Well, just a little over a month and we have already returned… But why?

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Have you ever come to realize that something is true and then later try to ignore it, but you can’t because in the back of your mind the truth is still there smiling at you? For example, if your entire life you were being paid $10 an hour to do a $30 an hour job to one day realize that you were supposed to be getting paid that amount the entire time. You can move along, trying to ignore it, but you can’t. You’ll eventually find yourself in the office asking for a correction.

Our decision to return to the SDA church went something like that.

If you want to read the blog post that explains why we left at the end of December, you can click here to read it before moving on.

The short hand answer to our reason for leaving is the church’s inability to intellectually give a reason for their faith in the writings on Ellen G. White. After having read much of her work, one will be hard pressed to find a person within the church that can discuss her writings with you. Although I disagree with some of her commentary and find no reason “as of yet” to believe in her visions or prophecies, the Historicist view on eschatology is closest to the truth.

And when one actually does spend time reading through her writings it does bring some serious light into what the early reformers believed and taught regarding biblical prophecies, like Daniel and Revelation. With that, I think that her writings are in fact worth reading. And, I would recommend them to others while still disagreeing with some of her commentary.

One example of her commentary that changed my life would be her commentary on diet in the bible. Because of it, I am a vegan.

Although this church can’t reasonably give an answer for their faith in Ellen G. White when questions or criticism arise, that doesn’t make the truth of their eschatology any less true.

For example, the main reason why we weren’t able to stay away long, would be the church’s stance on the beast that comes up out of the earth found in the prophetic book of Revelation.

And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. – Revelation 13:11-14

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To the SDA church this beast is North America. This beast looks like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon. We look like a Christian nation, but we speak like the world. A large percentage of this nation, particularly the southern half, attend church. And yet, there is no change. No true repentance. This beast causes fire to come down out of heaven in the site of men.

Ellen G. White describes this fire as the charismatic movement in great detail.

Don’t get me wrong. I have friends that are part of this movement, and I find them to be very sincere in their faith (including the pastor of the church we just left when returning to the SDA church). But, when we examine this movement as a hole we will find that there is something amiss. When we stepped away from the SDA church in December we began to attend one of these churches. Of course they disagreed with our eschatological views on things like the state of the dead, eternal hell, and the rapture. But, that was to be expected.

However, every week was the same. I found myself watching people get “filled” one day out of the week with no real internal change taking place. Have you ever heard the phrase “on fire for Christ”?

The charismatic movement is raining down this false fire. People are getting filled, being passionate for Christ one day out of the week with no real fruit to show for it.

Christ said that we will know them by their fruit. When I go to these churches I don’t see repentance. I see people chasing emotion while maintaining their interest in the worldly things around them. At what point did the church decide that fruit meant church growth, church attendance, the number of people baptized every quarter, and the number of ministries being run under one roof, etc.?

The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The fruits that we are led to look for in a church are works based (church growth) when in reality, they are character based. And that isn’t something I see in America anymore.

The modern protestant movement has replaced the fruits while becoming complacent in its sin. And the main fruit that the charismatic movement lacks from my perspective is self-control. Some of them become so passionate during worship in church that they literally lose control and when it’s done, they go right back into the world unchanged.

I realize that I should pluck the plank from my own eye before pointing at the sins of others. And with that, I am a nobody. And I have no true answers. This post is just me hashing out my thoughts while sharing them with others. Who am I to have any answers or an opinion for that matter? I would refer you to 2 Corinthians 12:11 for that one.

While attending this charismatic church, the lobby was a time where I was eager to hear peoples stories of conversion and faith. But all I heard were stories about recent movies, current video games, and the latest tech gadgets while offering to go get drinks later. Church has become a social club. Not a place of spiritual growth.

The thing that made me have to get up and leave was when the pastor stated, and I quote: “two of the things that Jesus said to the rich young ruler were not true”. The pastor may have meant something else, but that isn’t what was said.

So, what is the strange fire?

It’s an appearance of godliness but the lack thereof.

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.2 Timothy 3:5 

The truth is, we are all asleep. When the ten virgins of Mathew 25 heard the loud cry “All” of them woke up. This means that at that last call, all of the churches were asleep. I think that we are in that time. We are all asleep. And the SDA church is no different. They are asleep too, not practicing much of what they preach… just like the rest of the christian world.

Although this may be so, it doesn’t change the fact that their view on eschatology, theology, and doctrine are closest to the truth with or without Ellen G. White.

You can’t compromise the truth just because the church is asleep.

We had to return. The only other option is strange fire. The path that leads to destruction is broad. And sadly, most of the modern protestant world is on that path. We have lost what it means to have true repentance. And besides, who needs repentance  these days anyway when the beast that looks like a lamb but speaks like a dragon can offer you the easy way out; grace without works.

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Over the course of the last 10 years my Christian life has been jam packed with activity, action, study, and reflection. I traveled in full time music ministry for 6 years. I spent 4 years studying heavily on many different topics, like cosmology, eschatology, theology, and science. And honestly, as a result… a lot has changed. I have changed. In many ways for the better. But, in other ways… maybe not. I couldn’t tell you.

All I know is that I will find out on that great day.

Recently however, I have felt a shift taking place. I have felt an urge come over me to slow my studies, to break away from the business of social media smart phones, and to simply live in the moment with God. To simply just breath it all in and exist.

It first came to me when considering the epic life of Moses. He did so much good for the kingdom of God leading the people to freedom, preforming signs and wonders, and being a leader. But, before that part of his life took place, he lived a different life. He spent 40 years in Midian as a meager shepherd. He had a regular job. He likely spent a lot of time in reflection rather than endless studies and worldly pursuit.

We read these events in Exodus 2 through 7.

This period of stillness struck me and has been with me for a while now. And as I step away from the hustle and bustle of smart phone addiction, the question comes to me “what to do with all of this extra free time”?

I could study more… and perhaps write a book on topics I am passionate about.

And while contemplating these things, a fellow believer unknowingly shares Ecclesiastes 12:12 with me.

The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth. The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd. And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.Ecclesiastes 12:10-14

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It feels good to know what God wants from me right now. And it’s so simple. No major projects. No rush to action. No heavy theological externalization. Right now, God wants me to simply be still and know… know that He is God.

I don’t know what the future holds. And to be honest, I am at peace with that. I have spent the last 10 years pushing myself in different directions non-stop. It’s time to just simply be still and know. I would hope that my time spent in Midian won’t be nearly as long as was the time for Moses. But, I know this… God is bringing me to this place that I might take something from it into a future that He has in store for me.

Moses had to learn to lead sheep before he could learn to lead people.

God is planning to show me something big. I can feel it.

And I will sit in Midian for as long as it takes. All of the studying we do. All of the events, promotion, success we strive for… it’s all vanity. It’s so much more simple than that. Just fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

 

This post is a condensed explanation as to why I have decided to step out of the SDA church after less than two years of involvement in the historicist movement.

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First off, I am still a historicist Christian. No question. No hesitation. Including all that comes with it.

But… there comes a point when you have to follow Christ, even if it means walking away for your church. After less than two years as a historicist Christian (the only church near us that agrees with this eschatology being the SDA church), it was time to step away from the Seventh Day Adventists.

And here’s why.

This particular church in the historicist camp comes with a prophet. And truthfully, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. So, as I embarked on the quest of getting to know this church and this prophet I read countless books from Ellen G. White. Many of them I highly recommend. Her work definitely presents the reader with a true desire for repentance by challenging the reader to be more confrontational about their own personal daily sin.

But, the more I read, the more questions I had for the church. There were quite a few views that she held that I disagreed with (24 elders, Genesis 6, 144,000, sinless worlds… just to name a few). Views that the church itself still holds. And so, I did what any logical person would do.

I went to the church.

I’ve sat down at coffee shops with pastors of the denomination to confront some of the more controversial topics. I’ve sat in offices with deacons asking questions about church practices that don’t line up with the church’s own teachings. I’ve talked with members that were third and fourth generation members on similar topics as well.

And yet, I got the exact same answer from every member, pastors, deacons and longstanding attendees alike.

I don’t know. I haven’t read it. Let me see if I can find someone that knows.

The straw that broke the camel’s back for my decision to leave was a petty one in all honesty and had nothing to do with the aforementioned issues. We were participating in a children’s club for my son. This club held biweekly activities with occasional larger activates on a regional scale. The club meetings were canceled more often than they were held, and at the last minute. We had a regional meet up happening. And the day before we were supposed to leave for the trip I reached out asking for a few details. The reply was that it had been canceled, but they forgot to tell me. Go figure.

I’d had enough.

I can get past the lack of organization with the kid’s club. After all, it’s run by parents and things happen. I realize that this club was and is doing the best they can with the time and resources that it has. I do not fault them for my decision to leave. But, it did mount an emotional strain on top of the already mounting angst that existed.

The club was excusable.

But, in regard to faith, I had to take a stance. Peter explains it best when he said; “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear”.

I even had one member tell me they refuse to talk about such things when I asked them the simple question, “What do you think about Ellen G. White’s un-fallen worlds“.

I am at a point in my life where I am done playing church. I want answers. And in just two short years it became very apparent to me that none of the people I have met in the SDA community have an established reason for their faith. Not the pastors, not the deacons, nor the members.

This experience wasn’t just secluded to merely one body either, just to clarify.

I believe the historicist view. I think many, but not all, of Ellen G. White’s writings are worth reading.And I would recommend them to others. But, with reading comes questions. Questions you would hope the church can answer.

They couldn’t.

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I am an all or nothing kind of guy when it comes to enjoying the things that inspire me to action. In many ways this is awesome, because, once I get going on an idea there are very few times when I find it hard to not attain at least a little bit of success in my pursuits. Just to give a few minor examples would be to point out some of the things that I have goofed off with in the last few, more recent years.

I operated an Etsy store designing and selling embroidery and screen print patches. I chased this venture for nearly two years, I think. Within that short time the store exploded with sales exceeding an average of 10 to 12 sales per day. I don’t remember exactly, but when I decided to step away from it, deleting the store, I think it had something like 10,000+ five star reviews. That’s pretty good for just being a hobby.

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Before that, obviously… if you have read my bio, there was my music career in the mid-2000’s which went full time for 6 years nationally. It got to that level not because of skill or talent, but because of the “all or nothing” mentality that seems to burn within me.

Then there was the very short stent were I decided to start a podcast about the growing Cosmology Debates on social media and, especially Youtube. I didn’t expect it to grow very quickly, but… by marketing it to the right crowd it somehow managed to gain 100+ subscribers and over 150 listeners per episode before I deleted the podcast. This number may not seem like a lot, but the podcast was only live for a few months and I think I only did something like 5 or 6 episodes.

There was also the time I became an author, publishing a dozen or so books, some full length novels and other short novellas with various publishing companies. That pursuit grew very fast and was likely one of the ventures I spent the most time and effort on outside of touring. I managed to lock a contract with my favorite publisher at the time and even had my all-time favorite author of the time review one of my books. But, alas, I trashed that venture also, giving all of my published titles to a close friend who did most of the post editing for my work prior to publication.

And now, I have started up a home studio to record and publish music as a studio artist. And within the first 6 months of owning the studio gear I managed to release a three song EP with a record label out of Iowa.

So, here’s the thing… if I don’t have to try so hard to move forward successfully on something, why have I quit time and time again to do all of these things if they were being successful? And, if I am likely to quit something after it becomes bigger than my goals intended for them to be, why start something new to begin with?

Honestly, I feel like stepping away from each past pursuit is justified in its own right due to personal reasons (tour, being an author, the patches, the podcast, etc…).

But, this blog post isn’t about me justifying via excuse my reasons for quitting while being so called “ahead” of my goal expectations for each project.

This rant is more about being the type of person with the “all or nothing” mindset trying to cope with downtime in life. We all have seasons where things are busy and we are moving forward with goals. For some it might be building a career or creating a family. For others it might be launching and maintaining a podcast, youtube channel, or writing a book.

Right now, I find myself in this so called downtime phase in life where things are moving at a specific pace outside of my control. I am in my mid-30’s, leaning toward 40 and somehow, in some way, life has managed to make an adult out of me without my being aware. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just looking back, somehow it feels like it happened out of nowhere. I’m at a transition stage in life where I am not committed to any one creativity based project which frees me up to do anything. The possibilities are endless. While at the same time, the life transition of moving and starting a new job is keeping me from committing to anything as well.

So, if it’s all or nothing… right now, my mindset is leaving me in the nothing phase. I have literally had the last week and a half off from work, and yet I haven’t seized the opportunity by utilizing that time for creativity. I’ve just been stooping.

That is the conundrum of an all or nothing mindset. When you have set yourself to doing something, you get it done. But, when life forces you to slow down, a person with the “all or nothing” view, tends to just sit stagnant under those circumstances (now, I could be wrong. Which is why I am just speaking for myself here).

And thus, here I am feeling stagnant.

This isn’t to suggest that I am unhappy. That is far from true. I have just been doing a lot of internalizing lately and I have concluded two facts. One, I love the pursuit of pursuit itself. And two, I am entirely burnt out on the internet and the mass consumption of entertainment provided by mainstream society. It is corrupting our humanity to the core and creating distance, not only between varying cultures in local communities, but also within individual households as well.

This creates a problem… because, every venture that I have been successful with has been due to the fact that I am good at “online social networking”. I wouldn’t have become a full time touring singer-song writer without Myspace. I wouldn’t have become a successful author without Facebook. I wouldn’t have had a successful Etsy store without Instagram. The podcast wouldn’t have been successful had it not piggybacked off of my previous successes along with Youtube. And even now, my latest EP Ignorance is Woe got picked up by a record label because I operate a website, which in its own right is an online social media platform.

I am absolutely tired of the internet, but it is the internet that has allowed me the luxury of being semi-successful at my creative pursuits.

Couple this together with the stagnant position I am currently in due to a life transition taking place… and with being someone that is the “all or nothing” type in regard to pursuit, a slow season can tend to make you a little twitchy (for lack of a better term).

Obviously, once my family is moved and done with the relocation process, I will still continue to write and produce music in my home studio. But, I don’t know that the music venture will be my primary platform of creativity driven focus. Since I am in this stagnation stage, my prayer is that God will speak to me and show me what I should be doing rather than the usual… me just listening to my gut and doing what I want to be doing.

God has a purpose for my life. And right now, outside of providing for my family, I don’t know what that purpose is.

This is the issue of an “all or nothing” mindset.

We tend to not like the question; what next? And besides, as a Christian I know the primary focus with creativity should be to spread the gospel. But, as I look at the world, too many Christians have switched to strictly “online evangelism” (I can witness to you so long as I don’t have to interact with you). Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great tool and a great platform that I myself have benefited from as the listener.

However, this isn’t good. And I want to do something for Christ. But, how can I do that without settling into the internet as my outlet like so many other Christians have begun to do? There has got to be more to life than this.

And yet, that still leaves me with this… what next?

It feels good to see my meager graphic design skills still getting used in the music world, let alone for Christ’s sake at that. Today I put together a flyer for a show coming up in Nebraska for a few of the bands associated with the label I recently signed my latest release  (Ignorance is Woe) with, Raven Faith Records.

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The label has been really great to work with so far and it feels good to get my hands dirty again doing design work, even if it is just on the side here and there. So far I have gotten to do a few major things like a few album covers and tour posters, and bandcamp layouts… as well as a few little things, like the flyer you see here. I think it would be pretty cool down the line to get my fingers wet by having a crack at maybe even doing some merch designs for the label as well. It’s been forever (way back to my tour days) since I designed my last t-shirt. Surely, one of the Raven Faith bands will need something along those lines sooner or later.

If you haven’t checked out the other bands and my brothers and sisters in Christ on the Raven Faith Records roster, you should!

And, if you’re in Nebraska… go to this show and donate to the flood relief.