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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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Thursday, June 26, 2008
Reverse Engineering...
In software the program that takes the actual code that you write (source code) and turns it into a compiled executable file is called a compiler. There are also decompilers out there that take a compiled executable file and break it down into source code again. The decompilation process isn't a perfect science of course, but often is sufficient for nefarious peoples to pillage/plagiarize ideas, intellectual properties etc. In fact, many compilers come with obfuscation software - software specifically designed to obfuscate (hide, or cover up) the source code - that is, to make it more difficult (and hopefully impossible) to decompile. In the field of Engineering, the same process is often called reverse-engineering, and the idea there is that you carefully take something apart, breaking it into its component pieces, so that you can create a copy of each component piece and from the copies assemble another instance of the original.

I think most of us are familiar with the term, but I had to start somewhere.

In 1802, newly elected president Thomas Jefferson, responding in writing to a group of Connecticut Baptists who felt that a mixing of politics and religion would adversely affect them personally and therefore were urging the new president to recognize a separation of church and state, wrote a reply in which he affirmed that the first amendment itself created a wall of separation between church and state:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
We as believers recognize along with the founding fathers of the United States, that the only way to truly protect religious freedom is to make sure that governance is kept separate from religion altogether.

Yet, I say, if one were to look out the current state of affairs with an unjaundiced eye, one would plainly see that religion has indeed been creeping into, and continues to gain ground in governing this once great nation. The trouble is that this religion is not like most religions, in that it does not exalt a deity, but rather exalts science, and secular, (and therefore relative) morality.

This subtle, but very real, compromise is having exactly the effect that the founding fathers sought to avoid, it is creating legislation that favors the secular religion, and increasingly does injury to every other religion.

In Canada, where I am, I see this daily - as the state religion of secular humanism continues to overshadow every other faith, and is slowly miring former freedoms in the name of the new world order.

I use the example of reverse engineering, because if we start with what we have, and reverse engineer it, we find that although we are careful to keep any deistic religion out of our legislation, yet every atheistic influence is found in seed form or in full bloom.

I call your attention to this sad state, as I did in my last post, because this is the generation to which this has come. We are the generation that is dropping the ball, and will we be regarded by history as those whose slackness began or aided a downward spiral, or the one who identified it, and rose up to purge it out. Are we the generation who has forgotten to pray for our nation?

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posted by Daniel @ 10:41 AM   2 comment(s)
Monday, June 23, 2008
Stop, Or I Shall Say Stop Again!
I live in Canada.

When I was young I was a product of mainstream social engineering, i.e., a product of the public school system. Yes, yes, they taught me how to do maths and stuff, but mostly they taught me that the opinions of my peers were more important than my own, and that rocking the boat, or having a unpopular opinion was not merely bad - but marked you as anti-social, or worse, (and more commonly) a small-minded, bigot.

Even when I was in school they had sex education - where we were taught that masturbation is natural, good, and proper, if private, and that homosexuality was just another life choice, and that the only people who didn't think so were sexually repressed bigots who couldn't get their heads out of the sand. To be sure, this social programming was part of our education - we were being trained, sometimes subtly, but more often less so, that the greatest objective of life was to pursue the most permissive life possible, and subsequently, that anything which stilted or denied any sort of permissiveness was suffocating, small minded, and lacking sorely in the greatest virtue every exalted: tolerance.

Tolerance was a necessary component if we wanted to live the most permissive lives possible. The only rules, seemed to be, that you ought not to tolerate (or at least, you shouldn't have to tolerate) something that physically injured you. Thus the rule that was fed to us was do as much as you can as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.

This was reinforced by the peer system. The teacher's job was not only to teach us how to solve algebraic problems, but also to foster a social order that bred out individualism and objective truth. If a student held an opinion that offended another student - the first student's opinion was bad, and as it was the unspoken job of the teacher to facilitate peer driven uniformity in all things, to identify and ridicule anything that smelled of "intolerance" - and to eradicate it by fostering a negative group mentality against it - we were well on our way to being good liberal automatons.

But fortunately I heard the gospel and believed as a young man, and all the social programming in the world could not long obfuscate the truths of scripture. Shortly after I came to know Christ as my Savior, and believe (all) the words of scripture, I found myself unable to continue in my liberal leanings. Suddenly I was unable to pursue mass-permissiveness under the joint, noble guises of tolerance and equality, but found myself more and more convinced that giving the flesh more and more freedom would not benefit society, but destroy it.

So it is that I am somewhat dismayed by the recent political connivings in Canada - I speak of course of Bill S-209.

Presently, in section 43 of the Canadian Criminal Code, provision is made for using physical force to correct wayward behavior in children (i.e. spanking). The text itself reads:
Every schoolteacher, parent or person standing in the place of a parent is justified in using force by way of correction toward a pupil or child, as the case may be, who is under his care, if the force does not exceed what is reasonable under the circumstances.


This section makes it plain that parents are justified in physically correcting their children when it is appropriate to do so. This section does not give the parent the right to exceed what is considered reasonable (that is, the parent or guardian is not allowed to abuse the child), but -is- entitled to correct the child according to the way children have been corrected every since time began.

The Bill, (S-209) would revoke this provision, and basically [1] expand "criminal" liability to parents and guardians who would attempt to correct deviant behavior with (formerly) reasonable persuasions; it would likewise, and subsequently [2] grant an unprecedented level of immunity to children and teenagers who themselves are not yet so discerning as to conduct themselves in a way that is always safe for themselves or for others (younger children) around them; and also it would [3] in no way alter the number of instances of genuine child abuse; as there are laws in place for such things already, instead it would (by expanding the definition of abuse) criminalize what has historically (not to mention biblically) been a productive and effective deterrent to aberrant behavior, before that behavior can take root and do more damage to the individual and to society as a whole.

I say, I hang my head in shame for this country, for whom permissiveness is the new state religion, and whose judgment is surely coming. May God grant this nation repentance, that it might escape the judgments that such madness will bring upon it.

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posted by Daniel @ 12:49 PM   6 comment(s)
Thursday, June 19, 2008
One Lump or Two?
As I understand it, in Islam, the Kirama Katibin (Arabic: كراماً كاتبين) are two angels who sit one on either shoulder. The one records the good deeds, the other the bad deeds, and at the end of your life, which ever angel had the larger tally (the one recording the good or the one recording the bad) would determine whether you went to Jannah or Jahannam (heaven or hell) when you died.

From what I have read, this is probably where the old animation bit of the shoulder angel vs. shoulder devil comes from. We all know the gag - the animated character is faced with some dilemma in their conscience and their internal struggle is anthropomorphically represented by miniature versions of the character, one dressed as an angel on one shoulder, and the other as a devil on the other shoulder. The character then works out the internal struggle by weighing the counsel of these two "imaginary" characters.

My personal favorite is the scene from "The Emperor's New Groove" (2000), where Kronk is faced with the moral choice of letting Emperor Kuzco (who has been polymorphed into a Llama, rendered unconscious, tied in a bag, and tossed in a canal) die or not. As indecision grips him the following scene plays out:

Shoulder Devil: Listen up, big guy. I got three good reasons why you should just walk away. Number one. Look at that guy! (gesturing to the Shoulder Angel) He's got that sissy stringy music thing.
Shoulder Angel: We've been through this. It's a harp, and you know it.
Shoulder Devil: Oh, right. That's a harp, and that's a dress.
Shoulder Angel: (Irritated) Robe!
Shoulder Devil: Reason number two. Look what I can do. (He does a one-armed hand stand) Ha-ha, ha!
Kronk: (confused) But what does that have to do with me?
Shoulder Angel: No, no. He's got a point.
Kronk: Listen, you guys. You're sort of confusing me, so, um, begone... or, uh, however I get rid of you guys.
Shoulder Devil & Shoulder Angel: That'll work.
(poof! They disappear).

Interestingly enough, the Islamic origin of the shoulder angel classically illustrates how the world tends to view right and wrong, and what the eternal consequences of right and wrong are. If we do something "bad" that's wrong, and if there is more bad in us that good, we are going to go to a bad place when we die. If on the other hand there is more good in us when we die, we will go to a good place. Religion becomes that which instructs us in the difference between good and evil.

Of course, scripture teaches us that no good deed will by any means erase a bad one, and that God will not let even the smallest sin go unpunished, no matter how many good deeds we might bring to God to cover it up. That is, scripture does not paint God as being placated by good deeds, nor does scripture portray God as overlooking evil for any reason whatsoever. Were that not enough, scripture teaches that we actually don't have any "good deeds" that God would actually consider good. Sure, they are relatively good - in that some deeds are less evil than others, but scripture again plainly teaches us that those things we regard as being good, God regards as being unclean - that is, if there were two shoulder angels sitting on everyone's shoulders - at the end of one's life, the angel who was recording the "good" deeds, would give the list to the angel who was recording the "bad" deeds, and every noteworthy thing the person had ever done would be handed to God as "bad" deeds.

Which is to say, that anyone who holds out hope of getting past a righteous God and into heaven by the strength of their own good deeds, has never read the scriptures, or does not believe them. The God of scripture is going to punish that person for all the evil they have done - and all the "good" they have done too, since their "good" is in fact evil too.

But that isn't what I wanted to post about - it is just an interesting aside as part of the intro. Sorry for the delay.

I think that many believers are never taught about who they are in Christ. They are left with vague ideas and unasked (and therefore unanswered) questions, and in their ignorance they flounder about when temptation and sin come knocking.

I say "flounder about" because if one doesn't know the A, B, C's of their faith, one is left to figure it out by one's own self - and that is kinda difficult to do when sin makes you feel like a great big phony.

So I will spell it out quick and simple:

On the very day that you were saved, you were adopted into God's family and as such you became an heir to all the promises and privileges associated with being God's child.

Everything you have received and will receive comes to you because you are united together with Christ in the heavenly places. That is, you were united together with Christ on Calvary, where you both died and where resurrected. God dealt with your sins in Christ so that you are no longer condemned, since the condemnation for all your sins, past present and future, were poured out on Christ two thousand years ago, and because Christ was raised from the dead, you know that God has accepted you, since you were in Christ at the time. That is why there is no condemnation to anyone who is in Christ.

Think of it this way - the moment you die, all that you were is put on Calvary with Christ. Your whole life, beginning to end is tied to Christ, and God deals with your sin there, and that old man dies with Christ and goes into the grave with Christ. But that old man is raised as a new creation, not on the earth in the here and now, but was created -in- Christ when God raised Christ from the dead.

Experientially speaking, you have no connection with this "new creation" - for it does not live in the here and now, it lives on the other side of the cross. But unlike the "new creation" that is presently hidden in Christ and sitting at the right hand of God on high - the current "you" is still here on this earth, and hasn't changed a lick.

"Huh?", says you.

"Yeah-huh!", says me.

You see, you -are- a new creation, but only in Christ. You won't experience that inheritance until you are finished living this life.

Read that last line over a couple of times till it clicks.

You have to finish living out this life before you come into your inheritance. That might sound like a raw deal, but it is (I believe) the one God has cut for us, and I remind you that we have not been left here as orphans. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us - He sent Him as a "Wedding Ring" as the proof of His promise that we are redeemed, and will enter into our inheritance.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment - to come along side the heirs of God and help them during their sojourn as pilgrims on earth.

You see, you flesh isn't going to get any better. It isn't going to stop being the base for temptation and junk, it will continue to spout bitter water (if you will) for the rest of your life. It is a leopard that cannot change its spots - that is why, even though you are a believer, you still sin. Because deep down, even though you know the Lord and hate yourself for it - you still want to sin. You don't want it to be that way, and you feel like there must be something insincere about your faith - but that is the cold bare truth.

Now that's normal, as far as I know. But being born again doesn't mean that the only thing that has changed is that you get to go to heaven. It means, as I said, that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence in your life - and will produce in you, day by day, conviction and godly desires - in fact it was this ministry in the first place that allowed you to believe. The Holy Spirit came to you and produced saving faith in you.

You are therefore, a sinner, in a sinful body, who loves sin, and will continue to love sin until Christ returns or you die, but you are indwelt by the Spirit of God who is working in you spiritual desires that are foreign to your old man - desires to obey, desires to set yourself apart to God's work.

Sin still brings you pleasure, and you crave it, but sin does not bring you peace, or joy - it only brings you shame and sorrow. To be sure, the only thing that would bring you true joy is perfect obedience, and the Spirit within you cries out within you for this very thing. Yet you have no strength in yourself to make it happen.

Thus if someone was to ask you how many natures you had, you could say I have but one nature - a sin nature. I want to sin, and I live for my own pleasure. You wouldn't be lying. In fact, coming to know this is true about yourself is the very first step in genuine sanctification.

Why is that?

Because until you understand that you are not part good and part evil - that is until you understand that there is no small sliver of "okay-ness" in you, until you lose all confidence in the flesh, you will never turn to Christ for all things. You will certainly turn to Christ for the "big" temptations - whatever those might be. You will turn to Him in your "weaknesses" but more often than not you will forge on in the strength of your flesh - on Christian "autopilot" if you will. You will teach yourself all sorts of moral habits by which you can silence that nagging Holy Spirit conviction, as though the ministry of the Holy Spirit was simply to nag you when you sin so that you stop sinning - rather than to convict you of what you are deep down inside so that you utterly abandon that which is destined to die at Calvary, and instead embrace with both arms and a whole heart the only truth that can ever benefit you - that you are a wretch through and through, that nothing you have ever done or ever will do can be anything but wicked, and that you need Christ for each and every moment of your life if there is going to be even the smallest increase in Christian living.

The Christian habit is perhaps the most sorry excuse for Spiritual living that there can be. Yet it is by far the most common. Listen, you have one nature right now - just one - a sin nature. You are not flipping back and forth between a shoulder angel and a shoulder devil - doing now the deeds of the new nature, and now the deeds of the old; rather you have only a sin nature that will only produce death in you and more death - and you have been given the indwelling Holy Spirit by whom you can live out the rest of your life at war with that thing that has been killing you since the day it took its first breath. You are supposed to be at war with the flesh, not at home in it. You are supposed to know what it means to be spiritually minded, and not tossed about like the waves of the sea, teetering now this way, and now that.

Listen, here is encouragement: God is for you. Yeah, you're a sinner. Yeah, you can't produce anything but sin. Get over it. God is at work in you right now - but he isn't trying to make your old man better, he is not trying to make it so that your flesh stops tempting you, or so that the world stops tempting you - No! He is making it so that when the world, the devil, and your own nature call you to sin - yet you have a way of escape, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

That is why we are to set our mind on the things of the Spirit - not looking back at our sin, but looking ahead at what God is going to do (glorify us) and what God is doing now (strengthening us as we walk in the Spirit). We don't mope around just because we have made a great big shipwreck of our day. No, we recognize that the "old man" has been dealt with already - that the shipwreck we made of this day has been dealt with on Calvary - and we rise up on wings of praise - putting on the garment of praise, because we know that Christ has overcome this already - that our shipwrecked day has been defeated on Calvary, and that our moping doesn't make God more disposed to us - instead we take joy in what God has done, and press on.

I know, I know - listen: I KNOW, that sounds backwards to the shoulder angel mentality. It is out of step with what we think about our selves. We want God to fix us, we don't want to accept that we are great big sinners who can't change. We want to be changed, and we want it yesterday. When it doesn't happen we think there is something wrong with us, and if there is some small victory - some change of heart, some ease in our struggle - how we make that the focus of our hope - that God would make all things easy.

I hate to be long winded here, but allow me to continue a moment more. Stop trying to make the old man better. He is not going to get better. Now stop pretending that the old man wants to get better - he doesn't. Stop playing this game with God - the one where you try and be good in order for God to like you -- the one where you stay at arms length away from God until after you "feel" like you are more spiritual. Good gravy! There is nothing in you, not an ounce, that longs for God - if anything in you is craving God it is the Holy Spirit, and grieving Him only hinders your joy - it only hinders your joy.

Walk in the Spirit little ones. It isn't some horrible command, it is joy and peace. Don't try and make the flesh better, stop waiting for that perfect day, or that perfect moment - it isn't coming. Today - while it is called today, right now even, just turn away from the flesh and its demands and instead say - yeah, I am a sinner, and I love my sin, yeah I want to keep on sinning - but I know that there is nothing in me that commends me to you Lord - except that you have called me, and your Spirit in me calls to you through me, yearning for me to return to you - deep calling unto deep. My flesh will resist you with all its might, but I know that you overcame this very flesh on Calvary my Lord, and My Savior - come and yearn for the work of your hands - grant grace that your life in me would drown this death that has no desire for you - come be glorified in me because I know there is nothing in me that is worthy, all I have is praise for you, for you have done these things for me and I have not and never can be worthy of them. You who are the Victor, and Victory both - come and drown this sin that would rule your child, and deliver me!
posted by Daniel @ 3:25 PM   2 comment(s)
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Empathy Deficit Disorder??
Now I have heard everything.

It used to be that being socially clueless, more than a tad self absorbed, and emotionally distant - these were things that explained why it is that you come across as such a cold person. Really, the truth is, you are just so utterly into yourself, you don't really care about others unless doing so will benefit you in some way, or unless failing to do so will impact you negatively.

When the veneer of our sin is rather thin, we tend to act and react in a way that looks (more or less) more like the real state of our heart than those who have learned that better social skills means a higher quality return on self investment.

Yeah, I have rose coloured glasses, baby, rose coloured glasses.

Anyway, now it seems there is yet another label with which to paint over our sinfulness; a new label to re-cast ourselves into the tired old role of victim yet again - we are callous, yes, we suffer from a "disorder" - as if normally people are empathetic, and our lack of empathy were some sort of chemical problem.

Apparently, unlike the rest of nature, humans are generous and selfless at heart, and those who aren't are broken in some way.

Anyway, clearly I suffer from this disorder, as I lack empathy on a daily basis. Yet I find that understanding who I am in Christ and who I am without Him makes my sinfulness something I am not inclined to excuse as a malady, but rather something I am inclined to seek deliverance from under its dominion - not through group therapy or medicine, but through a right understanding of all that Christ did for me (sin sick as I am), and through the love that springs out of that understanding - the love that springs from faith, has overcome, is overcoming, and will overcome all that the flesh, the world, and the enemy throw at me, or you, if indeed we are in Christ; we overcome, period.

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posted by Daniel @ 1:19 PM   5 comment(s)
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Sanctification Pitfalls.... Episode I: Quietism and Activism
Quietism: (defined)  The belief that sanctification is so entirely monergistic (performed by God alone upon the believer) that the believer can be sanctified in a vacuum.

That's kind of a wooden and quick definition, but it suits this discussion well enough.

Statement: All "true believers" are convicted both of sin and of righteousness by the Holy Spirit

We want to be careful even starting off that way - because, frankly, the Holy Spirit may well convict a non-believer of sin in their life, conviction of sin does not prove that one is a believer - though a lack of that conviction would certainly suggest that one is not a believer. For all true believers receive the Spirit of Christ the very instant they are justified, and this indwelling presence cannot indwell a person without consequence.

That is to say, we who are justified find that regardless of how much pleasure sin brings us, we hate it, and we hate ourselves for giving into it. We truly wish we were already in possession of our glorified bodies - that is, we wish that there was nothing in us (that is in our flesh) that desired sin - we wish that all we would ever desire to do would be please God. In fact, this is typically how we would describe the greatest difference between our pre-saved, and post-saved experience: Where once we couldn't care less about God, now we wish our lives were pleasing to him, and we hate it that our lives are not pleasing to him.

That what well meaning believers are responding to when they try to "sanctify" themselves. They are trying to experience in the here and now, that assured feeling that everything they do will warrant a "well done my good and faithful servant" from God, everything that fails to warrant such a decree - they feel condemns them as hypocrites, pretenders, fakes, and frauds. Their failure to be perfect causes them to secretly doubt that their salvation was successful. The weight of their guilt can and often does, make havoc of their faith.

Quietism, as I understand it, (like most of the errors I am going to discuss) misinterprets the role of faith in our sanctification. In particular the Quietist reasons that because the flesh cannot produce anything righteous (that which is flesh is flesh, and that which is spirit: spirit), then the path to sanctification must be entirely spiritual - and our "faith" therefore must be that God is going to zap us either all at once, or in little bits, regardless of anything we do.

It is from theology like this that some adhere to the, "Let Go, Let God!" approach to sanctification.

It is, of course, an erroneous teaching.

Those who avoid this pitfall sometimes fall off the other side of the horse, and succumb to:

Activism: (defined)  The belief that sanctification is apprehended by the doing of "sanctified" things.

Again - a wooden definition, but it suits my purpose here. Activism is like the opposite of Quietism. Where the Quietist believes that God does everything, the Activist believes that man does everything in his own strength, but (because he or she is humble) then says that everything was actually done in God's strength. That is, they do all the work, regard the work itself as the process of sanctification, and credit God for the "ability" to do the work.

To be sure, most world religions follow a form of Activism. Moral standards are set, and individuals, in the strength of their own conviction and desire for conformity and or assurance, perform in a manner that is (externally at least) consistent with their profession. One need not be a confused Christian to fall into this sort of self-sanctification.

The earmark of Activism is that no matter how much you "do", your inner man is not strengthened - it is entirely an external exercise because as spiritual as it is dressed up as, it isn't founded on trusting God, it is usually founded upon the hope that by maintaining a meritorious faith one can be assured of salvation.

This sort of pursuit is no more joyful than being successful in any self effort. If one is inclined to feel joy (pride) at having done a "good" or "difficult" job, one may well continue in this particular manner indefinitely.

Neither Quietism nor Activism understand the nature of sanctification, which I hope to elaborate in another post.

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posted by Daniel @ 11:00 AM   12 comment(s)
 
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