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Theological, Doctrinal, and Spiritual Musing - and whatever other else is on my mind when I notice that I haven't posted in a while.
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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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The Buzz

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.
- Marc Heinrich

His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
- Rose Cole

[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
- C-Train

This post contains nothing that is of any use to me. What were you thinking? Anyway, it's probably the best I've read all day.
- David Kjos

Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
- Jonathan Moorhead

There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
- Carla Rolfe
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Friday, April 03, 2009
An Interview On My Faith.
Question: So Daniel, how long have you been a Christian?
Dan: I first understood and believed the true gospel at around 19 or 20. I don't remember how old I was exactly because the day after receiving Christ, I gave into my first significant post-justification temptation to sin. I thought I had lost my salvation, and after much weeping and groaning, I just consoled myself that God would have at least one fan in hell (no pun intended). Seriously though, I honestly thought that I had blown my one chance, and that I could never be saved again. But a little over a decade ago I met a fellow who knew the scriptures, and convinced me after a while that God hadn't forsaken me, but that I had been deceived in my ignorance by a false notion - and very shortly after that I was as alive as I could ever be in Christ.

Question: Has it always been easy? Were there hills and valleys and all that?
Dan: Easy? (looks thoughtful for a moment) I will have to go with a qualified "no." This is the qualification, I spent one evening, over a decade ago, on my bed pouring my soul out through my eyes to the Lord. I was being "judgment day" honest about my sin, and about my fears and concerns - and especially about my lack of faith. I believed He was there, and that Jesus was who He was, and did what He did - that is, I believed that God was who He claimed to be, and did all He claimed to do - but I didn't believe He was really listening when I prayed, or cared about me personally. I felt that everything I was doing was wrong and tainted and that God couldn't accept anything from me until I cleaned up my act. In short, I didn't believe God, but I was honest with him about it - and I clung to Romans 10:17 in that prayer laying out before God's face as Hezekiah laid out the Assyrian letter in the temple before God's earthly throne - and I (with more boldness than anyone but the ignorant would ever proffer) laid the blame for my future faithlessness, (conditionally) on God, because I determined that night that I was going to read God's word - not just once, or twice - but three times at least, and maybe over and over again for the rest of my life - and more - I was determined that I would believe every last scrap of it no matter what - and if after doing this I found myself to still lack faith - well, it wouldn't be my fault!

I woke the next morning hungry for God's word, and for years I was able to devour twenty chapters a day. I attended no less than three, but usually around five bible studies a week, and everything in my life was bent towards knowing God. If you had asked me in those days if it was easy, I would have said that my "devotions" were quite easy - but I was also struggling against sin in my life.

Question: When you say struggling with sin in your life, what do you mean by that?
Dan: Well the first struggle any male usually endures is the struggle to purify the flesh, all the devotions in the world don't count for a hill of beans when you are tempted in the flesh. What matters is trusting that God really has set you free, and acting on that truth rather than on your own convictions. I truly believed that in spite of what scripture said, I had no control over my sin. But this struggle - the Romans seven struggle (if you will) was crushing me. Everywhere I looked in the church, everyone else seemed to have it together, but here was I, going to five studies a week, being filled with knowledge of God's word - and the compounding conviction that came with my ever growing understanding was tearing me apart inside. How could I call myself a saint and give into sinful temptations again, and again? I felt myself a great hypocrite, and wanted nothing more than to run and hide. I would even loathe prayer if they fell on a day of spiritual failure - because I felt that the only way God would accept me after my sin, was if I could somehow make it up to Him by being especially servile.

That was the gist of my struggle - my understanding of scripture seemed to be outpacing my ability to walk in what I knew to be the will of God.

Question: You mention walking in the will of God. Can you explain how that is done?
Dan: Some of the people in my early days of genuine faith were significantly influenced by the idea that God speaks to us in nudges, impressions, feelings, and even (though rarely) in mystical voices. That was very, very difficult for me, because I felt like a sub-Christian. God wasn't nudging me, nor giving me impressions, nor were my feelings getting the Holy flush† - I seemed, when I compared myself to these people I knew and regarded as "holy" to be inert spiritually.

Now I want to be clear here. I am by no means dead to conscience - I know when I transcend my conscience - not because some voice, impression, nudge or nuance pricks me - but because I have informed my conscience through scripture, and when I transgress something in scripture my conscience soundly, and swiftly brings that to mind. I don't regard this as mystical, but practical - Paul said he did his best to maintain always a blameless conscience both before God and before men, and so do I. Scripture describes my conscience as a thing which bears witness to me, through my thoughts so that I am either accused by them, or defended by them in whatever I do or plan to do. Having an informed conscience, and ensuring that I do not wound it by ignoring it - is not a mystical thing, it is a practical thing.

But I don't confuse having a conscience with my own imagination - and this is where it was difficult for me in my early walk. I was hearing believers speak of hearing God's word as though they had a chit chat with God every morning. I was being told that the reason we didn't hear God was that we weren't listening, and then I was seeing people claim that God was leading them through their day by a series of not only pious impulses. The impression I was getting, and that God was giving me impulses to control every aspect of my day, and that if I didn't obey them I was sinning against the Holy Spirit.

Now, it is never a good thing to ignore your conscience, but it is quite another to say that every stray thought that enters my mind is from God - or even that any stray thought is from God. One day I found myself in prayer, begging God not to ever speak to me in voices, nuances, or any such thing - but to make me satisfied, ever and always in the sufficiency of His word - which until then, and ever since then, is all I have ever had by way of revelation.
Not the potty kind of flush

Question: So walking in the will of God would be what then?
Dan: Sorry, it would be obeying the commandments of Christ, foremost of which is to love the Lord your God, and if you do that you will not be able to help obeying every other commandment - the most obvious being the second which is like it - to love others.

No one can love God and do something hateful to someone God loves - whether that be to others, or even to oneself. God's will is not some riddle we try and solve - not some hidden thing we try to uncover by being really, really, quiet in our souls and listening really hard - it is plain, and well stated in scripture, and if those who listen for still small voices would instead listen to commands clearly stated in scripture - they would do better for themselves and for others.

Question: It sounds like you are suggesting that God doesn't speak to His people anymore. Is that your meaning?
Dan: Well, yes and no. God doesn't speak to his people like that anymore. Remember Hebrews 1:1-2, God spoke in all sorts of ways before Christ came and completed God's redemptive message to mankind. God's message to us is simple: Repent, and believe. Whatsoever you do, do it to God's glory, do it with all your strength and heart - don't wait around for special revelation from God - as though he left you talents, told you to invest them, and is now whispering in your ear how he wants you to invest them - that isn't how the story goes. God speaks, but He speaks through His word - that is, the Holy Spirit ministers God's word to our conscience, and ministers to us through our understanding of God's word. I haven't heard a voice, I haven't had a nudge, I haven't experienced a feeling, nuance, impression or any such thing, my hope is built on something better than these - even as Peter writes, I have the inspired word, and in it I rest. I have no need of voices beyond God's finished work. If God sees fit to start speaking to me in voices, perhaps I will change my mind - but I won't pretend that my imagination is something spiritual! How many other world religions train their converts to interpret the voice of their own thinking as being God's voice? Are we so blind?

Question: What gets you passionate about God?
Dan: (thinking) Passionate? Well I love to hear the gospel preached clearly and boldly. It just excites me in a way nothing else does. I feel like cheering. But what makes it so exciting is that it exalts God - to see/hear God exalted boils my blood in a good way. There is nothing on earth that can touch the joy of that - nothing to compare with it.

Question: Would you describe yourself as a soul winner?
Dan: No. If the devil preached the gospel right, people would be saved. God is the Soul Winner. If there are a thousand unsaved people in an auditorium, and I preach the same gospel to all of them so that ten of them receive Christ - have I done anything, or has not the wind blowed wherever it wished, and have I not heard the sound of it, but even having heard that sound I still cannot say how it came or where it would go. This is how it is with those who are born of God. The Gospel is offered to all, but all reject it - even those who eventually receive it reject it. All are condemned "already" because of this. Yet in spite of this - for God loves in this way - the Spirit moves and God saves those who believe because the Spirit moved them to believe - God loves in this way, I say, in that He offers the gospel to mankind, who universally rejects that offer, but in spite of their rejection, God grants eternal life to some of those who are condemned already - by sending the Spirit to quicken them so that they believe and are saved.

Question: Do you mean that God could save everyone, but doesn't?
Dan: Yes, that is what I mean. When David defeated Moab, He measured the captives with a line, making them lie down on the ground; David measured out two lines and put them to death, because they all deserved to die - but he measured one full line to keep alive because he was merciful. Unless (until) a person understands that every sin deserves death, they will never understand that mercy is not a commodity that people are owed - and that when it is given to one, it does not oblige the giver to give it to all. God could have saved every last sinner, but just because God can send His Son to receive the condemnation of a guilty sinner, doesn't mean that God is obliged to do so for every guilty sinner. Listen: We are guilty, we deserve hell. God, if He is righteous, is obliged to send us all to hell. Do you get that? That is -all- any of us deserves.

That question makes so little of the death of Christ is makes me angry and ill at the same time. It rises from a place that says, yeah, I am a sinner, but if God saves some other sinner, then he has to save me too or he isn't fair. HELLO?? it isn't like God is just letting some people off the hook - HE IS SENDING HIS OWN SON TO DIE IN THEIR STEAD! Get that! I mean, really, really get that. It cost God something that He was by no means obligated to pay - and you are now saying that if God is willing to put his son in the place of one sinner - then God should do the same for everyone. Is the life of God's Son Jesus so little in your eyes man? This is the Son of God you are bandying about! You are saying, hey, God should kill His Son for everyone if he kills Him for one. Ack! Do you forget that people actually deserve hell? Do you forget that they actually hate God? They want everything God has, but they don't want God. Do you know what that is? That is envy, strife, ...murder. They are not fit for life, -we- are not fit for life, God has every right to put us down like we would put down a child-eating dog.

God could save us all - but what a crime that would be! His glory demands better. I could spend the whole interview on this point however, and those who hate this doctrine would still be as blind at the end of it for all my words - God has to open eyes, or people won't see it. Nothing testifies to our sinfulness so clearly as the rampant inability to see this truth - that God is perfectly just in damning sinners, even if in His mercy He saves some of those sinners by uniting them with His innocent son, and damning them in Him so that even as Christ partakes of their damnation and dies, so to, they can partake of Christ's resurrection, for death could not hold that Innocent One.

Question: Okay, can you give any advice for fellow believers out there? Non believers?
Dan: Sure, for believers, I would say, examine yourselves to see whether or not you are in the faith. By that I don't mean, find out if you are *really* a Christian - though such an examination ought to show whether you are or not; but I mean examine yourself and see if your walk, your Christian habit is entirely biblical, or whether it is a hash of things biblical and things which contradict scripture, or are never found in scripture. If you think you should be healing people, and you are fretting because they never seem to get healed, then go to scripture and study it - does your understanding of how this is supposed to work mirror what is in scripture, or does it simply mirror what you imagine should be happening because that is what you have always thought, or that is what you were told, or read, or what have you. Don't think that just because you are in a "bible believing" church, and because you are sincere that you are going to be free from every snare. The Devil is no fool - he is a brilliant strategist, and has had millenia to perfect his craft. He is a liar and corrupts through deceit, through half-truths, through bent truths, through misapplied truths. His lies line up with worldly wisdom, so that they seem right to us if we are not saturated with God's word - which is the next bit of advice - read the word of God, read it as much as you can, don't wait to feel good about reading it, and don't stop yourself from reading it just because you feel guilty - just pick it up and read it - and pray when you do - ask the same God who inspired the text to open your heart to it - ask this every single time you read it or think of scripture.

Listen to every criticism that people level against you. Your critics are far more honest about your flaws than your friends typically are. They may exaggerate your flaws, or put them in their worst light - but they often put finger on things that others are simply too polite to mention.

Pray earnestly - make time for prayer.

Stop trying to "fix" the church: that's Christ's job. You, follow Christ! I mean, don't be an idiot or anything, it is good to be concerned, good to follow what scripture dictates, but stop trying to re-invent church as though the only valid church is one where everyone is dressed in togas, wearing Sandals, speaking Aramaic, gathering in the house of the richest person in the assembly, and eating grapes, pita bread, and otherwise trying to recreate first century Palestine as though it was God's intention a culture separated by two millenia and thousands of miles ought to become the rule of thumb. Jesus said He would build his church (congregation), and that the gates of hell (a reference to powers and principalities that are opposed to this work) would not stand against it. Be discerning, but don't be a quack.

For the non believers:

Ask yourself where everything came from, why you believe that, and what proof you *really* have of it - then re-evaluate Christianity. Repeat until you get it.

Question: One final thing: What do you want written on your tombstone?
Dan: I am hoping Christ returns so that I can be changed in the twinkling of an eye, rather than actually have to go through death - but presuming I do, I don't really care what my headstone says, I care what God will say on the day my headstone is required, and I hoping it includes, "Well done".
posted by Daniel @ 9:48 AM  
  • At 5:21 PM, April 03, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    I put the image up just to generate comments...

  • At 10:22 AM, April 04, 2009, Anonymous David Kjos said…

    I put the image up just to generate comments.

    Groovy hair, man.

    I honestly don't want a tombstone. I want to be buried in an unmarked grave, which would then be forgotten, or cremated and scattered. I don't want anyone visiting my grave as though I am actually there.

  • At 9:52 PM, April 04, 2009, Blogger Daniel said…

    My eldest daughter has this "bad hair day" wig that she puts on when she is having a bad hair day. I put it on just before going to work and snapped the pic. I thought I sort of looked like a surfer dude.

  • At 9:56 AM, April 05, 2009, Anonymous David Kjos said…

    Catch a Wave on Lake Winnipeg?

    Wish They All Could Be Manitoba Girls

    How about:
       If everybody had a really big lake like Winnipeg
       Across Canada
       Then everybody’d be surfin’
       Like Manito-bi-a
       You’d seem ’em wearing their wetsuits
       Because the water’s so cold
       A shaggy shaggy bad hair wig
       Surfin’ Canada

       You’d catch ’em surfin’ at Edmonton
       And in Saskatoon
       Calgary and Regina
       And Prince Albert, BC
       All over the Yukon
       And down Moosejaw way

       Everybody’s gone surfin’
       Surfin’ Canada

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