Living in the shadows – Christians who have gone Galt

I’ve often considered myself to be a stranger in a strange land. No matter where I turned, I remained a lone square figure trying to fit into the circle of life, particularly when it comes to trying to find fellow Christians who believe as I do, where we have enough of a common bond on which to build true fellowship.

But today’s churches are so completely given over to apostasy, tossed to and fro from every wind of doctrine, that there appears to be no respite left. You must believe a certain way and conform to a religious system, or else. Any attempt to reform and fix what’s broken results in you either being shown the door or being shunned. If a corrupt system that continues to “crucify Christ to an open shame” will not change, what is left for the remnant of believers to do?

I decided I had enough of Christians, and one occasion declared them to be idiots with a diminished mental capacity and an absolute inability to discern good from evil. I was angry and admitedly painting with a broad brush, but it was instructive to see how professing Christians reacted to my rant. Rather than express sorrow that I felt the way I did, they declared my frustration to be the result of wrongfully judging Christianity based on a handful of bad micro-experiences that I had with churches. You see, they are just so awesome and wonderful, and these incidences I experienced so incredibly rare that the problem MUST be on my end. It simply couldn’t be possible that we were in the midst of an epidemic that polluted the well of Christianity to such a toxic extent that it’s hardly recognizable today. Christians today continue to eat, wipe their mouths, and insist that they have done no wickedness.

Churches have become unclean systems of cliques, corruption and heresy. The Bible makes it clear that rather than continue to participate therein, we’re to come out from among them and be separate, “and touch not the unclean thing.”

Or in essence, the religious version of going “Galt.”

Because we live in a generation that refuses to listen to reason, refuses to change, refuses to look within and viciously attacks those who dare to shine a spotlight on their evil deeds, there seems to be little recourse other than to fade into the shadows. After all, why continue to dwell where you’re not wanted?

I wondered if there was a biblical precedence for this. Are true believers operating outside of God’s will by removing themselves so completely from the picture that few even know of their existence? That certainly seems to be the life I live now. I only experience peace and closeness to God when I stay away from other Christians, as much as I can, as often as I can, living as a contemporary hermit in a cave of my own making. And while the loneliness can be wearisome at times, there is safety and tranquility within these walls. But was living this kind of life a sin?

Then I remembered Elijah’s story, who at one point had become so exasperated with the futility of his ministry that he bluntly declared that he was the Only True Believer left. That is, until the Lord told him He had preserved over 7,000 people who equally did not bow down to Baal, evidently so deeply hidden in the shadows that Elijah was completely unaware of their existence.

It makes me wonder, as quick as I am to believe I am also the Only True Believer left, how many others like me are living in their own caves as well, and if the time we spend here will also be only for a season. It is telling that while God admonished Elijah for hiding out in the mountains, He also showed kindness, gave him hope and then clear direction on what to do next. As ideal as it might have been for Elijah to have never left to begin with, it was understandable to see even an anointed prophet like him become burdened by despair and so bewildered by what he experienced that he sought respite in the mountains away from everyone and everything. It was a process he had to go through, before his faith would finally be renewed and he could move forward confidently again. I saw his experience as an example that we may not always be where God wants us to be, but He will still meet us where we are. More importantly, it underscored the wisdom of waiting for clear direction so we’re not thrusting ourselves back out into the world flailing aimlessly.

So while I appreciate my cave of solititude and respite, I hope it will give me the space I need to draw closer to God, until the time comes when I receive clear direction myself, so I can become a more profitable servant for His kingdom.

The radioactive nuclear waste known as ECOS Laundry Detergent by Earth Friendly Products (A Review)

I’m adding this post as a placeholder for those with sensitive skin who had the misfortune of purchasing ECOS Laundry Detergent or are thinking of trying this brand. I tend to have a reaction to fragrance-based detergents, but after a good experience with Seventh Generation’s scented detergents, I thought I would be in the clear as long as I used a product that was plant based and “natural,” so I gave ECOS a try as well, opting for the Magnolia and Lily version. I was also interested in Ecover Zero (a separate brand) but they’re not as ubiquitous as ECOS, so I wound going for the lather.

Biggest mistake of my life.

No to ECOS Laundry, Toxic, Allergic, Dangerous

Prior to ECOS, I had never used liquid fabric softener before, and this detergent had it mixed in, so I thought, cool, getting two for the price of one. I didn’t worry because it was supposedly coconut rather than synthetic based, and I like coconuts (especially coconut pancakes).

But because I have allergic contact dermatitis, I didn’t make the connection right away that I was developing a severe reaction to ECOS, in fact thinking it was a reaction to petting a dog instead. When it continued I finally realized it was the laundry detergent, promptly ditched the bottle, and re-washed my clothes using a dye/fragrance free alternative.

And yet it still wasn’t enough. I continued to have rashes from my clothes for a period of three weeks, bewildered that even after several washes there still remained ECOS residue that was causing rashes on my skin to no end. I couldn’t understand it, because the last few times I broke out as a result of contact with fragrance-based detergent, the rashes usually went away in a couple of days after a single wash of my contaminated clothes.

This was THREE weeks now with no relief. Not even an oatmeal bath helped. I contacted ECOS to see if they could offer any suggestions on what else I could do to remove the remaining residue left from their detergent off my clothes, and they completely blew me off and my customer support inquiries.

I am now convinced they are a scam company allegedly peddling cancerous products developed from nuclear waste while funding terrorist operations on the side just for funsies. Allegedly. It has been allegedly alleged. Mostly by me. But still, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was all true.

According to one insightful review on Amazon, the following ingredients gave me some clues as to what could have caused such a severe reaction:

Directly from the bottle: Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine (coconut-based surfactant), Sodium Coco-Sulfate (coconut based surfactant), Cocamidopropylamine Oxide (coconut-based surfactant,) PHENOXYETHANOL (PRESERVATIVE) METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE (PRESERVATIVE), Equisetum Hiemale (Horsetail Plant) Extract

The first ingredient is Cocamidopropyl Betaine: EWG Skin deep database concern of 4 out of 10

“About COCAMIDOPROPYL BETAINE: Cocamidopropyl betaine is a synthetic surfactant; it has been associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis, reactions that could be due to the ingredient itself or to impurities present in it, such as 3-dimethylaminopropylamine.”

“Other HIGH concerns: Contamination concerns; Other LOW concerns: Ecotoxicology”

PHENOXYETHANOL (PRESERVATIVE) EWG Skin deep database concern of 4 out of 10

Other HIGH concerns: Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs), Occupational hazards; Other MODERATE concerns: Organ system toxicity (non-reproductive); Other LOW concerns: Data gaps

METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE (PRESERVATIVE) EWG Skin deep database concern of 5 out of 10

About METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE: Methylisothiazolinone is a widely-used preservative; has been associated with allergic reactions. Lab studies on the brain cells of mammals also suggest that methylisothiazolinone may be neurotoxic.

Other HIGH concerns: Irritation (skin, eyes, or lungs); Other LOW concerns: Ecotoxicology, Neurotoxicity

[For info see EWG Skin Deep database]

I think in my case there were a combination of additional factors that exacerbated the reaction:

  • I’ve been used to having soft water to wash my clothes, but after moving to a mountainous state I’ve been slowly learning how hard water can adversely impact so many things, including making it more difficult to remove excess residue from laundry detergents unless you soften it somehow.
  • This was also the first time I’ve had to deal with a detergent with a liquid fabric softener component. Apparently the oils are far more difficult to remove completely and require a lot more than just a single wash cycle. When I finally wised up to the possibility that the ECOS residue was STILL embedded in my clothes even after several washes, I took a much more aggressive approach and started doing additional wash cycles using baking soda and vinegar. It took almost 10 cycles of this before my clothes finally became wearable again. If that hadn’t worked I would have had no choice but to declare most of my wardrobe ruined and forced to spend hundreds on new clothes and bed sheets.

I strongly recommend anyone with sensitive skin (and even those who don’t) avoid Earth Friendly Products like the dark plague, even their “free and clear” version. Their complete and utter disinterest in customer satisfaction and lack of customer support/assistance to those who have an adverse reaction to using their products is unacceptable and disgraceful.

Update 6/17/2018: I recently tried out a new shampoo that gave me the same skin reaction as the ECOS detergent (fortunately when I stopped using it, the symptoms went away after a day). Checking the ingredients, this one stuck out like a sore thumb: Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine.

I think I’ve gone through enough testing as an unwitting guinea pig to conclude that any product with an ingredient that starts with the letters coco- or coca- should be avoided. Specifically Cocamidopropyl Betaine or Hydroxysultaine. For some reason using products with coconut-derived ingredients seems to be equivalent to pouring acid on me, and yet ironically I have no trouble eating anything with coconut in them. That’s probably due to these chemicals not being organically coconut, but rather synthesized from them.

Cocamidopropyl Betaine (CAPB) was once named Allergen of the Year in 2004 by The Dermatologist Magazine, yet the studies suggest it’s impurities introduced into the processing that causes the reaction, not the CAPB itself.

Regardless, it’s a safe bet that you’ll spare yourself a LOT of grief by simply avoiding any “natural” products that contain some variation of these coca-/coco- based ingredients.

Hope this helps!

Is there a bad moon a-rising?

There might be, but it won’t be happening this weekend.

There’s been some very unusual “end of the world” Christian fads lately that revolve around the blood moon events, and supposedly beginning today (up to the harvest moon event on culminating on September 28th) a sequence of events will bring about the end of the world.

That’s a bonafide guarantee that these days will be as normal a day as any other day, and the doomsayers (such as the ones who churned out this bizarre video) will be wrong once again.

So why are they constantly getting the dates wrong, giving more fuel to non-believers to mock the Christian faith? It’s because they refuse to accept the clear teachings of the Bible. Jesus Himself said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:7) Dissenters however attempt to distort this (and other verses that give similar admonitions) by giving strained interpretations contrary to what the text says. It is true that we as Christians can discern the times, but that doesn’t mean we will be privy to specific dates. David Wilkerson, a pastor of Times Square Church had long predicted a real estate crash for years before it happened in 2008, but he never had an actual specific date for it. He just knew, as did other experts, that the bottom would eventually fall out. I believe this is what is meant by discerning the times. We may not be privy to specific dates, but whenever we witness certain events that signify the end times, we are to look up and remember who our God is, and that our redemption draws near. Even if we’re not alive to see the culmination of the prophecies in Revelations, we are certainly closer to it than the previous generation was.

Our default mentality should be to always be ready, “…for ye know not when the time is.” (Mark 13:33) Those who claim otherwise are either ignorant or lying, and their folly will eventually be revealed for what it is.

I hope those who tend to fixate on dates and times and blood moon events will repent and leave these things up to the LORD, focusing instead on being effective witnesses to the lost, to stop sinning and getting tossed to and fro from every wind of doctrine. Let us become Christians who are wise in discernment and the true things of God, and not be counted among those who are “destroyed for lack of knowledge.”

Being introverted is not a sin, despite what @Challies would tell you

Tim Challies is one of those people who’s made a living out of having an opinion and running a blog to express that opinion on. I was never a fan of his material, generally finding his writings to be contradictory or at odds with the plain language of Scripture, and he seems to have done it again regarding the topic of introversion.

In one sense he declares that God made him an introvert, but then seems to immediately discount his introverted desires as being nothing more than an expression of his sin nature:

I have no right to crave introverted solitude. Rather, the gospel compels me to deny even that trait and all its desires in order to serve other people. I am introverted, but this does not give me a different calling in life than the gregarious Christian.

So Jesus also had no right to leave His disciples for time alone with the Father in introverted solitude? Challies basically suggests that Jesus was sinning by craving this time alone too. Good job.

Why is it so hard to simply say these desires alone are not wrong, or a sin, only when we take them to extremes? It’s not wrong to crave solitude, especially when we use that time to draw closer to God (where the LORD Himself leaves us an example). The gospel isn’t telling is to deny these traits, only to MODERATE them. Just as with food, we’re not sinning by eating, but we are when we overindulge in a spirit of gluttony.

All Challies had to say was, “It’s ok to crave solitude, just not 24 hours a day,” but he has such a tendency to overly intellectualize things that even simple matters of spirituality get twisted into convoluted and contradictory discourses.

I also don’t care for the evident double standard: where’s the admonition for extroverts to deny their nature accordingly and dial down their sometimes obnoxiously gregarious attitudes? Where many introverts crave intimate and meaningful relationships with a few, extroverts are focused on expanding their social circles as far as possible, which can often result in many relationships being a mile wide but only an inch deep. I’ve met extroverts like this in church, and I believe they do much harm to the body of Christ. Theirs is a numbers game, which unfortunately tends to dovetail well with the modern church’s mission to expand their membership as much as possible, focusing on the quantity rather than the quality of believers they attract.

I’m surprised that Tim Challies’s takeaway from reading Susan Cain’s book “Quiet” was not, “You know, the church has become too hyper-extroverted, we need to find a way to balance this out a bit,” but instead, “Introverts need to stop being so darned selfish.” He either glossed over or completely ignored the evidence Cain presented, and how much damage had been done by churches who have assimilated society’s modern push towards the hyper-extroverted by following the gospel according to Dale Carnegie. We are seeing a trend towards extremes here, but it’s not happening on the introverted side.

And this is a guy who regularly gets invited on speaking circuits at churches too. Awesome. I really hope people don’t take him at his word, and learn to compare and contrast his assertions to what the Bible actually says.

The road less traveled…

The road less traveled... #Colorado #mountains