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Demons, Men, or Whatever

20070810p2_01A few nights ago I fell asleep on the couch in my office. When I awoke, I could not move. A sense of dread came over me. I felt invisible hands tighten around my throat and I could not breathe. A voice in my head whispered, “I hate you. I have always hated you. I’ve tried to kill you so many times. Tonight’s the night. Tonight you die.

“Now a few friends of mine would immediately leap to “It was a demon! You were under attack!” But of course I know better. First of all, I’m pretty much a strict cessationist and I don’t mind who knows that. Second of all, I’ve dealt with sleep paralysis most of my life and I can easily recognize it when it happens now.

Despite that, when the invisible hands tightened around my throat and the malign voice whispered deadly threats, I prayed silently but seriously that God my Father intervene and save me.

And He did. No sooner had I finished the prayer than did the hands release me, the voice was silenced, and I drifted back to sleep again. God heard my cry and rescued me from my peril, of that I have no doubt. It’s what He does. Rescue people.

Now my certain friends become puzzled. “If you do not believe in ongoing demonic possession or oppression or sign gifts, and were sure it was just sleep paralysis, why then did you pray?”

To answer this, I quote one of my all time favorite hymns, Master the Tempest is Raging:

Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will.

The stage of the hymn is set when the disciples are out at sea in a storm while Jesus is sleeping. They awaken Him, begging that He calm the storm and save them. Many scholars have debated whether the storm was just a storm or whether it was really sent by “the prince of the air,” that is the Devil.

To the hymn writer, though, the source of the storm is irrelevant. What matters is that no matter what it’s source, it cannot destroy the Creator and it must obey His will.

So was I attacked by a demon a few nights ago? I seriously doubt it. Was I in danger? Possibly, we really don’t know a lot about sleep paralysis. Much of it is in a person’s head, but there are physiological responses to the stimuli and it is possible that an episode of sleep paralysis could trigger a secondary health episode of far greater consequence.

But rest assured, demons, men, or whatever it was, my God can handle it.

And that’s why I prayed.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Theology

 

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The Relationship

Man and woman outdoors clasping hands, close-up

Connect. For the love of God, connect.

There is a person I know whom God has put on my heart, an unbeliever so far from Christ it seems impossible she could be saved.

But all things are possible for Him.

This person speaks out often against religion and is committed to atheism. I’ve been praying and waiting for the right moment to speak, for speaking at the wrong moment can spell disaster.

Recently, this person said something and the Spirit said, “Speak. Speak now.”

The person said, “Religion is destroying the world. People are ruined by it and they don’t need it or any other silly superstitions.”

I said, “So you have no beliefs at all beyond the natural? For you it’s just survival of the fittest? Your immediate needs and that’s it?”

“No,” the person replied, “I do believe in karma, that people end up getting what they deserve.”

“So? That’s a religion. There’s no “god” or whatever, but you believe in something more. Something beyond the natural, because science says that’s bunk. There’s just what’s in front of you.”

“Well, I’d call it a belief system. It’s not a religion.” the person explained.

“Oh, then we may have different definitions of religion then. Sounds like your definition is like rules and rituals and so forth.” I said.

“That’s right.” the person clarified.

“In that case I’m not religious either and I agree with you as well. What I am a part of is about a relationship. I believe there is a Being who transcends everything and Who created everything. I believe the most important thing in a person’s life is to have a relationship with this Person.”

“Oh,” the person said, “Well that’s different, that’s good then.”

For all the miles this person has to go before they are even close to responding to the Gospel, we moved an inch today. But I praise God, because due to our human nature, that person shouldn’t have moved at all.

But that’s not why I am posting this. I am posting this because as I drove home something hit me.

I am religious. I observe rules and rituals. I have not been pursuing God as a relationship.

A fire that had long lay dormant within me kindled, and I began to weep. I pray every day, but how long had it been since I was so enraptured with His presence that I had to be torn away from it? I read the Bible almost every day, but how long had it been since I opened my Bible with eagerness the way a wife embraces her husband after he has been on a long journey?

Too long.

Takeaways:

  1. Engage the Lost. You will learn as much from bouncing what you believe off them as anything else. We Christians are far too good at patting each other on the back.
  2. Forget your problems. God actually commands this of us. We should focus on our relationship with Him. All good works will flow from that relationship. We don’t do good to know God, we do good because we know Him.
  3. Check your affections. How much affection do you have for Christ? This is something we should check on a daily basis as we should with our spouses.
  4. Relationships are of highest importance. God first, and others second, but for the love of our Lord, connect. I feel like I’ve kept everyone, including God, at a distance. Do not do this. God is all about relationships. That is what matters.
 
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Posted by on August 19, 2015 in Sanctification

 

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Not Safe, but Good

I grow tired of people who believe in a milksop God and a milksop Jesus. God is dynamic and powerful and dangerous and loving and deadly and mysterious and violent and playful and serious and funny (yes, funny).

God reveals Himself to us in His Word. He pulls no punches. The Bible is R-rated. He makes people alive, and He kills people. He raises up nations and leaders and champions, and He tears down civilizations and drives leaders to madness and allows champions to fall into ruin.

Along the way God makes no apologies for His actions and makes few explanations. He demands obedience and unyielding fealty to His name.

For this reason, many doubt His claim to love us and His goodness. Perhaps there would be cause for this if not for this:

“For a good man someone might dare to die. But while we were yet sinners, He died for us.”

This immeasurably powerful, all knowing, all consuming God who demands perfection, does not tolerate uncleanness and hates sin with a perfect hatred. This God put aside His rights and came to live among us in the flesh. He provided the perfect life Himself that we failed to provide. He died the death He declared we should die for us.

“So in this way God loved the world. He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

And He defines just what that is.

“This is eternal life. That they know you intimately, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

He wants us. He wants us to be with Him such that He died to bring us close to Him. There can be no greater love, indeed He says:

“Mortal man knows no greater love than this. That he lay down his life for his friends.”

He calls me friend. I am God’s friend.

So when my God does something I do not understand, even when He takes life or chooses to allow life to pass away from someone. Even if He slays me, still will I trust in Him.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
– The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

 

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The Center for Medical Progress

The CMP is the organization that is hosting all the now hopefully infamous Planned Parenthood videos exposing their ghoulish practice of dicing up human babies and selling the parts wholesale for fun and profit. They describe themselves as such:

The Center for Medical Progress is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances.

Recently, Planned Parenthood has managed to convince lawmakers to gag any further videos under some pretense of protecting the innocent and miscarriage of justice. Time will tell if we will get to see all 12 videos they have as proof of this morally bankrupt (and by the way) illegal activity.

Since the corrupt blackguards who now infest our courts not only seek to destroy our liberty but also secure wholesale genocide without limit by censuring further videos, I will post here the ones already released and pledge my own liberty to post any future videos that may come to light, legally or not, in order to expose this vile corruption and to stop it for good.

How could I applaud the heroes of old, like William Wilberforce, the British Christian who bravely crusaded to end the slave trade or the abolitionists of the antebellum United States, without also willing to risk my own liberty for the sake of those who cannot defend themselves?

Here is the CMP You Tube account with all their videos. Please go and watch them and share them with the world that the killing may stop.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in History

 

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How “Deceptively Edited” Was the Video Claiming Planned Parenthood Sells Baby Parts?

Here is a great post refuting the so-called “debunking” of the recent Planned Parenthood organ harvest video. If you believe Planned Parenthood’s PC spin on ghouling, then I’ve also got a bridge to sell you.

Honey and Locusts

ppfa

In the last two day, millions of people have watched this video from the Center for Medical Progress, which asserts that Planned Parenthood has been harvesting and selling aborted baby parts. Several media outlets have rushed to the defense of America’s largest abortion provider in an attempt to “debunk” the video. One such attempt, penned by Alexandrea Boguhn & Hannah Groch-Begley, makes the following claim:

A deceptive video from a conservative group purports to show a Planned Parenthood official discussing prices for the illegal sale of fetal tissue from abortions. But the full, unedited footage and transcript released by the group undermines their sensationalist claims, showing at least three crucial edits that reveal the Planned Parenthood official was instead discussing the reimbursement cost for consensual, legal tissue donations.

I encourage you to read the rest of their article, and the evidence they provide for these “deceptive edits,” here. Let’s take a…

View original post 383 more words

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Seven Years

So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
– Genesis 29:20

100_0775Sunday marks the seventh anniversary of my marriage to Gena Renee Cohoon. Words cannot truly express how grateful I am for my wife, nor how undeserving I truly am of her love.

Genesis 29:20 holds a special meaning to me because I meditated long upon it when I decided to pursue Gena back in 2008.

At one point in my pursuit of Gena, there was a very real possibility that she would go where I could not follow her. The decision lay before me, “If she goes, do you wait the two years for her to come back or give up?”

Though ultimately she did not go, my decision was to wait for her. I knew there could be no other by that point. I would marry Gena or no one else. So I would wait however long it took. If that meant she never came back, then I’d never marry. If it meant she came back when she was 50, then we’d start our life together then.

I’d wait however long it took, just like Gilbert Blythe. If you don’t know who that is, shame on you. Go read these.

For all my noble affections, however, I did not understand then that marriage is all about waiting. Rather it is about patience and endurance. The choice to wait or give up is one ever before me. Over the seven years we’ve been married there have been many trials for us. Sometimes they were trials from outside the marriage we weathered together and sometimes they were trials between us within the marriage we had to weather with the Lord praying for the heart of the other to change.

I’ve learned this about marriage in seven years, if anything. When you say the wedding vows, you aren’t saying you’ll get it right, because you won’t.

You’re saying you won’t give up.

Never, ever, ever give up.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2015 in Sanctification

 

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10 Things You Might Not Know About the First Council of Nicaea

1. It was the first ecumenical council since the Council of Jerusalem in Acts.

This would be the first council concerning the entire Church on earth in almost 300 years. There had been plenty of “synods,” smaller councils and meetings of bishops and church leaders that made decisions for their local divisions and church communities, but a council that would make a decision binding to the entire Church on earth had not been held since the meeting in Acts where the Apostles gathered to decide whether the Gentiles had to become Jews in order to become Christians (they decided they didn’t).

Bacon

Thanks for the bacon.

2. It was called by the “Christian” Emperor Constantine, but probably not for the reasons you think.

In 312 AD Constantine won the Battle of Milvian Bridge which secured the Imperial Throne for himself. He declared himself a Christian and supported the previously illegal faith, co-signing the Edict of Milan in 313 AD making Christianity a legal religion among the many accepted in Roman culture. Contrary to popular belief, he did not make Christianity the state religion. That would not happen until the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 AD long after Constantine’s death.

Constantine called the council in 325 AD with one goal in mind: unity. The Church at this time was heavily divided along many fronts but none were as divisive as the one over the nature of Christ Himself. Was He God? Was He a god? Was He something in between these things? The debate created a clear divide in the Church and even at times lead to violence. If Constantine, the Emperor, was to be a Christian, then Christianity needed to be united. In other words, the Church was making Constantine look bad. Contrary to popular belief, Constantine honestly didn’t care what the council decided. He told them to come to an agreement and he would back up whatever they agreed on, regardless of what it was. He technically presided over the council because he was the head of state but he did not take place in the debates or the decisions.

Say what you want about those pagans, but at least they were consistent.

“Say what you want about those pagans, but at least they were consistent.” – Constantine (probably)

3. The Council did not discuss the doctrine of the Trinity.

Most people think the Council created the doctrine of the Trinity. It didn’t. The only concern of the council of this kind was over the nature of Christ and His relationship to the Father. It did not involve the Holy Spirit at all and the total relationship was not a point of discussion. The debate of the Trinity as a whole would be decided later at the Council of Constantinople in 360 AD. The concept of the Trinity was however already in place. We have records referring to the Godhead and the Trinity as far back as the 2nd Century.

4. The debate over the nature of Christ was almost over before it began.

The main debate and issue facing the council was the nature of Christ. The two major views of the day were between the traditional view of Christ as God incarnate and those promoted by Arius that Christ was merely God’s greatest creation.

Arius’ argument was that Christ was the first creation of God. He was neither of the same substance as God, nor shared God’s eternal nor divine nature. He claimed Jesus was the best and brightest of God’s creations, but a creation nonetheless. Much of Arius argument hinged on passages that refer to Jesus being “begotten” or “firstborn of creation” as well as “the Father is greater than I.”

The traditional view stemmed from the idea that any Son begotten by the Father must by definition be of the same substance and nature. Therefore, the Father and Son were always Father and Son, eternally. They are co-equal and co-substantial. They argued that Christ was begotten eternally, that is He has no beginning or end. To believe otherwise, they said, destroyed the unity of the Godhead because Christ would be unequal with the Father. Supporting scriptures for this view include “I and the Father are one” and “the Word was God.” They declared that the Son was equal to God in all aspects and is eternally derived from the Father, a declaration made earlier by Athanasius.

Arius came with roughly 22 supporters in tow. Considering that approximately 300 bishops were in attendance, this was not a negligible following, but also clearly in the minority. To make matters worse for Arius, almost all of his supporters abandoned him when the implications of his views were made plain to them.

The Council declared that the Son was truly God Himself, that He was of the same substance as the Father and existed with Him eternally. They argued this doctrine best fit the Scripture’s presentation of Christ as the Son as well as fitting with the traditional beliefs handed down by the Church fathers and Apostles.

Arius along with just two others refused to agree with the council’s decision. The emperor exiled them.

Where we presume the first "Survivor" show took place.

Where we presume the first “Survivor” show took place.

5. But that didn’t end the matter…

As much as Constantine wanted his Christianity wrapped up in a neat bow, it just wasn’t to be. The debate continued just as hotly after the council as it did before, and many violent protests would see Christian blood spilled in the streets. After a time, Arius relaxed some of his more heretical claims (but never renounced them) and was permitted to return from exile, when he promptly died while trying to take a poop. (No seriously) The movement declined afterwards but never totally went away, and many sects today (ex. Jehovah’s Witnesses) adhere to many of the same claims as Arius did.

6. The Council also addressed the Meletian Schism and Christian Apostates.

During the reigns of particularly nasty emperors in Rome, Christianity was heavily persecuted. Few could match the persecution under Diocletian, when Roman soldiers went door to door interrogating suspected Christians and throwing any who did not renounce Christ in prison. Many of those arrested were later executed. There were some Christians who “lapsed” under this stress and denounced Christ in order to save their lives. Once the crisis was over, many Christians who had endured prison and torture for their faith did not want to let these “apostates” back into the Church. Of these, none were as unforgiving as Bishop Melitus.

Melitus made it clear in his province that no apostates were to be forgiven or allowed back into the Church. Other bishops in the area were soon following his example. This deeply concerned other bishops across the Empire who felt this refusal to forgive was anti-Christian and should be addressed.

Seriously guys, I think Jesus said something about this one...

Seriously guys, I think Jesus said something about forgiveness…

The council voted and agreed that these lapsed Christians should be forgiven if they sought it and allowed back into the Church. They also agreed that since Melitus was an unforgiving jerk, being a bishop might not be his thing, so they told him his schism could rejoin the Church if he handed in his vestments and his bishops would have to reapply to keep their positions. Melitus refused which would have created quite serious problems later on had Melitus not died soon after. The schism died with him.

7. One of the big issues on the docket was Easter.

The Easter debate is a complicated one. To be brief, where Easter fell depended on when Passover fell, and since Passover on the Jewish Lunar calendar moved around, this produced a problem for Romans who used the solar Julian calendar. In addition, many Church scholars believed the computations by the Jewish scholars were wrong and that the original Easter was on a different date. Most were moving to fix a date based on the best possible data to the actual original Easter, but some still felt that since it was linked to a Jewish holiday, Easter should follow the Jewish calendar.

Eventually they voted to calculate what day Passover would have been at the time of the Crucifixion, and fixed Easter relative to that date on the solar calendar. What they didn’t do was actually do that. They left it for another time, and it didn’t actually get done for centuries.

Add. 39636, f. 50

We were told by Constantine there would be no math.

8. They voted on a number of other, weird issues.

The council had a laundry list of sundry items that were bugging the Church leadership. Two of the more interesting ones were problems the Church itself had created. In the wake of the Apostolic Era (where the Apostles we know and love called all the shots), the next generation of Church leaders began to ferment some strange interpretations of their forebears writings. In particular were the puzzling instructions in 1st Corinthians 7 where Paul seems to be both for and against marriage.

A movement thus began starting in the Second Century declaring that marriage was, in fact, not a good thing. Well, it wasn’t the best thing certainly. Christian leadership began a cult of celibacy that touted lifelong celibacy as the greatest path and led a man or woman the closest to Christ. Marriage was for the carnal, the weak people who couldn’t control themselves. Real Christians stay celibate for life.

Pretty soon though, men who really loved Jesus and didn’t want to fail Him found celibacy to be unbearable. Knowing that marriage was a cop out, these men did what they had to keep it real with Jesus.

They castrated themselves.

We'll let that one sink in.

We’ll let that one sink in.

In addition to the rampant castrations (which usually just killed the men rather than rendering them eunuchs) there were spiritual marriages. You see, another insane way to read the end of 1st Corinthians 7 is to twist Paul’s words in such a way that he seems to be suggesting that men and women move in together and live celibate lives together as unmarried virgins. These shack-ins were called spiritual marriages and were hailed by the celibacy cult as the ultimate form of Christian perseverance. I mean there you are, living together with temptation right within reach, but never grasping it all for the glory of God! And it totally worked!

92832646

Verily, sarcasm is not permitted.

Whatever noble intentions they may have begun with, these spiritual marriages often turned into real ones once the pregnancy began to show. This was obviously a bad idea that only encouraged sexual sin, not prevented it. Not surprisingly, the council reached a decision to ban self castration and banned members of the clergy from entering into spiritual marriages. Not long after the council, another ruling banned them altogether.

9. They laid the foundation for the Papacy.

The council also voted to grant several new and exclusive powers to the bishops of Rome and Alexandria, recognizing those bishops as having special authority over the two major centers of the Church at that time. While the bishop of Alexandria would eventually decline in power along with the Empire, the bishop of Rome would only grow in power and authority until he had almost complete autonomy over the entire Church. You might better know the bishop of Rome by his pet title today: the Pope.

So really he's just a bishop, but with a fabulous hat.

So really he’s just a bishop, but with a fabulous hat.

10. They did not decide on the canon of the Bible.

In fact, no council ever made that decision. The canon (or books accepted as the inspired word of God in the Bible) was actually already set by the end of the Second Century. During the actual time of the Apostles and just afterwards, it was just a known fact which manuscripts were the work of the Apostles and their disciples and which weren’t. A decision set in stone wasn’t needed. It would be like a council having to be called today to decide which writings belong to Thomas Jefferson and which belonged to Karl Marx. It’s just a no brainer. By the time of the Nicaean council in the Fourth Century, the Bible was long since a done deal. It is true that shortly after the council, Constantine commissioned some fifty complete Bibles (containing the OT and NT) to be scribed and bound for use in the major churches. These Bibles are widely believed to be the first bound books to contain all of Christian scripture.

Sources
Survey of European History (Tennessee Technological Univeristy c.2009)
Zondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity
History of Rome Podcast by Mike Duncan

 
 

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