Welcome!

Thank you for stopping by our site A-Typical Christianity. On this site we have a bunch of resources for Christians and those who are interested in finding out more about true Christianity. If you like our blog, subscribe on the right side of the page so you get automatic updates via email.

Andy and Melissa Beshore

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Ten Indictments - A Historical 21st Century Message by Paul Washer

This sermon is called, Ten Indictments, which is one of Paul Washer's most recent sermons from the Revival Conference hosted in Atlanta, Georgia hosted sponsored by sermonindex.net.

Here is the description of the sermon from Greg Gordon, founder of Sermonindex.net:
"Preached Wednesday, October 22nd at the Revival Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Paul Washer delivers a urgent appeal to the Christians and Churches in North America that many have been believing a false gospel and have false assurance of their salvation. He lists 10 indictments against the modern Church system in America. This is a historical urgent message, tell others and spread the message. We need a reformation and revival of a biblical standard!"


You can get this video yourself by clicking here.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Andy's Personal Testimony



Andy's Testimony - 11/20/08

From the time I was a child, religion was a part of my life. My parents separated when I was four and I moved to Sarasota, Florida from Pennsylvania with my mother in 1985. Her parents, devout Catholics to this day, were the primary religious influence of my life at that time. They were the model religious people. They went to church, prayed, took communion, etc. At the time, that was the only religious option that I knew of, so I suppose I assumed that Catholicism was the truth at the time. I was baptized as an infant, went to CCD classes, and was confirmed as a child. I eventually moved away from the Catholic church, although I do not remember the reason for that then. Although, now it makes sense that it was a part of God’s sovereignty.

My father, meanwhile, was back in Pennsylvania. During this period, at various times he would say things to me like, “You need to have Christ in your life.” He was super nice about it, but did not elaborate much on it that I remember. While my mother was a single parent, my father remained the primary spiritual influence in my life. In fact, he moved back to Florida with the woman he eventually married, my stepmother, some time in the early nineties so he and I could be closer together. Eventually, I started going with him to an Arminian church. Now, this was very different from the ritualistic dogma of Catholicism, so it was a welcome change for me. I appreciated the lack of an organ, the apparent passion in worship, and the brevity of the services. I thought this was what spiritual life, or Christianity, was. I had little to no knowledge of the Bible, no real idea what sin was or God’s attitude toward us in our sin.

Upon graduating high school in 1999, I went to Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida, about an hour south of Sarasota. I loved the hard sciences and eventually settled on Nursing as a major. There I went briefly to a Catholic fellowship with a woman with whom I was fornicating. I had problems with pornography. I experimented with marijuana. I drank a lot. I got horrible grades my first semester in college. Throughout my college years I dated various women. The aforementioned Catholic young lady was the most religious one I dated (with the exception of my eventual wife – more on that later). I was studying to enter nursing school. Eventually, while in school, I went to a few Christian (not Catholic anymore) meetings, called Ignite. Another function was Intervarsity. There was a Christian rock band. There were various “cliques.” The clique with which I associated, mostly went to Ignite, but looking back now, I can say that the power of God was sparse, at best, in our lives. While in college, I met a man, Andrae M., who was very different from just about anybody I had ever met who professed Christianity. We went to Bible studies together, prayed almost nightly by a big lake at the school. Through Andrae and Intervarsity, I met many other men and women while at school who either were Christians or at least professed Christianity. I cannot be the judge, however, of their current spiritual states.

Toward the end of my first semester in Nursing school, I began to get the sense that nursing was just not going to work out. I began my second semester in Nursing school, and about a month in I reached a point where I did not want to do it anymore. I became real depressed because I just did not want to do the grunge work a nurse does that I did not realize came with the territory at the time. I came home one weekend, almost broke down in front of my parents, and came home in the middle of the semester, wasting several thousand dollars in the process. I felt horribly guilty over the money spent and the fact that I was a quitter. I sank into a pretty deep depression. I had battled anxiety and depression off and on up to this point in my life, and this, by far had been the worst. I felt that the most productive thing I could do to at least start the process of turning my life around was go back to work. Mind you, all this time, when I was home from school on the occasional weekends and during this time while I was home on this sabbatical, I went to a very Arminian church, to which I alluded to earlier.

So, I went back to work in Sarasota for Publix supermarkets. Until Melissa (whom in the story, I have yet to meet) and I moved to Alabama from Florida to join Grace Life Church of the Shoals, I worked for Publix. It was during this post-nursing time at Publix that I met Melissa. Melissa was a stock clerk and I was a cashier. One day I mustered the courage to talk to her to try to get to know her better. She was super spiritual, as far as I was concerned. She had gone to a charismatic church for many years. Coming from ritualistic Roman Catholicism, seeing people dancing during worship, waving flags, rolling around on the ground, jumping around, really excited me. I now thought these people were the spiritual example. Somewhere in here I had gone to about three different Promise Keepers events and come back generally impressed at the volume of people there and the music, which at times had some decent doctrine in it. Looking back, I was more impressed with numbers than truth. Melissa showed me things in the Bible that I had never seen before, that impressed me. We got involved pretty quickly. We did not fornicate with each other, although we had with others in our prior relationships. We went through a few breaks up and getting back together cycles that really took a toll on me. Well, eventually, we got past all that and got married June 12, 2004 in that charismatic church. Since I was still working on my degree, we moved to Fort Myers because that was where my college was located and continued working for Publix. I eventually graduated in April 2005.

When we moved to Fort Myers, one of the first orders of business was finding a church. I had little opinion other than I did not want to go to a Catholic church again. We narrowed it down to a church that seemed to have more similarities to the charismatic church in Sarasota and to an Assemblies of God church. We eventually chose the Assemblies of God church. We started going there, and Melissa started not liking it. I was still the oblivious nonregenerate at the time, so I went with the flow. Melissa had had some experience with Way of the Master while at the church in which we got married. She had mentioned it to me at various times throughout our marriage up to this point and had received less than enthusiastic responses from me. One day, against my will, she ordered a sixteen CD set of audio messages by Ray Comfort. Since she already had gotten them and there was nothing I could do, I listened to them with her. I can remember being sick to my stomach, because I knew I would hear convicting words from Mr. Comfort and I did not want to do that.

So, we listened to the CDs and eventually I really caught on. I enjoyed listening to Ray and his style. He spoke often of using God’s law in evangelism and even did a message on True and False Conversion. We started getting many of their resources. We learned how to witness the Way of the Master way and even taught the Basic Training Course twice at the Assemblies of God church in Fort Myers. Once we heard Ray constantly reference to doctrines found throughout the Bible such as sin and judgment and repentance, and found that lacking in our church at the time, we started itching for more of that, but struggled to find it locally anywhere. I even approached the pastor about the Hell’s Best Kept Secret sermon and asked him to listen. He said he would, but I doubt he ever did. I approached my former pastor in Sarasota about it. In both instances, I was practically brushed aside, although my Pastor in Sarasota did actually listen to the CD. That was my first experience with what Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” Now, it must be said, that now, while I think Way of the Master was sufficient for us in that season of our lives, today I feel it is still good, albeit incomplete. There is reference to sin, righteousness, judgment, and condemnation, but there is little about signs of true conversion.

Well, while on the WOTM pilgrimage, we got our hands on a copy of “The Shocking Youth Message” by an itinerant preacher named Paul Washer. We later heard him on a Way of the Master radio program. We wanted more information about him and his ministry. My wife Googled him and looked his sermons up on sermon audio. One in particular, “Tests of Genuine Conversion,” really touched our lives. We listened to it, thought it was really good, and agreed with most of what he said. We sensed that many if not all of those Scriptural tests were either lacking in our lives, or so sparse that they were not worthy of mentioning. At this point, the conviction process began, albeit slowly. In January of 2008, after having listened to “Tests of Genuine Conversion,” I was working at Publix one Saturday night when Melissa called me at work, telling me that she thought she was not yet saved. I trivialized her claim, rationalizing that she was the more spiritual one. She said that she would wait up for me to come home from work, that she wanted to pray and make her calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). I knew if she needed to do this that I most certainly did since she was the spiritual one who had been on mission trips, etc. So, I got off at eleven that night. I came home and we wrote out a list of the Ten Commandments and a list of how many times we could remember that we had broken them.

It’s amazing how much you think you have forgotten until God brings it back to your remembrance. We each knelt beside our bed and took turns praying our lists to God. It was pretty overwhelming looking back. We were “even more diligent to make your call and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). It is easy to see how His wrath could abide upon (John 3:36) someone as sinful as me. I dishonored my parents. I was a murderer in God’s sight (1 John 3:15, Revelation 21:8), having hated many people as a characteristic in my life. Lust was a humongous issue. I was a spiritual adulterer (Matthew 5:27-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9). I had fornicated many times in the past. Fornicators can not inherit heaven. I had issues with other types of sexual immorality (1 Corinthians 6:9, Revelation 21:8).

I lied many times as a child and young adult to cover my tracks, although it seems now that before my conversion, lying had much less of a hold on my life. Still, I knew God saw me as liar and that “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 12:22). I saw that I was destined for the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8). I was never satisfied with what I had and never really appreciated God as my provider. I was covetous and could not enter heaven (1 Corinthians 6:10, Romans 1:29). I had made a God I was comfortable with, one who had no standard for holiness and righteousness. My God was never angry at sin. He was a big Psychologist who I could go to with my problems who did not cost $50 per hour. In other words, I could live my way and God would be okay with me like I was, even if I was not conforming into the image of His Son. God loved me for who I was. I had “changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man” (Romans 1:23). I was an idolater and could not enter heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9, Revelation 21:8).

I had not loved my wife, as I am commanded to in Ephesians 5:25. I was not the head of my wife, as I am commanded to be in Ephesians 5:23, when I let her do things I should not have just to “keep the peace.” I provoked my children to wrath just for fun, all the time spitting in God’s face (Ephesians 6:4). I had not honored my parents, especially my mother as a child (Exodus 20:12). I had no fear of God before my eyes (Romans 3:18). I broke his Laws so many times without regard for His standard. I had a love for the world and the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17). I was more concerned with stuff than I was with knowing God better. I had heard the truth in the past and had suppressed it in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18). I knew plenty to be without excuse (Romans 1:20). I thought I knew more than I did. I was a fool (Romans 1:22). I was filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, envy, anger, evil tendencies, God hatred, lovelessness, and unforgiveness. My mind was given over as described in Romans 1:28-30. I had heard “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) but now I was getting a real look at what that actually entailed. He hated me, and rightfully so (Psalm 5:5). I deserved death in His eyes (Romans 6:23). I saw no reason to be alive. I was dead in transgressions (Colossians 2:1). My thoughts and actions were only evil continually (Genesis 8:21). My heart was deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). I saw the darkness of my heart (1 Corinthians 13:12).

I came to the realization that Christ, not religion, saves. There was nothing I had ever done or could ever do to be good enough to enter heaven. There was no rite or ritual I could cling to in order to earn my salvation. Romans 3:10-18 was talking about me where it says, “There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” All this was true about me. Only God’s grace kept me alive in my state. He would have been totally just and reasonable in killing me and condemning me to eternal hell.

So, we repented (confessed and forsook) of our sins from the long lists we had made, went to bed, and life continued. Initially, I did not feel much different at all after reading my list. However, God gave me life (Ephesians 2:1, Ephesians 2:5, Colossians 1:21). After sensing the weight of my sin, I came to sense the magnitude of the Cross, that a perfect God-Man lived a perfect life, to be a perfect sacrifice on my behalf. He had never committed any of the vile, wretched, disgusting sins I had over the course of my life. I realized that God made Him Who knew no sin to be sin for me so that I might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). I realized that “God commends His love towards me in that while I am a sinner, Christ died for me” (Romans 5:8). I realize that I was conceived in iniquity (Psalm 51:5) and that He was bruised for my iniquities (Isaiah 53:5). For some reason, God chose me from the foundation of the world, despite my lack of worth (Ephesians 1:4-5). He had to since I did not have the ability in myself to choose Him. Over time I began to see changes in my life, which I could not stop from happening. I saw things I had not seen before (John 14:26). The big one was a heightened awareness of my wretched sinfulness (Romans 7:15-21).

Now, I had a love for God and His word that was not there before. Now, I was sensitive to my own sin (1 John 1:9) and was looking at the floor or at the ceiling constantly to not lust. Now, I was getting angry at immoral behavior going on all around me, like Jesus modeled in Matthew 21. I was witnessing to co-workers, and getting mildly persecuted in the process. While we are saved by grace through faith not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9), I wanted to witness and do other things that I knew were pleasing to God. I continue to see my love for Him grow in new ways as time passes. I continue to want to learn more about Him so I can better live for Him. I cannot adequately live for Him without more of Him in my life (Matthew 16:24). I hate the fact that I wasted so much time glorifying myself rather than Him. I hate the fact that I am still so sinful, but I know that the flesh can be that way. I empathize with Paul when he said, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24). I confess my known sins regularly, asking for His grace in areas in which I know I need to change, not remaining content with areas that have yet to change. I strive to obey His word in areas in which I have not obeyed in the past and ask for His grace to help me do that since I recognize that I cannot do it myself (1 John 2:3). I want more of His righteousness and less of my own (Matthew 5:6). I am desperate for His grace, which I need to be able to obey Him. I do not want to be one of those John says say “’I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments…a liar, and the truth is not in (me)” (1 John 2:4). Nor do I want to be one of those Jesus referred to in Matthew 7:21-23.

I have a new love for the brethren (1 John 3:10). I am learning to trust Him more with areas of my life I used to never trust Him with before. I trust Him more today than I did yesterday. I know Him better today, than I did yesterday (2 Peter 3:18). I strive to know Him better tomorrow than I do today. My prayer life is enriched by the Spirit (Romans 8:26). There is a love for God that continues to grow that was not there before (Romans 5:5). I love His word, even the convicting aspects (Psalm 119:19; Psalm 19:10). I eagerly anticipate the day when this sinful trap my spirit is cased in can be rid of and re-united with my Lord. Until that day I wait patiently. I want God to be vindicated from all the false accusations and blasphemies that fill this churched, carnal era (Romans 1:8). There is a sickening in my spirit and a righteous hatred of those who are hypocrites and give feigned obedience (Psalm 69:9). I pay closer attention to what is in my own heart. I have more contempt for the world than I did before.

I have feebly breathed truth into the lives of many people I know. Many of them remain unchanged from it and probably deem me as some religious radical. I know that true followers of Christ cannot help but be radical. If I must choose between the approval of family and friends or Christ, give me Christ. If I have to choose between finances and stuff, or Christ, give me Christ. If I have to choose between my wife and kids or Christ, as much as I dearly love them and count them precious, I count Christ more precious (1 Peter 2:7). As we live in uncertain times now, as difficult as it is to not think about the future, I am thankful that my future resides with Him. “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17). I know “that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39)”. Thank God!

Andy Beshore

Are you a good person?

How Do I Get Saved? / How Do I Know I Am Truly Saved?

Melissa's Personal Testimony



Melissa’s Testimony – 11/20/08

I grew up in a family, that some people would consider to be Christian. My Mom, Dad, and two brothers and I occasionally went to church on Sundays when it was convenient and occasionally on holidays. I remember praying before we went to bed, but I never had a true understanding of who God was. I felt bad when I did wrong things which kept me out of a lot of trouble. I would pray to God when I wanted something from Him, but that was about it. We moved a lot as a kid and left Florida, where I was born, to move to Massachusetts, and later to North Carolina. My parents got divorced when I was a preteen and my Mom and brothers and I moved from North Carolina to Florida to get away from my Dad. As a teenager, I got into sexual immorality while attending high school and I later dropped out after only completing the 9th grade and later went on to get my GED in 11th grade. I wasn’t learning anything at the time at school and I knew I needed to get away from those temptations. I felt really convicted about what I was doing.

We started attending a church that we had gone to when I was younger and lived in Florida. It was a very charismatic church and very different from the churches we had gone to in Massachusetts and North Carolina. I started attending the youth group, made some friends, and had a social outlet. I felt convicted of my sins a lot and knew I was into a lot of sin that God wasn’t pleased about. I had gone to the altar at church, several times, but always feared I lost my salvation because of the sins I was still doing, so I kept going back over and over to rededicate my life. I had been fooling around with a boyfriend around that time and had feared I might be pregnant. I was very scared and knew I needed to shape up. One night during youth group, I went outside into the parking light and cried and made a profession of faith in Christ. I asked for forgiveness of my sins and I “asked Jesus into my heart.” I realize now that I was being awakened to my sins and my depraved nature, but I wasn’t truly converted at that time. I was like the thorny ground hearer in Luke 8:14 that says, “Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life and bring no fruit to maturity.”

I broke up with my boyfriend and started attending the church very regularly. I started to pray more, read my Bible more, and stopped doing a lot of things I knew were blatantly wrong. I also got baptized. Shortly after, I started seeing another guy in the church who was very involved in the drama team and who at the time seemed like a Christian simply because he went to church and talked the talk at times. He convinced me to do things I knew were wrong again and I slipped back into sexual immorality and other sins. This deeply troubled me and I broke up with him a few times over it but always went back to him because my emotions were so heavily involved and he always promised me he was going to shape up and get his life right with God. I went on several mission trips with the youth group, was in the drama team, and my boyfriend went with me on a couple of them. I really knew God was telling me to break up with him if I was to ever be right with God, so almost 2 years after our relationship had begun, I broke up with him for good. It took me a long time to get over it and I promised myself I would never do that again.

I started getting into youth group a lot more, became a small group leader, and went on another missions trip. The church was getting more and more charismatic over time and I really felt that God was in it all at the beginning. There were lots of manifestations of people rolling on the ground in fits of laughter, crying hysterically, waving flags and jumping around, praying, yelling at the devil and doing “spiritual warfare” for hours, and lots of other things that started seeming more and more weird and un-Scriptural to me as time went on. At the time, the only options I saw in Christianity were the type of church I was currently going to and Baptists, Methodists, or other denominations that were supposedly legalistic and probably not even saved. There were so many supposed signs and wonders going on at this church and there wasn’t any of that at the other churches, and it was supposed to be because God was really moving in our church. They and I kept looking to the manifestations as proof of someone’s conversion.

Oftentimes when a whole row of people would be “slain in the spirit” I would be the only one left standing. It took a long time after I prayed to speak in tongues, that I finally started doing it. It seemed like there should be more to Christianity than just all this emotionalism I saw all around me. It seemed very shallow and phony. Where were the changed lives? I saw so many people in my youth group who prophesied, spoke in tongues, and seemed so spiritual. Once I hung around them long enough, I found out that they watched evil movies, listened to lots of secular music, some of them were involved in sexual immorality, and lots of other things. I wondered how these people could “seem” so spiritual on the outside, but not appear to be truly saved. It reminded me of the Pharisees in the Bible, where Jesus says in Matthew 23:27-28, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead mean’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” I knew I was having these problems in my own heart and was a hypocrite as well and knew there must be more to Christianity than what I knew currently. I still had a love for the world, even though I wasn’t doing a lot of the things I used to anymore, my heart still longed for those things. My heart hadn’t really changed.

I didn’t know anything of what being a Biblical woman was all about and I didn’t have any role models either. I kept cutting my hair shorter and shorter and bleaching it over and over. I dressed more and more masculine and didn’t even stop think if I was bringing glory to God by my actions and the way I dressed. All I cared about was being comfortable, and to me, guy clothes were more comfortable. I wasn’t gay, but you would’ve thought so by looking at me. You can read more about my journey to modesty and feminine dress in a previous blog entry by clicking here. I didn’t look like a Christian woman, but rather the contrary. I looked like the type of person that should be witnessed to. I had lots of earrings and even got a tongue ring like my brother who wasn’t saved did. I loved techno music and really felt like I was missing out on a lot of cool stuff by being a Christian. There was always a constant struggle and battle inside because I still longed for the world but knew I shouldn’t. I had struggled with my weight off and on since I was young and it was starting to get pretty out of control. You can read more about that from a previous blog entry by clicking here.

I had felt ever since I went on my first missions trip that God had called me to be a full-time missionary one day. I loved different cultures and trying new things. I had a real love for Africa and desperately wanted to go there somehow. I was a surgical tech at the time and found out online about a ministry called Mercy Ships. They do free surgeries to remove life-threatening tumors, give basic health care, nutritional teachings, and lots of other things in Africa. The Anastasis, was a former cruise ship that was converted into a hospital ship and about 400 missionaries lived on the ship as it sailed from port to port for the different outreaches. I dreamed about going there and seeing God doing miraculous signs and wonders like I had heard were happening in persecuted countries and from books I had read. I wanted to preach to people in their villages and see many saved. I had lots of high aspirations.

I found out that the Anastasis has DTS’s (Discipleship Training Schools) a couple of times a year for 6 month stints. YWAM (Youth With a Mission) does DTS’s all around the world in different locations. This has 4 months of missionary training and 2 months of outreach time. I wanted to hopefully become one of the surgical techs for the ship and stay long-term with Mercy Ships, so I signed up to do the DTS from January to June of 2002. Shortly before I went on this trip, I had stumbled across the Way of the Master by Ray Comfort and his sermon, “Hells Best Kept Secret” and others. I had a real passion for evangelism and even started going out street witnessing and passing out tracts with my youth group, but after just a little while, the group dwindled to only me and 2 other friends. This was really depressing to me. I did this right up until I left for Mercy Ships and had hoped that while I was gone it would continue. I found out after I got back that no one did it anymore once I left. I wondered why many didn’t seem to take evangelism seriously and why they didn’t seem to care about the lost at all.

I was so excited to go to Africa and meet all these like-minded people who really had a heart for the lost and took their faith seriously. I figured you must be a serious Christian if you were willing to be a missionary in Africa. My DTS consisted of about 30 other youth and young adults. It cost around $10,000 for the 6 month trip and I paid for almost all of my expenses out of pocket. I figured others probably did the same and in order to do that that they must be serious about why they were going on the trip. I later found out that a lot of them had rich parents or had their church give them most of their money. A lot of them seemed to see this as one big neat vacation to Africa instead of going there to be equipped to reach the lost and save souls. It seemed like a joke.

I absolutely loved everything about Africa when I was there. I love to try new things and I loved being in a completely new culture so foreign to me. After only a couple of days of being there, our group had an outing at a fancy restaurant to get to know each other better. We ate fancy food (compared to the local fare) and then everyone started dancing to secular music. I almost felt like I was at a bar or a secular party. I thought, what is going on here? The restaurant was elevated, and from the back of the restaurant where we were, you could look down the darkened alleys and see all the poverty all around you and I thought, why did we come here? Was it to just have fun and make new friends? I couldn’t join in everyone else’s fun. I just cried my eyes out and looked through the fence and stared down the street at all the homes of people who were most likely all not saved. That’s why we were supposed to be there. The people in my group wondered what was upsetting me. It was because I was so burdened for those people. I so desperately wanted to leave the group and go and talk to those people down the alley, but I knew I couldn’t because I had to stay with the group and it wasn’t safe to do so.

In time I saw that a lot of my group there were on this trip for the wrong reasons. The leadership and youth there greatly disappointed me at the lack of conviction for obvious sin that was going on. There were coarse jokes being made, and sins just seemed to be laughed at at times. During my time on the ship, we had a guest speaker who spoke one night about missions and how God could be calling some of us to lay down our lives for the sake of the gospel and give up everything, like friends, family, and belongings, to be a full-time missionary. I felt that he was speaking about me and I had a great passion for China laid on my heart and I cried for a very long time. I didn’t think I was supposed to stay on the Anastasis as a surgical tech anymore. It became all I could think about. This was odd because I was in Africa and all I could think about was China. (The grass is always greener on the other side.) I could never seem to be happy where I currently was. I always longed for something else. I went on my outreach part of the trip to a village with mud huts and no electricity or running water that was pretty poor. I loved it because I loved the sense of adventure and finally feeling like I was seeing the real Africa. I wanted to live and eat like the people did there. I was seen as pretty odd because I carried water on my head like they did and tried all the different foods. I didn’t care what the people in my group thought.

I never did go and witness to all the people there, nor did I see any signs and wonders. None of the things I thought would happen on this trip happened at all. In my opinion, our time there was a complete waste and I hate to think of what the villagers must have thought of us with all the shenanigans that went on there with our group. I know they didn’t see Christ when they looked at us, but rather a bunch of crazy Americans. I was disappointed by everyone and everything that went on, including being disappointed in myself. I came home feeling like I had wasted a lot of time and money on this trip, but I was thankful for at least having the experience. From what I had seen on my trip, it didn’t seem as though anyone I met was saved there, although I’m sure there were some.

When I got back home, most of my friends seemed to have forgotten about me and no one understood what I had just been through. I had extreme culture shock, just getting back into American culture. It was hard to go to a grocery store, just seeing the abundance of food choices and all the waste. I remembered all the people who had nothing in Africa at all and it grieved my heart. I felt no one understood me or agreed with me and I felt all alone. I had moved into a one-room efficiency and fell into a deep depression. I was very overweight, felt I had no friends, wondered if I’d ever get married, wondered if I’d ever be a missionary, and wondered if I could find anyone that seemed to take Christianity seriously.

I eventually moved into a friend of mine’s house and lived with his family for some time. They had left the charismatic church I had gone to and now went to a Messianic Synagogue and I started going there because I felt what was going on at the charismatic church was phoney and I didn’t want to have any part of it anymore. I was tired of the hypocrisy. I really liked how they did the Jewish traditions and seemed to really take Scripture seriously. I didn’t see much of a love for God (I saw it in word, but not in deed), but rather His commandments. They “said” they weren’t doing these things to be saved, like the Jews did, but rather out of a love for God and to be obedient to His Word. They seemed legalistic. I didn’t see much of a passion for evangelism, but rather more of a condemning spirit on everyone that disagreed with them. This didn’t seem right either, but I didn’t know where else to turn. Everywhere I looked, I saw hyprocrisy. I knew Christianity was true, but I wondered if I’d ever meet anyone who really lived it out.

I still had a heart for China and wondered how I could be a Messianic Jewish missionary to China. It seemed pretty confusing for me. I desperately wanted the truth, but wondered if I could ever find it anywhere. I lost a lot of weight while living there because the mother of the family cooked a lot of healthier foods which I began to love and the whole family was thin, so I learned to eat that way. I started feeling better about myself and got out of my depression.

While I was still living there, I was working at Publix. My dad had just committed suicide while being married to his third wife in North Carolina. I was under a lot of stress at the time. I met Andy, my future husband, who worked there as well in March of 2003. We became friends, but he didn’t appear to be saved, or at least he was an immature Christian I thought. We got emotionally involved really quick and it turned into a serious relationship. I tried to teach him what I knew about God because I thought I was so spiritual. After all, I had been a Christian, almost 10 years, or so I thought. He wanted to sleep with me so we could get to know each other better, but I refused, knowing full well what would happen if we did. I’d have to break up with him and I’d be back in the same spot I was years ago, ridden with guilt and I didn’t want to do that again. We put ourselves in tempting situations on a repeated basis, and only by God’s grace did we not sleep with each other. I broke up with him a couple of times from the guilt from the lust in our hearts and because I wondered if he was truly saved and I didn’t want to marry someone who wasn’t saved. He had a lot of issues and I wasn’t sure if I would want to marry someone with those problems. I failed to see the issues in my life at the time and only saw his. My emotions clouded my judgment, but looking back, I see God was working despite our disobedience to Him in so many areas. God truly is sovereign. I kept witnessing to Andy, the best I knew how over the course of our relationship. We both started attending the charismatic church I used to go to together, because I felt I had nowhere else to go. We got engaged in October and started premarital counseling at that church, which was a complete waste of time because it was so shallow, but it was necessary to get married there. Andy seemed to be a Christian then, although, I started wondering at what point he was actually converted.

We got married in June 2004 at that church, and had a traditional Christian ceremony and believed we were both saved and were starting a Christian marriage together. We did the best we knew how, but we never had good Christian role models, nor had we ever witnessed a Christian marriage before lived out. Both of our parents had been divorced, so we were just winging it. We got into a lot of arguments, and we fought a lot over our convictions. I was convicted about things we watched on TV, and how we spent our time, etc. and he wasn’t. I kept trying to be the spiritual leader of the home and all it did was cause resentment in both of us. We moved to Fort Myers because Andy was finishing up his college degree there and we started attending an Assemblies of God church. It wasn’t quite what I was looking for because it wasn’t as charismatic as the old church I used to go to, but it was the best we could find there, so I settled for it. We both liked how the pastor was really into missions. I really liked that because I was convinced that one day we’d be full-time missionaries together. Andy and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on that.

I was on the birth control pill and didn’t want kids until after I finished college which was less than 4 years away. (I realize now that it’s abortifacient and I would never take that again.) I got pregnant with our first son, Camden, after only 9 months of marriage while on the pill. We figured it must’ve been God’s will. What choice did we have? When Camden was born, I had post-partum psychosis, or at least that’s what the doctors said. I acted irrationally and even endangered Camden’s life, although at the time I thought I was actually helping him. I thank the Lord that he protected Camden’s life then. I even tried to convince Andy at one point to leave the house with no belongings and just go to the airport and buy a one-way ticket to China to be missionaries forever, without even telling family about it. I was trying to live by faith like I had read about people doing in missionary books, but I didn’t realize at the time that none of that was based on Scripture, but personal experiences. I thank God that Andy didn’t go along with it.

I was baker-acted a few days later, for possibly 2 weeks and Camden was taken away from me and had to stay with Andy’s parents by court-order. I have never been so grief-stricken in my whole life, to have my newborn son taken away. I didn’t know if I’d ever get him back at that time. I will never forget that time in my life. It was horrible. I don’t remember a whole of what went on while I was baker-acted (they had me on a lot of medication), but I do remember a lot of crazy stuff that I did and said. I wasn’t thinking or acting Biblically, that’s for sure, and I wasn’t submitting to my husband. God gave me over to my sin. I shaped up quickly and got out of there, but didn’t see that I had done anything to deserve being baker-acted. There had been a lot of stress caused by family and the stress of being a new mother, that I had gotten overwhelmed. I hadn’t gotten sleep in over a week and I literally began to go crazy, but didn’t see it until much later. I had been forced to be on medication, which I knew I didn’t need to be on. Thankfully, I convinced the doctors to let me off of it shortly after I was out, so I could continue to nurse my son safely. I got better over time and things got back to normal, but I will never forget that time in my life.

We had our second son while on birth control as well, 13 months later, and I was really stressed out from a c-section and lack of sleep, but I was determined to not repeat the past. We got into a lot of arguments after he was born, but it never got too out of hand. We still got into arguments over theology and me trying to be the spiritual leader because I felt he wasn’t being one. I knew we weren’t living like true Christians and I wanted to change, but he wouldn’t go for it. I bought a Way of the Master CD set with gift money, and he got really upset about it. I asked him if he would listen to it and he obliged, but he wasn’t happy about it. God began to change his heart and he actually started to agree with what was being said and he got a burden for the lost. I still had hopes we would be missionaries, so once he got a burden for evangelism, I figured that’s what would happen in due time. We got lots more Way of the Master materials and tracts and started witnessing to people in our neighborhoods and while shopping, etc. We even got permission to teach a Way of the Master Basic Training Course class twice at our church, with very sparse attendance.

We were troubled by the pastor at our church even admitting from the pulpit that it wasn’t his job to preach about sin, because it was the Holy Spirit’s job to convict. We also saw lots of other cause for concern with leadership brushing sin underneath the rug. We went to a couples class that seemed to be more of a gossip hour rather than a time for learning the truth of God’s Word. There seemed to be no church discipline either, for blatant sin. We didn’t know of any other church to go to, so we stopped going altogether. We didn’t feel right about it, but we felt we had no choice. The only times we went to church were to teach the Way of the Master class on Wednesday nights. None of the leadership ever questioned about whether we were saved or not and we never had any accountability as leaders in the church. They had no idea what we taught in our class each week. This didn’t seem right either.

A few months back, a friend of ours had sent us a CD by Paul Washer which is the infamous “Shocking Youth Message.” We had listened to it and really liked it, but had no idea he was an itinerant preacher who preached all over the country, so the CD sat on our bookshelf for a long time. We got hooked on the Way of the Master Radio program and one day we heard an interview with Paul Washer about HeartCry Missionary Society and his views of the gospel. It was really good and I liked hearing about his missionary work. I Googled him and found his website and started downloading his sermons. We had heard of a lot of reformed pastors such as John MacArthur, John Piper, and others while listening to the Way of the Master program. We downloaded their sermons too and really started questioning what we knew of Christianity and the gospel. What we had known seemed to be wrong. We downloaded almost all of Paul Washer's sermons from sermonaudio.com and God really began to convict us and made us question our conversions if they were genuine or not. I had always had confidence that I was saved because of my profession of faith at age 14, and Andy never had such a profession. I wondered if he was saved, but shortly after, God began to make me seriously question my testimony too.

One time I was telling my testimony to Andy’s cousin on the phone and had a hard time telling him how God had really changed me when I “got saved” at 14. I still had a love for the world, I had fallen back into sexual immorality, I watched filth on TV, and so much more. What kind of a testimony was that? Sure, Christians aren’t perfect after conversion, but there should’ve been a growing in holiness that was more evident than that, especially after so many years. I may have stopped a lot of the obvious outward sins, but I knew my heart wasn’t truly changed inside. God had really been dealing with my heart that I needed to make my calling and election sure, because I couldn’t bank on my conversion being genuine from my testimony. To most people, my life seemed very spiritual, after all, I had gone on several missions trips and desperately wanted to be a missionary. That’s spiritual, right? I talked the talk, but I knew deep inside, my heart wasn’t the way it should be.

I listened to the sermon called, “Tests of Genuine Conversion” by Paul Washer and became really convicted because I didn’t pass a lot of the tests from 1 John. He also spoke in other sermons about how can we truly know we have believed in God unto salvation? Yes, you must believe in Christ to be saved, but how do you know you’ve believed? The evidence is in a changed life that continues to change. I didn’t see that in my life. I had also listened to his wife, Charo’s, testimony which sounded similar to mine. She too had thought she had been a Christian up until very recently. She was even a preacher’s wife and used to be a missionary in Peru. I saw I had no Biblical assurance of salvation and was afraid that if I didn’t do something soon, I could die and go to hell, lost in my sins.

So, in January of 2008, I, along with Andy made our calling and elections sure. I had waited until Andy had gotten off of work at 11am and I had to go to work at 4am. By the time we had finished, I only had an hour or so to sleep. I repented of all the sins I could think of and confessed to God how depraved and sinful I was. Genesis 6:5 says, “Then the Lord saw the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” I saw this to be true in my life. I knew God’s wrath was abiding on me at that moment as it says in John 3:36. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and all short of the glory of God.” There was no good in me that was deserving of salvation. All my “righteousness” that I had relied on as proof of my conversion in the past were as filthy rags in His sight like it says in Isaiah 64:6. I was condemned to go to hell, unless Christ stepped in and saved me and changed my heart. . John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’.” Jesus Christ was my only hope of salvation. Christ was the atonement for my sins and I was no longer condemned to hell, not by anything I did, but by God’s grace upon me which was undeserved. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I hated the sin in my life and desperately wanted God to remove it. I didn’t want to love the world anymore. I had sorrow for my sins and the fact that all these years I had confessed to be a Christian and had ruined my witness by my actions and had blasphemed God’s name by how I lived my life. I knew now that a true Christian, would never fall away from the faith, and most of my so-called Christian life wasn’t really living for God like I should. It was very inconsistent. I felt I had truly heard and understood the real gospel for the first time in my life and understood what true conversion looked like and I knew I couldn’t have been converted before. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says, “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” This is what Jesus Christ did in my life.

I immediately stopped watching the filth on TV and got rid of our bad movies and music. I didn’t want the temptation around anymore. God took away, but not completely, my love for the world and to be accepted by it and started ripping the idols I had in my life away from me. Little by little, he began to change my heart and make me into a new creature. I began to have a love for the Word, whereas before, it was something on my “to-do” list. I actually wanted to do the right things, not because they were the right things to do, but out of a love for Christ and out of obedience to His Word. I desperately wanted the truth and listened to all the sermons I could. I started watching the services of First Baptist Church of Muscle Shoals (now Grace Life Church of the Shoals where we currently attend) online, where Paul Washer attends. My eyes were opened and I felt like for the first time, I was hearing the truth of God’s Word. It just amazed me that I had never seen these things in the Bible after all these years.

God changed my heart to learn more about what it means to be a Biblical woman and a Godly wife and mother. I want to glorify God by the way I dress, the way I treat my husband and children, and how I treat others. He has currently taken away my passion for China and to be a missionary, although it’s still way in the back of my mind if it’s God’s will some day. I see how great the task set before me is of being a Godly wife and mother and raising up Godly seed. I want to support my husband’s leadership now instead of usurp it. He’s given me a love of showing hospitality to others and a love for God’s people.

God is continually showing me just how depraved I really am, and if it weren’t for His grace, I would be destined to hell, just like every other unregenerate person. I didn’t have enough sense to choose God. I wasn’t good enough to get to heaven, but rather, God chose to save me of His own good pleasure. Ephesians 1:4-6 says, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the beloved.”

Over time, there have been seasons where I have doubted my conversion because of sins and struggles in my life, and God has continued to show me that I am saved, not by what I do, but by His grace. I see how much He has changed my heart and life since true conversion. Matthew 3:8 says, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.” I believe God has shown that these fruits are now evident in my life. I thank God that grace is what saved me, because if I had to be good enough, I never would be. Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” I can see God’s Spirit working in my life now and I have continual conviction and repentance of the sins in my life. There is a growing in holiness now. Sure, I still mess up and take one step back, two steps forward sometimes, but I’m continuing to press forward now. I see that God has freed me from the bondage of my sin like in Romans 6:5-11 where it says, “For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. “

I see the Lord’s discipline and rebuke in my life each day, which is an evidence that you are truly born again. Hebrews 12:5-8 says, “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which you all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.” I am so thankful to God for saving me and bringing me into His family and I want to give Him the glory for what He’s done in my life. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I love Him more and more each day and I am so thankful.

I see that Christ has freed me from the bondage of my sin like in Romans 6:6 where it says, “Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” I just recently got baptized in obedience to God’s Word where it says in Romans 6:3-5, “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” If you want to hear what God’s been doing in my life lately, you can keep up on our blogs. God bless you, and thank you for reading. I welcome your comments.

Melissa Beshore

Are you a good person?

How Do I Get Saved? / How Do I Know I Am Truly Saved?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Paul Washer's Testimony at the 2008 Revival Conference

Here, Paul Washer gives his testimony and speaks on what true revival looks like. This is part of a documentary made at the 2008 Revival Conference in Atlanta, Georgia that http://www.sermonindex.net sponsored.



Click here to get the video for yourself.

If you haven't seen this already, this is another shorter version of Paul's testimony that is really touching.



Click here to get it for yourself.

Are you a good person?

How Do I Get Saved? / How Do I Know I Am Truly Saved?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Gospel Told Through The Story Of The Prodigal Son - John MacArthur



A Tale of Two Sons: With A Never Heard Before Surprise Ending to the Parable of the Prodigal Son by John MacArthur

I just listened to this sermon on sermonaudio.com and it just blew me away. I've heard the story of the prodigal son many times before, but never like this. This is one of the best sermons I've heard in a while and I've heard a LOT of good ones recently, but this was great. Click here to get the sermon for yourself. Click here if you would like to read the transcript of this sermon. Click here if you would like to watch the video instead. Click here to get the book.

Here is the description of the sermon from sermonaudio:

This is the sermon that launched the book 'A Tale of Two Sons' by John MacArthur. Posted on SermonAudio with Permission from VCY America (Ingrid Schlueter).

One of the most familiar, best-loved stories of the Bible is also one of the most misunderstood and poorly taught. There's more drama, raw emotion, and profound meaning to the parable of the prodigal son than most people realize.

In this sermon, John takes you back in time to Jesus' masterful telling of the penetrating story, helping you hear, understand, and respond to it the same way His original listeners did. Along the way, John restores the brilliance of the parable, giving you engrossing cultural and historical background, and unveiling a shocking, surprise ending.

This sermon takes you inside God's tender heart for sinners, and spurs you to deeper study of His Word as you see new richness unfold from even this most familiar passage.

To order a tape, CD or DVD of this sermon, either:

Call:
1- 800-729-9829

or Write to:
VCY Tape Ministry
3434 W. Kilbourn Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53208

VCY's website:
http://vcyamerica.org/



Are you a good person?

How Do I Get Saved? / How Do I Know I Am Truly Saved?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tuesday Morning Internship With Paul Washer



For any of those of you who don't know already and are interested, Paul Washer leads a Tuesday morning men's discipleship/internship program at our church, Grace Life Church of the Shoals. He was recently teaching from his new book, Journey Into The Gospel With Friends, which you can click here to preview. They just recently have started recording the Tuesday morning sessions and are posting it onto the web to view. Andy has been loving going each Tuesday morning before work, but he has to leave early, so if he wants to catch up, he can just watch it online. I however can't go at all, and I have to watch the kids, so it's great for me to still be able to hear that great teaching in the comfort of my own home. Click here to get it.

We couldn't get it to work for the longest time, but we found out you need to have Mozilla Firefox browser or a couple other ones to view it, but not internet explorer. Mozilla is actually supposed to be safer anyways. Click here for Mozilla. You also need the newest Adobe Flash player that is compatible with Firefox, Mozilla, Netscape, Safari, and Opera. Click here to download it. As soon as we downloaded it, we were able to view it fine. Go and check it out. It's great stuff!

God bless,
Melissa : )

Are you a good person?

How Do I Get Saved? / How Do I Know I Am Truly Saved?

Monday, September 29, 2008

10 Steps of Salvation - Mark Keilar



Many people hold that the reason they are born again is because of something they did. Does the Bible teach this, though? Listen as Mark Kielar explains, Biblically, the order of salvation.

This is a clip from the series called "How God Converts the Human Soul". You can order this full series at http://www.crosstv.com or by calling 1-877-CROSSTV. This video is called, "Believer, You're Saved Because God Chose You First Not Because You Chose Him First" and you can get it yourself by clicking here.



The 10 Steps of Salvation

1)Election-

God's choice of people to be saved. The act of God before creation in which He chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any unforeseen merit in them, but only because of His sovereign good pleasure.

2)The Call- (comprised of two parts):

a) the 'general' or 'outward' call of proclaiming the message of the Gospel, and

b) the 'effectual' or 'inward' call of the Holy Spirit, which is the act of God the Father speaking through the human proclamation of the gospel, in which He summons people to Himself in such a way that they irresistibly respond in saving faith.

3)Regeneration-

Being born again. Regeneration is a secret act of God in which He imparts (implants) new spiritual life to us.

4)Conversion-

Faith and repentance. Conversion is our willing response to the gospel call, in which we sincerely repent of sins and place our trust in Christ for salvation.

5)Justification-

Right legal standing. Justification is an instantaneous legal act of God in which He: 1)thinks of our sins as forgiven and Christ's righteousness as belonging to us, and 2) declares us to be righteous in His sight.

6)Adoption-

Membership in God's family. Adoption is an act of God whereby He makes us members of His family.

7)Sanctification-

Right conduct of life. Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and like Christ in our actual lives.

8)Perseverance-

Remaining a Christian. Perseverance of the saints means that all those who are truly born again will be kept by God's power and will persevere as Christians until the end of their lives, and that only those who persevere until the end have been truly born again.

9)Death-

Going to be with the Lord. Death is a temporary cessation of bodily life and a separation of the soul from the body. Once the believer has died, though his or her physical body remains here on the earth and is buried, at the moment of death the soul (or spirit) of the believer goes immediately into the presence of God with rejoicing.

10)Glorification-

Receiving a resurrection body. Glorification is the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes the body of all believers, at the same time, perfect resurrection bodies like His own.

Are you a good person?

How Do I Get Saved? / How Do I Know I Am Truly Saved?

Fireproof Trailer Starring Kirk Cameron

Here's the trailer from the new movie Fireproof starring Kirk Cameron. If you want to read our thoughts about our recent trip to see it, click here.



Are you a good person?

How Do I Get Saved? / How Do I Know I Am Truly Saved?

Friday, September 26, 2008

What Should We Think About Sarah Palin As The VP Candidate In Light Of Scripture?



Here's an interview from CNN with Voddie Baucham on what to think about Sarah Palin being the new VP candidate, feminism, and the women's role. This video is called, "Voddie Baucham and Sarah Palin," and you can click here to get it for yourself. Fast-forward to 1:00 to go straight to the interview.



Here, host of Generations Radio, Kevin Swanson, talks about Sarah Palin and what we can do to raise our daughters to be the next Sarah Palin's of the world. He also interviews Scott Brown on a Biblical view of women and their roles in society, the church, and their families.


This is called, "Raisin' a Palin" and you can click here to get it for yourself.

Are you a good person?

How Do I Get Saved? / How Do I Know I Am Truly Saved?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Shocking Account on Abortion

Heading into this election, we should be as informed as possible. Please watch this and see if you can in good conscience still support this man. Remember the image at the end of the video and think, "That could have been me." This man wants to let anyone do this. Does anyone see a problem with this?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Defining and Defending Authentic Christianity

"For the Christian, defending the faith isn't an option. It's a solemn responsibility."

"It should be obvious if you think about it. Claiming to be a Christian doesn't make you a true follower of Christ anymore than calling yourself a vegetarian makes you one regardless of what you believe or do. In order to be a Christian, you must submit yourself completely to Christ and believe the Bible and its teachings."

- Eric Holmberg

This is a short clip from The Marks of a Cult by Eric Holmberg and The Apologetics Group. You can get their DVD's at http://www.theapologeticsgroup.com/ .


This video is called, "Defining and Defending Authentic Christianity" and you can click here to get it yourself.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Response To A Comment Posted About Calvinism

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Since posting this blog entry, some confusion has aroused about the intent of the person we responded to. The original title was, "Are Calvinists Unloving? - Response to A Comment Posted." We titled it this because of the response that was given to us by this person that included statements such as, "Calvinism does not regard Love for One another", "One problem I have with Calvinism, is there is no understanding given as to the importance of having love for one another. Love for one another is what would be required to be considered holy, or sanctified.", "The Calvinistic view sees it as something that is suggested.", and "Second, Calvinism does not regard Love for One another, the law of the New Testament as something we must do." We came to the conclusion he was saying Calvinists were unloving because of the comments he kept making. We're sorry if we misreprented him. You can read the entire discourse yourself and make up your own mind. We have now changed it to the above title, to hopefully clear up the misunderstanding.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is a comment that was posted about the Election Pure And Simple sermon we posted by Jeff Noblit. Andy made a lengthy response and we figured others might benefit from this response, so we posted it for everyone to read. We left the user's name anonymous.

Here is the original comment written:

Hi thanks for the reply. I'm not hostile toward Calvinism. I'm also not Arminean. I developed my Faith from the understanding of the Greek words for Righteousness and Holiness. In Romans Six, Paul finishes a run on a pattern that ends in 'everlasting life' following holiness, which follows 'righteousness'. In the verse I am refering to, 19, I believe, Paul says, "The benefit we reap". This is "Righteousness". However, if there is any doubt, it is identified earlier in the chapter.I did not need to listen to the entire audio to understand what the minister was saying. In fact, you clarified this for me when you stated what Armenians believe.One problem I have with Calvinism, is there is no understanding given as to the importance of having love for one another. Love for one another is what would be required to be considered holy, or sanctified. This is an act and it is involved in the last part of the formulat Paul lays out for us in Romans six. The Calvinistic view sees it as something that is suggested. Because, 'I'm chosen and God is taking me to Heaven even if I will not to go' type theology.Anyway, I can understand why you don't understand what I am saying. First, I did not care to write very much. Second, Calvinism does not regard Love for One another, the law of the New Testament as something we must do. And third, getting saved does not mean a person will go to Heaven.I do not have a harsh tone in writing this. I am just running through it.I wrote a manuscript at link Love One Another .It may take some time for us to understand what each of us believes. However, if the two of you (I'm not sure who I am writing to) would like to discuss it, I will take the time to correspond with you. J-

This is Andy's response:

Hello, J-. This is Andy, Melissa’s husband. From your comment, “there is no understanding given as to the importance of having love for one another,” I must disagree with your opinion. In your opinion, what is it that makes Calvinists unloving? If you would ever hang around with a group of Calvinists like we do Sunday after Sunday, I feel as if your opinion would change. When Melissa and I began attending our current church, we were both amazed at just how loving and welcoming each member of the congregation was toward us and each other. By comparison, our prior church, an Assemblies of God church, people were in their own cliques and did not talk to us much. We kept to ourselves. At this current Calvinist/Reformed church, strangers approach us and welcome us all the time. As far as they are concerned, we might not even be saved, yet they continue to welcome us, invite us over to get to know us better, and go out of their way to make us feel welcome.

Before service, we hear stories in our evangelism class, how members befriend coworkers or total strangers, build relationships over extensive amounts of time, and eventually share the Gospel with them. When Calvinists are the ones who take the time to do this, how is it they can still be unloving? The only possible explanation I can see for your rationale is that you have had some bad experiences with people you think are Calvinists. That is a shame. I am sorry that has happened to you.

In reality, there are people who are like you describe as Calvinists. People who you call “Calvinists” are actually more like “Hyper-Calvinists” or “Fundamentalists.” I can totally see where someone would say that a hyper-Calvinist would be unloving. But I assure you that true Calvinists are among the most loving people you will meet. If you come away with an encounter with a professing Calvinist thinking the way you currently do, you probably did not meet with a true Calvinist.

Maybe people think Calvinists are unloving because they talk about sin. Most people in this country do not understand sin’s relationship to the Gospel. Calvinists understand that we need to have a proper understanding of our sin and how it offends a holy God in order to be convicted of sin and brought to repentance from sin. How can we repent of sin and be saved from sin’s penalty, eternal hell, if we remove references to it from the gospel?

As far as Jeff Noblit (the one who you listened to briefly) is concerned, I can tell you that we have met him personally and he is a very nice man. The last thing you would ever think about him is that he is unloving. Same for Paul Washer. We have met him personally as well and came away from meeting Paul that he was one of the nicest guys we have ever met. We can say that about both Paul and Jeff. Keep in mind, in these meetings we met these men for the first time. They had no idea we were truly saved. They could have thought we were unsaved, professing Christians because they were meeting us for the first time and most people in this country have a incorrect understanding of the Gospel because we have removed references to sin and hell from it largely. They were so nice to us. In fact, Jeff invited us to lunch with him when we take our trip to visit his church. Isn’t that a loving thing to do?

Again, for anyone to think a Calvinist is unloving, they would have to do exactly what you did: only listen to them for a few minutes, form an opinion based on those few minutes and stick to it. In fact, it sounds to me like you may have formed a quick, uninformed opinion based on a brief experience with one Calvinist, from which you made blanket statements about all Calvinists. That sounds to me like what many people today call being “judgmental,” something which the Bible condemns. If you would give them a chance, you would see your assessment is not accurate. I hope this will encourage you to give us Calvinists more of a chance in the future.

Another point, if we get upset at religious hypocrisy, is that unloving? Many times hypocrisy upsets Calvinists. Hypocrites hear upset Calvinists and call Calvinists unloving. Washer talks frequently about the differences between hypocritical professing Christians and Biblical Christians. I ask you to refer to Matthew 21 when Jesus cleared the temple of the religious hypocrites who were running businesses from inside God’s house. Was that an unloving thing Jesus did? When Jesus repeatedly got frustrated with the Pharisees because of their attempts to try to trap him with their hypocrisy, was he unloving as He revealed their error to them. When Jesus shared the Gospel with the woman at the well, he told her she was an adulterer. Was that an unloving thing to do? When Jesus called the Pharisees “Hypocrites” at least seven times in Matthew 23, was that an unloving thing to do? He pointed out the hypocrisy in their lives.

Calvinists do the same thing to the professing Christians who have the incorrect understanding of man and God (I refer here to the Arminian versus Calvinist view of man’s inherent nature and God’s view of that same nature). Are Calvinists any different when they try to lovingly correct people’s misunderstandings about themselves and God? When people tell you signs that accompany genuine conversion and encourage people to examine themselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) to see if their faith is genuine, don’t they do that because they want to see them genuinely converted? Isn’t that a loving thing to do? Would it be unloving for them to let people with incorrect understandings of the Gospel to continue in those incorrect understandings and ultimately perish in eternal hell as a result?

Calvinists instill fear in people sometimes because that contributes to saving faith (Proverbs 16:6). In the book of Romans, Paul repeatedly alludes to the Law’s role in salvation. Is sharing Commandments with people unloving? Paul says it is necessary to bring knowledge of sin (Romans 7). Jesus did it personally (Matthew 5, Matthew 15, Matthew 19). Jesus brought the knowledge of sin. Is it okay for Him to do, but unloving for us to do? Aren’t Christians supposed to imitate Christ? These are all things Calvinists do? Are Calvinists unloving because they interpret the Bible more strictly than other groups who justify how so many things the Bible clearly says “do not apply today”?

It’s funny to me how whenever someone actually tries to do what the Bible actually says and point it out to other people they are legalistic or unloving. I hope you do not think I am being unloving here. I am not trying to be unloving at all. Rather I am trying to illustrate how the Bible supports my stance, that we need to talk about sin in order to see people genuinely saved. However, there are other people I know who would probably say I was being unloving or intolerant by supporting my opinions with the Bible. I am sure my tone sounds unloving or preachy, but I am really trying to be as nice as possible. All you see is words. You could not get a gauge on my calm tone from reading this. Hope this helps, and God bless!

Andy

Click on the comment section on this post and the post called, "Election Pure and Simple" for the rest of the dialogue between us and J-.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Election Pure And Simple - Jeff Noblit

Has the doctrine of election always been something that was very confusing or hard to understand? Have you never gotten a good, simple explanation of election? If not, this will be of great benefit to you, even if you think you may understand it already. Also, on the Amazing Grace DVD by The Apologetics Group, it speaks about this subject as well among other things, and we HIGHLY recommend it. Click here for more info. He also discusses the common objections against election and he refutes them.

What is election pure and simple? -

"We come to the third view of election and that is what I call election pure and simple. Election pure and simple, and I want you to hear very clearly this very simple definition.... God chose those whom He would save, and He secured their salvation. God chose those whom He would save AND He secured their salvation. From before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 4 and other texts, God elected, chose, selected those He would save. And then in time and space history, He sent His Son to die. His Son paid for the sins of His people on the cross. And then also in time and space history, He called those whom He had chosen, whom His Son paid their sin debt to come to Himself and believe in Him and be everlastingly saved. That's election. Pure and simple." ~ Jeff Noblit

"This little ol' pitiful god of the Arminian, this little ol' anemic, impotent little God that sits in heaven and wrings his hands and hopes somebody might receive him and accept him somehow and make poor little ol' Jesus feel better about dying on the cross. Hogwash! That's not what God teaches! God teaches that all of those whom Jesus Christ paid for on the cross who are foreknown and predestined will be called, will be saved, will be glorified and Christ's holy bride will be complete in heaven for all eternity, just as God designed from the foundation of the world!" ~ Jeff Noblit



You can find it by clicking here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Can You Really Rededicate Your Life To God?



“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.” (Hebrews 6:4-8)

Have you ever professed faith in Christ after being convicted of your sin, and having a correct understanding of the Gospel, only to turn away, reverting back to your previous life of blatant disregard for your sin and God’s other commands? Have you ever confessed your sins to God, and walked the Christian walk for a time, (it seems that feeling the weight of your sin and how it creates this insurmountable gulf between you and your Creator is the feeling one needs to get before God can genuinely convert someone. This feeling would be that to which the writer of Hebrews refers when he alludes to the “once enlightened”) only to turn back to your fleshly lusts rather than a life lived for God?

Some people feel like they have God’s Spirit living in them and may even exhibit some of the signs of conversion. They may have turned one time from sin in apparent repentance. The Word may have at one time come alive to them. They may have had a passion for the things of God. The difference between these and the genuinely converted, however, is that the genuine converts continue to exhibit these signs, albeit not perfectly, as a pattern of life. There is a growing in the things of God over time in the true converts. In the false converts, there is stagnation over the long haul, perhaps even an abandonment of God. They neglect to feel the sting of their sin as God’s word reveals it to them. They try to hide references to sin in themselves or in others out of fear of offending them. They continue to compare themselves to other people, rather than to God’s perfect standard. When they compare themselves to other people, they think themselves to be clean and others unclean. They justify themselves.

About the only thing that differentiates the false converts from the non-churched world is the fact that false converts keep a few religious observances throughout the week. The stagnant false converts continue to read their Bibles, go to church, pray, and look spiritual, but they neglect to obtain the deeper understanding of God’s word. The false converts eventually revert back to their old ways, almost completely turning their back on God, continuing to live in fornication, adultery, covetousness, lying, blaspheming, and hating, with little to no regard for God’s vehement distaste with such actions. Whenever they hear the truth about sin and God’s holiness and righteousness, they try to change the subject. They say things like, “My god is a god of love, peace, joy and gentleness.” They completely neglect God’s holiness, wrath, and justice. Some may not explicitly commit these violations, but condone those who do. They might continue to go to a church that speaks only about the cushy attributes of God, or do seemingly religious activities to put up the Christian façade that the aforementioned sins unmask as rank hypocrisy.

These groups who might have briefly “tasted the heavenly gift,” partook of the Holy Spirit, looked like they had been converted, and possibly experienced what looked like God’s power. If they do fall away in such a catastrophic manner, or continue to live with the wrong understanding of God and the Gospel and remain unwilling to change, it must be said that they were never genuinely converted in the first place. God never did a true work in these people. They would be the stony ground hearer Jesus spoke of in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13). If they had been genuinely converted, the signs that accompany conversion (1 John) would have remained over the long haul. Remember, these people continue to blatantly disregard God’s word and do not obey it. They may continue to look Christian on the outside, but there is no evidence of a transformed life within them. They do not exhibit the reality that God has separated them from sin unto Himself. This will be evident by their lifestyle. They will continue to do everything just like the rest of the world does, except they will spend Sunday morning in a pew. They feel no Godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10) over sin. Rather, they feel worldly sorrow, which leads to death, as in the case of Judas after Jesus’ death. They live in sin and condone the behaviors of those who do.

It is these people that the writer of Hebrews says, upon rededication, “crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” They might repent. After time, however, they will fall away again and the vicious cycle of repent, fall away, repent fall away, repeats. By continually disregarding His commands, refusing to change when the Word shows them their lifestyle is wrong, they put Him to an open shame. If they loved Him like they profess, they would keep His commands (John 14:21). The writer of Hebrews says it is impossible for these to be renewed to genuine repentance. They can dedicate and rededicate all they want when they feel “empty,” but the writer of Hebrews seems to say that it will not matter. Their professed faith was meaningless, otherwise they would have stayed the course. They have avoided the true God for such a long time that it might now be impossible for them to be renewed to genuine repentance.

True and false converts, wheat and tares, sheep and goats can be separated by the fruit they bear (Matthew 7:16-20; Matthew 25:14-30). If there is no fruit from holy living, no separation from sin unto God, no separation from the world unto God, there never was conversion. The longer false converts continue lacking fruit, suppressing God’s truth (Romans 1:18), the more likely it is that they will never truly understand what true conversion looks like and God will hide Himself from them (Isaiah 59:1-2) so He will never save them.

So please, if you doubt whether your conversion is genuine, “examine yourself” (2 Corinthians 13:5). 1 John has a number of tests of conversion. Do like Peter says and “make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). If you justify yourself, thinking you are fine that “this does not apply to you,” you might be one of those the Hebrews writer refers to. Repent and trust in Christ to save you once and for all. You might not have tomorrow. Thank you!

Andy

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Jehovah's Witness Doctrine Radically Opposes Biblical Doctrine

This is an excellent video explaining how JW doctrine radically opposes Bible doctrine. My source of truth is the Bible, God's word - Not a society created by mere men. I would recommend that you pause the video periodically to read the pages as the text is long and small. The hope here is that Christians can better defend their faith by these videos.

This video is called, "Corrections For Jehovah's Witnesses (Part 1)." Click here to get the video yourself.

The Jehovah's Witnesses Beliefs About Jesus

This is a link for a great video that shows how JW doctrine differs drastically in parts from what the Bible actually teaches. Unfortunately, the You Tube user will not permit people to embed his videos, so we have to use his page to see them, which is fine. The hope here is that Christians will better be able to defend their faith against false teachings. To hetgow: I appreciate your work. Thank you.

Click here to watch the video.