Saturday, October 30, 2010

Suffering continued...and other bits

Hello, and thanks to all who've read the blog and posted comments, I greatly appreciate it and I hope that the Lord will continue to use me in this way. I also hope that you continue to comment. I may not address every comment, but I will try to read all of them. I also hope that God uses my limited abilities to help you wherever you are.

This week I was going to delve deeper into Bart Ehrman's book that I've been beating up, but after looking more at his arguments, I found that there wasn't really a point. He completely looks at suffering, even the Biblical view of it, as though there was no such thing as a spiritual realm. I also agree with some of the comments that "God's Problem" is really a rather sad attempt to debunk the Bible. So, rather than picking his book apart further, which could be done by anyone who knows their Bible, or at least who has read it once, I figured I would do my best to wrap up suffering in some way, and try to address a comment. To sum up on Bart, the Bible does offer many reasons why there is suffering, and I would submit that all of the Biblical views for the cause of suffering are valid. That is, suffering can bring believers closer to God (i know from firsthand experience). It is also sometimes a punishment for disobedience or a way for the Lord to grab our attention. That is, according to Ehrman, the Prophets' view on suffering. I also would think that poor Job's experience is also a valid explanation. That is, that God allows Satan to work us over, and in the end the Lord gets glorified. In the end, the Bible really does have alot of answers, if not all the answers, to suffering. But for the Holocaust, or "senseless suffering" you're just gonna have to go to God with it. Read the Bible, pray to God, read my post (hehe, sorry) and try to work out what God wants you to know. This is what I feel God has shown me, and for me, these reasons are good enough. They make sense to me, and I can live with it.

So now, I would like to take some time to answer a comment. I didn't have much to write about until I read the comments, so thank you! I hope that I can provide a sufficient answer, though I doubt to some it would be satisfactory. I would say that to those people, even if an angel of the Lord appeared to give an answer, some would still doubt. I would too unless i tested the spirit to make sure he was from God. Even Thomas the disciple had to feel the holes in Christ's hand and ribs before he believed. So, I will do my best to answer within my limits. Comments are quoted from Que? a couple blogs back. Que? Thank you for your questions, I appreciate your questioning mind, and I hope I can provide you with some answers. If not, I apologize, but this is the best I have. Again, go to God, and the Bible with an open heart and mind, He has the answers.

1) Why should I, as a puny human, even entertain the idea of spirit or the spiritual realm or even God since it is so... unintelligible/unresolvable?

A: What evidence is there for a spiritual realm? I would say first the Bible is ample evidence. Here's a thought picture: In a thousand years lets assume that man has reverted to the stone age. Would they believe our evidence and writings that we went to the moon? Or had TV, radio and computers? Pick anything in our technology, would anyone believe it? There would be people who doubt. So, I submit that the Bible is full of accurate eyewitness accounts of supernatural events, it's just that they are beyond what we can imagine as reality. Does that make them less real? IMO, no.

Taking this further, look at the other religions of earth, many of them claim to have been handed down by angels (I say demons, as the Apostle Paul warned us about in Timothy). Islam, and Mormonism were both given by angels. Theosophy was also given through angels disguised as something else. Now, we have UFO religions and such being given by the same entities, except under the guise of aliens. No doubt that out of all of the religions, there may be some scams there, but if even a handful of them were given by a discarnate entity, that should be proof as well.

OK, so you're not buying ancient texts as proof. OK, that's fine. I get it. How about Michio Kaku? They and quantum physicists pretty much agree that there are more dimensions beyond the four we can interact with. I am not overly familiar with all of the theories and works, but I've read "Flatland" and parts of Kaku's "Hyperspace" I am under the impression that Kaku thinks that some paranormal phenomena can be explained by higher dimensional/quantum physics. I would say that what these scientists call higher dimensions, is actually the spiritual world. (maybe this is another blog post, just going through those theories). It's not much of a stretch to infer that if there is a higher dimension, there may well be beings that live there. We cannot see as we are trapped in the 3rd/4th dimension, but a 5th or 6th dimensional entity could potentially come down to our level and communicate with us. We can't prove this exists, but science is entertaining the possibility of it.

Lastly, there are rumblings that the US Government, or its associates have performed experiments with the spiritual world. I recommend listening to the Future Quake episodes ( {go to past shows tab}) and listening to the episodes with 1) Ray Boeche and 2) Nick Redfern. While you're at it, listen to the two Robert Luginbill episodes, his theories are interesting, and after today no more menton of Luginbill. The Boeche and Refern episodes imply that the government, or elements within it, were attempting to access a supernatural power to weaponize and were partially successful.

So, to summarize, I like to think of the spiritual world as a dimension that is higher than us. Read "Flatland" for a basic thought experiment on this type of thought. I would put God at the infinitely highest possible dimension. For simplicity's sake (and because scientists bandy this number about), let's say He's at dimension 10. God created Heaven say level 7, and the spiritual realm of angels/demons, etc and lets call that dimension 5 or 6. He also made us which we can say is the proven to exist traditional 4 chrono-spatial dimensions. So, we can't detect or interact with dimension 5 or higher much, but we can theorize they exist, and I suggest that this sort of arrangement would be scientifically feasible. I'm not saying this is how God did it, or that it's even Biblical, just that if I HAD to describe the spiritual world scientifically, this is the best way I could do it. Finally, God, in His goodness, gave us instructions (from His obviously superior vantage point) for living in this world, and we call it the Bible. (PS, Chuck Missler has a great study on the book of Mark where he uncovers amazing instances of the #7 as a way to verify the Bible comes from someone not limited to our dimensional understanding. The program is named 66/40, check it out in itunes, it's from the last few weeks.)

Q) Also, on God allowing the Devil to reign to show mercy.... huh? To show mercy to the devil while showing near indifference to the humans the devil is supposedly deceiving/destroying?

A) I would say that God does not, and never has shown indifference to humanity. If that were the case, we wouldn't be here. He wouldn't have called out the Jews as His people, to be a light to us Gentiles. He wouldn't have given us the Bible, or salvation through His son, Jesus Christ. In fact, God has gone out of His way to repair the damage Satan has done to humanity by sending Christ to pay for my sins, and the sins of EVERYONE who repents. He came down in the midst of us, to become one of us, to set right the things that went wrong. God could have wiped EVERYTHING out, but instead showed concern for what He made by making us right with Him through faith in Christ.

I would also say that if Satan were given full reign to maximize human suffering, humanity would be destroyed. See the book of Revelation. When he is given full reign (and the Bible says he pretty much will be as Antichrist) nearly all of humanity is wiped out. I believe that God prevents innumerable suffering and annhilation by putting restrictions on what Satan can and cannot do (see the book of Job). I think God's mercy is apparent if a) you see that He is restraining Satan and limiting what Satan does and b) you know your Bible and c) you have read Luginbill's Satanic Rebellion. When you look at Satan's works, you see that compared to him, God is merciful. Not that anyone should compare a finite fallen creation to the infinite, all Holy creator. It's merely my attempt to show that God allows Satan to rebel, and carry that out to it's fullest extent.

Q) How do you know? Could God not be evil and the Devil good? What if the Bible was written by the and evil God who is trying to bring you away from the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving Devil?

A) How do I know? I will admit, that in my questioning/straying days, and the time I was looking to UFOs, I started to ask this VERY question! How do I know it's not all a trick? That would be the ultimate evil deception!

But when you consider this purely logically, it makes no sense. When you actually read the Bible, it becomes quite apparent what God, the author of the Bible is all about. Once I read the Bible, it became obvious this theory is not feasible. I would start with the books of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Then move on to the gospels. Yes, many bring up what Israel did in conquering Canaan, but there are actually good reasons for that (if you look into the Nephilim, giants, etc. Please check out Future Quake's archives, and look into the Nephilim on your own.)

a few points...

1 - So God wrote the Bible, and yet some assume that He is an evil God, and Satan is good. Let's look at the many examples of Satan's actions in the Bible. His actions I do not believe are mentioned elsewhere, unless you consider world mythology, where Satan gives his own biased version of the story.

OK, so here are some examples of the "loving" things Satan has done.

Which tree in the garden did Satan lead Adam and Eve to eat from? If Satan were a loving and caring being, why didn't he lead us to the tree of life for eternal life, rather than to the one God had forbidden? If Satan were loving, good and cared for us, he would have helped us attain eternal life, but because he hates us, he tried to kill us by tempting us to eat the fruit God had forbidden. Not so loving I think.

How about the time he went to God and asked for permission to destroy Job's life, merely to prove that he would curse God? Or maybe the time that Satan tried to get Jesus to jump from the top of the temple. I know, I must be instead thinking of the time that Satan inspired Judas to betray Jesus which led to Christ's crucifixion. Look at Satan's fruit, does ANY of it look like he loves us? Yeah, that seems like pretty evil stuff to me too. I doubt anyone can name one thing Satan has done to humanity that is loving. if you find even one, please let me know.

2 - God, in the Bible and reality, is ALL powerful. Since He is all powerful, if He were also evil, suffering would be millions of times worse. I would think it would make the Holocaust look tame in comparison. Let's look at the fruit of the Biblical God. If He were evil, that should be quite easy to discern. The Bible claim that He loves us. Love is good, and the things the Bible commands are good, the Ten Commandments are good, and they are the basis for our society's justice system.

Which of the Ten commandments, doesn't demonstrate a restriction placed in love, the way a loving parent restricts a child's activities? If God were evil, why would He give us good rules to live by? We find murder and theft evil, if God were evil, He would have told us to murder and steal.

Loving our neighbor is good, giving to the poor is good. The books of the prophets (read them, in fact, read ALL of the Bible before criticising it) show the foul things Israel did (child sacrifice for starters), and God tells us how much it hurt Him. His own people betrayed Him. But because He is good, rather than destroy Israel, He remembered and kept His promise to Abraham, and left a remnant. That sounds like God is good too.

If God was evil, He would delight in the child sacrifice Israel undertook, rather than be heartbroken by it. Read the Bible, ask God to show you what He feels, and to show you if He is good or not. I guarantee that if you do, with an open heart and are sincere in asking God to touch you, He will show you.

Q) Why does suffering exist at all?

A) As Papa commented, there will probably never be a logical human understanding for it. I agree quite a bit. The Bible I think explains it all. Read it. It's all those things in the Bible, and I think IMO, it's a side effect of the spiritual war we are all in, whether we like it or not.

But for the sake of argument...

I watched Bicentennial Man last night. It's a great, touching story, despite the fact that it raises a whole trans-humanist pandora's box. In this movie, a robot desires and takes drastic steps to become human. At one point, he is given the chance to become equipped with the equivalent of a central nervous system. The scientist helping him, says that the robot will be able to feel pleasure, BUT the rub is that he will also have to possibly endure pain. For more than 60 years, this robot has not ever experienced a physical feeling (in the sense that we feel with touch) and even with the threat of pain, the robot insists that he be allowed to do it, merely to be able to feel the pleasure too.

The movie "Little Miss Sunshine" also mentions a writer that counted his years of suffering as the most valuable of his life, because those years made him who he was. The years of happiness he deemed a waste. (sorry, not sure on the quote, wife is watching as I type)

Now, I am not going to put myself into God's shoes. But, our ability to suffer helps to shape us. The Bible says it refines us the way fire refines gold. It also, IMO, may also allow us to feel pleasure and contentment. Water never tastes as good as when you've endured a hot day full of thirst. Food never tastes so good, unless you've been without. Being employed sometimes feels horrible, but contrasted with the suffering of having no income it actually isn't that bad.

The people suffering and starving in Africa should make us feel grateful we even get one full meal a day, let alone complain that our latte was made wrong. The people dying from earthquakes and natural disasters, make those who survive feel fortunate when they do. Often survivors who have lost everything are in tears of happiness merely because they lived.

Why is there suffering? It should help us appreciate when we do not suffer. It can build character. It can strengthen and test our faith. Trite answers? Maybe to some, but they are also true I think.

I can give no good answer that will satisfy every one. I wish I could. But unless one accepts the spiritual reality that we live in, there will never be an answer for suffering.

I do think suffering is horrible, I feel for those who do. I suffer. You suffer. All people suffer. The best answer I can give is that it's because our world is not perfect. It's because we're in a war with spiritual beings. Satan introduced it into our world, God is going to get rid of it when His Kingdom comes.

Que?, and any other seekers out there. Any atheists. I love you. God loves you. Before you let the fact of suffering get you down, or like Ehrman make you lose your faith, read the Bible with an open heart, ask God to speak to your heart. Ask Him to show you the truth. It may not happen immediately. Be patient. Seek God, where God has revealed Himself, the Bible. The evidence is there.

Next Time:

My friend Gaz Parker has asked me to tackle the wacky claim of immortality rings. These are rings that you wear, and they claim to give you eternal life. Obviously this cannot be true.

Until next time, Que?, Papa, and anyone else I missed, see you then. May God lead you and bring you closer to Him!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"Senseless" Suffering

Starvation goes unchecked throughout the world. Natural disasters oocur, hurricanes, fires, earthquakes. War goes unchecked in many places. Genocide and ethnic cleansing; The Shoah (Holocaust), Darfur, Rwanda. Senseless killings are occuring on the border with Mexico. People all over the world, those who believe in God and those who don't, are undergoing some form of suffering. I don't have all the answers, but this is my best attempt to answer it.

How can a loving, sovereign, and omnipotent God allow these things to occur? If God loved us, wouldn't He reach down and put an end to our suffering? This is at least one of the things that drove Bart Ehrman from his faith in God. These are truly troubling issues, and there is no simple answer to these questions. On the surface, and from our limited human perspective it may indeed seem hateful of God to allow the multitude of horrors that have plagued humanity. I do not think God is malevolent for allowing these things, but in fact I think if you look at the larger picture, we can see how God can allow us (believers and non believers) to undergo short term suffering in our fleshly bodies so that we may ultimately escape eternal suffering in hell.

First and foremost we have to realize that our human perspective is limited. Not only is it limited, but we are at a huge disadvantage in terms of spiritual things. We have to acknowledge also, that God is beyond what we can sense and tangibly measure. That is, when looking into the Bible, and things of God, we have to ackowledge that God is supernatural, beyond us and probably beyond anything than we can imagine. But, God, in His goodness has made Himself known to us, through His word the Bible, and His Son Jesus. Bart Ehrman seems to have come to the conclusion that the the Bible and things of God have to be explainable in purely limited human terms. He seems to have completely disgarded the spiritual reality of the world. In other words, we can't understand from our human viewpoint why a loving, all powerful God would allow suffering. But if this would have been considered in the context of a spiritual war, a "cosmic soap opera" as some atheists disrespectfully call it, suffering makes a whole lot more sense. And I would submit that it is by the grace of God, and His intervention that the suffering and condition of the world is not worse. Suffering is just part of the cosmic war.

I think if you look at Noah's world and you see that things were incredibly bad because people were exceedingly bad. If you factor in the book of Enoch, things look even worse. In short, Noah's world, to me, seems to be what the world would be like if God were to allow the devil free reign to do as he pleased. Revelation also shows that when God allows the devil full reign again, it only takes Satan less than 7 years to get to a point where almost all flesh is destroyed. To sum up, God keeps Satan in check, and keeps us from undergoing the absolute worst suffering.

To get a better view of the spiritual war, take a look at this This is not to be given greater weight than scripture, but it does, to me, provide a somewhat logical view of why God would allow suffering. The summary is this. Satan rebelled, and thinks he can ultimately outsmart and defeat God. God could have destroyed Satan that instant, but instead chose to be demonstrate mercy and allow Satan's rebellion to reach its full and complete potential. He created man as a last chance offer to allow Satan to repent, but Satan chose to continue rebelling. God allowed Satan's rebellion to impact humanity. The reasons God did this, according to Luginbill, seem to be to show all creation that He is ultimately merciful and worthy of being God. Perhaps by showing us how bad it could be by allowing Satan's full evil to run its course. Perhaps for reasons I cannot explain or properly convey. My understanding is limited, but in the end God knew it all beforehand, and is allowing His freewill-driven creation to rebell or repent to ultimately show that He is good. Given the fact that God provided a way for us fallen humans to be restored to realtionship with Him through Christ proves to me His goodness. We get an escape from eternal suffering, but have to endure short term suffering here.

We either choose to join Him, through Christ, or we remain aligned with Satan willingly by rejecting God and His peace offering of salvation.

Some scripture that gives further evidence as to why God would allow suffering. Romans 1:21 - Romans 2. In short, we humans rejected the truth about God or made up our own ideas of what God was like, so He let us pursue those foolish desires. These foolish ideas often involve people pursuing their own desires at the expense of others. This happens today. We have our own ideas of what God is like today, and do not seek the truth of His word so He lets us live in our foolishness. But for any who repent there is a chance He will help us in our suffering and use our suffering to help us grow for our eternal good. Romans 8:17 - 18; 8:35 - 37.

So how can genocide and the rest be explained? Why does God allow people to starve, or allow millions to die for no apparent reason?

My thoughts are that some of these genocides are moves by Satan to try and destroy either humanity, or a select group of people for unknown reasons. The Holocaust I can sort of explain from what I've learned listening to Russ Dizdar, and thinking about the Satanic rebellion. The purpose was multifold. 1) If Satan could eliminate all of the Jews before the fulfillment of Bible prophecy occurred, He could prove God to be a liar. That failed, and actually helped fulfill prophecy (I believe) by allowing Israel to return to her homeland from the diaspora. That does not mean Jews had to die to allow Israel to be restored, but God used that evil time to allow the Jews to return home. 2) Some say it was a Luciferian blood sacrifice to open spiritual doors and allow demonic power to grow. I don't know how I feel about that, but I couldn't rule it out. Especially given the fact that UFOs were just starting to appear in the form of foo fighters, and later Roswell. That's another topic for another day. The Nazis were THE ultimate Occult government, and so may have tried to appease their gods (Satan really) to allow them to grow stronger. Even if the sacrifice theory is true, Satan's purpose was undoubtedly to destroy God's people. 3) Some may say it was God punishing Israel and the Jews for past disobedience. I don't know that I support this theory, and I am not qualified to form an opinion on this. I think that it's a bit harsh, and probably short sighted to say that's the only reason. For more perspectives, Jewish perspectives see Do your own research and pray it out with God.

What about other genocides? The Rape of Nanking? Darfur? others? My thoughts are again, that Satan's armies gained control of certain governments here and there, and used those governmental powers to cause mass slaughter. They hate humanity, and any chance to engage in mass slaughter of humans, Satan and the demons will take. It happened in the Mayan culture when the Mayans became consumed with mass sacrifices. It continues today in genocide and probably in the form of abortion, which I think is another way "They" want to eliminate target groups of people. Perhaps abortion is a topic for another day, but it probably is a form of genocide presented as a "choice."

Though genocide and the Nazi Holocaust can be explained as the fault of demons or Satan, that perhaps gives Satan too much credit, and removes the blame from the human perpetrators. While it is nice to have an invisile scapegoat to blame every evil thing on, Satan doesn't deserve all of the credit. I would be very comfortable in saying that while the Holocaust had very occult origins, and no doubt could have been a plot on Satan’s part to make God into a liar. But I don't think that can be the sole cause. Without willing human participants the devil’s plans wouldn’t have gone far. And if these genocides didn't fit into or fulfill some part of God’s ultimate plan, it wouldn’t have been allowed in the first place.

My guess is that allowing such evil to occur justifies that God is good and shows that Satan is evil. Perhaps God allowed (allows) Satan greater reign to show that Satan is not fit to rule. Perhaps when Satan is allowed greater latitude and control, all he can do is foment genocide and famine. This is my thought based on what I understand from the Satanic Rebellion and Dr. Heiser's Divine Council. The only Biblical way I can justify this, is again to refer to Revelation when Satan is allowed pretty much full control the world literally goes to hell. Perhaps the suffering we seee on smaller scales is just a foretaste of what is to come.

From a different view, genocide seems to have its roots in the teaching of evolution and eugenics, which are Satanic in origin due to their rejection of God, and the deifying of self and humanity to an extant. Each time one “race” decrees another inferior, they usually try to justify it with scientific reasoning. After all, if it can be proven scientifically, it has to be right. (that's sarcasm folks) Eugenics basically offers a great way for evil people to justify dehumanizing a group of people they have never liked. In Rwanda the Tutsis were viewed as superior to the Hutus by the Belgians, based on eugenic reasons and the result is that Tutsis dehumanized the Hutus. In Nanking, the Japanese thought themselves superior to the Chinese.

Whenever one group of people finds a way to justify themselves as superior to another group, especially if they can justify it with junk science, they will automatically dehumanize another “inferior” group. All of the perpetrators of genocide that I have investigated have for one reason or another been able to label one group as inferior.

Any time a society rejects God, and deifies a leader or science instead, they will eventually find a way to discriminate against a selected group. The book of Romans (from earlier) comes into play again, in that we are turned over to our lusts. Every time we reject God and pursue our own ideas of utopia, and an ideal for a standard human it ends in death. Suffering is the end result of rejecting God's standard of humanity, that is we are ALL created in God's image and not one race is better than another. All are equal in God's eyes.

“Senseless” suffering happens in the world, and it’s not because God doesn’t love us or He refuses to get involved. It seems to me, it’s because God removes His involvement and puts us at the mercy of our own lusts. Or when God lifts His protection and allows Satan to destroy. So, suffering happens because people abuse each other and allows Satan to destroy. Whether this is because of our own motivation, or inspired by the devil, the end result is the same. In the end, those who perpetrate the abuse still have to answer to God.

This weeks post is very difficult for me to write, and I hope that my poor attempt can still shed some light, and perhaps show that God is not malevolent or aloof. I feel as though I can write a book about it, and it would never be long enough, or sufficient enough to explain to those who doubt God’s power and goodness. What I threw out here are my ideas based on my own understanding, the writings of other Christians, and what I can remember from the Bible. I hope that i have at least been able to make some sense out of senseless suffering.

Next week, I will jump into the rest of Ehrman's attacks on Biblical reasons for suffering, and after that, there has been a request to address either Chi, or these absurd magnetic rings that allegedly grant eternal life. Sadly, I almost bought the rings myself.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bart Ehrman's Problem

Before I start, I mean no disrespect towards Bart Ehrman. Rather, I just think he’s wrong. This sort of starts with me going to Borders books, and finding in the Christian book section, Bart’s “Jesus, Interrupted.” There he points out alleged contradictions in the Bible. Now, I do want to address those contradictions at some point, but I haven’t been able to get that book at the library, and I refuse to buy it on principal. Today, I want to look at Ehrman’s “God’s Problem,” or as I like to say, Bart Ehrman’s Problem.

I have not read the whole book, so this is not a comprehensive study, and I may spend the next few blogs looking at Bart’s Problem. “God’s Problem” deals with the core issue of what drove Bart into agnosticism/atheism. It may not be necessary to go further from the introduction of his book as it is here where we see the foundation, the roots if you will, of Bart’s unbelief. Now, I cannot say truly I know what he feels and thinks, but this is based off of his own writings. I will reference page numbers, but I will not quote. If you really want to see what he says, be a Berean and check it yourself.

My initial thoughts, were that he became too impressed with his own credentials. Page 2 gives a great list of impressive credentials. To sum up, he has a string of degrees that culminated in a master’s and PhD. As big of a deal as these degrees are, this does nothing to demonstrate Bart’s take on the spiritual aspects of the Bible. I get the impression that he’s relying on his credentials to understand the Bible, and not relying on the Holy Spirit to lead him. It's like he has all the facts, but no relationship. I have seen this in other pastors even, where they know and preach the Bible, yet they don’t seem like they take their belief in God to the deepest. In another way to say it this is the sum of a man’s understanding of God, and as we know, the most foolish thing of God is still wiser than the greatest wisdom of man.

By page 5, we see the setup. He notes that God came into the world as Christ to bring salvation, but Bart wonders why the Lord doesn’t intervene now? Why did He intervene so much in the days of the Bible, but fails to appear now? That is a very good question. I think it’s a good thing to think about, and pray about, and ask God about. But what Bart fails to note is that Christ did not promise that things would be smooth sailing. In fact, Christ warned us that things would become increasingly worse, and that Christians (His people of the New Covenant) would very likely have to endure suffering. Many Christians have and still are enduring suffering. Yet God does not always intervene. The book of James helps give a perspective on this. Why didn’t and doesn’t God keep them from suffering? While it may look like God is so cruelly abandoning us, we are promised a reward in His kingdom for enduring suffering. Why do unbelievers suffer? I can’t say, but if God allowed His own Son to suffer and die, and allows those who call Him Lord to suffer, then what hope can unbelievers have?

To move on and answer some of Bart’s questions. Why doesn’t God intervene or come back now? My answer is it’s not time yet. The Bible clearly tells us that Christ will come again, God will restore all believers to paradise, and the reason He does not come back or intervene right now is to give us humans more time to repent and get right with Him. God’s apparent lack of caring/interaction is in fact a merciful thing, for if He came before the full number of people accepted Christ, then those people would be going to hell and suffering eternally. A little suffering now is nothing compared to the lake of fire that will consume some for eternity. Therefore, the most merciful thing for our souls, and the souls of unbelievers is to wait and allow a maximum number of people to repent. In the meantime, while we are in this fallen physical world, suffering is going to happen. It’s a result of sin and the fall.

Additionally, and I am guilty of ineffectiveness here myself, God does not always intervene to stop suffering so that, His people, that is believers, will have a chance to be Jesus (reflect God’s light) onto the suffering. That’s what Israel’s job was in a fashion in the Old Testament, and it is the job of Christians now. Christ commanded us to give to those in need, the poor, the widows. Many Christians, myself included fail this test very miserably and I am sure God will hold us to account for this. Christ said whatever you do to the least of these (those in need) you have done unto me. One way that I THINK God wants to relieve suffering is through His church to work through believers to bring glory to what Christ did. We had better get to work on this one.

Bart also fails to acknowledge the spiritual war that is ongoing (Eph 6:12). It’s also as though his earthly knowledge and expertise closed his min and heart to the realities of the world, that is the spiritual side of things. Because Satan is still powerful in this world, it will be imperfect, and in fact it will continue to be a horrible place to live. People will suffer, because Satan and his demons hate us. We should not be surprised now that people continue to suffer with Satan running the show. Christ warned us that people would suffer, and because the world hasn’t been restored to Him yet, suffering is our lot. God knows people are suffering, and He has chosen to allow it, perhaps to allow Satan’s rebellion to achieve it’s full effect. (see Robert Luginbill’s’s Satanic rebellion series) Until Christ returns to rule, things are never going to get better.

OK, moving off of my soapbox. Page 6, Bart complains about famine killing a child every 5 seconds. This is tragic, especially since here in America, something like 50% of our food goes to waste. There is no way this can be justified. God allows it, and again I will probably guess it’s a repercussion of the way Satan is allowed to operate. Christ did tell us prophetically that famine would be one of the awful things going on before He returned. If He knew about it, it must ultimately play apart in His plan. There is a lot that man and Christians could do to alleviate this, but I suspect that there are spiritual reasons why aid is not getting to these people. Famine is also one of the things that should indicate to Christians that Christ’s return is soon.

Page 10 brings us to a fallacy. Bart brings up Epicurus. (go check it out) My response is God is able to prevent evil. God is able, and sometimes not willing, but that does not indicate malevolence on God’s part. It’s like the story of the moth coming out of the cocoon, if you help it out, to stop its suffering, you keep the important growth from happening. That is, by allowing the moth to suffer, you allow it to achieve its full potential and a better life later. Not all suffering can be answered this way, but my opinion is that the suffering God allows is sometimes explainable this way. I have gone through a period of intense suffering, and without it, I would not be who I am to be, and since I have allowed myself to be placed on God’s potting wheel, He is in control, and it won’t all be pleasant.

Page 11, Bart argues that suffering is part of freewill, I will disagree, but I don’t think I need to get into it.

Suffering, in general seems to have many possible origins. Romans 1:21 - 32 offers a general look at why God would allow people to suffer at all. People have rejected God and His ways, so He has allowed us (with our free will) to live and act in whatever way we wish, and that includes making others suffer. It appears it's just another consequence of God allowing Satan and humanity to persue our rebellions to their fullest extent. In other words, people early on rejected God and His ways, so He let it go to its ultimate conclusion. That is some people will cause suffering, or hoard food, make war etc.

For a brief look at why believer suffer again, read the book of James, and Job and also Romans 5:3 - 5, and 8:17 - 18, 35 - 37.

So to wrap up, human suffering happens, but that fact that it happens and that God allows it does not make Him malevolent or uncaring. We know from the Bible that God works ALL things out for our ultimate good, and that He is willing that NONE should perish. The fact that He doesn’t step down and make things right is because He’s giving the unsaved a chance to be saved. In the meantime, suffering is one way we can grow spiritually, and it’s a basic repercussion of living in a fallen world that Satan is allowed much influence and power in the world. Lastly, Christ foretold that suffering would increase in the world, and in Revelation we see suffering at its worst. And it’s because Satan’s time is short.

What about senseless suffering? The famine throughout the world. The Nazi Holocaust, the Rape of Nanking, the Rwandan Genocide, Darfur. Why does God allow this to happen? There is no way this can be understood or addressed from a naturalistic explanation. The only explanation I can consider is a supernatural one. This senseless suffering I can only speculate as being part of the spiritual war of Satan’s rebellion against God. Again I will refer you to the book of Romans and next week’s blog I will try to have an explanation for "senseless" suffering. After that, I will try as best as I can to look at Bart's Biblical examples of suffering.

I hope this can help you, my explanations are wholly inadequate, but then again Bart's arguments don't take the larger picture into account either.

Below are some links that may be of interest until next week. (also look for the Satanic Rebellion homepage. but pray for discernment. I have read the rebellion, but not this one yet. )

And some places that also debunk Bart, in a much better and credible way than I can. The Ben Witherington ones seem especially good.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My personal testimony

My personal testimony
OK folks, here's a long one today. I thought about serializing it, to buy time for other things, but it's really best to just dump it all at once.

Recently I kinda felt led to step briefly away from the UFO and New Age junk and look at atheists and atheism. I’ve even heard of a “functional atheist” who oddly is a seminary graduate and sort of pasturing at my old church. Not sure what that really means.

I kinda looked at what's going on at, and looked at Bart Ehrman's stuff. So far, I am not impressed with either. The arguments are empty, and it seems that one of the reasons for folks choosing atheism is because suffering doesn’t make sense, or maybe they realize that they grew up in the church and don’t feel like keeping it up or never really believed in the first place. Or maybe atheists just don’t want to be accountable when they die and so reject the idea of the Bible being true. One thing I have noticed is that atheists, and Bart Ehrman in particular, take the Bible as a document and that’s all. They don’t look at the world through a supernatural lens, that is they don’t realize that life in this world is basically a spiritual war.

So, moving on from atheism, here is my personal testimony. It may be overly long, if so, please let me know. It’s kind of “puke on paper” at this point and each edit only adds to the length. So I hope God can use it to help you in some way.

My family on my father’s side had a predominantly Catholic background. He and his mother claim to have seen UFO’s and apparently even shared a sighting together. My mom, Lutheran. My mom I don’t know what her faith state is like, but she doesn’t come to church, probably because of bad church experiences in her youth.

Growing up I rarely went to church and I had a Virgin Mary nightlight. When I did, I got kind of antsy, but also didn’t know how this (the Catholic churches I went to) tied into what I had heard about God up until that point.

I’ve believed in God for pretty much my whole life and had a solid foundation for my faith growing up. My father read me a storybook version of the Bible and I really loved the Old Testament stories especially about the Ark(s), Enoch and Elijah. I was maybe around four years old, and thought more or less everything about the stories was true. There was just something in the stories that caused me to think that everything was extremely true. I felt the same way about other stories later on, but the Bible is something I’ve always known deep in my heart was true.

I remember around the same timeframe, (that is 4-5 years old) I used to have feelings of intense terror, and bizarre nightmares. Perhaps this is normal of all children at night. In any event, I really can’t say if they were nightmares or some sort of paranormal experience, perhaps it was “both and.” In my bedroom in the dark at night, I thought I saw that the piles of clothes in my closet would move or wiggle, and the same thing appeared to happen with the eyes on my Porky Pig picture. Of course I would cry and scream, and my parents would find nothing. Was it shadows playing tricks on my eyes? Or was there something more going on?

I also had a dream (which seemed quite real) of trying to run from my room down the hallway, but I ended up being pulled back into the room by an invisible force. Another time I had a dream that a demon, the classic gargoyle kind, picked me up and captured me in that same hallway and held me there.

Another time, I don’t believe this was a dream, in my aunt's trailer I ran down the hallway to get a toy, and screamed repeatedly "ET, ET" (the film was popular at the time) as I ran. I picked up the toy and went to my cousin's room nearby, and inside I swear I saw a tall green alien that looked like Greedo from Star Wars.

Were these experiences real? Dreams? Was it just the result of a steady diet of He-Man and Star Wars. Looking back at my extreme youth, I can’t say where dream ended and reality began. I have a sense it was real, but it was too fantastic to be anything but dream. I mention these because if they were real, it would explain a lot. If they were dreams, I guess I don’t know what it means. Perhaps the occult laden entertainment choices I enjoyed were opening me up to demonic oppression in my dreams. Perhaps there’s someone in my family that had been into the occult and this open door allowed me to experience oppression. The Lord will show me the truth some day so until I have few answers.

Once we moved into a house, I lived in the basement, and for the most part I didn’t have anything odd go on, but there were still occasions where things happened. One time in bed, I remember telling myself a knock-knock joke several times, but before I could provide my own answer to Q: "Who’s there? A: Boo!" I could swear that I heard a voice say “Boo-hoo” and I immediately hid in my blankets. In this new house, my sisters also claim to have seen ghosts or other things in the house. I didn't believe them, but now I wonder.

One sister claimed to have seen a skull under her blankets, and both claimed to have seen a small green figure burst forth from their laundry and run away, disappearing as soon as they had lost sight of it. Overall, the most problems that I had were vivid and terrifying nightmares, and one that recurred every year on a certain date. It was about a dinosaur from a local mini-golf park, and it would appear in my dream every year. Years later my friend told me I could control my dreams, so when it hit, I had Godzilla come in my dream which seemed to take care of him.

Other dreams I had, for what it’s worth, was some sort of snake woman appeared at my recess and freaked me out and I also had a dream that the planet Mars was large in the sky like the moon (or maybe the moon had turned red, hmmmm) and then an invasion by motherships occurred which unleashed the gliders from War of the Worlds. Is there anything to these dreams? Who knows. But they at least paint a picture of things I was into.

My father kept up with the Bible stories, and we eventually reached the end, and that was it for a while. I had a knowledge that there was a God, I believed in Him and I knew the devil was real too. I vaguely recall hearing about Jesus, but rarely thought of Him. Of course, even with this knowledge I still misbehaved a bit in school. I had a form of godliness, but there was nothing to it. I thought that if I was good, I would go to Heaven and become an angel. If I was bad. Hell.

My grandfather died when I was in third grade, and of course my father told me that he went to Heaven. Now, I am not so sure. But I honestly can’t say what was in his heart or if he had accepted Jesus Christ or not. I would like to hope for a surprise some day when I go to meet the Lord.

I think it’s also worth mentioning what kinds of influences I ended up with in my life in my elementary age. Often times we don’t think of the devil attacking us through entertainment, but indeed many of the seeds to my later wanderings were planted here in my youth.

I watched the Munsters regularly. I pretended to be Grandpa Munster since I lived in the basement. I would sometimes pretend to be him or Dracula by hiding in my "coffin" which was the hall closet. I also played videogames every second I could. I played Castlevania (which I still love the music) and other games like Ghosts n Goblins both of which are chock full of full of monsters and demons. I’m sure there others.

I also had a book of myths and legends that I read. This featured many of the pagan mythological stories about the Norse and Greek gods. I also loved Ghostbusters, and wanted to be one when I grew up. Of course there was He-Man which is borderline theosophist and full of magic. Star Wars of course. I wanted to be a Jedi even more than a Ghostbuster. Ninja Turtles was another "innocent" influence. Because of Ninja Turtles I pretended to meditate like Master Splinter did in the show. I had no idea what that was, but it looked cool and I thought it would do something for me.

Other entertainment things I enjoyed that I know now, while cool on the surface hold hidden dangers:

Dino Riders and Transformers – Ancient Astronaut theory
Ghostbusters – ghosts/demonology/occult
Ninja Turtles – meditation, alien theory
Star Wars – New Age lite,
Superhero stuff – transhumanism, de-deification of God (not always, but they always end up in these universe ending cross overs)
Castlevania, Ghosts n Goblins – that human power can defeat the demons

That’s not to say that these are all 100% evil and need to be avoided, rather I think one should be aware of the dangers within them and be wise enough to throw out the junk that comes with it.

Of course, growing up in the 80’s with all those and other things being crammed into my head, coming into New Age thinking and beliefs by “accident” wasn’t hard, in fact it happened for me quite naturally. I believed in "God," yet here was all of this other interesting stuff that was so much “cooler” (so I thought) than the Bible. I would say that many in my generation were probably lost either to these kinds of things, or lulled into a dull complacency by videogames and cheap thrill entertainment. A dull complacency that I used to be part of.

When I was in third grade I began to become interested in UFOs, cryptozoology, and ghosts. My dad would occasionally try to get me to read UFO books, but for the most part I found those either too scary or too boring. My main interest was cryptozoology and ghosts. My father gave me a coloring book of odd paranormal, and strange creatures. This fine cast of characters included such fine specimens as mothman, the Lambdon Worm, The Hopkinsville Goblins, and a whole host of other weird stuff. I looked at it, but never did much with it as it was both alluring and frightening. You wouldn't believe how long I thought that mothman might end up looking in my window. It's so innocent looking, yet it's sinister to the core.

As if mothman wasn't terrifying enough, I soon became aware of the alien greys. Oh boy what fun it was to obtain that knowledge. Thank God, to my knowledge anyways, that I have never been taken by them or had an abduction event. But, when I was in third grade, “Communion” by Whitley Strieber was a best seller. Walking by the cover at the book store, I was scared by it, and intrigued by it at the same time.

I was still OK at that point overall.

I even saw the movie “Communion” or at least parts of it, and even then I don’t know that I was really that scared. I had seen these things, but didn't fully comprehend what they were all about. The aliens seemed very gentle, and overall the film (as I recall) made the whole thing seem rather benevolent, even when they were anal probing Christopher Walken.

What pushed me into utter terror of the greys was a bit on Maury Povich’s show "A Current Affair" that I think touched either on Communion or someone else’s abduction. Their presentation of it just really did something to me. There was just something about this thing, and perhaps Communion that made me suddenly afraid of them. At night, I would be afraid to peak out of my bed-tent for fear an alien might be there. I honestly thought they were around, and might poke in at any moment and take me away. Many nights were spent hoping they wouldn’t come.

I’m surprised with these open spiritual doors that they never appeared. Despite the terror, I continued looking into these things. By fifth grade I was reading about UFO’s and ghosts. I looked at all of the ghost stuff I could get my hands on, and read so many "real accounts" that I had a good handle on the subject. My friends and I were even “swing set paranormal investigators,” thinking that studying ghosts was cool, and we pretended to be Ghostbusters in some form. Of course monsters like Dracula were out of the question.

That about sums up my early interest in the paranormal. I don’t think that this is typical of folks my age, but there are a few of us odd ducks that went through this sort of thing.

In seventh grade and earlier, I took the Lord’s name in vain periodically. I would use “God” as a surprised (think OMG!) One of my classmates corrected me one time after saying “Jesus Christ” as a curse word. He told me that I had just taken the Lord’s name in vain. I told him that Jesus wasn’t God.

That’s how lost I was by the time I was in seventh grade. Luckily, my father gave me a King James Bible around this time, but I didn’t really read it. I didn’t think it was interesting and I was disappointed there wasn’t a “Book of Jesus” not knowing that the gospels were about Jesus. I suppose it would have made too much sense to see that it said "words of Christ in red" and then find the red letters.

My father also told me I should start praying, and gave me a few Catholic prayers to say, which I did devoutly. I got a rosary, but didn't pray with it. I thought that it was too much work to repeat the same prayers over and over, and didn’t want to spend that much time doing it.

I didn’t really get any other direction spiritually, and didn’t really know much about prayer, I just thought it was saying those few basic Catholic prayers that would please God and of course earn me points to get into Heaven. My parents told me that I could choose any religion I wanted, but they didn’t want me to become a Jew, a Mormon, or a Jehovah’s Witness.

I started reading the book of Revelation, because there was an X-Men villain named Apocalypse, which I had noticed was also another name for the Book of Revelation. Of course, the two things couldn’t be more different from each other, but hey, it got me to read the Bible. I read Revelation, and was absolutely blown away.

First, it was just so different and fantastic than anything I had ever come across before. Yet, truth seemed to spring forth from it. In Revelation, I read that all liars, and many other kinds of sinners would be cast into hell. I was deeply convicted, because I knew I had stolen small things here and there, but it was very clear that ALL sinners went into the lake of fire.

I was nearly in tears as I knew that was my fate at this point, and I asked God to forgive me so that I wouldn’t end up there. I was at least half way there, but I wasn’t yet a Christian.

On a side note, middle school was hard because in addition to the hook of the New Age, I was hit with the struggle of lust, as all teen boys probably are. It was made worse by occasional access to porn, which is like a drug. At first it’s exciting, but you need something new and different the next time. It’s not really related to this testimony, but I think it is worth noting because this is another way that Satan can cement his hold in someone who is struggling with any issue. This is something I struggled with for years in varying degrees and with varying levels of success and failure. I don’t have answers for how to overcome it. I fervently hope that the Lord will forgive me for the times I went after it, even after being saved.

So, continuing from my middle school time, from about eighth grade forward, I always felt a sort of uneasy feeling about my soul, and that the devil was after me. It was just a feeling that the devil had me and my soul, or that somehow I could lose my soul. I thought I could accidentally sell my soul to Satan, though I now know this to be nonsense, but at the time I was consciously afraid that my soul was in danger in one way or another.

I became anxious about a lot of things, and was full of fear. I was bullied at school, fearful of that, but also afraid just in general all the time. I used to go to the bus stop every day and ask God to keep me from being abducted by aliens. Sometimes I used to become afraid that I had contracted a disease of some sort, and then tried to reach out to the aliens to contact them to heal me. I didn't want to be abducted, yet I wanted to have the positive experiences with them. I watched the TV show "Sightings," every week. But on the other hand I would also watch "Shepherd's Chapel" before school, which I liked because Pastor Murray dissected the Bible. Now I think (based on Minister Fortson's Youtube video) that Pastor Murray is probably into heretical teaching, but at the time I enjoyed it and it made sense. I do know that he never seemed to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified, had I had access to someone preaching the gospel like my later heroes, I likely would have become a believer then.

Surprisingly my mom let me watch "Sightings" and watched it with me, yet would remind me occasionally that I wasn't supposed to believe in fortune tellers, psychics and such. She had once even chided me for drawing what she thought were "satanic pictures" of winged humanoids with red and black markers. The most bizarre thing is that I don't know that she is or was a Christian or not. I also began to read Fate Magazine and watch X-Files. (an interesting side note, I saw a movie around this time that basically said that aliens were demons, but I refused to believe it. I didn’t want to.)

Why did I watch this stuff?

I continued with these interests into highschool. In highschool I didn’t really grow in faith. I thought the Bible wasn’t that interesting, so I started to read Fate magazine which talked a lot about UFO’s, ghosts and other paranormal things (and has since become, and probably has always been, a propaganda machine for the New Age). I also read several books about UFOs which were incredibly scary, (thanks again go to Whitley Strieber’s “Breakthrough” for scaring the living crap out of me). I suppose I was interested because this stuff was weird, and supposedly all true.

It was funny because I would read these UFO magazines in class occasionally, but no one picked on me much in highschool. I would also keep these magazines hidden from my friends who were fellow nerds. I was enthralled and fascinated by it, yet at night I was terrified! I slept with a nightlight until I was an adult because I was afraid of the dark. I was also afraid of some sort of demonic creature hiding under my bed probably until my twenties. This may seem absurd, but then again with all the stuff I read about, it really is no surprise.

At any rate, I had a very legalistic feeling that I somehow was worthy of going to Heaven based on my ability to basically be good. I also thought because I knew there was a God and believed in Him, that I was OK. But the Bible says even the demons know there’s a good and fear Him, but that does little for their damned state. Still, I even made a promise to God that I wouldn't play the card game "Magic" because I thought it was Satanic and I thought avoiding it would make me worthy to Him. I also privately condemned kids who wore pentagrams or the kids that were “immoral.” I had a form of godliness with no substance, but I was as lost as the kid with the pentagram. I also sort of became friends with a witch, who thought that God and His angels were foolish, and she talked about astral travel occasionally, which was scary too and made me wonder if I ended up in these “other dimensions” if God could help me. I wanted to tell her she was wrong, but had no ammo to fight with, and I was also afraid of what she might do to me.

Highschool came and went, and my father started going back to college at this time, and his school had a Christian radio station. He just said I should listen to the station. So I did out of curiosity, but I don’t know why. Thankfully I did. I don’t remember the day like many people do, but I do remember how. I began listening to Chuck Swindoll on the radio, and committed my life to Christ at 19 and began reading my Bible. Of course Satan didn’t like this one bit, and I could swear that as soon as I converted, my lust problem became 100 times stronger. I knew little of spiritual warfare so was unable to fight of Satan’s attacks.

I did read a Christian book called “The Dark Side of the Supernatural” around the time of the Columbine massacre, which had been advertised on Falwell’s show. It should have had way more information on spiritual warfare, but I recommend it as a good starting point. This book exposed the things that I was interested in as satanic deceptions. UFOs, demonic illusions. Vampires, folklore gone awry. It was a good overview, and there was a chapter on deliverance, and a snippet on sleep paralysis. Seeing this book is like seeing the seeds of the Revelations Radio ministry, except that the authors didn’t keep pursuing it. I think they missed a great opportunity to minister, even though they did have a good foundations for it.

Immediately after reading this book, I had an episode of sleep paralysis which was not a dream, and it stopped when I asked Jesus Christ for help. This book had brought up sleep paralysis and showed me how to deal with it. Many nonbelievers will just say that it happened because I had read about it. I would argue that God allowed it to happen because I had been equipped to deal with it. Despite this though, I didn’t put two and two together. I was still sort of spiritually asleep.

The book did accomplish one thing though, my interest in the supernatural shifted to an interest in God. I read my Bible a lot, and listened to Chuck Swindoll every night, but I was kind of getting into the churchianity mindset, though I didn’t go to church. And even though I had turned to Christ, I used to try to access chi, or “The Force” thinking that it was just a natural form of energy (like my body’s natural EM field) that God had created. I tried in earnest to move objects with my mind and develop psychic abilities, thinking they were natural human abilities one could cultivate. Luckily, I had no success in this, and gave this up for the most part to focus on being a good Christian. Though, from time to time I did give it a go thinking it was all part of something God may allow people to do. Probably this is the one time where my laziness had paid off.

I also used to try will myself to see the future, and on occasion I did have dreams that predicted the future to some degree of accuracy. Sometimes it happened even when I didn’t try, but when I did dream of the future it was rarely anything of note. Most of the time it was a mundane thing, and I mean really mundane. But other times they were bigger things. The first thing was some time after 9/11, I had a dream that we had lost a space shuttle in a similar manner. I don't recall when I dreamt it, but it was likely right after 9/11. O course, after that, we lose the shuttle Columbia. Perhaps that’s not an exact prediction, but it's interesting to note.

Another instance was there used to be a girl I worked with who I had fallen in love with. I had a dream that she was in a specific situation talking to a coworker, and I learned that she was moving far away. Not long afterwards, she seemed to be talking to my friend like in the dream. I asked my friend what they had been talking about, and she had been promoted and her desk would move. OK, not an exact prediction, but within a few months I found out that she would move out of state for a much better job. I bring these up because I think my efforts to develop "psychic" powers had led me to inadvertently access what New Agers call the Akashic Records. That’s where all fortune tellers get their predictions.

That's why my "predictions" weren't 100% accurate, because they were from the power of Satan, not God. I have since repented of this and renounced this. Also, around this general time, I had sleep paralysis again, but I don't remember it stopping. I think I had tried to stop it under my own power the way that Fate Magazine had said. They had suggested that one focus on trying to move just a finger, or to think of a deep tone in their head. Supposedly this was supposed to stop any abductions or sleep paralysis. It didn’t. The being just choked me, and kind of throttled me back and forth as I just kind of fought ineffectively. In the end, I just sort of blacked out and went back to sleep. I don’t recall what I thought of this, but now I know it didn’t stop because I didn’t rely on Christ.

Despite my attempt to cultivate my "natural abilities" I stayed true to reading the Bible and listening to Chuck Swindoll. I later branched out and listened to James Dobson (who later got me into a quasi-dominionist mindset.). Because of Chuck, and my Bible study I thought that I was very discerning. I did my best to make sure that when I attended church, that I wasn’t deceived. So I began looking for a church to attend and buried my memories of the New Age deep.

My first stop was the Catholic Church. I attended for a while, but didn’t take communion. Often times I would go, and still leave longing for something. I thought that Catholicism was OK, but now I think they are not true to the Bible. There is too much emphasis on Mary (though she was indeed blessed and pleased God with what she did), and I also find all of the images within the Churches to be quite similar to Buddhism, or idolatry in general.

I think the biggest thing I was looking for at Church was a sense of community. I wanted to find other believers that I could fellowship with, and perhaps eventually find someone to get married to. Not finding community in the Catholic Church, I went to the Lutheran church. It was basically the same minus the graven images. No one my own age I could hang out with, or talk with about God. My father and I then started going to a nondenominational church. It was nice, but it was also awkward. I love my father, but at the same time, I wanted to find my own group. There really wasn't anyone at this church that I could befriend either and the singles group wasn’t my age range either.

Luckily, a friend I worked with invited me to a Presbyterian church, but it was a bit different than I was used to. You see, I am from a predominantly white suburb, and this church was not predominantly white. From here, things are not really in an exact chronological order, as some of these things happened simultaneously, yet for clarity I list them as separate events. So, the order is a little mixed up.

The church I began attending was a multi-racial congregation that had sprung from the English service of a Korean church. There were white people, Korean people and African people. It was kind of odd being a racial minority for once, but eventually God showed me that this wasn’t really important. I stayed here for a while because there were a lot of people my age, and it was overall a pretty good time. I made a lot of friends, and everyone was really nice. God really used this time to bring me up to speed socially (as I had never really done much socializing until this point.

I joined a men’s Bible study group, which had ups and downs. It was good to fellowship, but a lot of the subject matter wasn’t really that relevant to me. I was also afraid to open up too much and kept a lot hidden. At church, I was OK with what was being taught and thought the message being preached was a good one. The pastor frequently had sermons about racial reconciliation, and he could bring almost any sermon about any Biblical topic back to race issues.

I became lazy in my own Bible study here because I thought going to church was all I had to do for my relationship with God. That, and read my daily bread devotional and the snippet of scripture that came with it. I was probably also being slowly deceived by New Age thinking (that I had sort of turned my back on, but hadn't yet fully seen it for what it was and renounced). Looking back, I see that racial reconciliation is an important issue that people (white people especially) need to overcome and deal with. However, I can see that other more spiritually relevant things (spiritual warfare and truth, being ready for Christ's return, and right living) were put to the wayside to make way for social issues. In short, I think that a social message had hijacked the Gospel. One or two sermons on this subject periodically would have been OK, but to be hit with it regularly was becoming like “preaching to the choir.”

I grew to realize that racial issues weren’t so big after all, not to say that people don’t have differences, but that at the foot of the cross, we are all equal. I was ready to move on teaching wise.

I became a member of this church, and was allowed to serve in the singles ministry on the board. Why I don't know, though God really gave me a lot of good things there. Looking back though, I can see that whole effort (at least on my part) was done completely on human drive. I never asked God to work through me. The board never prayed before meeting. One board member never attended, and a few of us on the board were likely struggling with some form of sin issues. It’s no surprise the singles group attendance dropped.

It was at this time that I started to become overcome with anger issues (from work and life) and became apathetic in my faith and day to day life. I thought God was trying to make me suffer for no good reason, or worse, because it amused Him. Because of this and other factors, I even sinned occasionally knowing that it would hurt God to do so, I am sad and ashamed that I sinned trying to hurt the one who truly cared for me. God. But even with my anger and willful rebellion, I was also trying to hard to get closer to God and find His purpose for my life. My inability to find and achieve this purpose also made me angry.

I hated my job. I hated my life. I wasn’t being spiritually fed. My desire to find a girlfriend was not going anywhere. Thankfully though, I did have a close friendship with a female. This friendship was interesting, but in a way it was a comedy of errors. I think both of us misunderstood each other intentions at various points.

I thought at first she wanted to date me, but I was hesitant to jump into it and resolved to be friends only. But as time went on, I fell in love, and I think she had resolved to be friends at that point. I was confused, and was hardly clear in my intentions (they weren’t clear in my head either), and probably didn’t respect her feelings.

Despite whatever it was that we had, we remained good friends for a time, and ministered to each other when we needed it. Sadly, she eventually moved away, then we stopped talking. This didn’t help my attitude much, though now I think it was ultimately for the best.

Prior to this, or around the same time, I foolishly prayed for God to take my job away and free me to do something else. I should also mention that for a while I had been asking God to help me control my spending and live more responsible financially. To help me stop pursuing material things (of which I have accumulated far too many).

Meanwhile, for a couple years I had became friends with a pagan/druid (he claimed both allegiances) and read a lot of novels he provided, and he regularly challenged my faith. I asked if he had cursed me in any way, because I was always angry and I was upset that life wasn't turning out what I had wanted it to be. I had emotional things I didn’t properly deal with. I had lost my other grandfather around this time, and I had just moved out of my parent's house. I had a lot of emotional things going on.

My druid friend denied cursing me, as it was supposedly antithetical to his beliefs. I really wonder if he was telling the truth. Perhaps he sent Pagan “blessings” my way, and these fallen spirits instead influenced me in some way. Perhaps any spirits around him attached themselves to me without my knowing it. In any event, he challenged my beliefs regularly, and I did my best to stand firm in my faith. I wasn’t really up to the task of debating him, but it was certainly fun to discuss these things.

Another occult influence at this time was my interest in vampires, mainly the "Soul Reaver" video game series. It's not an important point, but it no doubt influenced my outlook on God as the central character is essentially a pawn in a divine drama. I often felt (because of this game) that God was moving me into pain and suffering because it amused Him. I felt a lot like the protagonist for no good reason and this game really hurt my relationship with God.

Around this time, I moved in with the youth pastor from my church, for no particular reason, we were just both looking to save money on rent. I didn’t know him well, but figured there would be no problems living with a pastor. As if this would afford me some additional godliness. I attended his college services occasionally and found him to be an amazing preacher, he was right on a lot of times. Living with him however, was rather bizarre. I’ll spare the details, but he had some questionable lifestyle behaviors (no he wasn't gay), he was also very difficult to talk to. Later on, I learned of some other sin issue he was into while I lived with him, that he has since confessed to the church body. I never confronted him about it due to fear, I just felt that it would be dangerous to do so. Oddly enough, the lady who had introduced me to this church told me to be careful living with him as she evidently didn’t trust him. I had waved it off, and resumed my life.

I suppose I figured that living with him made me safe from spiritual attack and would help me grow spiritually. It didn't. Immediately upon moving, I lost my job. My prayers had been answered.

So, this begins a very dark period of my life, probably my lowest point ever. My faith was shaken, and my relationship with God was not good. I was mad at Him, but I was also relying on Him to meet my needs. My pastor roommate was of little help as he wasn’t very approachable. In this time of my wayward faith, I was asked by my roommate to teach 12th grade Sunday school. I did so reluctantly, trying to follow the curriculum, but the students didn’t participate. They had grown up in the church, and their hearts were closed, who was I to teach them anything?

I then tried some things on my own, open discussions, and other things, nothing could reach them. My thought was then to just try and hang out with them and establish a relationship so I could be someone they could talk to later on. I failed miserably because this was yet another way I was trying to serve God on my own effort rather than asking God to work through me.

One night, on the verge of having no money, nor a ready source of income, I was about to become financially destitute. It was almost down to moving out onto the street, or moving back in with my parents. With this depressing outlook, I took a walk hoping for something bad to happen to me. I thought of suicide, but figured that would not be a good route for a number of reasons. I also remember almost like, yelling at God in my head, full anger. I figured this was OK as I heard that it was OK to boldly approach God and give Him your problems. I also had heard that if you are mad at God, it’s OK to let Him know, because a) He already knows our heart, and b) He can take it. So for a time that night I basically let God have it. I asked God to provide for me, as I was asking in Christ’s name, and according to the Bible. I asked and demanded that God provide for me.

But I had forgotten a crucial element of relationship with the Most High God, through Jesus Christ, and that is we are to have an awesome respect for Him. I am a bit confused on the details, as I am ashamed I did this, but I may have threatened to join Satan, or made a point that Satan will at least give people worldly wealth. Whatever I was telling God, I know it wasn’t respectful, and it was more or less like directly rebelling or threatening Him in some capacity. This attitude was probably because of my “Soul Reaver” mindset that I have already mentioned.

This rebellion on my part is probably the my deepest regret of my life.

This was another instance of me willfully rebelling against God or trying to hurt Him through my actions. I have repented of this, but often feel guilty and sad because of it. My deepest fear is that these two things will be brought up when I stand before the Lord to be judged. This is something an unbeliever could ask forgiveness for, but what about a believer?

At any rate, within a day or so, I found on my desk in a pile of mail that I was about to shred, a check for $1500 from my 401K that had not gotten rolled over! Now, this had already arrived prior to asking God for help, but I was in the habit of throwing mail away and so I believe that God led me to find it before I destroyed it, thus fulfilling my need. I could have thrown it away, or any number of other things, yet God allowed me to find it at exactly the right time. I thanked Him quite a bit, and turned my back slightly on my rebellious attitude., but I still continued on in a luke-warm faith, and in depression. I also sort of took on a moral-relativistic world view. I figured because I was saved, I could basically do whatever wanted like help myself to food without asking, or steal office supplies etc. Small things, yet still sinful.

For a while, I think the Lord allowed me to walk this crooked walk and skirt the edge. He turned me over to the things I wanted. He allowed me to take a look at the many choices Satan has to offer, so that when He restored me I would be more merciful to other sinners and know that He is God alone.

Around this general time I awoke in the middle of the night and didn’t quite feel paralyzed, but there was this odd sense in my bedroom. I swore that I could feel my roommate’s presence in the room. Not that I can feel presences, but without opening my eyes, I could tell someone was in the room, and it just gave me a very strong impression that it was my roommate. It just felt like other times I had been in the same room with him. It moved like him, and it really gave me the impression that he there. I didn’t look right away, not sure how he would react to my awakening, but then I thought it couldn’t have been him, as my door (which was noisy) hadn’t been opened and my cat hadn’t left or reacted. I decided to look about, and at first saw nothing close to my bed where I had felt him.

But as I stared around into the dark room, several feet beside my bed in the darkest part of my room was a dark, shadowy figure of a person. It was a shadow, darker than the surrounding darkness. It was humanoid, but definitely not a human being as I could see nothing but the shadow. Did it notice me?

I really don’t know what happened from here. I believe I asked God to help me in Jesus’ name, but it wasn’t a very good effort on my part. But then again, it’s not what I did, but what God did. It doesn't surprise me that there was something evil in the house. I was not being obedient to God and was dealing with sin issues. My roommate was also having his sin issues, and as a pastor was probably a big target for Satan. There had also been a dead rabbit left on our door, whether this was a ritual or a cat leaving it I couldn’t say.

I have recently asked my former roommate if he had seen anything unusual, but he never replied. Luckily for me, things began to change.

My roommate had moved, and I was now living with another friend. Later on I got a job, I found a girlfriend, and my life started getting better. I of course kept in my faith lukewarm again, and still wore black alot and was generally angry, though not in dealing with people. My then girlfriend helped me find a better job, and before I knew it, I was going to finish college too! The Lord had then fulfilled my direct prayers for a better job (that would pay for me to get a degree), and a girlfriend at a time I least expected, and at a time that I was the least deserving to be blessed.

He provided for me, and restored what had been lost. To me, this shows that His grace is SO much more than we can ever know or appreciate. He answered my prayers when I wasn’t right with Him, when He could have kept me down.

I got married and continued going to college, and continued in a weak and probably pretty average Christian faith, but then I really began hungering for a deeper spiritual truth. Before my decline, I had been earnestly seeking the Lord and a deeper relationship with Him, but then I messed it up. It took me a few years to recover. I continued at the Presbyterian Church while I was dating, and shortly after getting married. I no longer stayed for socializing at fellowship as I had a ton of homework.

I also grew frustrated with those I had served in the past (and had been frustrated at times while serving them), and I also realized that I was going to church, more often than not, to socialize with people afterwards, and not to seek the Lord. It was also awkward trying to acclimate my married life with my single friends. When my social situation changed, I had to re-evaluate my social – everything. So, we left my old church and went to a nondenominational church that one of my best friends brought us to, to visit with him, and we just kind of stayed. It was odd because my wife was familiar with the church too.

Here, I began to question who Jesus was, and how to pray properly. I wondered if I should pray to God directly, mentioning Jesus, or even wondering if I should pray to Jesus. In some ways, I am still confused on this matter, but now I at least realize that Jesus is God in human flesh, so it shouldn’t really be that complicated. I continued operating knowing that I was saved, and used that as a license to keep following all of my own sinful and selfish desires. I believed in Christ, but didn’t live and walk in that knowledge. I was extremely confused. I had doubts, yet I also thought I had knowledge. I hungered for deeper truth, I wanted to know hidden truths.

These new doubts I had were from college. I had had a class on Judaism and attended a Jewish service. This class made me wonder about the right way to be a follower of God. I looked at Judaism a bit more, this led me to look at Islam, Buddhism and a few other faiths.

I started thinking perhaps the Bible was just one of many ways to find truth. I just looked at some of these other faiths and started to incorporate elements of that into my “Christian” faith. I thought reincarnation might just well be possible, and that God would reincarnate us until we accepted Christ. (Absurd and blasphemous, but it had a twisted logic) I also still held on to my belief in "the Force" aka, a great Universal Energy Field that could be manipulated.

For some reason, Buddhism also seemed to hold a particular fascination. I wondered if Christianity had incorporated elements of it, especially as I looked at Catholicism. To me, there seemed to be a lot of similarities. I visited a number of Buddhist/Taoist temples in China which were interesting to see. I didn't go to practice anything, but just to see. I clung to Christ with one hand, but pulled myself as close to the edge as I could. Looking back I can see God restraining me with His Holy Spirit, telling my heart not to partake. In one sense I knew this stuff wasn’t from God, yet I was also fascinated and partially seduced by it.

Of course, as fate would have it, as part of my religious wanderlust, my old interest in UFOs popped up again I think because reincarnation was being preached by some of the UFO things I was getting into. I had also been reading that aliens had given us the earth religions to guide us, and I had also read that the Bible’s miracles had been caused by UFOs. On one hand I knew it was nonsense, yet something about it was alluring.

This UFO stuff sort of fed off of, and contributed to my above wondering. This is a bit of a ride, so hang with me here. The resurgence of UFOs in my life was fed by a few things.

First, I have been a huge fan of (and still am) the videogame Earthbound for the Super Nintendo, and I was listening to the music from the game a lot. No problem so far. Well, since the game relies heavily on UFOs as a plot device, that's where I began to be seduced again. The final boss, an alien, can only be defeated by praying. Interesting. This got me looking at UFOs again; I searched online for Christian view of UFOs and the like. I wondered how much truth there was in the praying against aliens thing. For every worthwhile paragraph, there were reams of lies available.

I delved into secular knowledge on the subject, and learned what I could there about aliens. On top of this, I was doing a writing project in college, and with no other topic available, I figured, why not tie in UFOs to ancient myths? I was sort of believing that aliens were demonic, but I also wondered "what if?" At this time I also was reading Jim Marrs’ "Alien Agenda" which starts out as a good look solid look at UFO evidence, and spirals into an epistle for the New Age. The book ends with remote viewing, and other New Age nonsense. Of course, they sort of market it as a natural ability.

There were a number of things in this book that threw up some warning signs to me as a Christian, but still, I overall thought this was just ET, real alien lifeforms. I had in the back of my mind that it was demonic, and figured a number of cases were, but I also hoped it wasn’t and figured there could be both/and. I tried to convey that it was demonic in my paper, and partially believed it, yet I was falling for some of the lies, hoping that some of it might be true. I linked the alien beings to mythological beings, which ironically also have demonic equivalents.

Then, if this isn’t enough, I started listening to Alejandro Rojas’ Podcast, "UFO Think Tank." Occasionally guests promoted New Age stuff, which I didn’t buy, but the stuff on nuts and bolts UFOs and physical creatures really hooked me. It was so believable, and I really began thinking that aliens were really here from space.

I ended up learning a lot of weird New Agey stuff on the web, and learned of the Ascended Masters and what LA Marzulli calls “the alien gospel.” I also hit abovetopsecret’s website a lot. At this time, Blossom Goodchild was promising that a massive UFO was going to reveal itself on October 14. I looked forward to it. It all made so much sense! Aliens would show up, I wouldn’t have to go to work, and it would make life on earth cool at last! I didn’t really know how this would affect my faith, but I figured God had made aliens, and they’d come to help us. Ironically, I came to LA Marzulli’s site for the first time, but didn’t put much stock in what he said, but what he said made me question what was going on here.

That’s when I wondered; if the aliens made us, who made the aliens? Needless to say, I was incredibly confused. I wasn’t totally deceived by this UFO stuff, but I was well on my way into the woods where the wolves were waiting. A freemason I worked with tried to lure me deeper into the woods, encouraging me to read Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra and things like that. I considered asking him to help me join Freemasonry, to learn “deeper truths” but thought better of it. I also became incredibly anxious because I read the Above Top Secret internet Forums all day. Every hour, there was some new way that either 1) the world was going to end, or 2) the government was going to declare martial law and put people into FEMA camps.

In the back of my mind, God, the one true God was still there, I kept that and prayed like I should, but that relationship was messed up. When I prayed, it was weak and pathetic. I didn’t read the Bible a lot, when I did it was out of obligation. I didn’t understand that the world wasn’t ending because of what I read on ATS, but rather when He returns. I was dazzled by these flashing lights, while God wanted me to go to Him.

During this time of searching, my anger at God slowly disappeared and I just went through the motions numbly. I wasn’t sure how I should go about finding God and the truth.

I still kept searching for Christian views of aliens, but kept with the New Age too. I read Pinchbeck's 2012 book, and began to get REALLY freaked out about the stuff he wrote about. There was one spot that was especially scary, and so I stopped reading it. I also began to have strange dreams occasionally because of his book. I wasn’t praying for protection when I read it. Despite this, I prayed here and there that God would show me the absolute truth of these UFOs. I eventually begged Him. I admitted I was lost and confused. I told God that I was confused, did aliens make us? Was there going to be a UFO coming up? Were UFOs going to rapture us? Who is Jesus? I cried out for God to show me the truth.

I don’t recall the exact prayer, but I hungered in the most desperate way, and asked God to lead me and help me find the truth. He slowly turned me around. First, He turned me onto Michael Heiser’s blog, UFO Religions. I read this a lot, but remained confused. Then, one day he posted that he was to appear on a podcast called Future Quake. I listened to the episode, and really loved the show. I then decided to really hit their archives on iTunes and kept up with new episodes. It got to a point where at work, I would listen to about 3 episodes of Future Quake a day. I did it during yard work, at work and exercising. Dr. Future or Tom would probably say something about the sanity of someone subjecting themselves to that much Future Quake, and they may be right, but this was like the spiritual all you can eat steak/pot roast buffet of spiritual meat.

I wasn’t getting fed what I needed in church, so God gave me meat elsewhere. Thankfully these guys were Christians, though at first I worried that Dr. Future was a Luciferian. I was afraid still when I listened to them occasionally, but I began to recover my hope in Christ Jesus. This of course got me reading my Bible seriously, and researching some of the Future Quake guests.

Joe Jordan was one of the first to make me reconsider my views of aliens. He talked about how people stopped alien abductions using the name and authority (and a personal relationship with) of Jesus Christ. A deceptive wall had just broken down. I listened to PID Radio, which is an awesome news show that looks at the world events from a Christian and prophetic perspective. I also heard Russ Dizdar on Future Quake, and what he had to say was crazy, yet deep in my heart I felt it was true. He spoke of his deliverance ministry, and the things he’s learned there. I added Russ’s show to my Future Quake sessions. I listened to Russ’s Preemption Broadcast and was astounded with what I heard.

On his show, he sounded crazy, he was so intense, and I was like "this guy's nuts." But as I listened to him speak, I could hear his commitment to Christ, and his knowledge was impeccable. He addressed nearly every single lie I had been falling for, he revealed the aliens and "Ascended Beings" for what they all were, lies of the devil, and demonic beings trying to lead us astray. He talked about the aliens, ascended masters, channellers and how Jesus Christ is above them all. He also shared his own testimony, and how he had done Golden Buddha Meditation, and how he had made contact with an "advanced spiritual being" and was told to kill himself. He turned to Christ not long after this. His exposure of these doctrines of demons reeled me back in from the edge.

I thank God that His spirit led me to hear Russ’s broadcasts. Without that, I doubt I would have been restored to God. Russ's dedication, passion for Christ, and love to the lost restored me to the Living God, through Jesus Christ. What clinched the deal for me was that Russ said unanswered prayer was a huge warning sign in a Christian’s life. I had a lot of unanswered prayer, so I began to repent on a lot of stuff. From here, I began reading the Bible seriously, with new eyes. I asked God to speak to me, to convict me and lead me to repentance. I forget why, perhaps it was something Russ had said, but I started reading the books of the prophets first. I may have started with Ezekiel, and here, I began to see God speak.

To me, reading the Bible was as though God Himself was telling me what breaks His heart, what the Israelites had done (and what I had done physically, metaphorically and spiritually), broke His heart. If you think about it, reading the Bible should feel this way. I realized that I was just as wayward in God’s eyes as the way Israel had behaved. My heart wasn’t going after God, I had been rebelling for most of my Christian walk. Satan had shipwrecked me in the early stages of my voyage, and I hadn't even realized it. As I read more, and prayed more, God slowly rebuilt my faith, and restored my relationship with Him.

During this time, I also wanted to perform some spiritual warfare too, as I’d always been interested in it, and Russ’s Podcast claimed that believers ought to be doing it in some capacity. Amazingly God answered those prayers for a season.

There was a popular medium who I prayed God would block their channeling of "aliens." Prior to my restoration, I prayed against this medium, and there were effects where connections would be broken with them. The beings would say (in the channeler’s blog) that someone had interfered and that they should know better.

Finally after being restored (through Russ’s ministry), and after alot of intense and proper prayer I began to see Christ working in my life again. My life was right, so I began to pray in the manner that Russ suggested. I soon had a dream with this channeler in it. I KNOW my prayers and this dream had an effect in the spiritual realm.

I dreamt that I met this channeler in my kitchen, and they tried to do something by touching me on the shoulder. I touched them back on their shoulder, and it was like God had told me to do it, and then it felt like God worked through me and this channeler fell to the ground. I truly felt like this person’s energy was trying to get into me, but I felt something block it and suddenly the channeler wanted to let go and have me let go. It felt like God was saying to hold on tighter at this point, and then the channeler weakened and fell to the ground as I felt (what I believe to have been) God’s power draining them of their abilities.

I honestly believe that the God in some capacity shut this person down because I asked in the name of Jesus Christ, and was in a right relationship with Him.

I woke up after this channeler had collapsed in my metaphysical kitchen, but then as I looked into this on the web, this channeler was then unable to channel for a number of months, and was only able to do it again after they had gone to a New Age healer (to get re-demonized). I documented this in my prayer journal, and it is also provable elsewhere.

It was a scary experience, yet at the same time, it showed me the awesome power of the Living God, the God of the Bible. I think God did this as a faith building exercise and so that I would trust in Him. I also believe He allowed it to show me that these "aliens" are really just demonic spirits and are thus subject to Jesus Christ. I continued reading my Bible just drinking it in, and I was astonished that it truly did seem as though God was speaking to me through His word.

Through the Bible and Podcasts, the Lord has led me to a deeper understanding of the world. That the spiritual world (Ephesians 6:12) plays a much larger role in the physical world than we realize. And that He is the only spiritual encounter worth having. When I was younger and stronger in my faith, I did let others know that I was a Christian, yet I was always nervous and afraid to do so. Often times I was unable to answer those who challenged my faith. Then as my faith faltered for a time, I didn’t want anyone to know I was a Christian. My witness had been corrupted and silenced. Satan had won in my life. Now after these experiences, I find God leading me to share my faith and information (from Podcasts and study) with others, things that would have terrified me before.

God has also now equipped me to be able to give a better argument for my reason for believing. The reaction back from those I share with is often silence, even from Believers.

Looking back, I am very sorry that I doubted and rebelled willfully against God as a believer. But God allowed me to do it, and in doing it He has in His grace and mercy allowed me to come back. He is using the time when I was rebellious for His good. Because His mercy allowed me back, He can be glorified for it. Even in the midst of my rebellion, a pastor told me during an altar call that God had hold of me. I had needed to hear it because I thought God had abandoned me because I was on the way to abandoning Him. I repent for my crooked walk and being led astray.

For a time, I thought because I rebelled as a believer that God wouldn’t forgive me. It once made me fear the final judgment quite a bit. Perhaps maybe I still should, but something has given me hope that God has forgiven me for this. I also believe He will forgive my sins that are forthcoming as well, if I truly repent of them and recognize my imperfection. My hope is based on the fact that God is merciful and for the reputation of His name and He promised He would forgive us. That’s not a license to sin and stick it to Jesus, but when I as an imperfect person make a mistake, He will be there to help me.

My hope is based in this. In Revelation, when Christ addresses the sinful churches, He allows them the chance to repent. These are examples of believers whose walk started to go crooked, and He wanted them to, and gave them a chance to repent. He also forgave King Ahab when he truly repented and for a time God postponed Ahab's judgment.

Despite my times of wickedness as a believer, I have hope because God is far more patient with us than we deserve. I can see the Lord allowing me to walk right along the edge, but not allowing me to fall off; in fact He may have caught me and held me over it to show me how horrible it is in the abyss. I was able to see that the enemy has placed so many deceptions and distractions into this world, and they are far more interconnected than one may realize. We are bombarded by them all on a constant basis, often times without realizing it.

To summarize, I have come to realize that God is truly who He says He is, that the Bible is not only true, but far more relevant today than most of us realize. I also realize that a relationship with God is far deeper than going to church once a week and being legalistic. I will freely admit that without His plan of salvation, and without His Spirit working in my life, I would have been lost for eternity. Having investigated the alternatives, I have no choice but to believe that Christ died for our sins, and was resurrected from the dead. And it is this sacrifice that has drawn me back to the Lord even when I tried to run away. This faith is the only thing that will save me from harsh judgment when I stand before the Lord.