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I am a senior at Southeastern University majoring in Theology, minoring in Youth and Bible (and possibly Greek). I am dating a most wonderful woman named Lisa Youngerman and she helps me on my journey in life and my journey of faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I haven't posted on here in a while for a reason....

.....my reason is that I've been super busy with work and I'm thinking about establishing a new blog.

....update soon to come.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Characteristics of a Cult by Hank Hanegraaff

What Are Common Characteristics of Cults?


CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTS- IntroductionOne of the most devastating experiences someone could face is to have a loved one involved in a cult. What are some ways we can know that a certain group is in fact a cult?
The devil always hides behind a mask; and he seldom carries an ID card. If this statement is true, it is of utmost importance for us to discern a cult when we see one.
The first mark of a cult is its manipulation of Scripture. The Bible is twisted to fit the leader or group’s interpretation. Private interpretations are forbidden because the leader of the cult is the only one, of course, who is able to understand God’s voice properly. Their teachings distort the historic, orthodox claims of Christianity.
Second, many times cults manipulate people’s minds. There is little concern for individual thought and development. Education is usually discouraged while the convert is bombarded with the cult’s doctrine and literature. Members are called to leave or neglect their old family and life-style for a brand new one.
 third characteristic is the manipulation of time. Since salvation comes exclusively from the teachings of the group, in many cults members spend much of their time working for their organization. Family, school, leisure, sleep, and even food are most often neglected.
Finally, cults typically manipulate reality. They tend to have an exclusive “us”/“them” mentality in which society and old associates are all out to get them. Anyone outside of the group is suspect.

If a religious group exhibits one or more of the marks mentioned above, that group may well be considered a cult. Jesus Christ said that in the last days many false prophets would arise and deceive many (Matt. 24:11,24). To avoid the deception of the cults, we should be rooted in the teachings of the historic Christian faith, and receive Jesus Christ, God the Son, second Person of the Trinity, as Lord of our lives.

this main article is found here

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"Treasure Hunting" A Prophetic/Evangelistic movement

Before I get into anything, I want to say that many of my friends do this exercise often, some have recently started it, and I myself have done it. This is just an assessment of it, neither a bashing nor exalting of it, but rather a simple Biblical assessment to test the validity of it and my final conclusion. I will try my best to keep this as unbiased as possible, as you will see, I point out that I am not charismatic or a Pentecostal, though, I do not wish to consider this practice false because charismatic’s/Pentecostal’s use it, but rather, I want to assess it by itself, individually, apart from my bias, according to Scripture alone which is our standard and final authority.

First, I want to define what "treasure hunting" before I state my comments on what I think it is.

Treasure hunting is a prophetic setting where worshipers are gathered in one place, they seek God for "clues" such as simple words or phrases like, "red" or "bay" or "main street" etc. Each person may or may not get a clue. At the end of the seeking session, the group gathers all the clues and they try to figure out where it is leading them to go. If the clues were, "red, bay, Main Street" the group would go to main street, find something that is red or has bay on it. Since I live in the Tampa Bay area, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is the team here, whose colors are red and black...so the assumed person whom I am being led to talk to would probably be wearing something of Tampa Bay Bucs sportswear. This is the basic concept of "treasure hunting."

Next, I want to describe this in 2 ways, 1) the concept behind this exercise and 2) the actual exercise itself.

1) This is an exercise of prayer and a prophetic calling. It is a prayerful exercise because the first setting is seeking God for "clues" and listening to Him awaiting an answer. The prophetic is when God speaks back the "clues" needed. The concept of this exercise is to actually engage in prayer, prophetic gifting, evangelism, and obedience unto the Lord. I think this is wonderful!! I definitely believe that prayer is powerful, evangelism is how we spread the Kingdom, it is how the Kingdom is coming to earth, and obedience is the mark of maturity and holy sanctification among believers. As for a prophetic gifting, I am not charismatic not Pentecostal so I am leery of the concept (though, I used to be very charismatic/Pentecostal, but the more I pray about it, the more I am driven from it) but, I am still open to it, just not the charismatic view of it anymore. Please do not think I am committing the genetic fallacy, meaning that I think it is guilty by association, because I have done a lot of study on both points of views and I just cannot come up with anything sufficient leaning me either way, either the continuation of the gifts or the ceasing of the gifts. Nevertheless, do not think that my view of this is altering my thoughts on the "treasure hunting" exercise, because other things are happening such as evangelism, prayer, and active obedience, so all in all, I think the concept is wonderful and exercises that have these concepts should be practiced and exercised!

2) The concepts that I pointed out that this exercise has: evangelism, prayer, obedience, and prophecy, though all good because all are talked about in Scripture, they must come from a Biblical foundation and guideline. I will explain each. Evangelism, this is the relaying of good news or "good news"...and Evangelist is someone who brings good news. Now, the rule is, to define what the good news is. The good news is, Jesus Christ. Simply. Jesus came, lived perfectly, died, rose again, through Him our sins were canceled and declared justified by God on the basis of Jesus' righteousness and that we get to live and dwell with Him for eternity if we trust in Him. We cannot redefine what the news is based upon our preference. Someone can easily be an evangelist of Satan, an evangelist for Buddhism, Islam, atheism, agnosticism...etc. because it is one who relays a message. So, the concept of Evangelism must be defined by a set rule, and as Christians, our set rules come from Scripture. Though, Christianity is not a set of rules as in legalism which says "do this, don't do that" but rather, established boundaries and foundations that we should enjoy and use. Therefore, our rule of Evangelism comes from Scripture. Same thing goes with the rest, prophecy, prayer, and obedience. Our obedience must come from the heart and not merely outward expression, because if it starts in our heart our outward expression will show it. Our prayer must be God honoring, according to the will of God, self-denying but seeking God in our daily needs, and remembering the hope and promises that God has given us (I am using the example that Jesus gave in the Lord's Prayer). Finally, prophecy. This must go according to the Scriptural guidelines just as the rest do. Now, nearly 1/3 of the Bible is devoted to prophecy so it would be hard to go through all of the verses that talk about prophecy, so, if I may, narrow it down to the Scriptural guidelines of prophesy. Also, I would like to point to the Scriptural guidelines of prophesy as well since there is no Biblical precedent for the "treasure hunt" activity as well. Scripture does not affirm the positive of "treasure hunting" meaning that it does not talk specifically about treasure hunting, though this will work against the "treasure hunting" activity, it will not debunk it. What we must do is look for the positive affirmations and the negative against it. So, let us take a look at the guidelines of prophecy from Scripture to see if it works for or against "treasure hunting." Some of the Scriptural guidelines that we have are found in Deuteronomy 18:22, "when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him." This verse is saying that if someone has spoken in the name of the Lord and it didn't happen...that person is not a prophet, so don't worry about them. Next, the Bible says, "As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet." (Jeremiah 28:9) basically, if what the prophet says comes true...than this person did come from the Lord. Though, we ought to be careful because sometimes even false prophets are right, Deuteronomy 13:1-3 states, "If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,' which you have not known, 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." So, sometimes a false prophet can be right, but we must discern everything they say...not just what they say in prophesies. Sometimes, I think the church today hears a prophet speak, watches what they say come to pass and then follow everything else of that person blindly, be cautious of whatever these self-proclaimed prophets say...even if their prophesies come to pass because it may actually just be God testing us. These prophets may lead us to follow another God, claiming it is the God of Scripture, but it is the god of their interpretation of Scripture..."the God of imagination and not of revelation" as one of my college professors Dr. Joe Davis states. How then do we know if these prophets are deceiving us, we look into Scripture itself, study Scripture, and study what it says about God, study sound theology because theology is, "the study of God" simply. Now, we have established that all prophesy must be 100% accurate, or it is not prophesy because as Isaiah the prophet stated by the Holy Spirit, ""I am the LORD, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish, who confirms the word of his servant and fulfills the counsel of his messengers," Isaiah 44:24b-26a. So, we see that God "fulfills the counsel of his messengers" or as some translations render it, "the predictions of his messengers." Or as Ezekiel 12:25 clearly states it, "For I am the LORD; I will speak the word that I will speak, and it will be performed." meaning that if God truly spoke it to us, God will ensure that it will happen. So, again, all prophecy is 100% accurate because God will ensure it, or else it is not prophecy and the person is not a prophet. Now, some people may make a fuss of this, saying that we are all prophets, but I beg to differ and I believe Paul would as well by saying, "to some, prophecy" 1 Corinthians 12:10. This does not mean that some people are greater than others; it simply means that God sovereignly acted to arrange and give different gifts to different people as stated by Paul when he said in the following verse, "All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills." So, the established facts are: all true prophecy is 100% accurate, God will ensure its fulfillment, and not everyone is a prophet. If the prophesy is not 100% accurate, God did not give it, because God apparently did not ensure it happening. If the prophecy is 100% accurate, it still does not mean we should follow the person who prophesied it because they could lead us astray (Deut 13:1-3), and we should rejoice in the gifts that God did give us, and not downcast our hearts if we did not receive the gift of prophecy...though, this does not mean that we do not ask God for it continually, but rather as we ask Him, we continually rejoice in what He has given us even though we deserve no gift at all. My final point on this, looking in light of the established facts, prophesy is not the best guess, but rather the precise and exact prediction of the future and/or set specific situation. It is not a guessing game, we do not "grow in prophesy" we either are 100% correct, or we are not a prophet.

It is on the basis of the conclusion of the established facts that I do not affirm the validity of the "treasure hunt" exercise, I do not endorse this as a legitimate exercise, nor do I commend this as truly inspired by God. I understand that many people will be upset about this and be very offended, but hear me out. I understand that many are correct and that you may actually find these "clues" to be accurate, but notice, a true prophet is not only accounted to by the truthfulness of his prophecy, but also the nature of the prophecy and the character of the person. The conclusion of what we have found in Scripture is that prophecy is not a guessing game, which is precisely what the "treasure hunt" is. Though, I think it is great in exercising the spiritual disciplines and gifts, I think it needs to be done in another way that affirms all of Biblical truth and not most of it. Though, I do not have nearly as much of an issue with it if people are doing it because other things are going on, but, because it is a prophetic setting and does not meet the fullest requirements from the Bible, I personally do not regard it as from the Lord as genuine, but possibly from the Lord as a test, that we may, "rightly handling the word of truth." (2 Tim 2:15) because "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."(2 Tim 3:16-17, italics for emphasis). Though, I do not affirm "treasure hunting" I do believe that if something was established that followed the Biblical requirements, I would not have a problem with this.

To all my friends who do this, I am sincerely sorry if I offended you or have disheartened you because of this. Please do not let this cause you to stumble in faith but rather grow in correction, reproof, and in maturity that you may honor God as described as the way He wants us to, which is described in Scripture, the Word of God.

The concept of "treasure hunting" comes from this book that comes from Bill Johnson's (a pastor that adheres to the new way a prophet should be judged, meaning, that a prophet could be wrong when prophesying but could still be a prophet, which is wrong as Scripture has established) ministry in Redding, California.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Death of Osama bin Laden - I may anger many people with this one

I understand that many people are rejoicing in the death of Osama bin Laden. The thing is, many Christians are doing it as well. Should we? Does not the Bible say that God does not rejoice in the death of the wicked but rather wants them to repent? (Ezekiel 33:11)

I rejoice in the fact that justice was done, but my concern about the matter falls under this one question, "how many Christians failed to give the gospel to Osama rather than letting him live in the lie of Islam?" God does not rejoice in the death of the wicked, even if justice is done. Yes, God is good because He is just, but God He is merciful and bold as well....Christians need to follow suit. My heart grieves tonight because a lost soul was sent to hell tonight, probably because of the cowardice of many Christians.

Yes, Osama got what he deserved, and many Christians rejoice in that failing to recognize that God spared us from what we deserve. So, when they go to heaven, my hope and prayer is that God will ask them, "Because you rejoiced in the fact that Osama bin Laden got what he deserved, should I give you what you deserve?" and next, "Why is it that you failed to bring the Gospel to him? Was he not good enough for you to share it? Were you not good enough that you got the Gospel, yet you still got it?"

Though, I am happy that many people are safer, but this is not a rejoicing moment but a mourning moment.

Shame on you America, Shame on you Church.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Dilemma

I'm caught in a debachle between 2 ideologies when it comes to Spiritual Gifts (specifically the miraculous one's, such as: tongues, miracles, healings, interpretations of tongues) because one way, called cessationism is held with some Biblical and historical support but this may be too far into modernism which denies supernatualism. But yet, on the flip side, charismatic continuationism would seem to adhere to post-modern relative experiencialism, that it is true if one experiences it...but this is not always true either because one must consider the source of these experiences...especially when it comes to spiritual things because the Scriptures state that Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan can deceive us either way, that these gifts continue but lie to us about what the Gifts actually are (what they are and if they continue both can be a lie, but not necessarily) but yet the opposite is true as well, Satan can lie to us by saying that the gifts have ceased so that we may not be able to use them for the furthering of the Kingdom of God.

This is my dilemma. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should read/study, and any help that I could get in learning this issue?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

My thoughts on Easter

I cannot fathom where to begin on my thoughts on Easter. When I think of Easter, I cannot separate it with Good Friday, they are nearly synonymous to me. This, and Christmas as well. Think about it, Christ was born in a strangers cave and buried in a strangers grave, experienced human birth and human death...both were foreign to Him prior to this, kind of like what Peter Larson stated, "Virgin's womb & empty tomb: Jesus entered our world thru a door marked, “No Entrance” & left thru a door marked “No Exit.” but yet He did this so that it were possible that He could be the perfect substitution for us and as Hebrews 2:17 says it, "Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." He became like us so that He could take on the wrath of God that we deserve, almost like He tricked God that He was a real human because He was...but there is no tricking God. It was the Father who knew about this, and sent Jesus so that He may make propitiation for us, meaning that He takes everything that we deserve upon Himself. I think it comes down to one verse, one that I have dwelt on a lot lately. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." And as Christ bore the sin and shame that we deserved, summed up in Isaiah 53:4-5a "Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;" and when I think of this, my heart can't help but feel the intense emotion that it felt at the day of my salvation. My prayer to seek the joy of my salvation returns always when I think of what Easter is, my heart flutters and my mind simply ponders on the thoughts of what could have been running through the minds of the early disciples.

My final thought is this, I think Keith and Kristyn Getty sum it up well in their song, "In Christ Alone", the lyrics go like this, "
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt of life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand
I want you to take notice of the part that says, "There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
This is the Easter message, that Christ who bore the sin of man, who did not sin Himself, "who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross," (Hebrews 12:2) but though He caused death and sin to be crushed to death, but He overcame sin and death rather than being succumb by sin and death, and as He stands in victory, Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me just as 1 Corinthians 15:17 states, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." If Christ was not raised, then it was Sin that won...not Christ, but because Christ was raised, then it is Sin that lost and Christ who is eternal life that won.

"Death is swallowed up in victory." "O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:54b-57

The Power of the Cross by Keith and Kristyn Getty

Oh, to see the dawn
Of the darkest day:
Christ on the road to Calvary.
Tried by sinful men,
Torn and beaten, then
Nailed to a cross of wood.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Christ became sin for us;
Took the blame, bore the wrath—
We stand forgiven at the cross. 

Oh, to see the pain
Written on Your face,
Bearing the awesome weight of sin.
Ev'ry bitter thought,
Ev'ry evil deed
Crowning Your bloodstained brow.

Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.

Oh, to see my name
Written in the wounds,
For through Your suffering I am free.
Death is crushed to death;
Life is mine to live,
Won through Your selfless love.

This, the pow'r of the cross:
Son of God—slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

The song is found here