(The following is very personal, and most likely will be controversial to some, in particular to many Christians. It is not my intention to be controversial, I’m just sharing my own journey and how that has led me to what I believe today.)
The Summer following my Junior year in college I stayed in Fort Worth, TX where I was going to school and had a job at a regional food manufacturer. It was 1989, I had just turned 21 and was living by myself at the time. I was unhappy and had been all of my Junior year. Looking back I now understand why but at the time I did not fully grasp what I was wrestling with. I was searching for meaning and was not finding it in School or what others were telling me it should be.
While in the office of my boss I saw a flyer he was working on for a Church. It was not affiliated with a denomination which drew my attention. I inquired about the Church and he invited me to come to the next meeting, it was in a hotel, ‘that’s odd’ I thought… but it was a relatively new congregation. Now Christianity was nothing new to me, I grew up going to Church every Sunday, sometimes Sunday evening (which I loathed), and many times on Wed evening. Texas Southern Baptist, old school to boot. Hymns, choir, wooden pews, and pass the collection plate. Fire and brimstone preaching; fear, guilt, shame… ahh good times. My 6th grade summer at Bible Camp I finally succumbed to the emotional appeals and ‘gave my life to Jesus’. I was serious about it at the time, though in hindsight I’m unable to ascertain as to what various factors propelled me to make the decision. I don’t remember making any significant changes and went about my merry mischievous ways. I continued going to Church every Sunday, but not by choice, until I left home for college.
During the 2nd semester of my Freshman year I tripped on acid and had a ‘unique’ experience. This was not the first time I had dropped acid, but the first time… well that’s a story unto itself. Let’s just say I was drunk, stoned, and then the acid kicked in. I don’t remember much, but I ended up being jolted awake to find myself at the wheel of my moving car in a field… it took at second jolt for me to take control of the car and bring it to a stop. This shook my tree but did not change my behavior, still today do not believe I was just lucky, supernatural/spiritual forces were at work. So this 2nd trip was in my dorm room with my roommate. Who very much was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, which from this point forward I will refer to with the acronym WSC. The best way I can describe it is I saw many faces of evil… in his face. This experience was alarming and was the impetus for me to return to the church of my youth. But something happen I did not expect. The person who tried to ‘minister’ to me I realized could not help me, that he simply did not understand, that he was incapable. I did not understand why this was, I just recognized the reality of it. The college class at the church was a sad depressed group of people. I realize now that I was looking for spiritual help in a place that was spiritually dead. I went to this church for a few months but eventually stopped, and did not attend church until the summer of ’89.
So 2 years later here I am at Church again, in a hotel, next door to a psychic fair. And then the music starts. And there are no hymns, and I am captivated by the music. It touches me on a very deep emotional level. And so begins my journey to be a ‘real’ Christian. I make the distinction of real versus religious. I am unsure why but from the very beginning of this walk I wanted to be authentic. I did not want to ‘act’ like a Christian, I wanted to ‘be’ one. And so I took the scripture, ‘Be in the world, not of it’ seriously. I stopped watching TV/Movies and listening to secular music, reading secular books, I stopped using alcohol and drugs (though at this point in time I wasn’t really doing either), I even stopped dating and at the time was dating a ‘Christian’ girl. I made a sincere effort to unplug from the world and plug into Christianity… evangelical Christianity that is. I was sincere, earnest, and authentic in my desire to be a true disciple of Jesus. I read the Bible and prayed every night for at least an hour. I started to play on the ‘Worship Team’ and eventually I was doing Church activities at least 4 times a week. Sunday Service, home group (bible study), prayer/intercession group, and worship team practice. This basic lifestyle went on for at least 3 years.
Side-note: The small church I attended had an interesting formation. The church was founded by a pastor and small group of members from another church. The reason they left the other church was because all the pastors had been required to sign a document stating that miracles no longer occurred. Talk about ‘ye of little faith’. The pastor refused to sign and I believe resigned. And he and the members who agreed with his stance, and had the courage to act, left and started a new fellowship, a ‘trinity fellowship’ of sorts.
I had a real spiritual experience. I attribute the core of this to learning to; Be still and know. That after I read the Bible and prayed that I needed to spend time listening. Quiet my mind and spirit and listen… meditation? And I did, to a degree. I was very plugged in to this small congregation and so experienced much of the drama and politics as well. Much of which was very anti-christian from my perspective. I began to realize that there were not many who were as serious and committed as I was. I had encounters where I felt like I was being ‘discouraged’ from being so committed. This church, though much more ‘spiritual’ than my Baptist experience, was still falling short somehow. Though we understood the Religion of the denominations we had come from, we were oblivious to our own.
I made a sincere effort to be a follower and disciple of Jesus, in particular as is defined in the four Gospels; Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. The four books that are suppose to be about Jesus, and purport to have words from his very mouth. Not from the Old Testament, nor the writings of Paul, not from the popular Christian ‘Book of the Month’ author or radio host. So when I speak about Religion, when I write about Christianity, when I espouse on spiritual matters you the reader understand where I am coming from. My observations and criticisms come from someone who was there. Who grew up in the Religion of Christianity, and later who tried to ‘be’ a disciple of Jesus, who desperately did NOT want to be religious.
For the record I felt like I successful in some aspects of being a disciple, and failed miserably in others. Ultimately though I believe I fell short. I got to the point where… let me describe it visually. I was on a mountain at a cliff edge, and it was very foggy, and I could not see where my next step would lead. And I felt that God was calling me to make ‘the leap of faith’, to trust and jump into the unknown. I was very aware of this position, and stood for months… maybe years at that precipice… but eventually slowly walked off the mountain. I believe now that certainly part of this ‘leap of faith’ was about completely letting go of the world, trusting that the Creator will take care of my needs, basically living the life described in Matthew Chapter 6.
But during this time I was still ridiculously naive and ignorant. Even though I understood Spiritual Warfare was real… I did not grasp the reality of it. Even though I knew WSC (wolves in sheep’s clothing) were real, they weren’t at my church, they were at the church across the street, the denomination down the road. In hindsight I now believe my little non-denominational evangelical church was thick with WSC, those who practice the dark arts, occultists… witches and warlocks. I am quite certain of this.
On of the core foundational teachings of Jehoshua (yes Jehoshua, for that is the original Hebrew name, Jesus is a ‘translation’, we commonly know Jehoshua as Joshua from the Old Testament. So at the very least we should call him Joshua. The correct pronunciation is; yeh·hō·shü’·ah The word/name Jesus is a creation of man, and is inaccurate. Jehoshua was a common name. You do see them equate Jehoshua as Jehovah. But how you get Jesus from Jehoshua or Jehovah is beyond me) is about Truth.
Side-note: Back in 2005 I discovered Blue Letter Bible; http://www.blueletterbible.org/ Writing this post I used it extensively to research definitions, find scriptures, and copy text. Two items I like in particular are the numerous different Versions of the Bible one can reference and in particular the ability to see the Greek and drill down into the definitions of the Greek words. You can drill down into the Hebrew in the OT as well.
In hindsight I now see why I had such a change, such a deep spiritual experience. One was that I stopped consuming the toxic garbage of the world; TV, movies, radio, newspaper, magazines, books. And second I learned how to still myself and listen to the Creator. You can’t hear what the Creator is saying if you are reading, if you are listening to something, if you are talking, if your mind is racing. It was only after I put down the Bible, and after I stopped praying, that I was able to hear and be ministered to from the Creator.
Maybe the most critical verses in the Gospels are John 17:13-19, Be in the world, not of it. If it was bad 2000 years ago… well what is it today? It is multiple factors worse today, magnitudes more toxic. Frankly compared to the malaise we are bombarded with today, it was a walk in the park 2000 years ago.
Christianity in the USA is spiritually dead today. This is not by accident, this was done deliberately. This is the result of organization, infiltration, religion… instead of following the simple teachings of Jehoshua. Of course the Church in America is spiritual dead; when the parishioners gorge themselves on the pleasures of the flesh all week and then spend 1 hour at Church, when the pastor/priest/minister expose themselves to the toxic mass media as much as their congregation does, when the preacher caters to those who worship money and wealth. Spiritually dead leaders have spiritually dead congregations.
The Church in American is spiritually dead by design. For spiritually asleep people are far easier to deceive and therefor control than those who are spiritually aware, spiritually healthy. Jehoshua did not teach others to create a Religion, he was anti-religion. Who were the opponents of Jehoshua? Who were the ones that Jehoshua conflicted with? Primarily it was the religious. Priests; who represented the official Religion of Judaism. Sadducees; who were made made up of the wealthier class, who now would be considered conservative, traditional, observed the written law only. Pharisees; who would now be considered progressive, representing the common man, followed the oral law. Imo it would be accurate to think of the Pharisees and Sadducees as denominations. Scribes and Teachers; who represented the official doctrine of religion, both written and spoken, masters of the ‘word’. The Money Changers; the only group he got physical with, the Herodians; Jews who supported Roman rule, and in particular of King Herod, and Lawyers; those who govern by written law. Jehoshua conflicted with ALL these groups.
All these different groups represented the different systems of control that were being used to control the people. Religion, Government, Money, Law. Why did the Pharisees conspire with the Herodians against Jehoshua? The Pharisees and Sadducees were at odds with one another but in agreement in their distaste of Jehoshua. The Pharisees despised Roman rule. And yet they worked with the Herodians? Why did all these groups dislike Jehoshua so strongly that they would work together? Why was his message such a threat?
What are the core foundations of Jehoshua’s message? Truth, rejection of material things, direct access to God, freedom, treat others as you would want to be treated, forgiveness, non-aggression, simple living.
The core of Jehoshua’s message is a direct assault on the different systems of control. It was rejecting both the Religious/Law/Government rule of Judaism, and the Government/Law/Military/Money rule of the Romans.
Parable of the Seeds, Matt 13:3-23, in which a sower sows seed among the way side, the stones, the thorns, and the good earth.
Matt 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.
This verse perfectly describes the USA today. The life that Jehoshua encourages people to live is in direct opposition to Capitalism, Consumerism, Corporatism… ‘The American Dream’. And what organizations dominate the USA now? The USA was primarily founded by two groups. Those seeking religious freedom, people who wanted to worship/serve God without someone else telling them how/when/where to do it. The other group were merchants. The pursuit of profit. And one of their primary sources of energy (labor) was indentured servants, voluntary slavery. It is clear today that ‘profit’ has trumped ‘prophet’ in America and in much of the world.
One of Jehoshua’s core messages is rejecting the different systems of control. That these are systems created by man to rule and control the people. So then those who choose to live what Jehoshua taught, they are a threat to any governing body. Be it Religious, Governmental, Law, or Money.
In fact those who followed Jehoshua became a large enough group that the Roman Emperor Constantine needed to get control of them, in particular because there had become much infighting amongst the different groups(beliefs) of Christians. The Edict of Milan (freedom of religion without persecution and returning property of Christians that had been confiscated), Council of Nicaea, Constantine’s conversion to Christianity. Proclaiming Christianity the official religion of Rome, through the “Edict of Thessalonica”. Creation of the Roman Catholic Church, Holy Roman Empire, creation of the official New Testament and the King James Bible. See a trend? Emperors, Kings, Official declarations. Why are those who are 100% about CONTROL, embracing a ideology that is 100% against it? Something does not add up here. Something does not add up because those who rule cannot tolerate a movement that is anti rule. If you can’t beat them, join them. Well… yes, but they had no intention of being disciples or followers of Jehoshua. The true saying is if you can’t beat them, subvert them. You can’t control an ideology, but if we can turn that ideology into an organization… well one can easily control an ‘official’ organization, and thus was born the Roman Catholic Church.
Why was the Roman government confiscating Christians belongings? Because they were not paying tribute (tax) to the Roman government! Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars. If we do not use his money, we owe him no tax.
Frankly by the time we get to Constantine (who reigned from 306-337 AD) the message and ideology of Jehoshua has long since been turned into a Religion. One of the primary purposes of the Council of Nicaea was to put down these other followers of Jehoshua who did subscribe to what by then had become the ‘official’ words and beliefs of those who were part of the Religion of Christianity. The Nicaea Canon’s are about control; rules, doctrine, dogma!
Jehoshua’s message was violently opposed whilst he was alive. Multiple conspiracies against him, traitors, wolves in sheep’s clothing. Do you think opposition ended when Jehoshua was gone? Jehoshua’s teachings, his message, his lifestyle were subverted. Those who control infiltrated and enticed enough people who at least claimed to be followers of Jehoshua to establish the official Religion of Christianity. Really it’s amazing. They turned Jehoshua’s anti-religion, anti-government, anti-control message into a Religion of Control, created and endorsed by the ruling Government.
WSC, subversion, infiltration, hijacking, co-option These are the tools of those who work in secret. These are the strategies used to destroy from within. This is why no organization is going to change our current corrupt, toxic, deceptive systems of control. Jehoshua teachings were not about creating an organization or religion, of course not, he was opposed to the religious organizations.
In the New Testament in Matt & Luke Chap 4, John 12:31 the devil or Satan is identified as the current ruler of the world. In John 8:44 Satan is identified as the Father of Lies. So, assuming you believe these scriptures then what conclusion can we make? That we live in a time of great transparency and honesty or a time of great secrets and deception? That is a question you must answer for yourself.
From my own travails, investigations, and insights I can but ONLY conclude thus; regardless of what you believe in, whether it be; Jesus, God, Allah, FSM, whether you worship something/someone/no one, whether you believe in God(s), a Creator, or are an atheist. The one absolute truth I know is this; We live in an age of unprecedented deception. In large part due to the rise of mass media, through print(books, magazine, newspaper), music (radio), video (TV, movies), and now the amalgamation of all three the Internet connected device. We are literally awash in it. It is equivalent to being in the midst of an avalanche that never stops.