Blogboard Confessional

I was reading this and something came to mind that I’ve been dealing with a whole lot. There’s a tendency within the human spirit to pretend, deny, deceive, lie, and even exalt oneself regarding their state. This is part of the old man, part of the flesh, to be sure.

But part of following Christ successfully is to admit that you’re bankrupt. Even to the point of denying yourself (Mark 8:34-37) and dying to self, as baptism illustrates. But part of faith is carrying that out. And part of that is being able to not lie or deceive, but admit that we don’t have it all together.

To say that we’re fine of our own selves is to admit weakness. And the world abhors weakness. Yet that is exactly what we are called towards – to make ourselves weak so that Christ may be strong in us and be glorified. In a sense, this is the reason that trials come into our lives – if we can look at Christ the Master and not think things will be any different for us, we are simply deluded. After all, it is the only way we run the race completely, to keep the faith of what salvation represents throughout our lives until we depart.

Now our problems seem to be that we can’t really see ourselves honestly, and if we do we can’t communicate that and be accepted. Things like this had to be written:

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:6-9)

Personally, I can say that this will be one of the harder posts for me to write, simply because I’m going to share some things that I’m not used to sharing. I’ll admit to pretending for a number of reasons, both within myself and created by others.

I already looked at one of those reasons, the need to present oneself as competent. This is a big pressure for men, because to say you’re unsure about something is to paint you as unworthy within self and unworthy with others. Especially when it comes to spiritual matters, this becomes especially incumbent as when the pastor, minister or priest presents himself as “Look to me; to me, in some of my
formulas, to me in some of my developments, and be saved.” To present himself any different makes him unworthy to follow in the eyes of his blind followers, but ruins people otherwise. Then the others take the same example and paint the picture that anything less than pure happiness means you are not saved. I’ve personally been kicked out of groups because I dare speak of problems going on within my life.

Then there is the usual training that men get from childhood growing up at the behest of women to conform to the traditional gender roles. “Big boys don’t cry” we are told, and then shown repeatedly that what goes on with us and our feelings don’t matter. Then it goes to further the sub-humanoid view of men held by most all women and men. One chapter of “The Proper Care & Feeding of Husbands” (fascinating book, what I’m working on right now from the SoP edit pile) relays that it seems to be a shock to women that men were created in God’s image (a revolutionary concept in light of traditional marriage) and actually have emotions, aspirations, goals, and dreams like them. But you’re not supposed to give those credence as a man, because they don’t befit the woman’s purpose for them to “protect” and “provide” for them. If something’s wrong about you, that’s nobody’s business but your own. Women have girlfriends, church groups, wider society, and the media to listen to their problems and weaknesses and affirm them as “okay”. A man just has…himself. And if he doesn’t pull the cart to expectation, watch out!

Then there’s the general lack of community that exists in wider society and the church. This is even mocked by a tendency to ask “How are you?” as a greeting in church services. I’ve found personally in many cases just how little people love one another as Christ loved them (John 13:34-35) – again for men more than women. The general “layout” of “church” and the tendencies of people in the community trend to isolation. As that Scripture reads, we are told that is how others know we are following, if we love one another. The function of the Church is to allow us to function in community (there’s 56 “one another” commands in Scripture, depending on translation) with the singular goal of Christ and running the race. We’re supposed to be here for each other and get through this life together, yet we’re by ourselves and then seen as failures if we aren’t able to stand alone (the uniquely American traits of individualism and the “self-made man” that’s poisoned the Church).

Unfortunately, I speak so much from experience in such a post as this, simply because these are all things I’ve encountered in my own life. I’ve willingly given into so many of these pressures by wanting to fit in and deny before others certain hurts, heart’s desires, habits, and even sins that cause my spirit and soul to cry out in agony. Then to large part, I’ve accepted the message continually sent that “no one wants to hear about my weaknesses, my failures, my problems”, and that if I’m not perfect in my life, that it’s something I did – and if I would just fix it, all would be well. I have my problems, but they only get magnified by such matters.

But that’s the elemental truth that one must take in faith upon a walk with Christ. I’m messed up. I can’t fix it. I can’t stand alone. That’s the flesh talking when I say I’m okay, I got this, I don’t need anyone else, even Christ. Now, the acceptance of the Gospel points out another one of those indoctrinated traditional gender differences: Women are hard to accept that they are failed in the first place, while men see it but are hard to accept that they can’t fix it.

Denying your failure is hypocrisy, just as presenting a walk with Jesus as the perfect romantic relationship (a bed of roses) is. Denying the flesh is hard, denying the world is hard, coming to terms with your problems is crushing, going against the flow is hard. We are freely given salvation, but we have to take hold of it in faith to receive it. If that wasn’t fraught with peril, if we got “fixed” when we came out of the water, we would not value what Christ does give us, forget Him, and then exalt ourselves over Him.

To conclude, I’m reminded of my fundamental faith moment when I began my serious walk. I used to think these things and worry about my salvation, but when I heard a pastor proclaim his lack of perfection and then I read of all the things David did and see that God still called him “a man after mine own heart” (Acts 13:22). I felt a moment of comfort that everything was going to be alright (knowing fellow travelers are out there does that).

How many have been driven from Christ simply because they met these lies and deceptions in those who proclaim His Name? It’s a more glorifying and welcoming message to echo Paul (2 Corinthians 12:5) – if we must glorify ourselves to point out how infirmed we are. “I’m messed up just like you, but Christ accepts me anyway. Let us walk together in His light.” reflects God’s love much more than “Be perfect and if you’re not something is wrong with you. Be gone.” Isn’t it so much better to be honest and reflect love?

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Book Review: Revolution

Revolution. George Barna. BarnaBooks, 2005.
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In view of what a number of the churches are doing in this country and the general trends of society, it’s almost expected that people are seeking places where they can find Christ outside of the local church. It is this phenomena that George Barna seeks to describe in his book, Revolution.

Barna begins by contrasting the idea of a person fully seeking a spiritual life with Christ (a “Revolutionary”) with one who is a backslider, and notes a difference exists even though both have nothing to do with an institutional church. The author then describes the preferences that cause true Christ-seekers to seek elsewhere. He then describes a Biblical picture of the church and matches that with what he finds in his research of those who are seeking Christ elsewhere. Barna then relays a survey indicating the state of the local church in terms of the ability to provide spiritual transformation, indicating that connection to believers seeking godliness matters more than church involvement.

The author then describes societal trends and desires that indicate that God is active and working to provide the desire and means for those to seek Him to find Him, indicating some of those means and describing some alternative means that people are using to “do church” that focus on enabling Christian spirituality over institutional goals. He then uses Jesus as an example, contrasting what He did and His focus with the activities of the scribes and Pharisees, showing the difference of character and demonstrating that the governance and control of men can not provide spiritual transformation.

Barna then describes the character, outlook, and practices of those who have found a transformation in Christ, contrasting this with the small influence the institutional churches have on the world. The author describes the impact he foresees in a shift, and the resistance that is sure to come from those steeped in an institutional church focus, addressing some of the chief accusations from that party. Finally, Barna provides some suggestions on how local churches can respond to these trends.

This book confirmed a number of trends I have personally noticed and cataloged in the course of my blogging. Reading of God’s work to set aside His remnant who recognize that man-made church does not save but only Christ saves was especially encouraging. Barna provided a constructive picture through Scripture of the proper function of the Church and the life of the transformed believer.

However, a more Scriptural picture of the scribes and Pharisees, contrasting that with the hearts of those who are seeking after the man-made church would have been beneficial. Especially, the role of God’s truth and the tendency of men to love darkness, using the lens of Paul’s later epistles would have been incredibly welcome.

Overall, Revolution provides an excellent picture of the current bankrupt state of Christianity in the United States for those who have ears to hear. It proves that all things will be known by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20), and that God will reject the bad fruit while enabling those who earnestly seek bread and fish to find it (Matthew 7:7-10) instead of the stones and serpents that are being handed out in Christ’s name by the institutional churches.

Rating: 8 out of 10.

Book Cover Image Source: Amazon

Book Review: Boy Meets Girl

Boy Meets Girl: Say Hello to Courtship. Joshua Harris. Multnomah Publishers Inc., 2000.
book-review-boy-meets-girl
In the scope of my other blog, Joshua Harris’ work “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” (IKDG) came up, in terms of the infection that book and its teachings have brought onto the dating world. It has had enough of an effect that numerous references were made throughout the blog, culminating with a review on that book (Rating: 4 out of 10) and three posts relating to the content and the implications of it upon those who are following it. Encountering this book seemed to be a natural fit, as it will serve to both chronicle more of Josh Harris’ views reflected through his courtship with his (now) wife as well as indicate if he has learned anything.

Harris begins by summarizing IKDG and downplaying the dating/courtship rigidity he created within his first book, calling it a “debate over terms”. He then describes that romance requires more wisdom than “intense feelings”. The author then discusses God’s guidance in view of finding “The One”, growing a relationship while guarding one’s heart (same as IKDG), communicating well, traditional gender roles, involving family and the church in the relationship, retaining sexual purity, confessing past sexual sin, engagement, and continuing in marriage in light of eternity.

Harris presents a number of enlightening treatises if presented in isolation, most notably on finding forgiveness and seeking God’s guidance. However, he presents a vision of courtship very much consistent with IKDG, while molding it into his own experience.

Especially interesting are his admissions that he neglected to follow his own advice regarding his (now) wife in simply asking her out on a date, his motivations were physical, and that he ended up courting a widely experienced woman who fits all the typical tropes (He manned up and married…you know the rest). Other examples the author provides, including his own, reinforce a diversion from IKDG as well. Courtship problems are demonstrated by two of his poster couples subsequently divorcing soon after publication (and the hypocrisy of editing their stories out of subsequent releases).

Through most of the book, Harris fills the book with a huge amount of fluff and little value in the actual intended topics – fully expected when even Harris “never meant to become an expert on relationships” (p19). Furthermore, Harris embraces the typical traditional feminist tropes, including acceptance of fornication, divorce and remarriage, and blaming those things upon men instead of the women partaking in them.

All told, this book represents a defensive rewashing of IKDG, reinforcing the same errors with a hypocritical tone, and adding little valuable when it comes to dealing with a relationship. While a much better written and entertaining effort than IKDG, the fundamental problems represented by courtship remain, namely the backdrop of the idea of “God’s The One” and emotional intimacy. When even the author himself admits that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, it is wise to steer clear of taking any prescriptions he makes seriously. As described in the previous posts, books by Drs. Cloud and Townsend would be far better choices.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

Book Cover Image Source: Wikipedia

Book Review: The Volunteer Revolution

The Volunteer Revolution: Unleashing the Power of Everybody. Bill Hybels. Zondervan, 2004.
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In the scope of the churches, encouraging service to them in various capacities is always a concern. Seeking volunteers, matching them with opportunities for things to do, and guiding their experience also becomes a concern. Bill Hybels aims to address this with his book “The Volunteer Revolution”.

Hybels begins by pointing out that believers all have a function within the church. He then continues in stating that deriving joy and making a difference are factors in those who serve. The author then describes servant-hood as a gamble, requiring faith to step away from self-gratification (Philippians 2:3-8) in the course of denying one’s self. Hybels then describes how some people have found healing for themselves through focusing on serving others. The text then moves onto the concept of the priesthood of all believers. Hybels then focuses on methods to find proper things for people when they serve, describing “jumping in” versus spiritual gifts in terms of assessments, and a pendulum of doing “whatever it takes” to “finding the right fit”. He then moves into assessing skills and looking at concerns for groups of people to find a volunteer passion. The author then describes the importance of community in assessing a volunteer church experience. Finally, he describes dealing with serving over a long period of time, and gives a pep talk about the power of doing good.

Hybels provides an interesting overview through a number of good stories of volunteer service within churches, providing a good overview of handling the whole process, either has a believer or as a leader within a church. He hits all the predictable notes, encouraging people to find their own path instead of forcing people into certain avenues.

However, Hybels does as most all Churchians do and focuses service in terms of serving the interests of the human man-made church instead of Jesus and the Kingdom of God in the ways the Spirit has dictated through Scripture. Unfortunately as all seeker-sensitive proponents do, Hybels continues on to place a focus of service on carnal worldly interests in service, placing the role of the Church as “fixing a broken world” (p61) by serving “felt needs” instead of focusing on “the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). Finally, Hybels stresses that people look for their strengths where they may be glorified, instead of their weaknesses where Christ may be glorified (1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 2 Corinthians 12:9).

Overall, The Volunteer Revolution represents a very fluffy feel-good book with numerous entertaining stories about service. While the contents of this book may get a believer to stop spectating and start serving, it misplaces the focus and intent of the service away from the Christ and the Kingdom of God to the man-made church and the world. The true Christian is not to love the world or the things of the world (1 John 2:15) or hold to the world, but to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2) While Hybels work serves well in the mechanics of service, the heart advocated for that service is far from a proper place. Those who read this would be mindful to know that.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

Book Cover Image Source: Amazon

Book Review: Simple Church

Simple Church. Thomas Rainier and Eric Geiger. B&H Books, 2006.
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For those interested in churches and how they work in this day and age, Simple Church comes up in the list of books to consider, and therefore has drawn my consideration. Thomas Rainier and Eric Geiger relay their observations in terms of churches in the United States and their focus and goals. As is the metrics of most in this day and age, the author’s concerns are ones of attendance and giving.

The author’s conclusions are relayed in the title itself. They contrast what they refer to as the “simple church” with the “not so simple church”, in terms of the number of events, programs, and the like. Their argument is that churches that offer fewer programs centered around a clear and specific goal or mission are better. They argue that a church should have a clear ministry blueprint and process by which the members are moved in and through. By doing this, Rainier and Geiger believe that the energy of everyone involved in the church should then be focused on that specific goal, while other activities not related to that goal should be abandoned.

As a tool of the church-growth movement, this book furthers the goal of turning God’s organic gathering into a simple production line, bringing the rudiments of the world into the things of God (Colossians 2:8). Furthermore, it declares the will of man supreme over the will of God. As with any aspect of the church-growth movement, when people are molded into a man-made product of exacting parameters, this produces a legalistic cult, pushing people away from Christ and out the door. In other words, be a cog of the machine or be ground up by the machine. God’s love and grace are not found in Rainer and Geiger’s “simple church”.

From a content perspective, this book offers exceedingly little. Indeed, the entire content of the book is offered within this review. Unfortunately, the content this book does offer, when put into practice, is exceedingly destructive both to those who participate as well as the church overall before God. Its only value is to further document the increasing profanity of the modern church in this wicked age.

Rating: 1 out of 10.

Book Cover Image Source: Amazon

Book Review: Marriage Under Fire

Marriage Under Fire. James Dobson. Multnomah Publishers Inc, 2004.

marriage-under-fireMuch text has been written over the last decade by the social conservatives over the destruction of “the sanctity of marriage”. As the degeneration of marriage in the culture has been a major focus of study, along with documenting the actions of Focus on the Family, this was a natural read.

As most will know, Dr. James Dobson is the former head of Focus On the Family, which has placed itself as a political factor within the social conservative movement. Functionally, Marriage Under Fire serves as a political position document against homosexual marriage in trying to support a Federal Marriage Amendment.

Dobson begins by describing marriage as being between a man and a woman. He then decries the actions of politicians, who he blames for not “fighting for marriage”, repeating the well-worn list of “social ills”, such as no-fault divorce, cohabitation, right to sodomy, while retaining focus on homosexual marriage. Dobson then gives a list of reasons why homosexual marriage should be opposed, such as the destruction of “traditional marriage”, the effect upon children and the health care system, and the elimination of religious liberty. He then addresses challenges that he has discerned in addressing the homosexual movement. Finally, Dobson presses a call to action to lobby politicians on the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Much of this book is exceedingly predictable, functioning as a decent position paper of the social conservative movement regarding marriage. As documented elsewhere in my reviews of Dobson’s other works, it illustrates the hypocrisy of Dobson, Focus On the Family and other involved organizations in light of their own debasement of God-defined marriage in other ways. Notably, as in the other works of Focus On the Family, the discredited work of George Gilder is referenced. Other factors within culture that have been championed by Dobson and Focus on the Family which have brought marriage to the point of the homosexual issue are either ignored entirely or lightly touched upon.

The advent of homosexual marriage was indeed a major concern in 2004 and is one long after. Unfortunately, the sentiment expressed on p39 that homosexual marriage “couldn’t be worse than what we’ve got” is a perfect statement on the true condition of marriage, and one that Dobson failed to address in this work. He has expressed alarm at the appearance of a problem, but has neglected to address the essence of the problem. Consequently, the resulting failure of the social conservative movement Dobson spoke for in this work was inevitable.

Rating: 3 out of 10.

Book Cover Image Source:Amazon

A Tragedy

Gentlemen, I witnessed a tragedy play out over the last couple of months, whose story wrapped up recently.  I witnessed the red pill of marriage in action.  Let me try to relate in such a way that I don’t out myself by the things I know.  Having read all the stories for years about the evil things done in the name of marriage, I become used to the stories and came to understand the default godless state of marriage, having taken the red pill of marriage to see what it is and not a silly idealistic state.

What happened seems to be no different than any of the other stories, from what I’ve found out personally and through mutual friends.  I picked up on certain things, and we can fill in others readily.  But gentlemen, seeing what I just witnessed isn’t just taking the red pill.  It’s opening up a vein and mainlining it.  And you can bet for sure that I’m pissed that this stuff goes on.

I have had conversations with both members of this married couple.  I saw them together when I visited different churches.  I had to force down the bile in my gut as I saw certain things with my own eyes.   Even so, with hearing the stories, there’s a certain dream-state there until you see it for yourself and force back the tears of sorrow and the anger at the injustice that’s played out.

Traditional Marriage
From childhood, women are fit into the role of the exalted goddess, whose role becomes finding a husband in order to receive from, and to rule over.  From childhood, she is not held to Godly standards, and learns quickly that men are there to grant her desires, and excuse her faults.  She might have to be manipulative to get her way, but she learns exactly how to manipulate both men and society to do so.  She only has the standard of “beauty”, whatever that means at the time, to measure up to, but learns that she is more valuable than men simply because she is a woman.

However, men are fit into the role of pack mule (hence the title of Dr. Laura’s book, “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” – the view of men as sub-humanoid fills the book), in order to protect a woman and to provide for her.  From childhood, he is held to every standard of both God and women, starting from his mother.  She ingrains male mother need into him, directing his devotion away from God to first her and then a wife who takes over.  He learns quickly that his wishes, dreams, and desires are meaningless in general – that the sum total of the value of his worth as a man is in the approval of the women around him and he gains it by serving them and molding his life to fit their wishes (women define what masculinity is).

The Very Unhappily Ever After Part
Our couple then lives a life befitting traditional marriage and traditional gender roles, having both been indoctrinated into it by their mothers. He happily works himself to the bone to hand oblations to his goddess, including children for her to indoctrinate.

Then for whatever reason, as I did not ever hear why the divorce was initiated exactly, the wife finds dissatisfaction in her work horse and casts him aside. Given what we’ve read in much of the manosphere, we can probably reasonably fill in the blanks as to why she appeared at a new church.  I would guess that the divorce would have had to been frivolous, since this woman showed up in another church regularly about mid way through this story after being at the original church together since before the marriage began.

He, having taken to his traditional role as husband, finds out very quickly that the pretty little lies he was fed was false.   He finds out that the house is not “ours”, it is “hers”.  The children are not “ours”, but “hers”.  In following her will, she has isolated him from his friends, his own interests, and any kind of support system – he finds “our friends” are really “her friends”.  The church, as ever, stands beside the wife.  He is told that if he would just do whatever it takes to submit to his wife in everything, things would be fixed.   Sadly, as I found out in hearing the grief of this man as he expressed it, there was never an opportunity to genuinely share the red-pill – his focus was all about “fixing the marriage” and he would hear nothing else.

Our story ends in the worst way possible.   In running in the sand so far away from Christ to be the good traditional husband, he found he had nothing in his life.  Even worse for his heart, his goddess rejected him.  The sand swallowed him up, and he took his own life.   It’s never easy when I get such news about those I’ve talked to and addressed by name, but harder in this case for some reason, perhaps that I’m already so acutely aware having done these blogs for four-plus years.

This leads to the end of our story.  Naturally, the wife is finding all kinds of solace and comfort in this new church with this news that her husband did this, placing herself into the role of “the poor poor wife” – never-mind she cast this title aside.   Meanwhile, she does the touchdown dance in private as she has accomplished the divorce fantasy she has set out to fulfill in the fullest way possible.

Naturally, as with any of these events, this was cast upon him as his own sickness as both a Christian man and a husband, never as a consequence from traditional marriage.   The Traditional Marriage Narrative must stand at all costs, and never be revealed for the pretty little lie it is.