Scriptura is not her thing.  She presents all her words as if they were directly from Jesus, thus making her work equal to Scripture.  She is mostly sound except for a few things.  But the more extreme examples of this are Jim Jones who believed he was Jesus, that David in Waco, TX who thought he was Christ, and who led many people to their deaths.

Whether true believers or not, it is always dangerous to feel like you have a link to divine inspiration that no one else has.  This is the heart of Gnosticism.  Even from well-meaning people, it can leave a hole in people that would not be there had they simply sought out Christ in his word.

I know what it's like to feel lost and that God isn't giving you all the answers.  I know the temptation to seek people who have easier answers.  I remember going to a healing ministry in Augusta when mom had cancer and feeling like I did not have enough faith because she still died.  I still get tired of people who preach that we can demand anything from God.  I remember seeking the easy answers only to be disappointed and then remembering that God is sovereign.  He has all the answers and all the good endings but we still aren't there yet.  And it's his pleasure to share with us the journey of his renewing the earth that he sees, and I realize how unworthy I am to even have a part in that.

But whether I get confused or somebody else, the fact is, Jesus alone is our salvation.  He speaks to us in the Bible.  And he gives a support group called the church that celebrates Easter every Sunday.  We can approach him directly without an intercessor since he is that intercessor.  And sometimes you writhe in agony when you can't understand something.  Just the same, God's Holy Spirit uses hard times to shape you into something that gives Him glory.  In the long run, it's painful, but beautiful and is worth not getting lost in short cuts.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I started reading "Against All Heresies" by Irenaeus again.  I stopped for a while because Gnostic systems are so complicated.  It's a bad soap opera.  This deity is married to this other deity and their offspring generated another offspring, and this woman got cast out of heaven by being to close to another Jesus.  It's too confusing.

One strange idea is that God the father is actually an offspring of Sophia but does not remember that.  He is the Demiurge who is the God of the Old Testament.  Meanwhile, Jesus is his father, but Sophia came out of the Pleroma of gods because she got to close to him and produced the Demiurge.

This all comes from people who still do not want to believe that God the Father and God the Son are the same God.  They want to think of Jesus as a marshmallow who is everyone's buddy, not the God of creation who also has wrath.

So I will no longer comment on all that.  But all the confusion has one thing in common: God reveals secret things to some people and they get a higher echelon in his kingdom.  Somehow they have to do something to tap into this knowledge.  In that time, they had to somehow get in touch with Sophia.  Does this happen today?  Does it sneak into the true church?  Yes it does.  It has not died down.  We still have people telling other people that they have to tap into tongue speaking or prophesy to receive the Holy Spirit's baptism when the Bible says you just need to become a Christian.  Leaders tell people that they need to do a certain thing to be higher in God's kingdom when Jesus clearly says that all his saved people are on the same level and counted as brothers and sisters of Jesus.  How much higher can that get?  We have Jesus as our brother.  We don't need anything higher.

But in this way men seduce people, promise quick answers, better wealth, and cause them to look into themselves when they need to go far from themselves and see what God says openly in his Bible. 

The moral: this attitude creeps into all Christian lives to deceive them away from trusting in anyone other than Jesus for their salvation.  Do not fall for it.  Trust in Jesus and realize that you need nothing if you have him.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Apparently yesterday or this week, President Obama compared the ISIS antics to the church's antics in the Crusades.  Taking advantage of America's lack of education, the Pres wants his followers to believe that Islam and Christianity are the same and that we are both violent and peaceful.

Here is the truth behind the statement.  W. Robert Godfrey says it best: "The Bible can be a dangerous book if misused and abused. In the history of the church, the misunderstanding of the Bible has led to many serious problems, ranging from false doctrine to legalistic customs and misdirected lives. One of the most blatant examples of this is the Crusades: a series of wars led by Europeans in the name of Christ against Islamic states in the Near East during the Middle Ages."

First of all, the Muslims did take over Jerusalem and moved on towards Constantinople and other fine symbols of Christianity at the time.  They used violence, killed people, and usurped their land.

The Roman Empire had fallen apart and the only thing really holding people together was the Pope.  He became greater in political power and wanted to defend his folks against the Muslims, quite possibly even take back Jerusalem and Constantinople.

Using the conquest of Canaan as support, and depending on the lack of Biblical education at the time, people began to believe that God wanted the Christians to take up arms and defend her folks with a full-scale war.

Never mind passages such as Ephesians 6 that declare that our battle is not against "flesh and blood but... against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places."  They had not learned that Israel was a concrete picture of the greater war with Satan and sin that Christ won with the cross.  With Christ here, and the temple gone, there is no more need for God's people to use force to conquer the kingdom.

Pope Urban II in 1095 began campaigning to stop the Muslims.  He offered spiritual rewards, full forgiveness of sins, and escape from Purgatory if men would do their spiritual duty to fight the infidels.

There is no mention that Christ already has completely forgiven sins for his people and there is no need to do anything to earn the forgiveness they already have.  There is no mention that Christ took a complete punishment for his people's sins so that they don't have to receive more punishment for sins committed later, negating the need for Purgatory.  There was no reminder that Christ told Peter to put away his sword when he cut of a servant's ear as Jesus was being arrested.

And as a result, men fought against the Muslims to regain Jerusalem.  And this war took them to Constantinople.  And they brought along men less concerned about God and more concerned about gold and glory.  Sometimes they fought the Eastern Orthodoxers.  Sometimes they raped and pillaged.  It is one of Christianity's most embarrassing mistakes, and no doubt the Muslims did learn many tactics from these Crusades that carry over into their Jihads today.

So yes, professing Christians, whether sincere or not, have committed horrifying atrocities in Christ's name from the Crusades to the KKK.

But we must also remember the greater horror done by Atheist mythology that sprang from Darwin's ideas.  Eugenics began, the Holocaust took place, Planned Parenthood arose to prevent the poor black people from populating the earth.  Slavery took and all time high.  Sadly, Christians were just as gullible to Darwin and his ideas and went right along with it.  However, all atrocities began when people began to look to themselves to save the world and not to the Lord who had already saved the world.

There is also the fact that all people on earth are born as enemies to God.  The ones he saved are here because God drew them to Christ who gave up his life and gave them his.  Afterwards, these people still sin, have misunderstandings, get mad, say stupid things, and people suffer for generations to come.

But at the heart of it, it is like that football player said when the Ferguson protests happened, "We don't have a skin problem, we have a sin problem."

Obama is that first grader who tattles on his friends when he does the same things.  There has been no President more supportive of slaughtering innocent children who happen to be conceived at the wrong time and who hates the pro-lifers who want to provide women with their true choices that will lead to both life and them not being stuck in poverty raising an unexpected child.

Yes, Christians need to defend their country, but again, we do it with prayer, evangelism, and sometimes even martyrdom.  Sometimes they may need to take up arms for self-defense but it should only be to defend life, not kill more of it.  And the state bears the right for the sword, not the church.

And despite what anybody has done in history, saved or unsaved, Christ is still perfect, and we still need to look to him for our salvation and stop dividing ourselves one against the other.  Maybe one day our President will see that.  By then, let us try to make peace with our neighbors and continue to defend truth and human life.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Put Another Nickle in

The Lord willing, I will start leading music in the summer at CCS's after school program/ summer camp.  I'm up to the challenge but also wondering where to start.

I have two friends who write songs for children.  When I was still a youth pastor and Googled "Catechism" I found a website for a woman who wrote songs for WSC questions.  Then, in 2012 I had remembered that someone at Refuge had told me that she went to a Reformed Presbyterian church in Covington.  Years after she told me that, I remembered, looked it up online, and started going to the Sunday evening service.  Turns out the same woman who writes the WSC songs is the pastor's wife and a now good friend of mine.  Judy gave me some of her albums and some of those songs may come into play.

I also grew up listening to this song called "Simeon's Lullaby" by the woman duo, Wendy and Mary.  One time my parents played it for a church we went to, and the bulletin said that they were friends of us.  That would be like saying we were friends with Simon and Garfunkel.  But thanks to facebook, Mary is a friend of mine these days.  Between her and Judy, there are plenty of plans I can follow in leading children in music.

My favorite growing up, however, is still Psalty the Blue Song Book.  A blue book with a face who sings songs with kids about Jesus.  I still sing "Amen, Praise the Lord," and the "Butterfly Song" from time to time.  He has so many catchy Scripture songs that have motions and dances and pictures.

I mentioned some of my ideas and heard that last year when someone lead music, the favorite song was "Locomotion."  So now I'm also listening to old songs like "Five Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed."  How can I get a good mix of songs with good theology and just for fun songs and be fun but informative?  If any people I mention in this post read this, what would you recommend?  At least I have until after Memorial Day to figure it out.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Lady Huntingdon and the Lost Man

I'm posting an excerpt from Charles Spurgeon's sermon  "The Blood-Shedding."

    Let me tell a story to show how Christ saves souls.  Mr. Whitefield had a brother, who had been     like him an earnest Christian, but he had backslidden; he went far from the ways of godliness; and one afternoon, after he had been recovered from his backsliding, he was sitting in a room in a chapel-house.  He had heard his brother preach the day before, and his poor conscience had been cut to the very quick.  Said Whitefield's brother, when he was at tea, "I am a lost man," and he groaned and cried, and could neither eat nor drink.  Said Lady Huntingdon, who sat opposite, "What did you say, Mr. Whitefield?" "Madam," said he, "I said I am a lost man."  "I'm glad of it," said she; "I'm glad of it."  "Your ladyship, how can you say so?  It is cruel to say you are glad that I am a lost man."  "I repeat it, sir," said she; "I am heartily glad of it."  He looked at her, more and more astonished at her barbarity.  "I am glad of it," said she, "because it is written, 'The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.'"  With tears rolling down his cheeks, he said, "What a precious Scripture; and how is it that it comes with such force to me?  O! madam," said he, "madam, I bless God for that; then he will save me; I trust my soul in his hands; he has forgiven me."  He went outside the house, felt ill, fell upon the ground, and expired.  I may have a lost man here this morning.  As I cannot say much, I will leave you, good people; you do not want any thing.

Read the rest of the sermon.  You will see why I wear a shirt with this guy's face on it.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Interpreter's House

I don't plan on blogging much about Pilgrim's Progress, but I had more trouble with chapter 2, so I will write it out for clarification.

Christian has passed the Wicket Gate and has been sent to Interpreter's House.  He sees seven different rooms and without commentary, I was much confused.

Commentary from Derek Thomas's teaching series: every preacher of the Gospel is an interpreter.  Every church is an interpreter's house.  So here are 6 of the rooms and then I will consider the one room that disturbs me.

1. Christian sees a picture of a serious man looking toward heaven, holding a book in his hand and having a crown on his head.  This is a preacher, a man blessed with ability to lead other people to God's Truth.

2. Here, a man sweeps a room, but he only makes it more dusty.  A woman comes in and pours water on everything, then it is finally clean.  This is a picture of someone trying to find salvation by works and good deeds.  He only makes things worse.  Only Jesus, the Gospel, makes him clean.

3. Two children named Passion and Patience.  Passion is a worldly guy who must have everything now.  Patience gets to have everything for eternity because he was willing to wait for it, to trust God's promises no matter how slow.

4. A fireplace with a fire that grows despite someone throwing water on it.  Behind the place, Christian sees someone pouring oil on the fire to keep it going.  As a Christian, the world will do its best to douse your fire.  The Holy Spirit pours oil on it and keeps it going.

5. A man in armor with a sword.  The Christian life is a constant battle until we reach heaven.

7. A man rising out of bed trembling because he had a dream where God's judgment came and he got left behind.  This is not the Left Behind series.  This is simply a man coming to two roads: the popular one that leads to futility or the smaller, narrower road that leads to Eternal life.  What will he take?

6.  The disturbing one.  Christian talks to a man in an iron cage.  This man used to be a pilgrim too, but he turned away from his faith and now he cannot repent due to his hardened heart.  This scene comes from Hebrews 6, the passage that for me both confirms eternal predestination for me, but also challenges it.  People do come and lead the Christian faith and cause good.  But we also see people become more enamored with the world's values who then turn their back on Jesus.  This is a very serious warning to the true believers that even though salvation is a gift that can never be lost, they still are responsible for continuing in holiness.  The good news is that the Holy Spirit will fan this flame.  The bad news is that people still try to keep it going by their own efforts which never worked.

An example is Judas.  He was Jesus's disciple and worked with the 11 ministering and spreading the Gospel through Judea.  He betrayed Jesus, sold him to be arrested by the Jews, had Jesus crucified, and then hanged himself, never coming to a true release of trusting in Jesus's grace.  This was not the way with all of them.  Peter denied Jesus three times, but Jesus did bring him back.  Paul put people to death because he was against Christianity, but Jesus brought him back.  The thing is, there are people that God passes by in salvation.  They may look like savory ministers for a while but they are not and they fall away never to return.

I saw a meme on facebook recently.  It asked what religion the person was, and that person replied, whatever leads to the light.  Sadly, unless your faith is in Jesus, that light will only be the fires of hell and eternal gloom.  Jesus really is the only way to salvation.  God did not have to send any way to salvation, but he sent Jesus.  We must strive to continue following him with abandon and stop trying to contribute anything to our salvation or decide that what we think is better.  Nothing is better than Jesus and following his will.