When I first started this site, the first article that I ever wrote was an article titled "The Reason For This Site". Much time has gone by since then, so I have now decided to rewrite that article not only to share why I have started this site, but also why I have kept it going even after I was having second thoughts about it at one time. One of the main verses that first motivated me to start a website back in 2002 was the following....
2 Timothy 4: 2-5 says "Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry."
Although the apostle Paul wrote those words to Timothy during his time on earth (about teachers turning people to fables), I could see it coming to pass during 2002, but not nearly as much as I do now! Part of the reason that I did not see it as much back then may be partly because the apostasy has gotten worse since then, but I believe that it is also because I was still a fairly new believer, and still somewhat naive - even though I did understand that false teachers exist, according to both 2 Timothy 4:2-5 and 2 Peter 2:1-3.
So I first started a website back in 2002, but I started to have second thoughts about it shortly after starting it, mainly because I was going through severe bouts of depression and having anxiety attacks, and that lead me to conclude that I was just not spiritually mature enough to start my own Christian site. So I simply stopped working on the website for a while, and decided to just focus on growing closer to the Lord for the time being.
Around that same time, I had just been invited to an MSN message board which I thought was a Christian message board at the time, but I later found some of the teachings there to be both bizarre and unbiblical as I got to know the Bible a little better. Aside from the fact that the owner of this message board appeared to be teaching soul sleep (a doctrine that is taught by various cults), I later found out that she was posting as 4 different people on this message board - and she was even posting as a man! After I found this out, she only tried to justify her actions, and even acted as if she sincerely believed that she was not being deceitful. I had never seen anything like this, and was astonished at what I was witnessing. What was even more astonishing is that a couple of people on the message board were going along with this as if it was perfectly ok, and the message board just seemed to have a cult-like grip on them unlike anything I had ever seen.
After this experience, I left the message board and sank into a melancholy type of sadness. This bizarre experience had brought a tremendous amount of confusion for me as a new believer, and even made me feel like I was losing my faith at the time. It took me a while to get over the sadness and confusion that I felt...I became sick to my stomach, did not feel like eating much for days and was getting so little sleep that I actually started to hallucinate at one point.
However, after getting over the sadness, I eventually came to realize that God had allowed this experience for a purpose, and this experience is part of what inspired me to write my article titled Profound Simplicity. So there is definitely good that has come out of it. Although I felt like I was losing my faith at one point, the truth is that the faith that I did have was simply being tested (See James 1:3).
Around the same time that I was invited to that MSN message board, I had also joined another message board called "The Rapture Ready Message Board" back in November 2002. During my time on that message board, I was shocked to see how much apostasy was rampant there, considering that it is a message board on a prophecy based website. I expected prophecy minded Christians to be more aware of the deception that the Bible has predicted, especially since Jesus Himself said "Take heed that no one deceives you" (Matthew 24:4), but many of them seemed blind to it, including even some of the moderators there. And some of them were even nasty to me at times when I tried to point out some of the spiritual deception taking place.
Some of the moderators would sometimes close down threads that they disagreed with rather than just responding to the issues being raised (a rather cowardly way to moderate a message board, don't you think?), and I was quickly banned from the message board after pointing out that some of the moderators were doing this to me and one of my friends that I met there. I have personally watched the apostasy on that message board grow worse as time went by (between November 2002 and April 2008), and I was alarmed at how only a small handful of others on the message board seemed to notice the changes. It eventually got to the point were I was seeing little or no difference between many professing Christians and the rest of the world. I can't say if the message board is still like that right now since I was banned from it in 2008, but that is how it was during my time there.
Much of my experience on both of these message boards opened my eyes to how rampant the apostasy is today, and how deceptive "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4) can be. That is the main point of this story that I am sharing. Since that last verse that I quoted refers to Satan as "The god of this world", it should be no surprise to find that the Bible also says "the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19), and that Jesus Himself said the way to life is narrow, and there are few who find it (See Matthew 7:13-14)! So even though there will be certain topics on this site that battle against destructive doctrines, I want everyone to understand that my battle is not against people, but it is against the "spiritual hosts of wickedness" mentioned in Ephesians 6:11-12. I want people to understand that this is a spiritual battle that we all face, and that God's word is "the sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17).
I am sharing this story because I believe that God has allowed the unpleasant experiences that I went through on the message boards to give me a passion to alert the church about spiritual deception like I never had before, and especially spiritual deception which is posing as Christianity. Until my experience on both of those message boards, I was oblivious to how rampant spiritual deception is, and I also underestimated how bad it could be. God used these painful yet necessary experiences to get me once again motivated to start working on this site. I finally started working on it again in 2004 after stopping due to second thoughts that I was having (these painful experiences are also why I was motivated to write my poem titled apostasy shortly after starting to work on my site again).
But even if we don't have that passion to contend for the faith, it is something that the Bible itself commands in Jude 1:3 - so it is really just a matter of obedience to God's word, even though it will not make us popular (For more info, see Exposing Error: Is It Worthwhile? By Harry Ironside). So we don't do it to be popular, but out of concern for others, in spite of the fact that it will often lead to being hated by the very ones we are concerned for. The apostle Paul made it clear that he dealt with this kind of rejection when he said, "I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved" (2 Corinthians 12:15)
As I explained in my article titled Partaking of Christ's Sufferings, Jesus Himself was "despised and rejected by men" (Isaiah 53:3), and he made it clear in John 15:18-21 that His true followers would commonly receive the same treatment that He received. Are we seeing this treatment of Christians today? I believe that we are more than ever before, and that is why I wrote my article titled Unwittingly Proving The Bible To Be True. We should not be obnoxious or go out of our way to get the world to hate us, but the Bible makes it clear that the world's hatred towards Christians comes with the territory, and that Jesus Himself was also hated by the world in spite of the fact that He never did anything wrong.
Is this your idea of Christianity? Or are you following a more popular "Jesus"? Are you sure that you are following the Jesus of the Bible? Or are you following "another Jesus" which the Bible itself warned against in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4? I hope that this article and other articles on this site will get some people to seriously examine that since the apostle Paul wrote “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). And please take notice that Paul did not say "examine yourselves, whether ye be in a faith", but "examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith." With this in mind, it should be no surprise that the Bible itself commands us to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3).
To Encourage And Edify
I want people to be aware that contending for the faith is not the only purpose of this site though. I also hope that some of the articles on this site will encourage and edify Christians, and help them grow in their walk with the Lord. That is one of the main purposes of some of my articles such as The Believer’s Position in Christ and Motivation to Surrender. The the main purpose of my music page is also to encourage and edify. I don't want to be known just for what I am against, but also what I am for. I hope the very fact that I am against what the Bible calls "spiritual hosts of wickedness" (Ephesians 6:11-12) reveals that I am for God, and also for the benefit of mankind.
I also want people to understand that my word is not the final word, nor is the word of anyone else, but God's word is the final word. I can share with you what I have learned, but please keep in mind that I am still learning along with the rest of you. Although I appreciate it when people are willing to hear me out, I don't want people to just take my word for it or accept something just because I am saying it, but I am hoping that this site will encourage people to search the scriptures to see whether these things are so, just as the Bereans did in Acts 17:10-11 (and they were described in that verse as "fair-minded" for doing so, in spite of the fact that those who do so now are commonly regarded as "narrow-minded" by the world). I encourage you to do this with any teacher, no matter how sincere, loving or knowledgeable they may be, because it is God Himself who we need to become intimate with. That is why His word says "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).
The Lord's Return
Another reason I have started this site is because I want people to be ready for the return of Jesus, which I believe could happen at any moment. I have given reasons for why I believe this in my article titled The Pre-tribulation Rapture, and this next verse tells about the day that Jesus will come back to take His followers to be with Him forever: 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 says “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so we shall always be with the Lord.”
Although Harold Camping predicted for Jesus to return on May 21, 2011, anyone who has had a firm understanding of biblical prophecy knew that it was wrong for him to do so, and many of them were even warning that Harold Camping was a false prophet before May 21, 2011 had come. The truth is that no one knows the day or hour that Jesus is going to come, as Jesus Himself has said in Matthew 24:36-44 - and that is why it was wrong for Harold Camping to make the prediction. In my article titled Harold Camping's Prediction, I showed toward the end of the article that Harold Camping has now apologized for his false predictions, but I still feel the need to address this to make people aware that his prediction did not come from the Bible, and to clear up any confusion that his prediction may have caused. In spite of the fact that he has apologized, confusion about this still seems to abound.
Even though no one knows the exact day and hour when Jesus is coming back, the Bible has given us signs which now prove that His return is near! I have shared plenty of info about those signs on my page titled Megiddo 1 & 2: The March to Armageddon And The New Age. I have been updating that page so often due to the fact that the signs of the times are now EXPLODING all around us like never before. So much of it has been happening so quickly, and it is for that reason that I have had so much to post on that page lately. The world does not end right after the rapture as Harold Camping has taught, but the rapture will be followed by a period of time that Jesus described as "great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21).
So one of the reasons that I have started this site is so people will not have to endure that horrific time period. Far from teaching a message of gloom and doom, and I am teaching the return of Christ for His own which the Bible describes as a "blessed hope" in Titus 2:13. According to 1 John 3:2-3, this blessed hope has a purifying effect on our lives. And for those who have received Christ, the Bible says that "God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonian 5:9). This could not be further from gloom and doom!
What Does God Save Us From?
Many people (including many who claim to be Christians, and myself at one time) do not understand what it is that God wants to save people from. In contrast, one of the Bible's Psalmists understood that it is God alone who can quench his spiritual thirst when he wrote "My soul thirsts for God" (Psalm 42:2). Yet many people blame God for some of what is just natural consequences of rejecting what alone can satisfy our souls: God! As I explained in my testimony, every material thing that I have sought for satisfaction has only filled the void temporary, and then the emptiness came back....and it only got worse when it came back.
In Revelation 20:14-15, we find that the lake of fire is described as "the second death". And Romans 6:23 tells us that "the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord". Since death in it's fullness is what the Bible has called "the second death", this would have to mean that the wages of sin is both spiritual death as well as physical death. And since John 3:36 shows us that the wrath of God is already abiding on those who are spiritually separated from His presence, I believe that the emptiness that they currently feel as the result of being without God is just a small taste of death in it's fullness - i.e., the second death.
Yet since the carnal mind is enmity against God as Romans 8:7 says, it is common for man, in his natural carnal state, to fret against God (See Proverbs 19:3) without even realizing what is really causing him to stumble (See Proverbs 4:19). It is in fact our rejection of God that causes us to stumble, and I say that because I have been there myself. I can even remember a time before my Christian life when I went so far as to call God a hypocrite, while I was blind to my own hypocrisy. So this site is not an attempt to make myself out as "holier than thou", but the point is that "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Romans 3:23-24).
Many people may not be openly bitter towards God as I was before my Christian life (and as some of the "new atheists" are), but I have explained in my article titled The Gift of God that attempting to earn our salvation (as if a free gift is something that is worked for) is actually the most subtle form of rejecting God. I also hope that will be made clear through the rest of this article.
“Beauty For Ashes”
This site is called Beauty For Ashes, and the name of this site comes from Isaiah 61:3. One of the things that the Bible teaches is that pain comes before beauty, and that verse talks about how God gives “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for morning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that we may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” So true Christianity is not about what we can do on our own, nor is it about seeking our own glory (See Proverbs 25:27). It is about what God can do for us through our faith in Him. You can read Ephesians 2: 8-9 and Titus 3:3-5 to better understand what I mean by that.
The entire passage of Romans 3:9-31 sums it all up, and through this passage it becomes very clear that no one is righteous. In case you think that passage does not make it clear enough, I will point out that the Bible even goes as far as to say that "all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). What we need to understand is that it is God alone who is righteous, and it is God who fills us with His righteousness as we get to know Him through the Bible, which is inspired by God Himself according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:19-21. We are justified by faith apart from our own deeds as some of the Scriptures posted above have explained, and according to Hebrews 12:2, Jesus Himself is the author and the finisher of our faith. So the purpose of this site is to point people to Him, and what He can do through us.
When the apostle Paul was writing to the Christians during his time on earth, he wrote “It is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). So Beauty For Ashes is not a philosophy based site - it is simply a Christian site (Read my article titled Philoshpy vs. Christ for more info).
Although there are many professing Christians today who trust in their own "righteousness", true Christianity is not about always being right, but on the contrary, it is about realizing that we have been wrong, so “that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world may become guilty before God”, as it is said in Romans 3:19. It is about surrendering to God and allowing Him to direct our paths rather than trying to direct them ourselves (See Proverbs 3:5-6). It is for those who have been wounded by sin - those who have experienced the pain and sorrow and the harm that sin naturally brings. It is for those who have realized that they can’t carry on without God. That is the reason to choose God’s way...not to seek our own glory, but because our own way will fail. When we have reached the end of our rope, and have become completely empty inside, and we realize that no material thing will fill the void inside any longer....that is often when we realize that God is all we have left. Brokenness comes before righteousness, and righteousness comes from God alone.
The Vanity of Pride
Proverbs 13:10 says “By pride comes nothing but strife, But with the well-advised is wisdom.” Once you humble yourself in the sight of God, He will lift your spirit like you have never imagined, which is why James 4:10 says “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
There is worldly sorrow and there is godly sorrow, as the apostle Paul explained in 2 Corinthians 7:10-11. Worldly sorrow is another form of pride, because it is an unwillingness to submit to God. We suffer because of our own sin, and sometimes because of the sins of others....but it is far better to suffer for righteousness’ sake (See 1 Peter 4:12-19). And all of the suffering in the world today is the result of man exalting himself above the knowledge of God. In Matthew 23:12, Jesus said “whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”. Those who have trusted this teaching know that it is faithful and true, and there is just simply no way around it. If you stick around and check this site for updates, you can find out more about the teachings of Jesus, and the meaning of life.
Beauty For Ashes, by Crystal Lewis and Ron Kenoly (Song on You Tube)
Beauty From Brokenness in the Mountains
Jesus Who? By T.A. McMahon - Shorter version
The "Jesus" The World Loves, by T.A. McMahon
Jesus Gets Tough - Part 1, by T.A. McMahon
Jesus Gets Tough - Part 2, by T. A. McMahon
False Teachers Among You, by Paul Van Noy
Is It Negative and Unbiblical to Name False Teachers? By Brannon Howse
Twenty Characteristics of False Teachers Embraced by the False Church, by Brannon Howse
8 Symptoms of False Teaching, by J.C. Ryle
A quote by J.C. Ryle
Seven Marks of a False Teacher [Excerpts]
How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire, by Chris Lawson
REJECTION OF BIBLICAL INERRANCY = ALL KINDS OF HERESY
GOD'S WORD IS THE FINAL WORD!
WHAT IS SALVATION?
BACK TO MY HOMEPAGE