Monday, November 24, 2008

13-Year-Old Helping Feed Children in Need

Greetings, all.

When visiting a church this past Sunday, I was made aware of a ministry effort that is being spearheaded by certain young man named Corey Warner (and I'm serious about young - 13 years old!), aimed at helping to feed 3500 needy children in the Central Florida area a Thanksgiving dinner. This has impressed me so greatly that I just had to post about it, the best way that I believe I can help at this time. His website is at .

I don't know how many people are visiting my blog here, let alone how many might feel encouraged to support the effort - but even if you DON'T feel compelled to help with a donation, please, pass on the information to a friend, or anyone else you might know. Hopefully, he will get all of the support he needs to accomplish what he's trying to do. No matter what happens with regards to his current effort, I believe that people hearing about this will be inspired to make their own efforts of ministry and charity.

I don't like to make posts without having some message, but I'll try to keep it related - that of the 'storehouse'. You could also call the premise that of ministry, or of service.

Personally, I believe that the idea behind the 'storehouse' is essentially the same as of God's purpose for the tithe, and some other Biblical ordinances and examples - I would refer you to verses Deuteronomy 14:22-29; a few places in Deuteronomy 16 (circa vss. 11, 14; commanding to rejoice, in the feasts, with 'the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow'); Deuteronomy 24:17-22 and 26:10-13 (giving representation to and leaving a portion of what is grown 'for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow'); Malachi 3:10; Acts 6:1-4; and there are other references similar.

These are about providing for the needs and interests of the needy (strangers, fatherless e.g. orphans generally though I personally believe it has broader application, and widows, and also, in a sense, the Levites, as they received no inheritance) and of those who would be acting in the office to tend to those needs (again, the Levites e.g. ministers). While these needs include basic physical necessities (such as food and raiment e.g. clothing) I do not believe that these needs are limited to those, but also include the spiritual (the Gospel) and possibly as well even intellectual/educational or skillful (languages, trade-skills, etc.).

I do suspect that in many cases in Christian churches that this aspect has been marginalized; and, in doing so, the church collectively misses out on opportunities to give back to their communities and, through so doing, misses out on opportunities to show the light of God's will and mercy that would help attract people, even and perhaps especially nearby people, to Him and hence to the church. In some cases, this could be tied to a lack of the generosity or even the means of the congregation but more often I expect it is due to the churches not being sufficiently led by their leaders to consider this kind of local ministry important.

I know that these appear to be difficult financial times but do realize that this means that the needs for such ministry efforts are even greater now than they otherwise might be. Further, sometimes help can be in a form other than money. So, in closing, I'd like to suggest we all consider a few questions. 'Am I helping out my neighbors, people I don't know, the needy, or my community as much as I believe I should be? Is my church?' If you believe in either case that more needs to be done, then it's up to you to take the next step towards that goal. If there's anything more that you could be doing that you feel that you should be, don't lie to yourself and convince yourself that you can't. Remember the words of Corey Warner: 'I am only 13 years old and if I can help, than so can you!'

Monday, September 29, 2008

Earth, Water and Stones

Greetings, everyone. I know it's been some time since my last post and for that I wish to apologize, as I have felt lacking in the inspiration on what to write. Tonight, I do feel inspired to write about something that came to me some time ago.

Some time ago, when going to a study class at church, I had been given a few analogies which have helped me in understanding some aspects of what God wants for us and what value we have to him. Each has grown since it was given to me, in discussion with others. I hope you'll find them as meaningful as they have been to me and others I've shared them with.

The first is the idea that we are living stones - 1 Peter 2:5 says, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."

Remember that man was made from earth - Genesis 2:7, "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul."

In Exodus 20:24-25, God specifies what is acceptable for an altar: "An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me" ... "And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou has polluted it."

What then pollutes us, as living stones? Jeremiah 17:1 gives some insight: 'The sin' ... 'is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart'

If we then are hewn, graven, tooled, and polluted by sin, how can we be acceptable? What can smooth out a stone? Proverbs 16:22 tells us, "Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him taht hath it"; Proverbs 18:4, "the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook"; and Jesus, in John 4:14, "whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

What does flowing water do to stones? It smooths them; the wellspring of life everlasting from God has the power to smooth away the ways we have tooled and graven ourselves, making us whole stones once more. One person I told this to brought up the fact that water does not smooth stones quickly; similarly, we are not remade as whole, unpolluted stones in an instant, but over time in our walk with God. The pastor at the church, after hearing all of that, commented that water smooths stones faster if there's some grit in it; to which I observed that the 'grit' which helps to smooth us are the grains that have been carved from us collectively in sin, as we know that hardship helps us grow in our path with God. Lastly, an observation I took from all of it is that if we continue carving at ourselves until there be nothing left to save, all that would be left is a pile of sand; however, another person replied optimistically to that, saying that, in a sense, even a grain of sand could be considered a stone.

The second was a response to the question that someone asked at study class at the church: 'Why would God care to save us if there's nothing good in us?' (In response to discussion of how all good is God's and from God, and not from us.) The answer: God made us out of earth, so while we may not have any good of our own, we have the potential to be very good soil for planting his seeds.

We are very good soil for planting ANY seeds, however, including those of sin; God will help us to tend our garden, to keep it free from the sin-weeds that will spring up, if we will only accept His help and be willing to work with Him.

Also, I would like to recommend to my visitors here a blog which has impressed me greatly with its message: The Caregiver's Heart at .

In closing, I know that I have not yet written on "how we can put God back into our words and choose to use our mouths to call the blessings rather than curses", like I meant to; hopefully, I will get that written up soon. Until I do, I would like to refer you to Ephesians 4:29, read it and see what it means to you, and try to filter what comes out of your mouth based on it. I started doing this some time ago, and I was surprised by how much change was (and admittedly still is) needed.

As always, intelligent and/or non-negative feedback is welcome, in agreement or otherwise.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What God Desires for His Own In Famine

Good evening, everyone. I mean to keep this post brief, but I do wish to make good on what I said I would post on earlier about 'God's providence even in earthly things'.

Some people believe that the faithful should have little. Personally, I believe that our Heavenly Father desires that we should prosper, that we should have abundance. Why would He want this? For multiple reasons. He wants us to be happy (simple reason, that!); however, sometimes we let material goods get in the way of that, and in the way of our faithfulness and grace, in the way of our relationship with Him; in these cases, He will allow us to be humbled (I believe this may have been what happened to Israel in Egypt, in Exodus). More importantly, though, He wants us to minister unto those in need, to be a blessing to them, that we may help bring them to Him. Further, He wants His people to not only be blessed and to be a blessing to others, but He wants us to LOOK blessed, that people can see Him and His ways in us along with the blessings that go with them, and choose His ways for themselves.

As far as the Scripture references for tonight, I have only two: one from the Psalms, and one from Genesis.

First, Psalms 37 tells us about God upholding His people and doing away with evil and wickedness. The verses in particular I want to point out are Psalms 37:18-19:

The LORD knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be for ever.
They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

Next, let's look at what the word 'satisfied' really means here:
Hebrew/Aramaic (Old Testament):
  • saba' (the word used for satisfied here; a primitive root meaning 'to sate', 'to fill to satisfaction').
This is hardly saying that His people will only be sustained! But do we have an example of what is being described here?

I believe that we do, in Genesis 45:16-20. For backstory, read Genesis 41, which describes the events leading up to the famine; or Genesis 37 on, which shows how Joseph was sold into slavery, which ultimately led to his rising to authority in Egypt (in 41).

After Joseph reunites with his brothers, Genesis 45:16-20 writes:

And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, Joseph's brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;
And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.
Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.
Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.

This sounds very similar to the idea of being 'filled to satisfaction' to me, and it is certainly in the context of a famine.

One could argue that this ultimately led to the bondage of Israel in Egypt described in Exodus; however, I would tend to disagree, and would believe that an insufficiency in teaching their children to be faithful is a more likely culprit, especially when considered in the context of the troubles the people gave Moses and Aaron after their exodus.

As always, intelligent and/or non-negative feedback is welcome, in agreement or otherwise.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Choice... or, Grace and Faith, How Much is 'Enough?'

Good evening, everyone. Tonight, I am hoping to be faithful to my word in that I would write about choice (or to 'choose'), and about grace and its relation to faith and salvation. Before I do, however, I want to touch on a few things that I missed when writing about faith, itself.

  • Faith
Tonight, when reading the Bible, I noticed an important word that I missed. Going back to the original texts that the Bible is derived from...

Hebrew/Aramaic (Old Testament):
  • 'amen (Deu 27, many times; transliterated into 'Amen', from the root aman ('build up or support', 'to render or be firm or faithful') and meaning 'truly', 'firm', 'faithfulness', 'fidelity', 'so be it').
Next, a few verses of the Scriptures: first, of how to live a life of faith:

In Deuteronomy 23:23 is the instruction: "That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth."; that which you say you will do should be considered a freewill offering to God; and that which has been devoted or Given to God is not to be redeemed (Leviticus 27).

In Leviticus 5:4, "Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these."; if you swear to do something (in this case mentioned in a more binding fashion of swearing an oath than the prior reference), you are guilty if you do not hold to it, good or evil—here, you can be guilty even for NOT doing evil that you swore to do, all the more reason to be careful as to WHAT you give your word to!

In Numbers 30:2, "If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth."; here shows that sworn oaths are bound to the soul; as such, breaking your word does you harm! I would say that it does you harm by devaluing faith by encouraging you to believe that breaking your word is an acceptable practice.

And lastly, the words of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke, 6:46-49, on people who are not faithful to their professions (i.e. what they say, who or what they attribute their allegiances to): "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great."; if you're going to call yourself Christian, find being faithful important! Consider the similarity between the Hebrew kuwn in Psalms 5:9 'to be firm, be stable, be established' and the description here of a house founded on a rock that cannot be shaken by the flood!

  • Grace (and Approval)
Last post, I said I hoped to address grace, and my view of it as the 'minimum faith'. This view comes from the perspective that there shall be no sin after the putting away of the faithless (as depicted in the Revelation).

Why then is grace a minimum? Consider it from a purely mechanical side. People must have grace for each other to avoid sinning against each other in judgment, heresy (disunion), and general disapproval (see 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 for an example of Paul rebuking the church at Corinth for some of this problem).

How then is grace faith? What meaning is there in grace but for grace to be consistent, for it to be faithful! Could we truly desire a heaven where we would go and be divided amongst each other and scrutinized as we have seen here? Does that truly sound heavenly to you? Much better for us to be true to our word here, to accept each other in our weaknesses—not to accept sin! but to accept ourselves and to accept each other!—and to know that we are acceptable to others, such that in heavenly dominion we can be at peace within and without. If you people will not be consistent in grace, how can we ever have peace?

We are to be of a spirit that when we come across someone, whomever they are, that we can honor, respect, and have grace for that person, whomever they are and whatever they may have done; to show that grace, to show that spirit of approval for that person; and yet, attempting to be faithful to the standard of giving rebuke and reproof for sin. Therein lies what an important choice we must make, we must make every effort to deny approval to sin but we MUST be approving of every person. Jesus made no secret of finding grace important. This is why I believe that grace is the 'minimum faith', why I find it necessary for 'believing in Jesus' and for having salvation.

Similarly, when a person leads another down a wrong path knowingly, or even watches another go down a wrong path when they believe they can warn them from it and, instead, stands idly by, is no less guilty than the person going down the wrong path; and possibly moreso, since they admit, at least to themselves, that they know better. The Bible refers to this as 'sinning in ignorance' as well as in other ways; I am unable to find the reference at this time, but I believe it also refers to such an idle witness as having the 'blood' of the sinner 'on their hands'.

Any one of us that finds agreeable that any other person be isolated, separated, lost in sin, cut off, or generally disapproved of, still needs to find it in themselves to ask God to help them make more perfect their grace.

God would that all were faithful, and that we would all have sufficient grace—I know that I myself still have come up short in both areas, and would be surprised, hopefully pleasantly, to find someone walking this earth who did not—so, we all need to have grace... in part, because we all need grace, Amen.

  • Choice
Finally, the issue of choice.

I am one person of the philosophy that the one and only thing that God has given to us completely and entirely is our choice. Further, I believe that our choice is all that we truly are; in essence, the original gift (see earlier post: Salvation and Holiness by the Lake of Fire?).

Everything else is a loan, a stewardship, a responsibility; still His but in our care. All that God has given us (choice) or entrusted us with (everything else), we can reap the benefits of, if, and only if, we will be a good steward, a good caretaker of it.

In my last post, I got down into the meaning of faith; I summarized it as "how much you allow yourself to be trusted, both by others AND by yourself." Faith is how trustworthy you are, how consistent you will be. Faith is how much you honor and respect your choice, to make your choices and stick with them.

As such, faithlessness is being untrustworthy. Faithlessness is to be wishy-washy, to waffle, to hesitate, to be indecisive. Faithlessness is to despise your choice.

If choice is the single gift that we have received, if choice is all that we ARE, then when we despise our choice by denying faith, by being faithless, we are saying we despise our own existence.

If the faithless then testify to despise their own existence—to not care for it, to not even desire to take it or to use it—then when judgment comes, God is completely justified in giving them what they want; to allow the faithless to cease to exist. This I believe to be the unfortunate end awaiting those who go to judgment without using their choice to be faithful in having grace.

In my coming posts, I hope to address issues like God's providence even in earthly things (how I believe God has said time and time again that he is NOT a God of lack, but of abundance), and of how we can put God back into our words and choose to use our mouths to call the blessings rather than curses.

As always, intelligent and/or non-negative feedback is welcome, in agreement or otherwise.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

What Is Faith, and Why Is It Important?

This evening, I feel called to write about something relatively basic and foundational to Christianity — faith. I'm going to attempt to talk about aspects of faith that I don't see made clear often; what it is, why it's important; and, also, some Biblical examples of it in action.

  • What is faith?
Some appear to see it as some miraculous thing, full of mystery and, in some cases, power. Some appear to pay little mind to it.

I will state simply that faith is how much you allow yourself to be trusted, both by others AND by yourself. If one makes commitments or have obligations and does not meet them, it is difficult for people to trust them. If one lies to others, it is difficult for people to trust them. Perhaps more importantly, if one lies to themselves, it is difficult for them to trust their own self. How does one make commitments they cannot or will not keep, and how does take on the weighty burden of speaking falsely without deceiving themselves first to think it will be 'easier' or somehow 'better'?

  • Why is it important?
If you do not show an example that can be trusted, then people will not trust you. Sadly, we have seen this much and for a long time. Many of us have not trusted at least some of: parents or children; husbands or wives; other relatives; co-workers or classmates; customers; employers and employees; those in any positions of authority or office (including but not limited to government and media); even those who we call 'friends'. With this as common as it has been, how can we wonder when we have looked for strife and confusion we have had no trouble finding it? If we truly desire to change things to be better than they have been, we must face in any way when we are part of the problem and deal with it.

Luke 12:26 shows Jesus saying, "If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?" In Luke 16:10, "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."

We cannot just 'want' faith, we have to realize that it is essential and that we must choose it, both in the large and the small.

I use the word 'choose' for a very specific reason that I elaborate on in a later post, "Choice... or, Grace and Faith, How Much is 'Enough?'".

  • Examples of Faith
Hebrews 10:38-11:34 summarizes many examples of faith. In many cases in the gospels when Jesus is reported to have been in the presence of healings, he attributed it to the faith of the one healed (Luke 7:50, 8:48, 17:19, 18:42) or, in a couple of cases, to one not healed but asking for the healing for another (Matt 15:28, Luke 7:9).

When Jesus is walking on water (Matt 14:25-32) he calls Peter to come to him (Peter had asked him to do so), after which Peter does. Peter then 'saw the wind boisterous', became afraid and began to sink. Jesus rebukes him for being 'of little faith' (Greek: oligopistos, see below) and doubting (Greek: distazo, to 'waver (in opinion)'; hence, not being stable, established, and faithful in his choice of opinion.

Matthew 17:20 shows Jesus saying of faith after casting out a demon, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."; and in Matthew 21:21 after cursing a fig tree to wither, "If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done." However, Matthew 17:15-20 have Jesus revealing that faithlessness (apistia, see below) is disempowering!

The Bible shows numerous other occasions of seeming miraculous happenstance which I would find easily attributed to faith.
  • Moses believed and was faithful to God, and God used him to liberate Israel from Egypt and to lead them for years.
  • There are numerous occurrences of how God similarly used Elijah: a severe drought that he called (1 Kings 17); being sustained first by food brought by ravens, then by a 'barrel of meal' and 'cruse of oil' that would not waste or fail (1 Kings 17); the raising of a dead son (1 Kings 17); the consuming by fire from above of an altar of stones and a sacrifice saturated with water surrounded by a trench of water after which no water remained of it (1 Kings 18:30-38); and Elijah being protected from prideful men sent to seize him by fire from heaven (2 K ings 1:7-15).
  • In the garden when Jesus was to be betrayed and taken (John 18:3-9), Jesus is initially protected from them such that he can assure that those with him are allowed to go safely.

  • What is faith? - A Foundation in Scripture

If we look at the original texts that the Bible is derived from, words translated into faith, faithfulness, etc., include:

Hebrew/Aramaic (Old Testament):
  • aman (Num 12:7, Deu 7:9, etc.; translated into 'faithful', and meaning 'to build up or support', 'to render or be firm or faithful', 'to trust or believe');
  • emuwn (Deu 32:20; translated into 'faith' and meaning 'faithfulness', 'trustworthiness');
  • emuwnah (1 Sam 26:23; translated into 'faithfulness' or 'faithfully' and meaning 'firmness' or 'fidelity');
  • emeth (Neh 7:2; translated into 'faithful' and meaning 'stability', 'trustworthiness', 'firmness');
  • kuwn (Psa 5:9; translated into ''faithfulness' and meaning 'to be firm, be stable, be established');
Greek (New Testament):
  • pistis (Matt 8:10; translated into 'faith' and meaning 'conviction of the truth of anything', 'belief', or 'fidelity', 'faithfulness', 'the character of one who can be relied on');
  • pistos (Matt 24:45; translated into 'faithful' and meaning 'trusty', 'faithful', 'worthy of trust', 'that can be relied on');
  • oligopistos (Matt 6:30; translated into 'of little faith' from oligos 'little' and pistis or perhaps pistos);
  • apistos (Matt 17:17; translated into 'faithless' from a (the negative particle; e.g. atheism is the negative/absence of theism, belief in one or more divinities or deities) and pistos, hence the negative/absence of being 'faithful' or 'worthy of trust');
  • apistia (Matt 17:20; translated into 'unbelief' and meaning 'unfaithfulness', 'weakness of faith', from apistos);
  • elpis (Heb 10:23; translated into 'faith' and meaning 'anticipation' 'usually with pleasure' (as in 'hope') but can also mean 'fear').
Note that in almost every case (except the case of elpis, 'hope'), the meaning is 'fidelity', 'trustworthiness', 'stability', or some variant thereof.

Also, on the contrast, 'adultery' can be seen to be symbolic of general faithlessness; the Hebrew na'aph used can mean idolatry (as a betrayal of God) as well as carnal adultery (a betrayal of spouse); both of which are faithlessness where the adulterer has a commitment to someone and is being faithless by dishonoring that commitment (also see prior post, "Salvation and Holiness by the Lake of Fire?").

  • Closing
In summary, I will reiterate what I stated earlier: We cannot just 'want' faith, we have to realize what it is and that it is essential and that we must choose it, both in the large and the small. I believe, in Deuteronomy 8:3 and Matthew 4:4, that 'every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God' IS faith, and as such it IS essential for us to live.

In my coming posts, I hope to address choice, and how the existence of choice and what we do with it justifies God and as well as how he intends to deal with us in judgment; as well as grace, how and why I see it as the 'minimum faith' that must be attained for 'believing in Jesus' and for having salvation.

As always, intelligent and/or non-negative feedback is welcome, in agreement or otherwise.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Salvation and Holiness by the Lake of Fire?

I'm going to start this off with something I was inspired with this past June 15, 2008. I've discussed it with a few Christians of various degrees of study that I know; all received it relatively well. The most educated of them did raise some concerns about my interpretation of Hell and say that he considered it 'theology and not exegy*' (*I'm not real certain about the spelling, but I'm certain exegy is related to exegesis, deriving meaning solely from the text).

A question came to me, after having recently read through the book of Revelation. The question: 'can Revelation, or at least some part of it, be applied in an individual capacity?'

The first place I was inspired to look to: the Lake of Fire. Why?

Why look at the Lake of Fire? It certainly isn't the most pleasant place, so why focus on it? In my beliefs, our Heavenly Father created us for His companionship. That is, He wanted friends, and I don't use the term 'friend' lightly. Whatever caused separation between us and Him, He wants us all to come to Him and be with Him. However, He gave us our choice. If we choose not to, He will not force us; but if we choose not to, we have done so by choosing not to be safe to be around. To protect all those who have chosen to be with Him (those who DO find truly loving their brethren preferable, who have been written in the Book of Life), those who don't find truly loving their brethren preferable will be cast into the 'Lake of Fire' (Rev. 20:15).

If it is important to our Heavenly Father for us to be with Him then He will show us how. Indeed, it must be important to Him, as He HAS done this time and time again, and in many different ways. In the Lake of Fire sequence, however, I see a road-map; a step-by-step path to re-find holiness and our salvation. In each item that is cast into the Fire, I see a symbolic meaning. Revelation 1:1 tells us that the message is being shown by signs / symbols (KJV/NKJV/ASV translations all use the word 'signified', which does appear to be in agreement with the Greek), so I don't see approaching the text in this way presumptuous.

Each item casted into the Fire appears to be built upon and reliant on the following one. From an individual perspective, each one has to be dealt with, at least in choice, before those following it can be even approached.

To summarize, what I have seen is that each of these must be 'cast into the Lake of Fire'. In this, the Revelation has shown us the path to salvation and holiness:
1) choose to turn from our rebellion (against God);
2) turn from the twisting, deceit, adultery;
3) release and starve the envy and enmity/hatred;
4) accept the life and fullness of our Heavenly Father, that we be empty no longer;
5) be willing to see and remember the goodness that is in our Heavenly Father and in His gift;
6) be approving of others and accept our Father's gift.

For those who feel the need to be pedantic, I am NOT saying that 'accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior' is not the way to salvation. Rather, I find this to be the path as to *how* to 'accept Jesus Christ'.

I will now show the list of the six items cast into the Fire in Revelation, the reference verse where each occurs, what I believe they symbolize, and what I base that interpretation on.

1) the beast, of Rev. 19:20. I believe that 'the beast' symbolizes 'active rebellion'. The Greek equates to 'wild beast' or 'dangerous animal'; the idea of the beast recalls us to the beasts of the prophecies of Daniel, which some tend to believe represent various major pagan nations including and following that point in history. Pagan nations representing 'active rebellion' against our Heavenly Father seems to be straightforward enough. Such 'rebellion' generally results in the sort of destruction one could expect out of 'dangerous animals'.

2) the false prophet, also of Rev. 19:20. I believe that 'the false prophet' symbolizes 'adultery', i.e. apostasy, the twisting and perversion of ideas, of doctrines, of agreements (not limited to the carnal sense of the term which is, technically, a perversion of the marriage agreement). The Greek equates to 'false / deceitful prophet', where prophet is one who 'interprets hidden things', 'solemnly declares what he has received by inspiration' (especially divine), 'one who speaks forth', related to 'light' and 'shining'. I tend to think that the 'light' represents truth and faith / faithfulness. When you corrupt that with fraud and deceit, you get adultery.

3) the devil, of Rev. 20:2, 10. I believe that 'the devil' symbolizes 'envy and enmity (hatred)'. The Greek and Hebrew (at least one name appears transliterated from Hebrew) for the various names equate with 'slanderer', 'lier in wait', 'adversary'. Enmity/hatred appear straightforward; it might be that I am taking liberties by seeing envy, as well, but I see envy as one of the primary motivating factors behind enmity/hatred.

4) death, of Rev. 20:13-14. I believe that 'death' symbolizes 'stasis, oblivion, emptiness'. The Greek means literal physical death as well as spiritual darkness (ignorance, etc.). As not much goes on in death (life is change; even the rotting of the dead is due to presence of microbial life), reading it as emptiness appears straightforward.

5) hell or hades, also of Rev. 20:13-14. I believe that 'hell' or 'hades' symbolize 'blindness, forgetfulness'. The Greek is based on the negative form of 'to see' or 'to know'; some believe that it is merely a translation of the Hebrew 'She'ol', the exact interpretation of which is a bit more argued over. At least one reference likens it to also be 'nothingness' (similar to death) and relates it to 'hollow'. It comes from a root 'to ask' said to be for that it demands all; this askance would seem based on a complete lack. Whatever the case, it appears that 'death' and 'hades' are intimately connected and difficult to entirely distinguish between.

6) whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life, of Rev. 20:15. I believe that this symbolizes 'refusal of the gift / denial of approval'. Our Heavenly Father requires only that we be willing, truly willing, to approve of Him and of each other (love thy brother/neighbor/stranger as thyself: Leviticus 19; Matthew 19, 22; Romans 13; Galatians 5; James 2; and 1 Corinthians 11 rebukes a church for not being sufficient in this) and, through this, accept the gift that has been given.

If we reverse the list, we see the path of the fall:
1) denying approval, refusing the gift of our Heavenly Father;
2) becoming blind and forgetful of that gift, purity, holiness;
3) becoming empty, and having the feelings of that emptiness;
4) becoming envious of those that are not empty in the ways we are, 'filling' that emptiness with enmity and hatred;
5) adulterating and twisting ideas put in front of us into rationales (not reasonings, as they lack the reason of truth) that are more agreeable with that hatred;
6) actively using these twisted rationales in our rebellion.
Each step builds upon those before, its greater weight and obscurement burying each prior stumble.

Returning to the original list, which I will recap in summary:
1) beast (active rebellion);
2) false prophet (adultery, NOT limited to carnal forms);
3) devil (envy, enmity/hatred);
4) death (emptiness);
5) hades (blindness, forgetfulness);
6) those not written in the Book of Life (denying approval and refusing the gift).

As always, intelligent and/or non-negative feedback is welcome, in agreement or otherwise.

Introduction / Extended description

This is a blog for a place for me to exhort and vent about various issues of religion and Christian faith. Some of it may be about things that I see as 'false doctrine' (again, in religion, also somewhat in society). I hope to get some feedback, mostly positive.

I've been sitting on some of these inspirations, revelations, enthusiasms (Greek - godly inspiration) since they came to me, some time ago.

Some speed-bumps have appeared in my life, trying to distract me from faith, and I have been convicted today to get this ball rolling.

The name of this blog is in reference to 1 Kings 18:30-39, where the prophet Elijah’s altar of stones and sacrifice, saturated with water, are consumed by fire of God, depict that the God to receive the sacrifice show his ability to take it up himself. The prophets of Baal call, dance, cut themselves, and prophesy from morning to evening and receive no answer. Elijah mocks them at noon, and at evening rebuilds the altar of God with a trench around it and has the people douse the sacrifice and wood with four pails of water three times, as well as filling the trench with water. After this he calls out to God, and fire comes down and consumes sacrifice, wood, stones, dust, and water from the trench. With this spectacle, the people turned from the abominations of Baal.

I welcome intelligent responses. If someone contacts me with information to correct me on some topic that I've been over and manages to convince me of some alternate view, I will do my best to change this blog to reflect that in a timely manner. That said, I am not particularly interested in or welcome to criticism without an intelligent backing to support it.