Monday, August 31, 2015

Prison Chronicles

It was quite satisfying to see such a large stack of newsletters on my desk Sunday afternoon. The new Xerox ColorQube 8880 printer has been doing an awesome job. The print quality is the best I have ever seen for the newsletters. Added to the joy of the experience yesterday was being able to utilize my newly developed software program that has automated much of my record keeping and printing processes. The brother who has been working on this application for me has been putting in long hours, literally working through the night, to develop and test the software. He delivered to me a working copy early Sunday morning, and after a couple of tweaks, I was delighted to see the program work flawlessly as it spooled about 140 newsletters to my printer, requiring little more than my having to press three little buttons.

You can see the buttons on the right. I press button number 1 to clear all the table's fields to prepare for the new print run. Then I press number 2 which calculates the next newsletter to be printed for each man. Then I press button three which activates a Visual Basic routine that creates a mail merge table, opens Microsoft Publisher, opens the appropriate newsletter, loads the mail merge table, sends the newsletters to the printer, then closes Microsoft Publisher. I just sit back and watch it all happen as the process is repeated automatically until all of the newsletters have been sent to the printer.

The next couple hours the only thing I have to do is reload the paper tray on the printer when it is empty, and remove the growing stack of newsletters from the output tray.

All of this automation sounds easy, but the development of these routines was actually somewhat complex. For example, calculating which newsletter is to be printed next requires a fair amount of logic programming. All of the newsletters are divided up by books, and numbered accordingly. I normally start with book 1 and when it is complete I start sending book 2, all the way to book 20. Then I start sending miscellaneous shorter writings that have been put into newsletter format.

This would be fairly easy to program, but there are frequent exceptions to this process. I have men request specific books or writings regularly, which leads me to print something out of its normal numeric order. I never want to interrupt a book midway, however, so I will tell a man that I will begin sending him the requested writing as soon as he has completely received the series of newsletters currently being mailed to him. All of this had to be programmed into the logic of the application.

The way this is handled is that 4 columns were added to list special print requests. The program will always check these columns before calculating what newsletter is to be printed next for an individual. If something is listed in one or more of the columns, then the program will check to see if the man has completed his current series. If he has not, then the program will continue sending the current series until it is complete. If it sees that the man has just completed a series, it will then begin printing the special request, and will continue doing so until all of the newsletters in the requested book series have been mailed out. Once the special request(s) have been printed, the program will then return to the standard numeric sequence.

I used to have to keep up with all of this on paper. Now I simply enter the information into the spreadsheet as I receive it, and the computer does all of the calculations for me. A column was even added so that I can suspend a person's newsletters for a time per their request, and then start them back up at any time. I love all of this automation. It has greatly improved the efficiency of this part of the work. There is still considerable labor involved as I have to staple, fold, label, and affix postage to each of the newsletters, but it is a labor of love. I watched a Sons of Korak live concert on DVD on my laptop as I did the manual stuff yesterday. All in all, it was a landmark day, and highly satisfying.

I have been busy answering correspondence from men in prison today. I thought I would share the following correspondence as I believe it will be of interest, and hopefully instructive, to some who read it.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,

Joseph Herrin

Letter From an Inmate

Dear Joseph Herrin,
Peace be upon you! I receive your newsletter and am of the Islamic faith. I’m on the edge of converting to Christianity and have much influence over the Muslims at my institution. You may have a newsletter for the questions I have, but if you can provide information to prove your answers, I’ll be your brother in Christ and likely will get the other Muslims. My questions are:

1. How can you follow the Bible when its been changed so much?
2. There is no historical facts of Christ’s crucifixion. Why do you believe he died on the cross?
3. If he did die on the cross, was it a tree or a cross?
4. How did you make Baphomet, Mohammad?
5. Do you have any backing that Islam is actually Satanic?
6. How do you feel about St. Barnabas?
7. What is the origin of Christmas?
8. What is the symbolism of Santa Claus, etc.?
9. What is God’s proper name? In the Old Testament you had El and Yahweh, but the Hebrew alphabet didn’t have vowels.
10. Who are the Rosicrucians?
11. Can you debate any way that the Quran has been rewrote?
12. Why is Jesus pictured white when he was described different?

Alright, if you can answer these and have some proof, you can count me in as a soldier for Christ.

(Name Withheld)


Hello (Name Withheld),

Thank you for writing. I am very happy to reply to the letter you wrote to me. I typed up your letter and included it below so that you will remember clearly what you wrote.

Let me begin by addressing some misconceptions that you expressed in the first paragraph of your letter. Becoming a disciple of Christ is not something that a man can choose at will. It is not like joining a club, or enrolling in a school. Man’s ability to come to Christ in this life rests first and foremost with God choosing a man, not with the man choosing God.

I am very happy that you asked me to “prove” all of my answers, so I will begin by giving you evidence you can test that will demonstrate that what I have just shared with you is what Christ and the Bible teaches.

John 6:43-44
Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him...”

John 6:65
And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

John 12:37-41
But though [Jesus] had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him; that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this cause they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “He has blinded their eyes, and He hardened their heart; lest they see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and be converted, and I heal them.”

(Name Withheld), what the Bible teaches is that salvation in this age is a gift from God, and He bestows it upon those whom HE chooses. You cannot choose to become my Christian brother simply by a choice of your will. The reason for this is that becoming a Christian is much more than embracing a certain religion, or set of beliefs. To become a Christian a man must experience a second birth. All men have been born of woman. The Bible refers to this as being born of water. To be a Christian a man must also be born of the Spirit.

John 3:5-7
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'”

(Name Withheld), even as you did not come into this natural world by your own choice, you cannot enter into the spiritual realm of the kingdom of God by your own choice. Unless your natural father had chosen to place his seed into the fertile womb of a woman, you could not have been born. So too it is in the kingdom of God. Unless the Father in heaven chooses to place His spiritual seed in a man, that man cannot be born spiritually. The choice is Yahweh’s, not man’s. The apostle Paul expands on this idea in his letter to the Romans.

Romans 9:10-24
And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, "The older will serve the younger." Just as it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth." So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.

You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.
[End of Scripture]

I encourage you to study the words above until you have understood their meaning. There are many people today, even among those who profess to be Christians, that believe that in order for God to be just and righteous that He must give every man, woman, and child an invitation to receive His salvation. Some then conclude that God does so, but that not every person will accept God’s free gift. This places the power in every man’s hands to either accept or reject God. Such an idea is false, and is nowhere taught in the Bible.

What the Bible does teach is that all humanity was in Adam’s loins when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. Because we were in Adam as his seed, everything Adam did was credited to us. The seed is identical to the living thing producing the seed. When Adam disobeyed God, choosing his own will and ways over God’s will and ways, we did the same thing, for we were in Adam. This is why the judgment that fell upon Adam fell upon all humanity who would be born as his descendants. When Adam sinned, and came under the bondage of sinful desires, so did we. We were all born sinners because we made a fateful decision 6,000 years ago to rebel against our Creator and choose our own way. We made this decision by virtue of our being in Adam.

What many people today don’t understand is that when they say God must give all men an opportunity to accept Him as Lord of their life, or reject Him, is that all mankind has already faced such a choice and their choice was to reject their Creator and to serve the beast nature. To state it another way, we all chose in Adam to rebel against Yahweh. Yahweh had informed Adam that the consequences of him rebelling would be death. When Adam sinned, death entered into the world. All of us are subject to death because we were in Adam and we share the consequences of our forebear’s actions.

There is no law that requires Yahweh to show mercy to every man, or any man. Man was informed of the penalty of his sin before he transgressed. Nevertheless, Adam (man) willfully chose to disregard the will of his Creator. We are told in the Bible, that God in His great mercy sent forth His Son to redeem mankind from the curse of sin and death. Christ came to set men free from their slavery to sinful desires and to bear the penalty for their sins.

Romans 6:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The way in which men are set free from their slavery to sin is by being born again of the Spirit. Without the Spirit of Christ dwelling in us, we lack the power and the desire to subdue the evil passions and desires of the flesh and live uprightly before Yahweh. As we read earlier, God does not offer this gift of salvation to all men at this time. In this present age Yahweh is focused on calling a firstfruits company of sons to Himself. He is choosing to have mercy on some, while hardening others in their sin and unbelief. Mercy is never required to be given, otherwise it would not be mercy. Mercy is always an unmerited gift. Yahweh spoke through Moses saying, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Salvation is ALWAYS initiated by God. No man can come to Yahshua unless it has been granted to him by Christ’s Father.

I share this because your words reveal the presence of pride that will most certainly keep you from coming to God. You write as if you have the power to choose God and His Son at any moment, and that you can also influence others to become Christians as well. Can you cause a man to be born of the Spirit? You do not understand what it truly means to become a Christian. The apostle Paul wrote that the true test of whether a man belongs to God the Father is whether that man has become a partaker of the Spirit of Christ. A person does not become a Christian simply by confession, or by an act of his own will.

II Corinthians 13:5-6
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test?

This is the true test of whether a man is “in the faith.” If the man has been born spiritually and is a partaker of Christ’s Spirit, then that man belongs to Christ. If the man has not been born spiritually and does not have the Spirit of Christ, then He does not belong to Him.

Romans 8:9
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

(Name Withheld), the reason I say that the pride you are expressing will keep you from God is that the Bible tells us that Yahweh gives grace to the humble, but He resists the proud. Since it is Yahweh who chooses whom He will have mercy on, and He shows grace to the humble, it is advisable for all men to adorn themselves with a humble spirit.

It is a prideful thing for you to state that by an act of your own will, based upon the answers I provide to your questions, that you will become a Christian, and not only this, but you will influence the other Muslims to become Christians as well. Such a statement is an example of great hubris. You are speaking as if it is completely up to you to determine whether you come to God and His Son. The truth is that no man can come to Christ unless the Father grants that he should do so. Yahweh will have mercy on whomever HE chooses, and He will harden any man whom HE chooses so that man will remain bound up in his sin and unbelief.

It was necessary for me to share these things with you BEFORE I answer your questions. I want you to be informed that it is not left up to you whether you will become my brother in Christ. If I spoke truth to you, and answered every objection with perfect wisdom and discernment (which I make no claim to be able to do), there would be no guarantee that you could receive my words. The reason for this is that the truths of Christ must be spiritually discerned. If you have not been born of the Spirit of Christ, you lack the faculties to be able to understand spiritual words.

I Corinthians 2:14
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

A very common occurrence among those who come to faith in Christ is that they are humbled first. They come to see themselves as sinful men, women, or youth who have transgressed against a holy God, and are deserving of His judgment. Perceiving that there is nothing they can do to erase their guilt, or assuage the judgment of a holy Creator, they humble themselves like the tax collector that Yahshua spoke about in the Gospels.

Luke 18:13-14
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

(Name Withheld), you are in prison charged with serious crimes. You are among other men who have spent much of their lives committing many evil acts. Would it not be appropriate for you to approach God as did this tax collector, confessing that you are a sinner, and asking Him for mercy. Such a plea is far more likely to elicit a response of grace from Yahweh than the proud attitude you have expressed as you present yourself as one who will give me, or God, some great gift by becoming a Christian if I will answer your questions satisfactorily.

In your questions you asked the following:

How can you follow the Bible when its been changed so much?

Your question implies that the Bible is untrustworthy, having experienced numerous alterations and corruptions by man over the years. I fully admit that such changes have occurred to the Scriptures. One of my most recent writings is titled Yahweh’s Book. Following is an excerpt from that book.
I believe the Scriptures as originally written by men who were inspired of the Holy Spirit are free of error. However, we are thousands of years removed from the original autographs of these men, and if you are like me, the Bibles you read today have been translated into a language unknown to the Hebrew and Greek speaking writers. No matter how careful scribes are, or how much integrity men manifest in producing a Bible translation, errors are unavoidable. It is a sad reality, however, that not all who work on copying or translating Scriptures manifest integrity. In this fallen world we have sin and Satan to contend with. It should come as no surprise that Satan has paid special attention to introducing error into the pages of the Bibles that millions of people read.

II Corinthians 11:3-4
But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.

As much as Christians may protest, the fact remains that the very thing Paul warned against in the verses above has occurred. The serpent by his craftiness has led millions astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. One need only observe how the church has lost all practical knowledge of the feast days of Yahweh and have substituted the idolatrous celebrations of Christmas and Easter in their place. In this, they are no different than Jeroboam who erected an altar and golden calf in both Dan and Beersheba as a substitute for the true worship of Yahweh. One can also observe how many churches refer to Sunday as the “Sabbath Day.” The Biblical Sabbath has always been the 7th day of the week. It begins at sundown on Sunday and runs until sundown on Saturday. Sunday is the first day of the week, and it is never called the “Sabbath” in the pages of Scripture. Yet the substitution of dates and holy days is merely the tip of the iceberg. So extensive has been Satan’s work in introducing falsehood and corruption to the church that there is hardly an area of doctrine or church life that has not suffered profound alteration. The apostle Paul prophesied the following regarding the state of the church in the last days in which we now live.

II Timothy 4:1, 3-4
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons... For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

As one surveys the landscape of Christendom today they will observe thousands of denominations and sects all having embraced discordant beliefs. That great error has permeated the body of Christ is hardly debatable. Millions imbibe the polluted waters of false doctrine weekly as they attend their myriad houses of worship. Seeing that Yahweh has not preserved the church without error, why would believers think that the Bible has escaped unscathed through the millennia? The Scriptures have been in the care of sinful men. They have been copied and translated by people who are subject to all the failings of the sinful flesh. The Bible has been distorted as translators and copyists have been motivated by politics, monetary considerations, sectarian beliefs, and various base impulses.

Does it trouble you to hear one of Christ’s ministers declare that all existing Bible versions contain error today? If it does, perhaps your understanding of the environment that is most suitable for spiritual growth needs correcting. Spiritual beings need an adversarial environment to provide them an opportunity to struggle. It is the struggle that transforms fleshly beings into spiritual. Yahweh in His wisdom has allowed sin to be present in the church, and error to enter into the Scriptures, for He knows that the struggle of each individual to arrive at truth is essential to their attainment of spiritual maturity. Yahweh both tests and judges His children as He observes how they respond to the apostasy that exists in Christendom. Do they struggle against the darkness of error and sin? Or are they complacent, accepting as truth whatever other men and women tell them? In the kingdom of God, it is those who stir themselves up, and prepare themselves to do spiritual battle, who make the most progress. Complacency will consign an individual to become mired in the falsehoods and myths that thousands of years of sin and deceit have produced.

I would exhort Christians to view the presence of myriad and profound errors in the Bibles available to them today as an opportunity to exercise themselves spiritually. Do not think that Christianity cannot exist and flourish without a belief in an inerrant Bible translation today. The fact that the church is leavened with sin and error does not prevent you from walking as an overcomer in Christ. You simply need to rise up, exercise yourself unto godliness, and extricate yourself from the morass that Christendom has fallen into. The fact that all Bibles today contain error, much of it profound, does not prevent you from arriving at the knowledge of the truth. You have the Holy Spirit as your helper, and Yahweh will not withhold truth from those who prove themselves to be lovers of it.
[End Excerpt]

These words above explain why I do not believe that errors and corruptions having entered into the Biblical texts are an obstacle to faith in Christ. Quite the contrary. They present an opportunity for those who are lovers of truth to prove themselves as they accept Paul’s admonition to Timothy found below.

II Timothy 2:15
Study to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

My answer to your question points back to the important role the Spirit of Christ plays in the life of those who are Yahshua’s disciples. The Bible contains errors, but the Spirit whom Christ has sent to indwell mankind always speaks truth.

John 16:12-14
“I [Yahshua] still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.”

No matter the corruptions that Satan and fallen men have introduced to the Bible, the Spirit of Christ will guide those who are attentive to His voice to the truth. Your next question was:

There is no historical facts of Christ’s crucifixion. Why do you believe he died on the cross?

What do you identify as “historical facts”? If the testimonies of eyewitnesses, preserved for posterity in a vast number of ancient manuscripts, is not to be considered historical fact, then there is not much that could pass your test. The crucifixion of Christ was spoken of by many witnesses to the event. These include Christ’s disciple John who was present at the crucifixion, and Peter who was present during Christ’s arrest and questioning. Both Peter and John were also eyewitnesses to the empty tomb, and the angel who appeared to tell them that Christ had risen. We also have the testimony of Matthew, another of Christ’s disciples who was an eyewitness to these events. John begins his Gospel account with the following words:

I John 1:1, 4
What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life... these things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

The following citation is taken from a writing titled 129 Facts of Jesus Christ.

If you still don't think Jesus lived in person on earth then that issue can be tackled elsewhere since 95 to 99% of sceptical and non-sceptical scholars do not doubt Jesus walked the earth. If you are going to deny the life of Jesus then you will have to throw out everyone in history, because Jesus is the most documented person in antiquity.

In "The Historical Jesus - Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ" (1996) by Gary R. Habermas, the leading scholar on the resurrection, we can summarize what the earliest sources have said (pages 225, 250-253). Tiberius Caesar who died four years after Jesus only has 9 sources of him whereas Jesus has 45 sources within 150 years of their deaths.

"We have examined 45 ancient sources for the life of Jesus, which includes 19 early creedal, four archaeological, 17 non-Christian, and five non-New Testament Christian sources. From this data we have enumerated 129 reported facts concerning the life, person, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus, plus the disciples' earliest message..."

"Of all the events in Jesus' life, more ancient sources specifically mention his death than any other single occurrence. Of the 45 ancient sources, 28 relate to this fact, often with details. Twelve of those sources are non-Christian, which exhibits an incredible amount of interest in this event.

"Not only is Jesus' death by crucifixion of major concern to these authors, but 14 of 28 sources give various details about the crucifixion, from medical observations to political information concerning the current rulers, to historical specifications of the times in which Jesus died, to religious details about the reason for his death...It is fair to assert that this is one of the best-attested facts in ancient history.

If you would know more about the historical evidence regarding the life and crucifixion of Christ, I would refer you to the book mentioned in the article above, or a great many other books that look at the historicity of Jesus’ life. Your next question was:

If he did die on the cross, was it a tree or a cross?

The Bible states that Yahshua was crucified both on a cross and a tree. The reference to Yahshua being crucified on a tree is a form of symbolic speech. The cross was made of wood, and wood comes from a tree, thus it is appropriate to state that Christ was crucified on a cross and on a tree.

Galatians 3:13
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree."

Galatians 6:14
But may it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Note that both of these statements were written by the same man (the apostle Paul) and are found in the same letter which he addressed to the church in Galatia. Paul had no problem stating that Christ was crucified on a tree and on a cross. Your next question was:

How did you make Baphomet, Mohammad?

You will have to provide me with the source of this association as I do not remember having made such a statement. However, I will state that all false religions are of the deceiver, who is Satan. Consider the following words of Christ.

John 10:7-8
Jesus therefore said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.”

Although Mohammad came AFTER Christ, the saying still applies to him, for Mohammad is presenting another door for people to enter to gain access to God. Any who say they are the way to God (other than Yahshua) are liars and the truth is not in them.

John 10:1
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.”

If Christ is true, then those who say Mohammad is the way to God are thieves and robbers. They are seeking to steal that which belongs truly to Christ and ascribe it to another. You also wrote:

Do you have any backing that Islam is actually Satanic?

In the book of Acts the apostle Peter declared the following words on the day of Pentecost.

Acts 4:12
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”

The apostle Paul declares a similar thing.

I Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all.

If that were not enough, we also have the words of Christ Himself who said “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Islam denies that these things are true. Therefore, Islam is a work of Satan who is the great deceiver who deceives the entire world. Islam presents an image of Christ that is distorted. It denies the crucifixion, the resurrection, and the deity of Christ. Islam says that Isha was a prophet, but Mohammad is a greater prophet. This is a lie, and Satan is the father of lies. Yahshua said:

John 8:43-44
“Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.”

Next you wrote:

How do you feel about St. Barnabas?

I do not know whom you are referring to as “St. Barnabas.” The use of the prefix “St.” before the name of a Biblical or extra-Biblical person is a practice promoted by Roman Catholicism. Roman Catholicism in no way resembles the faith of Christ and His apostles, or the faith of the early church. Roman Catholicism is a corruption of that which is holy. It is falsehood and deception pretending to be Christianity. I have written much about the errors of the Roman Catholic Church. I will print out some of these writings and send them to you.

There is a Barnabas mentioned in the Bible, but I do not know him as “St. Barnabas.” The Barnabas I know was a Jewish follower of Christ from Cyprus whose actual name was Joseph. The name Barnabas was a nickname given to him by other believers which means “son of encouragement.” This Barnabas was a companion of Paul during Paul’s first missionary journey. He has a good reputation among the body of Christ.

There is an early book called the Gospel of Barnabas that was attributed to this same companion of Paul. However, the early church did not consider this book authentic, or to pass the test of a divinely inspired writing as the rest of the Scriptures, so it was rejected for inclusion in the canon of Scripture. Next you wrote:

What is the origin of Christmas?
What is the symbolism of Santa Claus, etc.?

I am sending you writings I have posted on this subject as well. Christmas was not observed in the Bible, nor known among the disciples of Christ and the church of the book of Acts. As I mentioned previously, Satan has worked tirelessly to introduce corruptions into the church of Christ. These things are shameful, but they do not present an obstacle to a true disciple of Christ. Rather, they are a means by which Yahweh is able to prove those who love the truth, and those who do not. Next you wrote:

What is God’s proper name? In the Old Testament you had El and Yahweh, but the Hebrew alphabet didn’t have vowels.

It may be true that the ancient Hebrew alphabet did not include vowels, but the spoken language has always included vowel sounds. Your question implies that since we do not have the most early Hebrew manuscripts telling us how the name of God should be pronounced that we cannot be certain of the pronunciation today. I do not disagree with this conclusion. I have a writing posted titled The Usage of Divine Names in which I have discussed this subject. I admit that it is not possible to be certain about pronunciation of Yahweh’s name, but I do not perceive this to be an impediment to the worship of Christ and the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yahweh judges the thoughts and intentions of men’s hearts, and it is enough that His Spirit within us cries out to Him as our “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:15-16
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God...

Next you wrote:

Who are the Rosicrucians?

I can tell you who the Rosicrucians are not. They are not Christians, for they deny the basic truths of Christ’s unique role as the only way to access the Father. The Rosicrucians teach that all religions are like petals on a flower. They say that all religions lead to God and are acceptable unto the Creator. These are assertions that the Bible condemns.

Acts 4:12
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”

I Corinthians 3:11
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

I Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all...

I John 5:11-12
And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.

(Name Withheld), all of these Scriptures, and many others, declare that Jesus Christ/Yahshua the Messiah is the ONLY way to the Father. Salvation is found in no other name; not Mohammad, not Buddha, not Confucius, not any of the Hindu gods, etc.. This is one evidence that Islam is a lie. Islam claims to revere Isha/Jesus while denying His unique position as “the only begotten Son of God,” and “the only name given under heaven by which men might be saved.” If Islam is true, then Christ and His disciples were liars. If Christ and His disciples spoke truth, then Islam is a lie and a deception of Satan. Next you wrote:

Can you debate any way that the Quran has been rewrote?

There are many sources available for anyone to search out who wants to look into this subject. The Quran has undergone changes since it first was written, just like any other ancient manuscript that has been kept alive and passed through the hands of many men. This is not a subject that has drawn my attention, and I see little reason to include it as a test of the authenticity of the Christian faith. Whether the Quran has been altered, or whether it has been preserved perfectly, it is still a book that contains a heretical view of the identity of Christ, denying His deity, His crucifixion, and His resurrection from the dead.

Your last question was as follows:

Why is Jesus pictured white when he was described different?

Your question once more goes back to the issue of men introducing corruptions into what is referred to as the Christian faith today. Just as the Bible has been corrupted, and even as many heretical practices and beliefs have been introduced into Christianity (Christmas, Easter, eternal torment, being but a few examples) so too have men created images of Christ that contain error and lack authenticity.

The Bible reveals that Jesus/Yahshua was born of Jewish kin. He would have had the complexion and appearance of the Jewish people. He was not a white man. He was not a black man. He was Semitic. He did not have long hair as many pictures portray Him, for long hair was a shameful thing for a Jewish man and dishonored God, as Paul declared in I Corinthians.

I Corinthians 11:14
Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him...

Christ did not have a short beard, as most drawings show Him to have. He had a full beard. This is revealed in the fact that the Roman soldiers pulled His beard out by the handfuls. You cannot grab the beard of a man with a short beard.

Isaiah 50:6
I gave My back to those who strike Me,
And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.

If you would judge the authenticity of the Christian faith, you should not look to the corruptions of man and of fallen angels to prove or disprove it. That there are a great many errors which have entered into the church in this hour fulfills what was prophesied about the state of the church at the end of the age 2,000 years ago. The apostle Paul wrote:

II Thessalonians 2:3
Let no one in any way deceive you, for [the day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy (a falling away from the truth) comes first...

II Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.

Christ also spoke of many deceivers coming to lead His disciples away into error before His return.

Matthew 24:24
“For false Christs and false prophets will arise... so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.”

As I mentioned previously, the fact that Yahweh has allowed Satan to have much success in introducing error into the Christian faith does not hinder those who love truth and pursue Christ with a whole heart. Rather, the presence of error serves to distinguish those who are faithful and those who are not. Those who are zealous for Christ and who love truth will contend for the faith. They will labor to divide between truth and error, and to separate themselves from all the apostasy that is present in the churches today. The very low spiritual condition of the church provides an environment for those who are advancing toward spiritual maturity which requires them to battle for truth and to overcome many who stand in opposition. In this way the sons of God learn spiritual warfare and are driven time and again to their knees to pray that the Father would guide them into all truth.

It is my earnest hope that you would humble yourself before God and invite Him to do the same for you. Confess to God that you desire to know the truth, and ask Him to guide you to His truth, and trust that He will do so.

Joseph Herrin

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Crossing the Music Minefield

Joseph Herrin (08-29-2015)

I have concluded that I had better post a follow-up now to my recent blog titled Music Quest as my inbox is filling up with e-mails on the subject. I have had many people write to me to suggest musicians and groups that they enjoy or would recommend to others. I have profited by becoming acquainted with some music I was not aware of previously. The group mentioned most frequently, and one which I am happy to report appears to produce some spiritually uplifting music, is a group out of Australia called Sons of Korah.

Clicking on the “About” page will eventually bring one to the explanation for the name of this group. Following is an excerpt.

About the name
The name “Sons of Korah” comes from a group of Old Testament Levitical musicians to whom at least 13 of the Psalms are attributed. The original Sons of Korah were responsible for the ministry of music and song in the Old Testament worship and particularly with the musical composition and performance of the psalms...

The Story of the Sons of Korah is a wonderful story of God's grace. In the Old Testament text of the Psalms reference is made to those who were involved in the composition of the psalms. Psalms 42 to 49 as well as Psalms 84 to 88 are attributed to a group known as the "Sons of Korah". It appears that this family of musicians were descendants of the same Korah who led a rebellion against Moses in the desert (Numbers 16). This was a serious crime that led to serious consequences for all those involved. We read that God caused the ground to open up and swallow all those who were involved in the rebellion along with their families (vs31ff). The idea of a judgement like this that involved the wiping out of the rebels as well as their families was that the line of the rebellious should not continue in the earth. It is therefore quite surprising that in Numbers 26:11 we read the words: "The line of Korah, however, did not die out." And sure enough as we follow the genealogies through Chronicles we see that that the line of Korah did indeed continue. According to 1Chronicles 6:31ff, David, when he was organising the different tasks for the temple worship, assigned the ministry of song for a large part to the Kohathites. The head of this group was Heman who is the writer of Psalm 88 and more significantly is a direct descendant of Korah the Kohathite. Hence the psalm is also attributed to the Sons of Korah. It seems that at some point this musical family came to be called after their rebellious forefather. Korah was an infamous historical figure in the Israelite consciousness, remembered as an example of rebellion against God. To be related to him would have been a notable thing, though not necessarily a negative thing. The continuing existence of this family line was a testimony to the grace of God who, although he would be right to wipe out the memory of sinful men from the earth, is nevertheless forgiving and whose heart is always for restoration and redemption rather than for destruction. The Sons of Korah were therefore a living testimony to God's grace. They certainly had much to sing about. We feel the same way.
[End Excerpt]

With this explanation, Sons of Korah seems like a very good name for a group whose music has consisted entirely of performing the Psalms. It has the added testimony of expressing the idea that  they too were once sinners and rebels estranged from Yahweh, who have been shown abundant grace. A good name would not mean much, however, if the music the group produced was not pleasant to listen to. I was delighted to find that it is beyond pleasant. I found the music, much of which can be heard on YouTube, to be spiritually uplifting as well. Following is a sample.

I believe there are 8 separate albums which have been produced by this group. You can find them all for sale in CD format, or as a digital download, at the following link.

The price is a bit steep, and I wanted to purchase all of this wonderful music, so I looked on Ebay and was able to find the complete collection of 8 CDs for sale for considerably less than the $200 it would have cost me at the link above. I did manage to spend my entire music budget with this one purchase, but I believe I will be well satisfied having done so. The albums purchased will provide many hours of pleasant and spiritually uplifting music. That is a rare and precious thing.

There were other good recommendations for music. You can find some of them in the comments under the blog titled Music Quest. As I mentioned, individual taste does play a factor in one’s enjoyment of music. Not all of the groups or individuals that readers recommended are producing music that I would choose to listen to, but that does not mean there is anything spiritually amiss in the music. There are some genres, or sounds, that each of us will find appealing or unappealing. I will list additional music that was recommended to me at the end of this post.

In this blog post I want to focus on a specific aspect of music’s appeal to individuals. The Bible informs us that those who are new creatures in Christ are tripartite beings. We have three distinct parts to our makeup. We have a body that serves as the place of habitation for our soul and our spirit.

I Thessalonians 5:23
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Yahshua Christ.

Those who have not been born of the Spirit of Christ are what the Bible refers to as Adamic men, or “mere men” (I Corinthians 3:3-4). This is how we all enter this world. As Adamic men we are bipartite beings. We have a body and a soul.

Genesis 2:7
Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Our body was formed of the dust of the earth, and to dust it will one day return. This body was animated as Yahweh breathed life into it. This life is what we refer to as our soul. Man is not complete when he is merely an Adamic man. Yahweh determined that man should attain to His image and likeness and He is a tripartite being consisting of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is commonly understood that Yahweh is a triune being. (See the writing Yahweh, His Breath, and His Word for an explanation of this.) What is less commonly known is that Yahweh also is described as a seven part being.

Revelation 4:5
And from the throne proceed flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God...

The numbers 1, 3, and 7 are peculiarly linked to the nature of God. The Bible tells us:

Deuteronomy 6:4
“Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one...”

It also tells us that God exists as three persons, or manifestations.

I John 5:7
So there are three witnesses in heaven: the Father, the Word and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.

(Yahshua, the Son of God, is referred to as “the Word.”)

As we have seen, the Bible also speaks of the seven spirits of God. It should not be surprising, therefore, that a completed man should also manifest these same numeric characteristics. I am one man. Yet I also have a body, a soul, and a spirit, making me a three part man. These three parts can be further subdivided into seven parts.


Cognition (Mind)
Volition (Will)

Body (Sensory life)

It is pertinent to the topic at hand to note that music appeals to man at all levels of his being. There is music that appeals to the flesh of man; his body, or sensory life. There is music that appeals to the soul of man; to his mind, his will, and his emotions. There is also music that appeals to the spirit of the new creation man.

The challenge laid before those who are disciples of Christ is to distinguish at which level(s) music is appealing to them. The apostle Paul wrote about the necessity to develop the discernment to divide between the various parts of our being.

Hebrews 4:11-12
Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

I will not go into a discussion of Sabbath rest here. I will only define this rest as being in a state of agreement with Yahweh. In this condition there is an absence of striving. The flesh and soul have been brought into subjection to the spirit, which is the proper order of things.

A great tragedy is that most Christians today are unaware of the need to divide between soul and spirit. Most cannot tell the difference. They do not know how to judge the thoughts and intentions of their own hearts. Many think a thought is a spiritual thought when in actuality it is a soulish thought. Many believe they have had a spiritual experience when they have in fact had a soulish experience. Many confuse soulish excitement for spiritual experience. This confusion exists when Christians are evaluating music. Many may hear a song that excites their soul, or even their flesh, and exclaim, “My! Wasn’t that a spiritual song!”

Many churches (I would venture to say the great majority of them) make much of this inability of Christians to divide between soul and spirit. They will put together a band and a group of singers who will give lively performances during their meetings. When everyone has gotten pumped up emotionally the preacher will come to the front and tell everyone that the Spirit of God is surely in that place.

Let us consider for a moment the following words of the apostle Paul.

Hebrews 5:14
But solid food belongs to those who are mature, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Paul is speaking of the ability to discern good and evil when it comes to testing doctrine. The same challenge is set before Christians as they are called to test music. What senses does one use to test doctrine? Paul is surely speaking of all of a man’s senses. At the physical level a man must use his sense of hearing, or sense of sight, to perceive a doctrine. At the soulish level a man must use his mind, or intellect, to understand and evaluate that doctrine. At the spiritual level a man must exercise his spiritual senses to evaluate good and evil in what he is hearing, or seeing. He must attend to the voice of his conscience, as well as communing with God that the thoughts of God might be made known to him.

It is this last area of sensory experience, that of spiritual sense, in which believers suffer the greatest deficiency. Not having exercised their spiritual senses, the majority of Christians find that their spiritual discernment is lacking. They are ill equipped to discern between good and evil. This is true whether they are considering doctrine, or evaluating music.

What makes this lack among Yahshua’s body even more problematic is that most who confess to be believers in Christ are unaware of the need to divide between soul and spirit. A common experience among Christians is that, having consulted with their soul, they believe they have received counsel from their spirit. This subject is described in greater detail in the book Sabbath. See particularly the chapter titled The Tree of Strife.

If we are to properly identify good and evil in any realm of life, we must exercise ALL of our spiritual faculties. What I have found is that many when posed with the challenge to make a distinction between good and evil, use only their bodily and soulish senses to do so. When we ask a person to give a recommendation, we are ultimately asking them to divide between good and evil. When I invited readers to share with me their recommendations for uplifting spiritual music, I anticipated the response I would receive would be a mixture of the soulish and the spiritual. This proved to be the case.

I am going to run through an example of how I evaluated the various music recommendations that were sent to me. This example is given to serve an instructive purpose, for it will reveal how all the senses come into play when a believer is called to evaluate between good and evil. It will also serve as a guide for those who wish to identify at which level of their being the music they are listening to is appealing, or unappealing, to them.

The example I am going to use is the music of Josh Garrels. Two brothers in Christ wrote to me separately to recommend this man’s music. I had never heard of Josh Garrels before, and I suspect that many of those who read this blog have never heard of him. He will therefore make a good test case, for the challenge to discover whether his music is spiritually uplifting will be confronted without any prior prejudice in the matter.

Josh Garrels

In December of 2011, Christianity Today named Josh Garrels as “Album of the Year” winner. The album he had released that year was titled Love & War & The Sea In Between. You can read the full story at the following link.

Josh Garrels has a very unusual musical style. It is not at all what one would anticipate hearing if they were listening to a Contemporary Christian Music station. The eclectic nature of his music is what many people find appealing. His approach to the music industry is also quite unusual. He gives away all of his new albums for one year before he begins charging for them. The reason for doing so, is impressive.

Love & War & the Sea in Between, the culmination of 18 months of grinding away at the creative machine and perhaps the biggest leap of his life: He is giving away the album for one year. Seriously. Download it for free at It's no marketing gimmick or publicity stunt. It's not even Garrels's idea. It's God's. In the spring of 2011, the album was almost ready, lacking only Josh's final vocals, arguably his best instrument. But he'd been fighting colds and flu, and lost his voice for four months. He tried antibiotics, vitamins, steam, extra sleep, lots of prayer. Three weeks before the album deadline, Garrels began fasting. One afternoon, while taking a hot bath, he said aloud, "Lord, I pray with this album that no one would rob you of your glory."

Garrels says God's reply was immediate: Are you going to rob me of my glory?

"I almost felt like Job," Garrels says. "All that time, Job had been basically raising his fist to God, saying 'What have you done?' And then when God finally answers, Job's humbled and put in his place. It was that kind of experience for me."

Garrels says he strongly felt God saying, "Give it to me." He says, "It was like an offering. I had to weigh the cost of giving away the most substantial work I'd ever done. It all came to me in about 20 minutes, like this big download. It reached a point where I had to say yes or no, and I had to say it out loud. So I said, 'All right. It's yours.' And I knew that meant I had to give it away for one year, like it was a year of Jubilee."

He got out of the tub, dried off and dressed, and came out to tell Michelle about his revelation. She started laughing, then crying "tears of joy," she says. She told Josh, "That sounds awesome!"

"It felt so exciting to me," Michelle says now. "So adventurous, so unknown. And it fit into this larger picture of what God had been teaching us about generosity, obedience, and simplicity. He obviously had plans far greater than our own, because it's something we never could have dreamed up..."

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the couple's finances have been just fine; as people discover his music, they're buying his older albums and coming to his shows, resulting in ample income.
[From Christianity Today article linked above]

Josh Garrels is in his mid-thirties now. He was admittedly a closeted rebel growing up. He had a good guy reputation at home and at school, but he would sneak out to the parties at night and drink and do drugs. He even sold drugs for a time. The Christianity Today article provides the following narrative.

Even as he lived a lie—good boy at home and school, bad boy sneaking out at night—he was still compelled to tell the truth. Once, when he and two teenage buddies were driving from one party to another, a cop pulled them over. They'd each had a few beers, and all had open cans in the car—including Garrels, who was behind the wheel. In the back seat, somebody was rolling a joint.

As the policeman approached, Josh's friends frantically tried to hide the evidence. But Josh, inexplicably, didn't panic, and when the officer asked if he had been drinking, Garrels looked him in the eye and said, "Yes sir, I have." His friends groaned and shook their heads. The cop asked Garrels to get out of the car, to walk in a straight line, to touch his nose, to count backwards. Garrels flunked them all. Busted, he thought.

The policeman looked down, kicked the gravel around a little bit, then said something wholly unexpected. "Get in the f---ing car!" he barked at Garrels. "And if I ever see you again, you're going straight to jail!" Josh and his buddies drove away in silence. Thirteen years later, Garrels remembers that episode as a strange sort of divine intervention. "I was already at a point where I knew something had to change in my life," he says. "It was like the Spirit of God was after me. I had a sense that we received grace because of my honesty and confession in that moment."
[End Excerpt]

At the age of 19 Josh surrendered his life to Christ. He spent three years in theological training while also pursuing his love of music and completing two albums. At the age of 24 he began pastoring a small Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Indiana. He was torn between ministry and music, and a few years later he made the decision to leave the pastorate in order to devote himself full-time to his music.

I learned these things by exercising my senses. I had to employ the senses of my body to ferret out sources of information on Josh Garrels, and to read the articles and view material. I also listened to a number of his songs, mostly watching YouTube videos. With my soul, I engaged my intellect to process the information that was coming in. At the same time I prayed, asking Yahweh to guide me. In my spirit I lacked a peace about some of the music I was listening to by Josh Garrels. It did not produce a sense of spiritual uplifting within me, and I wondered why. Was it the unusual nature of his music? Was it the absence of a clear testimony of Christ in most of his songs? Were certain comments I read about and by Josh Garrels the source of my unease? I needed to exercise further discernment before I could embrace his music, or recommend it to others.

There was nothing in the Christianity Today article that was particularly alarming. In fact, it presented an image of Josh as an unusually honest and sincere believer who was willing to follow Christ to acts of obedience that were beyond the norm for most Christians today. I know of very few musicians who give away their music, or who repeatedly turn down profitable contracts with record labels. That the sound of his music was different than other Christian music did not bother me. In fact, I would count that as a point in his favor, for I find most CCM music to be rather formulaic. Aside from a few exceptions, there are few popular Christian songs or singers that I like listening to.

I also read an article on NPR. I thought this to be an odd forum to feature an article on a Christian singer. NPR is known for its secular liberalism. It is not a station I would judge to be favorable to Christians or Christianity. So why did they produce a favorable episode on Josh Garrels? The article was titled A Christian Musician With More Questions Than Answers. Hmm... That did not strike me as particularly impressive. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with having questions. Many Christians would benefit from a good dose of humility and would do well to admit that they don’t know the answer to a great many things. But to have more questions than answers - that seemed like something one might expect to be said about a Christian who rejected the Bible as authoritative, and who might be willing to reconsider some very basic Biblical concepts regarding good and evil, truth and error. The article begins with the following.

There's an inside joke among some who sneer at contemporary Christian music: "Jesus Per Minute." How often does the artist say Jesus' name?

Last year, Christianity Today magazine named Josh Garrels' Love & War & The Sea in Between its album of the year. In 66 minutes, Garrels mentions Jesus exactly once. 

The absence of mention of the name of Jesus more than once on the album is not an indictment in itself. It depends on why the singer doesn’t mention Jesus more than once. What is he singing about? What fills up the rest of the album? The NPR article continues:

Garrels, a 33-year-old former skate punk who says he sold drugs in high school, lives in Portland, Ore., with his wife and three young children. His music has earned him an adoring following. He's been courted repeatedly by what's known as CCM — the contemporary Christian music industry — and he always declines.

"The music I make doesn't tend to go there all that often, like, just in awe of God," Garrels says. "More my music, I would say, is trying to peel back layers and find out where is God in the midst of this city that I live in, and this marriage I'm in, and these things that are going wrong and these things that are going right. Does that make sense?"

Josh Garrels asks questions more often than he offers answers.

He says he's comfortable performing on both sides of the sacred-secular divide: One night, the youth ministers are clapping; the next night, the bartenders are giving him high-fives.
[End Excerpt]

This still is a bit nebulous. There is nothing wrong with singing to the bar crowd. Yahshua was criticized for hanging around prostitutes and tax collectors, and the drinking crowd. He was Himself accused (falsely) of being a drunkard and a glutton. His reply was:

Mark 2:17
"It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

If Josh Garrels is in the bars to call sinners to repentance, then he should be applauded. The article includes the following words.

Garrels is playing a sold-out concert at Portland's historic Alberta Rose Theatre. He's sitting on a stool wearing a white skullcap, a work shirt and work boots and resting a Gibson guitar on his knee. While the venue is decidedly secular — his fans are sipping craft beer — Garrels does a little preaching toward the end of his set.

"The song is called 'Bread & Wine,' because we're invited to eat the body that's broken for us and drink the blood that's spilled for us, to enter into literally the suffering so we can receive something that is way beyond us and be healed."
[End Excerpt]

I don’t know if that was all that was shared. I wasn’t there. Journalists are notorious for cherry picking statements and giving a lopsided view of things. The comments provided by the NPR writer do not make mention of Josh speaking of mankind’s sin, the wages of sin, or a call to repentance. Perhaps Josh did speak some about these topics. Perhaps he did not. The subject of sin is not very popular. You will never find the Joel Osteens of the world preaching about sin and repentance. It would be nice to know what witness Josh Garrels is giving. The statement above is a far cry from  a gospel presentation.

Looking at the BIO page on Josh’s website, I was concerned about a statement I read there.

Love & War & the Sea In Between was influenced by the landscape of the Pacific Northwest, which Garrels calls, “mysterious and ominous.” A stark contrast to the four seasons he experienced during his youth, Garrels says, “The evergreens, mist, rain, rocky coast, and stretches of uninhabited woods feel wild and untamed. I think the terrain also influences the area’s culture and spirituality. Living here has deeply affected me and my work.”

I was raised in the Pacific Northwest. I grew up in the city of Portland, Oregon, the same city Josh now resides in. There is a lower percentage of people who attend church in Oregon and Washington than any other states in the nation. There is also a higher percentage of homosexuals, with Seattle and Portland falling behind only San Francisco for the number of homosexuals among the population. The population of the Pacific Northwest is very liberal (i.e. immoral, without moral absolutes). Assisted suicide, legalized marijuana, and other hot button issues show up there before they do the rest of the nation. There is a very strong New Age influence present, and significant focus on Native American symbolism, religion, and life.

When Josh states that “I think the terrain also influences the area’s culture and spirituality” it must be understood that the culture and spirituality of the region is NOT Christian. It would be more appropriate to describe it as neo-pagan. What does Josh mean then when he states, “ Living here has deeply affected me and my work”? Are these neo-pagan influences encroaching into his life? Is he falling to the subtlety of the New Age concept of Christ as some cosmic power that pervades everything around us? One way to answer these questions is to watch his videos and listen to his songs, evaluating them with a critical mind, and keeping one’s spiritual senses attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit. One of Josh’s most popular songs on YouTube is White Owl.

Watching this video does raise many concerns about the spiritual beliefs and message of Josh Garrels and the image of Christ he is promoting. There is unmistakable Native American symbolism in the video. There is also much that appears to be promoting New Age concepts of religion.

Let me comment on the owl before addressing other New Age elements. The owl is NEVER used as a positive symbol in the Bible. In fact, it is listed among birds that are unclean and forbidden to be eaten in the Old Testament. (Leviticus 11:16, Deuteronomy 14:15) This owl in the video is adorned with numerous spiral symbols. These spirals are found throughout the video and in other artwork associated with Josh Garrels. The spiral symbol is a common Native American religious symbol as well as a symbol associated with other occult groups. The spiral signifies the "journey in search of the center." This is a concept embraced by New Age practitioners. It is not found in the Bible.

Following are the lyrics to the song White Owl.

White Owl

When the night comes,
and you don’t know which way to go
Through the shadowlands,
and forgotten paths,
you will find a road

Like an owl you must fly by moonlight with an open eye,
And use your instinct as a guide, to navigate the ways that lays before you,
You were born to, take the greatest flight

Like a serpent and a dove, you will have wisdom born of love
To carry visions from above into the places no man dares to follow
Every hollow in the dark of night
Waiting for the light
Take the flame tonight

Child the time has come for you to go
You will never be alone
Every dream that you have been shown
Will be like living stone
Building you into a home
A shelter from the storm

Like a messenger of peace, the beauty waits be released
Upon the sacred path you keep, leading deeper into the unveiling
As your sailing, across the great divide

Like a wolf at midnight howls, you use your voice in darkest hours
To break the silence and the power, holding back the others from their glory
Every story will be written soon
The blood is on the moon
Morning will come soon

Child the time has come for you to go
You will never be alone
Every dream that you have been shown
Will be like living stone
Building you into a home
A shelter from the storm
[End of Song]

Let us look at the following portion from this song.

Like an owl you must fly by moonlight with an open eye,
And use your instinct as a guide, to navigate the way that lays before you,
You were born to take the greatest flight

Note that the song does not say to fly with both eyes open. It speaks of "an open eye." This is a New Age, Eastern religious concept. The pineal gland, chakra, third eye, etc.. When a person acts on a hunch, they are said to have exercised their third eye. Developing this "sense" of spiritual sight is the goal of many false religious practices. This is clearly what is referred to when Josh Garrels says "use your INSTINCT as your guide." There is a vast difference between being led of the Spirit of Christ, and being led by one's instinct. And what is the "greatest flight" Josh Garrels refers to? It is the quest for enlightenment, which the young boy in the video is shown to be acting out. He captures some spirits that arise from the waters and places them in his lantern to give him light along his journey.

The pool itself bears a distinctive design of Native American artwork.

The song continues with the words:

Like a serpent and a dove, you will have wisdom born of love
To carry visions from above into the places no man dares to follow

Does a serpent have wisdom born of love? Satan is referred to in the Bible as "the serpent of old." He appeared in the guise of the serpent in the opening chapters of Genesis, offering to mankind wisdom and knowledge that were forbidden by Yahweh. The song also states:

Waiting for the light
Take the flame tonight

According to a Wicca website, fire represents the following:

Fire is the primary transformative force, and the creative power of passion. Fire also represents the Light of the Divine. So Fire is invoked at all Wiccan celebrations.

The Owl itself is sacred to Wicca.

This image from a Wiccan website has the following words:

Eyes of the night.
Silent flier through dark skies
Lend me your vision that I might
Find my way to secret knowledge.
Teach me to listen that I might
Hear wisdom when it moves in the world.
Unite my heart and mind
And let me feel your wings opening in my life.

The video shows the young boy being born aloft by a white owl.

To sum up, none of the imagery in this video is Christian. Nor is there any mention of Yahshua/Jesus. The concepts of flying like an owl with an open eye, searching for the light, the presence of spirals, and other symbolism and lyrics are all common to New Age religious teachings and to Wicca and Native American shamanism. There is nothing in this video, or in the words of the song, to suggest that it is a Christian song at all. It appears completely to be a New Age themed video and song. The words on the Wiccan owl prayer could very easily be the source that inspired Josh Garrels' song. If Satan cannot get men to renounce Christ, he will do his very best to get them to re-imagine Christ. The New Age concept of Christ is growing in popularity in this hour.

This song and video by Josh Garrels is not an exception. Disturbing connections to the occult and false religion are found throughout his videos. One of the things he is shown doing frequently is composing or playing music out in nature, in the woods, or atop a high place. This was the practice of followers of idolatrous gods all the way back in the Old Testament. We read of the idolaters meeting in their sacred groves, or on their high places. These were locations that were sacred to the deities they worshiped, and they felt closer to their gods when in these locales.

There is nothing inherently evil about playing music outside in settings of nature, for Yahweh is the Creator of all nature. However, when there are other indications that a person is being influenced by New Age, or neo-pagan beliefs, it is prudent to consider whether performing outside under the sky and trees is yet another manifestation of unclean spiritual influences.

The image above is taken from another Josh Garrels video.

The strange circular imagery behind him is definitely not Christian, though I cannot identify it. However, the presence of candles and the circle do once more evoke images of a Wiccan or occult ceremony. Following is a close-up of Josh performing this same song.

The image is a bit unclear, but he is wearing a t-shirt with the white owl symbol on it. In fact, this symbol of the white owl has become associated with Josh Garrels. He offers the symbol on various merchandise, or as a sticker to be attached to any surface. I do not think anyone would interpret this symbol of the white owl as a symbol of Christ, or Christianity, but it will certainly be familiar to many who practice Wicca or shamanic religions.

Another point to consider is that Josh Garrels sings in an unnatural voice, which to me has a disturbing effect. Some have described Josh Garrels voice as "falsetto." The root of this word is "false." Is Josh singing in a false voice because he is in actuality a false disciple of Christ, singing songs about a false Christ?

Philippians 3:2
Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision...

Following is a screen shot from another video titled Words Remain by Josh Garrels. Josh's website informs us that the song was recorded in an Episcopal Church in Manhattan. I can state with certainty that every Episcopal church in Manhattan is totally apostate. I have not been able to find out which Episcopal church the video was recorded in. The most notorious Episcopal Church in Manhattan is St. John the Divine. This is a Luciferian place connected to the Rothschilds and the U.N.. It has had on display an image of a nude female Christ on a cross, and has served as the forum for homosexual plays where God and Christ were reviled. I have written about this church in past writings. (The writing Babylon Burning is available as a PDF file to those who request it.)

Although Josh Garrels may well have recorded his song at a different Episcopal church in Manhattan, they all alike are promoting a false image of Christ and Christianity. These places are filled with unclean spirits (I visited some of them in Manhattan when I was in New York back in 2009). They are NOT a place I would recommend as a venue to record any song that honored Yahshua. Why record in the house of the great harlot? The Spirit of Christ is calling forth:

Revelation 18:4-5
"Come out of [Babylon/The Great Harlot], my people, that you may not participate in her sins and that you may not receive of her plagues; for her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities.”

Note once again the presence of candles. Additionally, all of the hand bell ringers are dressed in black, flanked by candles on either side of them. One could imagine the setting being that of a black mass, or some other dark spiritual ceremony. I sensed a very dark spiritual presence in the churches I visited in Manhattan. This leads me to conclude that Josh Garrels lacks sensitivity to the presence of spiritual darkness.

This brings me back to the subject of this post. Most Christians do not have their senses trained to discern good and evil. I suspect that Josh is a very sincere person, but his spiritual background has not instilled in him a discernment of the deception of Satan that is all around us in this hour. While still a new believer, Josh enrolled in a Christian College to receive theological training. He then entered at a very young age into the role of a pastor of a Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. This in itself could have sown the seeds for New Age practice and thought to begin germinating in Josh’s life. Following is an excerpt from a website that discusses the New Age mysticism being taught at C&MA seminaries and Bible colleges.

In recent years, the C&MA has exhibited a disturbing trend back to its roots in contemplative Christianity and mysticism, also integrating elements of the heretical emerging church movement, new-age spirituality, and postmodernism. Seminaries affiliated with the C&MA are openly and actively promoting mystical practices and contemplative and emergent spirituality. The Lighthouse Trails Research Blog listed the C&MA as one of the top 50 organizations with a significant role in bringing contemplative Christianity to the church. Also included on this list were such organizations and denominations as Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer, the Emergent Village, and the highly liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Presbyterian Church (USA). As defined by the Lighthouse Trails Research Project, 

Contemplative Spirituality [is a] belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of contemplative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). Common terms used for this movement are “spiritual formation,” “the silence,” “the stillness,” “ancient-wisdom,” “spiritual disciplines,” and many others.

Contemplative Prayer
One of the mystical doctrines being embraced by the C&MA is contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer, also known as soaking prayer and centering prayer, is the unbiblical and mystical practice of emptying one’s mind of conscious thought and turning to one’s inner self to find the presence of God.

Contemplative prayer is being practiced and taught at official Alliance seminaries. Because all Alliance pastors are trained at one of these official schools, the false doctrines imparted to these students will eventually permeate the local churches affiliated with the denomination.

After having examined many witnesses, including Josh’s own songs, videos, and words, I am unable to embrace him, his theology, or his music. The apostle Paul gave the following admonition to Timothy.

I Timothy 5:22
Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thus share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.

The act of laying hands on someone was a sign of acceptance and endorsement. Paul was cautioning Timothy to not be too quick to embrace or endorse another man, even one who professes to be a disciple or follower of Christ. In this hour when so much deception has entered into the churches, we must be especially diligent to test all things.

Let me wrap up my thoughts regarding discerning the spiritual quality of music. In all of the resources I looked at, I had to employ my physical senses. I also had to exercise the senses of my soul which include cognition, or mind. It is not enough to merely observe something. We must observe it with scrutiny. There must be an active testing of that which we are observing. Many Christians put their minds in neutral and merely evaluate music emotionally. They think mainly about how the music makes them feel, and the feelings they are sensing are mainly of the flesh and soul.

As disciples of Christ we need to develop the habit of praying and asking Yahweh to guide us to know whether something is acceptable and pleasing in His sight. Praying serves a couple of purposes. First, it engages our soul and spirit as we deliberately orient our being to discern anything that might be amiss. Secondly, Yahweh instructs us to ask Him for wisdom and guidance. James wrote, “You have not because you ask not.” He also wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally and without reproach.”

Once we do these, we need to be sensitive to the voice of the spirit, utilizing those spiritual senses Yahweh has given to us. If we sense something is not right, we need to explore further. We may also need to return to prayer and ask for further revelation from God.

Some of the things in the lyrics and videos of Josh Garrels stood out to me because I have been testing things for many years now. As a result, I have become aware of many of the deceiver’s works. Paul wrote, “But solid food belongs to those who are mature, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” The more we exercise our senses, all of them, the more capable we become, and the better equipped we will be to divide between good and evil.

There were a number of individuals who wrote to me recommending various singers, who I wrote replies to, explaining why I could not accept them. One thing we cannot abandon is truth. Some might say, “I like this music. It makes me feel good,” or “I find it interesting and pleasing.” They might object to putting all things to the test of truth. In this hour, an increasing number of Christians are abandoning discernment. They want to get along with everyone, and be the friend of the world. It is unlikely that such individuals will zealously put music to the test, for in an hour of spiritual darkness one must expect that the majority of music tested, like doctrine itself, will prove to be deficient, or tainted by some evil of the enemy.

Nevertheless, Yahweh is seeking a remnant who will place love for Him above all other loves. He desires a people who will put all things to the test to know whether they are approved by Him. If this means you have to throw out the vast majority of the music you have collected over the years, music that may be precious to your soul, or a delight to your flesh, then so be it. Be zealous for God and He will reward you.

Yahweh does not want your life to be bereft of music. He wants you to experience music that is spiritually edifying. I will list here some of the other recommendations that were sent in to me. I share them for YOUR TESTING. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says...”

Lauren Daigle  - Many Songs Available on YouTube
Relaxation Hymns 3 by Jim Engle -
10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman -
Phil Wickham - Many Songs Available on YouTube
Music from the Welsh Mines (1957) -
Christ Our Life -
Keith and Kristyn Getty -
You Are My Hiding Place - Don Moen -
Rob Smith - Straight From God Album -
Mike Adkins -
Shannon Wexelberg -
Regi Stone -
A Playlist Submitted by a Reader -

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063