Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I'm still wondering, "How do we know whether or not present day 'tongues' are false tongues?"

And with that, here's another simple related question that came to my mind when I was asked "whether or not I believe 'tongues' are meant for the present time."?

I wondered, "Are there authentically biblical 'tongues' going on in the present time?" Or, have they gone on anywhere since the first century? Does their authentic practice actually exist somewhere now?

These are questions that will quickly get you charged with being "judgmental" or "argumentative" or ("stupid" or)"not meditating on scripture deeply enough". Charges people will forward in order that they don't have to think about such difficult yet important things. We are not taught how to approach tough questions we face when confronted with conflicting Christian teachings. We are taught rather, against reason, that conflicting teachings are acceptable. But the mind of Christ is not "double-minded", and these tough questions are what an honest and sound mind should ask, when faced with multiple conflicting Christian teachings, and should insist upon tough answers.

But here's the real problem I had with the question I was asked as to "whether or not I believe tongues are meant for the present time". I don't think it's a matter of 'believing', or 'not believing' whether or not they are meant for the present, but rather, either they 'are' truly here somewhere today, or they are not. Since they are intended for the unbeliever, they would be able to be seen and heard, and understood, by unbelievers. At the same time they would be able to be seen and heard, and understood, by other believers. Are the scriptural 'tongues' of Mark 16 or Acts 2 here now anywhere and able to be seen and heard?

Do real 'tongues' exist anywhere in the 'present'? My understanding tells me no. Scripture says maybe, but not what we're seeing practiced today by people in the Charismatic church. But when I'm asked "whether or not I believe tongues are for today" by a charismatic and say, "no", because what I'm seeing today appears to be false tongues, I'm told that actually they are for the present day because he/she does them, and so they must be for today, and that if I meditate deeply enough on scripture I will see it. But it can't be whether I believe they are here now or not. Either they are here now, and we can point to them, see and understand them, or we can't, and they are not.

Which then brings us back to the main question. "How do we know whether or not present day 'tongues' are false tongues"?

I think there are people from many religions doing what they believe to be speaking in tongues. Many people from Native American Indian, African, Eastern religions, and etc. claim to do it. But the source of them all cannot be the same God. And surely not the God who came in the flesh and delivered His very Word of Truth to us as it stands in the Bible. He's not the author of those tongues. Those are the tongues, apparently, of other gods whom one day will be no use to them.

But specifically, "are present day 'tongues' and some of the tongues we read about being spoken at Corinth false tongues"?

What are false tongues? Are they even spoken of in the Bible? Are we truly at the mercy of "discerners of spirits" to know whether a 'tongue' being spoken is from a good spirit or bad spirit? Are there, in this present age, all of these spirits, that is, spirits of men, spirits of angels, some of light, some of darkness, and demons wanting to speak to us on Sunday morning in our Charismatic church's?

Or is it simply "learned" behavior, an imitation somehow, behavior glorying in some natural impulses that seem spiritual and come from our flesh?

As 'speaking in tongues' is practiced today, we can be sure that it is done in a way prohibited in scripture. The "unknowable tongues" admittedly cannot be interpreted. They don't even fit the definition of gift of tongues if they are not in a known language. Yet they are spoken, when scripture tells them to be interpreted or to be silent. That's disobedience to scripture. But...that seldom phases anyone born after the Age of Enlightenment. Now days many of us just accept that we will sin here and there, and then thank the Lord for His law of liberty. Except the Law of Liberty does not allow for willful sin.

In my last post, over a month ago, I was discussing 'speaking in tongues' with a gracious fellow who claimed to be a "speaker of tongues", and an "interpreter of tongues". I was forced to consider this practice more thoroughly than I ever had in the past. Our discussion left us at complete odds with each other. Him, the possessor of a marvelous visible gift from God, and me, someone not yet able to see it, or to read and understand certain things in scripture. We looked at scripture together and nothing changed in our position toward one another. Is the answer to the unlock the impasse able to be found in scripture? Does scripture perform what it promises to the seeker of knowledge? Are answers to discussions such as these attainable or does it purposefully leave us fractured like he and I?

(There are men who would teach, that scripture in certain instances, leaves us fractured 'beyond our control' due to us being mere men of limited understanding. But isn't that type of teaching actually faulty. Isn't that "man's" own teaching? Because with the mind of Christ are we not more than merely darkness bound men anymore, condemned to quarreling about the Truth?. Doesn't that sort of teaching mentality which men use to stay entrenched in their differences actually stem from some ungifted teachers simply stubbornly wanting to believe what they want to believe? Aren't we asked to prove everything by scripture? And then also to avoid controversy? Is there even one controversy within the church Body that edifies it? There are common and popular controversies which keep Christians battling each other, almost as if it's a sport, with one eye in the word, and the other eye in the theological wisdom of their favortie man, only to cause them to, once in a while, bolt to the other side and continue to battle against their former allies, all the while relying on someone else's understanding from scripture instead of patiently allowing solely scripture to build their understanding. So I would argue that when we take the abundance of available straightforward directives of scripture, we are fully equipped with all spiritual wisdom and knowledge to answer any reasonable question plainly and confidently. And that there is one faithful Truth.)
So what are "false tongues"? Is there such a thing as a false tongue?

The question that plagues me is , "Are there 'tongues' today at all"? I've seen and heard so-called 'tongues' and have yet to see one that meets the Bible's definition.

Another question that leaps to mind here is, "Has there been a 'tongue' spoken since the first century, or so, that has been verified as being Divinely breathed"? Has it occurred to anyone that, 'speaking in new tongues', is the only sign from Mark 16(below) that cannot be easily verified as to it's source? God or counterfeit? That poses a problem. Maybe the Lord has provided the solution for that problem. But first here's another valid question. "Is there a "gift of tongues", that applies to the present time, in other words, now, mentioned in prophecy? I haven't found one yet.

Is the passage of Mark 16: 16-17 explaining present day "tongues"? Aside from the sign of 'tongues', where are all of these other signs today? Is it only coincidence that 'tongues' is the only one, of all these signs, that we see today? And might that have anything to do with it being the most difficult to verify(verily, verily - truly, truly)? Why haven't any believers or unbelievers I know seen anything resembling real 'speakers of new tongues"? Why haven't any of the believer's I know, except the so-called "prayers in tongues", found themselves possessing the 'gift of tongues', or any of the 'sign gifts' in Mark 6? Might this have a bearing on how we can know if a sign was meant for today or not? Whether any of the signs at all from Mark 6 exists in that context today? Or by asking in what way the present day 'gift' resembles what was foretold of in scripture to see if it matches with what scripture is speaking of? I believe it would have to go a long way to answering What? Where? When? How? and Why? and what sort of 'tongues' are present today.

Were they for the apostles time? Yes, but then for how long?

Mark 16:14-19
Afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.] [And they promptly reported all these instructions to Peter and his companions. And after that, Jesus Himself sent out through them from east to west the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. ]

Where are they now???

"The Lord worked with them , and confirmed the word by the signs that followed".

"...Jesus Himself sent out through them...the sacred... proclamation...".

This shows these signs were meant especially for the apostles. Exclusively? Perhaps it would have been convenient if Peter had asked, as he did in Luke 12:41, "...Lord, are you addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?" No, most likely not exclusively for the apostles but then probably not far from their authority and teaching either.

Does God use signs to help confirm His word today? Most definitely, but the 'tongues' signs presented today in the Charismatic church only serve to throw things into suspicion and consternation.

If they happened today would we know it? Yes. They would be spoken for a reason, have meaning unto our benefit, be able to be understood and interpreted, and would carry unmistakable Divine content. They would glorify our Lord in a sure way.

Did they fade away as the apostles passed on and the Bible was finished? Is this what Paul meant when he said that 'tongues' will fade away? They certainly have faded, but completely away as signs? Surely God's miracles happen every minute of the day, but were the signs spoken of in this passage different than what we see today only in the charismatic church? The original gift of tongues were meant to command attention and be convicting. To be seen and believed. These are not the ones you find today. The original signs are not the ones you see today on the Benny Hinn show. Are the original sign gifts the ones that you see presented in Charismatic churches on Sunday morning?

And are there two different kinds of "gifts of tongues" as the charismatic would teach today? One spoken of in Acts 2, and the other in 1 Cor. 14:2, and confirmed in 1 Cor. 12:10. Two different kinds of 'gift of tongues', "that should not be mixed up", as a charismatic would say? If that were the case then shouldn't we have further instruction from somewhere as to exactly 'how' there are two different kinds of tongues, and how each should be handled? But aren't 'tongues' the same everywhere they are mentioned in the Bible - that is, known languages with meaning - except in 1 Cor. 14:2?

In v. 14:2, is Paul describing a second kind of tongue which has a different source and a different destination than the first kind. One is from God to unbelievers, through believers; and the other, the Spirit, speaking to God, through the believer, by the believer? Or is Paul actually describing a prevalent, 'man breathed' tongue, being practiced there in Corinth, and not the God breathed "gift"? It's "the tongues of men and of angels". The charismatic claims it to be the Spirit expressing things from a persons heart, that the person themselves cannot express, coming out of the speaker amidst the congregation, as a language that is 'unknowable' and impossible to interpret. This was silenced by Paul. In the modern Charismatic church this requires "discerners of spirits" to tell if it is a good spirit or not. Or if it is God's Spirit or some other spirit. This "praying in tongues" sounds something like would be described as a form of incoherent gibberish, or nonsensical talking. The charismatics call it "praying in tongues" and say it is, in effect, the Spirit's interpreting to God those inexpressible things that are on your heart.

Where else does scripture help us with this unsettling 'second kind of tongue' that presumably Mark 16 now has to make room for? Or can it? The charismatic would like it to, but wouldn't this 'second kind' of tongue be an altogether different kind of thing than is mentioned anywhere in scripture. Wouldn't this be a tongue whereby others are expected to watch the Spirit talking to God from someone else's soul? Is this believable from scripture? I have to admit that that proposition instead defies my belief altogether. O.k. I'm sure this would be where I am told to meditate more deeply into scripture, and see how this would truly be a neat thing. A neat thing to watch the Spirit of God interceding to God before our very eyes. That is if it's truly God. If it is not then the "discerner of spirits" will know. But if it's not , then, where did God go? Why didn't He show up this time? That one sounds like God to me? Are you sure that's not God? How do we know? Where's the rule book again? What a scary circus this is.

Be patient and we'll find out what scripture says. Oh, this will be nothing that will shake any charismatic's belief, nor will it really be anything new. But it will be a sound basis for understanding the next time someone gets ambushed by a charismatic Christian. That is my hope anyway. If you get bored, then consider the 'tongues' comments from my last post, which are really not all that insightful, and please feel free to forward your own understanding. I've come a long way in the last couple of weeks in my understanding of what going on in this area, all credit going to God and the Scriptures, and I'm ready to start drawing some reliable scripture honoring conclusions. My love for these charismatic brothers and sisters of ours is great, and that demands not sugar-coating any admonishments for them from scripture. Scripture speaks clearly in this area presenting no matters left open for debate. But it's going to take another week or two to get it down in a respectful fashion. There is not a whole lot more to say really. I just have to try and get it said right. Thanks for stopping by.

(Just one of those lingering notes here). Would He leave us hearing an "unknowable" tongue, not knowing whether it's a word of encouragement, or a deadly arrow, speaking deceit or setting an ambush?(Jer. 9:8) Can't we be assured that He would not?

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I'm starting here as a continuation of the above, as well as the lengthy comments taken from my discussion in the 'comments' section of the previous post with Paul G., the "speaker of tongues" and "interpreter of tongues" which you can get to through "this link here" .

The "speakers of tongues' in the Charismatic church are not displaying the biblical 'Gift of Tongues":

1.) Anytime they are tested by proving the 'speaker' against the 'interpreter', and then looking at the message 'spoken', they come up false. It's just that simple. Not "empty", false. Well, that's awfully presumptuous for me to say, doesn't it seem like? And exceedingly insensitive? Probably dangerously judgemental? No, I'm simply stating the obvious and the verifiable. Not to impugn anyone or demean anyone, but simply to look at this, held up to what tests we have from scripture, and from nature, to clear things up for my daughter when one day she will be confronted with these charismatic teachings. Let's not forget, Benny Hinn, with his alleged 'gift of healing' television program, is not healing people, if you check with them once they are backstage. Or in subsequent days when the adrenalin and unfulfilled hope have subsided. Much of it is simply staged. Some of it is faked by people truly desperate for healing. Nothing in the way of a miracle goes on there. Is it, in effect, "Simon the magician" of Acts, leading people to Christ? Who knows? One more thing needs to be pointed out. There are no, "speaking in gift of tongues", t.v. shows. Because the content of those shows would be able to be verified.

*"Charismatic praying in tongues" comes from men themselves.

This is how Paul describes it. "For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God".

"For if I 'pray in a tongue' my spirit prays".

'praying' in "unknowable tongues", are actually giving voice to spirits other than God. And falsely presenting them to themselves and others as God Himself. 1 Cor. states that God is the originator of His tongues and speaks through men in known languages that have meaning. Any other is not from God and is inappropriate to speak according to scripture. Those are surely "profane and vain babblings" in their content.

Is "praying in tongues" actually Romans 8 being played out before our eyes? Is it the Spirit of God actually searching the heart of the speaker and then using the speaker himself to speak for It, back to God, 'groanings that are too deep for words? Then why doesn't He tell us that? Why instead does He 'put into words' something He tells us is "too deep for words"? But most importantly, why does He put in front of us unidentifiable and only self-edifying babblings, of which we can have no idea whether or not are coming from a mere 'common spirit' - good spirit or bad spirit - to marvel at as though from Him? Possibly a demon bringing God's glory from us to himself. Why would God take the otherwise beautiful and comforting picture He gives us in Romans 8:26-27 of the Spirit explaining our hearts to God, and make a display which we cannot tell from that of a wicked demon? That would be a contradiction from God. But God does not allow contradiction. These displays are not of God. They would even be a betrayal by God. Fooling us into marveling at a demon. Praising, even worshipping a demon. Not knowing! This sort of display is not of God.

The following verse is found worded in many different ways within many different translations. But isn't the spirit of this verse, which resounds the same through all of the translations but is found below in the New King James version, an important and useful foundational perspective when trying to decipher the truth within the teachings of men, otherwise, seemingly godly teachers, such as we find in the Charismatic church?


1 Tim. 6:20 "...avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge--.

I've finally learned, through my discussion in the comments section of this post 'what' is 'what'. Now I just need to get it said right in a final post.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oct. 31...A Day for Every Christian to Hold Dear.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg, God in His own time loosing His nation free again from political enslavement.

Just in case we'd forgotten that there is something meaningful to remember on the 31st of October, we can always reflect on this precious memory of Martin Luther while we watch for Him(Christ) to return in the same way as those who had seen Him leave.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Another Biblical Inconsistency?

I met a local brother in Christ who I used to attend church with beside a lake along a highway, where he was camping with his family. I stopped there with my daughter and her friend for a side-trip after taking them along with me to shoe one horse today. He showed me that he was reading a book by John MacArthur and I responded saying that he was a good Christian author. He also remarked that he'd come across a new biblical concept never really given any more than lip service in our old church and that was sanctification. I responded with joy and mentioned the verse, "This is the will of God, your sanctification...and that you possess your own vessel in sanctification and honor."

I love that whole passage so I think I'll paste it right here:

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

1 Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. 2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. 8 So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.


Sanctification is a good thing, in all of it's contexts.

I did mention to him that one thing I remember of John MacArthur is that he's fallen into an error of subscribing to the Reformed style of theology. The Reformed Theology is guilty of devising a man-made system of theology which speculates with regards to the nature of 'election' and its specifics. Christian brethren cannot just go about writing doctrine regarding things Christ has not made clear. That's when my friend explained to me that there are two doctrines of election in the Bible.

Bingo, another inconsistency in the Bible? It would have to be. I told him that the "them" he was referring to, the two different doctrines, were both wrong and that God did not give us a specific doctrine of election, but told us only that there is one, after a sort. I told him that there have been brilliant men debating over what exactly is said in the bible about how the dynamic of election is said to actually work, from the beginning of...well, whenever that rueful day was when men started debating over the meaning of clear and simple passages of scripture in the Bible, and that they would continue to not be able to get it sorted out until Christ returns. And that it was not to be known. He agreed that it was a mystery. I don't like to call it a mystery. I don't believe the Bible refers to it as one. I refer to it as a point of God's knowledge which He hasn't intended for us to know the details of, and which the discussion of, never fails to produce quarrels and factions which are warned against by Christ in scripture.

The discussions on the details of 'election' produce more division and alienation from each other than edification.

No inconsistencies in the Bible yet. I'm sure we all agree that the 'pure milk of the word' is all of what it claims to be.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An Alleged Biblical Contradiction Explained.

A Christian woman farrier customer of mine today despaired of the following apparent contradiction that has plagued her as she has struggled to know what to do during times when she's experienced the world's justice system letting her down, not satisfactorily serving up her fill of justice to certain wicked individuals, leaving her with the desire to take measures into her own hands and pursue her own need for revenge.

I can't tell you how gratified I was to hear someone bring up a problem they were having deciphering scripture.

She wasn't sure what to do. She posed what appeared to her to be a contradiction in scripture because she was unable to figure out how to reconcile the following two verses.

1) * "AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH." and...

2) * "Vengeance is Mine, says the Lord"

______________________________
(1) Mt 5:38
"You have heard that it was said, `AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.'

(2) Ro 12:19
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.

______________________________

As usual, I was not ready with a very convicting explanation. I told her it was a "covenant" thing; one old, lived out in the Old Testament, and the other new, as explained by Christ in the New Testament. A dispensational thing. And then I fumbled around explaining the old covenant of the Law and the new covenant of the ministry of the Spirit.

We love our verses. Memorizing them and throwing them around abbreviatedly to explain God's revelation to us through His scripture.

Here's where I went wrong. I had not simply gotten my Bible out.

But even if I'd gotten my bible out, still how would I have quickly found these two verses and made some sense out of them - without fumbling and skimming and searching for a long long time? I would have done it with the Bible Concordance under my seat.

I could have made, perhaps, complete sense of the dilemma in minutes...perhaps looking at least for a moment, like a complete Christian finatic, controlled by the love of Christ even - which I truly hope I am anyway- and sent her away with the complete scriptural answer.

But instead I thanked her for making me think, told her I was going to have to go and fill out my own understanding and come back later with a more satisfactory answer.

I wish I'd taken a moment with her and looked at these verses in my Bible because there instantly appeared the complete answer.

All we'd needed to have done was to go to the remainder of both verses, and then to the following verse, where things would have been instantly cleared up for us.

We could have gone to Romans 9.

Rom. 12:19
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord.


From this passage it should be very clear never to take your own revenge. He tells us where, when, why, and how.

And then we'd have gone to Mathew 5.

Mt 5:38
"You have heard that it was said, `AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.' 39 "But I say to you, do not resist an evil person;

With the word "But" here Jesus tells us Himself that we are no longer to avenge an eye for an eye.

No more eye for an eye, or tooth for a tooth style self-administered justice. No more revenge. Leave room for the wrath of God.

God tells us now that that was how it was then, but... this is how it is now. Straightaway we are now fully instructed.

Well I'm more prepared now.

_________________________________

44 "But I say to you, love your enemies..."

45 "...so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven;"

_________________________________

Praise be to God, with thanksfulness, through Christ, who is our full knowledge and wisdom in His Word to us.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

On Practical Holiness and the Dress of Many Christian Women: It Was Such a Pretty Picture...

There she was. The first time on her horse outside the safe perimeter of our large pasture and wanting badly to canter around our oval training path. So she did. I had still not quite arrived, but could see her, galloping along with feet underneathe her, confidently poised upon her newly aquired old mare. It was such a pretty picture. She was wearing her very modest looking dress which one of the ladies from our Mennonite church made her. Her legs nicely covered with leggets. Perfect. It was working. She can ride in her favorite dresses. Even with modesty. Cool. It was such a pretty picture when...(rude interruption indeed)...the old mare tripped, Deanta went flying up onto her neck, teetering, still hanging on beautifully, the mare stepped, and stepped again, not quite being able to regain her footing and wham! down to the ground they went. End of picture.

The horse took several moments to get up. It wasn't limping. The daughter then was to get up. Crying quite valantly. Then she said, "I'm not hurt I'm just scared". What a composed and adroit evaluation of the situation I thought to myself. "Grab the horse quick!" I screamed. That's just a good old rule of thumb after falling off a horse. I said, "Well praise God, not hurt is good and scared is understandable and can be good as well".

I tried to persuade her that it's very unusual for a horse to fall down like that and much more common that a horse would regain his footing after tripping without crashing to the ground. I told her she did an incredible job sticking with the horse and hung on very well. "Now do you think you can get back on her?"

Oh yeah, and pretty soon she wanted to canter somemore.

What a pretty picture.

And I'm talking particularly about the 'dress'. She's decided that she wants to dress modestly in the same type of dresses the women from church wear. All the time. Not because she has to, but because she wants to.

I told her she could not until she was ready ahead of time to deal with the questions she would get as to why she wears a long dress. Riding the horse and climbing trees around our property is one thing, but beyond that, there are people out there who will not understand. And predictably, there will be many Christians among them.

She said she just wants to praise God. She walks all day long in an exciting and very active relationship with the Lord and wants nothing more than to please him.

I don't consider her wearing the dress and a pony tail an act of praise. But I'm glad she does. I consider it an act of conviction from the heart of an individual believer in response to scriptural recommendations.

I've explained to her that the women from church wear dresses for a number of reasons. To name two here could include that: the Lord recommends womens clothing for women and men's clothing for men; and He also asks for modesty in our dress, and a woman's covering her form is a nice gesture toward that request. Men would understand best the true impact of a woman covering her form on their covetous and easily distracted minds.

I tell her they also do it to separate themselves from the willy-nilly fashions of the world. Even to distinguish themselves culturally as practicing Christians. In other words, to be walking, albeit in one small way, in the ways of the Lord, and not being afraid to show it. To show submissiveness to the gospel, men and the Lord. And to honor and respect the same. They also have more good and divine reasons for wearing what they wear, for which they find encouragment from the Lord Himself.

She's come to see the mind and love of Christ in the people from her church.

The Bible tells us to imitate people of great faith. There's no stopping her now.

I've taken to changing my wardrobe to plain long-sleeved shirts buttoned to the top. In one sense, I want to wear the dress. Perhaps even the head covering. But it's not for the men. I long for the Bible to instruct me on how I can go beyond having just an excited and thankful heart unto Christ and tell me how I can honor him with, not only what I do and say, but also what I chose to wear. Well it really doesn't. And we Christians walk around so camoflouged in our appearance to each other in this wolrd so as to barely see any evidence of each other.

I'm going to imitate a few others of great faith and hope to the Lord that still others ask me why I dress the way I do. For it's not because I have to, but because I want to. Granted it's not for everybody. And perhaps it will help generate some exciting God-honoring conversation and relationships. Because God came to earth and made an appeal to men telling them that He loved them and asks them, because of His love for them, to conform their will in submission to His, and through Him be once again joined back to Him.

She's heard the good news and is overflowing with it. I think she's ready for the battle folks. The Lord has blessed her with His peace and knowledge and I am just beside myself in wonderment and thanksgiving.

Much more to be said here on this topic.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Inconsistencies and Contradictions in the Bible?

Not so long ago...I was going to a church where both the Pastor and the assistant Pastor would occassionally fail to be able to handle certain difficult passages in the Bible successfully and would suggest then that this was due to certain contradictions and/or inconsistencies within the Bible. Yet those Pastors and that church's doctrinal statement both hold to the inerrancy of the Bible. How could there be contradictions or inconsistencies in the infallible Word of God? Surely to novices there are 'seeming' inconsistencies, but are there 'actual' inconsistencies? If there are then how can we claim it to be without error? The inconsistencies are not in the Bible but rather the individuals own theological understanding.

Let me use the following approach to try and make some sense out of how this is so.

Satan said to Jesus, "...it is written, `HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU'; and `ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.' " Jesus said to him, "On the other hand, it is written, `YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.' "


Jesus agrees with satan and says yes, 'such and such', is indeed written. But then He goes on to respond that, even though "it is written", there is a larger principle yet at work here. Therefore you have to take the whole of God's word into account before you make a bold proclamation using just one single verse. Both statements of scripture mentioned above by Christ and satan are correct within their own context but one of them does not contain the whole Truth.


And this is perhaps partly how the leaders of this other church I attended at one time became confused to the point of believing that there are inconsistencies and contradictions in the Word. They would get hung up on certain seemingly contradictory passages after not isolating each passage and looking at it's own unique context in order to get it's meaning; which would have then possibly allowed them to see each passage's unique truth come into harmony with the unique truth of each and every other passage of the Bible.

Here's the root of the problem. This just dawned on me out of the blue this afternoon. The problem is not that there are inconsistencies and contradictions between the passages of the Bible, but rather, between the bible as a whole and their own theological system. Their personal theological system makes it impossible to reconcile the Truth of the Bible to itself. The problem is their flawed theological method.

Well...this idea sure is underdeveloped. It's late at night after an exhausting week. But I've been pondering where this sort of thinking comes from for a long time. I think I may have hit on a partial explanation here. This explanation, which I'm sure has dawned on many others as well, should be useful as a foundation for helping folks like these handle those potentially deceptive passages that would mislead them into believing that there are doctrinal errors, inconsistencies or contradictions in something so True.

I'll probably rework this post a little bit more in the near future. This demands a little more thought than I can give it tonight.

Hearty thanksgiving with you to the Lord.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Poem, Inspired By Lamentations 3.

Surely My Soul Remembers
______
Surely my soul remembers the land it once wandered,
All baron and dry.
Then how my heart was quickened with Your living waters,
And ceased to die.
Surely my soul remembers that You are my portion,
And I am Your heir,
And how my heart, forgetting Your ways and Your kindness,
Squandered it’s share.
*
By my hands I'd refashioned Your work to a vessel of sorrow and grief.
Where there’s grief there’s compassion, and new every morning, Your faithful bequeath.
And my heart bows down, because great is Your faithfulness,
And great is my need.
______
Surely my soul remembers the day when You turned
Your great anger away.
With grace untold Your kindness came reaching instead,
My soul to save.
Surely my soul remembers it’s joy in Your words
To which none can compare.
And death that came by turning away from them
Leaving them wasted there.
*
By my hands I'd refashioned Your work to a vessel of sorrow and grief.
Where there’s grief there’s compassion, and new every morning, faithfully bequeathed.
And my heart bows down, since great is Your faithfulness,
And great is my need.
______
Surely my soul remembers the rock and the fortress,
Down from which it flew.
Then by Your Son, You bore it on eagles wings,
Mercifully, back to You.
Surely my soul remembers Your teaching ways,
My crooked pathways made straight.
Turning from them, again and again, I did,
As if them I hate.
*
By my hands I’d refashioned Your work to a vessel of sorrow and grief.
Where there’s grief there’s compassion, it’s new every morning, faithfully bequeathed.
And my heart bows down, because great is Your faithfulness,
And great is my need.
(-Todd S.)
_________________________________________________
_______
Here's a little melody to go with it although when I played the last line unfortunately I was not concentrating on phrasing the piano notes according to the words. But soon I'll sing the thing. 2-3 hours of working out my voice, several times a week, has been strengthening it quite a bit. Come back in a few weeks if you want and check it out. This song has got a long way to go but it's a wonder it's here at all. Love, joy.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Bible Conference Weekend at My Church.

Here are a few of my notes from the Bible Conference Weekend at the Mennonite Church of Gleason, WI that I attend. I can't begin to tell you how I enjoyed hearing all of this.
_________________________

The keynotes and thoughts of the first speaker were as follows:

Let's be ambassadors.

Servants asking to be pierced through the ear. (As in the O.T. practice of fastening an ear ring to the servant who did not want to be freed from service after seven years but wanted to serve for life.)
_________________________

Bits and pieces on Biblical non-conformity:

Are we building a heavenly city or tearing down the gates of hell? Both perhaps. Believers need to strengthen and encourage each other because each one makes up part of the wall to keep the enemy out - the enemy being, the defiling influences of the world, the flesh and the devil on ourselves and our families.

Maintain purity with daily washings in the water of the Word.

We recognize there are many other builders(outside of our own denominational membership) and not just ourselves.

Our work is all tested.

There will be some latitude from congregation to congregation. We all do our part towards the finished product.

Let's be true builders.

Let's let nothing be done through strife or vain-glory. Humility, ready to take advice. We all need correction at times because we are human.

When standards are drawn up they need to express unity and have a unifying effect.
_________________________

Other points:

Change in heart is necessary from the kingdom of the world to the kingdom of God. From the power of darkness to the power of the Christian life.

Passing from death into life begins a lifetime of separation.

Separation is the beginning and non-conformity is a continual process.

Beholding the Lord we are changed.

Our motivaton comes from the love of the Lord.

Devotion from thanksgiving opposed to 'formalism' and 'legalism'. Earnest desire to please Him and glorify Him in our body. Separate ourselves from the evil course of society in general. Maintain sense of accountability to the Lord. Keep things out of our homes that might be detrimental to our children.

Train ourselves as servants.
_________________________

And concerning church discipline:

The need for discipline(setting some straight) is unavoidable and sometimes necessary. The speakers illustration was, "If the church drops he reins of discipline then satan will pick them up and drive the church to hell". Yeah! Aaaamen.
_________________________

*One of my favorite notes of the weekend were: "The Bible contains spiritual lessons and edification for every generation."
______________________________

These were the thoughts and instruction of the men who lead my church and the six other sister churches. This stuff was honey to my ears.

Seems like just good sound and basic stuff that is worth keeping close to the front in our Christian minds.

And man, to be around people who aspire to this sort of thing has been a blessing for me.

Thanks for dropping by and may it be all joy to you.

"sensible...,"

Titus 1:8, "...but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, holding fast to the faithful word which is in accordance with teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict."

Sense(sensible): Normal intelligence and judgement.

I think this word 'sensible' as well gives us all great hope.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

"O My Gawd!"-(finally updated)

My daughter, bless her concerned heart, has long been getting into discussions with her friends about their use of the phrase "Oh my god!" She doesn't even like it when they say "Oh my gosh!" because it's the same thing spelled differently. Her average friend does not know quite how to handle her unyielding disapproval of language that is disrespectful toward God.

I tell her that even though she has a valid concern most of them will not get it, no matter how valid, because saying "Oh my god/gosh" is so popular and widely accepted. That even though it's being disrespectful toward God to use His name in a "vain", "empty" sort of way, it's not our problem. And if they insist that it's harmless then it's not up to us to force the way we do things onto them. This strong language is the only way I can get her to back down. Her father is extremely proud of the Lord for placing such strong conviction inside of her about this and now he realizes that he's got to teach her about the power the Lord has placed inside of her to allow her to manage this conviction properly.

And while I had a nice post written up this afternoon, something happened, autosave problems began to mount, and with one push of the wrong shortcut button my post disintegrated into cyberspace with only it's inadequate blurry remains left in my memory. So in a day or two I'll be able to pick up on this and give it another shot.
____________________________________

So my whole point here is to get some stuff down on record that my daughter and I can refer to.

The thing that immediately comes to our mind when God's 'name' comes up is thanksgiving and worship. As it probably is with most Christians.

When people use the phrase they are generally expressing dismay, anger or amazement. They're not seeking God's presence, His approval, even His help. They're expressing the same emotion that, when strong enough, turns into violent profanity. It never is actually about God. It's just a selfish and empty 'exclamation' usually related to confusion.

There is usually nothing 'about God' in saying "Oh my god". And if there's nothing about Him in it then His name is being misused 'vainly', in an empty and wasteful way. If one is saying "Oh my god" and 'is' referring to Him, then it's being disrespectful since He's told us not to refer to Him that way. And it would also stand to reason that if it's not about Him, then it's referring to a false god. The very Creator of all things has offered us an intimate relationship with Himself wherein He has asked us to remember that He is The God. Our God. "Hallowed be Thy name". A hallowed name that is not thrown around "with no purpose".

His name is to be honored. We call upon It for our salvation. It represents our Truth in a fleeting messy world.

The phrase "Oh my god" is often used by non-christians to connote the god of their particular concern of the moment. The weather god, the god of luck or good fortune, or 'this', or 'that' god. It's a phrase used commonly by people who have rejected the one true God who's revealed His Son and proved Himself to all men by raising Him from the dead. We don't want to share their vernacular. It's empty and presumptuous at best for them to talk that way and it's a way we don't want to imitate.

The biggest excuse I hear for justifying the use of the phrase "Oh my god!" is that friends and parents do it and, moreover, don't have a problem with it. That would be getting your authority from our friends and aquaintances instead of our Bible. Again, a very compromising position concerning the showing of respect for our Father God who has offered us a place in His kingdom.

I probably should be but I'm not quite done yet. I'm just thankful things let up a little so I was able to get back to this. Sorry it took so long. I'm eager to post some more on the blessing my church has been to me lately but want to get through this thing first. His kingdom come.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Must Read "Preface".


_________________________Preface________________________
Around the year 892 B.C. four starving lepers outside the besieged city of Samaria came to a desperate choice. If we stay here, they reasoned, we will die. If we go into the city, we will die. If we surrender to the enemy, we will but die, and there is a chance we will be spared. So they walked out to the enemy camp.

When the arrived, to their amazement, they found it deserted. An entire army had fled in panic from an imagined enemy leaving all their provisions behind. As the four hungry lepers went from tent to tent helping themselves, they remembered the starving people in the city. "We're not doing right," they said. "This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. Let's go at once and report this to the royal palace." (see II Kings 7:3-9, in the Bible)

From early childhood on, I knew and loved the Bible stories such as the one just related. I could recite in perfect order the books of the Bible. I knew the parables, the miracles and the theology of my church. But there came a time when I discovered things in the Chrisian camp that disturbed me. By the time I became a young adult, disillusionment in some areas had raised the flag of doubt over it all.

At that point in my life I did not want any more Bible stories or sermons on church order and prophesy. I wanted to know the basic message of the Bible and I wanted to know if it was true or not. I remember sketching an imaginary threshing machine that would separate the main points from the details. I wanted a machine like that. In the course of thinking and dreaming, I decided that if there really was an underlying message in the Bible, I should be able to identify it, outline it on a 3 x 5 card, and scrutinize it point by point. I was afraid to examine the Bible for fear that it would not stand the test, yet I knew that in order to truly believe I had to run the risk.

I like the story about the lepers. I can identify first of all with their fear. They took a chance and so did I. I can also identify with the wonder that they felt. They came to a camp that a lot of people had abandoned and found treasure. Finally, I know exactly what they felt like when they said, "We're not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves." God has enriched my life with joy, peace, direction and a satisfied mind. Things like this should not be kept secret. Furthermore, half the joy of wonderful discovery comes from sharing it.

(The rest of the preface is a brief personal note to his customers. He is a truck farmer.)

Best Wishes,
David Schonberg

This is the preface of a book my pastor gave to me the next time he saw me after hearing my testimony of finally finding and then getting to know the Lord. Very encouraging thoughts I felt. Now I'll read the rest of the book.

It's called Ecology and Beyond.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Beauty to Me of God's "Foreknowing" and "Predestining".

I think God probably reserves the privilege of being spontaneous in His moment of decision making as He continuously goes about the authoring of all life. Spontaneous may not be the best word. But He already knows - you could say, foreknows - what He wants. I picture then an omnipotent and omniscient God (an all-powerful and all-knowing God) having infinitely sufficient means to pull off whatever He needed to pull off in order to achieve His pre-determined end result. I suppose He looks down on the whole realm of possible courses of action and choses, or, in the absence of any good possibilities to chose from, just "creates" His own possibilities; foreknowing already, what He wants, all of the possiblities that will present themselves, and then, exactly what He needs to do to get there to His chosen outcome. Enacting right now, in the moment, things of the moment, having prepared them from the beginning of time, and preparing then, as well as now, for things nearly an eternity away.

Of course this would have to be a gross oversimplification. But I truly believe that, in part, the process could go exactly as just described.

We know God does have a different relatioship to "time" than us, but exactly how, we don't know. It's one of those things we can't know yet. We do know His relationship to us is "living and active".

Heb 4:12
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart
.

I'm convinced that the present and future may be almost as fresh to Him as it is to us; "fresh" being "newly brought into being". Things in the present must be the product of a fluid and ongoing process of Him effecting a Plan. Or no?

The end plan being a "new" product of ongoing deliberation, preparing, pre-planning, deciding, predetermining; all the while knowing ahead of time what outcome He will bring into being.

There are almost an unlimited number of ways to get from Rhinelander to LA. Leaving Rhinelander one could go over through the Twin Cities and then head west. Or go down through the Quad-cities and over. Or down through Atlanta and then over, or over through Tokyo, or Spain and then Butte, and then over. The possiblities are vitually endless. That seems to me to be the range of possibilities that God is confined to. Infinite. Limitless. Any way He wants to get there. Possibly the more scenic the better.

We all know that much has been created beforehand by Him for us to walk in. Of course, that leaves a huge dynamic of possibilities as to "how" that actually "is", and "was", and "will be".

Well I was given cause to put down in words what I envision personally as the sort of base process for God's enacting all of the details of His plan. This is nothing more than a bunch of whimsical chasing after something I can't know for sure. But I've also got to believe it's basically a sound foundational position from which to view God's enacting of His plan. It's all nothing but fear and wonderment for us anyway, cradled within the context of God's great love for those who want to know Him and follow after His words.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Another Song of Mine

Well, here's the next one.

May the Sound of Thanksgiving He Hear

It may be able to be said that I'm doing the song a disservice by putting it out in early "rough" form. Let's not fret over it. This is my "information home" and this is who I am. There are more useful things to do than to take time to socialize with others on any less of a personal level. I am not a socially needy person, and when I do it, I feel like doing it in a meaningful way. So, check out my song.

I've been trying to wrestle it into something in the last week after playing it and giving it some space to grow for the last year now or so.

How interesting it's turned out. My goal has been to come up with something interesting to share with believers that exists within a scriptural context, and then get the attention of some unbelievers when the opportunity presents itself as well. Wow, I've got a long way to go. And there is truly a whole lot of experimentation going on with this one, especially in the "recording techniques" department.

I'm not unsatisfied with the words but many of them will change. For instance, the white horse itself does not conquer but it's Rider conquers. For the most part I wanted to get some adequate words down so I could finish building the song. Some I will change and rearrange. I don't really think the last four words of the song work, but on the other hand their meaning is almost perfect for me.

Just though I'd share it. Lots more to be done with it but I've got to move on to the next one now while continuing to allow the time for my skill level to continue to grow. It's very time consuming getting these things recorded, hopefully this will suffice for now.



______
*

Your great abundance Lord is pure and true.
Which the radiance of Your Son has lit my pathway to.

Those precious living Spirit given things that only come from you.

Then they go back from whence they came.
As the fruitful lips of thanks, giving praise to Your name.

You’re the potter we’re the clay.
We are what Your hands have made.

2.)
Behold Your anger You have turned away.
And restored us to the peace for which we first were made.

You have granted when in faith we come that no one then gets turned away.

Apart from You we wither and we fall
But when joined to you we stand within in Your all in all.

Lord we thank you for the call.
______________________

(Chorus)
As Your Word performs it’s purpose here
And it’s finished work returns to Your ear.
May the sound of thanksgiving You hear.
______________________


3.)

Abiding in my heart Your gladness through
Brings a wonderment more poweful than wine that’s new.

You have rescued us from darkness, brought us safely to Your kingdom through.

And for a true assurance You’re the only source.

Because the hope you’ve placed within us Rides a mighty white horse

Who conquers faithful and true.

...thanks to You

4.)

The anointing you have given me has healed my soul.
From Your power that’s within me now Your seed does grow.

And the garment which You’ve clothed in Your spring of living waters flow.

Your mercy is the shade by day.
And by night your flaming fire castes my fears away.

And I am finally whole.

(Chorus)

___________________________________________

We are what Your hands have made.
You’re the Potter and we’re the clay.
We are most wondrously made.
So, may the sound of thanksgiving You hear.

___________________________________________

Friday, February 15, 2008

Don't We Need to Love to be Corrected?

If one is in a leadership position of a church of believers and he doesn't love correction; I'm going to dare to say, "with all (his) heart and soul and might", then he can't lead.

We all have to aquire wisdom as we can, and when you have it handed to you by a friend or brother, well that's a freebee. Valuable stuff. "For wisdom is better than jewels". "And he who is wise wins souls".
"Reprove a wise man and he will love you."
"But he who listens to reproof aquires understanding."
"But he who regards reproof is sensible."
"But he who ignores reproof goes astray".

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, But he who hates reproof is stupid."

"A wise man will hear and increase in learning."
I believe it's accurate to say there is no leader(post-apostolic anyway) in the church who is above being corrected. I've met so many of them who have needed it that how could this not be true?
"Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed"When Heb. 13:17 says, "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you", it can only be referring to the leaders Paul and the apostles or men directly under their teaching in Christ. Not someone who simply started a church or even worked their way up a church hierarchy to a leadership position. That may be a form of church leadership but such has no authority beyond routine church management. The only real true leaders of the church are the ones chosen and taught directly by Christ. Anyone else could, nevertheless, surely lead in a church, not having any authority in themselves but mere management authority within their own church walls. Leaders come and go, rise and fall, but the only biblical church leaders are the apostles themselves, and their own appointees under their direct supervision. Everyone else is hit and miss. A leader of sorts, but not the leaders that Hebrews is referring to. So be careful what leaders you obey or submit to, because there are plenty of wolves in sheep's clothing out there as well, who love to use this verse in Hebrews for their own purposes.

In any case, don't be afraid to question your leader, because I believe his response will provide you with insight into his leadership capabilities. If he welcomes correction he is a wise man. If he gets defensive then he needs to sit down again, be a student in how to teach, and..."heed instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it".
"Give {instruction} to a wise man and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man and he will increase {his} learning".

Any self-proclaimed leader should be wise and love correction, and love the one who corrects him.

"Reprove a wise man and he will love you."
If someone corrects him wrongly, then he should love the opportunity to be useful to the Lord, pattern himself after the actual church leaders, and using the authority those church leaders have, teach the would-be corrector rightly, as the original leaders had taught.

"A man will be praised according to his insight."
Seems as though scripture gives me by it's authority, the assurance to say that.

Hymn - He Hideth My Soul

___________

He Hideth My Soul

_________________________

I finally got back to this one. It turned out fairly well. I'm just happy the voice is no worse than it is. Now I'll leave it for another year or so and come back to the hymn as my voice improves. I did everything I could. I did each line nearly 50 times and could not get one bit more steadiness out of the voice. But it's a lot better than it used to be so I'm encouraged. I think there's a tolerable voice in there somewhere so I plan to keep after it.

Words:
Fanny Cros­by

Music:
Wil­liam J. Kirk­pat­rick (MI­DI, score).

He Hideth My Soul
______

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
A wonderful Savior to me;
He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
Where rivers of pleasure I see.
______
Refrain
______

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.
______
A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
He taketh my burden away;
He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,
He giveth me strength as my day.
______
Refrain
______
With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!
______
Refrain
______

When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
His perfect salvation, His wonderful love
I’ll shout with the millions on high.
______
Refrain
______

Sunday, February 10, 2008

A Good Week: The Mennonite Denomination.

For a variety of good reasons I decided to make some adjustments and find a more suitable church for myself this week. I've been needing more. So I went looking and here's what I found.

I have to be careful here because one of my hard and fast rules, only because it's also one of the apostle Paul's hard and fast rules, is to not be yoked together with folks who call themselves after the teachings of particular men, because the teachings of Christ are sufficient. I also don't want to use the term "yoked" in a demeaning way (as yoked together with unbelievers), but it's a raw visceral term that helps express my distaste for all of the meddling with the word that many theologians are prone to, leading people away from the pure milk of the word and the simplicity and sufficiency which Christ accomplished in it's revelation directly to us, for our own use, through His apostles. And for the life of me, I just don't get what's so hard to understand about the Word of God that causes so much disagreement between so many in the theological Christian mainstream.

I'm not going to dilute my own walk in the Spirit though, amongst my brothers, by clothing myself with some other popular theologian's belief's or other theological sloganeering, that most of the time they don't even quite understand themselves, but only in the plain trappings of the bible. Therefore, I will not call myself a follower after the teaching of another man or attend a church on that pretense. That should be obvious since it's prohibited in scripture by Christ through Paul in 1 Corinthians. I don't follow after Paul or anyone else because, well he told me not to and, he said he's just the earthen vessel used for the ministry of the Spirit given to him through revelation of Jesus Christ. We are not partial to Paul, because Paul says that God is not partial to him or anyone; not Apollos', Augustine, the pope, Luther, Calvin or Menno. All of these latter men went to their graves yet needing to make corrections to their teachings. Their faith was true and pure but their teaching was imperfect. In fact, the fruit of part of their their labors was simply unnecessary strife and jealousy among mere men which while at one time had assisted in serving a godly purpose, now, having served boldly but being gone, has left us with many associated problems and farther away than ever from being able to with one accord glorify God the Father with one voice in Christ. The results of any true biblical teaching needs to be inarguably true to Christ's teaching, using the very scripture that is designed for the purpose. I will gladly be taught by anyone, corrected, rebuked, and love it and them for it, as long as they're teaching what Christ's Word has already taught. Don't attach another theologian's name to my church.

Yet, this past Sunday, when I went searching for a new setting to learn and worship, and I wound up at the sign along the highway, which I've been wondering about for the past year or so, that said, "Everyone Welcome"... just beneath the words, Mennonite Community Church. Oh man, what am I doing? Well hear me out.

This morning I attended the Mennonite Community Church of Gleason WI. I was as encouraged as I had hoped to be. I'm going to enjoy studying and growing and learning there on Sunday mornings. They generally caution against using the t.v., radio or the computer, but don't prohibit it. Yes, the women submissively and honorably headtop covering. The men's dress ranges from the mennonite signature dark jacket with the unique collar system on the white shirt. I wear a plain causal pair of dress pants with a casual dress shirt. I see no reason to dress the exact same way I would dress if I were just lounging around the house or in the same style bluejeans I would use to work or play in. I prefer to rachet my church dress up one notch from work/play clothes as just a personal act of respect for the Lord on His day, our day, and in His presence, even though the Lord's Spirit dwells in me all day everyday, and is there during the most disrespecting moments of my average day as well. I've been around people who prefer blue jeans worn to church and just figure that they're doing it as their own conviction - possibly to avoid the empty pretense of showing superficial respect by the way one dresses - for church, unto the Lord. You can't judge a book by it's cover, and so is the way that this congregation of mennonites seem to view others. And all are welcome. Still, we do live in a world where one must call himself something or someone else will name it for you. I won't be calling myself anything but a Christian and I'm hoping I've found some good Christian brothers to be around Sunday mornings.

They do fancy themselves as trying to be separate from the world, as they see it, and I can't fault them for the way they chose to do that. In my mind it's a worthy effort on their part; better than no effort at all ,which is much more common around the professed Christians I've been around. These folks are honoring certain parts of Christ's teaching that there is some ambiguity in (for lack of a better word), and this bunch is willing to extend to others that there is some liberty in Christ to be exercised here as far as dress and tradition. Hopefully.

I'm hoping that they enjoy fellowshiping with folks according to what's in folk's hearts as born out by their words and deeds through Christ. Most of what I heard all morning this morning was that they believe that it's all about Christ. That's all I heard in the preaching. This appears to be a great setting to have as my church. A place to share in the excitement and growth in God's grace through Christ with some earnest folks.

For baptism they tend away from immersion but will do it in any biblical way one prefers. Baptism to them, just as in the bible, is an outword show of devotion and commitment. I'm putting words in their mouth now, but just repeating things I discovered while chatting with a few of the members.

An hour of Sunday School at 10am, kids in the basement and adults in the sanctuary/meeting room, followed by 45 minutes to an hour of preaching. I couldn't have liked the preacher more. A few young teachers-in-training, one by one, lead the bible study and all of us were asked to comment and contribute at every point. I couldn't believe it. Man this is what I was looking for this side of heaven.


We sang three or four hymns in beautiful relaxed a cappella.


The preacher this morning took us through the OT highlighting moments when and how the nation of Israel was told to listen to the Lord, and how in the NT He shows us how it is just as important to Him today. He just stuck to the word and let it do all the talking, always making the distinction between the era's(his word) of the old and new testament and between the befores-and-afters of our Lord's sacrificing Himself to accomplish what is impossible for us. The guy was very light-hearted and spiritedly either reciting scripture or reading scripture most of the time. I loved the way he taught with it.

It was just a good find today friends.

Oh, just as within any group of folks, it is sure to have it's disappoinments. But I'll try to encourage and to strengthen as well as to be encouraged and to be strengthened. They seem to have a Pastor who is able to lead in that. That appears to be a strong part of their mission statement. His adult kids seem to represent him as a father well. I've seen them in their bulk food store for years now.

My options for a church have been very limited. Turning to the phone book under "churches" I almost found myself finally turning to the local Methodist church. Seeing a church called, Mary Queen of the Universe, was a real revolting wake-up call that this was serious business, finding another church family, even though I love my old one. And there was just about every fractured denomination under the sun there in the phonebook. There was another local bible church which I was somewhat familiar with and I could already begin to count the ways in which I'd be disappointed if I had to call that church my home. I was actually becoming a little dispondent, not for me but for my daughter, when I remembered the sign in front of the new mennonite community church built a couple of years ago about 25 minute south of here, which sort of surprised me when it ended with, "All Are Welcome". After visiting there this morning my hopes were confirmed that my need for an edifying church group of believers may become a reality there. The Pastor invites all guests each Sunday to have lunch with his family. What an excellent way that was to kick things off. I had called down and was informed of that ahead of time.

I'm expecting that they'll allow me to worship and study with them without enforcing a dress code on me, although I'm sure they'll expect some respect for their own Christian lifestyle convictions, and on those terms I'm willing to show them plenty of it. My daughter came away with the suggestion that they would appreciate it if she had her hair in braids. I'm more than willing to do that. I'll try and keep from asking them to stumble from their God honoring convictions toward the Lord as long as in return I'm allowed to carefully exercise my liberty to dress the way I see as equally befitting faithfulness to the Lord. In fact, I will have no trouble wearing a shirt and tie like the rest if some of them would feel more comfortable.

There is absolutely no place for my piano playing at the place and I couldn't care less. They want me to sing then I'll sing. Bass though, just to keep the peace. Their layered a cappella singing was very rich and sweet.

I recall 12 years ago when I was trying to find the Lord I'd heard about in my youth, and how I had intentionally worn a jacket, shirt and tie, just because everyone else was dressing down. Just to show you some of my independent tendencies. Then this gal I was seeing made fun of me for overdressing and I quickly conformed to the fashion of the time.

They seemed about as excited to see a new brother in the Lord as I was to see them today.

The men greet each other with a holy kiss. An optional thing with them that I can't foresee participating in.

My daughter made two new friends today, now her new sisters in the Lord, and is just flat excited about growing in the knowledge of God through Christ with them. She put her faith in dad to find us a good church and dad might just have pulled it off. We spent almost the entire twenty-five minute drive down talking about the Big Book.

I know my mind, and my new Pastor knows his, and both being very different I think may, if we do as we should and are tolerant of one another as Paul prescribes, then be of one joyful accord with one another and see, as well as allow others to see, the glory of God, together in Christ.

I'm excited, and I could see his genuine excitement in talking and preaching about the Lord's teaching as well. What a great week.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

They Look at Jesus and Put Their Faith in Demons.

That's the conclusion I came to this morning anyway while hearing some of the things regarding the funeral of the mormon president.

The demons would be the made-up prophets of the mormon faith and their made-up and falsified doctrines. Everythings made-up. The prophet Moroni and so on. It's heartbreaking and so I just had to comment about it. The mormon has looked at Jesus and then turned to hear and obey demons who were disquised as servants of righteousness.

It's almost the perfect religion, patterned after Christianity and all. The only thing they fall short of when compared to Christianity is God's counsel, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit. They follow after men who follow after destructive spirits. What a shame. The demons of Joseph Smith and his conspirators snatched the truth of the gospel of God from their followers hearts before it could take hold.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Hymn - Jesus Thy Blood and Righteousness

Here's another good all around hymn that came to my notice because of the adoration by a good brother in Christ in his blog; good lyrics and beautiful melody.

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Jesus Thy Blood and Righteousness

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Words: Nikolaus L. von Zin­zen­dorf, 1739 (Christi Blut und Ge­rech­tig­keit); first pub­lished in the eighth ap­pen­dix to his Das Ge­sang-Buch der Ge­meine in Herrn-Huth.; trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by
bio("John Wes­ley","w/e/s/wesley_j")

Music: Will­iam Gar­din­er, 1815

Cyberhymnal(MI­DI, score).


Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness
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Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
’Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
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Bold shall I stand in Thy great day;
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.
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The holy, meek, unspotted Lamb,
Who from the Father’s bosom came,
Who died for me, e’en me to atone,
Now for my Lord and God I own.
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Lord, I believe Thy precious blood,
Which, at the mercy seat of God,
Forever doth for sinners plead,
For me, e’en for my soul, was shed.
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Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.
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When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
Ev’n then this shall be all my plea,
Jesus hath lived, hath died, for me.
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This spotless robe the same appears,
When ruined nature sinks in years;
No age can change its glorious hue,
The robe of Christ is ever new.
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Jesus, the endless praise to Thee,
Whose boundless mercy hath for me—
For me a full atonement made,
An everlasting ransom paid.
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O let the dead now hear Thy voice;
Now bid Thy banished ones rejoice;
Their beauty this, their glorious dress,
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hymn - In the Hour of Trial

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In the Hour of Trial

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Here's one I ran across the other week when given the option of picking a hymn concerning Jesus' arrest and betrayal. It doesn't really, but it does mention Gethsemane. I decided to experiment with it. I'm not nearly done but ran out of time so this will have to suffice for now. Gotta move on to another. This is barely roughed out, I haven't figured out yet how to mix and master these things, but as you'll see it's a great hymn. And as you will see I still can't sing. But there is great neglected potential in every corner of God's creation to fellowship with the Lord, and my vocal cords are no exception.

And I just had to see how this hymn would sound playing it in this style. It sounds like I'm hopelessly Scotch-Irish. And I found out that it sounds very rough.

I'm sort of on my way here to covering My Jesus I Love Thee in this same style, so I'll be trying to go there next.

In the Hour of Trial


Words: James Mont­gom­e­ry, 1834; first ap­peared in his Orig­in­al Hymns for Pub­lic, Pri­vate and So­cial De­vo­tion, 1853.
Music: Spen­cer Lane, 1874

MI­DI, score.




In the Hour of Trial
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In the hour of trial, Jesus, plead for me,
Lest by base denial I depart from Thee.
When Thou seest me waver, with a look recall,
Nor for fear or favor suffer me to fall.
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With forbidden pleasures would this vain world charm,
Or its sordid treasures spread to work me harm,
Bring to my remembrance sad Gethsemane,
Or, in darker semblance, cross-crowned Calvary.
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Should Thy mercy send me sorrow, toil and woe,
Or should pain attend me on my path below,
Grant that I may never fail Thy hand to see;
Grant that I may ever cast my care on Thee.
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When my last hour cometh, fraught with strife and pain,
When my dust returneth to the dust again,
On Thy truth relying, through that mortal strife,
Jesus, take me, dying, to eternal life.
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Sunday, January 27, 2008

To Do List...

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Things I need to do today:


1. Have as my ambition to be pleasing to Him. (2Cor. 5:9)


2. Be controlled by the love of Christ. (2 Cor. 5:14)


3. Grab some cod liver oil from the natural food store.


4. Commend myself to every man's conscience in the sight of God. (2Cor.4:2)


5. Give no cause for offense in anything so that the ministry will not be discredited. (2Cor. 6:3)



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Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Song of Mine.

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Song: Reborn of the Spirit

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A few years ago, let's say 3, I pulled a phone number off of the bulletin board of a local music store. It was a woman advertising her own organizing of a Christian coffee shop band up in Conover, WI. Quite the middle of nowhere. She had some huge goals she claimed God had purposed for her. Well I thought I would give her a try, after all, I was getting closer and closer to becoming proficient on the piano and perhaps in the meantime I could just fake it and slide by. I had a nice toy piano that I though made some pretty convincing sounds. Well she interviewed me over the phone, but not knowing that was the last I was going to hear from her, and being a little nervous with my still novice skills, I thought I'd better work out a little on some contemporary sounding chord progressions and be ready.

About an hour later I had sort of gotten to like this little ditty I was doodling with and just kept going with it. I played it an hour or two here and there through the years, just never yet being able to play what I had in mind. Until about two weeks ago when I finally decided to take a good run at it and see where I was at with it. After all I can't really go on putting it off and putting it off. So I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was making some solid progress in my playing and then got it down on a recording, which is a whole nother thing. If I ever get the time and the resources to formally record it I will have someone else do the final mix. But in the meantime, I was able to get alot of ideas down on this rough recording of mine here. And it is rough. This one has got a long way to go yet.

Of course, everything on it needs work. Including the way it's arranged. But it's getting closer. I couldn't play nearly like this a year ago so I'm excited to see next year what another year's practice will bring; especially another year working on the voice.

Now that I can sit back and listen to it, I see all the things wrong with it, and the lyrics and much of the rest of it is still subject to change.

There are about four other songs I've made that I'm hoping I can get up to speed yet this winter and put here on public display.

For the lack of liking any other name I'm going to call it, Reborn of the Spirit.

I don't want to quit on it right now. I would love to have another couple of days to sink into it, work out some errors and develope some more ideas. But this is where it's going to have to stay for now. There're a couple of awkward spots I don't know what to do with yet, but hang in there. I'll definately get to them. Plus, I'm in about the middle of growing a whole new set of vocal cords. Takes time. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Again, here's the link.

Barring any sore throats, one of my goals next week is to re-sing Whiter Than Snow. Which is not sung so bad right now except for the timing and the two different voices I have. Have you noticed that? I redid The Love of God, but I still can't sing it any better so I still have the old one up. It's a hard key for me or something. Sounds atrocious. But it'll come.

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Reborn of the Spirit

There was a time, it’s written to see
The Maker of all, made our hearts to be free
Made them much like His own, in His image He’d sown.
And He fashioned a temple out of flesh and bone.
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He told it one day, His word to obey.
But He already knew, that heart was drifting away.
So He sent forth His Spirit, Who to make the way clear,
The path of redemption, down which our hearts He would steer.
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To believe in His Son. For behold He has come.
To be placed on the altar, that His justice be done.
To turn the hearts of His children, from their own earthly ways,
To the things of the promise, for whom the Son he obeys.
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(Chorus)
The wind it does blow, right where it wishes, we’re told.
And you may hear the sound, but know not wherefrom it goes.
Such is the one, who’s been reborn of the Spirit,
And just as the wind, unto the Kingdom,
you’ll draw near it.
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Then His beautiful son, said He just could not stay.
Said the world that we live in, is just passing away.
But let your heart be not troubled, when I’m gone from here,
Cause the gift from the Father, of the Spirit will be here.
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Because the Spirit will come, and dwell in each one,
Who asks of the Father, for His will to be done.
He’ll be a Light to your pathway, and teach you to see,
That My Word is Truth, and My Truth sets you free.
____What the eye has not seen, nor the ear not yet heard.
What’s been shielded in mystery, within God’s holy word.
What has never before, to the heart entered in,
Has now been prepared, for all of those who love Him.
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Chorus
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(3rd part-choral)
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In through the eyes of your heart you will see,
The Light of the world who wants all men to recieve,
The Spirit of Truth Whom the Father did say
Will know the way home, and will help show you the way.
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