Monday, November 10, 2014

Glinda The Good God

Glinda - The Christian God

   Christians flabbergast me.  I know I used to be one of them, yet when you stop drinking the kool aid - and listening to Sunday and Wednesday sermons... Well, the fog lifts and you stop thinking with your other anatomy - namely your "Student's NIV Bible" and your copy of "My Church's Creed".   When I was hip deep in the cult, theirs was called "Shining Like Stars" by Douglas Jacoby.

   It was loaded up with good circular reasoning, circuit crossing verses taken out of context and the usual load of Christian bullshit.

   Anyways, back to what has gotten me stunned here.  Every someone talks about some awful difficulty in their lives, a Christian will pipe in and say "Well you can't blame God for that.  We live in a broken world and people have free choice."  It's like their mantra, "This world is broken and it's not God's fault." along with "God gave us free will."

   These chant of theirs drives me nuts.  Here's why;

First off, not once does the Bible say the world is broken.  In fact, immediately after God created it he says "This is good" Go read Genesis, he says it pretty frequently there in the first few chapters.

 In FACT Creation is doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing which is;

Romans 8
20 For to vanity was the creation subjected, not voluntarily, but because of Him Who subjects it, in expectation
21 that the creation itself, also, shall be freed from the slavery of corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
22 For we are aware that the entire creation is groaning and travailing together until now.

  Guess what folks?  God did this.  Yes indeed, God has subjected all of creation to this evil we are presently suffering.  And why?  Because this isn't the end game folks.  Not at ALL.  The fact is, this is all being done to bring us to;

Ephesians 1
10 to have an administration of the complement of the eras, to head up all in the Christ -- both that in the heavens and that on the earth --

And then finally to a Kingdom ruled by God as written in the end of Revelation, and after that to the consummation as is written in 1 Corinthians 15.

In short folks - God is doing all this to prepare us for something BETTER.

For those who say God could never do evil check out these verses;

Isaiah 45:5-7

I am the Lord, and there is no other;
    apart from me there is no God.
I will strengthen you,
    though you have not acknowledged me,
so that from the rising of the sun
    to the place of its setting
people may know there is none besides me.
    I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I form the light and create darkness,
    I bring prosperity and create disaster;
    I, the Lord, do all these things.

Even Job said;

Job 2:10
He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

Yes, people, God is not the good little witch Glinda.  He actually does BOTH good and evil.  If your God cannot do whatsoever he sees fit but is constrained by your perception of Good - then I submit to you that he is no God at all, and is nothing more than an idol.  A little "Good witch Glinda" ready to sprinkle fairy dust on your approved destiny for your life.
Fortunately- God doesn't need your permission.
This is what God says about himself;

Ephesians 1:11
11 ...the purpose of the One Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will,

Isaiah 46:10
I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
    and I will do all that I please.’
Daniel 4:35
All the peoples of the earth
    are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven
    and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
    or say to him: “What have you done?”

Psalm 135:6
The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earthin the seas and all their depths.

So don't buy into the Christian pablum that says God can't do evil.  He does whatsoever he pleases. 
The God of Comfort

John 11
31 The Jews, then, who are with her in the house and comforting her, perceiving Mary, that she rose quickly and came out, follow her, supposing that she is going to the tomb, that she should be lamenting there.

32 Mary, then, as she came where Jesus was, perceiving Him, falls at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if Thou wert here, my brother would not have died!"

33 Jesus, then, as He perceived her lamenting and the Jews coming with her lamenting, mutters in spirit, and disturbs Himself.
34 And He said, "Where have you placed him?" They are saying to Him, "Lord, come and see."
35 Jesus weeps.

   There is another thing that bothers me when it comes to Christians.  It almost never fails, when someone is going through a hard time.  They've lost their jobs, their kids have been taken from them, they're in the grasp of drug addiction, gambling addiction, alcoholism.  They're struggling to make their bills and put food on the table and their children are going hungry.  Their spouse has left them.  Their child has died. 

   This is an evil era, there is no question.  I don't profess to understand every move God makes.  I rage when I hear about someone being raped.  I grieve when I lose friends to cults. 

 My heart rages when I hear that a lonely old man has given his life savings to TBN because they claim God needed the money.

   There is no question that evil is gross.  That there is no justice to be found at times in this life.  When my friend is suffering - I don't give him a tract.  I don't tell him to go to Church.  I don't encourage him to give more to God.  Fuck that noise.

  I grieve with them.  I'll mourn with them.  I'll take them out for dinner and listen to them. 

 And if I can't do that, I'll listen to their grief on the phone or Facebook.  Whatever it takes.

  Please - remember that when someone's grieving.  Sometimes the last thing a person needs is a Bible, or a trite saying.  Sometimes, the best word of God is written on your hearts and hands; the very love of father reaching out from you into their lives.  And that's the most important thing you can do.
Remember what our Lord said;

Matthew 22
36 "Teacher, what is the great precept in the law?"
37 Now He averred to him, "You shall be loving the Lord your God with your whole heart, and with your whole soul, and with you whole comprehension.
38 This is the great and foremost precept.
39 Yet the second is like it: 'You shall be loving your associate as yourself.'
40 On these two precepts is hanging the whole law and the prophets."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fighting for Unity

Psalm 133:1  
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity  

As I grow and mature as a believer in the evangel of Paul, I am discovering that is inevitable that we all, as believers will come to disagreements.  As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians even now we see only as through a glass darkly.  Perhaps one person sees through part of the fog more clearly than another.  If so, we ought to offer every grace to the fellow slave of Christ acknowledging that we do not have all the answers;

Phillipians 3:15
 Whoever, then, are mature, may be disposed to this, and if in anything you are differently disposed, this also shall God reveal to you.

God has not given us a complete revelation of all things, but only that which is necessary for our perfecting in this eon.  All of us who understand the evangel of Paul and are therefore a part of the Body of Christ should not seek to impose his convictions on every member he comes across.  God has not created us to be exactly alike in every thought, but to be unified in the spirit.

Romans 13:8
To no one owe anything, except to be loving one another, for he who is loving another has fulfilled law.

We are all slaves of Christ, yet not all will have the same conscience or conviction.

Romans 14:2-4
 One, indeed, is believing to eat all things, yet the infirm one is eating greens.
Let not him who is eating be scorning him who is not eating. Yet let not him who is not eating be judging him who is eating, for God took him to Himself.
Who are you who are judging Another's domestic? To his own Master he is standing or falling. Now he will be made to stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

We each have different experiences, struggles, and needs.  We each add to the sufferings of Christ through our trials.  We each can build each other up by our own experiences and words of wisdom.  Therefore let none of us disdain another for his differences.  It would be foolish to reject the friendship of another brother or sister on something so temporal as our own convictions.  This Eon is quickly coming to a close and we need the love and friendship of each one of us to see all of us through to the end.  Paul understood this and desired nothing more than unity throughout the entire Body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-14
 And the same One gives these, indeed, as apostles, yet these as prophets, yet these as evangelists, yet these as pastors and teachers,
 toward the adjusting of the saints for the work of dispensing, for the upbuilding of the body of Christ,
 unto the end that we should all attain to the unity of the faith and of the realization of the son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the complement of the Christ,
 that we may by no means still be minors, surging hither and thither and being carried about by every wind of teaching, by human caprice, by craftiness with a view to the systematizing of the deception.

Phillipians 2:1-7
If, then, there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any communion of spirit, if any compassion and pity,
fill my joy full, that you may be mutually disposed, having mutual love, joined in soul, being disposed to one thing --
nothing according with faction, nor yet according with vainglory -- but with humility, deeming one another superior to one's self,
not each noting that which is his own, but each that of others also.
For let this disposition be in you, which is in Christ Jesus also,
Who, being inherently in the form of God, deems it not pillaging to be equal with God,
nevertheless empties Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming to be in the likeness of humanity,

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Letting the Light Shine Out

A Broken Jar

2 Cor 4:5-8

5 For we are not heralding ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, yet ourselves your slaves because of Jesus,
6 for the God Who says that, out of darkness light shall be shining, is He Who shines in our hearts, with a view to the illumination of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7 Now we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the transcendence of the power may be of God and not of us.

  As believers who live on this earth, often far apart from those who are similar faith and mind; we are constantly aware of our shortcomings.  I myself am hard of hearing.  I struggle to understand my 3 year old at times.  I often find it difficult to keep up in group conversations and quickly get exhausted and eventually have to give up because I simply cannot maintain that level of focus for very long.  Oh that I would have perfect hearing!  And one day, I know I shall.

   But today, I continue to be hard of hearing and sometimes even deaf.  Why would Father do this?  Doesn't he know I could more powerfully preach his word if I could hear and jump into a conversation and powerfully express his teachings?  Doesn't he see how this binds me and slips me up?

   Even our apostle Paul struggled with these things.  In desperation he cried out to Father and he answered in 2 Corinthians 12:9

9 And He has protested to me, "Sufficient for you is My grace, for My power in infirmity is being perfected." With the greatest relish, then, will I rather be glorying in my infirmities, that the power of Christ should be tabernacling over me. 

   I have come to view myself, and all believers, as jars.  We often have cracks running down the side of us in these earthly vessels.  That's ok, because inside of us is a light - the very POWER of Christ's resurrection.  Isn't that exciting?  The very power that rose Christ from the dead now dwells in you.  In Phillipians 3:10-11 Paul writes

10 to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, conforming to His death,
11 if somehow I should be attaining to the resurrection that is out from among the dead.

  He wasn't questioning his salvation or hinting at a secret resurrection that will happen before the one mentioned in 1 Thessalonians.  He was expressing his sincere desire to appreciate the power at work within him.  The very power that rose Jesus from the dead now works within us, he desired to be conscious of it.  To live at peace, and boldly so, within the power of Christ.

   How often do we struggle to keep this in mind, while failing at every turn in these weak jars of clay we now posses?  Don't despair - just remember, your cracks are exactly what God needs to let the light shine out!

Friday, August 22, 2014

How Firm a Foundation? - The Trinity

Building a Firm Foundation

Christians today have built their faith on a false foundation.  They believe they have built their foundation on Christ Jesus.  Satan, the chief deciever, has created many lies to trick them into setting their faith on his "foundation" which is as shifting sand.  Paul declares that he is building on the foundation of Christ in 1 Corinthians 3

10 According to the grace of God which is being granted to me, as a wise foreman I lay a foundation, yet another is building on it. Yet let each one beware how he is building on it.
11 For other foundation can no one lay beside that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

If we are to be sure we are building on a correct foundation, we ought to study Paul's words carefully and be sure that we are building on the correct foundation, and careful to build correctly as Paul has instructed.

One of the foundational teachings that Christianity adheres to is the teaching of the Trinity.  Nowhere in the Bible is this found, neither in the Old Testament or the New.  The teaching of the trinity began in largely in 360 AD during the council of Constantinople.

I am going to go through the scriptures that Christianity typically uses to prove the doctrine of the trinity and display how, rather than prove the trinity, it proves exactly the opposite.

John 1:1

In the book of John, John is establishing the credentials of Jesus Christ.  To the jewish nation he is identifying him and why they should even pay him any attention at all.  To the gentiles, John is showing them who Christ is.

The book begins with

"In the beginning was the Word..."

We can be fairly certain that the Word is not eternal.  The definition of eternity means "having no beginning or end".  Therefore the Word could not be God the father.

"...and the Word was toward God..."

Again, if the Word was toward God, that means it is seperate from God.  Seeking God but it is NOT God.

"...and god was the Word."

When John writes this, he is not giving the Word the being of God, but rather the role of God.  Jesus, the Word is the firstborn of all creation.  Colossians clarifies this;

Colosians 1:15;

15 Who is the Image of the invisible God, Firstborn of every creature,
16 for in Him is all created, that in the heavens and that on the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or sovereignties, or authorities, all is created through Him and for Him,
17 and He is before all, and all has its cohesion in Him.

Jesus was the firstborn of creation, through him all things were made.  Simply put - God is the author, and Jesus the pen through which the entire story of creation has been written.  Jesus is the IMAGE of the invisible God - but he is NOT THE invisible God himself.  Nowhere in scripture is Jesus declared to be the Father.  In every instance, he is described as his "image".

Another word for image is - picture.  Jesus is the very picture of God, his only representation because God himself is invisible.

It was through Jesus ALL things were created, this includes Satan, mankind, the earth and everything that exists.

It is easy for religion to confuse Jesus to God the father - but we should never do such.  To do so gives us a false understanding of God, misrepresents both him and Jesus and can destroy our entire theology.

John goes on;

"This was in the beginning toward God."

AGAIN he makes a distinction between Jesus and God.  John also goes into further detail as we have already sumarized in Colossians 1:15;

3 All came into being through it, and apart from it not even one thing came into being which has come into being.
4 In it was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 And the light is appearing in the darkness, and the darkness grasped it not.

Yet some will say, what of John 8:57-58?

57 The Jews, then, said to Him, "You have not as yet lived fifty years, and you have seen Abraham!"
58 Jesus said to them, "Verily, verily, I am saying to you, Ere Abraham came into being, I am."

To which I answer; what of it?  We have already pointed out that Jesus is God's representation.  God is invisible, Jesus is not.  He has always been the image of the invisible God.  Therefore here at the outset, Jesus makes it clear to Israel - their dealings with God the father has ALWAYS been through him as His representative.

Others will point out John 14:9 but let us look at it in context;

5 Thomas is saying to Him, "Lord, we are not aware whither Thou art going, and how can we be aware of the way?"
6 Jesus is saying to him, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one is coming to the Father except through Me.
7 If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also. And henceforth you know Him and have seen Him."
8 Philip is saying to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficing us."
9 Jesus is saying to him, "So much time I am with you, and you do not know Me, Philip! He who has seen Me has seen the Father, and how are you saying, 'Show us the Father'?
10 Are you not believing that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The declarations which I am speaking to you I am not speaking from Myself. Now the Father, remaining in Me, He is doing His works.
11 "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me; yet if not, believe Me because of the works themselves.
12 Verily, verily, I am saying to you, he who is believing in Me, the works which I am doing he also will be doing, and greater than these will he be doing, for I am going to the Father.

Again, here Jesus makes a distinction between him and the Father.  You cannot come to Father but through Jesus.  It would be ridiculous to make such a statement if Jesus were the Father himself.  Through would be rendered meaningless if Jesus WERE the Father.  As Jesus has said before, he is the image, the representation of the invisible God.  We cannot SEE God, but we can know WHO He is by His character, and what He chooses to do.  God himself cannot be perceived, but he CAN be known - through Jesus his representative.

Others man be saying "What of him saying "I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?"

To this I will also direct you to Jesus' prayer in the garden of Gethsemane;

John 17:11 Jesus says;

11 And no longer am I in the world, and they are in the world, and I to Thee am coming. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, in which Thou hast given them to Me, that they may be one, according as We are.

Jesus and the Father are one, in the same way he asks that WE be one with Him.  He is not, and never has said that He and God are the same deity.  Rather, that He and the Father have always been unified in purpose and passion.  Just as he wishes us to be.

John continually makes and effort to distinguish between Jesus and the Father.  Continually - he demonstrates the distinctiveness of Jesus apart from the Father in person.  Through the book of John and 1 John he uses words that demonstrate this;

John 1:18, John 2:16, John 4:21, John 4:23, John 5:17-23, 5:26, 5:36-37, 5:43, 5:45, 6:32, 6:37, 6:40
1 John 1:2, 1 John 1:3, 1 John 2:1, 1 John 2:22-24, 1 John 4:14

The belief in the trinity is so corruptive that it destroys your entire perspective on the evangel.  Your doctrine once corrupted will further cease to make any coherent sense.

If Jesus is God, the one true God, then he is eternal.  If he is eternal, then there is no such thing as death for a God such as He.  He cannot die, for God is immortal and beyond possibility of death.  Death is a cessation from life, entirely.  If God were to cease, then all that exist would cease.  For even Paul admits in Acts 17:28 that in Him we live and move and have our being.

There is no way that creation can outlast God.  Therefore, if Jesus were God - then his death is a sham, and we are still dead in our sins.  The entire premise of 1 Corinthians 15 falls apart.  For if Christ has not died, then neither has he been raised from death.

I encourage you; study these things and see for yourself what the truth is; do not let I or anyone else tell you what you ought to believe.  Such people are easily lead, their faith not being their own but rather on loan from someone else.  What a shame, for in buying into the drive thru faith - they never find the bountiful banquet that God has prepared for us if we merely discover his word.

Travis Penner

Monday, August 18, 2014

Why Do I Preach the Gospel?

Why Do I Preach The Gospel

Recently I was asked - "If everyone is saved, why preach the gospel at all?"

It's a valid question.  After all, if I don't say anything they're still going to be saved.  That doesn't change anything.  That is both true and not.

It's true that we have all been saved from the penalty of death indefinitely (not hell, as Christianity popularly teaches) however, we will not all be resurrected at the same time.  Paul teaches that the first resurrection belongs to the body of Christ, next  those who are of Christ in Israel, and finally the consummation when everyone will be brought back to life.

Firstly, my reason to preach the evangel is this - it's AWESOME news!  If I had the cure for cancer, and everyone was going to get i free of charge why WOULDN'T I get excited about this?  No one needs to live in fear anymore!!!

But that's just what religion has been doing for thousands of years to billions people.  The common "appease God or else..." has many in dread of god, in fear of eternal torment and constantly on the treadmill of repentance and works.  The evangel frees us from this.

The evangel of the happy God (1 Timothy 1:11) tells us God is conciliated with mankind (1 Corinthians 5:17-21).  Conciliation, simply means God is at peace with you.  Contrary to that, Christianity often teaches that God is at WAR with you.  That there is a dividing wall between you and God and unless you repent it can't come down.  They do not understand that the wall is already down.  It was torn when the temple curtain was ripped in two by the very hand of God.

Today I am God's ambassador preaching to everyone - Be at PEACE With God!  He is at PEACE with you!! You are FREE! (Gal 5:1) Stop acting like you aren't!  You can't, and DON'T have to do anything to be free! You already ARE!

While yes, it is true that God gives faith to whom he chooses when he chooses, he deigns to give his ambassadors of the evangel a part in this work which he prepared for me to do (Eph 210)

Finally, I want to bring the evangel far and wide to those of my brothers and sisters in the body of Christ so that they too can be a part of the first resurrection from the dead.  Why wouldn't I want them there?  I don't want to miss out on a THING.  It may be the smallest iota of time in comparison to the vast tides of time that we will have with God after the consummation, but...

Have you ever been to a party where you were late and just caught the tail end of it as it was winding down?  How people might relate to you later all the things that you missed out on?

It feels like that to me... and I don't want to miss a single moment, and for those of you who truly want to be part of the eons of God's work that he is unfolding... I want to make sure you get a chance to get on board too.  This isn't out of fear.  This isn't about punishment.  This is about loving God and being part of the most AMAZING time in history.  When FINALLY the culmination of the ages, the fruit of the past eons where all creation travailed in the throes of great evil... finally we come to the Eons of God's goodness, where ALL things will be made right.

Who WOULDN'T want to show up to the party on time?

There are SO many more reasons to preach the evangel of the good news of the happy God, than there EVER Was to preach the demonic doctrine that I believed in Christianity.  It is as different as night and day.

With love and prayers in this great hope,

Travis Penner

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Correction to my Judas post

Recently a good friend pointed out to me that there is no Biblical proof that Judas was rich or grew up wealthy.  He is right, I don't recall where I got such information.  Perhaps it is part of the poisonous weed of tradition that paragraph I wrote came out of.  In any case I wish to correct that statement and I will also cross it out of my post.

In every case, as we study the word of God - it behooves us to limit ourselves to what scripture teaches and not attempt to reach beyond it with our human philosophy.  God is perfect - WE are not.

Travis Penner

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sympathy for Judas

  It has been quite some time since I last wrote.  To quickly recap - I lost my job in February due to unexpected circumstances at my former job.  They let me go and for 3 months we struggled to make the most of my meagre savings to get by.

   I finally got a job at a good engineering company.  A place, God willing, i will be at for some years to come.  In the meantime, we are still just barely getting by with our finances.  Fortunately, God is faithful and has always provided just enough for us to get by.  I am learning a great deal of humility and to be content with what we have.  I've been extremely spoiled living with the abundance my wife and I have had in the past.  Now we must pay for the mistakes we made then - and continue to learn, and be sufficient with what we have.

  Cassidy, my daughter, is growing by leaps and bounds.  She'll be starting pre-school this fall.  Where has time gone by?

Sympathy for

  Of all the disciples in the New Testament, Judas is the most complex.  For the length of his ministry, Jesus knew who Judas was.  Little is written about his experiences among the 12.  All that we know is that he was likely related to High Priest in Jerusalem.  He managed the financial affairs of Jesus' band of 12.  In fact, if he hadn't played such a pivotal role in Jesus' walk to Calvary, we would barely take notice of this man.

   I listened to an excellent series by Clyde Pilkington this past week.  It was entirely about Judas and who he was. You can find them here

   By the time it was done, my heart was utterly broken for Judas.  Here's a guy who's destiny was written about him LONG before he was born.  You know how the Psalmist writes 

"Your eyes saw my unformed body;

    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be."

  For Judas it was more than Psalm and it was more than academic.   Prophecies such as Psalm 41:9,  Psalm 55, Zech 11:12-13, and finally Jesus himself acknowledged Judas' doom in his own words "When I was with them in the world, I kept those whom Thou hast given Me in Thy name, and I guard them, and not one of them perished, except the son of destruction, that the scripture may be fulfilled." (John 17:12)

   Think about it, if it was any of us - do you think you could do different?  When God himself sets your path and dooms you to walk it.  Not only that, but Satan entered into Judas to ensure success.  "27 And after the morsel, then, Satan entered into that man. Jesus, then, is saying to him, "What you are doing, do more quickly."" John 13:27

   Not only that, but Jesus says "get it done quickly!" he's not only acquiescing to Judas' betrayal but encouraging it!

    The other day I googled "Judas' Sorrow" the results showed frequently what the evangelical world thought of Judas.  The typical article that search showed as "Peter's Godly sorrow VS. Judas' worldly sorrow" which only ticked me off.

   There is a great deal of difference between Peter and Judas.  Comparing their experiences is so offensive to me because both of their roles were necessary and both could not be more different.

   Peter was a blue collar working fisherman, honored by God and crafted to become the herald of the Kingdom.  Judas was rich, used to politics and the circumstances of the wealthy.  Peter was protected and shaped to his charge.  Judas was not protected but rather almost completely discarded to the purpose of Satan which fit God's plan for him.

    Peter was warned when Jesus said "Tonight before the cock crows, you will betray me 3 times.  Be forewarned Satan desires to sift you as wheat." (Paraphrased) whereas no such warnings were given to Judas.

   I loved that Clyde pointed out.  In Old Testament worship, if a man touched the sacrifice, his sins were atoned for.  When Judas kissed Jesus before he was lead away - his sins were atoned for.

   If only he had waited 3 days!  3 days and the guilt and self-reproach for having given up his friend to death, would've changed to joy and gratitude.  However it is consoling to note that the very first sight he will see when he rises from his centuries long slumber will be the face of the one he thought he had doomed.

   Praise God that even Judas will experience the wide and abundant love of Father!

Travis Penner

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Secret to Godly Sorrow

"Now we are aware that God is working all together for the good of those who are loving God, who are called according to the purpose" Romans 8:28

 The Secret to Godly Sorrow

  It was February 2002, I was a young disciple in the International Churches of Christ.  At this time I lived in Calgary in the SW quarter of the city.  I had been dating a girl in the Church for 8 months now.  I had pursued her for nearly 3 years before the Church leadership had granted me permission to finally court her.  Even then, the conditions were extremely onerous and restrictive.  I was only allowed to call her once a week.  I could see her briefly on Wednesdays and Sundays to discuss and plan our date night during the week which was typically a Saturday night.

   Even more, she was a single mom, and the Church leadership was more restrictive than usual about how I pursued my relationship with her.  I had to give daily reports to my "dating discipler" (who I'll refer to in here as Tim) as well as keep my "spiritual life" on track and constantly make D-times with my one one discipler (who I'll refer to in here as John).  I was expected to have daily quiet times, I was expected to make all my Bible talk meetings.  I was also expected to invite people to Church and have Bible studies with them regularly.

  The list goes on, there was so many plates I had to juggle, and God forbid one of them came crashing on my head.  This particular February night, I was on my way home from Wednesday night midweek services.  I had been told that John would no longer be my discipler.  Instead - Tim, who had been regularly making my dating life hell, would also be my one on one discipler as well now.

  In the past few months, we had been accused of so many ridiculous things.  Things that in the real world would not even be cause for concern (Blowing kisses for example), had become serious offenses worth sitting down with the church evangelist.  In fact, we were told we had become too "inward focused", and were to refrain from kissing at all.  (Which is laughable now that I think about it - we were only permitted one good night kiss at all per date - and it was to be a quick peck on the lips.  Nothing further.) 

  I had had it by then.  The stress of keeping all these rules and commandments had finally piled up so high I could not handle them anymore.  I had taken to going drinking at the local bar just across the street from my house, almost nightly now.  Even after my Saturday night dates with my girlfriend, I would pretend to head home, but I would duck into the bar and have a few until I could stumble home to bed.

   I had picked up a foul habit of smoking cigars quite frequently too.  A habit that now makes me nauseous if I inhale anything stronger than potpourri or incense.

  My buddies from Church accompanied me that Wednesday night.  I remember distinctly saying to myself "I just don't care..." and then began drinking and hanging out in the bar.  Somewhere towards the tail end of the night, they started shooting pool with a group of girls.  I remember checking one of them out, she was cute.  Blonde, wore pink.  I was buzzed so I smiled and played along with them. 

   After getting tired of shooting pool, around 1 in the morning, I sat at the bar and the cute girl came and sat down near me.  We shot the breeze, chatting away.  I was leaning into her and getting quite cozy with her.

  By then my friends had left and I was at the bar alone.  I leaned over and kissed the girl.  I don't remember much else from that night, I kissed her three times, got her phone number, and left.  I felt pretty proud of myself as I walked home.

  The next morning, the full weight of guilt slammed into me.  What have I done?  I've cheated on her!  I was filled with remorse.  I loved my girlfriend.

   Being the convicted disciple I was, and convinced God meant our relationship to last - I called my discipler.  He was out of town that day, so I called a mutual friend of ours and confessed everything.  (I'll call him Paul) Paul gave me some not so comforting words and then called the Church Evangelist, and I was set up for a meeting that night.

   The sorrow I felt was crushing.  I would have done anything to go back in time and erase this event.  Anything.  The humiliation I faced that month, meeting after meeting, with men all over the Church.  By the end of the month, I'm fairly certain nearly every single, and married brother in the Church knew all of my misdeeds.

  I had been told to get spiritual, to show Godly sorrow and repent.  To which I did my best to make sense of this.  Godly sorrow?  What is this?  It must mean deep deep sorrow, great tears and wailing must ensue.  I must show my sincerity by repenting so thoroughly that there can be no question as to the depth of my sorrow.

  Unbeknown to me, I was practising a great deal of Worldly Sorrow but nothing of Godly sorrow.  To this day, I'm convinced that neither the evangelist or anyone in that Church had a clue what Godly Sorrow was.  Not a single one could instruct me on this.  I now understand why...

  After a month had passed, I was once more sit down with a group of men which my evangelist lead.  They challenged me to share these misdeeds of mine with my girlfriend.  I was once again filled with deep remorse and great fear.  I did not want to be the source of any kind of pain for my girlfriend.  Again - I longed to wind back the clock and change things.

  After that, we broke up.  For nearly a year I sought to make reparation and restore our relationship.  I felt this too was godly sorrow and worked with all my heart to change what could not be changed.

  For years after that, I would sometimes lay in bed and replay the events surrounding that.  Imagining if I could go to this particular time and change this one thing, or that particular time and change another thing....  The past had become my obsession.  I would drink myself into a stupor some nights to dull the pain.

   When I ended up dating the woman who became my wife, I did clean up some of my act.  I didn't drink so much anymore.  Instead I played video games and stayed home.  We eventually left that Church.  It took 2 years after leaving for me to admit that it was a cult.

   For years anger and regret consumed me.  I would smoke because I was filled with regret for having joined that church.  For having cheated on my girlfriend.  For not having enjoyed my single years more.  The regrets and worldly sorrow piled sky high until I could not see over the tower of shame I had built.

   I was so filled with bitterness, anger, and hatred.  It consumed me.

   I will not belabor my journey through all of this - for this would take an entire book.  I will say that those years of sorrow - were filled with nothing but worldly sorrow.  This is what Paul has to say in 2 Corinthians 7:10-12

"10 For sorrow according to God is producing repentance for unregretted salvation, yet the sorrow of the world is producing death.
11 For lo! this same thing – for you to be made sorry according to God – how much it produces in you of diligence, nay, defense, nay, resentment, nay, fear, nay, longing, nay, zeal, nay, avenging! In everything you commend yourselves to be pure in this matter.
12 Consequently, even if I write to you, it is not on account of the one who injures, but neither on account of the one being injured, but on account of manifesting to you your diligence for our sake in God's sight."

   It is obvious to me now that the years I had spent sorrowing over my past choices were all worldly sorrow.  I was living nothing more than a walking death.  I know for certain that some, if not many of my actions in those years hurt my wife and those around me.  I certainly was no joy to myself either.

  Yet something miraculous recently happened to me in the spring of 2013.  God had awoken my heart to His grace.  Indeed, the faith of his son filled my heart and washed over  me completely.  With a new found understanding of the expansive Grace of Father - He slowly took my worldly sorrow and cashed it in for Godly Sorrow.

   The amazing difference between worldly sorrow and Godly Sorrow is that it leaves no room for despair, it has no regret but only joy.  How is this possible?

   Simple.  For the believer who truly understands that God is in all things.  When we come to realize that even our mistakes are made because God is in control and these things happened at his command - we can realize that nothing we had done was a mistake at all.  There is no room for regret when we come to embrace that God is controlling everything and bringing everything to it's marvellous conclusion!  How can I regret the path that God took me down that led me to here?  How can I hate the people who inflicted pain on me in that cult, when it gave me the appreciation for how deep and how wide is the marvelous love of God?

   Some will now say as Paul wrote in Romans 3:8 "Let us do evil then, so that God's will can be done!"  Such thinking is immature and unworthy of a believer.  When God demonstrates his marvellous majesty in how he handles our affairs, be it good or evil.  It only motivates me to live in gratitude.

   Religion believes godly sorrow is achieved by shame.  God's ways are completely different.  Religion believe repentance can only be enforced by fear and anguish, how much better is it that God motivates us by grace and love!  How much more powerful that freedom is that God gives us, than the bondage that religion and the world would shackle us with.

  When Godly sorrow fills you, there is no longer shame in your past, in fact - your shame has now become God's victory!  "This is what I did, and God has done this with it!  In fact, God was there all along!!  How majestic is his name!"

   But someone will say to me "But Travis what about what Paul says in verse 11 "For lo! this same thing – for you to be made sorry according to God – how much it produces in you of diligence, nay, defense, nay, resentment, nay, fear, nay, longing, nay, zeal, nay, avenging! In everything you commend yourselves to be pure in this matter."

   To which I answer, it did!!  I produced me in all manner of hatred and disdain for the worldly sorrow it produced when I committed that sin.  Not only that, but the worldly living I had lived when I committed that sin.  Now I gladly repent of it, with all zeal!  If you are reading this blog and the other articles I've written, you know how zealous I am for Father's glory and the gospel of his message.  I would not, if God allows me any effect, allow another person to ignorantly walk in legalism like I once did.

   Paul, our apostle, demonstrated Godly sorrow perfectly.  When Christ met him on the road to Damascus, look at what Godly Sorrow was produced in Paul!!  Formerly Christ's chief persecutor, he became the Apostle to the nations!!  He, by the grace of God, broke forth the message of the depth and riches of God's grace.  He closed out the New Testament.  And he gladly opposed his former life of legalism.

  In everything, Paul commended himself to be pure in this matter!  This is the secret of Godly sorrow - true Godly sorrow produces overwhelming joy, whereas worldly sorrow produces overwhelming despair.

   With all love and grace,

Travis Penner