Moved

I have moved this site to http://www.truthjusticemercyandlove.com/     I have moved all the content of this site to the new one, so if anyone has a comment, make it on the new site, because  I will not move anything more from here. i paid for the domain so I can leave wordpress out of the url and also have access to more things.  I have tried to install a chat plug-in, but contrary to what I was looking for, I only got a chat box that can allow visitors to chat with Hiram and not one another.  I will keep working on the site, the appearance and the functionality. If one knows how to install the buddypress chat room, let me know.  

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Love is a Cosmic Miracle

Love is a cosmic miracle.  It heals, spreads joy and brings people together.  It is supernatural in its ability to transcend race, religion, gender, economic standing, heartbreak and separation.   You cannot possibly go wrong with love. It will touch every heart with which it comes in contact.  The bible speaks about it at length.  It says “Love suffers long and is kind, “ and many other things.  Love is linked with faith and hope, and I think it is safe to say that those who love are also people of faith.  These two are tied to one another.  How can you be a person who has no love, and still be a person of faith and hope?  And yet, we see far too little love.  We see judgment, condemnation, rejection and harshness all too often; all too often in the name of being the most perfect church on the face of the earth.  How can this be?

It stands to reason that God’s church should be a place where love and compassion are without end. It should be a place where those who are hurting are able to go when the rest of the world turns them down.  It should be a place where you should expect utmost truth and honesty, mercy justice.  Instead, what do we see all too often?  I’m afraid we see men who will sit in front of someone, examine them as though they were some sort of unattractive specimen, and then pronounce judgment on them; “No, sorry, you will not do.  You are not quite good enough.”    Consider the case of a young man who would like to be in the church but who is dealing with multiple issues, just being young and confused, for one thing, maybe lacking guidance and direction that he is not getting at home, just in general being mixed up. But in spite of all this, he wants to do what is right; he wants to be a Christian, marry a Christian young woman and have a Christian home. He is subjected to multiple visits with ministers who never see him as good enough.  There is always something wrong with him and he has no idea what it is. He is trying to fit the criteria of men.  He is trying to follow all the right rules and do all the right things.  Yet they tell him he is not good enough.  How can anyone refuse someone the right to live their life in the way that they choose, among the people they love, living the way they want to?  How can they force someone like this into a world they are unfamiliar with and will no doubt be chewed up and destroyed by?  Think about a mother, or a father, a husband or wife who runs into some kind of difficulty and struggles for years to be restored to fellowship with family, friends and fellow church members.  These people are everywhere.  All of us know them.  Some of them have deep problems, have been struggling with abuse issues, rejection issues, emotional issues, and they need acceptance and the cosmic miracle of love.  Instead they are set to the side and the rest of the company moves on without them.    How can this be?  What kind of an organization is this?

Husbands and wives are separated.  Children are cast into the cold world.   Preachers frown thoughtfully and say “No.”  “You will not do.  We are very sorry, but you will not do.”   I once knew of a preacher who said to someone, “It is very painful for the flesh, but we must say no to you.”    Who gave them the right to refuse God to someone who is desperate for him?  What kinds of people employ these tactics of control and cruelty rather than love?  I would like to say to the people who are caught in this dilemma, “Just get up and move on,” but it is not so simple.   These cruel men hold all that is dear to them.  They hold spouses and children.  They hold potential mates and livelihoods.   They hold private schools and nursing homes.  These things are the benefits of those who fit the mold.  Try being a little different and not fitting the mold.  You will lose everything you hold dear.  There are dozens upon dozens, dare I say hundreds, of people who have been cast off when all they wanted was a safe place where they could be understood, loved and accepted.  If a person has lacks and needs, they do not need to be cast off, but they need an environment where they can be nourished and grow.  Love will heal the sickest of the sick.  Those who are damaged and broken need a place to be healed.  Instead, all too often they find rejection and refusal.  This is indeed a shameful state of affairs.

The sad thing is that many people who are broken and damaged actually believe that men have the power to shut the door or open it for them.  They believe these men have the right to dispense God as though he were a commodity.  Instead of walking away and shaking the dust from their feet, they linger about on the edges, hurting, angry, and eventually earning the label of bitter and offended, very dangerous, someone who is not to be listened to.  I cannot repeat it enough times, this is shameful.  This has nothing to do with God, but rather with ego and control.  This is about tactics, not love.  Love is very beautiful and will heal the most broken of sinners.  Love restores homes and families, love delivers from addictions and depression, love heals mental illnesses, God’s love is so powerful that it can be said it is the most powerful force in the world.  Why do we see so little of it?  Oh, we see plenty of it amongst those who are doing fine.  If you are a woman and you are filling the bill, you will have your share of love.  You will be given responsibilities in the church, the sewing circle, school lunches; the small roster of duties that are doled out to women will be available to you.  You will be kept busy as the wife of a youth leader or school board member.  If you are a man you will be allowed to function on boards or committees, you will feel useful and important. All of this can feel like love.  This adds up to a certain type of acceptance.  But if you are different, the one who truly needs to feel love, you will be marginalized and left behind.  I am so troubled by this.  Who will defend those who are cast aside?  Who will offer a place for them to heal and grow?

Don’t ever forget, love is the most powerful force in the world.  Love enlarges the one who gives it and the one who receives it.  Love grows and expands and creates miracles.  Love makes a way where there was none before.  Love mends the broken, heals the sick and draws everyone together.  I must say again, “Woe to those who refuse love to the hurting.”  Your reward will be according to your deeds.  The house that you are building, if it is not built on love, will crumble and fall.  Your organization is just that, an organization, and nothing more.  The world is full of them.  You are no better or no worse, just another.  Don’t pretend to be special. Don’t speak to me of your faith if I do not see your love.   As long as there are hurting people sitting outside the door, longing to be let in, you are nothing more than an organization, and not a very nice one at that.  We need more understanding, more mercy, more justice, more love, more help.  Unless I begin to see it soon, I will conclude this machine is broken beyond repair.  It is a behemoth, staggering along under its own growing, unsustainable weight.  It cannot continue much longer unless there is love.  Do I make myself clear?

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Hierarchy in the Kingdom

Satan’s kingdom is a hierarchical kingdom.  There are clearly defined levels of importance.  You will see this in the systems of the world. In the European royalty, there are the kings, the queens, the princes, the dukes, the earls, the viscounts, etc.  In the government there are the presidents, the senators, the governors, and all have their appointed places and tasks. There is always competition and strife.  There is always someone undermining someone else in the attempt to move higher up the ladder.   Not only is Satan’s kingdom hierarchical  but it is extremely rigid, marked by protocol, rules and ordinances.  This could also simply be defined as “secular.”  In the case of the British monarchy, the amount of protocol and cycling repeat behavior is staggering.  Such things as the changing of the guard seem like pomp and dignity, but in reality they are rigid protocol.  The queen goes to the same castle at Christmas, the same one in the summer, etc.  The rules of how to behave in her presence are strict and unbending.  Satan has no spontaneity or imagination. He cannot perform in the physical world, so therefore he must act out through people.  Any time he has attached himself to a system in order to carry out his agenda you will see this same sort of protocol.  Rules.  Order. Protocol.  Hierarchy.  Systems.  Rules. Some of them make no sense, some are counter productive, but this is the way it must be.  Without God and his Holy Spirit, there will always be rules and protocol.  In the old Testament God had to set up things according to strict protocol.  The sacrifices and holy days had to be carried out according to these rules and ordinances because man was not allowed to be free.  Freedom is too much for a human being to handle unless he has the Spirit of God within him.

But the good news for Christians is that when the Holy Spirit came, he filled each individual Christian with his own portion of light, wisdom and understanding. No more were they bound by protocol. No more can they be condemned for not following the ordinances. In Colossians 2:14 it says  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 [And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.  

God had held men to the ordinances of this world as long as he had not sent his Son and His Spirit to set them free from this.  These verses tell us that he “spoiled the principalities and powers.”  We are no longer under the principalities and powers of this world.  When Jesus died and resurrected, Satan’s kingdom was cast down, his power was overcome.  He still rules his subjects with rigid rules and hierarchy.  I’m wondering why we still see this hierarchy and protocol.  What do you say before you are allowed to participate in communion (if in fact you are allowed?)  You MUST say “I believe in the doctrines of the church, I am on the grounds of reconciliation, I am at peace with God and man and it is my desire to partake of communion.”  Who made that up?  Who made that the rule?  I think maybe we should take it out of the way and nail it to the cross.  Do away with prescribed behavior and speeches.  I find it rather shocking that you will not be allowed to say that you believe in the doctrines of the bible; you MUST specify the doctrines of the church.  Creepy.  If you question it you will be told that the doctrines of the Church ARE the doctrines of the bible, so in essence this is a declaration that you believe in the one true church. You cannot go  to communion simply by believing in the bible, you must believe in the church.

C. S. Lewis gives a good example of the hierarchy in The Screwtape Letters.  Uncle Screwtape constantly instructs his underlings on how to conduct business. He gives them a peek into the mind of the human being so that they can better manipulate and maneuver them.  Screwtape himself cannot do all the work.  He is not omnipotent, omniscient or omnipresent. Therefore he must have a strictly arranged hierarchy.  He must dole out orders and responsibilities, and these things must trickle down through the ranks.  Each demon has his responsibility, and he must carry it out or risk discipline.  The rule in that world is “Bring meat or be meat yourself.”  This is so true;  this is the way systems operate.  There is always some on the rack, and if you are not busy bringing charges and judgments against someone else, beware, because you could be next.  Therefore, it is in your best interest to be performing well in this realm, digging up dirt, bringing someone before the firing squad, making sure the weapons are pointed away from you, not towards you. Does this sound familiar?  If everyone is kept busy looking over their shoulder, pointing their finger, very little of real importance gets done.  Guess who is happy about this?  That’s right. Old Screwtape himself.

On the other hand, think about this:

Phl 2:3  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.  That’s a nice thought isn’t it?  Put others first.  Don’t worry about your own reputation or your own position, but look out for others first.  When we see this at work we know God is at work. When we see the other side of the coin, strife, men wanting to take others down so they can be elevated, esteem being given to those who have a title or a position, then we know that it is of the system of this world.  Don’t always be looking over your shoulder in fear, don’t be tattling on someone else to take the attention off of yourself. This happens, you know it does.  Which minister is going to be benched next, and who is doing the benching?  How do they know they won’t be the next to get it?  This is all very sad.  Gal. 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  We are all one in Christ.  We do not address our ministers as Reverend or Father.  After all, they are our servants, not our masters. Or so it should be.  Fear is of the devil. Those who would cast us down and make us nothing are not to be feared, they are to be pitied.  If there are those who are trying to cast you down so that they feel pleasure when the tables are turned, then beware of these men.

I always have to make a disclaimer.  Not all designations are bad.  To some extent we must be organized.  But no man is without accountability, no man has the power to oust others. Only God can put you on the rolls or take you off.  When men try to do this, you can be sure disaster will follow.  God’s Kingdom is not one of rigidity and hierarchy.  God is open and free. He allows us all to come, and to be present on our own level.  Not all are at the same level, but still they are all one.  They are all given equal opportunity.  They are all allowed to grow, to make mistakes and learn.  Watch out for those who do away with you for some mysterious reason or for no reason at all.  They are simply following the edict to “Bring meat or be meat yourself.”

Truth justice mercy and love,

Hiram

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PDF of Incarnation article

Incarnation Of Jesus and the Body of Christ January 9, 2013 (6)

This should link to a pdf of the article I have posted, “Incarnation of Jesus and the Body of Christ.”    You are encouraged to read it, print it and distribute it.

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Incarnation of Jesus and the Body of Christ (part 6, the end)

This series is written by a guest blogger.  When I am finished posting it as a series I will post a link to a pdf that you can download and distribute with the author’s permission.

 

But antichrist will hear of no such hope of glory.  His hope does not rest wholly in the Christ within, but partially in his on works, or faithfulness, or endurance.  He focus on laws, regulations, creeds, ordinances, observances, lineages, traditions and religious exercises, all of which are designed to assure his right standing with God.  He is thus denying the Father and the Son, for God’s order is, “You are kept by the POWER OF GOD through FAITH.”  1 Peter 1:3  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  Anything added to the anointing within to try and fill some place or function in our lives not fulfilled BY THE ANOINTING ALONE is-antichrist!

It is entirely possible to make a god of “unity.”  This is a spirit of antichrist because it detracts from finding our way with our Saviour and places our faith and trust instead ina  brotherhood.  Instead of being united by the simple light of the gospel, we are required to be united by embracing a system.  The mark of this error shows itself by seeking submission to a brotherhood rather than to Christ, and believing this is submission to Christ.  a dear brother summed it up very succinctly in an email which I quote here with his permission.

“I have come to realize that the Truth of God is clear and alive on earth from creation to the end times.  It was, is  and will be.  In this dispensation it is written in the hearts of men, and as such we are each personally in possession of the possibility of being connected to it.  Where the Holdeman church may be in error is that we have made more of unity than personal commitment.  We are like a branch on the tree of Truth with a book and a way of life between us and the tree itself.  We filter everything we get from the tree by the book.  We have a generation now that finds themselves unable to go ahead on their own conviction because they personally don’t have any on a lot of issues.  They are scared to search for fear of deception.  If they read the Word and try to find a way, they run into things that don’t add up and are then confused with no where to turn.  When we commit to finding a conviction from God and His Word, we will find a way.  This is possible to do in the Holdeman fellowship or out of it.  I do think that either way, each individual will need to make some choices on doctrinal matters and choose how they will follow their consciences.”

There are brethren who are under church discipline for “asking their questions.” God will judge thee situations in His own good way.  May we each individually find our way with out Lord and be a temple with the visible sign of His Spirit indwelling.  We will be safe from the antichrist and will be in spiritual unity with those disciples in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, as well as those believers past and resent who have the inner light.  No other way will be sufficient.

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Incarnation of Jesus and the Body of Christ (part 5)

This series is written by a guest blogger.  When I am finished posting it as a series I will post a link to a pdf that you can download and distribute with the author’s permission.

So you may ask, “What does all this have to do with the Incarnation?”  Much every way!  Remember that the incarnation is a “bodily manifestation of a supernatural being.”  The incarnation was not finished with the earthly body of Jesus, but is made manifest in His brethren, all those who possess the mark of the Spirit of God!  2 Corinthinans 4:6-7  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us!  We personally share i the incarnation of Christ in our flesh!  2 Corinthians 4:10-11  Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.  For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”

My friends!  A true understanding of the incarnation will open the scriptures to us in a wonderful way!  There are numerous references to the mysteries of the gospel, kingdom, God, Christ, godliness, and faith.  A proper understanding of the incarnation will help to unlock these mysteries for us.  The New Testament writers declare these mysteries to us with the intent that these mysteries will be solved, and that we will understand!

Here are some scriptures that reference the mysteries:

Mark 4:11  And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God.

Romans 11:25  For I would not brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery.

1 Timothy 3:16  And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:  god was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

Colossians 1:26-27  Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:  To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Romans 16:25-26  Now to him that is of power to stablish yo according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according t the revelation of the mystery , which was kept secret since the world began, But is now made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according t the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.

1 Corinthians 2:7-11  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:  Which now of the princes of this world knew:  for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heat of man, the things which god hath prepared for them that love him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit:  for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God.  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?  even so the things of god knoweth no man, but the spirit of God.

Friends, what wonderful and beautiful truths are revealed to us by God, through Jesus by His Spirit!  As it says in Colossians 1:27,  we can know the glory of this mystery, CHRIST IN US, the hope of glory!

This makes clear the scripture in 1 John 4:1  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:  because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:  And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God:  and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard it should come; and even now it is already in the world.

It is clear that we must reject any system that does not put Christ clearly at the head.  The agenda of a misplaced view of the incarnation is power, because it detracts from the individual connection with Christ and gives it to a corporate body instead.  You need to keep Christ at arm’s length from humanity in order to maintain control.  This was the error of the Jewish leaders in Christ’s day.  God’s dwelling place is no longer a corporate body or nation but in the INDIVIDUAL heart.  We do not access Christ through the church or an earthly priest because Christ is now our personal high priest forever.  This is more easily understood when we contemplate our personal desire to change things in the lives of our children or fellow believers. We have a tendency to want them to conform to the church and to do it right now.  The pressure is from “us” and is legal in nature as opposed to spiritual.  We don’t experience this pressure from God.

If you elevate Christ by giving him a divine body only, instead of melding the divine with the human, you have nullified the work of Christ in showing us mortals that we indeed can overcome sin if we are indwelt by His Spirit.  He set the example.  He had a human body that was indwelt from birth by the Spirit of His Father, and we have a human body  that is indwelt by the same Spirit after our new birth.  This phenomenon began on the day of Pentecost.  The Old Testament required the corporate body with all its rituals, and an individual had to access God through the very human priesthood.  If you place the light (candlestick) over the corporate body instead of the individual, you create a double headed creature.  You now have to find Christ twice, once in yourself, and once in the church, to experience the assumed blessing of completeness.  You now have to align two dwelling places for God.  In essence you are combining the Old Testament with the New.

This does not negate finding Christ in fellowship, rather it enhances and brings more glory to the corporate experience!  Keeping the sacraments and blending our lives becomes a natural out-pouring of the inner light.  We cannot help but speak and act on those thins we have seen and heard.

In 1st and 2nd John we read that he who says that Christ is not come in the flesh is antichrist.  It seems organized religion in general (organized by man) has at least some element of antichrist. Organized religion wishes to assume the role of Christ for the individual believer by saying it needs to prove whether or not an individual is saved.  The scriptures teach us in Romans 8:16 THE SPIRIT ITSELF beareth witness  with OUR spirit that we are the children of God.  The tongue of fire sits on the individual, not on the corporate body.  We do not need to be proved by men to see if we are God’s children.  This proving is given by the Spirit itself and is manifested by the Spirit to teach each other in the kingdom of God by the LIGHT possessed by the individual!  The light in a church is only as bright as that light which the individual members possess.  Galatians 1:10  For do I now persuade men or God?  or do I seek to please men?  For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

1 John 2:20-28  But he have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.  Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?  He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.  Whosoever denieth the  Son, the same hath not the Father:  (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.  Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.  And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.  These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.  But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.  And now, little children, abide in him:  that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

Romans 8:1-18  There is therefore now no condemnation them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk after not after the flesh but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh  but after the Spirit.  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God:  for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.  And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.  But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.  Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.  For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.  for ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.  The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:  And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.  For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

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Why is the Incarnation Important?

Our belief in the Incarnation of Jesus is very relevant to how we understand him and how we incorporate him into our lives.  When the author of the series I am posting entitles it The Incarnation of Jesus and the Body of Christ, he is referring to the body that Christ occupied on this earth, as well as the body of Christ that is today comprised of those who are followers of him.  How does our belief on the Incarnation affect how we interact corporately as the Body of Christ?  Do not overlook the fact that the two are tied together very intimately.

First, let us think a bit about what we have been taught about the Incarnation.  We have, most of us, received teaching that Jesus was incubated in Mary, but was not of her.  All this in spite of the many scriptures that point us to the truth that he was a man who was of the seed of Abraham, our brother, our kinsman redeemer.  To be right plain about it, Mary was made pregnant by God.  This seems fantastical to some people, but there is a common belief that in the Old Testament times, as the Bible says in Genesis 6:1,2 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they [were] fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.  I believe that it is commonly understood that the sons of God were the fallen angels, and they began to mate with humans.  If it was possible for the fallen angels to mate with human women and produce offspring, how much more plausible that God would do such a thing?  However, it seems that it has been in someone’s best interest to try to teach that this was not possible, or that God would not stoop to such a thing.  Mary was the genetic mother of Jesus.  I believe the scriptures are abundantly clear on that point.

I believe that one of the reasons that Menno Simons was so strong in his teaching of the Incarnation was because he came out of the Catholic Church where he saw an inappropriate veneration of Mary and an incorrect teaching of the Incarnation, so that he veered completely (and incorrectly) in the opposite direction.  This lead him to teach at great length on the matter, and in so doing he developed what he believed was a highly intellectual approach to the matter. He delved rather deeply into his ideas of procreation and based his thesis upon this incorrect view, and forgot to remember the scriptures.  This should be a lesson to us about the harm in sectarianism and the divisions in religions. These things are all set in place to deceive us, and if we begin to recognize these divisions and base our beliefs on simply being different from others whom we believe to be wrong, we can go astray quite quickly.  Furthermore, in the days of the Inquisition, people were put to death for the reason that they would not agree with the Catholic Church and their ideas of the Incarnation.  In fact the Cathars were a sect who were actually what is known as the Gnostics, and they took the complete opposite view, that all matter is evil and therefore Christ could not have been human because to have taken on human flesh would have required that he be evil.  This too was an incorrect belief.  However, the Holdemans proudly proclaim this sect in their lineage, and I believe the connection goes back to this time.  Menno Simons identified with the Gnostics/Cathars in disputing the Roman Catholic view of the Incarnation of Christ.  Here is a link to some information that might be interesting.   http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/heretics.html   So let us be clear about this one thing;  it is always a bad idea to simply have a knee-jerk reaction to things we think are wrong, and therefore take an opposite and perhaps incorrect view.

I would like to say this about the whole matter;  The Holdemans dispute that they are Gnostic or Docetist in their view of Christ, because they do believe he was more than just a phantom.  Yet they do not seem to understand the heresy that is actually threaded throughout their entire teaching, and the origins of it.  I will leave that alone for now, as it might be a study for another time, if one has time and energy for it, but rather, I want to discuss more about the present day teachings.

Today it is required of a man who is being ordained into the ministry to affirm that he does in fact concur with the teaching of the church on the matter of the Incarnation. He is in a back room with a group of ministers, he has already been elected by what is claimed to be the popular vote, he is feeling holy and called of God, and whether or not he has given himself to a study of the matter, he must agree with the church’s stand on it before they can proceed with the ordination ceremony, or at least, so I have been told.  If anyone has information contrary to this, you are welcome to come forward with it.  So here the young man will agree to believe and teach what the church believes and teaches, often without really understanding for himself what it is. After all, who wants to turn back at this point?

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if I were to find out that many of them have privately had their doubts, but continued to teach something they didn’t even properly understand themselves.  The interesting thing here is that this teaching seems to be important, but if you were to poll the members themselves, you would find a very large number of them who would say “I don’t know for sure what the church believes on that, and why does it really matter anyway?”  I find this very disturbing.  The Bible teaches us that it is very important.  Consider these verses:  1 John 4:2, 3  Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that [spirit] of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

This can prove to be rather interesting. If, in trying to have a conversation with someone about it, you point out this verse, they can sidestep by saying,  “welllll I believe he came in the flesh…..yes, he had flesh, he wasn’t an apparition.”   But yet, what is John really saying here?  He is making it very very important that we believe the correct thing about the flesh of Christ.  We must believe that he was born of Mary, he was of the seed of Abraham, and he is our brother.  We are now joint heirs with him of the riches of glory.  When we distance ourselves from him and view him as something different from us, we begin to view the Body of Christ on earth in the same way.  We do not really feel related, we do not really feel a part.  We belive it is something mystical and other than what it really is.  We do not expect it to feel us in our sufferings, to be patient and kind with us, but rather we sometimes shrink back in fear, we do not really believe that we are a part of it.  We may say we do, but the experience that we live out says otherwise.  When we allow ministers to lord it over us, when we think they are more important than we are, that there is something mystical and powerful about them and that they are above mistakes, then we are seeing this thing being worked out in us.

Is it possible that a false belief in the Incarnation is essential to the reigns of power in a One True Visible Church type setting?  Is the point upon which it pivots?  I find that men such as Chris and Andrew who have come here to tell their stories are open to understanding the bible in a way that is different from what they have been taught. I see in them a humility and a type of courage that is not seen in the members of the church. In the church I see “men” cowering in fear, allowing themselves to be bullied, and eventually pulling a blanket up over their heads and deciding that just getting along will be good enough.  How much of this is tied to an incorrect view of the Incarnation?  I believe a good deal of it is.

And furthermore!  Not only should real men stand up and say that they will believe what the Bible teaches, no matter the cost, but they should also read the stories of Andrew and Chris and they should stand up and say “NO MORE!  We’ve been duped! We’ve been lied to!  We’ve been had! These men tell stories of having been manipulated, bullied and sexually offended by the leaders of the church.  This is so wrong that I should think a great cry would go up. How can any man sit and say nothing when it is brought to their attention in this manner?  Men!  Brothers!  Think of the times you have been bullied by the ministers, and you have shoved your questions back down and gone along for the sake of retaining your membership and your position.  If you have read this series on the Incarnation, and you are beginning to be convinced within yourself that there is more here that needs to be investigated, and you remain quiet out of fear, then you are in a very dangerous position indeed.  Will you suffer for the cause of Christ?  Will you give up all? Your home, your money, your career, your prestige, your position?  Your friends?  If not, then you are not worthy to be called a follower of Christ!

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My Experience (Andrew Friesen)

Hallelujah to God for setting us free! Thank you brother Chris for sharing your story.

I have never posted anything since my wife & I left the Holdeman Church in May 2011 because the expelled forums where so full of bitterness. I also commend this website for your balanced (as much as possible)

This too was because of God freeing me from a life of sin WITHIN the church. I just couldn’t get victory over my sin which is incredibly condemning in an organization that has lost the focus on Jesus Christ and has placed God’s glory on the organization. This caused huge depression and turmoil for 19 years I was in the church. Whoever does this WILL be shown to be building on sand just as I was.

The breakthrough came when I realized that I was trusting the “church” for my salvation and not Jesus Christ. I became totally free of all the major sins that I struggled with for those 19 years (angry outbursts & sexual debauchery). There was a deliverance from the consuming fear of man that I had. Those who are honest in my former congregation would have to testify that I was a totally changed man.

At that time God revealed to me that I would not be able to retain my peace with Him if I would stay in the church. In finding out about Doug & Viona Rehger and what happened to them I knew that the best thing would be to leave. God showed me that the “CHURCH” would eventually wear me down because Jesus was not king there.. An organisation that covers sin and oppresses the poor is under the judgement of God and will have to repent.

May God give grace and that the godly ones left in the Holdeman church pray & confess their sins openly that they may be saved from the ungodly tares amoung them that are only protecting their own power. If they don’t repent they will become completely dead just like so many churches. They have no idea how much I LONG that their blindness (judgement) would be taken away.

Andrew Friesen

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Who is God’s Anointed?

We often hear people refer to the minsters as being “God’s Anointed” and in fact they have been known to refer to themselves this way.  Have you ever questioned this? Do you allow a minister to lord it over you because he is God’s Anointed?  Do the ministers assume power to abuse with impunity because they believe themselves to be God’s Anointed?

What does it really mean to be God’s Anointed?  In the Old Testament we read much about anointing. It actually means to “consecrate.”  The outward method of anointing was to pour or smear oil on the person or object to be consecrated.  There are a number of scriptures that pertain to Aaron and the priesthood being anointed.  I’ll quote one here as an example, there are many verses pertaining to anointing, if you wish to look them up.  www.blueletterbible.org is a very handy reference.  Exodus 40:13  And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.  According to this, Aaron was qualified to minister once he had been annointed.  He was allowed to function in his priestly role.  But wait, what does the Bible say about Christians today?  We are ALL kings and priests!  Revelation 1:6  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him [be] glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Say, isn’t that good news?  We are ALL kings and priests.  We do not need to anoint a king or a priest to minister on our behalf in front of God.  We may all come and bring our own sacrifice and enter the holy of holies where we can commune face to face with God!  There is no longer a man standing in between!

1 Samuel 9:16 To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him [to be] captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me. 

Here we see that Samuel anointed Saul to be king.  Later he anointed David.  What happened when these men were anointed by Samuel, who was a priest and a prophet of God?  The Spirit of God came upon them.  On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit was POURED OUT.  This does not mean that he had never been in men before, but simply that he was not poured out on all men.  A man had to be anointed and have hands laid on him by someone who already had God’s Spirit.  It was a rare and precious gift.  It was given to the men who were chosen to lead.  In Psalm 51:11, David, after the realization of his sin, cried to God Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.  David had been anointed and was filled with God’s Spirit.  As we read the book of Psalms we see over and over how he loved the presence of God in his heart.  God’s Spirit was necessary in those day if a man was going to lead the people, or to prophesy to them and warn them of what was to come.  These things can be done under the power of the Holy Spirit.

When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost, He became freely available to all who would repent and turn to God.  This is the gift that God gives to his people, so that they may walk upright, know him intimately, communicate with him, he gives the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, prophecy, love and even the gift of tongues, which is not widely accepted today.  Today we are all kings and priests and prophets.  We are all God’s anointed.

What do you make of a minister who asks you to set him apart, give him a higher spiritual standing on the basis that he is God’s Anointed?  A minister is to be a shepherd, a pastor. The word “pastor” means to be a companion, a special friend, a shepherd.  It does not give one the right to rule over others and abuse without accountability.  A pastor should lay down his life for his sheep. He should never ask them to lay theirs down for him, and yet, sadly, that is what so often happens.  The ministers are often given special treatment.  Sometimes their sins are dealt with privately, without the public humiliation that they ask of the sheep of the flock.  People are afraid to speak ill of them, even when they are greatly out of line, for fear of speaking ill of God’s Anointed.  Because of this there is very little accountability.  They often feign a type of accountability, but it is only to one another, and certainly not to the congregation.  A Holdeman minister is not accountable to his people. If members of the congregation have a concern about a minister, they had best keep it to themselves.  If they question or wonder about the behavior of the ministers towards the congregation, they will be judged as insubmissive and rebellious and brought under discipline.  You know it’s true.

I don’t mean to entirely minimize the idea of a special anointing.  God may very well call a man to a special office and give him a special anointing to carry out that office.  There may be times in any believer’s life when he is given a special anointing for a special circumstance.  Often someone who ministers in song is able to touch the hearts of the people because of a special anointing that is upon him.  If not for God’s special anointing, many sermons, writings, and hymns would be dull and uninspiring.  It takes the anointing of God on a message for it to really touch our hearts and bring about change.

I don’t condemn the idea that a minister may have a special position and that we should show him respect.  That goes without saying. But when he, or others on his behalf, begins to make assumptions about being special, being above being disciplined himself, being distant from the congregation, then we have to have a concern.  We are ALL God’s Anointed.  We are all prophets, priests and kings. God can speak to every one of us.  He can give us a prophecy, a message, he can give us wisdom, knowledge and understanding.  These things are not confined to the ministry.  Try to stand up in church on Sunday morning and give a prophecy.  See if they don’t grab you by the elbows and drag you towards the door. Tell them that God has given you a message and that the church must repent, starting with the ministry.  See if your anointing holds out. See if they will hear your voice.

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My Experience (Chris Frase)

Chris Frase has posted some information about his membership being annulled, and has sent me this letter detailing the incident that took place in Lobelville TN in 2006. I will remove the posts from the thread benched minister and put them in the comments here so that the whole story is together in one place.

October 18th, 2006  I went berserk holding our preacher at knife point for grievances even he at the time didn’t understand.  Later I was diagnosed as severe bipolar, something at the time I had never heard of.  I thought, as did members of my church, that I was battling depression and had even been given that diagnosis by our local nurse practitioner and put on Cymbalta two weeks earlier to treat the depression.

In my frenzy at the church the police were called and according to some they thought they were getting me calmed down.  That part of the ordeal is a complete blank in my memory.  What I remember is knowing I had completely lost it and I needed to leave and get calmed down.  It took all my strength to pull the knife down away from the preacher’s chin and turning to walk towards my pickup.  Throwing the knife down so hard it threw up sparks from the gravel (later verified by my neighbor who was one of the deputies on the scene that night) and seeing an arm come up in the darkness as they maced me emptying the entire can of mace into my left eye.  I remember the pressure running down until it was only a trickle going down my cheek.  As I had leaving on my mind, I continued to my truck and got in and started to leave but gassed it as my eyes burned, starting to spin out of control.  The pickup spun counter clockwise which, unbeknownst to me, was right towards the deputies.  They tried to shoot out the tires thinking I  was trying to run over them but hit the rims instead with the bullets ricocheting back at them.  As the pickup continued to spin in a circle, it pinned my neighbor in between a van and the front of the truck.  He said he looked down and there was just enough room and time to throw himself across the hood of my truck and out of the way.  Meanwhile his coworker was left to his own thoughts that I had killed his fellow deputy and was trying to run over him.  All natural thinking, considering what he was “seeing” as my pickup spun out of control.  He commenced shooting, a total of 16 45 caliber shots fired, 9 of which went into or through me.  Six through the abdomen, one through the head, one through the wrist, and one to the buttock.

When the truck came to a stop I came to, as if out of a deep fog,choking on something which pulled out of my mouth. It was a rear molar.   I had no idea what had happened, no idea that I had been shot, and relatively little pain.  Only a little pain in my abdomen, which I assumed was from hitting the side of the church and hitting the steering wheel.  I opened the door, put one foot out and then decided to just lay back in the seat, which I reclined and did.  I remember the deputy putting his head in the door and then the ambulance crew loading me in the ambulance and cutting off my clothes, which I thought was strange, but was feeling too foggy-headed to worry about it.

I remember hearing the ambulance crew saying on the radio, “We have a white male, 45 years old, fatally shot!”  but it never registered in my mind that that was me.  I remember praying on the ride to the medi-vac rendezvous “Lord forgive me.”  Not a panicky feeling, just a need to pray for forgiveness and assurance.  They loaded me on the helicopter and I passed out as it lifted off.

Later my deputy neighbor told me, “We were not in control that night, God was!” He said, “Under normal circumstances it takes 30 to 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive, when I radioed for help, ASAP, I stood up and the paramedics were tapping me on the shoulder asking where the victim was.”  He said “Normally it takes 20-30 minutes for the helicopter to meet the ambulance, this time there was five minutes between when the ambulance arrived and when the helicopter arrived.”  Coincidence?  Not hardly!!  Prayer chains were started across the country.  The doctors told my deputy friends, “He will die, it’s just a matter of time.”  I even had a living will that my wife took to the hospital.  Looking at my medical records later, I learned that I had approximately 2 1/2 gallons of blood given me during my initial surgery.  I had a stomach resection, my gall bladder removed, a hole through my liver, a hole through my diaphragm, a collapsed lung, a hole through my right wrist, breaking both bones, and a hole going from my bottom jaw through the roof of my mouth, and coming out just below my eye and about an inch and a half in front of my right ear knocking out two back molars, what a way to get your wisdom teeth pulled!  Plus other injuries and wounds.  The surgeon that worked on my head, when I was all healed up, leaned back against the wall on my last checkup and said, “You were  a sick man when you came in here, the  hole in the roof of your mouth was big enough for me to put my thumb in.  We fully expected to have to do reconstructive surgery but you have healed up without it, it’s nothing short of a miracle!”  About two weeks before I was released from the hospital, as I sat up on the bed, a nurse took a tweezers and removed a bullet from out of my back, on the center of my spine, within fractions of an inch of paralyzing me from the waist down.  I kept that as a souvenir of the miracles.  Being a machinist, I measured it and the mushroomed end is 0.501 of an inch in diameter, just a whisker over a half inch, or equivalent to a 50 caliber.

In my dreams, while i the hospital, there was one young man that came to my bedside and asked if he cold pray for me. I accepted.  The doctors, in my dreams, went into another room to pray before they operated on me.  Some dreams I wonder at, dreams being what they are, especially on narcotics, others I just accept as heaven sent to give me courage.  When we are incapacitated and unable to pray for ourselves, the prayers of others fill in for us.  When we pray, even for strangers we do not know, God hears and answers prayer.  God works miracles even when we are unaware and in a coma.

Many of the nurses, one in particular, from South Africa  told me, “God has a purpose for you or you wouldn’t be here!”  As I tell my story and the miracles continue, I often get that response.  And the miracles did not stop in the hospital.  I was released from the hospital to jail with attempted murder and aggravated assault charges.  As I discussed the charges with my attorney I told him, “The aggravated assault I remember, however, there is a question of me being in my right mind.  The attempted murder never happened although I can understand how it would look n the dark not knowing what was happening.” The attempted murder charges were dropped, the aggravated assault was accepted, because as i told my attorney, whether or not I was in my right mind I know I did that, on looking back I am more convinced that due to the bipolar and wrong medication I was not in my right mind, but three years probaation was not a severe sentence.

On getting home and when I could finally concentrate and read, I started studying bipolar.  Once I learned what it is, it was easy to see symptoms in my life from little on up.  Today, on depakote and with a correct diagnosis and prescription, I am fairly stable.  However, I learned some things.  Once when I went to church one of the men asked me how I was feeling and I said, “Great!  If I felt any better I couldn’t stand it!”  That week I went to the mental health clinic and when they asked how I was doing and my response was the same they said, “Whoa, you’re feeling too good.”  I was shocked!  “How can I feel too good after all I have been through?”  They explained that when I was feeling too good I was unstable.  Bells went off in my head. I was diagnosed with depression two wee\eks before I got shot.  After one week on Cymbalta at 30 mg the Dr. asked how I felt, I replied, “Great!  If I felt any better I coudgn’t stand it.”  He said OK we are going to raise your dose to 60 mg which is the therapeutic level.  That was on a Wednesday, it takes about a week for it to get into your blood stream and take effect.  The following Wednesday I had my manic episode that resulted in me being shot and a congregation being terrified.  My mental health doctor tells that while Cymbalta may be a cadillac drug for depression, you do not give it to someone that is bipolar because it sends them into a manic episode, something that incidentally and with good reason is in the fine print of Cymbalta’s directions for use.  Mental illnesses are treatable, but get the right diagnosis.  Those who are bipolar usually seek treatment for depression, not mania and often are resistant to taking medication.  As my doctor told me, “If you feel fine, good, keep taking your medicine, it’s working!”

Finally I got home from the hospital, from jail and started to get my hospital bills:  $438,000.  I called my  dad and said “What does a fellow do?  It’s not that I don’t want to pay them, they did an excellent job, but I’m not worth half a million dollars if I sold everything I owned!”  My dad reply?  “Talk to the hospital, pray to God and don’t worry about it, God has plenty of money.  So I did.  I asked for assistance, explained my situation, unable to work, want to pay but simply do not have the means.  They asked for tax records, bank statements, a notarized statement of how we were paying our bills, etc.  It took me three days to collect the required information and send it off to them.  Each month I would get a bill, I called the billing department asking what they wanted me to do, each month they told me to wait on their assessment.  That went on for about four months. after which I received a short letter simply stating, “We have considered your case, we are able to offer your full assistance, all of your accounts are paid in full.”  I broke down and cried.  So like what Jesus has done for us on the cross. He considered our case, that we are bankrupt and unable to pay for our sins, He is able to offer us full assistance and gladly pays our account in full if we but come to him and ask.  The miracles never cease.  God’s promises are true, He sees the sparrow fall and He will take care of you, even when it looks like all is lost, just ask and trust Him.  When I first met the Lord as a child, He gave me these verses;  Proverbs 3:5-10  Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.  Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.  It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.  Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of thine increase.  So shall thy barns be filled with plenty and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

God keeps his word.  But not always the way we think.  Isa. 55:8-9  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  I have found that even in what would appear to be evil happenings, god intends good for us, takes care of us, provides our needs and uses us to encourage othes and help one another. He gave us Job for an example and all the bible to learn from others mistakes as well as their right doings.  We live because he lives.  And yes, God still works miracles and answers prayers.  I am living proof.

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Incarnation of Jesus and the Body of Christ (part 4)

This series is written by a guest blogger.  When I am finished posting it as a series I will post a link to a pdf that you can download and distribute with the author’s permission.

God’s presence was with His people continually throughout their sojourn in the wilderness.  Nehemiah 9:19 “Yet thou in they manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness:  the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go.”

When Moses completed the wilderness tabernacle God moved His presence thee, where he remained in a visible form throughout all their travels.  Exodus 40:33-38 “And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate.  So Moses finished the work.  v. 34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  v. 35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.  v. 36 “And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:  v.37 But if the cloud wee not taken up, then they journey not till the day that it was taken up.  v. 38 For the cloud of the LORD was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”

When Solomon finished building the new temple in Jerusalem  God moved His presence there.  1 Kings 8:10-11 “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the LORD,  v. 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.”

Several ancient writers, including Eusebius and Josephus refer to the Shekinah leaving the Jewish temple in the years 66-70 A.D. during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and moving to the Mount of Olives where it resided for 3 1/2 years before eventually disappearing.

We again see the light marking God’s presence reappearing over the stable in Bethlehem.  Matthew 2:9 “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, til it came and stood over where the young child was.” God marked the coming of His Son with signs and wonders so that those who were awaiting His coming would recognize the event.

Jesus was filled with the presence of His Father God from birth and in this way was a restoration of the relationship God had with Adam in the garden.  Adam was able to personally communicate with God before he sinned.  Sin ruined this relationship.  God restored it in Jesus who is called the second Adam, and Jesus overcame sin in order to restore the relationship with God for us.  This would not have been possible if Christ had not had the same flesh as Adam.

God Incarnate!  The melding of human flesh with the divine nature!  The great and beautiful work that Christ accomplished for us is that through his victory he opened the way for us to also be restored to this relationship with God!  God has clearly marked the new temple, our fleshly bodies, as the place of His dwelling in the Dispensation of Grace.

it has often been said among the Holdeman people that “Our church has the Candlestick of God.  It is the only church in the world that does.  When John Holdeman left the old church he took the candlestick with him.’  We must in a spirit of candor where the scriptural basis is for this idea?

To be sure, the scriptures speak of a candlestick and candlesticks, which were part of worship in the Old Testament temple.  The seven candlesticks used in the Jewish temple were a symbol of the presence of God.  Revelation speaks of seven golden candlesticks and in chapter 2 verses 1-5 tells the Angel of the church of Ephesus that unless he repents the candlestick will be removed out of its place.  We note that this candlestick is one of seven and the warning is to the angel of the church.  No where do we find that there is one candlestick of God that represents the blessing, favor, or dwelling of God upon one grop or church in the New Testament.  We do, however find that God clearly indicated His place of dwelling with light and fire in the new dispensation.

Acts 2:1-4  “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.  v. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.  v.4 “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Our bodies are God’s temple as we read in 1 Corinthians 6:19 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”  The church, the kingdom, the temple, the bride and body of Christ are now to be found within us, as stated in Luke 17:21  “Neither shall they say, Lo, here! or lo there! for behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”  2 Corinthians 4:6-7  “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

To be sure, there is a collective aspect to the church as we see in Acts 2:1-4.  The Holy Spirit came upon them as they were together in one accord, in one place, but the light or marker was not given as one light above the whole group as previously done in the old dispensation.  It was given to EACH ONE INDIVIDUALLY.  This is very significant!  The kingdom church and temple of God cannot be found in a nation or group.  It is given individually and  is so marked and described by scripture.  The collective experience of fellowship is accomplished by those  upon whom this mark has fallen, those who have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit.  And we have this promise in Matthew 18:20  “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in he midst of them.”  Our collective experience does not need an entire organized conference with boundaries drawn to fulfill God’s plan.  We do, however, need each other and are instructed not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.  In  Matthew 18:18-19 we read “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.  Again I say unto you, that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.”  This brings the corporate experience, together with the accompanied blessing, down to as few as two individuals agreeing together to ask direction from God.

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Autonomy Comes at a Psychic Cost

There is a strange phenomenon that I have noticed over the years and I want to try to spell it out here in words that make sense. I hope I can get some feedback from readers that will help me to put it together.

I was recently handed a small booklet written by Arverd Wiggers, dealing with the issue of emotional or mental illness. I haven’t read the book through, but I saw something near the beginning of it that caught my attention. I do not know Mr. Wiggers and I am not necessarily making a commentary on what he has written, except for one thing. He tells how in his CPS experience in WW2 he worked in a mental hospital. He found himself very intrigued by the mental patients and wondering about the issue of mental illness. On page 10 he makes the statement that “I was in search of something that was eluding me or I was just curious by nature about those things that controlled human behavior.”

On page 11 he says this; “I was discovering human problems that were searching for solution in the field of medical and social science. Furthermore, I could see where the Church has its problems and seemingly could not find the answers for many emotional situations. Unwittingly, my faith in God and the Church was eroding. I did not want it to be that way. I would not admit to myself that this was so. But looking back, it had to be this way. There are no anchors for an enrichment of faith in God in the Social and Medical sciences. Yet it seemed there must be an answer somewhere. This caused me to search for some truths that seemed to be eluding the Church. There appeared to be a need to bring this together.

Little do I wish to say except that this is a dangerous and painful road with many thorns and brambles. There were times when I felt like God was playing cat and mouse with me. The Word does not permit such an explanation. We know the devil makes his attacks upon Christians. Whatever the case may be, I believe an understanding has come about in my heart that more clearly separates for me the differences between the natural man and the spiritual man.”

He continues on page 14; “In my youthful years I believed that the Church had the answers to problems that were of a spiritual nature or affected us spiritually. In the Mental Hospital environment, the training I was receiving, the further studies I was engaged in, robbed me of that faith. The question would arise in my mind, if the Church is wrong in some of these things, would it not also be wrong in some other areas? (italics mine) Surely there must be an answer somewhere! The search for that answer unwittingly led me away from God. This was not so apparent in outward things. Yet in some way the meditations of my heart affected the message of my life and how it was expressed. Not being aware of all this myself, many others no doubt weren’t either and if they were they would not have understood what I was experiencing.

Twice in my life the Lord came to my rescue. These were painful experiences. Had I understood it fully the first time, the second and most painful application may not have been necessary but then maybe I would not have learned what the Lord wanted to teach me. There are generally some precipitating factors that bring these hidden attitudes and beliefs to our attention. this was true in my life and much cleansing needed to be done.

The darkness that came upon me is beyond my ability to express. (emphasis mine) As I look back upon it now, I realize that I had offended our Lord and Savior. God is a jealous God who loves His Only Son dearly. He had given His beloved Son for us. He would cover our sins with His Blood and give us eternal life. He would even do more than this. He would be our burden bearer……..Without realizing it, I had rejected the Stone to be the complete answer for a Christian and had wanted to supplement some medical and social science where it did not belong.

I am addressing the comment he made about the darkness that came upon him.  This strikes me because it is a comment I have heard many times in my life.  A person begins to question the church, or the church begins to question a person, and suddenly a darkness that is beyond the ability to express descends upon one.  I do not want to read more into Mr. Wiggers’ comment here than is reasonable, but it appears to me that he is saying that when he began to doubt the church, he came into unbearable darkness.

Why would this be so?  It is a testimony that I have heard so many times that I do believe it bears serious consideration.  First of all, let us consider the fact that a person can wander far into sin without experiencing this type of darkness.  The question I am asking myself and my readers is “where does this darkness come from?”  God does not beat us over the head when we disobey  him.  In many ways, the consequences of sin are built in.  Dive deeply into sin and the sin itself will have consequences that will weigh heavily upon the heart of the sinner.  Commit adultery, and your marriage may fall apart and you may lose everything.  Steal something and you may wind up in jail.  These things are easy to see.  But what about the business of questioning the church and suddenly the most unbearable darkness imaginable descends upon you?

I have heard people say that they were being called in for visits with the ministers and this caused such an unbearable darkness and heaviness that they found it intolerable.  There are two solutions to this problem. One is to agree to be interviewed and grilled, and to submit to the ministry, and the burden lifts.  This could be explained as one being under conviction for doubting the church and the ministry, and when one gives in, the conviction is lifted and sweet peace floods one’s soul.

However, did you know that the same result can be obtained by choosing not to visit, and deciding that you will follow God no matter the cost, even if it means losing church membership?  Yes, the same peace can follow after this decision. This would appear to make no sense. If the heaviness is the result of God bringing conviction to your heart for doubting the church, then it would seem that the heaviness would increase when you dismiss the ministers and their incessant interviewing.  Of course there are those who would then claim that you have blasphemed the Holy Ghost and the peace that you feel is a false peace which comes when you decide to take your own way.  None of it makes a lot of sense, really.

Let me now bring another idea into the discussion.  The social psychologist Philip Zimbardo has spent a great deal of time in his life studying human behavior and how people behave in groups.  In his book The Lucifer Effect, he tells of various experiments that have been  carried out as people have  tried to determine the ways that individuals will behave in certain situations.  Zimbardo tells of the following experiment:

In chapter twelve of his book The Lucifer Effect, on page 263 he tells the story of Asch’s Conformity Research.  The Experiment is described this way:  “You are recruited for a study of visual perception that begins with judging the relative size of lines.  You are shown cards with three lines of differing lengths and asked to state out loud which of the three is the same length as a comparison line on another card.  One is shorter, one is longer, and one is exactly the same length as the comparison line.  The task is a piece of cake for you.  You make few mistakes, just like most others (less than 1% of the time).  But you are you are not alone in this study:  you are flanked by a bunch of peers, seven of them, and you are number eight.  At first, your answers are like theirs- all right on.  But then unusual things start to happen.  On some trials, each of them in turn reports seeing the long line as the same length as the medium line or the short line as same as the medium one.  (Unknown to you, the other seven are members of Asch’s research team who have been instructed to give incorrect answers unanimously on specific “critical” trials.)  When it is your turn, they all look at you as you look at the card with the three lines.  You are clearly seeing something different than they are, but do you say so?  Do you stick to your guns and say what you know is right, or do you go along with what everyone else says is right?  You face that same group pressure on twelve of the total eighteen trials where the group gives answers that are wrong, but they are accurate on the other six trials interspersed into the mix.

If you are like most of the 123 actual participants in Asch’s study, you would yield to the group about 70 percent of the time on some of those critical  wrong-judgment trials.  Thirty percent of the original subjects conformed on the majority of trials, and only a quarter of them were able to maintain their independence throughout the testing.  Some reported being aware of the differences between what they saw and the group consensus, but they felt it was easier to go along with the others.  For others the discrepancy created a conflict that was resolved by coming to believe that the group was right and their perception was wrong!  All those who yielded underestimated how much they had conformed, recalling yielding much less to the group pressure than had actually been the case.  They remained independent–in their minds, but not in their actions.

Follow up studies showed that, when pitted against just one person giving an incorrect judgment, a participant exhibits some uneasiness, but maintains independence.  However, with a majority of three people opposed to him, errors rose to 32 percent.  On a more optimistic note, however, Asch found one powerful way to promote independence.  By giving the subject a partner whose views were in line with his, the power of the majority was greatly diminished.  Peer support decreased errors to one fourth of what they had been when there was no partner and this resistance effect endured even after the partner left.  

One of the valuable additions to our understanding of why people conform comes from the research that highlights two of the basic mechanisms that contribute  to group conformity.  We conform first out of informational needs:  other people often have ideas, views, perspecives, and knowledge that helps us to better navigate our world, especially through foreign shores and new ports.  The second mechanism involves normative needs:  other people are more likely to accept us when we agree with them than when we disagree, so we yield to their view of the world, driven by a powerful need to belong, to replace differences with similarities.

Conformity and Independence Light Up the Brain Differently

New technology, not available in Asch’s day, offers intriguing insights into the role of the brain in social conformity.  When people conform, are they rationally deciding to go along with the group out of normative needs, or are they actually changing their perceptions and accepting the validity of the new though erroneous information provided by the group?  A recent study utilized advanced brain-scanning technology to answer this question.  Researchers can now peer into the active brain as a person engages in various tasks by using a scanning device that detects which specific brain regions are energized as they carry out various mental tasks.  The process is known as functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI).  Understanding what mental functions various brain regions control tells us what it means when they are activated by any given experimental task.

Here’s how the study worked.  Imagine that you are one of the thirty two volunteers recruited for a study of perception.  You have to mentally rotate images of three-dimensional objects to determine of the objects are the same as or different from a standard object.  In the waiting room, you meet four other volunteers, with whom you begin to bond by practicing games on laptop computers, taking photos of one another, and chatting.  (They are really actors…”confederates,” as they are called in psychology..who will soon be faking their answers on the test trials so that they are in agreement with one another but not with the correct responses that you generate.)  You are selected as the one to go into the scanner while the others outside look at the objects first as a group and then decide if they are the same or different.  As in Asch’s experiment, the actors unanimously give wrong answers on some trials, correct answers on others, with occasional mixed group answers thrown in to make the test more believable.  On each round, when it is your turn at bat, you are shown the answers given by the others.  You have to decide if the objects are the same or different…as the group assessed them, or as you saw them?

As in Asch’s experiments, you (as the typical subject) would cave in to group pressure, on average giving the groups wrong answers 41 percent of the time.  When you yield to the group’s erroneous judgment, your conformity would be seen in the brain scan as changes in selected regions of the brain’s cortex related to vision and spatial awareness (specifically, activity increases in the right intraparietal sulcus.)  Surprisingly, there would be no changes in areas of the forebrain that deal with monitoring conflicts, planning and other high-order mental activities.  On the other hand, if you make independent judgments that go against the group, your brain would light up in the areas that are associated with emotional salience (the right amygdala and  right caudate nucleus regions.)  This means that resistance creates an emotional burden for those who maintain their independence.  Autonomy comes at a psychic cost.  

The lead author of this research, the neuro-scientist Gregory Berns, concluded that “We like to think that seeing is believing, but the studies findings show that seeing is believing what the group tells you to believe.”  This means that other people’s views, when crystallized into a group consensus, can actually affect how we perceive important aspects of the external world, thus calling into question the nature of truth itself.  It is only by becoming aware of our vulnerability to social pressure that we can begin to build resistance to conformity when it is not in our best interest to yield to the mentality of the herd.  

Well!  This is very interesting!  This tells us something very important.  We will revise our perception of truth and reality if it is outside of the normative view.  If our peers and all of those in our cultural and social circle are telling us that black is white, we may very well begin to believe it. When we resist this pressure, it actually causes an “emotional burden” as we struggle to maintain our independence; thus the sense of peace when we give up that struggle to be independent.  When we “lay it all down” and conform to the ideas and assessments of reality as presented by the group, we feel a wonderful relief from the struggle to stand alone.  Autonomy comes at a psychic cost!  

I hope you can see how this all pertains to the things I wrote in the beginning of this post.  The experiments that were described have nothing to do with our spirits.  They are simply experiments that had to do with our mental processes.  Add to this mix the highly spiritual nature of some of the conflicts we come into as members of the church.  The psychic cost of autonomy is elevated even higher.  Think about what Arverd Wiggers says happened to him when the simple question entered  his mind, “If the church is wrong about this, could they be wrong about other things?”  He says that the darkness that came upon was beyond his ability to express.  Now be realistic about this. Should a simple question such as this bring about such an unbearable darkness?  No, the processes of his mind should have been clear and calm.  God walks us through our questions with clarity and with wisdom and understanding when we ask him for help.  When we are plunged into the black despair that he mentions, we should immediately recognize that something is wrong.  Questions do not bring this kind of black despair.  Giving up our questions should not bring such overwhelming peace.  Deep and dire sin brings despair and blackness.  Repentance brings deliverance from the clutches of Satan.  Agreeing or not agreeing with a certain stand taken by a certain group is not enough to cause this type of dark night of the soul.  Friends, be aware that there is something more sinister at work in these situations.  God is a loving and gentle God. He does not plunge us into darkness when we begin to question.  He lovingly leads and guides us. Satan is cruel and filled with wrath. He loves to bring us into darkness and despair and to make us doubt our own perceptions.  I think I have said enough on this subject. Let your mind expand upon it. I am sure many instances will come to mind of when you have heard or felt yourself, this sentiment. (the darkness I felt was beyond my ability to express.)  Ask God to give you wisdom and peace.

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The Incarnation of Jesus and the Body of Christ (part 3)

CON’T

Luke 1: 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.  v.29  And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.  v.30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou has found favor with God. v.31 And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.  v. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: v.33  And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.  v.34  Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?  v.35  And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.  v.36  And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.  v.47  For with God nothing shall be impossible.  v.38  And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.  And the angel departed from her.  v.39  And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;  v.40  And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.  v.41  And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:  v.42  And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”

Modern science has revealed to us what happens at conception, and how our physical bodies are formed.  We know that we receive 23 chromosomes from our father and 23 from our mother.  Our genetic code or DNA is shared equally from both parents.  A fascinating bit of science relates to the mitochondrial DNA that our cells contain.  This DNA is passed to us maternally, and by using this DNA, forensic scientists are able to trace our parentage through our maternal bloodline.  Although we readily admit the ability of God the Creator to create in any way He chooses, we clearly see by the above scriptures coupled with science that Jesus was OF Mary.

It should be noted here that the 18 articles of faith drawn up at Dordrecht, Holland on April 21, 1632, more than 75 years AFTER Menno wrote his thesis, are less specific on this point, stating as follows: “But as to how and in what manner this precious body was prepared, and how the Word became flesh, and He Himself man, in regard to this we content ourselves with the statement pertaining to this matter which the worthy evangelists have left us in their accounts, according to which we confess with all the saints, that He is the Son of the living God, in whom alone consists all our hope, consolation, redemption, and salvation, which we neither may nor must seek in any other.”

We now come to the question of what is gained or lost by our understanding of the incarnation.  Is it important?  Much is said in scripture about Christ’s shared humanity and the fact that we can share of the divine nature.  Therefore we must conclude that it is of great importance.  Although this article does not spend much time with how the divine nature is imparted to us, we want to look at a profound truth.

God was present in His son in a spiritual sense.  John 14:10  “Believest thou that I am in the Father, and the father in me?  the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”  We want to consider the dwelling place of God.  This is important to the incarnation because we see a supernatural being (God) dwelling in a physical or human body (Jesus).  To understand this better we will look at how God has manifested or shown His presence throughout history.  He has always clearly showed His dwelling place to His people.

In the Garden of Eden God walked in the garden in the cool of the day and spoke with Adam and Eve.  He spoke with the patriarchs like Noah, Abraham and Moses so that there was no doubt of His presence.  He showed Himself to them in a way they could perceive and understand.  He spoke to  Moses from a burning bush and from Mount Sinai in a cloud and in a fire.  God revealing Himself through fire, cloud and light is referred to by ancient Hebrew writers as “Shekinah.”  In Hebrew Shekinah means “Divine Manifestation.,” “Divine Presence,” “Divine Power,” “Glory,” and “Grace,”

He revealed Himself to the Children of Israel in a special and continual way.  In Exodus 13:21-22 we read “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”

The pillar of fire and cloud was so prominent that even their neighbors were aware of the fact that God was with them.  Numbers 14:14   “And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.”

to be continued.

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The Incarnation of Jesus and the Body of Christ (part 2) 1:14

Mary was His mother.  Here are a few of many scriptures that tell us this.  Matthew 1:18  “Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise:  When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”  Matthew 1:16   And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Christ.”  Matthew 2:11  “And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him:  and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.”  Acts 1:14  “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”

Jesus was conceived by Mary and made of her flesh.  Luke 1:31  “And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.”  Galatians 4:4 “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.”

Conception is defined by the Free Dictionary as: (1) Formation of a viable zygote by the union of the male sperm and the female ovum; fertilization.  (2) The entity formed by the union of the male sperm and female ovum; an embryo or zygote.”  We can simply take the scriptures at face value when they tell us that Mary conceived in her womb and that the Son of God was made OF her.

Jesus was the seed of Abraham and David according to the flesh.  In Genesis 22:18 God told Abraham, “And in they seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”  This blessing is eternal life for all who believe in Jesus, who was the seed of Abraham.

Matthew 1:1  “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”  Galatians 3:16  “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made.  He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to they seed, which is Christ.”  Hebrews 2:16  For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.”  Romans 1:3  “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was  made of the seed of David according to the flesh.”  Acts 2:29-30  “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.  v.30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God haad sworm with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne.”  Here again we can take the scriptures for what they say.  Jesus was a relative of Abraham and David ACCORDING TO THE FLESH, or in other words, a blood relative.  He could not have been a blood relative had he not received His humanity from His mother.

In Hebrews it is made even cleared that Jesus was human in the physical sense.  Hebrew 2:14-18, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of the flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; v.15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. v.16 For verily, he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.  v.17  Wherefore in all things it behooved him to  to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. v.18  For in that he himself hath suffered  being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.”

This scripture brings out a very profound and deep truth that we need to catch.  Jesus PARTOOK of (shared) our human flesh and blood.  Why?  So that He could destroy the devil, and deliver us from bondage!  We can live in victory now in OUR flesh because He set the example for us!  This is made possible through the fact that He also possessed a human body, one that received true, human DNA from a true human mother.  IN fact we are His brethren.  He did not take upon Himself the nature of angels, but He took on Himself the seed of Abraham, that is, Abraham’s flesh and blood, the same kind of human blood that you and I possess.  Had He not possessed real human flesh, He could not have been the perfect sacrifice.  We could not now say that he was made like us “IN ALL THINGS,” and that he truly understands what it is like to be us!  Hebrews 2:11, “For both he that sanctifieth (Jesus) and they who are sanctified (us) are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”  Note that Jesus and us ARE ALL OF ONE, and this does not embarrass Him.  He considers us  brothers!

We need to look at the historical groundwork which was laid for the present belief.  In the years 1554-1556, Menno Simons wrote extensively about the incarnation.  As we move through his writings on the topic we can easily see that he based his views on faulty science.  He did not have an understanding of how human conception worked. In the book The Complete Writings of Menno Simons at least 160 pages are given to explaining his understanding of the incarnation from page 783-943.   On page 784 in the publisher’s introduction we read, “As has been noted elsewhere, the Swiss Brethren never shared the view of Menno and the Dutch Mennonites on the Incarnation, and the Dutch Mennonites themselves did not long retain it.

Menno very sincerely believed the scriptures taught that a mother did not contribute anything to her child.  He taught very forcefully that human reproduction uses the same principle as sowing a kernel of grain in a field.  The womb is the same as the soil in that it receives the seed and nourishes, feeds and protects it until birth.  He maintained that all the properties of the new child are contained in the father’s seed.  He bases his whole theory of the incarnation on this principle.  He also allows this understanding to color his belief of the church or mother of the believer.

We know today that his view is not correct and we give him the benefit of the doubt.  If he had understood the process of conception correctly he no doubt would have formulated a different view.  However we cannot excuse the fact that he very seriously missuses and misapplies scripture due to his faulty reasoning. In fact he used the scripture upon which to base his theory, and in so doing created a false teaching.  The reader is urged to peruse Menno’s writings for his own learning, especially his Reply to Martin Micron on pages 834-913 in the volume The Complete Writings of Menno Simons.  Here you will sense the spirit of Menno on the topic of the Incarnation.  The publisher’s introduction on pages 836 and 837 has the following comment:  “The whole discussion is tedious and tiresome.  While no one can blame Menno for the primitive science iin his day, yet one cannot but wish that he would have had more good sense than to waddle through the mire as he does in this monotonous and repetitious discussion.  As a matter of plain fact, Menno was simply wrong scientifically in his central argument that human generation and inheritance rest with the father only. His aim to uphold a high view of the person of our Lord was, of course, laudable.  But his arguments are wearisome, and his style is less than courteous; there is no excuse for the sharp polemics of the sixteenth-century authors.  Section X is perhaps the only edifying section in the entire Reply.  The average reader may turn to that, and omit the rest of the book, for it is unprofitable.”  (end of quote)

This faulty reasoning created th basis for the early Mennonite statements of faith and the belief used today by the Holdeman people.  On page 40 of Bible Doctrine and Practice we read “Menno Simons write, concerning the Body of Jesus, ‘We say and teach according to the plain testimony of John, That the word was made flesh, not of Mary, but in Mary.”  (The Complete Writings of Menno Simons pp 910)  In other words, He did not take his flesh from Mary.  The distinction of Christ’s body being formed in Mary, rather than being of her, points out the truth that while man is subject to inherent sin, Christ was not.  Since Jesus was one of the Godhead, He could not sin.  “He cannot deny Himself.”  2 Timothy 2:13 “Jesus Christ the same yesterday and today and forever.”   Hebrews 13:8  In the Thirty Three Articles of Faith we read, “His flesh or body body  became flesh, not of Mary or of any created substance, but only of the Word of life which had come down from heaven”  (Art.14, pp 47)  (End of quote)

These statements stand in stark contrast to the scriptures that state that Jesus was in fact created “OF MARY.”  Galatians 4:4  “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, Matthew 1:16  “And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Luke 1:26-42  “And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from god unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, v. 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.  v. 28 

(to be continued)


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The Fire of God (part 2) Strange Fire

In the preceding post I gave information which showed us that God is a God of fire. His presence in the Old Testament was manifested as fire.  The Hebrew people were not familiar with the technology which has produced the electricity that we are able to harness and use today without much thought.  We live in an electrical universe.  The planet earth resonates with an electrical frequency of 7.83 hrz, and interestingly enough, the human brain has been found to resonate with this very same frequency.  The miracle of human life is simply the generating of electrical energy.  When a person dies, this electrical field goes dead…it departs from the body and goes into another dimension.  When God breathed the breath of life into Adam, he imparted this spark of life to him.  He breathed into Adam, and behold, Adam caught the spark and became a living being.  The very breath of God energized him, and he began to resonate with the very same frequency of the planet itself.  What a miraculous God! A God of order and sense and infinite energy and power!

When Moses led the children into the wilderness, God began to teach them about his presence. He instructed them to build the Ark of the Covenant, and it was through this object that his very presence began to be made known to them.  The Ark actually stored and discharged electricity, and this was shown to the people to be the very presence of God.  This was the fire that God gave to the people which signified  his presence and his power.

Let’s take a look at the concept of “strange fire.”  Leviticus 10:1  And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not.

These two men started a fire of their own. Instead of drawing upon the fire that God had given them, the very energy of his presence and power, they struck their own match, so to speak, and started a fire of their own; one that did not come from the true source.  In the scriptures which I quoted in the previous post, we can see that God is fire. He is divine energy.  His throne is fire, his eyes are of fire, his glory is fire, his judgments are fire, he manifests as fire all around.  This fire is the true source.  He led the children of Israel as a pillar of fire, and on the day of Pentecost, he divided the column of fire to be administered unto each and every believer as their very own source of divine energy.  God himself came to light on the head of each and every believer, and to fill their very being with his power.

This is certainly a magnificent gift!  The very fire of God can be dispensed to us, to empower us and energize us.  So, what happens if we kindle strange fire?  In Isaiah 50:11 we read another comment about strange fire:  Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks:  walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled.  this shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.

When we strike our own match and kindle our own fire, (that which is not the true Spirit of God, his Holy Spirit) we can expect negative results. Our own fire may seem to be authentic, it may have the power to burn, it may emit a certain light, but it has no real divine power.

If our religion is kindled by our own hand, it may seem quite real to us. There may be a certain power in it.  We may have power to excommunicate and shun, we may have power to hold a group together, we may  have the power to collect large sums of money and carry out many projects, at home and abroad.  However, these will never resonate with the true power of God, the energy of his Holy Presence which revitalizes itself and affects all who are touched by it with strength and power.  When our power is in a lineage, a set of rules in a book called Bible Doctrine and Practice, in the power that we proudly hold to excommunicate and shun, we have kindled strange fire.

On page 122-123 of his book Keeping the Faith, Ben Giesbrecht makes some assertions that bear a closer look, for here he reveals the true nature of the heart of the Holdeman church. He has been expounding at some length on the lineage and the claims of being the one true church when he says this: ”Many would be the consequences of abandoning this vision.  There would be AN IMMEDIATE LOSS OF POWER (emphasis mine.)  We would make ourselves susceptible to the immense flood of diverse teaching and interpretation that abounds in our day,and there are many points of view that are brilliantly expounded.  If we lack conviction that we are in the true faith, where truth is protected, we reach out to other options.  The result is confusion and lack of unity.

This is a rather alarming thought. The power that Bennie speaks of is not the true power of the Holy Ghost, but rather the power derived from recognizing a lineage, performing rituals of excommunication and shunning, and teaching the doctrine of the One True Church.  It is true, as I have said, that there is a certain type of power to be had outside the power of the Holy Ghost. Is this not strange fire? If we kindle a fire from our own works and rituals, is this not strange fire? This strange fire has no power of it’s own, but must continually be stoked and refueled by the ordinances and teachings of man.  The consequences of kindling strange fire are explained in the scriptures, several of which I have quoted in this and the preceding article.  Why does the church struggle, why does it drift?  Why is it in disarray?  Strange fire does not come from God, it comes from man and his efforts. It is legalism and self righteousness. It is a certain form of godliness, but it denies the power thereof. (2 Timothy 3:5)

Many will be the consequences of kindling strange fire.  The men who are striking this sulfurous match should tremble with fear.  The people are not innocent, if this is the fire they desire, instead of the true fire of God’s holy presence.    Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks:  walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye have kindled.  this shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow. (Isaiah 50:11)  Sorrow will be the result of kindling strange fire.  Beware, all who love strange fire!  There is a source  of divine power which will strengthen, enrich and enable true believers to be filled with love and mercy, compassion and the many gifts of the Spirit.  Snuff out the strange fire and be filled with the fire the comes from above, the true fire of God, the gift of the Holy Spirit!

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A God of Fire

The Bible contains many references to fire, some of which I will quote in this article. God’s presence is fiery, his judgments are fiery, his throne is of fire, and his glory is fire.  One can read these numerous references to fire without every making all the connections, but once the truth emerges, it is a powerful testimony to the presence of God.  I am going to try to point out that a Christian should emanate a supernatural force that is powerful enough to have an effect on the world around him, and this is a result of the presence of God, in the form of the Holy Ghost dwelling within him.  For the moment, let us examine some of the scriptures that tell us of the Fire of God.

Exd 3:2  And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 

Exd 9:23  And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire  ran along the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt.

Exd. 13:21  And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light, to go by day and night.

Exd 24:17  And the sight of the glory of the Lord  was like a devouring fire on top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.

Besides these references to fire, there are many others that speak of the fire that was used in the sacrifices.  Check this link to http://www.blueletterbible.org to see a list of all the scriptures that pertain to fire.  http://www.blueletterbible.org/search/translationResults.cfm?criteria=fire&page=3&t=KJV  Once a sacrifice had been burned with fire, on the altar, it was holy.  

In Leviticus 10:1 We read about the sons of Aaron offering strange fire which they concocted on their own, and offering it God.This turned out to be a bad idea, as we read in verse 2:  And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.  We will discuss the implications of this a little further on.

A little further along in the Old Testament, we read about Solomon dedicating the temple.  In 2 Chronicles 7, verses 1 and 3, we read the following:  Now when Solomon had made and end of praying, the fire came down from  heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the house.

And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshiped, and praised the Lord, saying, for he is good, for his mercy endureth forever!

God’s judgments are fiery.  Jeremiah  21:12  O house of David, thus saith the Lord, execute judgment in the morning, and deliver him that is spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury go out like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

His word is like a fire!  Jeremiah 23:29  Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

His fury is like fire!  Nahum 1:6 Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger?  His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.

The fire of God cleanses and purifies!  It is a refining fire!  Zechariah 13:9 And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as sliver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them:  I will say, it is my people that say, The Lord is my God.

Malachi 3:2  But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap.

The Holy Ghost comes as a flame of fire! His presence is fire.  Acts 2:3  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each one of them.

This is good news!  In the wilderness, God was guiding his people by a single column of fire which guided the group as a whole.  This fire was understood to be the presence of God.  On the day of Pentecost this fire was sent upon each believer, and now we can understand that everyone who believes and receives the Spirit of God has an individual portion., No longer does a believer have to look to the group for direction, but he/she can in fact depend upon the voice of God speaking on the inside and rely on the fact that this is the voice of God. One’s own individual  portion!  There is a powerful lesson in this, one that does away with the corporate body speaking  on behalf of the individual.

God’s throne is fiery!  Daniel 7:9  I beheld til the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.

His baptism is fiery.  Matthew 3:11  ….he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

There are also many verses that tell us that God’s eyes are like a flame of fire.  Revelation 19:12  He eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head werre many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he  himself.

These are a large number of verses to read, but I wanted to present them to clearly make a point. Our God is a God of fire. His judgments burn and purify with fire. His eyes see with fire, all illuminating and clearly.  His throne is fire, his very presence is fire.  Fire is energy. God is pure energy, with the power to impart life to inanimate objects and ultimately to quicken our spirits, which were dead in trespasses and sins, into immortal beings.

Now let us examine another idea.  We are all familiar with the Ark of the Covenant, which the Israelites carried in the wilderness.  Today there are scientists and physicists who have studied  the ark and have determined that it actually functioned as a capacitor, a device that stored and discharged electricity.  We know that God had warned the people that they must not touch this object, the rules for it’s transporting and storage were very exact. There was a time when the men who were carrying it stumbled a bit and touched it, and they died. I used to think that this was a little harsh and unfair of God to carry out this punishment when the fact that the men touched the ark was an accident.  However, when we see that in fact the ark may have been highly electrically charged, we see that it was simply a natural consequence, in the same way that we would die if we grabbed a high voltage wire.  If you want to understand how the ark of the covenant functioned as a capacitor, there is a good deal of information about it, if one is of a mind to look for it, but for the sake of our purposes here, you can have a look at this website.  www.simonelic.com/kensr/   The dimensions and the construction of this box were such that it became a very powerful object.  In the ark of the covenant, we see the presence of God as a powerful energy.  This energy was manifested and utilized in various ways.  It is very complex and interesting and well worth a serious study.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqKEpbZf1qo  You will find this video to be very enlightening and fascinating.  The material is too extensive for me to try to condense it in this post.  I advise you to check it out for yourself.  

I am bringing out all of this information for a reason which I will bring together in my next post.

Hebrews 12:9 Our God is a consuming fire!

Blessings

Hiram

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Incarnation of Jesus and the Body of Christ (Part 1)

I have received a rather long article from an anonymous guest blogger which I will be posting in a series.  Please take the time to read it and study it carefully.  Feel free to print it and distribute it.  I hope you enjoy this series.

  The Incarnation of Jesus and the Body of Christ

What do the scriptures really teach about the Incarnation of Jesus?  In the Church of God in Christ Mennonite, we are taught that Jesus did not receive his Humanity from Mary.  Occasionally there is discussion about this, with most people saying, “Well, what does it really matter?  It is not that important.”  However, in recent times it has become obvious that to question this teaching can create repercussions in the church, to the point of excommunication for not being in unity with the doctrines of the church.  This then becomes a very serious and important issue.  In this article we want to explore the teaching from the historical understanding of this church and compare it with the Word of God.

To simply accept a teaching because it is what the forefathers taught should not be sufficient for the true believer.  We need to diligently search the scriptures to see if these things are really so.  There is enough said about the divinity and humanity of Christ in the bible to conclude that it is a matter of importance.  I will quote a fair amount of scripture, and I urge the reader to carefully read each passage as you move through this article.  If you skip the scriptures, you will miss the deep meaning.  It is after all, the scriptures that speak.

Here is some food for thought;  the incarnation of Christ (Jesus coming to earth in the flesh) is the single most important happening in all the history of the world!

A deeper understanding of the incarnation will bring us to a renewed vision of the work of Christ for all mankind, so much so that we will come to see our shallow and unregenerate hearts in a new light.  This theme is so central to the gospel, that we could say until we see how Christ came in the flesh, we will not fully understand the gospel.  I would beg the reader not to ostracize these thoughts at the outset, but please give them your serious and open-minded consideration.  What I present here is written in human weakness and I acknowledge at best, a very imperfect understanding of these very deep and important truths!

John 1:1-24  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with god, and the Word was God.  the same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.  In him was life; and the light of men.  And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  The same came for a witness, to bear witness of that Light.  That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.  He was in the wold, and the wold was made by him,and the world knew him not.  He came unto  his own but his own received him not.  But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the father,) full of grace and truth.”

There are some simple, yet profound truths for us to consider in the above scripture.  If we ponder these truths together with other clear scriptures, we will see the following points.

1)  The Word is Jesus.

2)  The Word was made flesh.

3)  The Word is our light.

4)  The Light shines on every person born.

5)  God marks His temple and dwelling place with Light.

6)  If we receive Him the Light indwells us and we become sons and daughters of God.

a.  This makes us brothers and sister with each other and with Christ.

b.  This makes us part of the Body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the

Church of Christ, and the Kingdom of Christ by becoming part-

akers of the Divine Nature of Christ.

7)  Jesus being made flesh is essential to our salvation.  Our relationship with Him, and our relationships with each other are deeply embodied in the incarnation.

First, let’s look at the meaning of the word “incarnation.”  The Free Dictionary has the following definition. (1)  the doctrine that the Son of God was conceived in the womb of Mary and that Jesus is true God and true man.  (2)  A bodily manifestation of a supernatural being.

We all readily agree that Jesus is in fact the Son of God, sent down from heaven to live on earth in the form of a man.  John 6:48-51  “I am that bread of life.  49.  Your fathers did eat manna inn the wilderness and are dead.  50.  This is the bread which cometh down from heaven , that a man may eat thereof, and not die.  51.  I am the living  bread which came down from heaven.  JOhgn 6:54  “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day.”    By taking on Himself the flesh and nature of the human race, Jesus opened the door for us to experience His divine nature.

The title that is characteristic of Jesus in the New Testament is Son of Man; it occurs some eighty times in the Gospels, and was His Own accustomed title for Himself.  In 1 Timothy 2:5 we read “For as there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”  Jesus was also the Son of God and was miraculously and supernaturally conceived in the womb of Mary by the power of the Holy Ghost.  He was both fully  man and fully God.

Jesus had a very human body.  Luke 2439-43  “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; and handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.  40.  And when he had thus spoke, he shewed them his hands and his feet.  41.  And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye have here any meat? 42.  And they have him a piece of broiled fish, and of an honeycomb.  43.   And he took it and did eat before them.”

He suffered the same human feelings and needs as we do.  Matthew 21:18  “Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered.”   Matthew 26:38  “Then said he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye  here and watch with me.”  John 12:27  “Now is my soul troubled.”  John 11:33  “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.”  John 11:35  “Jesus wept.”

Jesus was tempted and struggled with His flesh.  Hebrews 4:15  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  Matthew 26:39 “And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me:  nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.”  Matthew 4:1  “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”  Hebrews 5:8  “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.”

What he went through in the Garden of Gesthsemane was similar, but really deeper and more profound, than what we go through in life when we get converted and at different times as we struggle with our flesh.  Jesus had to give up His will, but knowing he needed to  be obedient. HIs temptations were also  very real, in All points like ours.  We can simply take God’s Word at face value.  A temptation by it’s very nature implies a desire to sin, or else it would not be a temptation.  And if it were not possible for us to sin, ow then could we be tempted to sin?  Temptation by its very nature implies the possibility of DOING!

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Icons in the Mind

I have described the process of converting a very young mind to the belief in the one true church.  As I have mentioned, this process begins with an infant on it’s mother’s lap.  The things I have described are not necessarily wrong, in fact all of them are good, in and of themselves.  It’s good that a child is secure, sits quietly and is well-behaved. It’s good that the family is in church together. Hymns are very nice, extremely beautiful when sung together in harmony.  There is nothing wrong with feeling safe and being surrounded by loved ones.

So, where is the problem? The problem arises when a child begins to feel superior and begins to exclude others.  All of this creates an idolatry that is extremely subtle and difficult to root out. In the past year I paid a visit to a Catholic church with a couple of friends.  I watched in amazement as the citizens of the community arrived for mass on a Saturday afternoon.  The building was beautiful; breathtakingly so.  The colors of the plaster, the idols in small alcoves lining the ceiling, the detail and the gold leaf were amazing.  This church is old but has been so beautifully maintained that I was stunned.  I took a seat well ahead of the starting time and observed the worshipers as they arrived.  They walked down the aisle, and when they reached their seat, before entering their pew they paused to genuflect and make the sign of the cross. What were they  bowing to?  I presume the large crucifix at the front of the church.  An idol depicting Christ as he hung from the cross.  There were idols placed all around the sanctuary.  The service was incredibly boring, as they followed the priest through the ritual, repeating, standing, sitting, kneeling, and eventually receiving the Eucharist.  It was not the type of service that moves me.

The fact that the people of the town turned out for this service in great numbers on a Saturday afternoon is impressive.  Islamists bow to Mecca five times a day and pray. They willingly blow themselves to bits, kill and are killed for their religion. Movie stars join the cult of Scientology.  It seems to wield a tremendous power over their minds.  Mennonites, Baptists, Pentecostals and denominations of all stripes commit with unrelenting zeal to their religions.  Does this mean that they are right?  Does the fact that a child who is reared in the Holdeman religion and loves it and follows it prove that it is right?

The country of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma is an example of powerful idolatry.  The country is poor and politically repressive, but the citizens are very devout in their worship.  One of the major ways that they prove their devotion to their religion, which is predominantly Buddhist, is to press sheets of gold leaf to statues of the Buddha, or to large rocks which are worshiped as shrines.  The people are poor, but a great deal of time and money is spent in manufacturing gold leaf, and purchasing it.  Imagine someone who is in desperate poverty spending the little they have on a packet of gold leaf so that they can go press it to an idol.  Some of these idols and stones are covered with a thick layer of pure gold.  Would we view this sacrifice as proof that they are right?

Religion has a tremendous power to capture the minds of human beings.  Add culture and family to this mix and you have an unbreakable spell.  People will do many things, suffer hardship and deprivation, even martyrdom for the sake of religion.  None of these things mean that the thing they are dying for is right.  It might seem fairly obvious to Christians that bowing down to an idol is wrong, in direct opposition to the ten commandments.  However, it is a little more difficult for them to see themselves when the idol they bow down to does not take the form of a wooden or stone image.  What if the idol is invisible, only an icon embedded in the mind?

What is the veneration of a lineage and the teachings of the forefathers if it is not idolatry?  Take all of that away and what do you have?  Try it and see.  I’m in favor of the family being the first and foremost institution in a child’s life.  Not church, not the ministry, not the school, but the family. I’m in favor of the parents being so loving and involved in a child’s growth and development that peer pressure is not an issue.  The parents are the child’s peer group. In other words, the parents are so dearly loved and respected that their love and approval is of the greatest importance to the child.  How about a family where the father teaches the bible to his children without interruption from a minister or a church doctrine?  What if he is free to say anything that he believes or has on his heart?  What if the father and the mother are so fond of one another, so much in harmony, that they are able to create a place of comfort and security in their home that far surpasses anything that can be provided by the religious organization?

We all know that the father can teach nothing to his family other than what is taught by the church. If he does, the child will come into conflict and begin to doubt the ministry and the church.  This will show up even further when it comes time to take a series of doctrine classes as part of the study in youth meetings, or when it is time to be baptized and the father has secretly confessed that he believes immersion is the way to do it.  What if he tells his wife that as the Bible states that a headcovering is a sign of subjection to the husband, he should be the one to tell her how to wear it, and he in fact loathes the little black beanie and would prefer something different. If we let our minds wander down this avenue we can clearly see that the father is not the true authority in his own home. Something else stands between the father and his children, the father and his wife. THE CHURCH looms ever before him when he wishes to take the role of husband, father protector and spiritual leader.  The wife and the children are under such a spell that if he were to say that he feels that God is impressing it upon him that the wife should homeschool the children and they should in fact withdraw them from the religious training at the church school, he will be met with opposition. His word is worth nothing if it is in opposition to that of the ministry.  What is the father to do?  Continue to create conflict and force his opinions?  If he does this he may very well lose on a large scale.  There is nothing left for him but to mash down the specter of manhood that was seeking to rise and let the preacher be the head of his home.  What a terrible dilemma.

My advise to fathers and mothers is this; love one another.  Speak honestly and openly to your children.  Teach them to pray, and to be critical thinkers.  Let them know that no matter what choices they make in life, you will support them and love them.  NEVER give the slightest hint that if they leave the church, whether it be to take a spin around the world, or to seek God in a more meaningful way, that they will ever experience shunning and rejection. Let them know that if they make this choice, and the preacher tries to discipline the parents for not shunning, they will tell them to have a go at it. It is the insecurity of not knowing that the parents will be there no matter what that causes children to act out, or to become more religious and judgmental. It can go either way.  The goal should be to teach them to think, to read the Bible, to love others, to do away with judgment and superiority, and to be ready to suffer. If  you are not, or have not suffered, it’s a fairly good guess that you are practicing religion.  That’s not to say that people don’t suffer for religion, but the truth remains that often people think that just because they are not suffering, they must be right.  If it is too easy, if it requires no cost in blood or heartbreak, it is most likely a false religion.  The bible tells us that “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)  It says nothing about how to dress, how to conduct a church service, what kinds of bylaws and doctrines must be held to, nothing!  Just to love one another and keep oneself unspotted from the world.  Being unspotted from the world might be a whole lot different from what we have been led to believe.

I hope this gives you some food for thought.  We’ll talk about it some more!

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More Information About Trance States, Mass Hypnosis and Mind Control

I want to talk some more about the way trance-like states are induced, and the subsequent effects on the life of those so affected.  I have mentioned the typical church service being very hypnotic and conducive to mind control.  You may take offense at this.  Many of the things that are taking place in such a setting are not in and of themselves wrong.  The problem arises when those in control knowingly use these conditions to further their own agenda and cause people to become captive to their system.

So you are asking, is this done deliberately?  Do the people who run the show know what they are doing?  That is a good question.  I doubt that very many of them have the intellect and cunning to purposefully conduct this type of massive hypnosis.  I will, however, say this;  it is a natural evolving of certain agendas and behaviors.  Men naturally discover that certain things disrupt the flow of the information and behavior modification that they are trying to accomplish.  Over time this type of established rhythm becomes the norm.  Whenever this norm is varied from people become less manageable.  The process simply devises itself, which is the way it usually works in any case.  No doubt there are those who make a deep study of it and understand the dynamics of it and exploit it far more deliberately for their own ends. but nevertheless, a good deal of it takes place without much contemplation on the part of the perpetrators.  I would venture to suggest that it is such a natural progression of events that care must be taken to prevent it!  I will discuss more of how that can be done a little further on.

When you are sitting in church, make an effort to sit near the back of the sanctuary where there will be mothers and fathers with young children.  Observe that these children are usually quiet and well-behaved.  From a young age the mother or father has subjected the child to a type of behavior modification.  (The alteration of human behavior using basic learning techniques such as  positive or negative reinforcement ,as in rewards and punishments). If the child behaves well and sits quietly in the pew, all is well and there may even be a dish of sugary cereal.  If the child fidgets and makes a commotion, a visit to a secluded area in the back where discipline is applied will quickly follow.  Some parents are harsh and some are lenient, but by the time a child is around two years old he/she is sitting for a good portion of the service, looking at a book, drowsing on the parent’s lap or sleeping.

The child is in a safe and secure environment.  A beloved and trusted parent is near, the setting is familiar and comforting.  Children love to sing, and often will join in with childish enthusiasm. Of course it won’t be long before the mother tenderly hushes the notes that are held out after the others have paused.  There are amused smiles, and soon the baby learns to match the behavior of the adults. Decorous, predictable and calm.  Is this bad?  No, not yet.

Notice the 4 and 5 year olds.  Few children in today’s society are capable of sitting for any length of time without demanding toys, entertainment or snacks.  These children are patient and docile.  This is good.  The child is well-behaved.  At 7 and 8 the children sit upright throughout the service.  They might not appear to be listening to the service.  They may be marking in their Sunday School book, laying their head on their parent’s shoulder, and in general appearing to be bored and disengaged, but the process is well underway, the process that started when they were infants.  The process is that everything that happens in this setting is carved deep into the psyche of the child.  This is when the child internalizes certain words and phrases.

The preacher stands up in front and begins to speak in his carefully modulated tone of voice.  His sermon might be rather good, or it might be asinine.  I have seen a fair number of both.  In any case, this is when the preacher uses certain key words and phrases, all to very good effect. As mentioned before, he will employ the use of words such as “an intellectual understanding,” “fall into deception,” “we as the brethren,”  ”we as God’s people,” “those who are no longer among us,” “when we can just humble ourselves and accept the light of the brethren,” “when we’re proud,” “let us pray for those who are of a lost and a dying world,” “the lost and dying world,” “thankful that we can be here so peaceful and undisturbed,” and so on.  You get my meaning. The small child does not listen to the sermon, but he is being conditioned.  Conditioned to believe that he is part of something that is special, that the rest of the world does not and cannot have, that he is better than the rest of the world, that he will go to hell if he is not a part of it, and that the ministers must be feared as God.  He is being taught that the ministers are never wrong, that they are good and kind, even when he sees them doing things that seem a little strange, like expelling his father or mother or grandparent, even though the child can see no reason why this should be so.

The child can become very judgmental.  When playing with the children of family members who are not members of the church he will not so kindly point out to them that their parents are going to hell.  He will pompously explain to his playmates that the reason for this is because they watch television, the mother wears jeans or because she does not wear a head covering.  If the offended playmate tattles to his mother, and the mother of the offending child overhears, she may be horrified.  She may lecture her child kindly but sternly  and tell him that we don’t talk to our friends like that.  Naturally she doesn’t say that anything the child said was wrong, but only that the child should not have said it because it’s not nice.  Then she wonders if she ever said such a thing in front of the child.  Quite likely she did not.  But never mind, the child has been listening.  He’s already very well conditioned to see the rest of the world as lost and going to hell, and himself and his family as being superior and righteous.  God’s favorite people, as it were.

Imagine for a minute that the parents of school age children decide to leave the church. By the time a child is ten or eleven, or even 7 or 8, this will present a traumatic situation.  The child will not readily accept this change. He may cry to his grandparents, who will sadly shake their heads and say that it is so wonderful that the child has such conviction at such an early age, and isn’t this just more proof that we are the one true church…the fact that a small child is already so sure of the truth.

What has actually happened is that the child has already fallen under the spell of the hypnotist.  Naturally, if a child has been being taught Bible stories from the time of infancy, and if he truly loves God, which is possible in a child-like way, he may be disturbed if he sees his parents suddenly lapsing into an ungodly lifestyle.  But suppose the parents are sincerely seeking a more deep and fulfilling walk with God.  The child will still be greatly traumatized in many instances, and even if the child makes the transition rather smoothly, chances are that there will be a serious period of re-adjustment in the teenage years as the reality of the departure from the lifestyle of the group sets in.  It is almost inevitable that there will be anger and rebellion, although that seems to be the case with almost all teenagers these days. It is not uncommon for one of these children to return to the church when they get older, and this is pointed to as proof that the parents made a grave mistake by leaving, when in truth the child has simply had a very difficult time coming out from under the mind control.  The confusion of leaving may often cause these children to act out as teenagers and then they return in compensation for the feelings of being out of control.  Some stay and some don’t. On the other hand others may completely walk away from God and never look back.

The Catholics apparently have a saying; “Give us a child til the age of 6 and that child will be a Catholic for life.”  If a child is enrolled in the parochial school of such a religious organization, they are being brainwashed from a very early age.  Catholics may lapse, as far as being religious, but they often cling to the inner convictions for life.  They may be riddled with guilt and fear and never embrace another religion.  Public schools these days are known as government or state schools, where children are indoctrinated to be the citizens of the New World Order.  When a child is in the care of the system 5 days a week and approximately 10 months out of the year, there is endless opportunity for indoctrination.  A child will turn on his own parents after this indoctrination, if the parents are not vigilant and very careful to be instilling their own values in the child.  Hitler, Mao Tse Tung and Stalin all used the school system to their advantage in this manner.

So, you’re asking, what does this have to do with the Holdeman school?  I’m saying that after a child comes out of one of these schools at 8th grade, he has been indoctrinated.  He has most likely already been baptized and become a church member.  This does not mean that he is a sincere and devout young Christian.  It means he can be included in the activities of the youth group, he is subject to church discipline, and the entire spectrum of marriage partners is available for his casual perusal.  There are many advantages, and the drawbacks can be dealt with.

I find it quite interesting to see that these young people are less spiritual than their parents, quite often, but even more church oriented.  They may have a wild streak in them and leave the church for 5 years but they will never find another church.  They will defend the church to anyone who dares to speak ill of it.  They will often marry in the world but return with the new bride.  They are Holdeman to the bone.  Their parents will reprove them and beg them to return and they will say to them “you know where you belong,” and the youngster will often echo this sentiment.

Young children who are reared in the Holdeman environment will also turn on a parent who has left for any of a number of reasons.  Sometimes a parent falls out of favor with the leadership and is thrown out against their will, and winds up in a no-man’s land of loneliness and pain. Can this parent expect compassion and loyalty from the child? Often not.  Sometimes a parent just simply falls off the wagon and sort of wanders off into the wilderness.  There may be some legitimate reasons behind the departure, but the follow-up behavior may be embarrassing to the child.  Can the parent rely on the child to be kind and loving and understanding?  Very likely not.  The child believes in the church.  If the departing parent is the father, and he shaves his beard, or is ever seen in a necktie, or anything other than a regulation automobile, the child will cower in shame.  This indoctrination has been bored deep into the soul of the child.  What is emerging here is a new breed of Holdeman Mennonite, one who is so firmly entrenched in the lifestyle and the one true church teaching that he can almost never be set free, but yet who cannot tell you anything about what he believes, cannot quote one scripture with which to defend himself, and in secret, on the sly, breaks many of the rules that he claims to hold so dear.

I find all of this very sad and alarming.  I would like to see children who truly love God, who are deep in the scriptures and who are loyal to parents, no matter the cost.  You are now asking what the alternative is to this pattern of indoctrination and mind control.  You are saying, well, are you telling me we should stop going to church, and that having our own schools is a BAD thing?  The answers are not so clear cut and simple, but there are answers.  I will present a few of my ideas in my next post.

 

 
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Nominal Christianity

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