Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I believe that God... (the significant word is "I")

I heard someone say this: "The christian bible says that, 'Jesus is the way'. But, there are many holy books that teach something else. I believe that there are many ways to God". How would you respond to this?

There's not much that you can say about that. If you believe in something else, then that's your choice.

Some have taken Pascal's wager, which is that believing in Jesus is taking less chances than not believing in him.

I personally believe that if Jesus is risen from the dead, then he is the only one to give us any accurate information about the spirit world and God. For everyone else, God is a matter of guess work.

But if you don't believe in the resurrection and believe that there are many ways to God, what CAN you say?

I guess for me the only thing is that you cannot have contradictory ways to God. In other words, if one person says "The best way to God is to get all desire out of your life so you no longer want anything" (fundamental Buddhism) and another says "The only way to God is to desire righteousness" (fundamental Judaism and Christianity). These contradict each other, and cannot be reconciled. God is not a schizophrenic. Nor is he a kindly old grandfather, just happy that his children are paying any attention at all to him, so he will accept any kind of gifts. God isn't like that, if he is uniform, if he is the most powerful being in the universe. He wants what he wants and it isn't up to us to tell Him what he wants. What we need to do is to determine what He best wants.

The problem with people saying "I believe" about God is that they are dictating to God who He is and what he wants. They aren't saying, "I believe that God revealed such and such..." They are saying that whatever idea that came into their head is what they determine is God. So what does that really mean? It means that their god is their mind, their opinions. Thus, the cult of "I believe" is the most insidious and narcissistic of idolatries-- the worship of one's own frail, human thinking.

I believe that it is pretty pathetic.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Reincarnation in the Bible?

It is appointed for man to die once, and then comes the judgment.(i don't know where in the bible that is located- do you?)The above verse tells me that reincarnation is not going to happen (would i be correct in this, or am i being naive?). Would you please direct me to all of the other scripture references that support the above verse?The reason that I bring this up is that the other day I over heard this guy say that, "Jesus said that John the baptist is Elijah," to support reincarnation. I know that the guy is wrong, but I cant prove it. So, what say you?

That verse is found in Hebrews 9:27.

Yes, that verse clearly says that reincarnation isn't something the Bible teaches. Rather, the Bible teaches in resurrection-- that after a period of our bodies being separated from our souls, they would be brought back together (Luke 16; Daniel 12; John 5:28-29). Paul and Jesus also clearly teach that the resurrected bodies would be powerful "spiritual" bodies-- kinda like Superman (Matt. 22; I Cor. 15:42). The Bible is clear that these bodies will live eternally, never to die again (Rev 21:4; Matt 25:46; John 5:24).

As far as what Jesus said about John the Baptist: Yes, he said that John the Baptist marked the return of Elijah-- Matthew 11:14. But did he mean reincarnation by that? Obviously not, since Elijah met with Jesus during his ministry at the transfiguration, not John the Baptist (Matt 17:3). The disciples did not recognize Elijah as John, but instead asked about the prophecy that Elijah would return (Malachi 4). Jesus said that Elijah had already come, as prophecied, and he was clearly talking about John. However, the angel speaking to John's father clarified exactly what was meant, that John would have the spirit and power of Elijah. Not that he was Elijah himself.

So could Elijah come again? Jesus said he would (Matt 17). And it is still possible, and not in the way John the Baptist did. The reason for this is that Elijah never died. He was taken up to heaven directly, without dying first (II Kings 1-2).

Does this mean reincarnation isn't possible? No, God could do whatever he wanted, and since Jesus experienced birth after he already existed, then it is certainly possible that God COULD do it. But I think Heb 9:27 (the verse you quoted) clearly says that it isn't God's normal plan. Every person has one life to live. People's consciousnesses don't start over. That's the Bible. If someone wants to believe in something else, that's fine. But don't say the Bible teaches it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

More Questions Answered

Question # 1) If Christians are to "love their enemies" as is told us in the Scriptures, does that mean we are to love satan as well?

It is interesting that Jesus told us to "not resist an evil one", by which he means human authorities (like the police or governments) that use their authority to harm us. So in that context, we are not to "resist" them, (the word is antisthmi, which literally means "stand against"-- the Strong's number is 5629) which means that we are to submit to their authority and harm them in no way. That is Matthew 5:38-41. But for Satan, the same word is used in a number of contexts, but just the opposite counsel is given-- we are to "resist" or "stand against" Satan and all evil powers of the heaven. We can see this in Eph 6:13; James 4:7; I Peter 5:9. Thus, Scripture is clear-- while we do not harm humans in any way-- even if they harm us-- we are to cause Satan and his forces as much damage as possible. Note also, that though we are not to take part in warfare with humans, we are to throw ourselves into warfare against Satan and the evil powers of heaven-- Eph 6:11-12; II Corinthians 10:3-4.

Question # 2) If a woman's husband dies, is she still considered a "Mrs"?

When a spouse dies, the marriage commitment is lapsed-- the couple is no longer considered married. This is clearest in Romans 7:2-3.

Question #3)Actually, the real question is: If a woman is divorced, is she still considered a "Mrs."?

Oh, that's different.

I am assuming that you are speaking in the eyes of God, not in the law, and so I will answer it that way.

Jesus statement about this is as follows: (Matthew 19:3-9-- NAS)

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" 4 And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE, 5 and said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH '? 6 "So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." 7 They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE AND SEND her AWAY?" 8 He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9 "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."

This has been interpreted many times and ways over 2000 years of Christians trying to get out of what it clearly says. Let me summarize it as clearly as I can:

Divorce, according to Jesus, does not break a marriage that God established. Divorce is a human institution, not a God-made one. The commitment to marriage is for life, and a divorce does not break that. Thus, if a divorcee marries another person, then they are probably committing adultery-- because the original marriage isn't actually broken.

However, there is a circumstance in which a marriage is broken: adultery. In other words, if either partner in a marriage-- whether there is a divorce or not-- has sex with someone who is not their spouse, then they have broken their marriage. The commitment is null and void. The "innocent" partner can forgive the lapse and the marriage can be established anew, but the commitment is broken at that point and it is up to the partner that did not break it to determine that.

This is a difficult thing to hear-- even as the disciples said-- but much of what Jesus said is like that.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Update on my health

Thank all of you who have been praying for my health and my energy. I have really needed it, because my body has had some real ups and downs the last couple months. I am officially diagnosed with diabetes, as my blood sugar has been going through a roller-coaster ride. My doctor and I are working on a diet/exercise plan to maintain my health and energy. I have also been seeking healing prayer and have been praying to the Lord myself. I do believe that the Lord will grant me enough energy to do what He has appointed me to do, but at the same time, I think this time of testing will continue for a season.

I pray that it will only be for a season, but I also am constantly remembering the Lord's conversation with Paul in II Cor 12. When Paul asked for a "thorn in the flesh" to be removed three times, the Lord refused him and instead said, "My strength is made perfect through your weakness." I am personally feeling very weak, very human right now, although I understand it is far less than some of you have experienced. This difficulty is small for me, but the task I have been given is great, almost overwhelming. But if this weakness allows God's strength to displayed more perfectly through me, then I gladly accept it.

As I do my ministry, I am constantly reminded of Mother Theresa's words, "I know that the Lord only gives us as much as we can handle, but I wish he didn't trust me so much." At this point, the only way Anawim will be sustained is through the Lord's work. Not just His work in me-- because I am frail and weak and of limited ability and strength-- but also his work in other's who have been and will be participating in this ministry.

This is a difficult trust for me. I have been trusting in the Lord for his strength and power through me, and that is an easy trust to have because I know my heart is open to His will, as strange as it may seem sometimes. But it is harder to have trust that God will be working through others in such a way that I must lean upon them as well as God's miraculous power. Yet this is the situation I am in now. An opportunity to grow in trust in the Lord.

I thank all of you who have participated in our ministry up until this point. You have all been necessary to God's work in Anawim. I will ask you for nothing else. But I do ask this-- keep your ears and hearts open to the Spirit's leading. There may be a time ("and that time may never come"-- Bill Palmer quote) that the Spirit will ask you to do Anawim some additional work. I guess what I'm asking is: if the Spirit calls you, please listen. I have no back-up personal reserves right now to do the work the Spirit asks others to do.

Of course, I know the Spirit is leading you to participate in the ministries you are already in-- your churches, your families, your friends, your day-to-day work. And that should be your focus. But whatever additional small things the Spirit leads you to act for Anawim, I just want to let you know, we appreciate it.

A couple more things:
We have been delayed in sending our folks to hurricane country, but we now have a confirmed reservation to send three folks to Gulfport, Mississippi on December 4, for a week. Please continue praying for these folks.
Anawim has lost one of our major donors, through Birch Gleaners. But we have gained about a hundred gallons of dry food in a donation this month, which proves God's generosity again!
Also, if any of you are interested in my blog, I have been putting articles on it for two months now, so there is much to see. Also, the comment section is now opened up to everyone, and comments are certainly welcome. The address is,

Thanks for your prayers and counsel and assistance. May the Lord grant you peace in the same measure as you seek his peace.

Answering Some Questions

All questions were provided by Gordon Smith (not the senator).

1) Is okay to pray for animals? I heard a woman pray that no cats would be sacrificed this Halloween.

To pray for animals is fine. We can be emotionally attached to animals, and the Lord understands that attachment. I don't pray for animals usually, myself, but there's nothing wrong with it. Heck, I've prayed for a car before, and we can pray for technology-- why not animals? No where in Scripture does it say that we cannot pray for animals and as humans it is our responsibility to care for animals (Psalm 8). So why not pray for them as well? I'll bet there have been many low level dairy farmers praying for the health of his cow in which his whole economic life depends on.

2) Should Christians pray against legalizing gay mirages? My thinking is on this one, is that, does it really matter if they marry? Should we (the church- the church), pray that they would come to repentance? Rather than waisting time and energy, worrying about the political ramifications, and looking like bad guys.

I think you're right. If we were to pray about this issue, then why don't we pray for all of it-- I mean pray against every area in which the U.S. is unrighteous. The fact that they do not require everyone to worship Yahweh, but allow idolatry-- that's opposed to God's pure righteousness, if anything is. Note that out of the ten commandments, the U.S. only legalizes three of them (murder, stealing, purjury), while the rest are left to each person's "conscience". And Jesus' command of loving one's enemy is considered immoral in many circumstances, as the American justice system is based on punishing one's enemies. The fact is, many wrong things will be legalized before Jesus comes and there will be no really "Christian" nation until Jesus' return.

3) In, the /book of Nahum (1.3) , it states that the "whirlwind and storm is His way." The devil used the whirlwind and storm, to take out Jobs sons and daughters. So, what does that mean, that the whirlwind and storm are exclusively, the Lords?

Storms are under the Lord's command, and Satan-- the minister of God's judgment against humanity-- will sometimes use great powers to judge humanity. God allowed Satan to use that power to test Job-- this is one of the reasons why Job wanted to put God on trial for crimes against him, when he had been righteous.

The main thing we need to remember is that Satan is playing a couple sides, here. He acts for the Lord in judging sinful humanity-- that's his job. He also can judge any human that puts him in authority-- that's all of us.

As far as disasters in the world, we have to look at them open-mindedly. Satan can take pot-shots at humanity any time he wants, and he will occasionally cause a large disaster-- such as the Indonesian tsunami-- just to spark fear in people. He is also sometimes appointed by God to judge a particular area or city because of specific sin-- but the Lord doesn't do this unless he has warned the community ahead of time. This is what I understand happened in New Orleans, and certainly it is true for ancient Jerusalem and Babylon. On occasion, Satan can also ask the Lord to test a specific righteous individual to "prove" their faithfulness. The Lord will sometimes allow these tests, to prove his righteous people.

Thus, in general, it is the Lord's power enacting these judgments, but Satan is the one who is specifically appointed and motivated to use the storm as judgment.

You can see the Lord's relationship to Satan and evil spirits in the following passages--
I kings 22:19-23; Job 1-2; Exodus 12:23; Jeremiah 51:1-4, 56; I Cor 10:10; Hebrews 2:14

Thus, when Satan is finally judged, then this whole system of punishment and testing will be finished. Isaiah 33:1 and Revelation 20. Then we will only have Jesus' method of mercy and repentance.

4) What does it to abide, practicly speaking? Does it mean to seek and serve? What about His 'words?' I read my bible constantly, but I cant rember, hardly a lick. The main reason, that I continue to read it all, is because, God said that His 'word does not come back void.' I am trusting in that promise. So, I guesse my qustion is, What does it mean to truly abide in Christ? Also, what does it mean to have His words abide in you?

"Abide" of course, basically means to "continue in". The opposite of this would be to forsake or to set aside. To abide in Jesus means to retain the covenant with Him. He has established a covenant with us through his death, and that covenant has certain obligations on both sides. On Jesus' side, as we see in John 15, we have complete access to the Father, and thus, the Father's power. On our side, we covenant to obey Jesus and to be faithful to Him-- that is abiding in Jesus and to have his words abide in us.

It is interesting that Jesus mentions both sides. If he had said just "abide in me" then it would have led to easy-believism, that just as long as you claim Jesus you're doing okay. If he had just said, "have my words abide in you" then Jesus would just be giving us a philosophy to live by and it doesn't matter whether it's Jesus or someone else presenting it.

But Jesus said both-- not just honoring and speaking about Jesus; and not just obeying Jesus, but the full faith package.

But this isn't talking about some strange mystical experience (although some people do have that experience) nor is it about Bible memorization (although that is very helpful, and all the early disciples did that-- they literally memorized the exact words of Jesus), but it is about remaining in faith and obedience.

5) How does one know if he or she has the Holy Spirit?

There are a number of ways to know how one is having a spiritual experience:
1. You could be doing things you wouldn't do on your own
2. You could experience a miraculous event, such as a healing or speaking in another tongue you haven't learned
3. You could obtain knowledge you wouldn't have known on your own

However, we must remember that there are many spirits out there, and people are experiencing many different spirits apart from the ones that are pleasing to God. If a person is experiencing the HOLY Spirit, specifically, then we need to look for four things:

1. The Holy Spirit will manifest in some miraculous way, such as described above and also in I Corinthians 12.
2. The Holy Spirit will lead one to act in an attitude of love, peace, patience and self-control, as described in Galatians 5:22-23.
3. The Holy Spirit will enable one to proclaim "Jesus is Lord" I Corinthians 12:3.
4. The Holy Spirit will remind and guide one back to the words and teachings of Jesus. John 14:26

If we see one of these four, it isn't enough. All four must be present to be assured it is the Holy Spirit, and not just our imagination, social pressure, or a different spirit.
If we only see miracles, it might be a spirit, but not the Holy Spirit.
If we only see love, it might be community pressure forcing one to act that way.
If one only proclaims Jesus as Lord-- then it is possible today for a person to be caving in to social pressure, as opposed to the days of Paul in which only a person with a death wish would proclaim Jesus as Lord apart from the Holy Spirit.
If one focuses on the teaching of Jesus, that could be intellectualism.

If we are missing any parts of these, then we do not know it is the Holy Spirit--
If we don't see a miracle, we could be living out our own fantasy.
If we don't see love, there may be power, but it isn't holy.
If a person doesn't proclaim Jesus as Lord, they are experiencing idolatry.
If we aren't guided to Jesus' teaching, we could be experiencing a false spirit in Jesus' name, but not the true Jesus.

But if we experience a spiritual power displayed through the miraculous-- healing, tongues, special knowledge, etc-- that leads us to proclaim Jesus as Lord and to obey his words and that assists us to do all this in an attitude of love-- then we know we have the Spirit.

6)Okay, here is a little story for you. (I'll tell you the short version) I was hanging out with these three guys, driving from here to there, and they stared praying. Eventually, they began to laugh and giggle as though they were drunk. In fact, they were drunk in the spirit. I have heard about people being drunk in the spirit, and I have read about it. But, this is the first time, I have witnessed it. I could "feel the Holy Spirit in that car(i felt something). I did not not break out laughing. I personally in that time felt a calming, that I never felt before. So, what are your thoughts?

These guys are certainly experiencing a spirit, but I don't have enough information to know if it is the Holy Spirit or not. There is a spirit throughout North America that is manifesting a laughing, joyful spirit, but it also seems limited in its power. I don't think this spirit is evil, per se-- that is, he isn't causing destruction of God's people. But the spirit isn't necessarily the holy spirit, either.

I will say that it is strange that such a spirit is being manifested within one of the most hedonistic cultures that has ever existed. Our culture is more focused on "having a good time" than any other, and so why should the Holy Spirit be communicating in this way? Is it because it is a way that these people will understand? Or is it a different spirit taking advantage of the hedonistic times?

I want to make it clear, though, that I have not seen this spirit do any evil, other than to de-focus people from acting sacrificially. Of course, since the way of Jesus is the way of the cross, perhaps that is just enough. It is a real spiritual experience, but I haven't yet had enough evidence to call it the Holy Spirit.