Wednesday, March 17, 2010

-Dangers in 'Rapture' teaching-

Though I hold no formal degree on Scripture, I consider myself an educated man (constantly learning). For the past year-year and a half, something has really bothered me concerning certain teaching.
When in depth with Bible Study on Monday nights at our house when I moved in here, we were on Matthew. (The format of our Bible study is more discussion based; we read over two chapters that we have previously read throughout the week and ask each other questions and share with what God has revealed to us personally through them.) When we came to Matthew 24, I was slightly irked. Growing up in a Southern Baptist church my whole life, I had heard the rapture teaching enough for it to be hounded into me so I had taken it at face-value when younger, not ever really looking into it myself.
When I came across Matthew 24 and read it into context, it somewhat threw me for a loop for several reasons. Verse 9, following 'only the beginning of sorrow' which includes the wars, rumors of wars, plagues, famines, etc., Jesus states "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me." [NIV]
What Jesus is saying here has yet to come to pass from what I understand historically. Yes, Nero persecuted and slaughtered Christians left and right with the same evil spirit that was behind him as was Nineveh, and Hitler with the Jews, but 'ALL nations' seems to be specific to all nations including ours. It is following this that many will turn away from the faith, maybe will betray and hate each other, many false prophets will appear and deceive, increasing wickedness resulting in increasing coldness of hearts which ramps into verse 13 "but he who stands firm to the end will be saved." In context is this talking of the end of the tribulation, as one might think I may try to imply? No, for the next verse it says that after the gospel is preached to the whole world, 'then the end will come.' So unless Jesus is teaching out of order to confuse his disciples and all who read the Scripture, then he can mean through this several different things: 1) he who stands firm will be saved spiritually(not necessarily salvation by works, but evidence through works), 2) he who endures will be saved by rapture, 3) he who stands firm will be saved from and not suffer their hearts and love growing cold as will many and will not fall prey to false prophets, 4) he who stands firm may be spared from martyrdom for the time being. It could be any, it could be all... however, it needs to be carefully weighed and processed, as I will come back to.
So then in verse 15, we have the desolation of abomination, as foretold in Daniel and a warning to everyone to flee and not turn back and down to verse 22 we are told that 'for the sake of the elect those days will shortened.' The elect which is the Greek word eklektos is used for 'elect' 16 times in the New Testament, 7 times in gospel (all but 1 talking of this future time and circumstance.) The 9 times it is used apart, it is used as a term pertaining to a fellow believer/Christian. Eklektos is also used as the word chosen used 8 times in the New Testament. I would recommend researching more into it, but all in all, all other Biblical context from what I have found (apart from the reference of Jesus being chosen using eklektos), it does not denote a hierarchy or specialized group within the body of Christ.
It is after this time that false prophets and false Christs will appear and will "deceive even the elect-if that were possible. (vs 25) See, I have told you ahead of time. (vs 26) So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. " This seems to imply to my that we, being the elect, will be there and that is why Jesus specifically points out that he has told us ahead of time. Some can use the argument that is is for those who repent after the rapture as a warning to them, but it also, as well as with every other argument, works in reverse.
Next in this teaching of Christ is his second coming. Now this is what I've had a hard time having to wrap my head around: verse40-41. Greek paralambanō and aphiēmi are the words here used for 'taken' and 'left' and what I have a hard time dealing with is how poorly that actually is translated becuase of our English language. Paralambanō means to take to, take with one's self, to join to one's self (literally as in associate, a companion and metaphorically as not to reject, not to withhold obeidience) and it also means to receive something transmitted (as a student in most cases.) Aphiēmi means to send away (bid going away in relation to a husband divorcing his wife, to expire, to let go as in disregard, to leave- 'not to discuss now' in relation to a student, to omit and neglect, and to keep no longer), to permit, allow, or to give up a thing to a person, and to to leave or go away from one (in order to go to another place, to depart from one and leave him to himself so that all mutual claims are abandoned, to desert wrongfully, to go away leaving something behind, to leave one by not taking him as a companion, to leave on dying, to leave so that what is left may remain, and to abandon and leave destitute.)
In the light of this... what is Jesus saying about one being taken and the other left? I interpret the men working in the field and the women in the mill to be not just coworkers but fellow believers. This would elaborate and reinstate how in the coming times from then that the 'love of many will grow cold,' causing them to 'divorce' and 'leave' their walk with Christ, just as some will continue to embrace it and will not allow their hearts to be calloused by receiving and obeying instruction of the Holy Spirit If there is a rapture (pre-, mid-, or post-trib) I do not believe it will not be a vanishing act for the world to witness and wonder over with them scratching their heads, for when Christ comes, it will be sudden and take all by surprise, however, as alluded to with lightning earlier in the chapter, it is extremely visible and accompanied a loud boom (not to mention how when Christ returns in Scripture it says that we will be called up with him to encircle the Earth.

I've typed and rambled enough for this passage at the present.... but there is one point that I want to make extremely clear:

Any time I hear any pastor preach ABSOLUTES regarding the rapture I shudder and hurt. (When I say ABSOULTES, I mean that they say this is how it is, and state it as fact....) Why? 1) Becuase I believe that there is not ABSOLUTE evidence regarding when it will be, whether pre-, mid- or post- and that means that: a) if they are wrong in that the tribulation does not occur pre-trib, there will be a HUGE falling out and falling away because of people placing their faith in that teaching and then struggling and doubting the end times prophecy and the Bible along with their relationship with God. b) All preachers who preach ABSOLUTES on it have a THIRD (1/3) of a chance being right (albeit a greater chance if it is Holy Spirit inspired, however, the Holy Spirit does not contradict himself and that would get us into a 'who's more religious behind the pulpit' debate. So if this becomes an argument and main focus of a church, it brings division which is destructive and not constructive (Christ should be center point and any eschatology belief be just that: belief.) c) This is the main one: Because with preaching ABSOLUTES regarding this, if that preacher or leader is wrong, there is a lot of blood on his hands even if noone dies from it. If he is incorrect and blatantly states what is his opinion regarding Scripture to be fact which effects a member of his congregation or just someone that he in a third party way effected by it, he is held responsible for judgment over that.

I believe that Revelation needs to be talked about. I believe that the Second Coming of Christ needs to be talked about. I believe that the rapture theory (theory in its essense meaning belief supported by evidence) needs to be discussed. BUT absolutes are absolutes and opinions are opinions and needed to be addressed as such, especially when pertaining to something as dramatic as the end times.
For the time being, I do not believe specifically in pre, mid, or post tribulation rapture. I don't find enough evidence to specifically support one over the others so I take it as it comes. I live like Christ is coming back today, I live like He may be coming back in the middle of the tribulation so I need to buckle down as hard as I can now to grow my faith so I can make it through the tougher times to comes, and I'm studying Revelations and Daniel to have a better knowledge and understanding of what to face is it is post tribulation rapture along with having a firm grasp and understand of the Millenial reign and what that will mean to me.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

When my LAST post was Oct 29, 2009...

... it means that I need to at least throw something up on here.
It is easy to say that many transitions have occurred since my last post: many paradigms have been shattered, many more rebuilt. In November, I turned 24. In December I was in one of my best friend's (from Texas) weddings. At the end of December and beginning of January I went with group from JAMHOP to Kansas City, MO to ONETHING '09. January flew by while still constantly, yet slowly, trudging forward, and the same thing could be said of that of February. In January I quit working at Newk's becasue God had given me, finally, the green light and fell back onto photography and am doing it for myself full time now- with trips to and from Texas every so often to help assist my dad in whatever work he has going on back in White Oak/Longview.

This past weekend while in Texas a few things happened, and I will only delve into one: While on location at the baseball/softball tournament going on, one of the camera's kept getting this error message. Upon arrival at home, my dad discovered that the shutter was in shambles, which has happened before (costing two to three hundred dollars to send in and repair.) It was not a complete surprise because of wear and tear from all the work that my dad does. To elablorate: When taking pictures of sports, one has to go about it in a general 'rapid-fire shooting' technique. The odds of getting the perfect picture in action depend on several things which relate to steady hands, focusing on the subject while in motion, having the settings of the camera correct so that the picture is not too bright or too dark and likewise dealing with speed and ISO settings, etc. The odds of getting the perfect picture either greatly dimish if you are only able to take one picture per three seconds, or greatly increase if you can take three pictures per second. It takes out a lot of guess work and luck, but causes more wear on the shutter. With this in mind, it was revealed to me that in life I specifically at times have the tendency to go about life with rapid firing through situations. Sometimes it is necessary, but other times when the right thing to do is to take a deep breath, relax, and make sure the portrait is rightly aligned and fixed, I click-click-click-click-click-click through it, allowing unnecessary wear and exhaustion on myself, which consequently puts me out of commission for a short time so that I can be repaired (possibly missing opportunities in the process that I could be used for.)
So I learned in that to be mindful of what I am actually called to do, and what I am not. I learned that I need to be mindful of what style or technique I need to use in a given situation, and which one will strategically work best and be most edifying and beneficial at the same time. I learned I need to be more sensitive to what God's Spirit is telling me and rely on Him more, than to trust in my own 'operation' and ability to take twenty pictures at once.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Revelation

It's amazing to me how greatly a person's perception can change drastically given only a moment, especially when it is me and my perception. I've been praying for boldness and confidence, knowing that my identity is found in the Lord, however, I have had this false sense of self that I have to force it and show it in order practice it and build it up.

Last night was a life-changing experience. For the first real time in my life I was prophesied over by a brother in Christ and some of the things he told me did boost my confidence, boldness and maybe even my ego slightly at the time. BUT after weighing out everything from start to finish that was spoken and revealed to me, I have discovered that my confidence does not come from the words or revelation itself, but in that God has called me to serve Him: any one thing or any many details that surround that are generally important, but not important to who I am nor my identity. I am a son of God. I am a man of God. I am a servant of God. I have all of the authority that He has given to me. My boldness and confidence come directly from him.

For the longest time, I sought to find my identity and it was always in vain, because it was not in Christ himself. I tried finding it in peers back in school at a young age. I tried finding it in relationships and girlfriends time after time for the longest time. I tried finding it in distractions like video games, TV shows, etc. Even when I did get my life back on track, I sometimes felt like only a number and that I was special to God, yes, but did not really possess any special or different qualities from others that I congregated with. I now know that I am special and God has gifted me with talents that He wants me to use in service to him and for the body.

My Father has exceedingly granted me everything that I have pleaded with him for:
He has restored my emotions.
He has renewed my mind and mindset.
He has rejuvenated my spirit.
He has removed all of my previous transgressions.
He has renovated my life and priorities.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Disection of Proverbs 22:4

"True humility and fear of the LORD lead to riches, honor, and long life." (NLT)

Today this verse has really stood out to me and something about it kept resurfacing in my thoughts, so I decided to continue to meditate on it and also wanted to dig deeper into it as well. It's easy to look at it as a math equation, because it is stating non-negotiable fact: (true humility) + (true fear) X (the Lord) = riches + honor + long life (which can be summed up in one word- prosperity).

So on the outside, this looks and appears simple enough... but to fully grasp it is more difficult and you really need to do a little research into the original Hebrew context to discover a few things.
The word meaning 'true humility' is `anavah which also is interpreted as meekness. In order to not be repetitive, see the most previous blog as it deals completely about meekness so that you can have a more firm grasp on that. True humility is not false humility- it is not a show, it is not an outward appearance. It is a genuine heart condition of caring for and loving others; it is putting other peoples needs above your own and recognizing that the world does not revolve around you, but it does revolve around God.
Fear, when stated, is derived from yir'ah which translates to fear, respect, reverence and piety. Piety is having a devout, dutiful respect and regard to the Lord. If you truly respect God, revere Him and fear Him, you obey Him. You have a relationship with him and you listen to what He tells you... and in growing that relationship you learn that He is always right. In your relationship with Him you easily realize that He knows more than you and that God is in fact THE one and only God and there is nothing that compares to Him. At that moment of awakening of spirit and conclusion of fact, I arrive at a crossroads where I have to choose to deny Him or to deny Jim. I could have true fear (reverence, respect and piety) unto the LORD, or I could have complete and utter selfish respect and regard to myself. With truly having fear of God, there is no inbetween and no black and white; a person can either fully follow and obey or continue to sin while only partially giving respect that He alone deserves.

Riches translates to wealth, relating to financial security.

Honor is also related to glory and reputation. If we humble ourselves before God and men, we will gain honor and respect. People may disagree and mock us at times, but standing firm on the LORD's truth and Word illustrates and proves our character is genuine and thus people give respect even if they themselves continually choose to follow a lie.

Last but certainly not least, chayay, is the word which is used in Hebrew in this context for life. In original context, it does not only specify long life, but gives a much broader and enlarged definition.
1) to have life- Only when we live for Christ and honor God do we really have life. We are spiritually dead and cannot fully serve him until we recognize and turn our lives over to the Lord by humbling ourselves before him and as a result, we are 'born again' and become a new creation. (Romans 7:4-6)
2) to be restored- Because of sin and the blemish and stain it has marked on our souls, we can only be restored if we allow for the LORD to do so, which means we have to fear and submit to Him and His authority. Our souls then are clean and taint-free becuase of Christ's blood sacrifice. (Jeremiah 15:19)
3) to really live- Without knowing our true purpose which is serving God, living is blindly stumbling through a labrynth. When we follow the Lord and follow his guideline, we are filled with joy and can experience life in all its fullness. (Eph. 3:19)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"What is meekness?" you may ask.

According to Matthew 5:5, the meek shall inherit the earth. In Matthew 11:29, Christ describes himself as meek and lowly, also describing how as a result of taking that yoke we find rest. Paul encourages the church of Ephesus to walk with lowliness and meekness, treating each other with love in Ephesians 4:2. Meekness is even a fruit of the Spirit. So... what really is meekness?
Is meekness some lowly, humble thought of yourself? Is it cowering down when confronted? Is it a substitution for weakness?
The Greek noun that our word meekness is derived from is prautes/praotes. Meekness is not the action that is seen as a result of something, meaning it is not that act of being humble or lowly. It is an inward temper spirit that is first and foremost exercised towards God, then fellow men. However, like stated, it starts at the spirit. Meekness is a spiritual 'mindset' and attitude of the heart that begins inwardly and has an outwardly impact. The English word meekness suggests and denotes weakness, but the original Greek does no such thing. We tend to see a man who is meek is weak, becuase he cannot help himself when in actuality a man is meek becuase he has the Lord's inifite resources firmly grasped onto his fingertips and command. Meekness also removes itself from selfish intent and motive and embraces the attitude of Christ himself.
Christ was not weak, he stood up for the oppressed and rebuked Pharisees and Saducees when needed. Christ knew who he was and spoke boldly of it when the time was right to. Christ was not self-centered, and with his servant-like attitude illustrated love through meekness, just as we are called to also do.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nostalgic Rant

Becoming friends with Matt Drake has caused me to be reflective on myself in many aspects. Even though he we are far from the same person, bits and pieces of him and me are nearly identical(especially when I was his age: 19.) He's far more outgoing than I ever was and played football, however, we're both sentimental type guys who have shared some of the same struggles and conflicts. Hanging out with him and jamming out and singing at the top of our lungs to old songs on the radio reminds me of the days back in Texas, when all things of life were easier than the present and also the times when all things of life were harder.
Third Eye Blind, Blink-182, DC Talk, POD, Relient K, Dave Matthews Band, Vertical Horizon, mewithoutyou, Underoath.... all these bands with all their music that helps shape and conglomerate my memories of a time that seems like yesterday but also seems long ago when I was a completely different person and had completely different perspectives of life. Time spent in my bedroom writing lame poetry, playing video games all night and all weekend while having the TV tuned to the SciFi channel, History channel, or watching some random movie. During baseball season hanging out with Matt Korzenieski at his house and watching the Texas Rangers and either through around the baseball in his small backyard or ride around to the mall or Wal-Mart or Starbucks wondering where all the attractive girls always disappeared to in Longview and deduced that they always had a secret meeting place or all went to parties.
Good times, bad times... God used it all to mold me into the man I am today and I'm now striving to be at the point that I need to be...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

9/27/09 Sermon - Gulf Coast Worship Center

Sunday morning Mike came down here to the coast and picked me up and took me to church with him (which I desperately needed at the time.) The Gulf Coast Worship Center is a non-denomination charasmatic church and this Sunday was the last Sunday that he was preaching there. God was telling him to plant a church in south Atlanta, and the replacement pastor was coming next week for GCWC.
I kept comparing things to River of Life. I did not mean to, it was just a natural reaction. Granted, we did step in a little late, but the church did not seem to be as warm and inviting. Worship seemed a little forced, by the worship team and by the church as a whole. By saying this I am not criticizing the church there, becuase I have been just as guilty as any of them in the past when it comes to it. I was just making note of noticeable points of the church. The pastor, however, was lit on fire with anointing.
Before the pastor walked up to stage, they played a video interview of Sarah Kelley. I had no idea who she was, but she is a music artist. She gave her testimony and how she was suicidal when younger and previously was a 'cutter'. Their pastor stood up on stage and told the men in the church to listen even though this sermon was not going to be directed to them. He stressed the importance of the message to both the men and women of the church and then started to pull moisturizers and scented beauty supplies out of this decently large box. As he stacked them together he elaborated on the fact that they were 'all the good smelling things' that his wife had did not have room to take with her when she already moved, and that she had taken the best things of hers already. His point with this boiled down to one word: beautiful. It's common sense, or at least should be to men that women want to feel beautiful but its much more deeper than that. The are created with an innate longing to to feel beautiful and it overlaps with being loved and cared about. He talked to the married men telling them that their wives want to be and need to be called beautiful.... not hot, not sexy, not cute.... beautiful.
Men and women try to find significance in things apart from God. It's part of sinful nature, though the things between the sexes vary. According to the pastor there are six things that they find identity in: appearance, house, kids, relationships, career, religion, Christ.
Appearance is self explanatory. Culture teaches and brainwashes that less clothes and more make up will produce and give more attention, BUT no matter what you do (or do not wear) it does not ever change how beautiful you are. My thoughts on it is that beauty is in no way skin deep. With our corrupt culture, women always compare themselves to otherss and always find 'faults' with themselves and attempt to change who they are so they are considered beautiful. The second object on the list is house. If nothing in a woman's house is in order, neither is her life. However, any kind of extreme could point to something. A house is an extension of who she is and once again society stresses the fact that everything involved with it should come first (and as a result sometimes marriages suffer becuase of the time poured into it which causes neglect in the husband/wife relationship. The next object that women find their identity and worth in is her children. Moms blame themselves for their kids mistakes and failures. Their imperfections take away from a mom's value placed on themselves. If a kid burns his hand on the stove, even though the mom has told their child not to touch it, they blame themselves for not seeing it about to happen. A woman who places full identity in her children and not in Christ will cause her to devalue herself because no child is perfect. Fourthly, majority of women tend to gain their identity through relationships. Relationships in a broad term inlcude other female friends, coworkers, etc. This is where gossip circles and cliques can take a brutal hit to someone. In an opposite sex means, relationships can do even more damage. Younger naive girls in relationships with corrupt guys can do a lot of damage mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Even after marriage to a godly man, it is easy for a man to unintentionally neglect his wife to the extent of not giving her all the the praise, attention, and loving care that she needs and deserves. The pastor made this a point for the married men to always tell their wives that they were beautiful (and absolutely mean it.) Even godly men are imperfect and cannot fulfill the full extent of needs as the Father can. Next he followed through with careers and made mention that there is no such thing as a perfect job. Careers will always bring problems and making it your center focus of life is meaningless and pointless. If you allow your career to effect your home life and to take precedence before it, your life will end up wrecked as a result.. Equal to all of the above is religion in and of itself. Religion, as he stated, was the redundant and repetitious cycle of doing things becuase of a checklist. Religion focuses purely on attendence and out-tithing the Jones'; everything about it misses the entire point of Christ. It produces gossip chains, cliques, and 'church.' 'Church' can be condescending becuase not everyone in church is perfect. People in church are working on and refining their lives to be more Christ-like: it is a process. The pastor said, "Do not let imperfect people harm your relationship with a perfect God."
Directly proceeding this he boldly proclaimed, "I have one word to sum up all women in here... and despite some skeptic looks, this will shock you becuase it sums all of you women down to a T. You ready...? " I expected he was going to say beautiful, wouldn't you? Instead he paused for a few seconds and released, "Tired." He mentioned all women in our society are tired, and rightfully so. They are impressed and depressed with all of the weight that is being rolled on top of them about self image and self worth. "So what do we do?" he said. "We look at God's scorecard, not the world's. Completely forget culture."
He continued with three questions we should ask:
1. Who are you listening to?
Who you listen to determines what you do.
He used Psalm 45:10. God is everything that our fathers on earth should be. Women should not settle for a crumb when God wants to give us a cookie. Speaking to the men he said for men to commit to women, and not to play with emotions. Be a man and treat her like a lady and for married men to treat her as you did when you had started dating. Back to speaking to ladies, he told them that they are a daughter of the King and need to dwell on that.
2. What does God think about me?
He used the first part of Pslam 45:11 and Psalm 139:13-17. Enthralled, he said, in Hebrew literally means captivated/spellbound. The same word was used to describe Adam and his feelings towards Eve. He said that "damaged goods", "divorced", etc, are all worldy labels and they have no legitimate value in themselves and that if you allow that label for yourself, then you are not claiming the label of a daughter of the King (i.e. princess.) Any thing that anyone says that is talking down or demeaning you is contradictory to God. A very important thing he also iterated was for ladies to stop asking god to change them and accept who he has made them. "If you only knew how God looks at you, it will change your perspective."
3. Who do I live for?
The pastor asked this question and told everyone to write it down: what woman do you admire most in life and why? I wrote down my mom becuase she wholeheartedly follows God. He then mentioned that noone has written: becuase they are pretty, becuase they have a clean house, becuase their kids are perfect, becuase of how many boyfriends they have, becuase they have perfect careers, etc. He then asked another question, "Why would you spend your life for things you do not even truly admire?" He then went over Pslam 45:11b.
His closing point was to live fore the one who sees your beauty, not for the one who tries to make you what he wants you to be. The Lord sees your true beauty and so are the men that follow him.

The preacher asked his worship leader to sing the beginning of this song that we sang in worship that sang, "I stand in awe of you" and not to sing the part of the chorus that sang, "Our Holy God." He wanted all of the women to sing that, soak it in, and realize that that is how the Father sees them: in awe, enthralled, captived, and spellbound. The worship leader seems to give a slight look of disgust almost and then he disregarded what the pastor wanted and sang the whole thing anyways and seemed to give the pastor an arrogant look after it was over. The pastor walked back and said something to him in passing and then came off stage after it was over. I saw it and realized that dealing with people is not always easy and that I'm fortunate to have the group that we have.

That is onlypart of what I gathered Sunday going to church with Mike but it sure is a lot of information.