28 Kislev 5775

1500 PST

Forgot to honor the Sabbath, which is another habit I need to revive.

Spent some time in the Word, but was also engaged in some fruitful correspondences. Read some of my old pieces from In Mala Fide because I was interested in the comments (a lot of the comments on many – maybe all – my Spearhead posts are now gone). I had made a greater impact than I gave myself credit for, and also followed the rabbit hole down through someone who expressed interest in my writing just as I was ceasing from it. [Ed note: I have uploaded the four pieces that I wrote which were published on In Mala Fide, comments more or less intact, for those seeking more context to this post. Just check out this category to see them.]

A lot of truths [my Pastor] teaches, I had known (if not in whole at least in part) before even meeting him. I liken the situation almost to Romans 2:14-16, though in truth I had learned, internalized, and never fully abandoned some scriptural principles beginning from a young age. Where I missed the mark was in some of the conclusions I drew, as well as properly identifying, discerning and dividing the truth from sweet sounding deceptions [Hebrews 4:12] (which I have written more in depth about previously).

This man that I found has – bless his heart! – chosen to stay true to the narrow path. He was reaching out to me just as he began his own journey, to choose whether ot hold fast to the faith and principles he had grown up with or follow down the seductive paths of nihilism and hedonism that the red pill manosphere offers young, intelligent, lonely but otherwise extremely capable and talented men. Given the choice between the promise of ridicule and loneliness for virtue’s sake or the offer of, essentially, on-demand sex through mastery of the arts of seduction, he made the choice few indeed would make. From what I have read of him, he certainly deserves the following he has attracted and his commitment to physical as well as mental and spiritual discipline puts me to shame.

I pray earnest that, on his path to truth, the temptations of the flesh would not stumble him as they have me. I also pray he can receive revelation of YHWH’s names and attributes, to be blessed by the increased intimiacy such precious knowledge and wisdom allows I pray too that his understanding of the essential Jewish qualities of the savior and messiah I know he wishes to serve with all his heart, mind, soul and strength would grow and increase in this season we are entering. If I am to be the one to shout YHWH’s name in the wilderness (of the manosphere remnant) in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3-8, then I pray for repentance (to change my thinking according to the seed of truth you have sown in me that I might bear fruit through my actions) so I may one day have the same boldness and authority as the man prophesied to carry out that task in the scriptures. And if I am the natural voice that this man I am praying for is to hear in order for his spiritual ears to receive the deposit of the Ruach Qodesh – the very breath of Elohim, of YHWH, which gave life to the adamah (dust of the Earth) to the first adam (man, Adam) – then Amen and Selah! Not my Words but yours, Adonai – nor my glory but instead yours. I know in my spirit you have called him to great responsibility and he will have a huge impact on the King’s Harvest. Amen!

In other developments, I launched my Patreon, and transcribed all that I have written so far. I have been able to resist temptation and tame my flesh for at least a few days. Perhaps another Confession of Sins is in order should I succumb?

Undoubtedly some will read what I have been writing, having come from my Facebook link to this project and think, “Well, he is headed for straight for the loony bin again.” This is because what people have come to expect from mainstream Christianity is, in fact, insane! Prove to me in the scriptures that we should have blind faith! Prove to me in the scriptures that we should erase all of El Elyon’s names (and thus attributes) and only know Him by two titles! Prove to me that the power of YHWH’s son’s name is in the Greek rendering “Jesus” and not in the Hebrew “Yeshua” or “Yohoshua” he was known by! When you pray in the name of Jesus – WHO ARE YOU PRAYING TO? I am not likely to respond to the name of Juan* – nor am I likely to appreciate you insisting upon calling me that when I’ve told you my name – simply because it is more comfortable for you! Why do we think it is any different for YHWH, Yeshua or the Ruach Qodesh?

*Special exception exists for the men and one lady of the 2009-2010 Okinawa Calibrations platoon, from whom Juan is in fact a high term of endearment.

2200 PST

Lots to write about. Spent 4 hours with [a friend I met in a college course locally]. First few hours were great, but (not to imply things ended unwell) towards the end we hit a wall that we always do.

At first he was pleased to just hear me share about the reasons why I feel compelled to do what I will be doing, but then he began to ask perfectly fair and reasonable questions of me. I tried to make it clear that neither I, nor truly the words of ANY man, would be able to satisfy the burden of evidence he desires – the exact same evidence I wish to also see for myself! Moreover, because I ONLY have my human intellect and perhaps some outward fruits of the Ruach Qodesh (Galatians 5:22-23), but haven’t completely conquered the sins of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), I haven’t even the most fundamental of the MANIFESTATIONS of the Ruach (1 Corinthians 12-14). And not having those, if my friend’s spiritual ears could not hear YHWH’s voice through my natural voice, then because I have no power of the Ruach Qodesh to substantiate my arguments then they would all just be vain persuasions of man (1 Corinthians 2).

When I am called to minister in the role of an evangelist, I am acutely concerned and compassionate towards the eternal mindset and stature of the person (and spiirt!) to whom I am ministering. However, I also realize it is not my role to convict, bring about repentance or conversion. Those are all offices of the Ruach Qodesh and up to the free will choice of the person to whom I am conversing with. (Call me false or accuse me of watering down the wrath of YHWH, but please do so in the scriptures so that I can respond in kind.) My only responsibility in that moment is to ensure that the person I am speaking with can no longer claim ignorance about the free will decision that is their gift from Elohim to make, nor the potential eternal consequences of it.

My friend had difficulty following the logic of why an agnostic doesn’t get a free “out” when it comes to the existence of a creator, despite what some agnostics may think (including myself when I was an agnostic with this belief). Logically, either an ultimate creator – the true first cause, all of that – either exists, or does not exist. Deists have staked their wages on the bet that said creator does exist, while atheists have cast their lots on the side that says a creator does not exist. Agnostics say that they do not have enough evidence to arrive at a conclusion. However, EVERYONE must play the game simply by living life. If the atheists are right then everybody’s dead and that’s the end. If the deists are right then the creator decides your fate according to how you lived your life – little hope for atheists in most cases (EXCEPT ironically in the case of Yeshua and YHWH as revealed in the scriptures), and if agnostics refuse to make a decision regarding diety it is unlikely they would have lived in such a way as to sufficiently pleased most deities (though, again, even in these dire circumstances there is still hope in Yeshua).

You can’t escape the logical necessity of the question by refusing to commit to one position or the other. Everyone is forced to take the gamble by simply living. If you want to knowingly roll the dice and “let come what may” – and the idea that 80-120 years of live could have eternal ramifications for you doesn’t bother you – then more power to you! So long as you understand the gamble we all must take – and what is at stake – I have done my due diligence. Everyone peddling a religion and a church will tell you they have the one true way. While I, too, believe that there is only one true way – the Messiah, Yeshua, who sits on the Great White Throne at the end of days to render judgment and rewards to each and every one as according their deeds and place in the Book of Life or Lamb’s Book of Life – I am not going to insult your intelligence by pretending my human intellect and whatever gift of persuasive argument I may possess will be able to convince you of such a monumental truth proposition. Again, only the Ruach Qodesh, the very breath of YHWH and “Spirit of Truth” sent to verify and testify of Yeshua can do such a thing.

Earlier in the conversation, before the doubting and the wall we hit – we were at a restaurant and I was blessed to learn our waitress was blessed to have heard our conversation. My friend misunderstood her enthusiasm as attraction towards me, when really it was just her spirit responding to the words of life contained in the scriptures that I was speaking to my friend. And praise Elohim (I was fortunate to be able to teach her some of what Elohim means!) that she did have ears to hear, as the daughter of a pastor! I gave her one of [my Pastor]’s cards, as I don’t yet have my own, and would be blessed whether she chose to press in or whether we don’t hear from her again.

My friend remained distracted by her, however, insisting that I should ask her out several times. There was no denying her attractiveness! But it wasn’t my flesh she was responding to, certainly – I have a jacked up haircut, no fashion sense, bad teeth, broken smile, unkempt beard and I’m about fifty pounds overweight. No, it was the Ruach Qodesh speaking to her that ignited her!

I tried to explain how I could understand my friend’s response, because of the absolutely toxic and vile effect pornography has had on how I’ve related to women, but my friend views pornography as natural and healthy so there’s no sense pushing the subject.

Lastly… MGySgt W shared some words that brought about tears for the first time in a long time. It is difficult to express the daily guilt I feel over the circumstances of my early exit from active duty. I feel I dishonored the brotherhood and the memory of my grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel William Lee Donner, who fought on the isle of Iwo Jima and in the Korean War. To be affirmed as an “outstanding Marine” by anyone of senior rank is an honor, but particularly so by this Marine who not only had the acumen to rise to the top of one of the most technically demanding jobs in the Corps, but who also possessed the Honor, Courage and Commitment to serve in a combat tour outside of his MOS – to literally bestow the greatest love, according to Yeshua: to lay down his life for his friends… To be so esteemed by such a  man means very much indeed. So if you are reading this, too, Master Gunnery Sergeant, thank you.

Now, to sort clothes.

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22 Kislev 5775

10:50 PST

Going to try to start using Jewish calendar. Talked to [Ryan] about how I had ordered Names of God translation and he alerted me to ISR which I immediately ordered. Waiting on service to begin; perhaps 10 people gathered although most were on time today!

[Ryan] prayer: Jeremiah 11:1-5, 12:17, John 21:12-19

1 John 3:18, 4:20

Jeremiah 17:5-10

[Pastor]: Psalm 138

John 17

15:45 PST

I wanted to wait until I had a more accurate – if that is the word – translation of the scriptures before I dove into this topic, but I feel the need to write my thoughts.

I’ve sampled some of organized Christianity for a few years now and I see two major issues that do not sit right with me. The first is that people go on and on about “knowing the LORD” and “knowing Jesus” but they neither know the Father’s nor the Son’s name! The second issue has to do with our performance of love.

I could elaborate on the name but people may miss the point. As regards love, Yeshua said the world would know his disciples by the love they have for each other. The apostle “John” wrote that if we cannot love the brother whom we we see, how can we love the creator who we cannot? Moreover he admonished the called out ones to love not in word or tongue but in deed and action.

[Psalms 51:16-17, James 1:21-27, 1 John 3:18, Luke 6:46-49]

David writes that YHWH does not desire sacrifice nor burnt offering. James writes about the folly of hearing and not doing. Yeshua himself laments how readily people will call him “Lord, Lord” and yet do not do the things that he says.

Many will tell you many things about how to “get spiritual.” While you sometimes might find a scriptural example of a particular ritual, you’d be hard pressed to find any Biblical character teaching it as a rule. Other than… do the Word!

Metaphysics and Mystical Experiences

Continuing the train of thought from my earlier post on metaphysics:


The video speaks for itself, so I won’t waste your time repeating its content.

Another topic I consider metaphysical – though some might not – is the topic of the make up of the spiritual realm. I encounter many people who seem happy to believe in Elohim – the Creator – and that a man named Yeshua (Jesus) existed some 2000 years ago. They may or may not believe in the miracles. They may or may not believe in the resurrection. They emphatically agree that loving God and loving your neighbors are the right way to live. But, often because of the history of the Bible or misunderstandings concerning how ancient texts are analyzed and translated, these well meaning people conclude we don’t need the scriptures to tell us how to pursue a relationship with God. When push comes to shove, they often cite their own “spiritual experiences” to back up their assertions.

Now, when I said I considered this topic somewhat metaphysical, it’s because it has to do with the nature of reality that is in fact much more real than observable reality. It kind of goes back to the difference between temporal reality and eternal reality – the spiritual realm is where angels, both righteous and fallen, reside. The Bible clearly affirms the existence of angels, as well as demonic spirits, and the spiritual realm. But if you are one to throw out the scriptures, you may argue that there are no such things as demons, or that Satan is just a metaphor for human misconduct, or there is no such thing as “evil.” And you might be arguing this because – and listen carefully – a demon disguised as an angel of light whispered sweet things in your ear about tolerance and respecting all paths to God and so on and you – being untrained in the scriptures; not believing in the scriptures; not recognizing Yeshua as King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the way, the truth, and the life – are now living according to doctrines of demons!

But what really are “spiritual experiences,” especially if people who don’t prescribe to a certain religion can claim to have had such experiences from God? I think William James did a pretty good job summing it up in 1902, though he called them mystical experiences. To summarize, mystical experiences are defined by two major and two minor qualities – in the major, they (1) defy expression, (2) are authoritative as providing insight into truth; in the minor, they (1) are transient (cannot be maintained for a long time) and (2) are passive (i.e. cannot be voluntarily induced).

Don’t believe the what I said 2 paragraphs ago? Despite being exactly one of the people I describe (having succumbed to my own spiritual experiences, and consequently coming to some odd conclusions), the scriptures testify of these matters. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 (NKJV), Paul warns the church about false apostles but also expounds on Satan’s power to deceive:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Paul also warns Timothy – and by extension Church leadership – about doctrines of demons in 1 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV):

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons…”

Not every sweet voice that whispers to you good sounding things is of God! 1 John 4:1-3 NKJV:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Yeshua HaMashiach has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Yeshua HaMashiach has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

Why is it so critical we place our trust and faith – pledge our fealty and sacrifice our lives – to Christ? In large part because Christ is truth and everything else is a lie! John 18:37 (NKJV):

Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”

Yeshua answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

John 14:6 (NKJV) reads:

Yeshua said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 8:31-32 (NKJV) reads:

Then Yeshua said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in my word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Most people remember verse 32, but not verse 31, which instructs us to abide in Yeshua’s words, to be disciples (disciplined ones) of Him! We can see clearly from the scriptures above that a chief aim (or even THE chief aim) of Yeshua’s earthly ministry was to prove there is an absolute truth and to lead people to that truth! Ever notice how Paul frames spiritual warfare almost in the terms of a debate in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5? The scripture reads:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…

Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to Christ – the mind is central to spiritual warfare, and truth is central to obtaining the mind of Christ!

We now know that we cannot come to the Father, except through Yeshua. But are we allowed to worship our Father in just any way? Well, the answer has some depth. While Abba – YHWH our Father – is absolutely a loving God (1 John 4:8 NKJV: He who does not love does not know God, for God is love), he is also absolutely a Holy God – Jehovah Tsidkenu, the LORD of righteousness. (Leviticus 19:2 NKJV: “Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘You shall be holy, for I YHWH your Elohim am holy.”) In our Father, there isn’t even the slightest hint of evil – James 1:17 NKJV: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

In the Old Covenant, there were many rituals and laws designed to protect people from YHWH’s holiness. You might be saying – say that again? Because the people were sinful – and because the only mediator between YHWH and man was the Law, which was perfect but unattainable for man – YHWH had to protect the people from Himself lest he obliterate them with his holiness. Take for example the story of the profane fire from Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10 1-3 NKJV):

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before YHWH, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from YHWH and devoured them, and they died before YHWH. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what YHWH spoke, saying:
‘By those who come near Me
I must be regarded as holy;
And before all the people
I must be glorified.'”
So Aaron held his peace.

Nadab and Abihu offered profane fire in a manner not instructed according to YHWH’s righteousness and were consumed by his holiness.

Now, Yeshua has come, and stated in John 4:24 (NKJV) “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Moreover, by His death and resurrection, He tore the veil between God and man, pouring out His Spirit and serving as Mediator of a new covenant that grants direct access to our Father (Hebrews 9:11-15 NKJV):

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this reason He is Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Yet this still doesn’t mean “worship any which way you please!” As 1 John 2:3-4 states:

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Yeshua had many commandments – such as the one above, “abide in My word.” Or the whole Sermon on the Mount. But it’s about time to wrap this post up.

The take away I’m getting at is, you can’t just trust your emotions when it comes to spiritual encounters. Satan is deceitful. Most people aren’t going to knowingly worship something evil, but they might be duped into abandoning the truth for a sweet sounding lie. (This is sometimes called COMPROMISING!) Make sure you know the truth. Pray that the Holy Spirit aid you in living the truth.

Musings on Metaphysics

Because it’s been coming up every so often in my personal life, let’s discuss metaphysics, shall we?

Solomon laments the task of philosophizing in Ecclesiastes (a book estimated to have been written nearly 3,000 years ago) when he states (ch 1 v 9-11 NKJV):

That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of things that are to come by those who come after.

Some of the most basic questions pondered throughout the eons concern questions of metaphysics. What is the universe and how did it get here? Is the universe eternal or was it created? If it was created was it created by one god or many gods? If there is a god or gods, where did s/he or they come from? And one of the most fascinating questions is, how is it possible that there came to exist anything at all?

Regrettably, a lot of the discourse on this matter in contemporary times is sullied by a false dichotomy that pits science vs. religion, as if having faith makes it impossible to see the utility in science or being a scientist requires one to abandon the “God hypothesis.” On the extreme end of things, certain scientific explanations take on faith-like qualities of their own – I would argue, in any case, that it takes a lot of faith to believe that something can be derived out of nothing, or that a universe with this much order (from the laws governing celestial bodies to the laws governing microbial bodies and everything beyond and in between) was a result of mere chance. But I don’t mean to get into a protracted analysis of science and faith here, particularly when I’m out classed and others have already written well on the subject.

Nor do I mean to drag out all the old philosophical arguments for and against different worldviews – though, I may get to that one day. No, today I just thought I’d share some scripture that has spoken to me and ask if they speak anything to you. The metaphysical question I’m addressing is whether or not God (YHWH) exists. First, I submit a small quote from Romans (ch 1 v 20-25 NKJV):

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man – and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

Paul’s argument here is that mankind has always known God existed. As David rejoices in Psalm 19, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork.” Creation itself is evidence for a creator – when we stumble across a cabin in the woods we don’t assume nature put it there through a combination of chance, luck and time…we assume someone built the cabin!

But soon man was overcome with futile thoughts (take note of this, as the mind is the strategic center for spiritual warfare, which I’ll write about in the future) and his heart was darkened. Professing to be wise – and surely, many atheists and agnostics and critics of YHWH, Yeshua, and the Bible come across as not merely just wise, but articulate, cogent and intelligent – man began to create their own God or gods. And one must ask where this wisdom comes from – as James would warn us (ch 3 v 15), some wisdom “does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.”

I could quote the rest of Romans chapter 1, which essentially deals with a reprobate mind, but the sum and substance of it really comes down to people being deceived. They think life is better free from YHWH’s “rules” and “laws” and system of morality – certain influential atheists have even gone as far to say they developed and propagated their views simply because they wanted to be free to sleep around and do drugs (direct quotes available in this video – sorry, don’t have time stamps – and here). Now, I don’t mean to impute judgment on people who want to live that kind of a lifestyle, but what I’m getting at is that people like that don’t realize they’re being deceived into thinking they are free when really they’re creating bondages for themselves.

This notion that one needs to prove that YHWH exists or prove He doesn’t exist is silly to me. Admit it, like it, or not, all we have to guide us through this life is our belief system. Changing beliefs is famously difficult. Most people demand “evidence” and pretend to “objectivity” but really we all have the human tendency to listen to what we want to hear and believe what we want to believe. This, I think, is one distinguishing mark of a true disciple of Yeshua – Yeshua promises the path will be narrow, full of adversity, and that, just as he did, his disciples will have to take up their own crosses and lay down their own lives (die to self) for their brothers. But he also states in John 18:37 that the entire purpose for his coming was to bear witness to the truth, and elsewhere in John that most famous of quotations that the truth shall set us free.

Genesis

Back when I was a little more arrogant (or, perhaps it is more accurate to say, proud of my own arrogance) I used to tell people I was writing my own memoirs. This started in my junior year of high school, and I titled the project “In Exile,” (later, “It’s Complicated”) with the first overall part being called “Genesis” and the second (and final) part being called “Exodus.” They didn’t really have much to do with the biblical books of the same name, other than the fact that Genesis dealt with my origins and Exodus was to deal with my (then impending and self-imposed) exile to Salt Lake City, which I presumed would last a lot longer than it actually did. Today’s retro-post is the introductory chapter from that project – written approximately six years ago (though an exact date is unknown).

I haven’t edited it or touched it up any, since who-knows-when the last time I worked on “It’s Complicated” was. A lot has changed in the intervening six years, but winter always seems to prod me towards introspection. And as some of you may know, Valentine’s Day is a very special and personal “holiday” (perhaps anniversary is a better word) for me, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Today has been about new beginnings, and that’s what I’m going to write about.

Lately, I’ve been a bit dissatisfied with the way my life has been shaping up. Around this time last year I was medically retired from the Marine Corps due to an incident that occurred around this time two years ago. My life has never been the same since February 14th, 2009. On that day an event occurred which would strip me completely of my identity – I had so thoroughly invested myself in being a “Marine” that being told I could no longer serve was like being told I no longer had a purpose in life. I had intended to serve until I died in battle or I was forced out (due to age, I mean, not what had happened). I’m making a long story short here, trust me.

Initially, I thought I’d return home and study philosophy – an old love of mine – and go into teaching. Somehow I convinced myself this wasn’t “realistic enough” and therefore I ended up getting a technology internship at a local non-profit that dealt with museums. I enjoyed this and was even offered a paid position there. However, the position wasn’t to last very long and so I thought the natural thing to do would be to try to make a career of the thing and go get a proper degree in the field.

I chose ITT Tech mostly because it was convenient and because I needed to start school straight away, in order to use my GI Bill benefits and continue to make enough money to pay the bills. (For those that don’t know, the new and improved Post 9/11 GI Bill includes a stipend that varies depending on where your school is located, meaning that in addition to having tuition more or less paid for, service members also receive a monthly income. Going to school was to be my new “job,” since I wasn’t particularly enthralled with studying for an IT degree.)

Today I made the 2 hour public transportation trek up to school only to find out that class was literally about 9th grade mathematical concepts. Problems like solve for X given the equation 3X – 5 = 10. (Not a joke.) Followed up with systems of equations (two variables, two equations, solve for X and Y). Now, I understand some people might need this kind of thing as remedial math, but this has been the tune of the course for the past 8 weeks. We started out doing basic fractions (addition and subtraction in week 1, multiplication and division in week 2). My other classes aren’t much better. The place is basically a degree mill; a series of hoops to jump through so at the end you can get a stupid certificate that says to someone in HR that you’re worth looking at (without which your resume would be junked by the auto-filtering programs and what not).

Outside of class, my roommate (whom I met at church) has been getting back into creative real estate. I’m not at liberty to talk too much about what he’s up to (trade secrets yadda yadda), he offered to teach me what he knows and work together on some deals. It can be pretty lucrative and he’s good at what he does but I feel as though it just isn’t for me. (I wasn’t interested in doing it for merely money’s sake, mind you – the idea was we were going to take the majority of the profits and use them for various ministries. One idea we’ve talked about is taking portable drills over to Africa and teaching people how to drill wells, irrigate land and grow food for themselves – and of course giving them the tools to do so.)

So anyway, one might say that “it suddenly occurred to me” that I didn’t have to sit around and be a victim of circumstance and relegate myself to a life of monotony. I might have to put up with ITT Tech for another quarter or two, but the idea came to me that I could study mathematics on my own in the interim and then make the switch to a proper college or university in the fall, with the intention of studying math/physics and becoming a math/physics teacher at middle school or high school.

Now, why do I go about using funny phrasing like “one might say it suddenly occurred to me” and the like? Well, it is my personal belief that all good things (which include good ideas) come from YHWH, who has gotten quite a bad rap as the guy known as “the LORD” thanks to a (series of) bad translation(s) of the bible. “The LORD’s” name is a very interesting subject and I highly recommend you read (one of several of) Pastor Ahyh’s writings as an introduction to the matter. The TL;DR (shame on you) of it is that the phrase “the LORD” is a really ugly substitution of the tetragrammaton (YHWH), which happened because of a misunderstanding about blaspheming the name and Jewish scribes using “Adonai” (which translates roughly to “lord”) rather than YHWH when copying manuscripts.

Because I had been so down on myself lately, I’d also been slacking on reading my scriptures, so I decided that I wanted to start reading at a pace that would put me through the whole Bible in a year. Simple math showed that I would only have to read 3.25 chapters a day to accomplish this, which was actually a lot less than I thought it would be – so this came as a great encouragement. (To this day, I still haven’t read the whole thing – I’ve read all the books of the Torah, and parts of the rest of the Old Testament, as well as all of the New Testament.) So after buying some note taking implements for my soon-to-be-embarked upon mathematics adventure, I decided to start at the beginning (Genesis 1:1) while getting a hair cut.

Which brings me to a gimmick – so to speak – for this blog. I’ll be sharing a bit of scripture each day from my reading and talking about it. I ended up reading 10 chapters of Genesis but there’s a lot to talk about even in just the first chapter. Today I want to talk about a narrative that has a bad reputation – the Fall of Man. From the New King James version:

[Gen 1:31] Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
[Gen 2:15-19] Then the LORD YHWH God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” And the LORD YHWH God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
[Gen 3:1-5] Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD YHWH God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

[Note, for a much more expert analysis of these passages, refer once again to Pastor Ahyh’s site.] It’s likely that most of my readership is at least familiar with this story – regardless of your religious inclinations, if you grew up in or around America you were probably exposed to the Bible’s creation story at one point or another. But there’s a reason I keyed in on these specific passages – there’s subtleties that the common understanding of this story seem to miss.

Take for instance the first passage – at the end of creation, YHWH surveyed His work and saw that everything was good. Indeed, the scripture says, it was very good. It is important to note that at this point in the narrative of creation, nothing which existed was evil. YHWH knew what evil was, but He had not created anything evil. Keep this in mind.

The second passage contains two things of note. The first is the commandment not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good or evil. Common understanding sees this as a sort of obedience test from God to man; I tend to agree with Pastor Ahyh’s interpretation that it is rather God acting as a parent and trying to prevent a child from doing something harmful (for example – “you may drink from all of these bottles, except for the one with the skull and the cross bones, for the day you drink from the bottle with the skull and cross bones on it you will surely be poisoned.” No parent is saying this as an obedience test, but rather out of concern for the health and safety of the child who doesn’t know any better.) As for the second interesting bit of this passage, my pastor, Pastor Rob Glickman, humorously pointed out in a teaching the first thing that YHWH looked upon which was not good was man – he (Rob) stressed that it was man that was not good, not woman. While this got a chuckle, he clarified that the passage didn’t mean that man was flawed per se (as that would be taking it out of context) but rather YHWH saw that it wasn’t good that man should be alone; all the beasts of the land and fish of the sea and birds of the air weren’t good enough to rectify this problem, only another human would do.

The final passage I’ve pulled out highlights how and why Eve was tempted to eat of the tree – the serpent implied that Eve would “become like God” if she ate of the tree. This is highly relevant to what happened to me two years ago and thus why I’ve taken note of it here. The rest of the story, which I didn’t quote, outlines God “punishing” Adam and Eve for “disobeying” Him. But go check out that link to Pastor Ahyh’s write up and recall the first passage… A bad TL;DR goes something along the lines of: Adam and Eve did not know evil until they ate of the tree; indeed, evil could not exist until they ate of the tree. This of course brings up all sorts of fun questions like “what is evil” and so on and so forth but that’s for another time, because I’m still not done talking about my day yet. Sheesh!

So as I said, I was reading through Genesis as I was getting a hair cut. I go to a place called the Associated Barber College, where you get your hair cut by (apparently) students who receive pointers from instructors (or maybe more senior students? I’m not entirely sure). Anyway, it’s cheap and they pay close attention to detail so I like going there. Midway through my cut my barber starts having a conversation with his supervisor about “being close to the edge” (or something of the sort) due to some drama at the shop. Awkwardly and unexpectedly the supervisor (who must’ve noticed I was reading the Bible) asked if I would pray for the barber (not on the spot or anything) which prompted the barber to say he didn’t need or want prayer. Moreover he claimed he was “all alone” in this world and that “no invisible being” had ever “helped him out” and everything he had ever gotten in his life he had gotten by himself.

Now we come full circle – this was exactly the same mindset I had 6 years ago when I was writing “It’s Complicated.” I don’t like to witness to people (as it is called) because I don’t consider myself a particularly strong Christian (for lack of a better term) yet, and while I think salvation is important and I pray that everyone I care about is saved, I’m not going around making a show of it in the streets. However, God put on my heart to talk to this man, so I waited until after he was done with my haircut to try and brooch the topic. I did a lot more listening than talking as he was very animated and passionate about his views (the same as I was six years ago with many of the same conclusions and problems – he described himself as an agnostic).

Eventually I was able to tell him just a little bit about myself – how I considered myself a self-made man, since I had sorta run away from home when I was 17 and then enlisted in the Marine Corps and did really well for myself yadda yadda. It wasn’t until two years ago, and the events that led me to being diagnosed with Bipolar Type 1 disorder, that I began to see things differently. I didn’t get to finish telling him my story, but as it turned out he too had been diagnosed as bipolar. I left him my phone number and told him perhaps we should have lunch or something some time.

So there you have it. A whole lot of words. If you’re going to be following this thing, expect more of the same.