Thursday, May 21, 2009

Definition of Hell?

Some kind soul at the day job left this on my chair for me yesterday and so as the last post was quite serious, I thought a little humor would be helpful.
There have been many definitions of hell, but for the English the best definition is that it is the place where the Germans are the police, the Swedish are the comedians, the Italians are the defense force, Frenchmen dig the roads, the Belgians are the pop singers, the Spanish run the railways, the Turks cook the food, the Irish are the waiters, the Greeks run the government and the common language is Dutch.
Actually, that does sound pretty bad.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Does Evil Really Exist?

Clayton Cramer has an interesting blog entry about the reality of evil existing and that while he is an agnostic, he gave much credibility to an account of Roger L. Simon over at PJTV, who had recently met Ahmadinejad the president of Iran and who had found himself staggered by the presence of pure evil.

So, let's answer the question of does evil really exist.

Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer:

As I'm absolutely sure that I have previously explained that I am a recycled atheist, I feel qualified to comment on going from not believing in spiritual things, to, very obviously, believing in them.

The reality is that most people don't think about the existence of a spirit world while living their life. This doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. Those who do think about it don't get much further than getting goosebumps or feeling spooked in dark, creepy places. These sensations are real, but minor enough that they don't give them any further thought after the event.

The landscape changes when you receive the Holy Ghost. (Naturally, I mean the "real" receiving the Holy Ghost, where folks end up speaking with other tongues.) Having the spirit of God inside you conveys a whole new raft of abilities that often catch the newly filled by surprise. Suddenly, your weak perception of spirits starts getting stronger. How much stronger does it get? That seems to depend on a number things.

Some folks get very little improvement to their ability to sense spirit things, while others get very detailed ability to identify them and even visibly discern them. I started out toward the lower end of the scale after I came into the church, but with practice that increased. Then another jump in my ability to sense spirits came when I became a pastor.

That increase really caught me by surprise. Not that I wasn't able to feel the spirit of the Lord when he moved. I certainly could. I could feel the change in the spiritual atmosphere before either an altar call or when one of the gifts of the spirit was about to operate. The thing that really surprised me was the other spirits that I could now sense.

Suddenly, I could sense spirits that I had not previously felt and was plugged into the spirit in ways that I had not previously been. A few examples would be in order here.

Every pastor inherits interesting members in their congregation. The definitions of interesting vary, but while most are harmless, a few are malevolent. Bro. L. was one of these. Nice until you disagreed with him. And downright argumentative if you disagreed over his favorite subject of the "end times". And as I had had to correct his behavior a few times during the pastoral transition before the resident pastor left for his new assignment (the corrections were in private, of course) he really didn't like me. I say all of that to introduce the fact that there was no love in the situation. Once I took over the pastorate a funny thing happened. I started being able to sense when Bro. L. entered the building. For real. I was often up in the sanctuary praying before service and I could feel that an evil spirit had entered the church. A few minutes later, guess who would walk in. I discounted this the first few times, but after it happens every time I started realizing the correlation was real. After trying to work with him for six months, the board and I decided that he needed to go and ever since he left, I have not felt that particular spirit again.

As a pastor you need information to help you minister to people. Unfortunately, many people do not want to tell you the truth. (They still want quality guidance though.) A few times now, the Lord has dropped the information I needed and that they weren't telling me into my mind. This then helps me give the advice that people need to hear. Getting them to follow pastoral advice is another long blog post best saved for another day.

My final example is where I was feeling that our congregation had hit a spiritual wall and while we had good services and the congregation was being fed, we weren't reaching those outside the walls of the church. This is a troubling situation for a pastor. So I was talking to the Lord about this and some other situations and asking him what could be done about it, when he answered by dropping the information that I needed directly into my mind. He told me that the problem was that we were dealing with a spirit and the name of this spirit was "Independence".

The interesting thing about names is that people don't realize how connected we are to our name. This is doubly so in the spirit world. Not having a body, a spirit effectively is it's name. Knowing the name of the spirit allows you to directly address it, targeting it for prayers of binding and casting down. Knowing the name of the spirit that had set itself against us, I started praying against it and encouraged the church to join me in this.

I knew that it would happen, but when it did it was still a little surprising. I was awoken a little after four in the morning by a feeling that was very distinctive. I knew who, what and why even before I was fully awake. The spirit of Independence had come calling. We live in a raised ranch style house, so I walked from the bedroom down the hallway into the living room and it was just light enough to see that while I was the only physical being in the room, I wasn't alone.

I suppose that I should have been scared and nervous, but I'd had a few similar interactions before and to be honest, was really angry about losing an hour's sleep so that some upstart spirit could try to stop me and the congregation fulfilling the objectives of the lord. So, I didn't bother worrying and went straight on the attack. Maybe ten minutes later I was alone again. I'll spare you the details of spiritual warfare, except to say that it's real and doesn't involve anything looking like kung fu.

About a week later, it was back and made the mistake of waking me up early again. This time I think it took about two minutes to toss it out.

This took place about a month ago and with the spirit of Independence mostly out of the way, our congregation has been having even better services than usual and we've baptized three people in four weeks and have at least one more scheduled for next week.

And just in case you think I'm bragging on myself (I'm really not) I'll wrap up with an observation that I heard from one of our missionaries about other organization's missionaries in Africa. You see Africa is an interesting place. It's beautiful and dangerous all at the same time ... and I don't mean the lions or snakes. Have you ever wondered why Africa is called the "dark continent"? It sure isn't for a lack of sunlight; Africa is spiritually dark. The witch doctors and shamen there have demonic power at their command. They rule, each of them, in their own villages or region. Their rule is one of terror. Those who cross them generally end up dead. This includes missionaries. Well (and remember I got this from a retired African missionary) the missionaries from these other organizations seek out our missionaries and get themselves baptized in Jesus name and prayed through to receive the Holy Ghost so that they will have power to resist and overcome the evil spirits behind the witch doctors. I won't share some of the stories of what the witch doctors did because it still makes my hair stand up on end when I think about it. But there is pure evil in the world and Africa is one of the easier places to find it.

If you're still reading at this point, I hope that I've showed that evil does exist. Most people do not come into contact with it, so when they do, such as meeting the president of Iran, it shocks them to the core. Now that I move in more spirit-filled circles, it loses it's fear and now I just find it annoying. (I suspect that evil is starting to find me pretty annoying as well! :-)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Pastor's Evening

Ever wondered what a pastor does in the evenings? Wonder no more! Last night was busy enough that I thought I'd record what I did because else people may find themselves thinking that pastors just sit at home drinking tea all evening. (I wish!)

The evening started by getting home late from the day job. Ride-sharing is great for the shared gas costs, but it can be challenging from the trying to get everyone ready to leave at the same time perspective. Just before I leave, I get a call from Bro. M. asking if I can lend him some money to pay some bills. Bro. M. has a long history with this congregation and is a hard working fellow, so I cut him some slack and hit the ATM on the way to run a few other errands. I needed kerosene to burn the wet leaves on my vegetable patch that are offending my neighbor who has his youngest daughter's graduation coming up at the end of the month. And then I had to get some gas for the church lawnmower and weedwhacker.

After getting home from that, I saw the church's banker out in his back yard, so I wandered out to talk to him about the renewal of the church mortgage. (We were waiting on some documents to sign.) Hey, doesn't everyone chat with their banker in the back yard? Try it sometime, it's the only way to conduct business.

Getting in from that, I had a voicemail from Bro. K. letting me know ahead of time that he would be unable to make it for midweek service as he had work to do in nearby town that evening. Thankfully I didn't need to call him back.

At this point, I could finally check my email and make a cup of tea.

That done, I then grabbed my materials for tonight's lesson and started working on it at the kitchen table, interupted on a regular basis by the lovely Sis. Geek and the geeklets wanting either hugs or tucking up in bed. Unfortunately no one was left awake to tuck me up when I finally managed to get horizontal at about 11:30pm.

And that's just one evening.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


What Republicans need is a mutiny.

Almost too many good quotes to mention, but I will share this one:
Democrats have nothing to fear from today's Republican Party leaders. That's why Democrats have taken to targeting Rush Limbaugh and others who aren't in formal leadership positions in the GOP but who forcefully articulate a conservative vision.
It's all that good.

A Glorious Day For Daddy

Yes, I know this is Mother's Day (in the United States anyway, other countries vary greatly on their chosen day of celebration), but this my blog and I'm a daddy, so I write from my perspective.

The reason for celebration on my part is that adorable geeklet number two was baptised this morning. There is just something wonderful about being able to baptise your own children as you see them develop their own walk with the Lord.

The in-laws were over visiting for the weekend to see the baptism. I haven't seen them for a few weeks, so that was nice to have some time with them. (I know, I know, I'm unusual for liking my in-laws, but you'd like them too if you met them! :-) Grilled steak for lunch followed by Apple pie and Ice-cream and visiting over strong coffee is a great way to wrap up a visit.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

We the people

Now, you might ask yourself why on earth would a conservative fellow want to become a U.S. citizen at this time? It's a good question and the answer really is very simple.

You see, while I wholeheartedly disagree with the current administration's views and philosophies, I realise that the President of the United States (POTUS) is not the United States. The United States is very simply the sum total of "We The People". Nothing more and certainly nothing less. (Whether our current president realizes this is another conversation.)

The political structure in this country is set up to allow regions (states or congressional districts) to elect fellow citizens to represent them in discussions over matters that are important, but that they cannot easily get away from their business obligations to attend the meetings. This explains the first three words of the United States Constitution being "We the people". The United States of America are run by the people. We are a government of the people by the people. Don't believe me? Take a look at the constitution sometime, the word "We the people" are in enormous letters, as if the founding fathers wanted no one to have any excuse to forget that "We the people" are the final authority around here.

I am proud to be one of "We the people".