Sunday, May 27, 2012

Now, Don't Get HYSTERICAL! ~Part I~

via google
Introduction. My friends, today I bring the news to you, and to you alone: we are indeed living in the last few days of earth. Open your eyes, and see! Don't be blind like many others; see the signs all around us! The moments and events of history have been building towards this climactic point for thousands of years, with the spread of Christianity, the increase of science and technology, the alterations of seasons, the rise of war and crime and abounding iniquity. Now the time is ripe. With the tragic events of Sept. 11th and the onslaught of biological warfare still fresh on our minds, a new foe of another world has reared its ugly head of enmity, and openly declared a religious war on our country and our Christ. Our own national leaders and others around the world have frequently spoken of establishing a new word order. The economy is destroying itself. The stage is set. At the close of the last millennium, the predictions failed, and Christ did not come. But I will not fail. I predict that today, you and I are closer to the apocalypse than every before! 

My friends, I speak the truth! It is the time of the end, and at any hour we shall see the final unfolding of that great drama of rapture, as the Lord Jesus returns again on the clouds of heaven to claim us, the ready few. Now you go as my messengers, and proclaim the truth upon the housetops, and in the street corners, if any will hear you. And be ready for impending disaster! Don't be ashamed. "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." Go, and you will not fail if your faith is strong.

If any of you thought to predict that my whole essay was going to be read like this, thankfully you were wrong. I'd feel terrible for anyone who had to sit and listen to it. Folks are also wrong who try to identify the end events of this world, and predict the exact times and seasons before Christ's return. Christ told us clearly, "Until heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law..." and again, "Take heed that no man deceive you.. of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but My Father only." Christians have long had an ever-increasing interest in discovering the mark of the beast, finding fulfilled prophecy, preparing for disaster, and making sure they don't miss the rapture. 

Today, many get stuck in whirlpool of passion for this subject. Such fascination could be described as apocalyptic hysteria, and man's efforts to fulfill God's own prophecies before they really are able to be fulfilled. In this essay, let's review several manifestations of this misfocus in history as Christians became wrapped up in an apocalyptic hysteria of fascination and fear, instead of focussing on the priorities that Christ commande. Finally, I want to emphasize Scripture's proleptic message on the potential for end times hysteria. The Bible is clear enough in outlining the right attitudes and responses to this important topic.

I'd like to uncover the motivations and limitations of apocalyptic hysteria. This spirit can be entirely un-Christina and the tool of the devil to distract us from inner peace and the critical calling God has given us to fulfill. It is the spirit of the world! Just as in the old children's story, Chicken Little was deceived into hysteria thinking the sky was falling and was captured by her enemy, so those who try to know the unknowable can be led into traps of the devil, and become his prey. 

yes, another of my brother's Bible school essays... Part II should be up next Sunday. :) 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Beautiful People - Razivia

And now I'm doing the May edition!  Since, after all, several of you wanted to see more about my stories. ;) 

A little bit of background here... I first met Razivia as she demanded the allegiance of a prisoner who was basically bleeding to death... She was dark and beautiful and utterly evil, and her mocking laughter as she sought to destroy his hope and turn his loyalty to herself caught my attention as no other of my villains had. That story became my favorite so far (NOT because of her), but when I began to write a sort of prequel, wishing to know more about the MC's mother, I found Razivia somehow in that story as well. She was the one who had killed the MC's mother. 

Turns out the two knew each other even before that... and Razivia kept sliding her way into the story, connecting things that left me puzzled, and making the story fit together in ways that completely surprised me. 

Then I began writing the story of a minor character that had appeared in my original story - and Razivia was there too. Only this was Razivia as a child, and suddenly many things in my original story made perfect sense, becoming infinitely more painful as I realized why she was so completely evil. 

The Princess Razivia of Ellasar... as she becomes Nin Vasilissa, ruler of Ellasar, Brynhaven, Taurhassdorien, and Ilmatara...
1. What is their motive? 
Power. Hatred. Revenge. Her motives have changed over the years, but I think revenge has always played some part... as has the desire to never again be helpless and without protection before one stronger than than herself.

2. What are they prepared to do to get what they want? 
Absolutely anything. There is nothing she will not hurt, nothing she will not destroy, so long as her goals are accomplished. Perhaps she will regret it afterwards... to some degree... but probably not for long. She has lost too much for another loss to affect her greatly. 

3. Are they evil to the core, or simply misunderstood? 
I think if someone had stepped in when she was a girl... even when she was a young woman, first obtaining the power that she had dreamed of... but they did not. At this point, it's hard to simply misunderstand someone who is determined to destroy your country simply because she can...

4. What was their past like? What about their childhood? Was there one defining moment that made them embrace their evil ways?
That is what I'm writing now... and it was awful. But her defining moment was the instant she decided to do what she knew was wrong in order to save the life of someone she loved. Sooo many things would have been different had she made another choice... 

5. Now that they’re evil, have they turned their back on everyone, or is there still someone in their life that they care for? (Brother? Daughter? Love interest? Mother? Someone who is just as evil as they are?)
In some twisted way she cares about Avaenestelwen, the girl she has raised to become her sucessor. Yet she would torture her as readily as she would an enemy, if she thought it necessary. Not the kind of care I'd want... 

6. Do they like hugs?
Definitely not now. As a child, of course, everything was different... *cries*

7. Are they plagued by something? (Nightmares, terrible thoughts?) 
I am sure she had nightmares when she was younger... whether they faded as she grew older or, more likely, she found something that enabled her to sleep without dreaming, I do not know. She has a kind of fascination with poisons and medicines...

8. Who are they more similar to: Gollum or Maleficent?
I'd have to say Maleficent... 

9. If your villain could have their choice of transportation what would it be?
Her choices are generally walking or using a litter, though she rides as she does everything, with deadly efficient grace... I think she most prefers walking, because then she is dependent on nothing else but herself. 

10. If you met your villain in the street, how afraid would you be? Are they evil enough to kill their creator?
It depends what age I met her at... By the end she has killed everyone else who had a hand in making her who she is, so I would definitely be on her list of people who need to die, since after all, I am the author. *shiver*

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Beautiful People - Jaime Meyrick

16-yr-old Jaime... the quote goes to a journel Blair found... 
Unlike Jaden Beorn, Jaime is grinning at this title. So long as it isn't one of his brothers, he doesn't mind someone calling him beautiful. *cough* Your humility continues to amaze me, Jaime... 

And for some reason he's really annoyed with his older brother right now. I apologize for his attitude... but please don't tell him I did. And he insisted on actually answering these questions himself... go figure.

1. What is your favorite type of shoe?
*sigh* "Nike Hyperdunks. I need a pair. Now."

2. Do you journal?
"Journal?" *gags*

3. What's your favorite animal?
"A dog! And Tristan will never let me get one." *he glares at his oldest brother*

4. What does your average day look like?
"Get up as late as possible and still be at school by 8am... do boring school stuff... eat lunch... do more boring school stuff... usually some kind of sport after school gets out at 3pm - right now it's basketball, which is why I need Nike Hyperdunks. *ahem* Then I go home... eat supper... argue with Tristan... fight with Dare... do homework because Tristan will kill me if I don't... watch TV on my computer because Tristan refuses to pay for anything more than internet - we don't even have a home phone! And then go to bed and do it all over again. Fascinating, isn't it?" *he rolls his eyes*

5. Night owl, or morning person? (Optional: What time do you normally wake up, and go to bed?)
"Um.... does 'I HATE getting up in the morning!' answer that?"

6. Do you have a sweet tooth?

7. What colors are your bedroom?
"Um... white... We have blue blankets on our beds... light-colored wood dressers... It's actually clean right now, since Blair's around."

8. Can you cook?
"Better than Dare." *snorts* "But seriously, I make really good cereal and toast..."

9. What is your favorite household chore?
"I'm supposed to have a favorite? Can't I despise them all equally?"

10. Favorite kind of tea?
"Tea is for girls who read Jane Austen or whatever her name is. It's like... watered down... I don't even know. It's weird."

 And because it is simply begging to be done, I will continue with his brothers. My characters are demanding; what can I say? :P 

19-yr-old Dare... he's a philosophy-English lit major, hence the caption...
ignore his hair. :P  I had a hard time with GIMP
Derek, known to to everyone else as Dare. (Which, yes - one sounds odd with his last name, the other sounds odd given that one of his brothers is named Blair. I'm arguing with him right now, but he's really stubborn. GRRR.)

1. What is your favorite type of shoe?

"Comfortable dress shoes, which are surprisingly hard to find. And actually I like my boxing shoes a lot - Blair says he's glad I wear good footwear while I'm getting brain-damaged." *grins*

2. Do you journal?
*laughs* "You try living in a house with three brothers and tell me if you're going to write anything down where they can find it."

3. What's your favorite animal?
"Aww... it's called a Jaime."

4. What does your average day look like?
"Eh... get up, eat breakfast, wake Jaime up, probably 3 times, give him a ride to school if he's ready by the time I have to leave, go to class, study/eat/do errands between class times; I work for Professer Berry some afternoons - mostly weekends, though; come home, make supper if nobody else has, try to keep people from killing each other, study until bed. It would probably be better if I wasn't double-majoring and taking 23 credits this semester, but... yeah."

5. Night owl, or morning person? (Optional: What time do you normally wake up, and go to bed?)
"I don't really get to be either a night owl or a morning person; I can't go to sleep until I've gotten everything ready for the next day and I have to be up about 7am." *shrugs*

6. Do you have a sweet tooth?
"Sure, who doesn't?"

7. What colors are your bedroom?
"Red - curtains, bedspread, wallpaper boarder around the top of the wall... actual walls are white, and my furniture is oak. Hardwood floor, too. So brown and red and white."

8. Can you cook?
*sigh* "Yes. I suppose it would help if I followed a recipe?"

9. What is your favorite household chore?
"Vacuuming? There's only two rooms with carpet in the house, besides the stairs and hallway, so it gets done really fast. Haha, no, they all need to be done, so I guess my favorite is whichever is finished?"

10. Favorite kind of tea?

"Black Chai with cream and sugar in it..."

22-yr-old Blair...  he wants to be a peacemaker, but his personality is
completely opposite Tristan's, which makes things difficult... Besides,
he's gone most of the time these days.
And Blair Meyrick, third oldest brother...

1. What is your favorite type of shoe?
"Comfortable shoes that let me stand around all day if I have to and go running in the evening. Having your feet hurt is one of the last things you want on your mind while you're doing an autopsy. And you probably didn't want to think about that..."

2. Do you journal?
"Um... I don't exactly have time to write a whole lot... and I'd probably write letters if I did."

3. What's your favorite animal?
"Oh, black lab. I... know a girl... who has one, and it's the sweetest thing. She adores it."

4. What does your average day look like?
"I'm in med school. So... yeah. You probably don't want to hear it all - it's kind of boring. Unless you're in medical school, in which case it's fascinating." *laughs somewhat self-consciously*

5. Night owl, or morning person? (Optional: What time do you normally wake up, and go to bed?)
"Morning person. Which is good, because my first class is early. I'm usually in bed by midnight."

6. Do you have a sweet tooth?
"Yeah... good thing I like to run, else I wouldn't be a very healthy doctor."

7. What colors are your bedroom?
"When I'm home I share a room with Jaime... I have a studio apartment by school where I stay most of the time, though. It's white and black with a kind of olive-y green accents... A friend decorated it for me, which was really nice of them."

8. Can you cook?
"I've done it before... at school I usually go out to eat with people, since there's a couple pretty cheap places nearby. At home it's more fun to watch Dare do it, though, and then tease him afterwards. The things he comes up with! Honestly..."

9. What is your favorite household chore?
"I like washing windows, because you kind of have to do it with somebody else and it gives you a chance to talk and see how people are doing without it being awkward." 

10. Favorite kind of tea?

"Coffee... I drink a lot of it, unfortunately."

Tristan again... who would certainly not call himself a hero... but I have
high hopes for him. ;) 
And Tristan Meyrick... oldest brother whose attitude problem is a bit more justified than Jaime's, given that he's been taking care of the other three for the past 8 years on his own - and less justified because he's 9 years older and supposed to be an adult.
 He pretty much runs the town's auto repair shop, and he's a bounty hunter on the side.

1. What is your favorite type of shoe?
"Haix P6 boots. The one thing I actually learned from the police. Ha."

2. Do you journal?
"Excuse me?"

3. What's your favorite animal?
"Don't have one. Pets are expensive and pointless, wild animals belong in the wild, and I really don't have anything to do with either one."

4. What does your average day look like?
"Average? Um, I kind of lost out on average when I was 17 and I dropped out of school. I'm usually gone before Dare and Jaime are up, I check in at the police station and see if there's any work for me - if there is, it's always something different. Otherwise I go work at the mechanic shop and keep people's worthless cars running, and be nice to customers, keep everybody else doing their job... there's always some crisis or another happening. You wouldn't think so, but yeah. Whatever. Then I come home, make sure the house isn't falling down - the way Jaime treats it I'm surprised more things don't break than do - and eat supper with whoever happens to be around. Make sure Jaime is behaving himself, see what's going on with Dare - that kid is going to kill himself if he doesn't slow down at some point. And eventually I go to bed. That's my average day."

5. Night owl, or morning person? (Optional: What time do you normally wake up, and go to bed?)
"That's stupid. Get up when you need to get up and go to bed when you've gotten everything done. Saying you're a morning person or night owl just means you're lazy and undisciplined."

6. Do you have a sweet tooth?
"I suppose? If we're all talking baby talk."

7. What colors are your bedroom?
"I don't know, are these questions almost over yet?"

8. Can you cook?
"I can grill... that's good enough. I keep hoping Dare will figure out what cookbooks are for."

9. What is your favorite household chore?
"They all need doing, who cares about favorites?"

10. Favorite kind of tea?
"Really... I'm pretty sure these questions were meant for a girl to answer, just sayin'. I drink iced tea if somebody makes it for me and it's rude not to drink it, okay?"

Monday, May 21, 2012

May Snippets

Okay, I seldom dare to do this... but I have such fun reading others' snippets, I thought I might as well join in and share a few! :D 

The shrieking scream of a blaring alarm rent the still morning air, and Jaime Meyrick gave a wild jerk. The clock tumbled off his pillow, and the next instant went sailing across the room to smash into the opposite wall. He dropped his head back down onto the bed with a groan. 

- The Sons of Bretton Meyrick

“Mother-mine!” The words seemed to stick in his throat, and he stopped where he stood, swallowing hard as she curtsied low before him, not raising her head. 

“Don’t…” he half-whispered, his voice dying away as she still did not speak. 

There was a moment of silence, and then she curtsied again, bringing clasped hands to her forehead. She could have less painfully thrust a dagger between his ribs. 

“You have permission to speak.” He forced the words through frozen lips, feeling a numbness slowly spreading through him. 

- And It Was Love

“I have no use nor liking for priests and prophets, seers and sages… and for those calling themselves the Brethren I have undying hatred. But one of them like you I think I could find a use for. Tell me, will you bring your… cross…. to my service?” 

He spat, the fury of his mind and the bitter hatred within his heart blazing through him. Whether he served the One who died upon that cross or not, his father had, and that One was not to be mocked by such as she. 

“That cross is not mine, and was never meant to be sold. Any more than my soul. Neither one will you get from me.”

- Faith Through Flames ~To Burn a Land 

“Same deal. Never borrow money unless you’re dying, and especially not then,” Tristan said, then looked back down at the paper lying beside his water glass. 

“Three murders and a kidnapping this week. And Benson High is holding a dance for a fundraiser. Really? Jaime, you are not going to that.” 

Jaime shoved back his chair. “Everybody else is going to be there… and if I don’t take somebody, chem is going to really be a pain – most of the class is girls, and they’ve been complaining ever since the idea first came up that there aren’t enough boys at school to make a dance work.” 

“Whenever everybody else is doing something, it usually means you shouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole. Everyone else is an idiot – stop forgetting that.” Tristan returned to his paper.

- The Sons of Bretton Meyrick

“And now you wish to leave, having come bringing me a daughter who would be better off dead and the body of the son who threw away his life for hers. Then go! I should forbid it... I should question you further… I should… What matters it? My country is falling and it is my hands that are red with my people’s blood. Go! Kadien will take you over the mountains.” 

The queen’s voice hardened as she spoke, but there was a brittleness to it that hinted at how near to shattering she had come.

- And It Was Love 

and random graphic I made for The Sons of Bretton Meyrick... Tristan and Jaime are on the right. :D  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Life in the Balance

Click on the picture to read a great post that pretty much
says exactly what I would say if I were not posting this paper. :)
The Plea of a Calvinistic Armenian

*note* This is quite long, not typical blog fare, but trusting that some of you might be interested in something that is rather "anti-fluff," I decided to post a paper written by my pastor brother when he was 17 and in Bible college - it being Sunday, and myself being in the mood for something sermon-like. I've actually wanted to do this for quite some time, but never found the time to type it up. :P 

Discussion would be awesome, and if I feel like it, I might post a couple more at later times - he actually has several that I found quite fun, and I know his mentor/grader person at the time was taking these papers home to share with his children. But your feedback yea/nay would be very helpful on that front. :)  

This one just happens to be one I like, mostly because I get so sick of the arguing that I see between Calvinists and Armenians. These are not my words; I do not agree with each one written here (given that he was only 17 at the time, I'm fairly certain he doesn't perfectly agree with it all anymore either), :) but I think this paper covers some seriously important parts of God's Word, and that of course never changes. 

Introduction. As I begin on this critical topic, three unhappy young men who were once friends of mine come to mind; friends I've thought a lot about and frequently prayed for. All three I've prayed with; together we've shared about the Lord's work in our live, and we've numerous times served Christ together in ministry. But then something happened. Each of these apparently very sincere believers, at separate times, left off serving the Lord either in discouragement or rebellion, totally quite the way of life they were following, and so far have disappeared from the scene of my life, and from the life of God's Church. I know at least one of them has clearly voiced his utter rejection of Christ, and has no interest in returning his will to the Lord's control at any time. How tragic and how sobering the experiences have been for those friends, their families and for me! Up until those times, I had never known the impact of sin, black-sliding, and rebellion, and seeing it damage and destroy people I knew really affected me. I asked myself over and over, why and how could it happen? If they left the Lord, were they truly saved in the first place? It had definitely seemed like they were sincere. If they were really saved, could they reject their salvation, or lose it through unbelief, or rebellion? Or were they, as some say, "once saved, always saved," and was God in His unchangeable faithfulness keeping them no matter what, and would He someday bring them back from the low points in their lives?

These questions and others popped up again as I studied for the essay assignment, and this week I found more questions than I did answers on the subject. One wonderful part of **** College is that it is constantly forcing me to address important issues about which I previously had no understanding, and always tried to avoid because I didn't know much of anything. What the Bible says about the assurance of salvation must be known, however, and known clearly. Protestants have long been divided, particularly on the issues of free will vs. predestination or the possibility of losing salvation vs. eternal security. Our college seems no exception. Almost every Arminian or Calvinist statement I read this week appeared to have a provable point. I agreed predominantly with both sides, thus making myself a Calvinistic Arminian. Instead of getting ourselves stuck and further mutilated and disoriented in the wrestling match between Calvinists and Armenians, like I have been doing the past few days, let's take a simpler and more refreshing look at some things our final authority, the Bible, and particularly the book of I John, says about the assurance of our great salvation. We will discover three balancing Scriptural truths of assurance that prevent the Church from falling into either extreme of a carnal eternal security or a carnal lack of confidence in one's personal salvation. 

I. The Positive Faith. The first question I would like to answer is "How do I know I am saved?" "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us." (1 John 5:13-14) In matters as important as eternal salvation, there is no room for uncertainty in the mind of the Christian. The first truth Scripture tells us clearly about is that the believer can be absolutely certain of his own salvation when he puts his wholehearted trust in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Eternal life is the surest thing there is. "And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life." (I John 2:25) There need not be any Christian who all his life says, "I don't know if I'm really saved," or, "I hope I'm saved," because God has promised the free gift of salvation not on a basis of worthiness, but to all who ask for it, and believe its true components. Sometimes a person who doubts salvation doubts or misunderstands the power of God, and the completeness of Christ's sacrifice. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on Me hath everlasting life." (John 6:47)

"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture saith, 'Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.'" (Romans 10:9-11)

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9)

"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God... He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made Him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of His Son. And this is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (I John 5:1 & 10-12)

A Christian who is not confident about the state of his salvation in Christ may not have enough knowledge about his basis for salvation. But very often he simply is not focused on Christ's love and perfect work, but too much on himself, and what he thinks he must do. "What do I have to do to be saved?" "I must not be saved, look at all the bad things I do!" This person stays struggling in carnal insecurity, and he who wonders about his salvation never grows spiritually; he remains a spiritual infant who's not entirely certain he has even been born yet. He needs to take his eyes off himself, and see all that Christ is and what Christ has saved him from. When salvation is questioned, a personal evaluation should take place. How strong in your faith? True, saving faith will determine all your behavior. Insecure Christian, do you believe what Christ has promised? Have you been to Christ's cross, and given up your life to Christ? Do you love Christ? If yes, rejoice and be confident! You are Christ's! Your state of salvation may be held some time in question, but it must be resolved. Before I was sure of my salvation, I frequently doubted because I focused predominately on my behavior and not giving  all to the Master, my own sinfulness, and not the Savior. When I finally gave up, and for the first time focused wholly on what Christ really did in taking away all my sin, I finally understood the love of Christ, and I loved Him! And with that new awakening, I never lacked assurance again, and grew spiritually by leaps and bounds. It was no carnal confidence, but a trust in Christ. We can and must be certain of our personal present salvation. This is the first truth of assurance. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. " ( I John 4:10)

II. The Personal Focus. The second truth of assurance we see from Scripture is that it is personal. In His earthly ministry, Jesus was always concerned about individual responsibility with His listeners. He spoke a true hard-core message, and then drove the message deep into the individual heart, producing strong conviction. "Now, what about you?"

I take personal responsibility for Christ's death on the cross. My sins put Him there; He died for me. The person who takes personal responsibility and holds strong personal convictions will be the most assured of his salvation. Salvation is also personal because only the Lord and I by His witness within know for certain that I am saved. No one else sees the inside of my soul. Likewise, I as an imperfect judge cannot be certain of another's heart condition; that is between him and the Lord. If he says, "I am a Christian, I believe in Jesus Christ," and his basis of belief is correct, I take his word for it, and hope for the best. God alone is ultimately the Judge of the heart; I believe one day, a man will be surprised when he sees people that he thought for sure were saved repelled into the fires of hell, and others who, by his standards, must not be saved, embraced into the gates of heaven. So many people seem to think they have the ability to say, "That person is saved," or "That person isn't saved." We shouldn't, and really can't wonder so much about someone else's salvation, we should be concerned for Christ's reputation. 

There are, however, good standards of evaluation and outward evidences for genuine salvation listed in I John. And because the assurance of salvation is primarily personal, these standards of evaluation were intended for each Christian to first apply personally to his or her own life for evidences of a genuine and working faith in Christ. "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life." Let's see what these evidences are.

- A new love for God and for His commandements. (I John 5:1-3) I have felt, and every Christ feels, a new, strong love for Christ upon conversion. Hopefully, after that point, the Christian's loving relationship with Christ will grow every day.

- A new tendency toward righteousness rather than the old tendency toward sin. (I John 3:6-10) Romans 6 teaches that Christians are to be dead to sin but alive unto God. Human souls still sin, because of a sinful "flesh," but the old bent for sin is to be gone, as Christians have a renewed mind and heart that henceforth seeks to please God with the grace He makes available to them. The Christian's goal is to be as pure and sinless in his walk as possible. Christ's death on the Cross covers all sin for all time. Hypothetically, it is possible that a Christian could sin "all he wanted," and still have all his sin forgiven. But no believer who loves God, His commandments, and His righteousness would ever presume to do so. He is a new creatures, constrained by the love and fear of God. 

- A new love for others more than ourselves. "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." (I John 3:15-19) "Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also." (I John 4:7-11, 20-21)

- The witness of the Spirit. "Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit." (I John 4:13) 

"If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which He hath testified of His Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself..." (I John 5:9-10) The presence and power of the Holy Spirit to move and convict and change in the saint's life is evidence of salvation. We have Christ's Spirit dwelling in us, and He should be controlling us! (Romans 8) This would be further evidenced by the fruits of the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25)

In summary, here is the evaluation: "Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as He gave us commandment. And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us." (I John 3:21-24)

"Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for His seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother." (I John 3:7-10)

How do we measure up? All true saving faith has outward working evidences. If one truly believes, these fruits will show themselves in that person's life, and they should show to some degree in all believers, though we all are at our own differing levels of increasing sanctification and Christ-likeness. "Those who are spiritual," as the Bible describes, can hold other believers accountable to this, and encourage them to examine the fruit of their lives. 

III. The Possible Failure. So far in this essay, we have discussed two balancing truths for the assurance of salvation. First, Scripture alls us to a positive faith, the Christian can be entirely certain of salvation because of Christ; there is no room fora carnal lack of confidence. Second, we see that the focus of assurance is personal, and that we should evaluate ourselves by the evidence of Christian fruit in our lives, and hold one another accountable to these standards. This paper has yet one one final question to address, and it is probably the most controversial of all questions. "Once I am saved, is it possible fo me to fall from grace and lose my salvation?" Can a person be honestly persuaded to follow Christ, and then later be convinced to turn his back on God and not believe? Calvin would answer no, man does not have the power whatsoever to revoke the covenant of salvation that God has initiated. However, after studying Scripture, there may be ample support to answer yes to that question. Several Biblical scholars have identified as many as 2500 passages warning believers of the dangers of apostasy and carnal eternal security. Following are just a few passages. "And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers." (Luke 12:42-43, 45-46)

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart form the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." (I Timothy 4:1)

"Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: for if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He will also deny us." (II Timothy 2:10-12)

"For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world..." It may be argued that a person who backslides in such a manner was not really saved to begin with. [*ahem* gotta add that's what I would say. :P] Many times this is true, but so apparent too is the host of those who have believed, confessed, worked, and borne fruit before looking back from following the plow! I have met many people in the inner city, in my own neighborhood, all around the country who will say, "I used to believe that, but now I don't; now I know better." "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." (II Peter 2:20-22)

After studying many such verses, I do think it is possible for someone who once believed in Christ for salvation to turn away in unbelief. But I also believe it is very difficult for a person who is strongly persuaded of the awesome truth of salvation in Jesus Christ to be turned away again. It is the final, most extreme state of reprobation. 

We have therefore a great warning. There is no trouble or temptation taken us, that we are not able to escape by the faith and power that God provides for us in Christ. But we can resist the grace of God. We were drawn to God, and believed on Him, and we can be drawn away by unbelief. [But once He has made us His own... how can that be disbelieved? Once you know something... how can you unknow it?] "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end." (Hebrews 3:12-14) [For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure...]

Conclusion. Herein lies the need to be sober and vigilant, prepared with the armor of God against an enemy who seeks to devour. We are engaged in a great spiritual war for souls, our own and those of the lost in the world, and we can be the sure victors through faith in Christ's fight for us. "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." (I John 5:18) The soldier of Christ keeps himself, that he does not sin. He puts up his guard against a constant enemy that is stronger than he alone. "Resist the devil and he will flee from you." He daily "works out his own salvation with fear and trembling" to be pleasing in the sight of God in all things. "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity." (II Peter 1:5-7) He knows that Satan wants the souls of all men, and if the devil doesn't steal souls for eternity, sin will at least bind the saint and darken his sight, making his spiritually ineffective.

Yet many have believed "once saved, always saved," and their theme song is "Saved, saved, O happy condition! I can sin all I want, and still have remission." This is obviously a false and dangerous notion! The Christian's salvation is a liberty to do what he is supposed to, never a license to do what he wants. Christ died to save us from sin, not to keep us in our sin. A person with such ideas has  a faulty understanding of salvation, and probaby does not have it. O Christian, the blight and blot of sin is out of the question, no matter what its consequences may seem to be! The solder wants someday to hear the word, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." He longs to receive a crown someday, not simply to wear it for all eternity, but to cast it down in humble adoration at his Savior's feet. 

The other extreme of "eternal insecurity" is a slap in God's face, not having the confidence to believe that He will be faithful to do as He promised. It may come from a misunderstanding of the requirements of salvation, or too much focus on oneself rather than the key Person and Power of salvation. 

"I know not when my Lord may come,
At night or noonday fair,
Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
Or meet Him in the air.

But I know Whom I have believ├Ęd,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day."

The requirement is believing in the work of Jesus Christ, and as a result selling out your life to be His and not your own. The child who is led to Christ is asked to make Him Savior and Lord. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." As an entirely new creature in Christ, there is an entirely new behavior expected of the Christian. He is careful to every day put on the armor that God provides, and make primary use of that shield of faith against the devil's fiery darts of sins and doubts and hears and sorrows against our salvation and sanctification. Faith is what saves, faith is what protects and strengthens. "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I John 5:4-5)

So then the critical question for application in this essay is, how strong is my faith? How very close is my relationship with a very real, very alive, and powerful God? The Christian walk is all centered around Him, and as long as He is close, we can be confident wherever we go. 

"I serve a risen Savior; He's in the world today;
I know that he is living, whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy; I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him, He's always near.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart."
- A. H. Ackley

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Through the Waters

via google
He measured... and He brought me through the waters.
Ezek. 47:3
When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.
 Isa. 43:2

Our waters are shallow because His were deep. In Psalm 69:2 we see what He suffered: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow Me. For us there is no overflowing: they shall not overflow thee is His promise. For Himself those awful depths. Is there anything we can keep back from such a Savior? O Lord, take our all, our uttermost all; do with us what Thou wilt if only Thy Name may be glorified, Thy heart satisfied. 

~Amy Carmichael, Whispers of His Power

Not only did He suffer that overflowing in our place, He willingly enters into the waters each time with us. How can we complain about the rivers we pass through, when not only has He gone through the floods for us, He is right beside us in the rivers too? Do we forget that easily that He careth for us? That He  tells us over and over and over again how much He loves us? 

When we love someone, their pain becomes ours - He knows exactly what we are feeling and more, because He has both been through far worse alone and He is here with us now, so we do not have to go through the waters alone. 

O Lord, take our all, our uttermost all; do with us what Thou wilt if only Thy Name may be glorified, Thy heart satisfied.

Can we say Amen to that?

Friday, May 18, 2012


Shadow, at Christmas, exhausted from chasing my cousin's little ball of fluff around all day. 
Last Christmas, right before we had to put Gunnar to sleep, my mom stopped at the humane society... and found a labradoodle with phantom coloring and the sweetest personality imaginable. Already missing her German Shepherd, she decided we needed another dog. 

more exhausted pictures...
I had just finished finals, and, also knowing our German Shepherd was going to have to be put down very soon, did not have the energy to make my customary, "No, we do NOT need another dog/cat/bird/fish/horse/turtle/lizard/cow," speech.
(How did that get to be my job? I'm not particularly good at it when it comes to horses... thankfully that one usually doesn't come up. Kittens, unfortunately, I'm the one begging for them... but usually I can argue against the dog idea. Which never gets me anything but the right to say 'I told you not to get it!' whenever the dog does something wrong during the rest of its life. *ahem* At least I try.)

This is her, eating a deer antler. At the table, no less. I took it away from her.
So we got her. I was going to do a post on her then.. but it took us a while to name her (and then school started up again) - everyone was arguing back and forth between Sheila and Sheba (as in Queen of). By then we were starting to get to know her... and I said we should call her some variation on Electrolux, because she eats EVERYTHING. (Seriously... she ate a plastic fork the other day before we realized what she was doing.)
We had noticed something else about her by then as well, though, and finally I just started calling her Shadow. 

Shadow, underfoot.
Because that's what she is. She's always lying at someone's side... if you get up and walk into another room, she will get up and walk with you - even if you do it ten times. Up and down the stairs, around the house, outside, it doesn't matter if you're merely stepping into the other room or going for a walk, she is right there. It makes it kind of hard to do things - cooking and cleaning are a whole lot more difficult when you trip over a dog every time you turn around - but she's so sweet about it you can't even really be annoyed when you turn around, catch yourself from stepping on her head, loose your balance, spill whatever you were carrying all over the place, and fall over. (Don't worry, she'll clean up whatever you spilled! Even if it's papers... or shoes...)

She's adorable... and the name Shadow stuck. :D

As I said though, the other part of her personality is that she also eats constantly. So long as we're petting her, she's good, but otherwise she likes to eat while she's lying there, and if we're sleeping or otherwise engaged, she'll eat whatever she can find. 
okay, I took away the antler after I took a picture
fine, a couple pictures... 

The other night I was in bed, very close to sleep, and therefore kind of crabby when I became aware of loud chewing noise outside my bedroom door. I don't know what she eating, but she wasn't supposed to be eating it. Not wanting to wake up the next morning to either some expensive object completely ruined or a dead dog, I woke myself up enough to snap, "SHADOW!!!!!!"

Instantly the chewing stopped, and she jumped up, and then came running to the side of my bed, where she proceeded to lie down. I, of course, felt bad for yelling at her (even though technically it was probably good that I did...), and it suddenly hit me what a perfect example she was.

When I'm doing something I shouldn't, and my conscious starts pricking me, my instinctive response is to run the opposite way. To either ignore it or to hide until I don't feel so ashamed. The last thing I want to do is run straight to God and have Him rip away the curtains so I see how much I've messed up. It's horrible, because running to Him is exactly what I need to do. Nothing else will get it fixed, and nothing else will keep me from messing up more and worse. Instant repentance, instant renewal of communication with Him.
It's something I'm working on, and Shadow's cheerful obedience was a perfect reminder of what my response should be when I'm corrected.

That got me thinking about some other things I've noticed about her.

Joy. She got anaplasmosis as soon as tick season came around, even though we had stuff on her to keep ticks off of her. :P By the time the vets were willing to give her antibiotics, she had a heart murmur, which thankfully is decreasing. Still, she refuses to slow down. We have to kennel her or tie her, otherwise she just keeps going. Because of her habit of lying EXACTLY underfoot, she gets stepped on a lot - but she doesn't even flinch. Compared to our quick response of "Why did this have to happen to me today???" whenever something goes the slightest bit wrong, her quiet response is another great reminder, as is her absolute zest for living, even when she's feeling horrible.

Love. Her constant desire to be with someone is a striking example of what I think it means to abide. Just as she has chosen to become our shadow, we need to shadow Christ. Where He goes, we need to be right at His side, even if the path doesn't make sense. (We're going up the stairs now?? Didn't we just come down them? Nope. Shadow races you enthusiastically up and down and up again - at some point somebody's going to break their neck, but for now it's just another reminder to be constantly abiding, always at Jesus' side.) She's probably the first dog I've seen who ranked being petted as high as food (and given how much she obviously loves eating, that's pretty amazing).

And finally, being a light. Our little dachapoo, Little Bit, is kind of anti-social. She's 6 years old, and when she was a puppy, she picked one of my brothers as the one person she liked - because he'd always give her treats and refuse to tell her 'no' for anything. Her idea of a fun afternoon is finding a chair, with no one around, since otherwise she'll get in trouble, and go to sleep.Since getting Shadow, though, I've noticed a difference. She doesn't like Shadow (at all; it's sad), but somehow, watching Shadow beg us for attention, and follow us around all the time... Little Bit has started coming to us to get petted, way more than usual.Shadow can't talk, obviously, but the way she's been living, she's affected even her "enemy."

I'm kinda glad I didn't argue against getting her... and I'm looking forward to seeing what else I can learn from her! :D

so then we actually ended up playing keep-away for a while... she was having so much fun running around me in circles, I couldn't grab the antler for laughing at her... 


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