TULIP

A breakdown of the Calvinist Doctrine referred to as the Doctrine of Grace or simply TULIP.

Exactly what condition did the fall (Our forefather’s disobedience toward God in eating of the forbidden fruit) bring mankind? The fall brought mankind into an inherent condition of sin and misery. That all of mankind, on that day, in losing communion with God had been made liable to the miseries of this life, subject to God’s wrath, and cursed to death. No man is able to redeem himself, unable to maintain the law with each transgression in thought, word or deed. This is the depravity each of us is born into, totally unable to span the distance between God and man on our own.

Did God leave ALL of mankind to endure alone under the curse brought upon by Adam, to suffer and perish in an inescapable state of misery and sin? No. Out of His mere good pleasure He established a covenant of grace and at the point of creation elected some to everlasting life in order to deliver them out of the current condition and into salvation by way of a Redeemer. These elect, who belong to the Christ, are given to Him by the Father not because of any merit in them or choices made by them but by the sovereign grace and mercy of the Creator only. This is the unconditional election of Christ’s people.

By what means are Christ’s people made partakers of this salvation? By the effectual application of the redemption by the Holy Spirit, the righteousness purchased by Christ’s sacrifice. In this application, we are convinced of our sin and misery and enlightened in our knowledge of Christ. We are persuaded and enabled then to embrace Jesus as it is freely offered to us in the gospel. This event at any given point in time occurs for some, also does not occur for others. This is the limited atonement in that Christ died for ALL of His people.

Can the application of Christ’s redemption and His saving grace be denied? From birth all do resist, and the hard of heart persist until the appointed time where one is transformed by the Holy Spirit. Would the lifelong and stalwart Atheist suddenly change his tune of his own free will and, having all his life’s work discounting the existence of God undone, choose such a path? Why would he not remain hard of heart, like so many others? Only the Spirit of God can affect this realm of men, that is the spiritual one, by making everyday events, including the reading and preaching of the Gospel, effectual to one’s salvation. This personal experience, while unique in respect to the individual’s circumstances surrounding the event, is for each an irresistible and irreversible change.

What benefit does a person gain by this life changing event? We must first remind the reader that the decrees of God are eternal according to His will. All that He has put into motion, the means and the end, will come to pass. Those called partake of justification, adoption and sanctification. Justification being the pardon of all sins and acceptance as righteous by way Christ’s righteousness. Adoption being received into the number and rights of the sons of God. Sanctification being the continual renewal where we are enable more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness. This is the preservation of Christ’s people, enabled to endure this life’s challenges with guidance of our Helper, in order that way may glorify God.

Compassion

We live in a world of hurtful, self-centered, and unforgiving people. The modern morally deprived person (and the so-called ‘righteous’ one) has a bad habit of judging an individual for just about anything. We are less likely to do this towards someone who is attractive, similar to us or wealthy/popular than one whom we consider to be “no good” in our eyes. It is human nature, but is it something we can overcome? Is this the way we should be treating our fellow human beings? Do we have no faults of our own that we are permitted to point out the faults of others? And when our fellow man makes terrible life choices, mistakes, or even hurts us, does this give us a free pass in cruel judgement? I would say this is something we can and should overcome indeed and it starts with the individual!  “And the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” (Zechariah 7:8-10)

How do we change this current trend of treating others without compassion? We should start by treating each and every single person we meet, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, size or shape, culture, religious beliefs, social status, wealth, hair or eye color, clothes worn, music preference, etc. as we would treat ourselves. Be generous, forgiving, and understanding to a friend as well as an enemy. Be willing to give your excess to those truly in need, especially when you have more than enough. Show compassion for both the people who care for you and for those who have caused suffering. For the Christian, tell the story of Christ to those who have no hope. Do this and you may plant the seed of salvation in the most unlikely people. Be the example that lifts the veil of those around you and Lord willing, lead them to Christ. “Then [Jesus] said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38)

All are equal, for there is no distinction in His creation. Who are we to pass judgement on the work of the Creator? It is not our charge to do so, but what we are to do is to treat everyone as we would treat ourselves (Golden rule, anyone?). Have compassion on all you meet as the opportunity presents itself. We all struggle through this life, and what better way to distract ourselves (selfish, I know) than by helping others. Trust in the Lord if He has put this challenge in your path. Take the time out of your busy, self-indulging schedule to treat someone who is different, fairly and get to know them. Be patient, kind and understanding to ALL. Your effort will make the world a better place. “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.” (Deuteronomy 16:17)

A godly woman

At the time of creation God recognized that Adam by himself was not right. God, always having the relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, knew that man needed companionship as well. In His final work He made Eve, the crown jewel of His creation, out of the rib of man. God created Eve not exactly like man, who came from dust, He made her the most beautiful creature to love and support Adam. Ever since then man and woman have been joined as one before God. The world may measure a woman by her physical features, but in the Bible we understand that beauty is truly defined by her character. “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:20,26)

A godly woman of such character is one that strives not to go against her true purpose in which she was created. The woman came from the side of man, and it is there she is to return. Not at his feet to be trampled on, and not at his head to compete for leadership, but equally at his side under his protecting arm. This is not a position of humiliation, but a station of honor. God’s charge to women to submit to their husbands is great, but the responsibilities given to man are far greater. He is to honor her and love her in such a manner as to mimic the love of Christ for the Church. To care and provide for her in all the things, and cherish her always. “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life that he has given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life and in your toil at which you toil under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 9:9)

To submit to another is not an easy task, but it is a godly choice. Submission is a matter of trusting in God’s will. Though the wife submits to the husband, the husband must first submit to Christ and learn from His example. Jesus doesn’t neglect, ignore, or abuse the Church. He doesn’t treat her with demeaning disrespect. He never acts arrogant or insensitive toward her. He also doesn’t criticize her or make her feel invaluable. So while God gives the husband a position of leadership in relationship to his wife, He also requires a price of self-sacrifice from him. “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7)

It is difficult to discuss such things we find to be culturally challenging in this day in age. Many ‘progressive’ individuals would say that what is said about women is out of date, and too patriarchal. But let me remind you that in all things we do to glorify God, sacrificing your selfish ambitions for the sake of others is the greatest thing we can do, second only to loving God. For the godly woman, in sacrificing the independence of her youth and submitting to her husband as her head, has the single greatest position of honor and glory to God. “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” (1 Corinthians 11:3)

Reality

You’ll have to forgive my rant. I was listening to the news this morning, and I became extremely frustrated over the events of the past few days. I admit that the news I listen to is talk radio and it leans more to the conservative right. I’m specifically referring to the rioting in Milwaukee and the events surrounding this.

I get it why those involved are mad as hell, they’re tired of having their people killed. This is completely understandable, especially when it’s senseless and unnecessary. However, this is NOT just a ‘race’ problem no matter how some people want to spin it. The reality is it’s a heart problem, a culture problem, and more specifically a problem at the family level. The police are scared, the citizens are scared and with the media/popular culture focusing on race as the primary issue is only making the situation worse.

In regards to the situation, if you don’t want your children to end up dead protect them by training them, if you’re a Christian then teach them to be followers of Christ, not of the world. Even if you’re not religious train them to play fair, follow the rules and respect authority. Teach them to be guardians of the helpless, needy and the poor. Instruct them in the difficult art of patience and forgiveness. Teach them to value life of all race, creed, religion etc., and to love their fellow man.

I have a two year old boy who is cruel, unkind and a real terror. His behavior is a result of his sin, a prime example of ALL of us in our fallen state. If left unchecked my son is going to be a reckless man and an unfit member of society. It is our job as his parents to teach him to control himself and obey authority, not just for his safety, but those around him. We must instill in him that a fear of the Lord is what will protect him, and a love for mercy, justice, and grace will guard his heart from hardening.

What it comes down to is, training him with love and grace yet being firm all the while trusting in the Lord to fulfill His promise to our covenant children, is our one and only hope. For those who understand God’s Word, we can not do this alone and without God changing my son’s heart. It boils down to a delicate balance between discipline and grace so we do not become too strict and firm by not showing him the love we ourselves have been given by God. If it is His will, God shall step in at a preordained point in My son’s lifetime and do the rest. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6)

I understand this won’t solve the worlds (or the United States) problems if not all will subsribe to my ideas concerning this. I understand that racism is a problem and The United States is not the only place it exists or the first. Where have other countries mostly succeeded where we are failing? Immersion and equality, oneness among diversity. Maybe if families identify as American rather than skin color or country of origin, or if there was no longer special programs that aid specific groups we might start feeling like one people. Maybe if families raised their children as I mentioned above, there would be less division. Maybe if the government was less involved in schools, businesses, and everything else we’d be in a better situation.

What happened to the land of opportunity, instead of this land of expectation? We don’t come into this world being owed anything, in fact our life is a precious gift and blessing, we owe our parents and more importantly God for our chance to do some good. Instead we have a majority who lean on the hard work of others and feel their owed for the hardship of others and worse of all are the people who buy into this and further perpetuate the problem. Take it from those who have immigrated legally, worked hard to survive, and immersed into the ‘melting pot’ of this great nation.

“And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) And I will raise my children to love all others as we love them, and that hard work goes a long way to help themselves and others. End of rant.

Forgiveness

While we as Christians have the saving grace of God upon us and the guiding work of the Holy Spirit, we are still human, we are still sinners, and we are still prone to hurting other people. Forgiveness of past, present and future sin as well as eternal life spent with God is the greatest gift Christians have been given. But forgiveness is also a gift we can give to our fellow man as a sign of our love for one another, regardless of the circumstances. But why do we have such a hard time forgiving each other? Forgiveness is hard because it’s not our instinct or nature to ignore a debt that is owed to us. You could say that this is part of the way we were made in God’s image.

Forgiveness is an unselfish act defined in Wikipedia as “the renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offence, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.” Forgiveness is a power tool of good and it is wrong to withhold this from each other. I heard a story one day on the radio about a man who had raped a young woman and she became pregnant. This event is an unforgivable thing in our opinion, but this child changed this hate-filled woman’s heart. The woman visited the man in prison and she forgave him of the rape. When he asked her why she said “God has forgiven me, and none of us are without sin”. This affected the man in such a way that he sought out the Truth about God and was saved.

Forgiveness of people who have hurt us is being obedient to God. Jesus said “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:44-45) Though it is not easy to forgive, because we’re a self-preserving people, forgiveness is a choice and the right one to make. As a Christian we must work harder to set the example in our demonstration of love for friend, families and enemies alike. We are not the judge of other’s wrongdoings therefore we must rise above our pain and pardon them. After Jesus told a man the first and greatest commandment he said this “And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)

The Cross

One of the most recognized religious symbols in the world is the Cross. You’ll often find some Christians who wear this symbol as a necklace. Many churches adorn them on the outside and within. In the United States Army, spiritual leaders known as Chaplains wear it on their headgear instead of their rank. What does this symbol truly represent? Why is it so significant? To find these answers one must fully understand the one Divine man who gave Himself freely to His enemies to die upon the Cross. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)

In the beginning Adam, having been made to love only God, selfishly rejected Him when he ate the forbidden fruit. This incurred a debt for humanity having turned into self-centered sinners. How is debt handled? In most cases there are two options, pay the debt or the debt is forgiven. The price for sin is spiritual death, a complete removal from God. Even if a debt is forgiven, someone has to pay for it. If you loan someone your computer and they break it, no matter who pays for it, there’s still a cost. God has forgiven us of this debt and paid for it through Jesus, the man who was also God. “For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15: 21-22)

The Cross is a reminder of this man, the Son of God, who paid the debt that we owed Him. The Cross is a symbol of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Cross itself isn’t to be worshiped for fear of idolatry, but it’s to remind us daily of who we owe our life to. The God who created us has also died for us so that we may live and not truly die as He did. He suffered more than just a physical death because the price he paid was for sin, our sin. He suffered a far worse death when He was torn away from The Father and the Holy Spirit, becoming spiritually empty. Then after three days He was restored and returned to Heaven by The Father. “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.” (Luke 23: 46)

You must understand just how much God loves us. We didn’t deserve any of this, and yet He has freely given us so much. We must give Him thanks for His grace and praise for His mercy daily by doing good works in picking up our cross and sacrificing ourselves. “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalms 103: 10-14)

Plans for Legion

wow
Blizzard’s World of Warcraft

One of my favorite hobbies is playing video games and recently I’ve been mostly involved in World of Warcraft. The reason is the game’s designer Blizzard is due to release it’s sixth expansion to the online game called Legion later next month. I have been playing the game since the games inception because I favored the RTS that the game is based upon and even though I have taken breaks through the years, it is one that I continue to enjoy playing with friends and family. The game has many several changes in past expansions and Legion brings many great new updates.

characters
6 of 10 max level characters.

One of my flaws is not being able to play just one character and sticking to it. I began the game as a Paladin, a warrior of the light, using the healing specialization. Over the years thru the many expansions I have switched my main character to Rogue, Hunter and Shaman. This expansion is no exception as I have already begun plans to play a Druid using the balance specialization.

My guild Eternal Serenity is 13/13 in heroic Hellfire Citadel and I’ve been taken advantage of the fact that we’re still running this raid every weekend. This has allowed me to learn how to play, as well as effectively gear up, the newly redesigned ‘Boomkin’ to prepare for the events coming with the new expansion. The Druid is the only class that currently has four specializations to choose from: Guardian(tank), Feral(melee dps), Restoration(heals) and Balance(ranged dps). With a focus on weapons this expansion called Artifacts, I have chosen Druid for it’s variety of roles. Additionally, our guild requires ranged dps to round out the group we currently have and I may have trouble playing on occasion with my upcoming mission.

Druid
Tauren Druid

Druids are keepers of the world who walk the path of nature, following the wisdom of the Ancients and Cenarius, the patron entity of all druids. To druids, nature is a delicate balance of actions in which even the smallest imbalance can create storming turmoil from peaceful skies. Druids draw their power from this natural energy, using it to change their shapes and command the forces of nature. Traditionally druids chose the path of a specific animal totem (bear, cat, owlkin, etc). However, since the original invasion of the Burning Legion, most druids have changed traditions, including encouraging the study of magic from all totems. Druids who do this are known as druids of the wild. Some notable druids are Malfurion Stormrage, Remulos and Hamuul Runetotem.

So if you are also a fan of the game, or have been wanting to check it out you’ll find me playing a balance druid named Beamer. I’m not really into role playing, so I don’t have a fancy back story for the character, but he is an Alliance Night Elf  on the US server Malygos. Because he is balance, the artifact weapon he shall quest for is called the Scythe of Elune. This weapon will cause me to change my current play style (and talents most likely) because it adds a new spell that rotates between 3 phases of a moon (new, half, and full) which changes the spell. I look forward to questing through the new evolved lore of the game, and sharing my thoughts about the game here! More to come.

Beamer
Beamer – Level 100 Balance Druid