When I played college football, at Central Mich. University, we won the National Championship but I lost everything (Jn.12:25). Little did I comprehend what was going on in and around me. I could lift 405 lbs., but I could not budge the weight of pain-filled loneliness. I could halt a linebacker by a crushing block but could not stop the oncoming devastation of personal rejection. I could run a 40 yd. dash in 4.4 seconds but could not outrun depression.
I was just saved. I had just met Jesus but I was torn up inside and felt like my entire life was crumbling before my eyes. I did not understand The Inner War and how gut-wrenching truth would get beyond it.
Within a matter of hours and days I was confronted by the enormous clash of two opposing realities within my mind. I did not understand then but what what happened to Him happens to all who follow Him: Two Worlds Collide – Lamb Found Dead. Up until the first day of football camp I was welcomed as a fellow comrade and teammate. But in that one afternoon arriving on campus for double-sessions I faced dimensions of hostility from teammates, that simply baffled my thinking.
Hey man, I was just a dumb, beer-guzling, polish kid, from the west side of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I cheated my way through school and Mass on Sundays, after the bars on Saturdays, was about it for my duty to God. I had no clue to the divine ramifications of what it would mean to actually get personal with a living God and experience the switch from darkness to light.
How could such contrast and hatred arise due solely to one decision? I left college in the Spring as one man and returned in the Fall as another. I was seen and despised as a traitor because I made an uncompromising stand for “the Other side”; Jesus.
When my teammates looked to my mouth to spew wicked words of dark inspiration they were shocked to watch my lips formulate light; “It’s all about the living Jesus fellas”. I took two pieces of medical tape and made a cross on the back of my helmet and used a magic marker to put one on my wristband. I went from a “Badass” to a ‘weirdo’. Smash stuff and mock others and I was “cool”. Love people and help others and you’re a “nut”. It would be a long time before I could begin to normalize this abnormal reality.
Mockery is no little thing. I did it to others but never had it done to me. It shattered my entire mind-set of people, the world and my own identity. I felt like a building collapsing from being detonated by an inward implosion. I was left in the rubble of wounded isolation not knowing this destruction of my old man was God’s answer to a ‘deal’ in which I came directly to Jesus to build me a new man. Now He was fulfilling His end by bringing me to Himself.
God was becoming my Father and was leading me into the place, where a boy becomes a man, and a man becomes a son. It is the place designed to render every son the lesson of turning loneliness into the solitude of contemplation, to discover awesome stuff, that every human craves, whether they admit it or not, like meaning, and feeling intimately loved, having a purpose and a joy of “streams of living water”. Not mickey mouse poetry but deep piercing supernatural reality. I had entered what is known in the animal world as a “cocoon” (i.e. the cross-Rm.6:6/Jn.7:37). Butterfly… yet to fly.
One year earlier things were totally different. I was treated like dark royalty because I did the things that caused “the guys” to revere me. Like one night, I got drunk and started a barroom brawl. Things were broken. Police were called and sirens filled the night air. I fled down a back alley and up a chain-link fence. A cop threw me in jail. My football reputation kept me out of prison, but the inner war was spiraling out of control.
Over the next year I learned how to switch the force of my will from being subject to the lies of darkness to grasp the truth. And when we do this life changes for the good. It involves turmoil. I don’t mean to sound corny, my friend, but I love you and can help you find happiness. It is crucial to face and identify subconscious fallibility.
My friend, there exists today, a twisted thinking that combines cynicism with Christianity. It involves the confession that Christ is the answer; “No need to tell me. I already know and have IT” BUT the underlying thinking is “Hey, ya I know I got loads of “issues” in my real life, but there’s no real answers. Nobody is perfect”. So go to the extreme. As if anybody is saying this.
Being honest and understanding the inner war is essential to avoid the tragedy of being blindly driven by subconscious fallibility. So please, pause a second and don’t say “Oh, no need to tell me about Christ. I already know”. When the reality of day to day life is full of denial of sad contradictions it only increases the misery and depression. Jesus says “The truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). To replace this bad stuff with blessing merely requires simple humble honesty. So let’s go beyond this crumbling paradox of abysmal cynicism.
Look man, I get it. I thought it. I did it. But please, give me a chance. There is a purity of reality that has been so defiled, and set aside as UNATTAINABLE, that it is accepted as normal Christian thinking but is straight from the pit of hell. You don’t have to go on with the inner war that you are dealing with. I am not lying, exaggerating or trying to sound ‘better than thou’. A life in the Holy Spirit is beyond the inner war and only requires truth.
The force of your will can bring you out of any darkness if you do what is necessary. Maybe, just maybe, you don’t know it all, hey? Maybe you haven’t “Been there, done THIS”. Let me help talk you through the most serious deception that most people accept as truth. After I met the living Jesus, I couldn’t figure out how to deal with ongoing depression and “issues” that I was told by “Christians” would disappear by a ‘sinner’s prayer’.
So let me go back, for a second, to cite a microcosm of today’s cultural dilemna. My dad was a very angry selfish dude, but man, he was obsessed with church. So one day, out of nowhere, my mom comes home and says “I met the living Jesus.” My dad got furious. I was shocked. Why would a “christian” rage against a wife who talks about Jesus? I began to probe their conflict and came to understand the absolute tragedy of christian hypocrisy.
Stay with me. First, can we agree our pride can be a tricky beast? It blinds us and drives us to say or do stuff that we later regret. We yearn for true understanding, forgiveness, meaning, identity, and love but pride insists “Oh I’m fine.” God promises to heal and fulfill us but how do we really get to God? Can you possibly put aside any self-righteousness presumption?
Deception does not wave giant red flags. Truth demands humble character. We face a need for a bandwidth of discernment. There are 67k denominations, 300k churches, and a glut of TV “preachers” mimicking gospel terminology with ersatz “compassion”. Like sheep, the multitudes do not question, but quickly accept, a lethal counterfeit of prosperity-tithing that exploits desperate men like pawns. Do you dare be an individual and seek the Word of truth of a living Jesus (2 Cor.11:3-4)?
I grew up seeing my parents and many others destroyed by religion and refused to be a naive hypocrite or forlorn and cynical. I decided to make a straightforward deal with God. I asked for, and received, an “All-City” fullback award that I needed it to be recruited. But I “chickened out” of my part. I even got worse into booze and drugs. Recruited by Central Mich. Univ. the team called me “The War”: badass image, but inside, terrified of hell. Why was I running from God?
Injuries threatened my football world. I couldn’t afford to stay in college so I made another deal with God. This time I contemplated the Scriptures and found out that our part of the deal is to come directly to Him and surrender our self; “lose your life to find it” the very answer to the inner war with self (Jn.12:25/6:37/Mt.7:7/Malachi 3:10). So, in my mind, faith was squarely on the line, dependent on whether a living Jesus would come to me. I had also been reading a book about a caterpillar, a process of a dark cocoon, and a butterfly. Very relevant.
One spring day, my coach calls me in to his office and awards me a full-ride scholarship. I exploded with a “butterfly” dream. I was “playing with fire.” JESUS IS ALIVE! This was about not about football but my future life. I walked outside and dove into a pond (I was later told it was filled with insecticides. Whoops). A few months later, I visited Notre Dame. While sitting in the stadium, I gave my self to the living Jesus. I didn’t know it then but I was “born from above” on June 14th, 1974 (Jn.3:3-8).
I share all that, to say this: Jesus says “Come to ME… Learn from ME… MY ways are easy…” (Mt.11:28). He knew, back then, that He wouldn’t be in Israel when we read this. And He sure wasn’t calling us to a religous system, that ended up killing Him. His Word is relevant today because He is here. Give your self to Him. He will give Himself to you; a “life-giving spirit”; an inner man to conquer the inner war (1 Cor.15:45/Eph.3:16).
We look inside ourself for answers, but the need is to just be still, reflect, contemplate His promises, and look upward, call on His Spirit. The inner war is not some unique “personality flaw”: “Oh nobody knows what I’m dealing with”. It is in all of us like a poison in our blood. Satan tricked Adam to defy God (Rom.5:12). Sin corrupted our entire flesh with a blotch of pure evil.
I was thrilled to finally understand the evil in me as objective sin. God knows this yet loves me. Ignorance to sin tricks us, ruins our lives, works death, and leads to hell (Rom.7:19 Rom.6:23/Rev.21:8). Paul speaks at length, contrasting a man of the Spirit to a man of the flesh. The ultimate purpose is to live beyond your problems so that other lost men can know the true gospel of Jesus. Jesus says forget about trying to make yourself perfect. It’s just more self-obsession. Love will take your mind off yourself.
Anyone who tells you that you can “better” your self is as ignorant as the phonies who dragged a sinner to the feet of Jesus. In one sentence, God, in Christ, nullified all human “righteousness”: ‘he who is without sin, stone her’ (Jn.8:7). There is no one righteous.. our heart is desperately sick… Pride must be “excluded” (Rm.3:10,27/Jer.17:9). We can never “better” our self because there is nothing in self better than self. We must look outside of ourselves. Run to, not away, from God. Today “Christians” want no part of suffering. Yet this is the true gospel. When Paul said he was “crucified” with Christ he meant it.
We all crave to be, do or say what is right. But sinful flesh cancels out this possibility. We are tormented by failure. In Love, God designed a plan to rescue us from self; sin, ego, pride. It is not striving to be a Christian by applying Bible verses to our sinful flesh. It is coming to Jesus Who alone can mediate His plan to reconcile us to His Father. The plan demands our faith. It “reckons” to us the perfect righteousness acquired by the Risen Jesus.
This faith is the ultimate force of the universe. It instantly and automatically cancels all failure and sin and makes you right in God’s eyes (Rm.1:17, 10:9-10). This is the healing to your scars. It takes you beyond the inner war, onto the road of purpose and destiny. Joy proves and reflects this faith. God can finally look on us with the same favor as He does upon His Son (Rm.4:9/Phil.3:7-11).
If we do not have clear discernment between the flesh and the Spirit, we will mistakingly identify the operations of the conscience as the Spirit, which will only result in legalism. Once a man comes into the Spirit the conscience must be cleansed because it fights against the Spirit. It must be “washed clean” from driving us to do good works to justify ourselves (Heb.9:14,10:22).
The term living Jesus is not a novel cliche. It is Biblical revelation and the only legitimate identity of the living One waiting to come to our side right now. He took on all your sinful ways, in His flesh, on the cross (Rm.6:6,8). Imagine replacing guilt with untouchable triumph; Free as a “butterfly”; a son of the Father (Jn.8:32,36/Gal.2:16-21/ 2 Cor. 5:17,6:17-18). A “deal” for a material blessing does not compare to the exuberance of unlimited forgiveness, meaning, and things you never imagined from His Holy Spirit. To learn discernment of the Spirit requires the breaking of the “old man” and the witness of the Spirit to the inner man.
Upon graduation, I went to three seminaries; MST, the priesthood and later Fuller Seminary but saw further into how Christianity is a counterfeit institution of with no answers but theology and social-political values. A system about Jesus is not the living Person of Jesus. You can learn tons of Bible knowledge, but none of it means that you have come to Him (Read Jn.5:39).
The true church is seen in the live in the Book of Acts 4:32. The ways of the Spirit are not some deep, hidden mystical formula. That kind of stuff is rooted in self-pride. The Spirit honors only childlike humility of faith. Having your guts ripped apart for Jesus and dealing with emotional struggle is part and parcel of the gospel (2 Cor.4:8-11). It is turmoil beyond time, with an eternal purpose and reward. Glory to God!
A systematic approach to God of “Do’s” and “Dont’s” and striving to BE RIGHT dulls the instinctive impulse of our conscience to find the Personal love of our Creator (Rm.2:14/2 Cor.3:6). It exposes a clear void of the Holy Spirit. The downfall here is to instantly feel defensive and try to distance yourself from this reality. Rather, choose transparency before God. Be grateful to see the problem and identify your ignorance to the ways of the Spirit. There are scores of “christians” strewn across the battlefield of life. You don’t have to physically go to a church on Sunday to confirm the influence of our culture.
Everyone builds their own inner “church” of self- isolation. The question is whether it is built on your “righteousness” or His? The snare of group think is man-think. So you don’t have to attend a building to be part of the system. You give up to man-thinking because you do not give in to Jesus thinking. A 1 hour system of 5, 10, or 20-minute segments, that you or others orchestrate, cannot heal the inner war or give you “rivers of living water” (Jn.7:37-38).
We must come to understand that the edge between being in the Spirit and walking in the flesh is a mere decision of transparency away. It is the choice between humility or to remain proud and confident of carnal ways you choose to identify as God. I remember when I was riding in the hearse with my Dad, after my mothers funeral, he turned and said to me “I cannot recall even one of the reasons that I constantly fought with your mother”. It took him his whole life to reach this moment of subtle and partial humility. Full humility is no little thing.
I can not imagine how anyone lives their whole life in this lost world never knowing the individual touch of the love of Jesus. Stupid pride leads men to hell. Please, my friend, dig deep into humility. Get real. Learn the power of contemplation (Rm. 4:19). Don’t let the scars win. Talk to God. In a moment, you can choose childlike faith (Mt.18:3). The Spirit of Jesus has led me over decades to 50 countries to walk the city streets, campuses, prisons, ghettos, etc., and bring the living Bread to all who hunger. He is calling you by name to fulfill your destiny. Game?
If you’d like to help us reach people with the living Jesus, everything helps. We have no group that supports us. Thank you. More than anything we’d love to touch base with you if you’d like. We love you my friend!