29 January 2017

Do You Like First The Chicken Or The Egg?


The false binary fallacy gets people confused all the time.

“Either this or that” type thinking disables growth in one's ability to understand.

It seems the manner people are taught about life from an early age may develop a binary view of the world.

If it's not “up”, then it must be “down”, if not “left” then “right”, or “good” and “bad”, right?

Not always.

When it comes to the idea of how life began - the perceived battle between creation and evolution - are there only two options to choose from?

Isn't it possible that BOTH creation and evolution is true, correct and evident?

Isn't this a possible third option, or way, of answering the question 'how did it all begin?' ?

For the believer, God put into motion all things by invoking His will...and that motion continues to evolve, grow and mature Today.

For the theorist, all matter came about by a changing of temperature and density that caused a singularity or Big Bang.

Either way, the product of both descriptions are correct.

Both options are two methods of seeing, describing and understanding something.

One states in simple terms who initiated, and the manner, all things came about.

The other explores further the manner in which things came about.

The two are actually explaining and describing the same thing, yet approaching the idea from different points of view.

I'd like to go further complimenting God's creation and evolution.

God's relationship with mankind has evolved from the very beginning.

There was an initial “do not” in the Garden of Eden.

Generations later, more rules were introduced.

Eventually, the relationship evolved to over 600 explicit rules, restrictions and directives in the law of Moses.

These rules helped develop a sense of conscience and assisted in defining what is harmful from what is helpful.

This process built a consciousness in the obedient people that passed on certain cultural traits to their descendants.

From generation to generation, these rules developed a society that was very unique and distinct from all others.

The evolution of culture, of a people with an ideal of law and order, would eventually transcend the following of rules to produce a heart set on obedience.

The relationship evolved further.

The aim of creation, of working through mankind and establishing law, was accomplished!

Man was raised up, over time and times, from the fall from a state of oneness with God and creation.

The fall caused division in mind and deception in heart due to disobedience, having to experience the consequences of disobedience.

When Perfection was revealed and realized, the law entered the hearts of those who realized Perfection...and perfected for them what they were unable to do perfect themselves.

The long list of “do not do's” were streamlined to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and “love your neighbor as yourself” and a few other all-encompassing and summarizing ideals.

The external efforts of religion were internally realized, putting to rest forever the external effort to appease an internal emptiness.

The relationship Christ established with God (in bringing men closer to God by His body) is yet another leap in the evolution of mankind realizing their divine nature despite their flesh.

To be righteous WITHOUT being religious; not by performing many rituals, wearing certain things, or anything exterior, is what Christ exemplified and His first disciples reflected.

The evolution of man has continued since Christ walked the earth in the flesh.

Now He walks the earth via the deposit of Spirit He gifts those who believe in Him.

The evolution of mankind has witnessed the leap from religion to relation, from religion to righteousness, from religion to kingdom awareness.

28 January 2017

First 24 Hours On Maui


This is a continuation from this post.

Everything on the island is more expensive than mainland prices...except love and peace, these are still also free here and freely given / expressed.

Uber is uber expensive, most likely due to local restrictions and limited supply (Uber drivers).

I split a cab from the airport with a young man named Ben from New York...upon arrival to a private residential area in a very plush rural neighborhood, Ben's dad pays his entire portion and leaves the taxi driver a tip.

During the long ride from the airport, the taxi driver is quite expressive after I shared the primary reason I am visiting the island.

Arriving at the hotel I am very hungry and finding the only hotel restaurant that is still open, I sit at the bar and order some food.

The bartender's name is Michael; she is named after her dad and goes by “Mikey”.

I am watching professional tennis from Melbourne on a screen above the bar and I begin to tell Mikey about PickleBall (a sport like junior tennis).

The club sandwich arrives and it was tasty, but half the size I'm used to back home.

The next morning I notice a few birds have arrived on the balcony railing expecting something to eat.

Neighbor hotel guests are feeding some of them while I take pictures of the different birds; doves, cardinals, laysan finches, sparrows and common myna.

After breakfast, I meet my sister and brother-in-law at their hotel and we get in a taxi to the cemetery.

We saw a sugar cane mill from early last century abandoned to the past.

Had a very cordial and inclusive conversation with the taxi driver over several topics on the hour-long trip from one side of the island to the other.

The rain preceded the priest's arrival at Valley Isle Memorial Park and left along with his departure; bringing along the blessing from Above at just the right time.

The cemetery foreman was kind, cordial and spoke with us; he and the other three employees didn't seem to be in a hurry.

The three of us arrived back to their hotel and had a Hawaiian-type lunch beside the pool.

After a break and a walk along the Ka-anapali Beachwalk, we met up again for a nice dinner with an amazing sunset view at the Plantation House.

23 January 2017

Not By My Will

1 Corinthians 15: 50-57

Traveling today in the hopes of partially fulfilling the wishes of a dear mother.

My dear mother.

She hand-wrote the manner she'd like to have her material body disposed of.

Cremation.

She desired to have her ashes spread over the oceans of the loveliest places she knew while here.

Hawaii and her Cuba.

I was quite surprised when I read her will.

She made several copies of what she wrote on memo-sized lined paper in her near-perfect cursive writing, and mailed a copy to her children.

Some people never lose their penmanship over the years, others (me) begin writing hieroglyphics as soon as they leave school...sometimes having difficulty deciphering their own writing (me again).

Included in her will were a few short paragraphs outlining the manner she desired having her funeral; the music, certain colors, who would preside over the formalities and directives for her ashes.

She didn't realize there wouldn't be a coffin when cremation was the choice.

This was a curve ball that my sisters and I considered while at-bat before the mortician.

The mortician gladly offered an empty coffin for the showing (at an extra cost, of course).

Blue was her color.

Specifically; baby blue.

The urn was going to be a hue of this baby blue.

Tom Jones was her favorite singer.

I grew to like Tom's voice over the years, hearing it quite often in the car and at home growing up.

One of my first journeys into wealthier surroundings as an adolescent was accompanying my mom to a Jones Girls (Tom Jones fan club) gathering at a fancy abode atop the Palos Verdes peninsula (middle-upper class southern California location).

After the funeral church service we heard hit after hit of Tom Jones at the dinner while watching a montage from our mother's past.

I think everyone cried at least once during that journey through her visual past.

So now as I fly over the Pacific Ocean while gazing at whitecaps from a height of 36,000 feet, I wonder if I will get emotional when we finally attempt to follow through with her wishes in Hawaii.

I write the words 'attempt' and earlier 'partially fulfilling' in reference to my mother's wishes because sometimes things don't always come about as we personally would like them to... or according to the wishes of those we love.

I am a stickler for following the rules (most of the time).

I'm definitely a serious person when it comes to following orders / directions.

Fulfilling what someone close to my heart desires, or someone my heart desires to please (which can be all of humanity with very few exceptions), is very important to me.

My mother had very concise, simple and specific desires when she wrote out that will.

She wrote her will when she still had the capacity to comprehend thoughts long enough to write them clearly into written words and while still being able to formulate spoken words.

My mother's frontal lobes deteriorated into nothingness over the years, rendering her closed-off from expression and speech...eventually affecting her eating.

Her will was to not be attached to life prolonging devices...so after she ceased eating, it was less than a week before she was released.

When an older sibling decided to adjust my mother's wishes to appease the dogmatic ideas of the world's leading religion, I had an important choice to make.

Do I lean on my legalistic tendencies, or continue to keep the peace with my sibling?

Do I argue about how anything men consider beyond the direction from Above (theology) is of little consequence, or do I build upon bettering relations with my beloved sibling?

My mother's eternal fate is not bound by the manner a death ritual is conducted.

Whether a body is eaten by fish after a seafaring accident, or by an animal on land, or blown to bits in outer space or extinguished by the flames of an inferno...the eternal abode of that person's spirit is not dependent on such material varieties.

Some of the earliest believers were burned alive, torn apart by animals, cut to pieces and suffered many other manners of death.

In many instances, the church had no means to recover the bodies of their dearly departed.

Was the manner of their death, or the inability to recover the body, or the inability of a man to do certain things in the presence of the body a salvation issue?

Of course not.

What does arise in the heart after death is witnessed is doubt about the spirit's eternal abode.

Faith.

There is a part that men have been given; a small role in presiding over death.

After death was dealt a deathblow, man's role is about comforting people.

Comfort for those still breathing, not so much for the dearly departed (but this, as any religious topic, is highly contentious).

Man's absence (and the absence of that small role) holds no bound on the eternal trajectory of the soul.

There is a process after death for those either heaven-bound and hell-ward...unseen by most eyes.

How this process specifically comes about is not a widespread disclosure, yet many opinions exist that cause people to doubt, and differ in suspicion, and thus compels people to perform certain acts.

Speaking about these things, it is similar to not seeing a butterfly leaving its cocoon.

We only see the cocoon; remnant of a prior life.

There were some instances the 'butterfly' was witnessed after leaving the death cocoon.

What is of utmost importance is not 'knowing' the details, but peacefully abiding along with the collective in order to keep peace and comfort the understandings of others.

The proceedings after the fact (of death) is more of a process for those left behind; the still breathing sojourners on earth.

It is for myself and my dear siblings what my mother wrote in her will.

It is for our heart's peace and the calming of our minds.

It is for our enjoyment; the fellowship from breaking bread together while recalling the many good works our dear mother did for us.

It is an opportunity for communion; giving thanks over the body of yet another one of His children.

The 'life' after death on earth is for those still looking heavenward in wonderment of how our dearly departed are now existing.

What must their daily itinerary be like?

I wonder if my mother has a new favorite color or a new favorite singer...perhaps one of the singing angels of light is now her favorite.

What color is light?
I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 
   “Where, O death, is your victory? 
        Where, O death, is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Yeshua Christ. 
- 1 Corinthians 15: 50-57  

Read the continuation of the journey

20 January 2017

El Chapo Meets Donald Trump

Luke 16: 19-31

Here is a tale of two billionaires.

One still enjoys his fortune, the other's fortune has been lost.

The eternal abode of both souls cannot be guessed at by human opinion, although many people give their judgmental opinions about each.

Both are now receiving government perks, but in very different ways.

This is not an article to vilify one man while honoring another (either direction).

This is an article to highlight what is one day called 'legal' or lawful can another day be found to be illegal or unlawful.

One man is accused of inciting violence against his competitors, the other man is also accused of inciting violence against his competitors.

Men write human laws and laws can change according to many factors, one being public sentiment (how people feel about something).

What you agree to be right and true may be considered wrong and false by another person.

Perhaps we can look at people and things firstly by definition and secondly according to what is relatively true or false.

One man's truth is another man's fiction, yet man's law attempt to clarify what is right and wrong every day...with the opinion sliding consistently.

This week in Amerikan culture and news, the U.S. government inducts an individual as its new president; arguably the highest public seat and strongest office on earth.

Also in Amerikan culture and news, another individual is also inducted into a position of sorts; a drug cartel boss extradited to a U.S. prison receives a prisoner's number.

The methods that both men amassed their billionaire fortunes have been questioned.

One of the commodities the drug lord traded in (cannabis / marijuana) is continuing its road to legal status in almost every state of the U.S. union.

The business allowances (ability to file bankruptcy, leverage taxable income, etc.) by one of the individuals has been highly criticized, yet these allowances are 'legal' according to U.S. law.

Historically, the ways mankind conducts 'business' have changed.

One day in a certain place, the idea of capitalism went from being legal and allowed to illegal and outlawed.

Another day in another place, the idea of communism went from being legal and allowed to illegal and outlawed.

These changes are witnessed when ideological sides trade places.

We can see a natural plant being outlawed in one century, and being legalized in another.

We can read about greed through market consolidation being dealt with by government means, and that same greed being somehow allowed by the same government in another era.

What is labeled a monopoly at one time, can be labeled another term some time later.

The same set of laws that allowed both men to become wealthy are also questioned as their effectiveness in restricting the challenges our collective consciousness struggles with: greed, power, morals and ethics.

In certain countries, all forms of drugs (and use) have been decriminalized...yet there still exists the business of meeting supply to the demand.

In some countries, private property is not a right legislated by a government body, but something only enjoyed if one has the strength to keep it.

Here is a list, according to a defined scale, of property rights and supported government legislation of property.

One thing that can always be counted on my man's opinions, their laws and their governments is change.

Change is a constant in nature, so why would change not be present with mankind's endeavor and attitude?

The key is how any individual adapts to change.

The business model of today's prisoner is becoming a vehicle of wealth creation for others according to new laws.

The morality and specific use of money, drugs, legislation and the rest of it, is according to an individual's perception and idea of what is right vs what is wrong.

18 January 2017

Picking Up The Clues

Ezekiel 34: 17-19

Observation is how science deciphers and attempts to understand the world; all that is in it and outside of it.

Through observation, the human can silently contemplate.

And although we may interpret the world through an anthropomorphic manner (seeing all things relating to and through a humanistic perception), doing so can be a first step to finding out deeper meanings...even in what may seem mundane.

In my opinion, physically speaking there is nothing more important on the planet than the human being.

I say this not to put human endeavors before the rest of creation.

Man has a great responsibility being the steward, manager and keeper of the planet, its resources and the abundance of life.

By observation of the world we can contemplate the life within us when reflecting ourselves onto the world.

We can absorb the world onto our consciousness and learn silent lessons.

On my way to one of my working and social locations today (a local coffee shop I both work and chat with friends), an interesting discovery was found on my path; a severed pigeon's foot on the sidewalk in front of a neighbor's house.

There is a sizable community of cats in the neighborhood, several having arrived with their human servants.

I wonder if it was the cat residing at this particular house that made a meal out a pigeon.

Maybe it was one of the three who hang out on the neighboring porch.

One of those three is a recent squatter from another home.

He's a tramp.

He muscled his way onto that porch that was previously occupied by two neutered male cats.

I chat with the homeowner on occasion and she's done all she could short of physically running off the newcomer.

She says she can tell the squatter isn't neutered.

In current street vernacular: he is making punks of the other two cats.

She leaves out a food dish for her two cats in the morning, and that new cat intimidates the neutered cats and has his fill.

I see him at other homes, making his way from house to house as if he is the top cat on the block.

Maybe he is.

You are what you think you are, correct?

Yes and no...

The consciousness of humanity tells them they truly are the stewards, managers and keepers of the earth around them.

The earth feeds us, sustains us and keeps us.

Man understands enough not to soil where he eats, and that his waste returns to him if that waste is not recycled and 'cleaned' in a proper way.

The salty oceans have a filtration system, along with the evaporation of water condensing and falling as waters the world over.

Man has observed and learned from his observation of the world around him.

Man is the earth's top cat.

And man learns the hard way when his tramping upon the earth realizes a harsh natural response.

It is better to receive corrective response from other humans.

Man, like that tramping cat, knows to move onto other places to derive food...or figure out new ways to derive an income to feed oneself.

A meal out of a pigeon has its time and place for a tramping cat.

A singular diet of pigeons for all cats would render pigeons extinct, and nutritional limits for cats.

I don't think the cats nor the pigeons know this, but we can understand this simply from prior observations and learning from those who preceded us.

Does the human know their role?

Does the human think their singular diet of ________ (fill in the blank of an obsessive ambition) is sustainable?

The earth is a wonderful place, full of wonderment and with many lessons to learn.

Let us learn what nature is telling us about ourselves, our efforts...and let us learn to do our part and know our place.

After all, you don't put on the same soiled pants day after day...and having the same pigeon meal can get old and unhealthy after a while.

16 January 2017

Picking Up After Others


I am one of those people who gets angry when I see someone throw their trash on the ground.

If I see something out of place as I go about my business, I either physically do something about it, or ponder in my mind if I should.

Along the path I traverse a home where the owner filled the space between the sidewalk and the street with pebbles and small rocks.

Every so often a rock or two find their way onto the sidewalk.

I take a moment and kick them back to where they belong.

I am that guy.

At the nearby park, a tree fell recently (most likely from being waterlogged from all the rain).

The city cut it down to the stump.

Some of the walking pavement was pulled up by the tree's roots.

The city put four caution markers along with some caution tape around the area, and the tape somehow falls to the ground.

I take a few seconds and wrap the tape around the tops of the cones.

That's me.

I'm sure a psychiatrist somewhere has already labeled my actions as something needing a prescription they receive an incentive to prescribe ;), but is it a 'problem' that I desire to see order in life?

Maybe this is what happens when one is getting older, for I think I do remember old people doing these exact things.

The desire in seeing things done properly, found in their proper place and according to a sub-conscience expectation hasn't always been in me.

There was a time I didn't care if my trash made it into a can.

I wasn't aware of where trash goes when left laying in the street.

As my time on this planet increases, so does my will to grow wiser and learn something new.

I don't have it in mind to leave a better place for the next generation.

Not that such an idea is a good one.

And it isn't that I'm wondering if God will judge me about picking up my trash or that of others, or straightening out what others twist out of place (the latter is arguable depending on what has been twisted).

But the cycle of life seems too obvious to ignore or dismiss.

The thought of not doing what is right when one already knows what is right, or better, is bothersome to me.

Perhaps this is by Design.

I don't take pride in it, I don't think.

But I'm sure there is a psychologist out there that has just the term for this obsession with seeing things done right; having a conscience.

13 January 2017

I Am Christian

Matthew 4: 19

It isn't a popular thing to be a Christian...unless you are among actual Christians.

What is a Christian as opposed to another term?

Where did the term “Christian” originate and in what context was it mentioned?
… The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 
- Acts 11: 26b
As the Gospel spread throughout both Jewish and Gentile neighborhoods and regions of that time's empire, the outsiders would come up with names and labels for those adhering to the teachings of Him who is called Christ.

The Gospel message is foreign to those who are not touched in their hearts by Him who is from Above.

The Acts 11 verse may be the earliest historical mention of the term.

A second mention is found later in Acts in chapter 26:
Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” 
- Acts 26: 28
Agrippa was an earthly Gentile king, and becoming a Christian was not a popular thing...especially for a man of wealth, power and position.

Being a Christian was seen from the outside as a stigma contrasting society's popular tastes.

A third mention is found in this context:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the Name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that Name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the Gospel of God? 
- 1 Peter 4: 12-17
To bear the brand of Christ was, and still is, to invite insult, ridicule, contentment and possible death.

Today, Christians are still being put to death, not for being rebellious or criminals, but simply for what they believe in and how they live their lives.

Persecution was promised by Christ to His followers, not as a test from Him per-say (although this is evident), but also as a warning.

Imagine a flame atop a candle in a dark and windy world.

The wind can be viewed as constantly attempting to put out the flame.

That wind can also be seen as blowing wildly and doing as it has always done; whipping up storms, dust and trouble for all who feel it.

The darkness, in contrasting the light, always desires to envelope the light.

It is the nature of darkness to stay dark, and attempt to snuff out the light.

So when Christ says to His followers the following, consider what is being spoken to your heart:
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. 
- Matthew 5: 14-16
It is no surprise, then, that a Christian realizes hate when they succeed, or judgment from those who have their own definition of righteousness, when the Christian is actually called to let their light shine.

Talents, gifts, abilities while confessing their humanity and glorifying God for His love, grace and forgiveness.

We see that the disciples were called Christians...so let us look at what a disciple of Christ is.

Another definition of “disciple” (aside from being a follower of Christ) is simply a 'follower' and/or 'student'.

So when looking at what a disciple of Christ is, we are looking at students, followers and imitators of Christ.

Christ is the Great Teacher, and His students are always learning about Him, about the world He created and our role in the image He made for us.
Then Yeshua said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what they have done. 
- Matthew 16: 24-27
Part of being a student and follower of Christ is to deny oneself and carry one's cross.

We see why: “whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it”.

What do you suppose it means to deny yourself?

Is it denying oneself of what is honestly and purely good?
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from Above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the Word of Truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created. 
- James 1: 16-18
Perhaps it means denying oneself the corruption (and being corrupted) by a depraved and fallen world:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. 
- Romans 12: 1-2
What are some specific things one must deny themselves of in order to bear their cross?
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 
- 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11
You can see that God accepts those who repent, deny themselves and carry the cross of their past sins when it says “and that is what some of you were”.

It is very possible, for those who have received the Spirit of power from Above into their lives, to overcome the world and its dark desires:
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Yeshua before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Yeshua, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 
- 2 Timothy 1: 6-10
Suffering is not due to being a rebel, or an insubordinate to the order of life on earth, but in aiming for perfection as He is Perfect.

The suffering is not only overcoming the weakness of the flesh, but the intimidations of wicked men who, for some dark ethereal reason, dislike with great hatred the righteousness the chosen exemplify as they imitate and follow their Lord and Savior, Yeshua Christ.

The wicked, who are moved by the darkness and winds of this world, use their religions, philosophies and contemporary ideas in an attempt to stamp out what God has established on the earth.
All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or Me. 
- John 16: 1-3
But we have a promise that is greater than any suffering, any earthly title and accolade that awaits us in full while being experienced in part:
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 
- James 1: 12
Being a student, follower, imitator and thus disciple of Christ is what God has called all mankind to be and become.

THIS is the purpose that God had in mind when He created you...to be just like He is.

11 January 2017

Way To Salvation Part Three

Acts 16: 31-34

We can help, but some still question and sometimes doubt: 'how' God works and 'how' our own salvation is realized.

There is much confusion in the religious world, and within the Christianity expressed today, regarding salvation and what man's mind can understand about God's salvation.

We learned in Part One of the Way to Salvation, the idea of salvation varies according to what people understand within their context of the world, religious upbringing and philosophical rendering.

Considering that the ideology of Christianity has permeated all corners of the world (and continues to), and with this effort the concept of salvation, grace, inclusion, love and peace being perpetuated ad infinitum in His Name, let us continue with how salvation has been understood since Christ testified to being salvation Himself.

In Part Two, we find that the Name revealed from Above literally means “salvation” and “to rescue”.

In a separate article, infant baptism's reality is explained.

In this third article on the subject of salvation, we include the established practice of infant / child baptism as originally ordained and established by God in mirroring His prior covenant.

The practice of ushering a new covenant member into the church, even as a child, is through baptism.

This practice mirrors the practice of circumcision under the previous covenant; the manner God commanded entrance into that covenant.

We should remember that infant baptism was never challenged until 1400 years after the fact.

John the Baptist was the final prophet of the prior age; the Old Covenant under the law of Moses.

What was the role of John the Baptist as described via a prophetic message through his father Zechariah?
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; 
   for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for Him, 
    to give His people the knowledge of salvation 
   through the forgiveness of their sins, 
because of the tender mercy of our God, 
   by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
     to shine on those living in darkness 
   and in the shadow of death, 
to guide our feet into the path of peace.” 
- Luke 1: 76-79

- to give His people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins

The knowledge of salvation began with John the Baptist.

John the Baptist seems to have recognized that Jesus didn't need to repent of any sin, thus why John doubted needing to baptize the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit:
Then Yeshua came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 
Yeshua replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. 
As soon as Yeshua was baptized, He went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.” 
- Matthew 3: 13-17
Christ taught a great lesson in humility when expressing the fulfilling of all righteousness.

We can also see what God had purposed by having the Christ baptized, the sign and the testimony.

After Christ was baptized, He taught Nicodemus (a religious teacher and ranking member of the priesthood):
Yeshua replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” 
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” 
Yeshua answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” 
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. 
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Yeshua, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? 
- John 3: 3-12
We can see that salvation, and entrance into the new covenant, the kingdom of God, is a heavenly matter and a matter of heavenly understanding.

Thus why obedience to the Way, and following and imitating Christ in all things, is key.

One cannot fathom the manner one is “born again” unto God, yet we can read there is a water part as there is a spirit part.

One part is done by men, the other part by God Himself...as we can read John the Baptist explain prior to baptizing Christ:
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes One who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 
- Matthew 3: 11
Man does have, and can only do, his part.

It is up to God, and God's choice, for the other and greater part.

The manner 'how' or 'when' God's part comes isn't always perceivable by man's eyes.

Sadly, some think by babbling incoherent words means the Spirit is speaking (and a baptism by the Spirit has occurred), but such is not always the case.

What is noticed is a mimicking and attempt to reenact prior occurrences.

The Gospel testimony, letters and further writings show this was not the case with every conversion, whether after a baptism or after people heard the Gospel message and believed.

Salvation comes down to following Christ in all His steps as He traversed the earth; following in humility and obedience His Perfect Example, as He exemplified in humility and obedience to God.

We can see John's water baptism for repentance was carried over into the new age of Christ, the age of grace and truth.

We see there is a water part, which is man's duty to perform and thus "pass through the waters" (1 Peter 3: 21), and then there is God's election and choice of baptizing His children (what man cannot decide for himself or enact on His own) – the grace of God which no man can merit unto themselves.

And what occurs with the water aside from repenting from sin?
And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His Name.’ 
- Acts 22: 16
Are sins actually “washed away” as one would wash away dirt off and away from the skin?

What is actually happening? (if we can attempt to understand the mystery of heavenly things)
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, He went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Yeshua Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to Him. 
- 1 Peter 18: 22
- He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit

- in it [the ark] only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water

- and this water [the flood waters] symbolizes baptism that now saves you also

- not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God

- it saves you by the resurrection of Yeshua Christ

Notice that baptism isn't simply an “outward sign of an inward grace” or a similar humanistic explanation based on man's logic, but something truly heavenly and according to God's order.

Notice how baptism “now saves you” by the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.

We can clearly read how salvation is tied to baptism in water.

Who can argue against what God has commanded, or what Christ exemplified and later revealed through His Holy Spirit?

In short, salvation is as simple as following and living as Yeshua did (your small part of obedience).

In short, salvation is accepting what God has done, provided and promised (His part making you alive).

The first 'thing' Christ did was get baptized...and accepted what God had ordained.

It can be argued that Peter was the first prophet of the new age after John the Baptist (after of course Christ being the Prophet mentioned by Moses).

What did Peter command after the people asked “brothers, what shall we do?” when they realized their sins contributed to Christ being crucified?
“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Yeshua, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the Name of Yeshua Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 
- Acts 2: 36-39
- repent and be baptized...in the Name of Yeshua Christ for the forgiveness of your sins

Turning away (repenting) from the pride of one's heart in thinking you know better than what God has provided, or established, is essential.

Repenting from the sin of disbelief in the simplicity of what God has provided is also essential.

Here is the Mystery of the heavenly things come to fruition:
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through your faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. 
- Colossians 2: 9-15
Here we read how the circumcision which is from Above, by the Spirit and by the hand of God, not men, is performed.

This is why it is written:
For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which He has given about His Son. 
- 1 John 5: 7-9
We see God has loosened the Way in reflecting the prior model of the physical things into a spiritual reality that is made simple, through humility before Him and men.

The faith is when men realize who they are (lost, sinful and lacking God) and God showing men what He has done...and are baptized in His Holy Name.

The grace is what God has allowed for your children and for all who are far off...and are baptized in His Holy Name.

May God grant you insight into His Mystery, causing His Holy Spirit to also live within you by faith, by grace; by the order He has established...in His Holy Name.

10 January 2017

Goo Goo Gaa Gaa

1 Corinthians 13: 11

Met a gentleman and his 10-month old son today.

We shared an insightful conversation about married life and the adjustments a man must make when moving onto next chapters of life.

I learned a great deal in not only asking questions about child care, but also about growing along with an addition to the family.

We share a similar background and current dynamics.

After I answered his question about my current occupation, he mentioned several authors whose writings helped him bring new approach to life.

He shared about a the writer Eiji Yoshikawa who wrote a story about a warrior swordsman that one day decided to become a farmer.

He was horrible at farming, not knowing much about farming nor how to apply his previous work experiences to growing food.

Other farmers would pass by laughing at his dismal failure.

But the warrior-turned-farmer didn't allow failure or criticism to cause him to quit.

He began to look at the new surroundings, the landscape, and applied what he did know about being a warrior to farming.

A warrior is always aware of his surroundings and uses what is around him to his advantage.

The warrior doesn't try to change his surroundings, but rather incorporates their surroundings into their strategy.

The warrior becomes a student and learns from the environment, going along with the challenges, not trying to oppose the challenges as one would suppose.

Like the Bruce Lee quote: 

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”

My new friend shared with me how this warrior began to work with the terrain, learning which way the wind blows, the contours of the land and the direction and speed of the river...all to his advantage.

In due time, by adapting to the surroundings (and not desiring to make the surroundings submit to his way), the warrior soon became a more successful farmer than his peers who previously ridiculed him.

The warrior brought a new perspective to farming that had not been realized before.

What sparked this response from my new friend was my comment that when I married my wife, I had to put much of my pride aside in order to adjust to my wife, who is now a singular part of me.

I mentioned how he must have also done an adjustment of sorts to welcome his baby boy into the world.

He shared with me how, instead of trying to make his child adjust to his or his wife's time schedule, he and his wife instead learned to observe their child for changes in mood; hunger, sleepiness, diaper changing, etc.

He explained how in adjusting to others, and new situations, their home is a happier and more peaceful place.

I learned once again that the journey of personal growth is like a continual peeling away at an onion...and we are like an onion.

Mankind was created to grow, to learn, to thrive and to peel away what doesn't work.

Just like peeling away at an onion, tears may come, but the outer layers need to be removed in order to get to what is palatable.

I remarked, as Wisdom would show the student, how children are truly a blessing in so many ways.

09 January 2017

I Am Jewish

John 15: 5 ... Romans 11: 17

There is a perception of favoritism when considering the Hebrew / Jewish heritage and the rest of mankind.

It is a high claim to state that God, the very Creator of mankind and all things, chose and invited a particular man into a personal relationship with Him.

An invitation into a relationship that would last with that man for as long as he walked the earth and also with his descendants forever.

An eternal relationship (if a human mind can comprehend eternity).

The bible's Old Testament mentions that all of mankind derived from a single man (Adam in Genesis).

The entire world is currently populated from the progeny of Adam and Eve, through the family line of Noah, his wife, and his three sons and daughter-in-laws.

Science has finally caught up to this Noah family reality in their study of DNA and the definition of mitochondrial Eve.

However, jealousy is a very real feeling when any people sense they are outside the circles of revelation, or favor.

This is the great controversy that Islam claims against Judaism.

Traditional Islam claims it was Ishmael who was chosen, not Isaac... that it was Ishmael who was to be sacrificed to God, not Isaac.

Yet, it was through Isaac's progeny whom God developed and furthered His relationship with Abraham.

Where are the ancient testimonies, the written scrolls and the prophecies and fulfillments that came through Ishmael?

There is no such thing offered or evidenced.

It was from Isaac (and his son Jacob) that God produced the nation of Israel, and all subsequent inspired writings, temple worship, and the eventual Messiah (God with us).

It was through the remnant of Israel that God weaved the secular world into His spiritual kingdom...and the world has come closer.

It was through the first Jewish believers in Christ Yeshua as Lord and God of all that sparked a movement that would eventually overcome the kingdoms of men; the church of Christ.

This is a matter of fact, of historical lineage and reality.

With this honor came also the greatest responsibility, the highest calling and the strictest set of laws for proper living in the prior age and covenant.

The Jews received the greatest honor any particular tribe or family group could receive.

Certain people still identifying as Jews, while some not believing that Yeshua is the / their Messiah, are still tasked with a very great responsibility in managing world and secular affairs.

The Jews have been lifted above the nations of the earth, as God has predestined for them.

And some people hate this reality, and confusingly cannot see what God has established in granting the world's inheritance to such as these (as was promised).

So how does one find themselves also part of the chosen people of God, considering the salvation also promised to the Jews (and the world) comes from the Jews?
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 
“Woman,” Yeshua replied, “believe Me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for Salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 
- John 4: 19-24
Some would say since they were not born Jewish, they don't have hope to be included into the promises God gave to Abraham's progeny.

Does one then have to become a Jew?

Yes and no.

Yes, but not as you would suppose.

No, also not as you would suppose.

An encouraging mystery is revealed here when considering the entirety of mankind who has existed outside of the knowledge of the revealed Christ:
God “will repay each person according to what they have done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. 
All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) This will take place on the Day when God judges people’s secrets through Yeshua Christ, as my gospel declares. 
- Romans 2: 6-16
Notice that all of mankind will be judged through Christ (the secrets of their hearts revealed in Christ).

Notice also that even those who were never born “Jewish” will be judged according to the rules and cultural expectations that existed wherever they existed (apart from the 'law' and according to their own law).

As to the Jewish identity, we can read an even greater mystery regarding how those who believe in Christ.

The Messiah to Israel is the same Messiah to the rest of Noah's descendants and are also called and conformed into the family that God started with Adam, Noah and Abraham:
Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Yeshua you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 
For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by One Spirit. 
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Yeshua Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. 
- Ephesians 2: 11-22
So although I may not have a direct lineage to Hebrew / Jewish parents, aside from maybe Ishmael's lineage back to Abraham, I do have the same lineage that you have: from Noah and Adam.

My lack of being born under the law of Moses, or into a recent lineage of Jewish ancestry as my dear wife is, does not disqualify me from the promises God made to Abraham my distant forefather.

This is the hope for all of mankind; that all of mankind does indeed come from the family that God has established...and that all of humanity is called into God's family.

Unfortunately not all will find themselves as part of the holy family of God.

Why and why not?
The true Light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. 
- John 1: 9-13
So I (and you if / when you believe) have been made a member of Israel, not as one could have done so by their own will, but according to God's will and choice over our life.

I (and you if / when you believe) have been grafted into His holy kingdom of Israel.

I (and you if / when you believe) have been made a “Jew” not by a physical circumcision done by a man's hand, but by the spiritual circumcision of the heart performed by God's right hand.

All who, along with me (and you if / when you believe), and so many others the world over, throughout all generations, have been brought under the familial tent of Israel; the chosen family God had since eternity desired to manifest on earth, as He had created them in heaven.

08 January 2017

I Am “Muslim”

Proverbs 4: 27
Sometimes when people hear me talking about God and people's religions, I'm asked “are you Muslim?”

It must be the beard.

Maybe it is the psychology in mass media that pushes fear and promotes the conversion to Islam as an answer to western hegemony.

Maybe it is also how I am heard; not pushing the divisive narrative but speaking towards a unity that dissolves the mindset of 'east vs west' or 'religion vs religion'.

To the question of being a Muslim, I sometimes answer “yes, I am Muslim” in order to open the door to dialogue and an explanation of what words mean.

Sadly, I sometimes initially see fear or suspicion in people's eyes when hearing my response.

But I am quick to follow up with a lesson of words so they don't misunderstand and lose heart.

I explain what the term “Islam” means, and also the term “Muslim” and how these are derived from the word for “peace” (salaam) and “submission” (aslama).

I explain how I am both at peace and in full submission to both God and man.

I then explain how there was a Man who exemplified peace and submission as no other man before or after Him.

I explain it is because of Christ that I am at peace, and have peace in my heart and mind...exemplified in my flesh and my actions.

I go further, depending on how the conversation develops, if at all.

I explain it is because of how Christ reacted to persecution, and what He accomplished on the cross, that I can follow His example and be fully submitted to God in all things, and also submit to men and their evil inclinations.

There has been a war for your heart, mind and soul since man was fashioned from the clay / dust of the earth.

All of us are behind enemy lines physically speaking, but to those in the light; we are the very temple God lives in and has established on earth via the kingdom of His Son.

Our very bodies are sanctuaries, for us and for others.

The words that speak His inspiration forward the kingdom in ways not easily perceived by fleshly eyes.

To proclaim the risen Christ – Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of all mankind (those who are sanctified by God's choice and grace) – is cause for consternation for those whose heart and minds have yet to be touched by God's right hand.

However, we see a perfect peace and full submission to God in the Son of Man; the Christ.

Submission is a difficult idea to ponder, for it is perceived as weakness and somehow allowing others to get away with something, or have their way over you.

As some forms of Islam would have it, the idea of submitting to men is contradictory to the call in the Quran to 'fight in the way of Allah' (or do whatever is necessary to provide defense and temporal justice for oneself and others).

This is where the physical fails to explain the spiritual.

Submission to a violent man isn't accepting their wickedness, but resigning one's dependence on God, not oneself.

Being at peace and not responding to violence with violence is not illogical, it is the teaching of staying righteous in the face of evil:
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. 
- Matthew 5: 43-48
Being perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect also means not being tempted by evil by becoming a violent man when confronted by evil.

To promote 'peace' and 'submission' while failing to actually stay at peace is to contradict the very definition of these words, revealing the difference man's religion and God's Way.

Understandably, it is difficult to fault the idea of justifying violence for violence done when the human examples are violent.

Where in the Gospel teaching is violence a proper response to violence?

It does not exist, as we can read in Matthew 5.

What else does the teaching of righteousness say:
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 
- Matthew 5: 38-41
We believe that the law, and its requirements, were fulfilled in Christ.

Yet, not everyone believes or understands this, so the law is still at work in their hearts and minds, having not perceived that the new age of grace and love has been firmly established by God through Christ.

The method of carnal justification is clearly taught in the sources that claim to be at peace and in submission to God (those who identify with being a Muslim and living in Islam).

The opportunity to mention “identity” is key when explaining what a Muslim is supposed to be.

Explaining and showing how this identity, based on carnal inspirations written down as poetry and believed to be from Above, contradicts the very definition of the word.

It is difficult for people who do not know God according to God's revelation, but according to outside perception, to identifying with 'who' and 'what' God is.

Thus why religious methods are employed and human rules are instituted.

Religion teaches people that they can know God, or understand God, by doing certain external religious activities (like praying at a certain time, or physically in a certain manner, and other external things).

Religion teaches that by following the methods of men that one can be 'good' or achieve a righteousness of sorts, or have one's good deeds hopefully outweigh one's misdeeds.

But when righteousness is rejected for the methods of violence, how can righteousness be recognized for who He became?

Does peace come to one's heart, mind and body according to certain external methods?

The religious would argue 'yes'.

So would those who desire an esoteric way of life, but is peace truly found in these people or methods?

The answer will be made evident when the individual is put to a test.

Will the individual lash out and reflect what evil is doing to them?

Or will the individual exemplify peace when confronted by violence, indifference or some form of attack?

Will the individual reflect God as expressed through Christ?

Or will the individual reflect a man's carnal impulse and earthly justification for force and violence?

So when I answer the question of whether I am a Muslim, I say both “yes” and “no”.

Yes I am a Muslim according to the very definitions of that word and the words that have provided a meaning to that word.

No I am not a Muslim according to what has been developed from certain Muslim's ideas of who and what God is, and the man who proclaimed himself to be a prophet of God, but has been shown to actually deny the message of Christ and is, by definition, shown to anti-Christ according to his poetry, his actions and the witnesses around him.

Does God really need me, or a man, to be violent in order to defend God or His message?

Hasn't God called us to be at peace, like the Son He revealed from Above was always at peace even in the face of death?

How can God be revealed and depended on if I, or a man, were to act upon our own carnal instincts, but not on the perfect example of Jesus Christ?

One is either from below, or from Above.

Those from Above know and understand peace, and thus are exactly what the term “Muslim” desires to exemplify...for they stay at peace no matter what happens to them.

There are many 'Muslims' who are actually Christians, and there are many 'Christians' who are actually Muslims.

There are also many who do not identify with either of these two seemingly opposed ideologies, yet are called heavenward as sons and daughters of God... and they shall identify as being children of God instead of weak ideologies.

I am grateful that none of us are judged according to our faulty identity attachments, but according to what has been gifted us and what we've done with such gifts...and these gifts are given from God, not from ourselves.

06 January 2017

Mistakes In The Gospel Message?

Proverbs 1: 7

The Gospel message (and letters) is clear, but heresies have attempted to challenge the message's clarity since the 1st century.

The Way has many adherents, though the manner of following can come into sharp disagreement due to man's limited understanding, preconceived prejudices and schools of thought.

And depending on the hearer or reader, any phrase or sentence may mean many different things to someone...for the Truth speaks to where an individual is currently, and whether they are ready or called to 'hear' the message in the first place.

The Life represented in following God has a variety of manifestations, all holding a similitude in regards to a loving and peace-filled heart, while flourishing through many facets by which it is witnessed.

Before Christ appeared, several opposing groups grew around specific interpretations of the Old Testament's message.

How can this occur?

The same issues that befall men Today have befallen them throughout time and history: pride, arrogance, ideology, identity and so many other character defects.

Much like the drama that unfolded in the Garden of Eden, God's Word has long been questioned... and doubts have manifested, twisting the intended message and confounding meanings for others.

To ask questions isn't the issue, nor is the search for answers always a sign of doubt.

Some religions have social rules against the asking of many questions, while other groups encourage all questions to be asked.

Practically every question has an answer.

It is the person's heart, the one who is asking the question, that may determine for themselves if the answer is acceptable, true or satisfying to their question.

The answer may be absolutely true (from Truth's wisdom), but not every heart or mind can perceive the truth, let alone have the capacity to acknowledge what is true while doubting or not being able to accept the truth.

Although all of mankind may not perceive the truth, man's lack of understanding does not render the truth to be false, but simply unknown to them.

Something unknown to mankind does not mean it is false.

Today so many new interpretations of the Old and New Wine, the Old and New Covenant messages, have been considered in an effort to reconcile what man's logic cannot fully comprehend...again according to myopic interpretations.

Some interpret according to their personal views, or their measure of understanding, or their identity...with very few people at least aiming at an objective interpretation (if a purely unbiased interpretation is actually humanly possible).

Cognitive difficulties have led people to doubt the message itself, but it is the veil over their hearts that prevents them any form of understanding.

Some wonder if the message was 'changed' or tampered with by some scribes at some point in time.

This argument is a typical polemic from outside of what is revealed through Christ, yet no such alteration to the message has been shown to be proven.

A scribal mistake, dually noted in one place but not universally evident in other extant copies, is not evidence of conspiracy, but simply showing an isolated human error.

While some scholars argue over a tittle (and cast a wide net of doubt), other scholars stand in amazement at how the overall message is still very clear (and cast a wider net of faith).

05 January 2017

Way To Salvation Part Two

Romans 2: 28-29

[ read Part One ]

Many definitions and meanings can be derived from a single word, or a name.

What other terms are synonymous (meaning the same) with “salvation”?

See synonyms for “save” (the root of salvation) and “salvation”.

'Yeshua' is a Hebrew word / name which means “to rescue” and “to deliver” and is synonymous with “salvation”.

In the context as an expression, we read:
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the Name Yeshua, because He will save His people from their sins.” 
- Matthew 1: 21
- “He will save His people from their sins”

Keep this question in mind: who are the Messiah's people?

The Jewish definition of the Messiah is of a savior, a rescuer, from both temporal and spiritual fatality.

The Messiah (and His salvation) was promised / prophesied to be revealed prior to the destruction of the second Jerusalem temple.

That temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. and is still in ruins, having had several pagan temples built over its ruins...while Today a pagan temple still stands upon its ruins.

This was allowed by God, bringing to a close the prior age under the law of Moses.

The physical temple was only for a time, under the prior covenant, and Today God's temple is not one built by the hands of men, but something quite different:
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple. 
- 1 Corinthians 3: 16-17
- you yourselves are God’s temple

- you together are that temple


We read from the time after the first temple's destruction and prior to the second's destruction:
“The Lord will lay bare His holy arm 
   in the sight of all the nations, 
and all the ends of the earth will see 
   the salvation of our God.” 
- Isaiah 52: 10 (several centuries before the common era, and Christ being)
- “in the sight of all the nations

- all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.”

This passage should put to rest the notion that only the Jews in the 1st century saw or realized God's salvation.

So who is offered this world-wide salvation?

All the nations and peoples of earth!

Read Isaiah 56 on your own to see how, in the prior covenant, the foreigner and eunuch who trusted in God and followed His law were promised acceptance and an “everlasting name”.

This same promise continues how in the age of Christ.

How so?
“Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!” 
- Acts 28: 28
In Acts 28 we read about the experience the early Apostles had when the Holy Spirit was poured also unto the Gentiles; the salvation long promised to the ends of the earth!

This is the conclusion of this promise to those who, being previously Jewish and under the law, now are proclaiming the light of Christ (and thus carry the light within themselves) to the Gentiles:
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, 
   that My salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” 
- Isaiah 49: 6b
Here is a description of how the 1st century hearers of the Gospel were transformed, and thus 'saved':
In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of His glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of His glory. 
- Ephesians 1: 11-14 (1st century letter)
- “In Him...also chosen...predestined...included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation

- marked in Him with a seal...the promised Holy Spirit...a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance...redemption...”

A lot of revelation in a few sentences, yes, and also a clarifying description how salvation came by way of faith (believing the message of the Gospel) in the 1st century to the first generation of believers / hearers.

Faith is yet another gift bestowed on the individual by God's hand.

A gift isn't so much something an individual can procure on their own outside of God willing it to them.

Let us read an example of how this gift of faith (the allowance to believe) is bestowed on someone:
When Yeshua came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 
“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I Am?” 
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 
Yeshua replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven.
- Matthew 16: 13-17
- “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this [belief / faith in who / what Yeshua is] was not revealed to you by flesh and blood [men, one's own mind], but by My Father in heaven [God's choice and will]”

Let us read how coupled with faith being gifted to us (allowing one to believe and thus obey and act upon this gift of faith), it is over all by God's provision of grace that God has provided salvation:
But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Yeshua, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Yeshua. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. 
- Ephesians 2: 4-9

What else was promised / prophesied to occur when salvation, redemption and Messiah would be revealed?
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals. Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant,” declares the Lord. “In those days people will no longer say, 
‘The parents have eaten sour grapes, 
   and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ 
Instead, everyone will die for their own sin; whoever eats sour grapes—their own teeth will be set on edge. 
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, 
   “when I will make a new covenant 
      with the people of Israel 
    and with the people of Judah. 
It will not be like the covenant 
   I made with their ancestors 
     when I took them by the hand 
   to lead them out of Egypt, 
because they broke My covenant 
   though I was a husband to them,” 
declares the Lord. 
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel 
   after that time,” declares the Lord. 
“I will put My law in their minds 
   and write it on their hearts. 
I will be their God, 
   and they will be My people. 
No longer will they teach their neighbor, 
   or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ 
because they will all know Me, 
   from the least of them to the greatest,” 
declares the Lord. 
“For I will forgive their wickedness 
   and will remember their sins no more.” 
- Jeremiah 31: 27-34
- “I will plant the kingdoms of Israel and Judah with the offspring of people and of animals

- I will watch over them to build and to plant

- I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and...Judah

- not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors...because they broke My covenant

- This is the covenant I will make...after that time..:

- I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts

- they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest

- I will forgive their wickedness

- and remember their sins no more”

It can be derived that this salvation, being revealed in a new covenant (and the prior covenant being fulfilled in Christ), will be written on the minds and hearts of those God chooses.

We can see in the above passage that the individual will be judged before God, not according to their heritage or lineage or group affiliation, but according to their heart and life before God...whether they had written on their heart and mind God's law...or not.

These covenant members, the citizens of God's kingdom, will be with the offspring of those who were to experience the time of redemption with Messiah...and forward from there.

In other words; subsequent generations were to realize the mystery of having God's law imprinted on their minds and hearts.

Yet another phenomenon from and by the hand of God, full of grace and inescapable from truth.

We can read in the Gospel and letters that a time of learning was experienced by those who walked with Christ.

It could then be noticed that the first generation of disciples, having walked with Christ and learned the Way from Him, were the first to have this imprint on their minds and hearts.

Their offspring, both physical and spiritual, would also experience this imprint in greater ways!

This is where the promise of this salvation makes sense when reading:
The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call. 
- Acts 2: 39
In Part Three, we will read how those who were / are far off came to believe, and how God's temple was forever changed and how entrance into His kingdom was loosened while the gate staying ever narrow.