Sunday, December 21, 2008

Just When I Needed It Most...

I am constantly amazed by God's Grace and Mercy. The past couple of weeks I have been struggling spiritually as my resolve to follow Christ has been tested.

Today, in my Sunday School class, God gave me an answer to my recent prayers. I walked in our class late this morning after struggling whether to even go at all. The class was discussing Luke 21:12-17. As we discussed being persecuted for Christ, I realized that if I cannot be faithful to Him in the small trials that I am facing, how am I going to be faithful when the real persecution starts? Or am I going to buckle when being faced with losing a family member or even my own life?

There are people who are currently being persecuted and killed for declaring the word, who continue to stand strong and true to Christ. (See Voice of the Martyrs) And here am I, comfortable in my faith and the minute a negative breeze swings in my direction, I buckle. What good am I then for Christ? What a wake up call for me!

But how gracious and loving is Christ that He would remind me of this. He could have simply let me continue my downward path and let me quit. But no, he gently reminded me that I am His and that the trials that I am facing were promised to me the moment he claimed me as His own. And how much more wonderful that through my trials, a person has come to a better understanding of who God is! Who am I to minimize this victory by selfishly focusing on the trials instead of focusing on God and His Greatness?

"In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?


But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:26-39

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Twilight Follow Up

I wanted to post a follow up regarding my previous post about the book Twilight.

At the time I posted this, I was considering reading the book to understand what the hype is about, but the more I research the book, the less I want to read it. Yes, it is fiction. And yes, if we are teaching our children between good and evil, they will know the difference between fact and fiction.

However, personally, I don’t want to put anything into my mind that will cause me to stumble. And by stumble I mean cause even a momentary doubt or shadow to cross my mind. If I were to read this book, knowing full well that it is about vampires and written by a Mormon. I would be opening myself up to fall once again. This may seem harsh, but is it? Compare it to a Victoria’s Secret ad for a man who is tempted by pornography or to a piece of chocolate cake for a woman who is on a diet.

Satan’s strongest tools are persuasion and tolerance. Persuasion as in persuading a person that evil is not in fact evil (see Isaiah 5). Tolerance as in building up a person’s tolerance for evil. For example: “It is only an apple” (funny how that is the cover of the first Twilight book, isn’t it?) Or “it is only has one/two/three curse word(s).” This quote reminds me of a story I heard on the radio the other day:

Dad's Brownies---Great lesson!!
A father of some teenage children had the family rule that they could not attend PG-13 or R rated movies. His three teens wanted to see a particular popular movie that was playing at local theaters. It was rated PG-13. The teens interviewed friends and even some members of their family's church to find out what was offensive in the movie. The teens made a list of pros and cons about the movie to use to convince their dad that they should be allowed to see it.
The con's were that it contained ONLY 3 swear words, the ONLY violence was a building exploding (and you see that on TV all the time they said), and you actually did not "see" the couple in the movie having sex - it was just implied sex, off camera.
The pros were that it was a popular movie - a block buster. Everyone was seeing it. If the teens saw the movie then they would not feel left out when their friends discussed it. The movie contained a good story and plot. It had some great adventure and suspense in it.
There were some fantastic special effects in this movie. The movie's stars were some of the most talented actors in Hollywood. It probably would be nominated for several awards. Many of the members of their Christian church had even seen the movie and said it wasn't "very bad".
Therefore, since there were more pros than cons the teens said they were asking their father to reconsider his position on just this ONE movie and let them have permission to go see it.
The father looked at the list and thought for a few minutes. He said he could tell his children had spent some time and thought on this request. He asked if he could have a day to think about it before making his decision. The teens were thrilled thinking; "Now we've got him! Our argument is too good! Dad can't turn us down!" So, they happily agreed to let him have a day to think about their request.
The next evening the father called in his three teenagers, who were smiling smugly, into the living room. There on the coffee table he had a plate of brownies. The teens were puzzled. The father told his children he had thought about their request and had decided that if they would eat a brownie then he would let them go to the movie. But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons.
The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate and other good ingredients. They had the added special effect of yummy walnuts in them. The brownies were moist and fresh with wonderful chocolate frosting on top. He had made these fantastic brownies using an award-winning recipe. And best of all, the brownies had been made lovingly by the hand of their own father.
The brownies only had one con. The father had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog poop. But he had mixed the dough well - they probably would not even be able to taste the dog poop and he had baked it at 350 degrees so any bacteria or germs from the dog poop had probably been destroyed.
Therefore, if any of his children could stand to eat the brownies which included just a "little bit of foreign substance" and not be effected by it, then he knew they would also be able to see the movie with "just a little bit of smut" and not be effected. Of course, none of the teens would eat the brownies and the smug smiles had left their faces. Only Dad was smiling smugly as they left the room.
Now when his teenagers ask permission to do something he is opposed to the father just asks, "Would you like me to whip up a batch of my special brownies?" (Copied from the following link:

As one last example about tolerance, simply consider the difference in the shows our parents watched on TV or in the movie theaters compared with today's shows/movies. The topics that were such a big deal when Three's Company was shown on air are no longer even discussed thanks to the show paving the way for shows such as My Two Dads, Friends, or How I Met Your Mother.

Here are a few more links that you may find interesting:

For a fairly decent review of the first book by someone who has read it, see:

This is the author’s blog about how she came up with the idea for the book:

This article is an additional viewpoint about Twilight:

Which links to the following article from my last email (in case you didn't have a chance to read it):

This article is not about Twilight, but I thought it was a good article about discerning how a true work of the Holy Spirit can be distinguished from a false work:

In conclusion, I am quoting the following Bible passages to show a small portion of the Bible’s viewpoint on how Satan operates (please try not to take these verses out of context by applying them to Twilight – in that it is a work of fiction):

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 2 Corinthians 4:1-4

so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes. 2 Corinthians 2:11

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 2 Thessalonians 2:8-10

I would love to hear your viewpoints on this topic!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

God is Great!

Tonight, I am rejoicing in the Lord. He is Great and Mighty to Save. He has worked such a work in my life. He has grasped hold of me and pulled me from the jaws of hell and made me His own. The trifles that I write will never begin to describe His Mighty Goodness. He has led me to His Son, Jesus, who died that I might live. What more is there? Nothing can compare to Him, and for that matter, why would we want to compare Him to anything anyway?

"Ascribe to the LORD, O sons of the mighty,
Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due to His name;
Worship the LORD in holy array.
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters;
The God of glory thunders,
The LORD is over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful,
The voice of the LORD is majestic.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
Yes, the LORD breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
And Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD hews out flames of fire.
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
The LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the deer to calve
And strips the forests bare;
And in His temple everything says, "Glory!"
The LORD sat as King at the flood;
Yes, the LORD sits as King forever.
The LORD will give strength to His people;
The LORD will bless His people with peace. "
Psalm 29

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Mormons and Atonement

Okay, this morning while I was listening to one of my radio podcasts, the host stated that Mormons do not have an atonement. I have to clear this up a bit, because the way that Mormons use the term atonement is different than the way that Christians use the word Atonement. Here is what I was taught about the word atonement:

Atonement: To be "at one" with Christ. I was raised believing that the atonement meant in one aspect, while Jesus was in the garden of Gethsemane, He experienced every sin that anyone has ever committed. This meant that He could sympathize with us and help us through every struggle that we had as we were striving to become perfect. According to the Mormon belief, Jesus took on the sins of all other mortals which caused him to bleed from every pore suffering in both body and spirit. (Mormon's Doctrine and Covenants 19:18, "Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— ")

"We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. " (Mormon's Article of Faith #3)

For an idea of what the Mormons teach, you can review the Atonement of Jesus lesson plan or this more detailed atonement lesson plan on their website.

One thing that struck me as interesting as I was thinking about this earlier, is the fact that according to Mormons, through the atonement, you can become at one with Christ just as He is at one with "Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost" -- Three personages, One purpose.

At this point I need to tell you that even though most of you who read this information will see the fallacies in the teachings, as I delve into the material to post, I struggle to keep Mormon beliefs separated from Christian beliefs. Even now, after being free from the Mormon church, if I spend too much time reviewing their theology, it starts to seem familiar again... remind you of a bible verse? (hint: "familiar spirits").

The things that Mormonism teaches can so easily seem right ("There is a way that seems right to a man..." Proverbs 14:12), but they are fallacies twisted with just enough of the truth to confuse and send you off the narrow way.

I am going to wrap this post up with one last thought about Mormon's beliefs about the atonement... According to Mormon belief, our sins are our spiritual debt and without Jesus we would pay for our sins with a spiritual death. Oh, and one last thing, Mormons believe that Everlasting Torment, etc. is temporary. How do they explain it? Well, Everlasting is a name for God, therefore it is Everlasting's Torment... make sense...?

P.S. for more information, CARM has a great article about Mormons and the Atonement.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving. I will be posting later tonight about Mormons and their view of the Atonement (due to a radio podcast I am listening to this morning).