I’ve been thinking lately about the concept of sacrifice. What does it really mean? Does God really require it from Christians? The same kind of sacrifice from everyone, or are we each, in turn, asked to surrender parts of ourselves that are unique to us? This, of course, stems from the conviction I received about four months ago from (I believe) God that I should prepare for a future wife. It’s only been four months and it feels like it’s been a hundred years already. I can’t imagine what it will be like if I’m asked to spend another four months with this unsettled feeling inside of me, having given up several things in the process of trying to obey and surrender to his will.

So, let’s dig into the sacrificial nature of obedience to Christ….

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Over the last few weeks I’ve been wrestling with a lot of doubt. Doubts about what God will ultimately do with me and the remainder of my life (however long that is), what he’s actually doing (or if I’m just deluding myself), what he could do vs. what I think he will or will not do based on my unworthiness, are all forefront in my mind, cycling through on perpetual repeat.

When I spend time talking with God my faith is bolstered, I feel that familiar confidence surging through me, as if I can’t help but believe in what (what I think) he’s given me to do in preparation for what he plans to do in the near future.

Yet, without fail, throughout the day my fear, my anxiety, they sneak in without notice until they have a stranglehold on the things God has whispered to me, the things he says he is going to do, is doing. It all traces back to doubt. Disbelief. And that is rooted deeply in self-loathing, self-recrimination about so many things in my life, in my past, etc. So, tonight, I thought I would spend some time studying doubt, see if the Bible had something to say on the matter. Something that might help a stubborn mule such as myself. To my surprise, the Bible is quite clear, though we tend to not believe him. Ironic, I think.

So, let’s jump in and discuss doubt, doubting God’s abilities, doubting God’s willingness, doubting our own worth, and having deep-seated down when we feel like God has let us down in the past. How can we trust him now?

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This morning I checked in on the homeless shepherd out of Oregon. If you’re not familiar with him, this is Aaron Fletcher, a man who has spent a decade or more as a homeless man wandering around Oregon with several milk producing sheep that pull his miniature wagon where he lives. He gets much of his food from the milk the sheep produce and I would imagine he also does barter with people and also gathers edibles along the roadway. They were hostile to him in Ashland, passing ordinances to keep him and his sheep out of the city. From his videos it looks like he spent some time on walkabout, making it north and then to the coast, only to return down south again, I would imagine because the terrain in the northern region of the state is probably not as conducive to guerrilla grazing as down south.

But, Aaron is really not the focus of this post. Instead, I wanted to tackle a video he put out that I took as a kind of personal challenge (not to me individually since I’ve never met this man). As a Christian I am very interested in cultic behavior. I’m also VERY interested in the claim Aaron levels in this video, that all of Christianity is a cult. Because, after all, I do agree with him: much of modern evangelicalism is not biblical, it is truly a cult. Many if not most churches today are cult organizations run by prideful, arrogant men who enjoy power and authority and desire to rule over a people. They are the Nicolaitans that Jesus warned about in Revelation. But, Aaron takes it a step further and is basically dismissing the Bible itself because of the contradiction he states is in Genesis 1-2.

I thought to myself. “If it’s all an error, if it’s just a cult and I’m not bound by Christianity or the Bible, this has several significant implications for my life. I would like to test his conclusion against what the Bible actually says and also against what I’ve experienced in my life in my own interactions with God.”

So, let’s jump in and see if Aaron is correct. Is Christianity a cult?

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This afternoon I stumbled onto a video from a podcast called Authentic Christian that was responding to the responses given by James White over Authentic Christian’s original videos describing (in their view) Calvinism. As I went back and started down the rabbit hole with their original videos I thought it would be a productive use of my time to interact actively with the content instead of just passively watching it.

So, I’m creating this blog post as a run down of all my comments, thoughts, opinions, etc on all the videos in question, starting from their first two videos on Calvinism, to James White’s rebuttal, to their 4 hour long rebuttal of his rebuttal. I’m not kidding when I say there is a lot to talk about here. It’s going to get very theologically weedy very quickly so might be a good idea to put on some knee high rubber boots. Or, maybe it would just be better to jump in head first.

Trust me, though the water is theologically dark and murky, it’s still quite warm….

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Awhile back I stumbled onto a discussion between Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro on Dave Rubin’s show on Youtube, and when I started watching it I noticed a claim that Dr. Peterson made that caught me rather by surprise. His claim was that the purpose of Christ and the cross was to provide an example for each of us to model in our own lives, which brings about a kind of salvation through good deeds or being a good person.

Now I’ve watched Dr. Peterson for a few years. He seems to be inching closer and closer to the edge of faith in Christ, but I think his intellect and his learning in psychology is getting in his way. But, let’s tackle this concept in detail, discussing what is the actual purpose of the Cross of Christ, what it is to do for us, and how we should approach this messianic figure….

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One thing I know from personal experience is God has a very peculiar way of reaching each of us. Sometimes its through other people. Sometimes it’s through being in and around the natural world and all that he created for us to enjoy and learn from and discover. Still, other times, God will literally – supernaturally – reach out and touch us. Individually. Personally. Even if I can say, intimately. And that touch of God can have rippling affects throughout the rest of our life.

This last approach is often how God reveals himself to me. Maybe it’s out of my own stubbornness (in that there is no other way he can get through to me), or maybe it’s because he created me in such a way that he knows what I will respond to and anticipates what I need before I even know I need it.

God’s funny that way.

As I’m approaching a 2nd video on my newly “launched” Youtube channel (an experiment more than anything else), the topic has come up about prayer and about the promises of God. What we’re supposed to do with these statements God has made in his Word. Are we supposed to ignore them (that’s what most people do, even most Christians)? Are we supposed to capitalize on them and use them as a strong arm to force God into submission (this is what the word-faith movement claims as their right)? I would argue it’s neither of these, but so much more.

So, let’s jump into and explore prayer, especially when I find myself in a season in my life where all I’m doing is praying and talking with God about everything….

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Awhile back I stumbled onto a short comment by Jerome that really opened up the world of hermitism or what would later be called in the East, “idiorrhythmic” monasticism. It is what the Desert Fathers practiced in the beginning of this way of life, which would be later rejected by “traditional” or “authentic” monasticism in lieu of community based expressions like actual monasteries. Personally, I’ve struggled for a long time with “imposter syndrome” simply because I was not attached to any kind of established order nor took official vows, not to mention I held to a protestant theology (though not necessarily evangelical) which did not help at all.

But Jerome, in his argument against Jovinian, who was a protestant precursor, made a passing comment about him that I found incredibly intriguing. So, let’s take this post to explore just what this early Church Father said about this particular heretic (I mean this in the nicest way), and how it might apply to me and other hermitic religious people in modern day….

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An email came into my inbox the other day from Logos.com, the company that developed the Logos Bible Software. Now, if you follow this blog at all, you know that I’m not really a great admirer of this program, though I do use it as my primary Bible software currently. I would love to use Olivetree or TW5 or some other free or cost effective program, but they just do not have the features that Logos does. Despite this, I don’t think the tool and feature set that Logos does have really justifies the prices they demand.

So, let’s jump in and see if Logos really does provide “bible tools for every budget”….

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This morning I was listening to James White’s latest episode while I was getting ready for work and he made a comment that I found a little frustrating.

Commenting on some of the content I listen to or watch online is something I’ve wanted to start doing more of, so here’s a good chance to jump in and talk a little about some of the issues I have with religion generally and the blinders we typically wear when pointing at others.…

So, let’s jump in and discuss….

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In this post I wanted to talk about Death and the Intermediate State, which is a subject I’m always very excited to talk about as it is one of the main topics in my research focus.

It’s actually been a subject of interest of mine since I was young. In fact, I’ve always had a kind of passion if you will for death, despite most people thinking such things is a bit macabre. Personally, I think it is an essential aspect of life that an individual should seriously and soberly consider. If not, then there really is no way to actually live in this life we have been given (or by which we have been cursed).

In undergrad I spent much of my self-directed time studying the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest, most specifically a particular tribe on the western coast, and a subset of that tribe that lived on a natural lake. This subgroup of natives all died before whites ever stepped foot on their lakeshore, having died from small pox years before their lands were ever colonized. It was the same lake that my parents had a cabin when I was a child and we would spend summers there with family and friends. After my cousin one day found a stone cooking bowl when we were out exploring I was from that day forward mesmerized by the idea of these people who had lived on that same land so many lifetimes ago. Their death and their unknown and unknowable lives would serve as inspiration for me from then on.

In my Master’s Program, I moved away from the Native American focus toward more general definitions and descriptions of death and more specifically the Intermediate State, that period butted between death and the resurrection of the dead. Such an oft forgotten or blatantly ignored subject by the pews of modern Christianity, it is a core component to a biblically grounded worldview. It would later become a central theme in my dissertation and, as I said, it now holds a crucial place in my independent research.

So, let’s jump in head first and explore all there is to know about death, about the intermediate state, and what it means for you and me….

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This morning I found myself at the front entrance of my office building, watching a cat sitting on the other side of the glass. He was a perplexing fellow, quite clean and with plenty of fat on his ribs. I don’t think he was a stray. Yet, he seemed so intent to stare through the glass at me, moving about slightly, as if he were anxious to be “let in.”

After a few minutes of watching him I left the lobby and headed back toward my office, a full day of work ahead of me (not that there is much work to be done mind you). Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder after this cat’s life. Was he just loitering, soon to dispatch himself back to his own home somewhere in the neighborhood where he will eat his fill of some canned food delicacy, curl up by a warm fire, and fall fast asleep? Was he dumped at our doorstep because his abandoning owners could no longer provide for him, given the state of social and economic decay?

In relation to mine, was this cat’s life better or worse on the grand scale? Has his life (like my own) been preordained? Was he created for a specific purpose? How could I possibly know this was true of me?

By the time I got back to my office and closed and locked myself away from the world, sat down at my desk, I was thinking about Ephesians 2:10 and what it truly means to have no free will at all.

Is that what this passage even means?

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