Baptism of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh

I’m going to attempt to speak for a moment on something within the Church that we have to be careful about, but first, let me give a brief history of how I came to be where I am in my own walk with Christ.  Ruach Ha-Kodesh is “Holy Spirit” in Hebrew, by the way.

I grew up from a baptist background.  My mom and dad divorced when I was three years old.  My mom remarried when I was five.  I don’t remember much about her involvement with any church accept during my years from five up until a couple years before she divorced my step dad.  My step dad was very physically abusive of my mom.  He was also a church deacon.  He had a Jekyll and Hyde complex.  He was a completely different person around others…peaceful, meek, etc.. but at home he was this angry tyrant who sent my mom to the ER several times and cracked her ribs at least once that I can remember.   I have memories of being woken up at 2AM by the sounds of my step dad hitting my mom and then being dragged out of the house by my mom as she ran off to my much older half sister’s house for a night or two. She divorced him just in time too, because at the age of 10 I was beginning to contemplate a plan on how to kill him and had every intention of executing it with zero remorse.

Later on, I would be diagnosed as being dislexic by 5th grade.  My mom would pull me out of public school under the advisement of someone from Peabody University and I was placed into a school with a much lower student to teacher ratio, a private Christian school.  This school was being run by an Independent Baptist church.  My mom never got involved in the church…she was too busy working nights during the week and recovering on the weekends.  Of course, I would get invited to church but never could go, so I would get proselytized in school.  Under peer pressure, I ended up confessing the Lord as my savior in the 8th grade, but the facade didn’t last long.

My freshmen year of high school, I took biology.  About half way through the school year, we were given an essay project.  We were to write an essay picking one of several theories and defend the creationist side of the theory while debunking the evolutionary side.  Well, I ended up doing the exact opposite and went into great scientific detail in my arguments.  My creationist science teacher gave me a D for my scientific thoroughness, but pulled me aside and had a talk with me about my newly expressed views.  Well, that turned into a concerned meeting with the principal of the school.  Neither my teacher nor my principal could change my views on the subject.  Eventually I ended up denouncing the existence of G-d because I had reached the same conclusion that countless atheists before me had.  That if the universe appears to be old, based on our scientific observations, yet the bible says it was created in seven days and is the earth is only thousands of years old, then either a) G-d intentionally made the earth to look older than it actually was and is a great liar or b) G-d simply doesn’t exist and never did.  I went with option b.  It seemed the most logical conclusion at the time.

I debated the existence of G-d with my teachers, sometimes openly in class.  I debated the existence of G-d with my Youth Pastor.  I debated the existence of G-d with my principal multiple times.  The ironic thing is that none of this ever got back to my mom, at least not that I know of.  One day, I got my grandfather alone and tried to convince him of the lack of evidence of G-d’s existence.  He was the only family member I did that with though, mainly because he was also partially suffering from dementia and I knew if I brought it up with him, it wouldn’t be discussed with my mom.  Eventually, it got to the point where I was getting frustrated with people at my school who didn’t see things like I did.  So I took my bible and I defaced it all through it from front to back as an expression of my disbelief and nonacceptance of G-d’s Word.  My bible became titled the “unholy bible” as I mocked G-d in various parts of it.  I felt better having gotten that off my chest.  I shoved that bible in a drawer in my bedroom where my mom wouldn’t find it.  I never really wanted to confront her with my views, no matter how correct I thought I was.

I began to come to the conclusion that people created G-d in the image of themselves.  That, psychologically and emotionally, they needed the idea of G-d to explain away the things that they couldn’t understand or control.  The idea of G-d was an emotional crutch for the weak minded.  That’s exactly what I came to believe.

I went off to college at UT Knoxville.  During the freshman orientation, the dean of the school gave a speech.  In that speech, he said “as we become more educated, we tend to become less religious.”  I was in atheist heaven.  I couldn’t have agreed more.  We were to be tolerant of the weaker minded among us and understand that they are just suffering from a form of mass psychosis.  A mental anomaly in the evolution of man that would eventually be superseded by a more advanced level of intelligence.  That is how evolution works, and if it didn’t, as a society we would find a cure for this mental illness.

After college I would befriend a Christian woman at my workplace.  I found her to be equally as stubborn in her views as I was and we would debate back and forth on G-d’s existence until she was too frustrated to debate anymore.  Then we would start the whole cycle all over again another time.  No person could ever change my mind.  No person ever did.

In December of 1995, I was driving from seeing my mom over the holidays in Nashville back to my home in Knoxville.  Christmas had become a meaningless holiday for me.  It was all about pretend and make believe as far as I was concerned. The more I thought about it, the more irritated I got.  Somewhere on I-40 between Nashville and Knoxville and opened my mouth, thinking out loud like I often did, and I said “If there ever was a god, he would have to come down here and show me that he exists.”  I’m not really sure why I said that.  I didn’t even believe in a god or anything supernatural at the time.  To me it was all a joke.  Apparently, though, G-d held me legally accountable for opening that door with my words and He indeed revealed Himself to me.  I had a Saul to Paul experience right there in the car going down the interstate.

Time stopped for me during those moments.  I felt His presence fill the car and I broke down sobbing.  Images of my life flashed before me and I saw many instances of where He was right there with me every moment of my life, protecting me from several near death moments in my life.  I could give examples of those moments, but I won’t in this post.  The feeling that I felt was so powerful that I didn’t want it to leave, but eventually I had to go back.  I realized about 50 miles of interstate had passed by.

It took me about 4 years after that to begin to accept G-d’s written Word as authoritative.  My female friend I used to debate so much helped with that, she gave me a book by Josh McDowell called “A Ready Defense” that approached scripture from the angle I needed it approached from…the intellectual skeptic.  Using literary analysis, Josh proved the authoritativeness of the bible in an intellectually satisfying way.  Later, I befriended a pastor/air force chaplin who would drag me off to these studies by Dutch Sheets called “Becoming Who You Are”.  Part way through that study is where I uttered the word “metanoia” alone in the car, not knowing until my next Dutch Sheets class that metanoia was a Greek word that meant “a change in ones mind” and was the very topic of our next study.  That really got my attention.  G-d always does things like that when He wants to get my attention.

At the same time that I was doing this study, I had also become heavily involved in an internet Christian chat site called Worthy Chat.  That is where I would eventually meet my second wife, Jenny, who would be a huge blessing in my life.  Before I started talking to her though, I had become drawn to this older Orthodox Jewish lady who believed that Jesus was the Messiah. We talked a lot and she helped me in clearing a lot of the misconceptions I had about scripture from my Baptist Christian School past and I found that we were very much like minded in our views on doctrine, which I found very fascinating. There was a huge unorganized Jewish Messianic group of individuals on that chat site, and I was heavily drawn to that.

You see, some of the baptist doctrinal teachings were kind of wonky in the late 80’s and in fact, contradicted various parts of scripture.  I was taught that dancing was a sin and yet David danced for example.  There were many such anomalies in their teachings that only reinforced my atheist views and became ammunition for debate by using their own bible against them as it was “full of contradictions” as far as I was concerned.  It took a Jew to help me reconcile what I was hearing from G-d with what I was reading from G-d.  I knew what I was hearing was truth.  I knew the truth and over time, I would find that the written Word that I had so much mistrust in would confirm what was already planted in my heart.

Ok, now that you know the path I have come from spiritually, let me say this.  There is a segment of the Christian community that want to over spiritualize things.  Yes, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in operation today.  I believe in the active operation of the prophetic, divine healings, etc.  But those are not to be the main focus of our walks.  It alarms me when people try to make them the main focus.  There is this view that people don’t receive the Baptism of the Holy Ghost until after they are saved, as if there is another, extra layer to put on.  Well, I received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost at the same time that I received my salvation, in that car going down the interstate in 1995.

Unfortunately, we have a tendency to become legalistic.  That works with both the written law and making up our own laws like one saying that there is a second baptism of the Holy Spirit. No where in scripture does it say that at some point after we accept Christ that we receive a second baptism.  Either His spirit is poured out on all flesh in the last days or it isn’t.  You can’t have it both ways.  The Holy Spirit was in the beginning and His Ruach is mentioned even in the very first part of Genesis.  The only thing new about the Holy Spirit is that after Calvary, it was poured out onto all flesh.

What it does say in Matt 3:11, Mark 1:8 Luke 3:16 and John 1:33 is that after Calvary (one is coming soon), Jesus will baptize us in spirit and fire.  Baptism, or immersion is nothing new either.  People went to the ceremonial pools, which were present at every synagogue for a ritual cleansing through immersion before Calvary.  I think what these verses are saying is that like everything else, the duties of the High Priest (which John the Baptist should have been by all legal rights if you research it out) were being passed on solely to Jesus for dispersion to all who follow Him.  Not that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is something separate from water baptism, but in conjunction with the salvation experience.

This article says it quite well:

What is says at the very end is what I believe:

“The danger of this phenomena is the potential division of the body of Christ into two categories: those who are “regular” Christians and those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. This, of course, would be an incorrect way of looking at Christians, and this is why. If you were to step outside into a soft mist, it would take a long time to get completely wet. On the other hand, if you were to step into a torrential rain, you’d be drenched quickly.

Those who have not experienced the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (meaning a sudden and powerful experience) are not second-class citizens by any means. They are the ones in the gentle mist who experience the Lord over a long period of time and get just as blessed as those who suddenly step into the torrent of the Spirit’s presence. In fact, the Baptism of the Spirit can be a pitfall since so many people who have experienced it long for it again–almost to the point of putting the validity of their faith in the experience instead of the clear teaching of the word of God.

We must all be careful not to fall in our strengths as well as our weaknesses.”

Why homosexuality is a hot topic these days

What real doctors say on this subject.

1. “Congratulations, it’s a boy!”
2. “Congratulations, it’s a girl!”

3. “Um, I’m not really sure what this is.” – no doctor, ever.

I realize that there are extremely rare instances of birth defects during the gestational period, but even in those extremely rare cases one part is functional and the other is not. I have authoritative references on that if anyone is dumb enough to try to dispute the above statement.

This is always considered a medical/clinical defect and is in no way related to being transgender, which is a mental/psychological identity issue that has manifested itself within the individual, in my opinion, despite it being declassified as such decades ago. My opinion is based upon direct observation, BTW, and not on some emotional rant like I see from the LGBT community.

I’m not saying they are mentally handicapped.  There are many heterosexual individuals whose choices and actions are also the result of mental/psychological anomalies that have developed over the years.

My own mixed feelings about social interaction are most likely the result of one of those anomalies, but I can choose to shutdown those feelings.  Emotions can be turned off.  Military and first responders have to do this all the time.  So does anyone backed into a corner who has to shutdown various emotions temporarily in order to take action to survive.  Even emotional response is a choice.

From a biblical perspective, these are called strongholds that are buried in the subconscious.  Strongholds can be positive or negative.  Ignoring this fact and trying to say that sexual preference isn’t a choice is like saying the desire to buy a coke at the movie theater isn’t a choice

I can play devils advocate and argue that you don’t have a choice in buying a coke because I can embed images into the video playing on the screen that plants a subliminal message prompting you to go buy a coke.  Your choice is irrelevant.

Do you believe in free will or not?

If you say the homosexual lifestyle is not a choice, then you have already answered my question.

Why is same sex relationships such a big issue now?  Because the LGBT community has made it so.  I very rarely said anything about LGBT issues unless directly asked up until a few years ago.  I did this for a reason.  I don’t tell someone, who obviously doesn’t follow G-d’s Word, that what they are doing goes against G-d’s Word unless directly asked. When I used to be an atheist, the worst thing you could do is attempt to witness to me, you wouldn’t like the responses you would get and we would end up going down a very deep hole on the subject.  When asked my view on homosexuality, I had a very thought out and specific response and the person on the receiving end was usually receptive to my response, even though it was not condoning their past lifestyle choices, because they genuinely wanted an honest answer.

However, since the LGBT community is pushing this into the mainstream, I and many like me have become a lot more vocal on the subject.  It keeps being brought up in the public for discussion and has become a big political movement that has forced everyone down a very deep hole due to how it is being interwoven into all forms of media and public discussion, all without any desire for honest answers.  Knock and you shall receive, ask and it shall be given to you whether you really wanted it or not.

If you get enough drunks out in the street, alcoholism suddenly becomes a hot topic of public discussion. Show enough pics of battered wives and spousal abuse becomes a hot topic.

The hot topic of homosexual behavior will only get hotter the more public exposure it gets and the LGBT community will only get angrier and more discontent as those who choose to stand their ground on G-d’s Word dig their roots deeper into the ground and respond publicly to what the LGBT community keeps forcing into the public eye.

The world says we are all equal.  G-d says we must be set apart from the world.  By being set apart, we are not entirely equal and we never will be.  The goal of the LGBT community and the rest of the world is to destroy that which is holy.  That which is set apart.  It is the same reason as for the conflict in the middle east.

Why do I keep bringing this up?  I guess I don’t have a choice.  I was born this way…lol

For those reading this post who disagree with me:

If you comment on this and try to say that I’m a hate monger or being judgmental, then you are calling yourself a hate monger because you are making an unfounded judgment call about me based on a few paragraphs of text that happens to disagree with one of the biggest golden calf sins out there.  G-d doesn’t make one sin bigger or smaller than another.  Man does by how arrogantly he flaunts his “big” sins.  Sexual impurity, pornography and adultery are also really big or a better word is popular sins.  When a ain becomes popular, it will be a subject of discussion among Christians both private and public.  Doesn’t really matter what sin it is.  I don’t gate gay people or anyone else who actively and habitually practice a sinful lifestyle..  If I did, I wouldn’t say anything and let themthem all continue over the eternal cliff side in peace.

I will be discussing more about pornography at a later date.

Idea vs. Reality

Yesterday I mentioned on Facebook that one of my clients was trying to set me up with their assistant.  They went into great detail about what a good match we would be for each other.  They vocalized a detailed list of all these positive things about this single woman and how much better off I and my step son would be if I had someone in my life and he had a mom.  That she’s a devout Christian, never married , etc.  They even wrote down her name and phone number and gave it to me.

I have to admit, physically, the lady that was the subject of this sales pitch is attractive.  If she really did come with all the features and options trying to be sold to me like I had accidentally walked into a car dealership, I might be interested.

The idea is enticing, but the reality is far more complex I think.  Someone who I’ve only spent maybe 10 or so total hours around can’t possibly make such an assessment as to how compatible I am with someone.  I mean, I’ve known myself my whole life and I can’t honestly make that assessment.  Its something that just can’t be known without biting the bullet and actually trying to pursue something with someone.  And that is a somewhat frightening prospect.

The reality, my reality, is that I’m probably never going to get to where I was in my relationship with Jenny on a path that is as fast tracked as ours was.  My entire world has been altered, the very fact that I’m experiencing the loss of intimacy with my late wife puts a whole new spin on my ability to make good judgment calls in the relationship department.

When I say intimacy, I am talking about physical, emotional, mental and spiritual intimacy….not just the physical alone.  So every fiber of my being is disturbed and I am fairly susceptible to making bad choices at this point in my life.  If I had the choice, I wouldn’t date anyone who I haven’t known for a long time for that very reason.  I would feel less susceptible to making bad choices in that kind of situation.  That means being friends first with anyone before doing what I am not really looking foward to (to be honest), dating.

I’ve never really dated anyone.  I’ve rushed into a physical relationship with someone, despite the fact that I have never been able to separate the physical from the emotional and have only ended up hurting myself.

I know G-d’s hand was on my and Jenny’s relationship and we had the strongest and most fulfilling bond I have ever experienced but our relationship moved on a very fast track too.  By some miraculous act of G-d it didn’t explode into a disaster and instead mushroomed into more of a blessing than I could have imagined.

I guess when it comes to relationships I am either hot or cold and that can be a very good thing, but it can be a very dangerous thing with the wrong person….and even more so now.  So while I would absolutely love to have a lovely, devout Christian lady come up next to me in a budding relationship, I can’t help but feel that this is one area of my life that I need to keep the parking brake on for just a bit longer.

G-d knows what I need in the way of a helpmeet.  He knows what Matt needs in the way of a balanced father and what it will take for that to come to full fruition. He knows what she needs that I have to give.  I may have already met her.  I may have not yet.  She may not even exist for all I know and we’re supposed to continue thus journey just like we are….now that’s a scary thought…but its a real possibility.  Whatever the case, I need to proceed with extreme caution and not let the idea blur reality.

Surviving Struggles and Enduring Trials

I have had two people close to me now to tell me that I should branch out and do more on the internet in the way of posting my thoughts. I had created this site for my late wife’s newsletters to be easily accessible. Now I’m going to start posting my thoughts on here as well.

I’m not too sure what that will look like or how regular it will be, but when I feel led to post things of a spiritual, philosophical or political nature or just feel led to share a thought I will post them here first from now on and see what comes of it.

OK, I’m going to lay some stuff about myself out on the table. If you don’t know me personally, you might want to read my late wife Jenny’s Musings/Newsletters before reading any further because you might not want to read anything I have to say after reading where I am at right now at this momwnt below.

For the past year and 1 month, I’ve been going through a process after the sudden and very unexpected death of my wife. We went from having an ultrasound and doctors suspecting she had benign fybrodic cysts to stage 4a Large Cell Neuroendocrine Carcinoma of the Cervix to her drawing her last breath the first day she was in the middle of being admitted in for her first radiation treatment at Vanderbilt in a two week timeframe.

Together we had faith that G-d could heal her at anytime. Together we were strong. After she was gone, I was told how strong I was. I was told how much I was walking in faith and my calmness during the memorial service back in Crossville TN. But I really wasn’t strong and I really wasn’t calm. I was just really awesome at holding it all in.

Here I am just over a year later. I am good half the time but the other times I am not so good. I struggle with depression. I struggle with loneliness. I feel like I have lost my spiritual edge….we were asked about that at church recently and I was one of the ones who raised their hand while every head was bowed and every eye was closed. I know I have lost my joy in life. I am far from ok and yet I tell people everyday that I am alright, OK and fine. I make for an awesome liar. I’m not reading scripture daily as I should and certainly not like I used too, but I want to….just not enough to actually do it yet.

I used to follow the times of the biblical feasts. As a family, we did a Messianic observance of Passover for the three years prior to my wife’s death. We observed Friday night sabbath for a season but had fallen out of that just before my wife got sick.  I have stopped observing any of the appointed times.  For anyone not familiar with these, the woman of the house tends to play a central role.

For the first six months or so after her death, I was in complete isolation as a man. You see, she was my sole confidant. I wasn’t a very social person and didn’t really open up with or console in anyone else. So when she was removed from my life, I was in a very serious and bad place.

This spring I got connected with a small men’s group while getting plugged in at our (my step son and my’s) new home church. That was the best thing I could have done because it got me connected with other G-dly men in an environment where I could open up a little with the group and, eventually, a whole lot with one guy who is now serving as an accountability partner for me. He knows things about me now that only my wife knew about and that has helped me tremendously in the anxiety department, but it wasn’t until I was ready to completely melt down that I finally said enough is enough and sent him a text message saying we needed to talk.

Since then I’ve been overcoming some of my struggles, but I’m still in no position to play a role as a spiritual leader, nor would I want to right now. I am just getting back into helping out in ministry but I’m not qualified to lead right now. I know G-d qualifies the unqualified, but I strongly believe in giving myself more time for healing before attempting to step into places I’m not ready for yet.

Did I mention that I am horrible at giving a word of encouragement? LOL

I want my joy back.  I want to feel my spiritual edge again.

So, now that I’ve laid all that out there on the table to warn you of what you’re getting into, I will start posting on here and if you want to read it, feel free to subscribe to this blog.

I really had no idea what I was going to say when I started typing and then all of this came to me.