Agents of Future

19 09 2008
I recently rediscovered this amazing band that I’ve known of for quite a long time. The more I listen, the more I’m convinced that this is probably the most amazing praise and worship band ever of all time forever. Everyone should go to these two websites:

http://www.myspace.com/agentsoffuture

http://www.soundclick.com/agentsoffuture

and download every song you can find (around 60 or so :) ).

Those of you who know me well probably know that I think most modern praise/worship music is utterly banal and irrelevant. I feel that most of it has no energy, reuses/recycles the same tired phrases over and over, and borrows melodies way too often. Sometimes it seems like the performers of said music are just going through the motions and everyone is just trying so hard to lose themselves in worship to God in the music. God made us to be creative people for a reason, so I’m usually frustrated when I see people creating art for God that is so unoriginal and consists of covering other bands’ songs/rearranging other bands’ lyrics and calling it new (“I’m singin’ hallelujah and gettin’ smothered by all these brothers who be stuck on the same page tryin’ to get their hymns played, only playin’ covers”…”If anyone’s in Christ then you a new creation. So then, REFLECT your Creator with origination” – Soul-Junk, “Pumpfake”).

Anyway, enough of why I think that music is bad, and onto why I think Agents of Future’s music is so good. These guys play with passion. It’s often kind of sloppy, it’s not produced perfectly, it’s not always sung on key, but it’s some of the most passionate music I’ve ever heard. It’s completely original, and the lyrics seem like they actually took some thought. From what I’ve read about them, Agents of Future isn’t so much a band as it is a get-together of people who love God and celebrate Him in whatever way they see fit. I’ve read that they have as many as 25 people performing along with them when they play live.

Besides all this, the songs are near-unbearably catchy and stick to your brain like glue. So, even if you’re reading this and you aren’t a Christian, chalk the band up to a bunch of wackos singing to an invisible man in the sky and listen to these songs just for the fact that it’s amazing music.

Since some of the songs are really bad audio quality and some are better than others, here are the songs that are just plain great and must be listened to (I didn’t really expect you to download all 60 songs, silly).

SONGS YOU MUST DOWNLOAD:

(from the soundclick site [you have to sign up for the site first, it’s not too hard and they don’t harass you with e-mails, just do it, trust me])

Without Strings (http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=295107&songID=2097144) – First song I ever heard by the band on a CD sampler. I listened to this song nonstop for a long time when I first heard it.

Everything (http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=295107&songID=2128050)

Like a Child (http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=295107&songID=2128101)

UR Who U Say UR (http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=295107&songID=2128174) – This one’s great, insanely catchy- download now.

There is a Name (http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=295107&songID=2365424) – Really great build-up in this song.

I Gave My Lunch (http://www.soundclick.com/bands/page_songInfo.cfm?bandID=295107&songID=2469155) – Song about the boy who gave his lunch of bread and fishes to Jesus. Beautiful song.

Songs on myspace: well, you can listen for yourself, but I strongly suggest downloading Nothing in the Way and Peace on it’s Feet. Those two are great.

Okay, I’m done now. You might listen to any or all of these songs and say to yourself, “Man, these guys suck,” but at least give them a chance. I think they’re amazing. Listen for yourself, and let me know if you agree. Better yet, let them know on their myspace site.

(I don’t know anyone in this band personally and I’m not getting paid for this, trust me :) )





Demon Utopia? Training for Hunters? Hunter Utopia? Training for Demons?

22 07 2008

I had a sort of revelation recently concerning the band Demon Hunter.  For those of you who don’t know, Demon Hunter is one of the current most famous Christian metal/hardcore band around right now.  Also, for those of you don’t know, band members Don and Ryan Clark, rhythm guitarist and vocalist of Demon Hunter, respectively, were in a band called Training for Utopia before forming Demon Hunter.  They released two full-length albums, an EP, and a split EP with the band Zao.

Now, for those of you who are Demon Hunter fans, please don’t take this blog entry the wrong way.  I think Demon Hunter is a band full of talented musicians who consistently churn out slightly-above-average melodic metal music with occasionally awesome songs.  These are merely observations.

The band Training for Utopia released a song on their final album Throwing a Wrench Into the American Music Machine from 1999 called “50000 Screaming TFU Fans Can’t Be Wrong”.  It was the first song on the album and featured lyrics where the writer complains about not getting the recognition he deserves.  Here are the lyrics to the song:

Training for Utopia- “50000 Screaming TFU Fans Can’t Be Wrong”

Tired of playing
Tired of not being played
Tear this city down
Dance among the flames

Rock is alive and well
Give me all your fame
Some things are not for free
I’m for sale

I’m gonna tear this movement down
Im gonna remain deleted

Been played
Been under payed
You still threw me away

And I want it back

    

Training for Utopia 

Training for Utopia

 

Basically, if I’m reading this song right, Ryan Clark dislikes the fact that his band is not as big and famous as he would like (I say “if I’m reading this song right” because there are probably sarcastic overtones in the song that I’m missing).  Note that this band is not a Christian band, however Don and Ryan Clark are themselves Christians.  Also note that this album has nearly no discernible spiritual content, unlike previous albums which had hints of it.  Thirdly, note that Training for Utopia is an extremely innovative noisecore band whose albums each have a distinct feel to them, Throwing being the most innovative since it basically consisted of the album being recorded by the band and then electronically mashed and remixed some guy/thing called Appliance (said to perform “electronic interventions” in the liner notes).

After this album is released, Training for Utopia breaks up… and what comes up out of the ashes?  Demon Hunter, a Christian melodic metal band that wears its influences on its sleeve (Slipknot being a big one, so I’ve heard, I haven’t heard much of them) and is “shrouded in mystery”, as the band members aren’t revealed to the public and the press photos feature some of the band members wearing masks.  Good way to get attention, right?

Fast forward to 2008.  Demon Hunter has released four albums and is one of the biggest Christian heavy bands around.  They do one huge tour per album and usually take three or four other heavy Christian acts with them.  When Don and Ryan Clark aren’t busy with Demon Hunter, they work with their art company Invisible Creature, where they make album art for some of the most famous rock bands around, Christian and non-Christian. 

It seems to me that all of the complaints from that nearly ten-year-old song have been put to rest and its prophecies have been fulfilled.  Let me explain pertinent lines with my comments in italics.

Tired of playing
Tired of not being played
Pretty self-explanatory.  Demon Hunter is definitely getting played.  If that’s not true, then Don and Ryan are getting payed in Invisible Creature.

Rock is alive and well
Give me all your fame
Dude wants fame.  Can’t blame him.  He’s being honest.
Some things are not for free
I’m for sale
Um, I can’t really judge people’s motives, so I’m not going to comment on this one.

I’m gonna tear this movement down
Im gonna remain deleted
Seems the innovative style started by TFU was the beginning of a movement. 
It got torn down when Demon Hunter was formed.

Been played
Been under payed
You still threw me away

And I want it back

Played, under-payed, and thrown away.  This problem will be solved with a new band.

Just some observations :)

(after-note: Remember, I’m not bad-mouthing Don or Ryan Clark.  The parallels between their successes and that song are just interesting to me, is all)





2 Corinthians 5:17

21 07 2008

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

This verse has caused me a lot of trouble over the years (or maybe I just brought the trouble on myself). I would read it and assume that because my “godliness” hadn’t increased tenfold and all my bad habits didn’t disappear when I “became a Christian” (it could be said I was a Christian all my life, since I grew up in the church) that I (1) wasn’t really a new creature, (2) wasn’t really saved, and (3) was on my way to Hell unless I did something, fast (although what exactly I was supposed to do always escaped me, I had already prayed the “sinner’s prayer” about 50,387 times and I wasn’t sure what else to try).

My Dad’s Bible had a section in the back about how to minister to people effectively called “Guide to Christian Workers.” Ironically, a certain section in it served more than just about anything else to make my Christianity a living Hell at times. It was in the section titled “Convincement” meant to convince the new believer that they were actually saved (more irony). It was in the third subsection of this and was entitled THERE IS A NEW IMAGE. Anyway, it starts out with the 2 Cor. 5:17 verse (actually, I didn’t even remember that it did until a minute ago when I looked it up in my Dad’s Bible). It emboldens and italicizes the words he is which is irony in itself (I’ll explain later). Anyway, this is what the rest of this section says (forgive me if I’m breaking any copyright laws):

“A New Testament Christian is not a patched-up job, a reformed sinner. There is a new will; there are new affections; there is a new purpose because there is a new nature.”

Here’s the kicker:

“The emptiest and unhappiest occupation in the world is trying to act like a Christian when you are not a Christian. You do not gradually stop stealing. You stop stealing. It is miracle, not magic.”

Wow. Let’s break this down. This is what I was thinking:
“I’m extremely unhappy and empty because I fear that I’m not really saved. I look to this little Christian worker’s guide to help give me assurance. I read that once you are saved, you instantly stop sinning habitually. I am still dealing with many sins and sinful habits in my life. I must not really be saved. If you are not really saved, then you go to Hell forever and ever. I’m screwed… unless I do something NOW. I’ve already prayed to God/Jesus numerous times to save me from my sins and forgive me and come to live in my heart. What else can I do? I must not be trying hard enough. I must not believe enough. Maybe I’m one of the people who isn’t meant to be saved.”

Okay, maybe I never thought that last sentence, but it lurked in the back of my mind, mostly because I was too afraid to think it. These thoughts tormented me for most of my teenage life. I probably already mentioned this somewhere in one of my other notes, but I would get caught in a cycle of doubt salvation/become terrified of Hell/get help from pastor or friends or family/be reassured/doubt salvation…

What I didn’t realize up until about a year ago was that there was nothing I could do to be saved. You can pray the sinner’s prayer all day and not have a single thing change in your life. You can will yourself to be sincere all you want, but sincerity will not save you. You can truly be seeking and even want Jesus in your life (which I did. Believe me, I did), but unless God chooses to bless you with a personal experience with Him, nothing will happen. You can’t force it. God alone is the One Who chooses when you will be brought to the point where you will truly cry out for Him from the depths of your soul.

Terrible memories are coming back as I write this. NO WONDER I was so doubtful. NO WONDER I couldn’t trust God like I wanted to. NO WONDER I couldn’t believe with childlike faith. Any childlike faith I might have had was perverted by reading wonderful “Christian Guides” like this. One cannot believe with simplicity with the fear of Hell and separation and death and torture hanging over their heads (by the way, there is no separation in the commonly held view of Hell. If you hold to the Eternal Separation view over the Eternal Torture view, read Revelation 14:10. The “torment” in Hell happens in the presence of the Lamb. There is no separation from the Lamb, He’s right there). If praying the sinner’s prayer and trying not to sin and trying to love people and trying to focus on reading the Bible and trying to enjoy and learn from church are not enough to escape Hell, THEN WHAT IS? I tried so many things! Luke 18:22 says that the rich young ruler lacked one thing… maybe it was also what I was lacking. Maybe I had to sell all that I had and give to the poor. I never did that and had no real desire to do it unless I felt God was calling me to do that. But maybe I just had to do it and the fact that I wouldn’t was keeping me from fully experiencing salvation. (I’m sure those who wrote the Christian Guide had done that [sarcasm]). Nothing I tried was working and giving me the assurance I needed. According to my guide, God only works in one way, and if you aren’t saved in this one specific way (excessively detailed by the author[s]), then you’re probably not really saved and had better do something about it.

Okay, now where was I… oh right:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

The italicized words in the King James version are words that are not actually in the original text. They are added in to make the text more readable and understandable for the English speaker/reader. In other words, the italicized words “be” and “he is” are not actually part of the verse. Remember when I told you that the author(s) of my Christian guide emboldened the words “he is?” Funny they would try to emphasize that part of the verse, when it’s not actually part of it in the first place. In my particular (King James) version of the Bible, there is a (1) before the words he is which refers to a footnote. This footnote says “Or, let him be.” In other words, the verse could also be read as:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, let him be a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

Hmmm, puts a bit of a different twist on the verse, doesn’t it? Could it be that instead of us automatically being completely cured of our sinful ways, this verse is calling us to make the qualities of this “new creature” become a part of us? Is it telling us to rely on God so that in our new Christian lives it will be that “old things are passed away… [and] … all things are become new?” Perhaps this verse means that it will not be easy to do such a thing, but that we must strive (not completely by ourselves, relying on God is absolutely necessary) to get rid of the qualities of the old creature?

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are people who, once becoming saved, really are immediately transformed and seem to give up very many of the sinful habits they’ve had previously, and I think that’s wonderful. Does that mean that this is how God works with everyone? A thousand times no! What of those who have been raised in the evangelical church system for their entire lives and have been “good little boys and girls,” with nary a public sin to be spoken of? What of those who were “saved” when they were five years old because their parent or pastor led them in a prayer and as adults are no longer sure of what they believe? What of those who live with a pharisaical spirit, who think that God is on their side (and only on their side) and everyone else is doomed? What of Muslims/Jews/etc. who live perfectly moral lives and love others more than the majority of Christians do? What happens when these people are saved? None of these people seem like they have any sin that needs curing. God works in different ways with different people. Some He will change gradually, others instantly, some won’t seem to change at all, but God is still working in all of them.

Like I’ve said before, I’ve been “saved” most of my life, and had my “real salvation experience” at the age of 13 at a Christian speaking/music event. I remember shortly after that, I was very excited about God and I would look at the people around me and see sadness in their eyes. I wished that there were something that I could do to help them and show them love. But I never did. I was soon caught up in pharisaical thinking and the mindset of “I have to do this, this, and this and can’t do this, this, and this or I’m not really saved” and forgot about other people. Only in the past year or so have I begun to get back the love for people that I felt shortly after I was “saved,” and that was only after I abandoned the pharisaical, exclusionary way of thinking and the fear of Hell that had burdened me for most of my life.

Well, this note was only supposed to be a couple paragraphs about the verse, but it turned out that I wrote a lot more than I planned on. Oh well, I hope whoever reads this gets something out of it. I’ll close with the lyrics to a song by Michael W. Smith (words by Wayne Kirkpatrick) called “Calling Heaven”:

Chorus:
Calling heaven
Seeking mercy
Tell me there’s a place for these

What of the children who have never felt a love
Tender as the morning
Nursing the bruises
And the scars that never seem to go away

What of the babies who have never left the womb
Breathing in the lifeline
Angels in waiting
Gone before they could be given wings to fly

Chorus

What of the noble who are searching for the truth
With truest of intentions
And yet they’re jaded by
Hypocrisies behind cathedral walls

What of the humble and the meek that knew despair
And never got their moment
But sacrificed a life of comfort
So that others knew no pain

Chorus

What of the ones who call you Lord
But play the field
with faithless indecision
Forgive us father for we truly
Do not know what we have done

Chorus

(originally written 7/3/08 )





It’s funny…

21 07 2008
“but nothing unifies like a common enemy
and we’ve got one, sure as hell
but he may be living in your house
he may be raising up your kids
he may be sleeping with your wife
oh no, he may not look like you think”
-Derek Webb, “A King and a Kingdom”

I really fail at practicing what I preach. This poor girl went to Vintage all alone, sat by herself, and no one talked to her. She looked so sad. Myself, being an incredibly nice guy, felt like someone should go and talk to her / make her feel welcome. So, I did what any other decent person would do and actually did: nothing. It’s not the first time, either. In the past few times I’ve gone to Vintage, the same thing has happened with two other people, both guys. They seemed to come by themselves, sat by themselves, wandered aimlessly around by themselves. Those times, I also did what any decent person would do: absolutely nothing. You’d think a guy who spent the better part of his life wishing he had friends and that people would talk to him would be more likely to go out of his way to be nice to people. Nope. I could’ve encouraged these people and shown them love, but I let my fear of rejection and my shyness take over, instead of not worrying about that stuff and doing what I should have.

“If this is all the love my spirit can give
There is not a reason more to live”
-Demon Hunter, “The Tide Began to Rise”

But you know what? How many other people (loving Christians) were there? I realize that I’m no better than they are for not doing anything, but I wonder, was I the only one who even noticed? Why is it that we can talk ’til we’re blue in the face about being loving to others, but can’t take enough time to break out of our stupid cliques and show love to someone who needs it? Do we (I) not have enough love? What can I do to get it? How can I get to the point where I don’t care about the consequences and will just do what I feel is right?

I’ve failed to make a difference in someone’s life. I could have shown God’s love, but stifled it. I could have said a kind word, but held it in. I could have been the hands and feet of Christ, but chose to stay little, insecure me.

What the hell is my problem?

“It’s funny how chemo wears you down.
It’s funny when the lame dog is put down.
It’s funny when it is taken out into the street and is shot.”
-Spitfire, “Chemo Therapist”

(originally written 6/4/08 )




Where?

21 07 2008
Right here.

Needs to stop thinking about juggling these incandescent thoughts.

Courage doesn’t become some people (and probably never will).

Postmodernism? Not exactly.

Use that grey matter your Heavenly Father blessed you with.

Push them away.

“Burn it down and walk away.”

Not much use in forcing it.

Repent of your bitter cynicism, it’s driving you into the ground.

Who is being addressed?

Keep being vague, nothing gets solved that way.

“Give us more desperation / isolation, because it works for me.”

Basket case.

Once a basket case, always a basket case?

It doesn’t make sense in the given context.

Walk in the room.

Turn on the charm.

Bask in the warm glow of adulation as the masses shift their attention in zero seconds flat.

Seeing oneself as a martyr can easily become the height of arrogance.

Just do as you feel led.

Dr. Weyandt’s words still haunt me.

Where is this all going?

Utter destruction?

Complete and total bliss?

A possible lifetime of isolation traded for what?

To conform and lose one’s heart / soul / spirit / passion, or forge a new path and be fed to the wolves?

Have you washed yourself in the rain? I ask as I wallow in my cesspool of filth.

We’re all hypocrites.

Do we really want what we say we desire?

Which one of you holds the ultimate truth?

Certainly it can’t be all of you.

I refuse to praise Him for saving *me* anymore.

It’s not about me.

If anyone is unworthy, it’s not the atheist, it’s not the Muslim, it’s not the Hindu, it’s not the Christian Scientist, it’s not the Satanist.

It’s me. (Is this the height of arrogance or humility?)

The hypocritical “Christian” who refused to see the good in other people.

I don’t care who you are.

You’re on this journey with me.

It’s not me against the world.

It’s not you against the world.

It’s not *us* against the world.

Stop pushing. Stop fighting it. Stop being desperate.

Stop seeing others as hopeless. Only then can we learn to love them.

Satan, the Devil, our “free will”, “The prince of the power of the air”, our sinful natures, our refusal to listen, our outright denial, our hatred, our self-righteousness, our condemning natures, our sickening pleasure at the retribution of the wicked, our failure to “repeat this prayer after me,” even our outright refusal of His forgiveness.

Which of these will stop the unlimited, unconditional, unfailing love of God?

The initial cynical rant has turned into praise to God. How did that happen?

God works in mysterious ways, friend :).

Lord, I praise and thank You for saving *us*.

(originally written 5/4/08 )




When are we going to start believing what we’re singing?

21 07 2008
[Introductory note: I’ve spent too many years ashamed of my Christianity. Quite frankly, I’m tired of it. After seven years of being a Christian (well twenty-one, if your definition of being a Christian is going to church and doing what you’re told), living in defeat, and wishing God would just make me perfect, bold, and fearless, in Spring / Summer 2007 I finally found what’s been holding me back so long. It’s going to be a long process to get where I need to be in my walk with God, but I’m ready (I hope / think) to do whatever it takes to get to that point. I’m sick of hiding my joy and gratitude. I’m going to tell the world (well, whoever reads this note, you know what I mean) about how great I believe my God is. I don’t care about consequences or what I may be labeled as, by Christians or non-Christians. “Whatever happens, happens.”]

I love the following three songs because I think they communicate really well how much God really loves us. I think the writers of these songs inadvertently express the witness that each of us has inside us of the true, unfailing, never-ceasing love of God. Pay special attention to the lyrics I’ve underlined.

Third Day- “Love Song”

Well I’ve heard it said, that a man would climb a mountain
Just to be with the one he loves
How many times has he broken that promise
It has never been done.
Well, I never climbed the highest mountain
But I walked the hill of calvary

Chorus:
And just to be with you, I would do anything
There’s no price I would not pay, no.
And just to be with you, I would give everything
And I would give my life away, yeah__.

And I’ve heard it said that a man would swim the oceans
Just to be with the one he loves.
But all of those dreams, are an empty emotion.
It can never be done.
Well, I never swam the deepest ocean
But I walked upon the raging sea.

Chorus:
And just to be with you, I would do anything
There’s no price I would not pay, no.
And just to be with you, I would give everything
And I would give my life away. Yeah___.

(Bridge)
And I know that you don’t understand
the fullness of My love
How I died upon the cross for your sin.
And I know that you don’t realize
how much that I give you
And I promise, well I would do it all again.

Chorus:
And just to be with you, I’ve done everything
There’s no price I did not pay, no.
And just to be with you, I gave everything
Yes, I gave My life away, yeah___.
I gave My life away, yeah

And just to be with you.
Oh, just to be with you.
Oh, just to be with you.
Oh, just to be with you.

Jesus would give it all again if it were necessary. He will go to any length to bring all of His children home. That is what I read in this song by the modern evangelical Christian rock band, Third Day (which I’m quite fond of at times). How does this line up with what we are being taught by the majority of the modern church? What a simple, childlike faith is expressed in this song! If we truly believed this, what joy would fill our hearts! Alright, let’s move on to the next song before I get ahead of myself…

Third Day- “I’ve Always Loved You”

I don’t know how to explain it
But I know that words will hardly do
Miracles with signs and wonders
Aren’t enough for me to prove to you

Don’t you know I’ve always loved you
Even before there was time
Though you turn away
I’ll tell you still
Don’t you know I’ve always loved you
And I always will

Greater love has not a man
Than the one who gives his life to prove
That he would do anything
And that’s what I’m going to do for you

Another song by Third Day… this one is also told from God’s point of view. He’s always loved us… and He ALWAYS will. Oh, if only I’d known this seven / eight years ago! So many years of fear could have been avoided had I only believed in God’s love like a little child. But you know what? I’m glad I went through those years of my life. They’ve helped me to appreciate and understand His love all the more. What a perfect God! What a perfect plan! He will do anything to bring His beloved sons and daughters (for whom he died) home again to him.

Disciple- “After the World”

You break the glass, try to hide your face
Recorded lines that just will not erase
And buried in your loss of innocence
You wonder if you’ll find it again

Was I there for the worst of all your pain?
And was I there when your blue sky ran away?
Was I there when the rains were flooding you?
I hope you feel those were My tears falling down for you, falling down for you

I’m the One that you’ve been looking for
I’m the One that you’ve been waiting for
I’ve had My eyes on you ever since you were born
I will love you after the rain falls down
I will love you after the sun goes out
I’ll have My eyes on you after the world is no more

Did I arrange the light of your first day?
Did I create the rhythm your heart makes?
Could you believe when your candle starts to fade?
I want to be the One that you believe
Could take it all away, take your heart away

Isn’t My life a clear sign since I have crossed over this chasm
To fill the space between Me and you?
And I will do it all over again
Just look for Me, just wait for Me

The One you’ve been looking for
The One you’ve been waiting for
You won’t have to look anymore

I remember reading a review of the CD that this song came out on in Relevant Magazine. It said something like, “‘After the World’ is probably the greatest song this band has ever written.” I think I’m starting to agree with them. The song says in the first verse, “Was I there when the rains were flooding you?… those were My tears falling down for you.” Wait, what? God’s tears? He cries for us? I thought all He saw when He looked at the struggling, squirming sinners was a big sign on their heads marked “GUILTY”. Praise God, He CRIES for us, He empathizes with us, He has sympathy for us. He longs for us to be with Him, and even though all will work out for our (and His) good, our suffering means so much to Him that He feels our sorrow.

He will love us even after the END OF THE WORLD. How great is that? He doesn’t limit His love to the 70 or so years we have in these physical bodies. He loves us for WHO WE ARE, our spirits and our souls.

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about the “bridge illustration” which is used as a witnessing tool for Christians to tell people about Christ’s love. There are two cliffs, one on either side. One is called spiritual sickness, or death, and the other is called spiritual health, or life. We are on the death side and God is on the life side, and the Cross of Christ serves as a bridge between the two sides, so that we can go to be with God.

The reason I mention all that is because this line from the song reminded me of it: “I have crossed over this chasm to fill the space between Me and you”. It then goes on to say that He will do it again. We don’t go to God to get saved. He comes to us! We can do nothing, I repeat, NOTHING, to get to God. That includes saying a magical prayer (believe me I’ve tried, hundreds of times), doing the right thing (again, hundreds of times), or abstaining from destructive sins (yeah, I’ve tried that one too, many times, doesn’t really work out too well when you try all by yourself). GOD CROSSES THE CHASM AND BRINGS US TO THE OTHER SIDE! But don’t we have any sort of choice, you ask? Yes, but you can only make that “choice” because God engineered your circumstances so that you can see Him for Who He is and accept Him. In other words, it happens in God’s time, not ours.

Another illustration I really like is this: A man has fallen into a pit. All these different religious people such as Muhammed, the Buddha, Vishnu, L. Ron Hubbard, Jim Jones (alright I’ll stop)… give the man advice on how to get out of the pit according to their religious beliefs. Of course, they give him this advice as they look down at him from above the pit, and then go on their merry way. The man tries to take some of their advice, but nothing works. Eventually he gives in to despair and just sits at the bottom of the pit in misery, waiting for death. After a while, he hears footsteps approaching, but he doesn’t even care enough to call out for help. He then looks up, expecting to see another person passing by who can’t help him. Instead, he sees what appears to be a very poor, rough-looking man at the top of the pit. He doesn’t say a word, but climbs in the pit, down to where the man is, and lifts him out of it. That rough-looking man was Jesus.

I’ve sort of drifted way off from the original purpose of my note, but I guess the main point is this: I am glad to have finally found out the true love of God and will seek to build my trust and love for Him everyday. I can’t wait to rejoice with exceeding great joy with ALL of my brothers and sisters for all He has done for us. Praise God for His unfailing love!

(originally written 4/17/08 )




What?

21 07 2008
Indie music is for popular people.

Join the revolution! Be a part of the mass uprising! Be different like the rest of us! Forsake your identity!

Smile.

Ibidibideebopbopbow. Woo! Yeah.

You know what I’m talking about, spoonfed children.

The charity case slowly runs out of reasons to care.

Does it read angry? It’s not meant to. Go back into your holes.

Forsake the longing for oneness with the world.

Get by as best you can.

Crawl out of the corner and take your place in line.

“men are wondering to get by,
floor, stairwell
should i try?”

Try to find meaning, I dare you.

Jack has gone free, you’ll find him someday.

It’s raining. The sand is getting soaked. This isn’t so fun anymore.

Climb out of the muck and wash yourself in the rain.

Let’s drop the pretentiousness and masturbatory, ego-stroking verboseness (there I go again).

Dr. Weyandt puts it better than I ever could:

“I’m racing racing towards it
Like when I was a small boy
Cutting through a waving field
Decorated by summer sunlight
Unable to remember
Unable to forget
Unaware yet at peace
Unaware yet scared
I’m racing racing towards it with fear and excitement
They seem unseperable
They seem so far apart
They are my close friends
They are my very ghosts
I’m racing towards it
Holding perfectly still
In the race of standing still”

(originally written 4/12/08 )




How?

21 07 2008
Tired.

A little hung up on the space cadets.

Motivation is left to the bats in aisle 6.

Run from the cowardly lion.

Get out of my head, you ballistic machete.

Stream-of-consciousness is for morons and pretentious fools.

No more of this.

How do I get rid of this feelingness?

Maybe some meaning will spontaneously erupt from the nonsensical musings of a lazy, apathetic couch (computer chair) monkey.

Battle the inane rebellion of nematodes.

“Existence, it’s no surprise.”

Prom night.

Unaware of how to make some aware.

“Self-pity is useless, I’ll not entertain your sickness.”

“These four walls have seen the worst of me, they’re bleeding confession, they’re weak at the knees.”

Breathe.

This is ridiculous.

Refrain from biting the children, please.

Corrupting the innocent?

or

Comforting the hurting?

What else can I do?

Awkward diary entry ftw.

But it goes on.

Have you stopped reading yet?

I have.

Get out of my visions.

Stop feeding me your lines, and I’ll stop being bitter.

Misrepresentation is not cool.

What is this about?

Your guess is as bad as mine.

Just face the wall and count your blessings.

Walk out of the room and into the sauna. It’s hot. Get out, quick, before your body gets all wrinkly.

“The very idea of beauty died so long ago…

But sometimes I catch a glimpse.”

nevermind

It’s not worth repeating.

Spoonfed children, play nicely and don’t ask questions, it’s the same as biting the hand that feeds you. Keep your voices down, and we’ll keep satiating your hunger with our bilge. Your petty arguments amuse us. Please don’t deprive us of your forced innocence. Your ignorance is our bliss. Bring us joy. Please don’t ever grow up. Don’t leave the sandbox. Trying new things is dangerous. Yes, we know your Jack-In-The-Box longs to be free of his imprisonment, but he’s been confined there for a reason. If he does something other than the box allows, he will no longer be Jack and our comfortable expectancy will be duly offended.

Our boxes bring us comfort.

The writer will probably regret writing what is written.

(originally written 4/11/08 )




Discussions

21 07 2008

The following is a myspace bulletin / blog from someone on my myspace friends list, followed by my response, followed by his response, followed by my response. I’ll add more responses as they come. I’ll try to be clear about who is saying what by posting the message / blog number in order of who sent them. By the way, Roger Martinez was a singer for a Christian metal band who eventually left Christianity because of… well, read the bulletin.

I’ve hinted at these beliefs before in some of my previous notes and in my “favorite books”, etc. but I figured I might as well just come out and say it. I hope no one takes offense at anything I might have written and I hope this challenges you to take a good, hard look at your beliefs, and why you believe what you do. My purpose isn’t to offend anyone, or to say that “I’m right and you’re wrong”, but just to get people thinking. I’ll be happy to talk to anyone who has questions, disagrees with me, etc. My hope and prayer is that all will see this as done out of love and not out of trying to prove myself right, and that I will not lose any friends over this. If this helps even one person, I believe it will be worth it.

(by the way the first person who supports Christian Universalism that my friend talks about is NOT ME. fyi)

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(his first bulletin / blog)

The Fall of Roger Martinez &… “Christian Universalism

Yesterday, I posted a bulletin on my band’s myspace page about Roger Martinez of Vengeance Rising. Here is what it said:

Subject: “We Are The Rising…”

Body: “We are here, there shall be no stopping us
Brothers understand, you have been sent
I seek to strengthen you, cause I understand
We are not here by our own hand”

“We are the rising, foretold by Simeon
Raise your fists as one
We are the rising, my brothers, I and thee
In service to the King” – (Roger Martinez from Vengeance Rising’s, “The Rising”)

MAN, I miss that guy! I wish he’d come to his senses like he used to be. *sigh*
~~~~~~~~~END OF BULLETIN~~~~~~~~~~

Today, I receive a message in response to that bulletin. I am not going to name any names, because that’s not what this is about. I just thought it might be good to encourge you all to reinforce your faith in God, for those of you who are christians out there, and NEVER neglect quality time with Him. In order to spend quality time with Him, you have to be in the Word. Read it. Study it. Live ON it, and BY it! Pray that God would give you understanding when you read his word. Here is the message I received from someone:

Subject: RE: “We Are The Rising…”

Body: The reason Roger has went off the deep end is because of the christians he sees and saw, we as christians are not a very good light unto the lost or the saved.I have had doubts in the past about the whole christian idea. I unlike Roger have not apostatized, yet sometimes i see why some of us do!Roger does not need to here what the modern day church has to say, he needs to here what the disciples and christ had to say, and that is that God is not out to send people saved or unsaved to a literal hell. GOD WILL HAVE ALL HUMANITY SAVED AND TO COME TO THE KNOWLAGE OF THE TRUTH. 1 TIM 2:4.
~~~~~~~~~~~~END MESSAGE~~~~~~~~~~

Here is my response:

“The reason Roger has went off the deep end is because of the christians he sees and saw

I’m sorry, but no it wasn’t. According to him, it was because he investigated the issue of “Faith Healing” and he concluded that it was all a fraud. Was that REALLY the reason he went astray? I don’t think so, because there are many other WAY BIGGER ISSUES that someone could take exception with other than faith healing. That’s a rather weak reason for falling away. I think it had to do with the fact that the man was, and still is, unwilling to accept financial responsibilities for the things that he knowingly got himself into. The main thing he used to harp on all the time was how the or original members of the band ditched him and left him with all kinds of debt. I think THAT’S the real reason for it all. He’s been angry ever since! But here’s the thing. It wasn’t necessarily the other guys’ fault. Roger decided to take over the rights to the “Vengeance Rising” name when the other guys left the band. He knew full good and well that by doing that, while he may be inheriting the other members royalties, he’s also inheriting all the other members share of the debts from the entity known as “Vengeance Rising.” That’s something he should have been well aware of. So that’s on him, NOT ANYONE ELSE!

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is. Even if the other guys in the band were being shady, here’s the thing about it: If he fell because of other “christians he sees and saw” like you have suggested, then it’s quite obvious that his faith was misplaced. His faith should have been in God and not in Man. Again, that’s nobody’s fault but his own.

“I have had doubts in the past about the whole christian idea.”

So, in other words, you’re saying you have doubts about the things that Jesus said, taught, lived, and preached? Where do you think the “christian idea” came from? It didn’t come from Humpty Dumpty or Ronald Mcdonald. The “christian idea” was originated from Jesus Christ himself. Without Jesus Christ, there is no “christian idea” or Christianity period!

“I unlike Roger have not apostatized, yet sometimes i see why some of us do!”

Well, after reading the rest of your message to me, I gather that you are a so-called “christian universalist” like Dale Thompson from Bride. Would this be an accurate description? If so, then it doesn’t matter if you have turned apostate or not, now does it? You’ll go to heaven no matter what you believe, no matter how you live, etc. You can go off and curse God with all your might, blaspheme His name, break every single one of the Ten Commandments, pledge your allegiance to Satan, and then die the very moment after you have done that, but it doesn’t matter, does it? Because according to YOUR OWN bastardized version of christianity, you’ll STILL go to heaven! It’s a nice fairy tale. It’s a pleasant fiction. But it’s JUST THAT! It’s a FICTITIOUS belief. For the sake of those who don’t believe, I wish you were right, but you are not. Universalism is a FALSE teaching. Universalism is one of many “doctrines of demons” that the apostle Paul warned us about in the end times!

By the way, tell me again, why did you even mention that you have not turned apostate, since, according to your belief, that it’s impossible to do so anyway? You’re still going to heaven anyway, right? So, what’s the point in you telling me that you haven’t turned apostate?!?!?!

“Roger does not need to here what the modern day church has to say, he needs to here what the disciples and christ had to say”

He DID hear what the disciples had to say. He DID hear what Christ had to say. Unfortunately, he turned his back on it. But I believe one of these days, he WILL get back on the right track. There are a LOT of people who have prayed for him and continue to pray for him to this very day!

“God is not out to send people saved or unsaved to a literal hell. GOD WILL HAVE ALL HUMANITY SAVED AND TO COME TO THE KNOWLAGE OF THE TRUTH. 1 TIM 2:4.”

Again, that’s a pleasant fiction that I WISH I could believe, but unfortunately, it is false doctrines of demons of which you speak. I appreciate you putting the scripture reference at the end to back up your claim. But, I have a question? Where’s the rest of the scriptures to back up what you believe? That one little tiny scripture – taken COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTEXT – does not dispel what the rest of the bible teaches! So, what do you do with the rest of the bible?

Here’s a serious question for you:

Basically, whether you want to admit it or not, Universalism teaches that all paths lead to the same God, the same destination, the same heaven. “We’re ALL going to heaven! YES! LET’S PARTY!! WOO HOO! WE’RE GOING TO HEAVEN NO MATTER WHAT WE BELIEVE, BECAUSE GOD IS GOING TO “SAVE ALL OF US ANYWAY!!”… do you not see how ridiculous that propaganda is?!

Okay, so that wasn’t the serious question I had for you. All sarcasm aside. In all seriousness now, here is the REAL question:

Some say, “why should I be punished for the acts of Adam & Eve?” The good news is that GOD AGREES WITH PEOPLE THAT BELIEVE THAT WAY!!! That’s why He sent His own Son to earth to receive the punishment that we deserved. And because of this act, all who accept this Holy and living sacrifice has eternal life. Yes, it is God’s will that none shall perish. But God’s will for all humanity as a whole does not supercede our own wills as individual human beings. His will does not cancel out OUR will. If it did, then the idea of “free will” would not exist. If His will canceled out our will as individual human beings, that would make God no different than Lucifer who wanted to do EXACTLY THAT! Lucifer tried to be God and wanted to FORCE people to love him.

So, the fact that we have a choice to make between spiritual life or spiritual death is actually a very merciful and loving act. EVEN IF WE CHOOSE WRONG! Why? Because, His Love for us is so enormously huge that He wants us to accept Him on our own. And if we don’t accept Him on our own, there are grave eternal consequences for that. HOWEVER, it’s not that He’s angry and he sends us to hell as a means of spite. It’s just a consequence. Simple as that. God doesn’t send ANYBODY to hell. We send ourselves there by turning around and walking away from the free gift of eternal life that he offers us THROUGH the sacrifice of Christ. The book of Romans clearly points out to us that we are without excuse.

Romans 1:19-22, “For the truth about God is known to them instinctively. God has put this knowledge in their hearts. From the time the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky and all that God made. They can clearly see his invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse whatsoever for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. The result was that their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they became utter fools instead.

So, you see, NO ONE is without excuse. On that day of judgment, NO ONE will be able to justifiably say that they didn’t know God, or know OF God. No one will be able to justifiably say that they weren’t aware of God, nor were they ever told the Truth of God’s ways! WE send ourselves either to Heaven or to Hell. WE do that. Not God.

For example, lets say you know the bridge is out 3 miles down the road. A car comes driving by, and you stop them and tell them that the bridge is out, and they should turn around and find another way. The driver disregards your warning and decides to go the same way anyway. Next thing you know, he’s become a 10pm news item as having died in a car accident due to not heeding the warning that was given to him earlier.

THAT’S WHAT GOD IS DOING WITH US! He’s warning us. He’s saying, “stop, don’t go that way, because that way surely ends in death. I beg of you, I plead with you… please don’t go that way. But I love you enough that I want you to accept my way of your own free will. And because I love you, and even though I know what lies ahead – and I’m trying to warn you about it right now – I will not interfere with your decision.”

He’s not an angry God that sends us to hell because he’s mad at us. The bible says that Hell was created for the devil and his angels – now called demons. It was not created for humans at all. But when sin entered creation and infected humanity, hell became our inheritance by default when we are not covered by the redemptive, merciful, forgiving, and saving blood of Jesus Christ. Now, THAT is mercy! THAT is love!

On the other hand, if you’re right and I’m wrong, and God is going to save all of us regardless of what we believe, and regardless of the choices and decisions we make in life, and regardless of how sinful we are, there’s no mercy in that at all. There’s no love in that at all. The only thing that would tell us is that God has been playing an unspeakably cruel and horrible game with his creation. That is not love, and I cannot accept that.

Think of it this way…

If all paths lead to Him and “Hell” is made irrelevant, then why would God state in competing doctrines that “This is the only way”? MANY religions claim to be the ONLY way which has, thereby, incited men throughout time to wage war and partake in genocide. Senseless murder on our hands incited by a God of Love?!?! That’s not a God of Love. That’s a God playing us as puppets on a string, while passing his creation off as fools, who are too stupid to figure it out. That is most certainly not a God of Love at all. Rather, it is a God of sadistic persuasion. There is only one way that we may enter heaven’s gates, and that is by the Son of God – Jesus Christ of Nazareth. If one believes in a deity but rejects the deity’s Son, the only alternative is not a God of Love, as I have just pointed out to you.

1st Timothy 4:1-2, “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe; they will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons. These teachers are hypocrites and liars. They pretend to be religious, but their consciences are dead.”

Galatians 1:6-10, “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who in his love and mercy called you to share the eternal life he gives through Christ. You are already following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who twist and change the truth concerning Christ. Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including myself, who preaches any other message than the one we told you about. Even if an angel comes from heaven and preaches any other message, let him be forever cursed. I will say it again: If anyone preaches any other gospel than the one you welcomed, let God’s curse fall upon that person. Obviously, I’m not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.”

Take care, and God bless!

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(my response)

Be careful what you call “doctrines of demons”. That person who wrote to you may not have had all his facts straight, but to wildly proclaim that he is under the influence of demons is a little hasty, don’t you think?

I’m not trying to insult you, but I think that too many of us (Christians) become too stagnant / complacent with our beliefs, with no tolerance for someone who may not believe the same way we do. All I ask is that you pray humbly to God to show you whether what I’m about to say is true.

Would a God who “is” love (1 John 4:8,16) willingly create a human race who he knew ahead of time would mostly end up in an eternal Hell? If God is omniscient, He knows who will accept and who will reject Him. If God is omnipotent, then He has the power to save the entire human race, down to the most despicable sinner. If God is all-loving, then who is to say that He won’t save all? 1 Timothy 2:4 is not the only verse that offers evidence for Christian Universalism by a long shot (I’ll be happy to find more for you if you want).

As for the free will of man to damn themselves, what person in their right mind would willingly subject themselves to eternal torment forever because they disrespected and hated Jesus so much? I don’t know about you, but in my experience most people who aren’t Christians are not that way because of anything Jesus did to them. It’s usually because of some hypocrisy or hatred that they see in His followers. Many can’t reconcile the idea of a loving God Who will send most of mankind to eternal torture. I encourage you to read the section on “free will” from the book Hope Beyond Hell by Gerry Beauchemin, starting on page 37 here: http://hopebeyondhell.net/Revised_Edition.pdf

I hope you don’t take this as hostile or aggressive, as this is something I’ve only recently come to believe in myself, and I may have reacted just as you have a year ago. Seeing the true love of my Father has saved me from the dark road I was headed down.

Respectfully,

mike

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(his response)

“Christian Universalism” Part II

The following is a message I received from someone who responded to an earlier message from me to ANOTHER person. If you did not read my first message, feel free to look for my previous bulletin. Or, simply go to my blog and read, “The Fall of Roger Martinez &… Christian Universalism?!?!” If you do not read that first, you may be a bit lost on what Part II is covering. Again, the only reason I’m publicizing this, is because I want to use this as a means of encouraging any christians who are out there to reinforce your faith in God. Why am I giving christian universalism a stage and an audience if I am so dead-set against it? Well, I admit, it is risky. But on the other hand, most people walk through life with their eyes closed anyway. I believe it is worth the risk if it encourages you to grow stronger in the Lord, or if perhaps it helps to open someone’s eyes who may already be tempted by this false belief system. Am I being naive and think that I’m going to stop Universalism? No, absolutely not. But if it helps even one person, then that’s all that matters. I believe that we are living in the time that will see Christ’s return. Things are not going to get any easier from here on out. It will only get harder, and the line that separates Truth from Lies will get more blurred as the end of our Sinful Age draws nearer. After all, this is satan’s time to shine. It’s his last go of it with what little time I believe is left, before “the hammer comes down” so to speak. I am not going to name any names, because this is NOT what this is about. This is NOT about pointing the finger at someone else. It is precisely for the purposes of which I already stated. God bless!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Message I received from someone who responded to an earlier message from me to ANOTHER person:

Body: Be careful what you call “doctrines of demons”. That person who wrote to you may not have had all his facts straight, but to wildly proclaim that he is under the influence of demons is a little hasty, don’t you think?

I’m not trying to insult you, but I think that too many of us (Christians) become too stagnant / complacent with our beliefs, with no tolerance for someone who may not believe the same way we do. All I ask is that you pray humbly to God to show you whether what I’m about to say is true.

Would a God who “is” love (1 John 4:8,16) willingly create a human race who he knew ahead of time would mostly end up in an eternal Hell? If God is omniscient, He knows who will accept and who will reject Him. If God is omnipotent, then He has the power to save the entire human race, down to the most despicable sinner. If God is all-loving, then who is to say that He won’t save all? 1 Timothy 2:4 is not the only verse that offers evidence for Christian Universalism by a long shot (I’ll be happy to find more for you if you want).

As for the free will of man to damn themselves, what person in their right mind would willingly subject themselves to eternal torment forever because they disrespected and hated Jesus so much? I don’t know about you, but in my experience most people who aren’t Christians are not that way because of anything Jesus did to them. It’s usually because of some hypocrisy or hatred that they see in His followers. Many can’t reconcile the idea of a loving God Who will send most of mankind to eternal torture.

I hope you don’t take this as hostile or aggressive, as this is something I’ve only recently come to believe in myself, and I may have reacted just as you have a year ago. Seeing the true love of my Father has saved me from the dark road I was headed down.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~END OF MESSAGE~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My response:

“Be careful what you call “doctrines of demons”. That person who wrote to you may not have had all his facts straight, but to wildly proclaim that he is under the influence of demons is a little hasty, don’t you think?”

No, I honestly don’t think it’s being hasty at all. And no, I’m not trying to be smug in my answer to you. I’m just answering truthfully, that’s all. I don’t think there is anything “wild” about that proclamation either. What I said had no bearing on whether he’s a good person or not. It had no bearing on whether he’s sincere in his beliefs or not. It was simply a proclamation against the doctrine of Universalism. It had nothing to do with that guy personally, because personally, I’m sure he’s a pretty awesome guy.

As for being careful about what I deem as “doctrines of demons,” while I sincerely appreciate your concerns with my statements, I feel that I am careful with my words, for the most part, and I’ll talk more about that on your next point that you made.

“I’m not trying to insult you, but I think that too many of us (Christians) become too stagnant / complacent with our beliefs, with no tolerance for someone who may not believe the same way we do.”

Don’t worry about it. No offense taken. But on the other side to that coin, you might also be careful with who you call stagnant/complacent/intolerant, etc. Just like you said, I’m not trying to be hostile or aggressive either. Just honest. Okay, now, back to the discussion.

I agree with you that too many christians become stagnant and complacent in their faith. That’s because nobody seems to care about discipling new christians. And people who have been christians for a fair amount of time, for the most part, weren’t discipled either which, in turn, causes them not to do anything. Most christians get as far as Salvation, and then don’t really do much of anything else. In other words, they don’t do anything to cultivate a real relationship with God. And that’s a problem. That’s a BIG problem. However, being stagnant and/or complacent doesn’t cause a christian to be intolerant, such as you stated. I’ve always said to people that if you become stagnant in your faith, you’re not simply standing still. You’re actually moving backwards. That’s why the author of the book of Hebrews said in chapter 12, verse 1 of that book:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.”

However, having said that, I must address your point of becoming stagnant/complacent to the point where we become intolerant of someone’s held belief that may be different from my own. I’ll try to make this point very brief, but if it ends up not being very brief, please accept my apologies.

When christians become stagnant and complacent in their faith, they do NOT become INTOLERANT of the beliefs of others, as you have suggested. Rather, they become MORE TOLERANT to the beliefs of others. Why? Because if they are not moving forward with God, they are moving backwards. And if they are moving backwards, they are not listening for God, which means that they are not hearing God, which makes them susceptible to false gods, false religions, and false philosophies. There is no standing still, because, again, if you’re standing still and being stagnant in your faith, then in essence, you’re really moving backwards. And if you’re moving backwards, you obviously become more accepting of other beliefs. That’s why the writer of the Hebrews urges us to continually strive to run the race to reach the finish line. Continually strive to reach the finish line in order to receive the prize at the end of the race. Don’t look back for anything, don’t stop for anything. The basic message there is to just keep running to God. Nevermind the distractions of this life. Nevermind worldly philosophies and worldy religions with their high-sounding nonsense. Just finish the race!!!

Now, my last point to your above quote about being intolerant of other people’s beliefs that are not the same as mine. I think I (as well as most people – christian or otherwise) are fairly tolerant to other people’s beliefs. There are exceptions, but for the most part, most people are fairly tolerant in this day and age. For example: Denominations. I personally can’t stand denominations, because they serve no other purpose other than to divide the Body of Christ. However, the differences between most denominations within the christian body are not SO different that they completely rewrite the bible on a broad scale. I may not agree with certain Baptist beliefs, or certain Pentecostal beliefs, or certain Methodist beliefs, etc. But, the basic fundamentals and core of their statement of faith remains the same. In other words, for the most part, their “statement of faith” in each respective denomination does not try to challenge the basic fundamental doctrines and canon that unites all christians – that there is only ONE God. That He sent his only Son in the flesh to die in our place. That His Son rose from the dead after 3 days. That the only way to Heaven is THROUGH His Son. That, without acceptance of His Son, there are consequences for wrong decisions and outright rejection. That the specific consequence is Hell. And that one of these days, Christ will return!

The differences between most christian denominations are small details in other areas of doctrine that really have no bearing on one’s salvation, nor do they have any positive or negative bearing on any of the other MAJOR tenets of the faith, as I have listed in the previous paragraph. Universalism and/or “Christian” Universalism is a COMPLETE OVERHAUL of pretty much the entire bible! THAT’S the difference between “christian” universalism and the silly little temper tantrums between christian denominations. So, yes, I am tolerant of the views of other christians who may not believe certain fine details of scripture in certain areas of doctrine. I can agree to disagree, because for the most part, they and I both “get the overall BIG picture.” I am tolerant and can agree to disagree with people of completely different faiths, because at least they are up front about who they are, what they are, and where they stand with my beliefs. But, when it comes to a faith system that systematically overhauls and rewrites just about every tenet of the Christian faith – and then has the audacity to disguise itself as legitimate Christianity, you’re darn right I’m going to have problems tolerating it.

The very first statement you made to me was to “Be careful what you call ‘doctrines of demons.'” I believe I am very careful about what I deem as such. And I think I have outlined the difference between difference of opinion on scripture versus complete overhaul. When someone presents a supposed “real and true gospel” that supposedly most people have not understood correctly, here’s how I deem it worthy of being called Truth or worthy of being called “doctrines of demons.” I listen to the person. I give what they have to say consideration. Then I see if it lines up with scripture. If it doesn’t, then yes, I deem it a “doctrine of demons.” It’s as simple as that. That’s the same thing the Apostle Paul did back in his day (they may not have had the bible all bound together as one book at that point in time, but they still had the same scriptures that we have today). The bible is not open to “revisionist history.” You can’t justifiably make it say what you want it to say simply because it sounds “prettier” that way. God DID NOT, DOES NOT, and WILL NOT allow that to be an option!

And by the way, according to “christian” universalism, there cannot be such a thing as “doctrines of demons.” And even if it were possible to exist under your belief system, of what negative effect would it have on those who fall prey to them? The person would STILL be saved! So, taking this a bit further, why should the Apostle Paul – or anyone else in the bible, for that matter, waste the time and energy to urge people not to be deceived by them?!

“All I ask is that you pray humbly to God to show you whether what I’m about to say is true.”

Thank you! I appreciate that. Prayer is a good thing. Prayer is an awesome thing! While Jesus tells us numerous times, as do several other scriptures in both the OT and the NT, that we should pray, and specifically to, “Pray at all times,” prayer is not for confirmation. Why? Because when you pray, the devil can just as easily answer you. How are you to know the difference? Anything spoken or answered to you in prayer should be confirmed by the Word of God. The written Word of God does not confirm that ALL humanity shall be saved, regardless of whether you accept Jesus in this life or not. It indicates that ONLY those who have accepted Christ shall inherit the Kingdom – NOT all whoever lived, lives now, or ever will live. So again, scripture is given for confirmation – not prayer.

2nd Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

“Would a God who “is” love (1 John 4:8,16) willingly create a human race who he knew ahead of time would mostly end up in an eternal Hell?

The short answer to that question? Yes, because He did! You and are here. We are living testimonies to the fact that we exist and we are created.

The more complex answer to that question? The problem with “christian” universalism is that it attempts to logically figure out God. You have posed a logical question which you hope to receive logical answers for. Here is the only logic that matters when it comes to attempting to figure out why God would do ANYTHING He does:

The answer is, we CANNOT figure God out from a logical perspective. Some scientists say that we only use 3 percent of our brains. Other scientists say we use up to 10 percent of our brains. But even if we used 100 percent of our brains, that is STILL only a single drop of water in a vast ocean of God’s wisdom and knowledge. We can NEVER know why He does or says ANYTHING he does or says, except for those things that He allows us to be capable of knowing.

Deuteronomy 29:29, “There are secret things that belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us…”

So, you see, there are things about God that NO ONE can possibly know, nor can they pretend to know. You cannot figure out God with questions of logic alone. God has not made that an option for us. That is why Faith is required.

“If God is omniscient, He knows who will accept and who will reject Him.”

You are correct.

“If God is omnipotent, then He has the power to save the entire human race, down to the most despicable sinner.”

Right again. But it doesn’t mean He’s GOING to do it… not if it cancels out our own will.

“If God is all-loving, then who is to say that He won’t save all?”

Who is to say that he won’t save all? The “Word of God” is the one who reserves the right to say so. Unfortunately, the Word of God does not indicate – at least without twisting and contorting it – anywhere in scripture that God will save all. As a matter of fact, it supports the premise that some will be lost from the front of the book, all the way to the back!

If you want to judge God and figure him out logically, you’re never going to get anywhere with it. Have you ever read Romans 9? Did you know that, according to Romans 9 that God has created certain people SOLELY for the purpose of destruction? In other words, He only created certain people for hell! Do you think those people know they were created SOLELY for the purpose of destruction? I know, it’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s in there, so you gotta believe it, right? After all, scripture says that God cannot lie. It also says that the Word is reliable and trustworthy. Therefore, if you don’t believe the Whole of His Word, you’re bogus anyway! Check it out:

Romans 9:1-22, “In the presence of Christ, I speak with utter truthfulness-I do not lie-and my conscience and the Holy Spirit confirm that what I am saying is true. My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed-cut off from Christ!-if that would save them. They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s special children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave his law to them. They have the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises. Their ancestors were great people of God, and Christ himself was a Jew as far as his human nature is concerned. And he is God, who rules over everything and is worthy of eternal praise! Amen. Well then, has God failed to fulfill his promise to the Jews? No, for not everyone born into a Jewish family is truly a Jew! Just the fact that they are descendants of Abraham doesn’t make them truly Abraham’s children. For the Scriptures say, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted,” though Abraham had other children, too. This means that Abraham’s physical descendants are not necessarily children of God. It is the children of the promise who are considered to be Abraham’s children. For God had promised, “Next year I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” This son was our ancestor Isaac. When he grew up, he married Rebekah, who gave birth to twins. But before they were born, before they had done anything good or bad, she received a message from God. (This message proves that God chooses according to his own plan, not according to our good or bad works.) She was told, “The descendants of your older son will serve the descendants of your younger son.” In the words of the Scriptures, “I loved Jacob, but I rejected Esau.” What can we say? Was God being unfair? Of course not! For God said to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.” So receiving God’s promise is not up to us. We can’t get it by choosing it or working hard for it. God will show mercy to anyone he chooses. For the Scriptures say that God told Pharaoh, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you, and so that my fame might spread throughout the earth.” So you see, God shows mercy to some just because he wants to, and he chooses to make some people refuse to listen. Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not listening? Haven’t they simply done what he made them do?” No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to criticize God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who made it, “Why have you made me like this?” When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into? God has every right to exercise his judgment and his power, but he also has the right to be very patient with those who are the objects of his judgment and are fit only for destruction.

So, what is your explanation for this? And how do you fit Romans 9 into your belief that all will be saved, especially considering that Romans 9 says the complete opposite, and even goes so far as to say that SOME people are created for the SOLE purpose of destruction! This particular passage of scripture is not up to interpretation. It’s as plain as day!

“1 Timothy 2:4 is not the only verse that offers evidence for Christian Universalism by a long shot (I’ll be happy to find more for you if you want).”

I know. I’ve read, and reread, time and again the different scriptures that Universalists use to try and justify their belief system. And like I said before, there is not a single one of them that, WHEN TAKEN IN ITS PROPER CONTEXT, means what you claim it means. So, I hope you’ll understand when I say I’ll pass on you presenting them to me to read all over again.

“As for the free will of man to damn themselves, what person in their right mind would willingly subject themselves to eternal torment forever because they disrespected and hated Jesus so much?”

That’s the problem right there! NOBODY on the face of this planet who has ever been, is now, or ever will be, has been SPIRITUALLY in their right mind as Man is in his natural state. Why? Because as I explained to the other gentleman before you, when Sin entered this creation it infected ALL of humanity for all time to come (at least until Christ returns, anyway). We have, therefore, inherited Sin as our nature, and Hell as our spiritual destination by default, UNLESS we plead the blood of Christ over our lives and submit to him IN THIS LIFE! NATURALLY, our NATURAL “free will” automatically wants to follow its’ NATURAL SIN NATURE. The bible makes it very clear that sin brings death. No matter how you want to try to spin it, there is no getting around the fact that God cannot be where sin is. It’s not because he doesn’t want to. It’s because it simply can’t happen. And vice versa, sin can’t be where God is. They cannot coexist in harmony. There is no duelism. They are not equals. And before you talk to me about “a form of hell” that is “not the same hell that we traditionally think about,” that supposedly purifies, cleanses, and refines our spirit in the next life in order that we may be made acceptable to God, just forget about it! That’s when you’re simply grasping at straws to try to convince me, anyone else, and maybe even yourself, that you’re right. There is NO SECOND CHANCE in the next life, and I defy you to prove otherwise.

“Seeing the true love of my Father has saved me from the dark road I was headed down.”

What dark road?! There IS NO dark road when there’s nothing wrong. According to your belief, everything’s just fine, and we’re all going to be taken care of regardless! What did He save you from? If there is no hell, then what did he save you from?! What was the purpose of God sending his Son to earth to be brutally murdered if everything is peachy? If God was going to save ALL of humanity that ever was, is now, or ever will be, then why would he inconvenience himself to do all the things he’s done? Why not just send a single document, rather than 66 books to us with the phrase, “It’s all good. I got you covered no matter what!”?!?! If we’re all going to inherit the Kingdom in the next life no matter what we believe, what’s the point in telling anyone about it? Why should anyone evangelize?

Evangelism is about saving souls, and when there are no souls in need of saving, evangelism loses it’s purpose. At that point, it really just becomes about trying to convince people that you are right and they are wrong. No offense to you, but I believe that people (not necessarily you personally, but not completely excluding you either) who believe such nonsense as “christian” universalism live under a great deal of conviction and therefore they feel the need to try and prove to people (and themselves) that they are right, so that they may be able to feel better about their sin, while having no desire to cease sinning.

If you’ve read this far, you should win an award of some sort. My apologies for writing the book to you. Ya know, we’ve been on each others friends list for quite a long time, but I think this is the first time we’ve ever communicated with each other. I apologize that it had to be under these circumstances, and should you decide to remove me from your friends list, I will understand. No hard feelings on my end, just so you know.

Take care, and God bless!

444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444444
(my response)

“When christians become stagnant and complacent in their faith, they do NOT become INTOLERANT of the beliefs of others, as you have suggested. Rather, they become MORE TOLERANT to the beliefs of others. Why? Because if they are not moving forward with God, they are moving backwards. And if they are moving backwards, they are not listening for God, which means that they are not hearing God, which makes them susceptible to false gods, false religions, and false philosophies. There is no standing still, because, again, if you’re standing still and being stagnant in your faith, then in essence, you’re really moving backwards. And if you’re moving backwards, you obviously become more accepting of other beliefs. That’s why the writer of the Hebrews urges us to continually strive to run the race to reach the finish line. Continually strive to reach the finish line in order to receive the prize at the end of the race. Don’t look back for anything, don’t stop for anything. The basic message there is to just keep running to God. Nevermind the distractions of this life. Nevermind worldly philosophies and worldy religions with their high-sounding nonsense. Just finish the race!!!”

I suppose that I agree with everything just said. However, I don’t think it applies to me. I have read the Bible nearly every day for the past eight or so years of my life. The following will probably be used against me, but I offer it anyway: I, even when I was saved, feared Hell more than anything else. I answered an altar call at a Christian speaking event (Reggie Dabbs was the speaker) when I was 13, after I had felt what I sincerely believe to this day was the Holy Spirit calling me. It was something like I had never felt before, and have still not felt so intensely to this day. However, even after I was given “information” (booklets and such) about how to go about my new Christian life, I still feared that maybe I had not actually been saved. (The fear of the unforgivable sin was also haunting me, since I had said to God in my head, “F*** you, God, some years prior). So the next month, out of desperation, I tearfully called my pastor, who led me in a Salvation prayer, and it was the happiest moment of my life. I was so ecstatic and joyful to have found Jesus and salvation from Hell.

However, the fear of Hell would not leave. It was still there when I was baptized, and a cycle of fear, talk to pastor/friends/parents, be reassured, and fear continued for the next few years.

I assume you see this as build-up for the blind acceptance of any belief that would quench my fear of Hell. Believe me, I HAVE BEEN TOLD EVERY CHRISTIAN REASON WHY I WILL NOT GO TO HELL. Nothing reassured me. Someone would give me a reason not to fear, and I would find a counterpoint, FROM SCRIPTURE, that proved that I was going to Hell. Nothing would convince me otherwise, until my pastor or someone would reassure me of God’s love and my fears would be relieved for a while. I only recently found out about Christian Universalism about a year ago.

“And by the way, according to “christian” universalism, there cannot be such a thing as “doctrines of demons.” And even if it were possible to exist under your belief system, of what negative effect would it have on those who fall prey to them? The person would STILL be saved! So, taking this a bit further, why should the Apostle Paul – or anyone else in the bible, for that matter, waste the time and energy to urge people not to be deceived by them?!”

I heartily disagree with you on this point. I would say “doctrines of demons” are anything that leads a person away from God. If it weren’t for the doctrine of Hell, I believe I would be much closer to God today. My fear of Hell was absolutely NOT healthy, in any way. It did not cause me to love God more, nor did it increase my respect for Him.

“The written Word of God does not confirm that ALL humanity shall be saved, regardless of whether you accept Jesus in this life or not.”

As you know, I disagree.

“It indicates that ONLY those who have accepted Christ shall inherit the Kingdom”

I totally agree with you on this point. Only I believe that Christ will take all the time He needs to draw everyone with bands of love to the point where they will WILLINGLY accept Him.

2nd Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is God‑breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

Even if I were to take this as absolutely true (which I’m pretty sure I do), where does this verse say that all Scripture is perfectly translated from Christ’s birth down to today? Where does it say that the King James Version (and I realize you haven’t implied this) is the perfect, untampered with Word of God?

As for Romans 9, if you have interpreted this passage correctly and we are all destined to either be saved or unsaved (bound for Hell forever) and can do nothing about it in the end, I present the same question to you that you have presented to your other friend: Why not just throw a party!? No matter what we do, we’re destined for either Heaven or Hell and there’s nothing we can do about it!

“And before you talk to me about “a form of hell” that is “not the same hell that we traditionally think about,” that supposedly purifies, cleanses, and refines our spirit in the next life in order that we may be made acceptable to God, just forget about it! That’s when you’re simply grasping at straws to try to convince me, anyone else, and maybe even yourself, that you’re right. There is NO SECOND CHANCE in the next life, and I defy you to prove otherwise.”

First of all, I want to make it clear that there is absolutely no chance of me being able to “prove” to you anything, just as there is no way for you to prove to me that what you say is true. We can only present our arguments in the clearest, most convincing way we can. That being said, I offer to you this passage from Matthew 18:

23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.
24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.
25But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.
26The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.
28But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.
God will deliver them to the tormentors until all is paid. (I will not say “simple as that” because we obviously have different ways of looking at things. I see it as simple, but it isn’t for you because of how you have come to think. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, we’re just different.) This is not to be a purposeless, unending torment that will serve to neither ours, nor (especially) God’s benefit.

“What dark road?! There IS NO dark road when there’s nothing wrong. According to your belief, everything’s just fine, and we’re all going to be taken care of regardless! What did He save you from? If there is no hell, then what did he save you from?! What was the purpose of God sending his Son to earth to be brutally murdered if everything is peachy? If God was going to save ALL of humanity that ever was, is now, or ever will be, then why would he inconvenience himself to do all the things he’s done? Why not just send a single document, rather than 66 books to us with the phrase, “It’s all good. I got you covered no matter what!”?!?! If we’re all going to inherit the Kingdom in the next life no matter what we believe, what’s the point in telling anyone about it? Why should anyone evangelize?”

“NO dark road”? Believe me, follow the teaching of Hell to its “logical” (again, it’s logical for me, may not be for you) conclusion, and I believe you either land in one of two (maybe three) places. You will either become a hardened, self-righteous, super-Christian who has overdosed on spiritual pride, or you will be driven insane at trying to reconcile a God whose being consists of love, but will also subject most of humanity to eternal torture. Another (possible) option is someone who has been able to bring themselves to stop caring about whether their family members, friends, and even enemies will have to spend eternity in this Hell.

As for the death of Christ on the cross, I say this: Imagine purchasing a 100-acre field full of a crop of corn. You’ve worked for many months in order to save up the money to buy this field, and finally you shake hands, sign contracts, etc. and are given the rights to the field. However, the next morning you wake up to a phone call. The voice on the other end says, “We’re sorry to tell you this, but there was a fire in the field you purchased last night. We’ve only been able to salvage 10 acres of it.” Would you be satisfied with that? Would you be able to say, “Well, I purchased it, but it’s too bad that most of the field had to be lost.” No! You would ask for your money back! You didn’t get all that you paid for!

If God sent His only begotten Son Jesus to die on the Cross, and it was unsuccessful in saving a vast majority of the human race, then God has not gotten all that He paid for. What a tragedy that Jesus died! He has failed to complete the work which he set out to do! This belief in no way trivializes Jesus’ death. It was absolutely necessary. If it succeeds in accomplishing it’s task, how does that make it unnecessary?

“Evangelism is about saving souls, and when there are no souls in need of saving, evangelism loses it’s purpose. At that point, it really just becomes about trying to convince people that you are right and they are wrong. No offense to you, but I believe that people (not necessarily you personally, but not completely excluding you either) who believe such nonsense as “christian” universalism live under a great deal of conviction and therefore they feel the need to try and prove to people (and themselves) that they are right, so that they may be able to feel better about their sin, while having no desire to cease sinning.”

I believe the Bible speaks of Jesus saving people from their sins more often than saving them from Hell or judgment. That is what evangelism is about. I want to stress this: Hell will not be a place that we want anyone to go to! It will not be fun, it will not be an “Oh well, I’m going to heaven after this anyways, lol”, it will be very unpleasant for anyone who has to go through it.

As for your other point, believe me, the only thing that has changed in my life since my belief in Christian Universalism is that now I have an absence of panic attacks over Hell and a fear of my God sending me there because I screw up. I haven’t had a decrease in conviction over sin. My desire to cease from sin has not decreased either, in fact it may now have increased since I changed.

“If you’ve read this far, you should win an award of some sort. My apologies for writing the book to you. Ya know, we’ve been on each others friends list for quite a long time, but I think this is the first time we’ve ever communicated with each other. I apologize that it had to be under these circumstances, and should you decide to remove me from your friends list, I will understand. No hard feelings on my end, just so you know.

Take care, and God bless! ”

Don’t worry, I’m not going to remove you over something like this. I don’t expect many people to agree with me (I’ve yet to meet anyone outside of the Internet who does), it goes against everything most Christians have been taught. I only seek to find truth.

God Bless,
mike

(originally posted 2/27/08 )





I hate the word “emo”…

21 07 2008
… in relation to people who deal with depression / cutting / suicide / etc. I feel it trivializes the problems that they have to deal with, i.e. “Oh, they’re just being emo,” or “They only cut because it’s a fad and they’re emo”. Maybe some people just do that sort of thing to look cool or something, but I think that the majority of people that do this do deal with some sort of depression.

I saw a “bumper sticker” the other day on that wonderful Facebook application. It was a picture that was showing the proper way to cut yourself (“Down the road, not across the street” or something). It made me pretty angry that people think this is so funny. People that deal with this are looking for something / someone to help them and have problems they can’t deal with on their own. If you have friends who struggle with this, don’t ignore it or pretend it isn’t there. Stick with them and help them through it. You might be the person who saves their life. Of course, this is easier to write about than actually do in real life (as I’ve come to learn), but don’t just do nothing and leave them to themselves.

Not just that, but talk to people who don’t cut but just seem depressed all the time. Their problems may seem trivial or minor to you, but that’s just because you’re not dealing with the same thing they are. Some people take things a lot more seriously than you might. Just because a certain issue wouldn’t be a big deal for you, doesn’t mean it’s not the world to someone else.

A good lyric to keep in mind is from the Skillet song “The Last Night”:

“I’m so sick of when they say
It’s just a phase, you’ll be o.k. you’re fine
But I know it’s a lie”

Please never, ever say this to a person, it will only make things worse for them and bring them more hopelessness. Just pray, and let them know you’ll be there for them.

(originally written 2/18/08 )