Not a ‘prayer formula’ of passing sentiment but God’s ultimate provisionfor real answers.
Sometimes I just want to cry out “Is there anyone out there who will care about the gospel being preached ?! Anyone? Will anyone think about what it must be like to be homeless, an orphan or a prisoner?”. I offer you a direct channel. My dear brother or sister, Jesus says YOU AND I are accountable to help them. Will you turn your head away from these uncomfortable words? We are not a group or system, just a simple family.
I believe there are people, who know me, and read this, but find their hearts cold to my words for whatever reasons. What do I have to do? I would beg you to reevaluate your response, for your sake, for my sake, but most of all for His glory. Because Jesus is worthy of whatever change we must make, to forget what others think, and conform to His Spirit. Despite what others may say about me, I am a true brother and friend. My works bear witness, because Jesus is my Lord and His redemptive love is obvious in my labors. No place or time for cynicism. Time is flying by. Jesus is coming soon. This is the fierce urgency of NOW.
So please, don’t let your only response be excuses and rationalizations. Make this a moment to reach deeper than ever before. It is to your advantage and well being of heart, mind and conscience. I am not the issue. Sin is the issue. Though you may not want to admit it, hardness of heart, from the cold world that surrounds, is the issue. Jesus warned of it (Mt. 24:12). I am not the man I was years or even months ago. A man, sensitive to the Spirit, changes and matures. And the twisted false accusations made by outsiders is real persecution.
Ultimately, Paul says he doesn’t even care about the motives of the one who preaches but just that the gospel is being preached (Phil.1: 18). So there is no excuse for one who claims Christ to ignore opportunity to reach the lost. Can I get a break, for the scores of desperate men whom I reach in the prisons of the world?! Please, my friend, listen to me. We MUST do something NOW. I am not being melodramatic or “radical”. I am being a normal Christian.
I was in a prison recently (the largest prison in Paraguay) where a huge courtyard was swarming with men whom I actually watched losing their minds. No exaggeration. In fact it was far worse than I have space to describe. You may ask “What does that look like?”. It was so terrifying I will never forget. Hundreds of men were screaming and crying. One here, one there, would just break down and lose it, overwhelmed by tears. They would sob uncontrollably in the arms of anyone who would hold them. Many were just walking around yelling out. Such conditions are why many prisoners fear they will commit suicide. This is REAL, my brother.
In another prison we realized something was wrong as we performed. The men seemed very disconnected. When I asked why, they explained they were starving. They had not eaten in days. We begged the guards to let us out to take a drive for food to bring back and they allowed us. The men appeared like the Jews in Concentration camps. They were starving and so grateful. This was JUST ONE of many.
Another prison the security warden refused to let us in. After much of persistence he relinquished but with a “Ok. You’ll see how horrible these guys are”. He angrily led us through the multiple gates into “Deep Lock”. Opened the door but kept back any guards from going in with us. It was like “There. Now you’ll see what you get”. He didn’t want to think these men were redeemable . Two hours later, as we left in tears, the guys were chanting “PLEASE COME BACK> PLEASE COME BACK”.
Imagine being forced to live in horrendous conditions, day in and day out, being treated as animals and knowing you will never escape. I am not lying or exaggerating. This is why I am willing to feel awkward by sharing our needs. Please, help me. God promises, it is in giving that you will receive. My family and I have given ourselves to Jesus that we might bring His gospel to these totally forgotten and despised men. Get beyond me, and beyond your excuses, to them. DO SOMETHING. However small. God holds you accountable for them, and right now, I am a direct access to them. (We are praying about the prisons in Africa, if possible, this spring.)
So I ask for any help, not as a fat-cat preacher hoarding riches upon myself, but in sincerity to reach as many as we can. I can document every penny for you if you want. God knows this is very difficult and dangerous. Living in a third world is not easy. No one is doing this. Please, don’t be mad at me for bringing the truth of the gospel into your world.
When I long ago began to seek Jesus I was in college. Many “nice” campus groups and denominations offered to pray a “sinner’s prayer” with me. I had a reputation as a tough guy so I just couldn’t relate to the nice guy ‘package’. I grew up with little Biblical exposure but still felt a little prayer formula seemed trite and token. When I “met” the living Jesus I was instantly struck by an accountability to go and tell the world of this discovery. I could never tell a prisoner that the answer is to just pray a little prayer and everything will be fine. Most of them have already done it many times. We bring them to the living Jesus.
Many would have you believe that people should not think about “meeting” Jesus. We are just supposed to be content with praying a prayer and doing the best we can. Maybe not. The idea of challenging American Christianity made me think “Who am I to think that I know better?”. Well, it’s about eternity, in either heaven or hell. A religious system did not walk the shores of Galilee. Jesus was not an untouchable. He says “Ask. And you shall receive…Come to Me…and we will come to you” (Mt.7:7,11:28/Jn.14:23).
How about you, my friend? How are you really doing? When everything, and everybody, is put to sleep, and you are wide-eyed before a careless world, what thoughts are ticking away in your heart? My conscience was slain with guilt. I knew I surely didn’t know God. I knew I was all alone in the world. And, when you truly comprehend this, it can shake you to your core. I was left facing my wicked ways. Could God offer me a real way out? Could I experience forgiveness and know that I am saved from eternal hell? Today people talk about salvation like it’s an added item to a grocery list. “Oh ya, I got that”. Will you dare to confront the “living Word” all alone, with a heart of resolution (Heb.4:12)?
Jesus makes it very clear. He declares;
“Unless a man is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3-8).
Listen to me. I am not your enemy. The command to be born again is not some lofty demand to become ‘super-religious’. Actually, it is quite the opposite. It is child based. It is a wonderful process (conversion) whereby Jesus recreates us to be fitting to enter the Presence of a holy God. He makes us “new” (2 Cor.5:17).
If you will be honest this term “born again” scares you. You fear that you can’t ‘get it’. I understand. None of us wants to approach an unknown. And sometimes our brain just seems “VACANT”. Where do we start? What do we do? Being born again seems so huge but it starts with a mustard seed of personal heart. “Ok God. Let’s go. Show me”. It has nothing to do with meeting legalistic demands for moral perfection. It has everything to do with talking to God as a friend. It is the love of SOMEONE for you; a Father; a yearning to give you help from SOMEONE; the Holy Spirit; and the specific manifestation in the Character of SOMEONE; the living Jesus.
When Jesus says “the kingdom of God” He means that He will intersect your daily life with an entirely new perspective related to knowing Him. Every detail of your work will be drawn under His rule. Every fear and failure will be met in His fellowship and redemption. Every thought is slowly subject to His thoughts. Daily routine now takes on a second look. When you step on an escalator you know it will take you to the end. No worries. It’s not up to you. Just surrender.
There is one thing the Father requires. It is the “place” where His Son gave His blood for us. The cross happened long ago but in some marvelous way it continues today to be the power of God (1 Cor.1:18). It is able to work in us. Paul confirms “I….have been crucified”. God requires that we pass through this world, as through a dream, via the cross. Our goal is to come out the other end; the resurrection. To enter His kingdom (way of thinking) of sacrificial love. “Lord, how can I show my love for You?”.
Total surrender is the touchstone. It involves our suffering and pain because we are brute beasts of selfishness and pride and we resist letting go. So we struggle. But Paul says that beyond all the phenomenal accomplishments of his life he boasts in only one thing (Gal.6:14). He boasted that he was dead (Gal.2:20). Ahhh. Finally. Because dying to yourself provides a garden in which we can plant new seeds.
This opportunity, here and now, far out weighs the loss (Phil. 3: 7-8). Of all things that I would say made me different from the carnal minded was how they spoke of “having gotten IT”, and I spoke of “knowing HIM”. I instantly reaped from the seeds I planted. They spoke of what they could do and I spoke of what He was doing. The switch from life to death is the only way to touch new birth. And for this reason I suffer enormous suffering. I joyfully say “No” to hypocrisy and “Yes” to the cross of the living Jesus. No to striving-flesh and yes to broken flesh.
Never did I imagine this would result in being painted with terrible false accusations of hatred and jealousy for serving the living Jesus. Why would people twist my efforts to help the lost? Because all men despise the cross. It strikes at the god called EGO. Jesus says “They hated Me without a cause” (Jn.15:25). He says “They will hate you for My sake”. There are those who hide away, in self-made castles of comfort, and malign those who challenge their false conclusions on what it means to be born again (John 3:19-20). We pray for forgiveness and mercy on them.
Today, some forty-five years later, the effects of seeing eternity, while bearing, and fighting, against time, sin and persecution, have written many lines of pain in my face. But each one contains a story of joy. The groaning for Him, for Whom I long, causes me to both die and rise. To die on this side of the grave, and to rise in Him on His side of the kingdom. To understand my sin and know His redemption. But most of all to be consumed with a compassion that I know is not mine that drives me with a burden for others for them to see Whom I see. This is the purpose of why we are to live.
A practical way to think of “born again” is to leave off “again”. You must be born. Period. It is that extreme. There is no life in existence. Existence is a kind of limbo where death rules. Your heart yearns to be born into our Creator. We are like a “Mr. Magoo” without his glasses; “Where am I going? What am I doing?” You really don’t know because you really aren’t born. Jesus did not approach men by looking for what they could offer Him of theirselves. Rather He asks how much are you ready to receive from Him. God says “we grope along a wall, like a blind man,” in search of a breakthrough (Isaiah 59:10).
Jesus repeatedly warned men that to walk in this world is a walk in darkness. Our conscience flashes upon our moments with a light of accountability. It tells us we must get beyond this world to God. How many times have you heard the expression “Oh, I see”. Someone suddenly “sees” some truth. “Hmmm. Wow. That’s something” is the response. You see what you never did before. All in one moment a convergence your heart, mind and life experience bears upon your will to understand and SEE.
Satan actually has the power to “blind” the human will “so we cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” ( 2 Cor.4:3). There is no wand to wave. Dealing with spiritual darkness is no little thing. Our minds are blinded by a thousand things; motives, fears, lust, desires or past hurt and resentment. We don’t realize that as a loving Father God does not oppose us in our sin but appeals to us to let Him free us by His kindness, love and sympathy (Rom.2:4). It is easy to SAY we want to follow Christ but Jesus says when we are truly WILLING to follow Him then we will see (John 7:17).
I used to shy away from Matthew 5:8 where Jesus says “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God”. No way. Me? Pure in heart? I refused to be a phony and say I am pure. Then I researched this word “purity” and, as with all invested study, received profound understanding. I could finally say “Yes. If this is what You mean I will follow You”.
The word “pure” is from the Greek word katharos – “cathartic”. It is not a finalized absolute moral state but an outcome of a deep purge. Another way of understanding this verse is “Blessed are those who have been intimately dealt with by God, for they will “see” and know His ways and love Him because of it”. To be pure is to know heart to Heart breakage over your sinful ways. To not skip over your sin with the false sense of “the blood covering”. But to be broken before a Father’s Heart.
Jesus says “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He purges, (cleans, purifies) so that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:2). This is why the sinner’s prayer is so detrimental. It convey God saves you and that’s it. Consequently, people go on in life with serious grief, scars and unbroken sin. They think that they’re already saved so they don’t know what to do. True salvation in the living Father, Son and Holy Spirit involves a purging and maturing glory into His child. So that all those inner hang-ups are healed and now become a gift to help others.
We’ve all heard the expression “complex”. Most of the time we think of High School when others mocked us for having any kind of peculiar thing that made you different. It can cause deep hurt, fear and insecurity. These things are also true in adulthood. It can be little things or big things. We need to be “purified”. A “catharsis” is a moment when a “complex” is eliminated by surrender to the cross of Jesus and with a depth of expression in prayer.
Prayer is a fight. It doesn’t come easy. Talking to Someone unseen requires that we see the unseen (Heb.11:27,6). Doctrinal gymnastics may prove your Bible knowledge but it does not bring God into your daily life. Prayer is the only way to establish RELATIONSHIP. Short and long, detailed or general, prayer is everything. Paul said it is “groaning too deep for words” (Rm.8:26). The complexities of sin can rip your soul to shreds. You can feel like you just can’t get things “right”. Like no matter how hard you try you fail. In the stillness of solitude is His Presence is waiting to show you. In the meditation of His Word waits the understanding of the gospel.
One prisoner, with eyes full of tears, in reflection of a murder, said “I can never get things right”. So many people think this because they do not understand the gospel. They are slaves to feelings and inclinations. Their mind is not exposed to the Scripture. The essence of salvation is solid understanding of what it means to be “right” with God. In God’s eyes no man can make their life ‘right’. We can never “get it right”. So God offers His “righteousness” (get it right) by faith. In God’s eyes, there is only one right thing. It is being “reckoned” right by faith (Rom.4). It is not what must do but that you must believe.
We correspond with about 800 guys. (And each letter costs us 25 cents, most letters costing several stamps, which mounts up to a lot.) We work to bring them to the purging (repentance) of Jesus. Many are released from ignorance into understanding the gospel. It takes hard labor of mind and heart. It is a great joy to hear men express their relief of complex issues by by faith. It is a common principal of Scripture that suffering is meant to lead us to search for His deeper ways so we MUST be a fighter.
“But we do see Jesus…crowned with glory and honor…” (Hebrews.2:9).
We teach men to fight like men of old. Like David and Paul. No one initially understands what Jesus was saying. But slowly or suddenly, those who have heart ‘got it’ (Matt. 16:7-12). It is worth being a “laborer” of the harvest. Because to “see” the truth of Jesus is like seeing music. It’s not just in your ears. It’s in your eyes. It’s in your heart. It turns your mind. Suddenly you realize “Wow. There really is another kingdom on earth, other than the world I see with my eyes”. Jesus is the Perfect Song Who permeates our sorrows and makes us whole.
But it is crucial to realize that it is not the Scriptures, the blood, faith, grace, love, truth, etc. that causes you to be born….again. These are all doctrines that Jesus regulates with a believer. Jesus is Jesus. He alone is the One Who has the power to birth you. If you have no fellowship with Him you have no salvation from Him. Jesus made this very clear (Mt.7:21/John 5:39/Phil. 3:8/2 Tim.1:12). He is the filter; the Purifier.
I often tell people that His Name is not “church”, Christ or Lord. His Name is Jesus. If you do not articulate His exact Name, amongst men, with your mouth, He is not in your heart. Not my word, His (Matt. 12:33-37/Rm.10:9-10). When you ‘see’ Jesus you get His living rhythm (Heb.4:12). You receive His “witness”. You start to walk a path and see stones on which to step across every raging river. The blur of life comes into focus. We dare to leap upon His commands. We experience His crescendo of resurrection.
Every time my wife sings a certain song when we perform I anticipate the crescendo where she reaches a beautiful high tone. There are times when so many “badass” guys are brought to tears because we “see” the Spirit of Jesus reach through her words, singing about the Father’s love for them, and bring men into a purging of their deepest pride and fears.
The Father is playing His song “JESUS” throughout the universe. Who will hear and respond? The crescendo is the resurrection. The only cemetery that ever failed in keeping men in their grave is the one in which Jesus escaped. His power lives today working to bring men into His kingdom. Jesus says “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see and the ears that hear what you hear” (Matt. 13:26). Some people say “I’ll believe it when I see it”… God says, “believe and you will see” (Mt.11:40).
(AAA)-Mountaineers describe the wind that is on high peaks as “rarefied air”. It is invigorating, pristine and inspiring. I have been in many places where the mountain views and lakes are astounding. But the most exhilarating thing is the air. It literally takes me into the sweetest sensation of a wakeful dream.
One day, 45 years ago, a twenty year old dude named Michael (Oh, hey. That’s me.) became riveted on the words “the wind blows where it wills so is everyone born of the Spirit” (Jn.3:8/Jn. 4:24/1 Cor.15:45/Heb.4:12). In a world where every image of a man of God is a self-righteous fat-cat, a religious monk, weirdo nutcase, or just down right boring, the image of being caught up in the WIND captivated me with wonder; What does this mean? What does this look like?
Wind was the perfect description used by the only Man Who rose from the dead to describe what it would mean to follow Him. I was fascinated to the bone. I heard instant authorization to break with status quo Christianity and become a “Mountaineer”. Not through a “sinner’s prayer” or weekly sermons. Wind.
My dear friend, Jesus does not exaggerate. This “wind” is not a moral life style. The Spirit is waiting to baptize your “senses” with “rarified air”. God’s heaven scent can take you beyond the grief of living in this world (Heb.5:14/2 Cor. 2:14-15/Jn.18:36). It is not my promise. It is His; the Spirit of the living Jesus (Matthew 3:11/Mark 1:8/Lk.3:16/Jn.1:33/Acts 1:4-8). The air of this world is the stench of dark depression, hypocrisy, apathy and agonizing routine (Eph.2:1/1 Jn.2:15).
As a young man I saw how churches like Assembly of God, Pentecostal, etc. falsely exemplified the “Holy Ghost”. It didn’t require much discernment to realize it was a fake and emotionalism. Such nonsense as being “slain in the Spirit” causes immense disillusionment and delusion. The ways of the Spirit do not violate but employ a man’s free. Today deception fills the land in regards to the activity of the Holy Spirit. The Book of Acts reveals the true church of those who stand in Deep Heart.
Jesus said, It is better that I leave… so the Helper (the Holy Spirit) can come to you…He will guide you into all truth…and explain sin, righteousness and judgment. Most of all He will not leave you as an orphan, without identity, ALONE, to the crippling sadness of loneliness (Jn.14:27,16:7ff & v.13& v.32). His Presence is life altering. He is the Paraclete, the Comforter, the Defender (against accusations), the One Who comes alongside. The Holy Spirit can reach into our every problem out of His high places if we will simply humble ourselves.
When I carried the football in college, there was a breakaway play in which I felt so alive. The opportunity for a full expenditure of all my individual ability was exhilirating. It is a greater thrill to sense and live in His wind. It is to be freed, from bondage to men, through suffering, into the “air” of the Father. It is the release into His anointing of divine intelligence and perspective (1 Cor.2:7-16/Romans 8, 11:33). It is to be carried by a power unmistakably beyond yourself.
We only live once, my brother. Will you settle for man’s ways? The systems of men have proven, over generations of time, to offer nothing other than typical phony ways. The “revival” invention of the “sinner’s prayer” (“to process the multitudes”), in the 17th century, by John Wesley and Charles Finney, established the institutional tradition for salvation and no one has since challenged it as the unbiblical formula that it is today.
Nothing today even remotely demonstrates divine reality of the Spirit. This is why multitudes of “church people” contradict their “testimony” by a life of misery consumed with self-pity no different than unbelievers. It’s like members of Salvation Army processing used clothes. Nothing new. And a great deal of it reeks with hypocrisy. The truth is that the Father yearns for interpersonal involvement by His Spirit in the redemption of all phases of our failures to Personally touch our pain and lift us into the beautiful ways of His High Places.
God promises to make us “higher” than our situation (Jn.10:10). The Holy Spirit promises to anoint our behavior mechanisms, like intelligence, logic, reason, experience, common sense; so that we are not subject to the impulsive emotional reactions of our sinful human nature. The composition of faith is calculated resolution, as seen in Abraham, to believe God will provide everything we need, when we bow our inner knee before Him.
Rachel sings a song, that we changed a bit for our prison ministry. It is by Roy Orbison from the series “Prison Break”. It is called “Crying”. It is the Father’s answer to our every problem; “What more can I do than give My Son?” When faced with problems, the natural tendency of pride is to insist “I can do it”. As if God expects us to handle what He knows we can’t do. The Father yearns to provide us with the living Jesus in Whom we concede to His rest. Give up. Give in. Many wrongly identify God’s grace as self-striving and thus actually nullify God’s will to bring them to a place of humility.
“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you…I dwell on a HIGH PLACE…and also with the lowly of spirit (1 Pt.5:6/Is.57:15).
If you have no answers it is because you have not yet humbled yourself as you ought to humble yourself. Paul warns not to stop short of the “rest” waiting in true faith (Hebrews 4:1-12). It’s at that final, last step, when lingering pride can spook you away from total surrender. The Father is crying out for the one who will ‘go the distance’ and truly die with His Son (2 Chron.16:9/Is.65:2/Rm.6:6). He promises, to anyone who will invite Him, to walk through all things and intervene in every detail as the “Helper”.
Satan plays our pride in so many ways when we refuse to see it. The “I’m trying harder than ever before” is not the answer. Neither is the “Oh, heck. I give up.” The third answer is called persistence. It proves desire. Going somewhere, we never went before, is the answer. Finding that “place” and time, to be alone, think alone and talk alone to the Father is the difference-maker. When we just can’t do something we want to do, the one and only answer is to enter the massive grounds of transparency escorted by faith.
I remember when I was a little guy I was terrified to go into the damp and spooky basement of my parents huge house. It was scary. I just knew someone lived under those creepy stairs. At any moment I imagined being slain by a monster. I could never tell my friends. I couldn’t even admit it to myself.
It may sound funny, but it took me until I was a teenager to stand alone in the pitch black. I remember it like yesterday. I had to humble myself and recognize that these ways were stupid. I had to seize the courage to take control. That experience was of extreme significance for me to become a man. I had to realize the destructive power of imaginations (2 Cor.10:3).
The only way to get out of our basement and approach the high places of divine reality is to face our total inadequacy. So many things, known or subconscious, can determine a behavior we don’t even realize. The Father is waiting to do in you what you cannot do, to take you to places you cannot go. To do something beyond our imagination. The Father’s mercy is greater than anything our crazy little brain can muster up to keep us from Him.
One time in Bogota, Colombia, we were performing on the streets. My children had just finished such an amazing dance choregraphy that an old dude like me could only sit back and think of younger days. But without even realizing it, I started sharing these thoughts with the crowd and, by the Spirit, finished by saying “But I can offer you these moves that can take you to the top of those mountains (pointing to the peaks in the distance)”. Then I got on my knees and then on my face.
The floor, or ground, beneath our feet, is waiting for us like an elevator at the bottom floor. “Going up?” asks The Attendant. Indeed, it need not be a physical floor but simply a placemat for our “face”. I admit: “I am nothing. And the more I try, the more I fail. I really am “worthless”. I deserve hell-fire. I am a maggot”.
Repentance requires accurate contemplation of our deprivation. Where are you in life? What is your experience? How old are you? How many times have you “tried?” How bad have been your failures? Such thinking touches reality. “Come, Holy Spirit, scan my life, see any presumption and convict me” (Ps. 139:23). Such thinking will not only destroy the slightest glimmer of false natural hope that “We can do it”, but it will leave us bare and open-minded to His voice.
It is here that we can implement the Abrahamic “hope against hope” (Rm.4:18). You see, my friend, natural hope is actually a hostile hope because it promotes procrastination. It’s like a fairy tale Alice-in-Wonderland. It is mere wishful thinking. We dream about this, or that, but when we realize it is not happening we give up. Satan wins. The hope of Abraham, was not for some THING, but in Someone; the Character of God. He has clearly proven, beyond a shadow of doubt, His love for us (Rm.5:8). He will never fail because He cannot fail. God IS love (2 Tim.2:12-13/Heb.6:19). We can hope in His redemptive outcome IF we come to Him.
It is written “Thus says the Lord, ‘Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool…But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My Word‘” (Is.66:1-3). “God is opposed to the proud….but gives grace to the humble”…” (1 Pt.5:5/Jm.4:10).
Such is the very attitude that God displayed in His redemptive holy ways of dealing with our wicked ways. He “came down” (lit. condescended) from His high place to walk this earth in the utter humiliation of Jesus becoming a man. Jesus stooped low to wash our feet, to cleanse our heart, and by so doing reflected both the low and the high places as the One Mediator. He has proven His Character. Therefore our hope in Him is sure and steadfast. He can and will redeem us if we obey His plan.
We are to love others more than ourselves because humility is a high place.
If you want to enter higher ways of living life the only way is to go low.
I have been a fighter all my life. I won awards in wrestling and football and learned to transition this “violent” grit to stand in Him. Never did I realize back in college, that all the while God was using injuries to bring me lower, He was actually bringing me higher.
I learned to accept that God does not necessarily redeem events, relationships or things. He redeems my mind so that I can rightly process my thinking in regards to them. I have learned ‘the only way’ to enter His redemptive process is to instantly identify the inevitable downward spiral of self-pity as sin and choose faith. Jesus confirmed such an attitude is God’s will when He said “I am lowly of spirit” (Jn.14:6/Mt.11:29). It is THEE way because it was His way.
I too could have easily become deceived by my own hurt and bitterness, but all it would have done is expose that I really never believed that His ways are higher than mine, and that His redemptive love will bring me into His destiny. I can’t emphasize enough how I constantly was brought to my end by my numerous injuries, only to, much later in life, realize God was protecting me, not only from my ego, but from serious head trauma.
I chose then to surrender, despite my lack of any understanding; “Maybe I don’t understand God as I think I do”. I chose to ‘wrestle’ with God Who might actually answer my question: “Why?”. Among others, I learned from a man named Jacob who did exactly the same (Gen.32:22). God is much closer and willing to respond to us, if we humble ourselves, than we can possibly imagine.
The question is how does His Spirit work in our life? Good old-fashioned honesty is a rare commodity, especially with “Christians”. Not little “white lies” or subtle exaggerations. Just cold blunt force reality. It’s like an ancient art form. Today’s Christians are afraid of truth when their security in Christ is in question. Consequently, the Spirit of Truth restrains His blessing. The vex of the law remains. Blessing only comes with truth (2Cor.3:17). The only reason to fear truth is if you don’t believe His grand plan of mercy.
I am not afraid of my wicked ways and thoughts because I am grafted into His ways and thoughts. My teensy little brain and body cannot possibly create or process a wickedness greater than His mercy. This is the Cornerstone of the building in which I live. All things start with nitty-gritty heart alignment to the witness of conscience. Here is where the Spirit will meet you. Truth is the stairway to heaven.
How much do you really want to breath “rarified air”? Ultimate, Spirit-led humility is our concession to the cross where we are brought to the death of our pride. Our final give-up. His reward is to elevate our inner man into the ultimate perspective of His Spirit (Col.3:1ff/Heb.11:6). We see Jesus (Heb.2:9,12:2). Can’t go any lower. Can’t go any higher. He is all in all.
When you open all the doors to every nook and cranny of your character, His wind will drive out the stench and odors of the outhouse called self. True conversion is to go beyond the “falling short” token ways of a carnal Christian; a prayer, a passing sense of remorse, trying to talk or act more Christian. Humiliation is a step beyond humility. It is staring shame in the face and welcoming it’s full say. No more excuses. No more “Ya, buts….” “Maybe tomorrow, next month, some day”. Today is the day of salvation.
The Holy Spirit does not start making you better. Rather, He starts showing you the truth of your wickedness and you become more aware of how evil you really are. At the END of his ministry Paul said “I am the worst of all sinners”(1Tim.1:15).
When I began to breathe the rarified air from the Scriptures, I slowly began to “see” and “touch” the spiritual realities of the intimate love the Father Hand-delivered to me… unworthy Michael (Jn.3:3-8/1 Cor.2:1-16/Rm.8:1-17/2 Cor.5:19/Rm.5:6). If any of this sounds “out there”, it is because you do not understand the “there” of there; the Spirit. It is because the system of Christianity has long established an institutional “salvation” identified by shallow answers to deep problems, and men accept them as the only alternative to their predicament. It is actually rooted in a dead Jesus because their “answers” always come down to trying to emulate His past teachings. There is nothing real of God. This is the curse of the “works of the law” rather than the work of the Holy Spirit (Rm.8:3/2 Cor.11:4/Gal.2:16,21).
When I was a lost dude, I never imagined that some of my greatest pain would come from the rejection and accusations of carnal Christians who defy my testimony because it is not to a “preacher”, church or prayer. My spirit bears witness in truth to the living Jesus alone. The Father cries for anyone to come, taste and see these High Places of His Spirit (Psalms18:33/Hab.3:19/Phil.3:9ff).
A natural man cannot understand how Jesus can live in a man (1 Cor.2/Acts 17:24/Jn.4:24). How can a man no longer be vexed by things of this world? A spiritual man is able to “more than overcome” because spiritual discernment is a phenomenal provision (Jn.14, 16/1 Cor.2:11/Rm.8:37/1 Cor.9:20). It is the ability to decipher deception and regulate the thoughts and feelings of the old man and new man (Heb.4:12/2 Cor. 10:3/Lk.17:21/Mk.7:15/Mt.12:34,5:18).
Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on my vines or produce for food and no cattle or sheep. Yet I will exult in the Lord…the Lord Is my strength..He has made my feet like deer to walk on my high places (Hab. 3:17-19). If this is possible without the resurrection, surely how much more we can do this with the Spirit.
We are dead people. Kind of like zombies only we made it all the way through death into new resurrection life so we don’t stumble around making weird sounds. Although I do occasionally drool on myself.
You can actually perform a Self Test on your heart right here and now. No piece of paper or pencil required. Simply evaluate the focus, content, quality, and tone of the words you speak each day (Mt.12:34). Are the words proud or humble? Instead of pride “I already know”, we say “I don’t know anything. Please Lord, help me. Fill me. Teach me the ways of your Holy Spirit.” Such prayer is the essential ‘groan’ of the Spirit (Read Rm.8:26/ 2 Cor.5:4/1 Cor.2:6). The inner flow of “living water” produces an outer flow to “lift up” Jesus (Jn. 7:37,15:26,3:14,8:28,12:32).
When He changes us inwardly, we reflect Him outwardly.
Think of all the struggles people have in life with alcohol, drugs, divorce, a job, etc. Compare these struggles, of death and misery, to one that produces eternal light. Paul says we “carry about the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Cor.4:10-11). Imagine the Risen Jesus living within your conscious life, despite your sinful humanity. This is a marvelous struggle(2Cor.4:16-18). We can tap into how Jesus thinks, see as Jesus sees, love as He loves, plan as He plans, touch men with His Spirit and know His eternal glory (Col.3:1-4, 1:27/1 Cor. 2:16).
I surely don’t mean to sound “super-spiritual”, because I am a scum bag. But I know Whom I know and His Spirit compels me to write of His love for you. Don’t be tricked by the one-and-done “sinner’s prayer”. It is the sales pitch for a “tithe”. Salvation is not found in a prayer but in the Person of Jesus. He is the only One Who can give of His Spirit to you. He is the beginning into a grasp of the height, depth, length, and width of the Father (John 17/ Eph.3:20). Jesus says “Come to ME… learn from Me… My words are spirit and life” (Mt.11:27/Jn.6:63,7:37). Discover Him as a Brother, Shepherd, Savior, Warrior, King and living Bread.
Passive acquisition of Bible knowledge may be helpful, but to breathe His air requires you fight with all you are. Jesus says “The kingdom of God suffers violence and violent men seize it by force” (Mt.11:12). Within the black letters on white pages of Scripture is “the living and active Word of God” (Heb.4:12).
My friend, agreeing with what I write does nothing for you. At any time, out of nowhere, anything can come upon anyone, who is outside His Lordship. (Col. 1:21/Mt.28:18, 3:11/Lk.3:16/Acts 2:3). So don’t play games. You must go low. You are vulnerable to the random chaos of this world as long as you stand in your high places of ego. God’s redemptive destiny is designated only for those of the cross who fight that “violent” fight “in such a way so as to win this prize” (1 Cor.9:24/Mt.11:12/Col.1:11/2 Cor.10:3/Phil.4:7).
If you find yourself asking yourself the question “Why?”, over your situation in life, it is an absence of His revelation. It was answered by the Son; Satan rules this world through the random chaos of sin (Jn.10:10,15:25/1 Jn.5:19). Come into His Spirit and uncover His redemption. God’s voice is not audible. It is “heard” by understanding His Word and learning to love someone else as He loves you (Jn.10:27/Rm.12:2).
Don’t sell yourself short. Cultivate a solitary inner life in Christ. Reaching into the high places of God’s Spirit in Christ is the sole means to champion all obstacles on earth (Ps.51:17).
I am a soldier. I am a branch. I am a sheep. I am a son. I am a brother of the living Jesus. Join me.
“…a woman came to Jesus with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant (incensed, full of rage) when they saw this and said, ‘Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold…and money given to the poor …this woman has done a beautiful thing” (Mt. 26:6ff)
I sure would have loved to meet this amazing woman. What it must have been like in that room, while she poured her perfume upon His head. Her disposition of depth and love, totally contrasted a room full of angry and jealous disciples. A single “weak” woman, doing a unique utterly profound act, amongst “strong” men, acting in an utterly disgusting manner. She proposed an entirely new paradigm of relating to the Messiah.
What were the moments in her life that made her who she was? What caused her to think in such a way? Oh, how wonderful are the ways of God seeing individuals and responding to them according to how they respond to His Son.
How much is it worth to you to spend time alone playing on a swing and talking to Jesus? How many times has He called to you be alone but you did not respond? How many times have you considered something, or someone, to be a waste of time, when, in truth, it would have turned your life into an experience of something special?
How do you determine what is important and what is a waste? We are hard pressed, from so many angles, of anxiety and stress in this world. What are the levers and buttons within you, that you pull and push, to put you on the narrow path to still waters (Mt.7:14/Ps.23) ?
What some may determine to be a waste of time or money may be the most important decision to your future. It could involve the investment in, or the separation from, a relationship, an event, etc. It is directly linked to your state of life tomorrow. Will you miss God because you do not “see” that Jesus is worth everything in life?
As we travel and minster, at an extremely rapid and intense pace, reaching multitudes, we constantly encounter the tragedy of those who choose to devalue the treasure of salvation (Mt.13:46). What value do you put on Jesus and the matters of His gospel and kingdom? From the words you speak, and how you speak them, to what you do, and why you do it, to where you go, and for how long, you are the captain of your own ship. Jesus says you show what you treasure by where you invest your time, energy and heart (Mt.6:21).
Think about it. There was no person on earth as poor as Jesus. But yet the disciples never considered this. Jesus had nothing; “taking the form of a slave…He emptied himself” (Phil. 2:7). There was no one more deserving of “very costly perfume” than Him. Yet His closest brothers totally missed it because they improperly determined the value of Jesus. It took a little woman to bestow on Jesus the glory He deserves.
In retrospect, it is easy to be self- righteous and think you and I would never think this way, or say what they did. But what if the very same thing in them, at that time, could be within us right now, at this very moment? In the ebb and flow of boring routine life the majority devalue the worth of all things Named JESUS.
The high value that men put on pride assures them that they are more than adequate to accurately appraise the value of Jesus. But all men are wrong. The error is shown when they walk by a homeless man. What other reason would there be not to invest the humility and time necessary? Mundane life causes a man to devalue the currency of faith and the commands in the Word of God.
Men use “common sense” in their appraisals but God works in uncommon ways of humility and brokenness (Is.55:8ff). So only the uncommon man discerns the accurate value of God’s things (1 Cor.2:11f).
Surely the disciples did not consciously offend Jesus. They did not realize what they were saying. But the thing about Jesus is that He has total security in knowing that the Father has placed within us everything necessary to accurately discern His Spirit. We are accountable for our choices.
Presumption is poison. It permeates the entire being with stress, anxiety and strife. Humility is the only defense. Instead of thinking “Nothing escapes ME. I’m already a disciple of Jesus”, we should think, “I know nothing. At every turn I fear my own selfishness”. God does not defer to our thinking. Paul says “Do not conform to this world but be transformed by the will of God” (Rm.12:2).
Jesus esteemed two pennies as of more value than “all the other contributors to the treasury” (Mk.12:42). That little ‘no nothing’ woman, that poured the perfume on Jesus’ head, did such a supreme act of worship before God, that Jesus gave her more honor than anyone could imagine. She did not scale some spiritual mountain or preach to a gigantic crowd of heathens. She simply happened by the place where, she beheld a common man, saying uncommon things, Whom she discerned to be worthy of everything she had.
Our knowledge of God is NEVER exclusive. We have nothing to brag about as if it substantiates our standing with Him. He can snap it away in a heaven’s breath. Unless we treat His gift as everything, we are in danger of losing it all.
The carnal nature of the disciples kept them from treating Jesus appropriately. The crowds insisted that Jesus was no different than they were (Matt.13:55). You can see it everywhere today. Men deem that Jesus deserves no higher respect or consideration than a football game, a soccer game, a big time event, or anything else in this world. A job is more important. A broken door is more important. A shoestring is more important.
Men are lulled into the delusion that all moments in life are the same. Where is a living God? Common is the norm. There is nothing new. Nothing special, unless so determined by the world. What was yesterday will be today. Thus, they miss the Son of God in His glorious Presence Who is right in front of them. He is sitting, waiting, hoping for that special recognition of “perfume”.
Various Christians were furious at Paul because his walk in Christ shamed their carnal life style. Being in his presence compelled those around to stand fast and take heed. Paul expressed a sensitivity to the constant activity of the Holy Spirit. God isn’t boring. He doesn’t hem and haw and waste precious moments of life. His eternal love reaches out all day long with His profound provisions to save men from this miserable world.
Jesus says the way we treat His brothers is the way we treat Him. So you prove your appraisal of Him by how you treat His brothers. Instead of recognizing Jesus in Paul many devalued his life (Phil. 1:15). They treated him in a very ordinary manner because this is how they saw themselves. “Why should we revere him? He’s no different than us”.
Anyone who claims to speak things, that demand more for Jesus than common ordinary attention, becomes a threat to those who walk in lazy pride. God warns “Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before jealousy” (Pr.27:4). Jealousy drives away the very thing a man claims to desire. If a man truly wants the Spirit then he is willing to pay the same price of humility and the brokenness of the cross.
The only thing that transforms a common perspective into the reality of His glory is the individual choice to ignite a fire of faith in the living Jesus. A “Ho hum” perspective on life will result in missing God. Jesus expects a believer to honor Him as God if we claim to be His disciple.
It is no wonder Paul severely warned that “the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Tim. 6:10). It pacifies a man with a false security in this world.
Worldly comfort neutralizes a need for faith, and thus eliminates a real participation in the gospel. A beggar must beg to live. A child of God lives desperate before the cross. I have watched men squander ideal opportunity to participate in moments of eternal destiny in serving God’s kingdom because they are held in the grip of monetary comfort. Of course, they will never admit it.
The glory of God in all creation beckons us to awaken our spiritual senses to His voice. It is not a waste to get alone, to be still, to spend quality time before God on your knees. On your face… that you might see His.
These are evil days my friend. My family and I rejoice in our nothingness because His Spirit bears witness to unfailing love. Our suffering and obscurity reflect the living Messiah. His Presence is only seen by those lowly folks who have the inner constitution to pour very expensive perfume upon the head of the Lamb of God.
We stand and proclaim the Lord Jesus Christ is worthy of every nickel and dime, of every day and month, of every ache and pain, of every effort and breath. The truth is that we are living what we preach. So we are seeing Whom we preach.
One day of seeing is worth far more than 30 days of hearing.
Hallelujah! Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!
We have seen God use us for a profound impact to hundreds of people in many kinds of venues; including college campuses, city streets, prisoners both men and women and youth centers. The response to the gospel has been “desire realized”. So many open hearts hidden behind the “bad dude” or together image. We are full of awe and praise to Jesus. Every day we continue to receive signicant letters, emails and phone calls from those we have touched.
I would ask anyone who realistically does not see themselves doing such things to consider helping us who have worked very hard to put ourselves in this situation to help them. Which has not been easy, but extremely difficult and time consuming.
It is no easy thing to attain the logistics, administration authorizations, transportation and security clearances that are required to navigate at this level of ministry. It is easy to imagine yourself doing such things but it is quite another thing to accomplish all that is required. You can do so immediately by helping us. We are somewhere on the road, in this country, at this precise moment dealing with many needs to minister at numerous venues. Even a small amount would be extremely helpful.
If you not in a position to be able to help us, we ask you to please pray for us. And not just us, but for the men and women that we minister to as well. Prayer has a tremendous effect. Makes all the difference.
Over the time of working in prisons, both here and abroad, I have found myself face to face with countless individuals in the despair of impossible circumstances.
Instinct and impulse got the worst of them. Anger, greed or lust drove them to rage. They killed someone. They did the unthinkable. God explains that the nature of such guilt carries enormous torment (Gen.4:9-15). Now they face 20, 40 or 60 years in one acre of hell. Some have several life sentences.
God has opened the doors to so many prisons it is hard to keep pace. We are moving every other day. No matter how many we visit it is always a gripping image to drive up to hundreds of yards of barbed wire. We carry our hundreds of pounds of equipment down long hallways of a cold institution amidst a deep sadness of shattered lives. We do we all we can to connect with each individual. They laugh, they cry, they grasp the gospel of Christ, and we take with us the stories of the men God has given us to pray for.
Recently we went into one of the largest prisons in the U.S. It has “lethal” barbed wire. Some prisons have 3 to 5 layers of barbed fences. Every fence of layer indicates the level from minimal to maximum security. So you can imagine the implications of a “lethal” barbed wire that instantly kills.
I feel at a loss of words. I’ve seen how token words, doctrines and prayer formulas offer nothing substantial. So I have sought God, for how to help such men. It is no little thing. It is profound compassion provided only in the brotherhood of the living Jesus.
The key is not getting to them, but getting to Him, while amongst them, to give Him to them. So I am learning to “wait” upon Him (Is.40:31). His deep heart is expressed in the heart of the gospel. It demands our brokenness and sincere identification with the cross, which is the power of God (1 Cor.1:18/Phil.3:7-11).
It is only in being able to see and refer to another man in as a natural brother that we have any hope of drawing him into the spiritual brotherhood of Jesus (Mt.25:40). All men die… but not all men LIVE. And a man can only live when he discovers “a brother’s love”.
One of the first thoughts Jesus had, after rising from the dead, was what He had created with His brothers so He wanted to get to them to explain exactly how He actually rose from the dead. Imagine. I sure would have loved to be there. He wanted to see their faces as He blew their minds (Mt.28:10).
This was, and is, the goal of the living Jesus, to explain to us the power of His resurrection. He says “My sheep hear My voice” (Jn.10:27). This is happening in me. It can happen in you, wherever you are, whatever your circumstance.
The only people on earth who find God’s intended worth, in their time on earth, are those who give their time on earth to walk with Jesus in the giving of His LIFE to create resurrection brothers on earth. It is LIFE beyond your life.
Both ways to describe Jesus, as a brother, or the Brother, offer unique insight. As a the most humble brother, Jesus lacks any imposing ego or intimidation. He is the ultimate Sympathizer. He is willing to be just a brother to get down and dirty with us in the trenches of human warfare.
Yet His words and Presence is so wonderful He instantly draws us into the awe of THE Brother. There’s not a lot of people who can offer forgiveness and resurrection life, at any moment, in any place. Come to think of it, He’s the only One. So He is THE BROTHER.
I “run the way” of His way and watch His love “enlarge” my heart (Ps.119:32/Jn.3:8). Someone Who is so Big is willing to come to someone so small. He welcomes us into a family where His brotherhood replaces our alienation and deprivation.
“For both He (Jesus) who sanctifies and those who are sanctified (us) are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying” I will proclaim your Name (the Father) to My brethren (us)…for those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren” (Hebrews 2:9-18,12:1/Rm.8:29).
In other words, Jesus yearns to meet us in the moments of our frailty because He sees how the Father Himself is willing to recognize us as a fellow brother. The enormous ramifications of the death and resurrection breaks every obstacle tiny and huge obstacle we face.
The term a brother, connotes someone who understands the common and ordinary struggles of life. It is as of a family member who has a lock-down, side-by-side, loyalty of help, in the worst of situations. A brother shares with you in things that mom and dad, a wife, or a stranger, would never understand, or that you would not want them to know. So He is faithful to harbor your deepest secrets. Yet as THE brother is able to mediate and resolve all issues.
If we are willing to ‘put ourselves out there’ to try to help others in their impossible circumstances Jesus promises to meet us because this is His the heart of His will for our lives. We can naturally think that in order to do such a thing we must try our hardest. In fact, this can only happen when we realize “I can’t do it”. This is bigger than me. Instead of striving in self-righteousness we recognize there must be another side to our constant failures.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LAW
Multitudes wrongly think God wants them to try, as hard as they can, to do as much as they can, to feel as Christian as they can. Sorry to say, all this creates is a phony. Such a lifestyle keeps one on THIS side of the law. We must get to the other side of legalistic thinking. If we are occupied with trying to do things “right” we are not being still before God. If love is not the center of our life then we have no life. A life of striving to be right is not a brother’s love. It is not the mind of Christ.
Jesus is waiting to bring you the details of how to apply His resurrection and draw you into another “place” (Jn.14:23). To make you His brother. This place is the other side of the Law. It is the cross. It is the only place to find The Brother’s love of the living Jesus. Those who settle for a moral system live in the cold and fearful shadow of Mt. Sinai (always thinking about what is “right”). They live under it’s “curse” (Gal.3:10-13). Things just never ‘click’. Something always going wrong. The hole in the heart remains unfilled.
I once saw a photo of the lines of people attempting to climb Mt. Everest. It looked like the lines at Disneyland, trying to get to the top, with dead bodies frozen along the path. Likewise, multitudes seek that personal feeling of self-accomplishment; “I can do it”. But yet all we see is our failures. Why not go low, so He can take you high? Don’t stand in line at Mt. Sinai.
Jesus dissolves the thinking “I already know that”. His ways require a broken disposition; “I know nothing”. In order to enter into the deepest chambers of another man’s darkness, with the light of Jesus, you must realize how all the things you think you know, have no weight. You must bring this brother the other side of the law; the living Jesus.
Touching raw pain and impossible situations, requires a broken vessel willing to be shaped into the Character of Jesus. Thus the cross of Jesus is mandatory. You’d think that the center of the gospel is a church, a sinner’s prayer or a preacher. People wear a cross. It is seen on top of buildings and worn as jewelry. The reality is the cross is the everlasting covenant of the New Testament. Death to self is not an option. It is the essence of salvation.
So many focus on so many things other than the living Person of Jesus. He is the only One Who died on the cross. He is the only One who can mediate salvation. His living Spirit is the only One Who can teach us to be a “First Responder” to a brother living in pain. We can actually be the very first one to get to someone, who has never been loved before. We can bring the ‘first aid kit’ of forgiveness and kindness of the Brother’s love.
I want to learn as much and as fast as I can. I want nothing in me to stand in His way. How about you? Jesus promises to put in us, here, now, today, the same exact love and divine revelation He shares with the Father (Jn. 17:22-26). The word “Name” means “character” in Greek (onami). The “Name of Jesus” is not a pentecostal or magical incantation that zaps stuff. We’ve all seen this hocus pocus religious nonsense.
Rather, His Name is a matter of learning how to specifically express His divine Character (Name) of love, kindness, truth, and understanding to others. His Character in us IS the power of God upon us and others, in any and every “adversity”; circumstance and situation (1 Cor.1:18/Acts.4:12). Paul says “For me to live IS Christ” (Phil. 1:21).
“I have made Your name known tothem, and will make it known, so that the love which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (Jn.17:26). Amazing!
Knowing Jesus as a Brother is the personal journey of being quick to se our selfish pride and repent. To learn how to meld our rough edges in order to weld the broken parts in the hearts of our brothers.
As I watch the clock tick away, I am compelled to “seize the day”. How about you? The aches and pains of my dying body “Broadcast live!”, “Every moment of every day, your time is slipping away”.
Every man on the face of the earth is in desperate search for love. Every man hates the awkward feelings of alienation and striving to be accepted. Becoming a brother of Jesus eliminates these human inclinations. So I offer you here, in this blog, as your brother, the witness of my family; my wife and six adult children; to the truth of what it means to be His family. I join with Paul who prayed;
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name”… that God would show you the profound riches of His Character so that you can find the true power of His Spirit in the “inner man” (Ephesians 3:14ff).
Please, my friend, no matter what you may think of some things I write, hear my heart. I may seem rough and tough, and at times, ‘in your face’, but there is a strategy behind my ways that is from a Brother’s heart. Some call it ‘tough love’. Hell is no scare tactic.
My friend, there is a horrendous storm, far worse than the most recent hurricane devastated the Bahamas. It is not composed of rain and wind but fire and demons. This is not hyperbole or Bible scare tactics. It is going to happen. There will be no place to flee. It is prophesied in Revelation 16, of a just and holy God. This is no time to coddle delicate feelings of your flesh being offended. This is the end of time. Please, do not procrastinate. Read this until you understand.
“For indeed He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, yet we live with Him because of the power of God directed toward you. TEST YOURSELVES TO SEE IF YOU ARE IN THE FAITH: examine yourselves!…” (2 Cor. 13:4-5).
Are you willing to become weak that He might become strong in you? Are you willing to sacrifice your ego so Jesus could manifest a brothers love to you and through you.
The Father chose Abraham to show us how we can get beyond ourselves (Rm.4:19). We can get beyond every obstacle. Abraham was a very old and feeble dude. This is why God chose him to become the father of faith. He exemplified a “type” of the resurrection of Jesus by contemplating his own body “as good as dead”. He was able to imagine an attitude of “hope against hope” (Rm.4:16-21/Jn.6:29).
Abraham generated the same faith Jesus was to demonstrate beyond the dictates of His dire circumstances. Abraham created the only weapon in the war against reality; faith. He “contemplated” his own body, yet, in regards to God’s Word, He yet imagined life beyond his limitations. Without using our imagination of faith, we have no wings to fly.
IMAGINE-a perfect Father, and a perfect Brother
PICTURES IN YOUR MIND-(supplant 2 Cor.10:3-5 w/ Eph.3:20)
Satan feeds our mind with little invisible thoughts as long as we allow him to, but we can change our mind (2 Cor.10:3/Rm.12:2). It can help us begin to replace the cycle of failure. If you seriously want to know the brotherhood of Jesus it requires you learn how to utilize your mind to learn true repentance.
God has created our mind with the profound capacity to form a positive imagination. Imagination is the Launch Pad of faith. IMAGINE a plane taking off from a runway. The plane is faith. Imagine a NASA rocket being propelled by the booster rocket of fuel. The fuel is our capacity to imagine and the rocket is our faith headed into the divine realm of God’s promises. If we are willing to initiate new ways of stepping out in faith it shows our ability to imagine a new life remains in the grip of Satan’s lies.
Imagination is the means to, not improve, but to break loose and replace our routine imaginations with God anointed thoughts. The ability to imagine a new life feeds our hope. It is the process of true repentance. To utilize our mind and not allow it to become lazy. Mental atrophy results in mental anguish. We are created to create.
We are reborn to alter the cycle of your past mental routine. Transform is very exciting to imagine (Rm.12:2). Jesus specifically chose the word “calculate” to speak of salvation because it requires doing real stuff (Lk.14:26ff). This is not emotion. It is the word used for calculus, which is one of the deepest levels of mathematics. It requires the exercise of our will and reaches into the deep heart of our Brother Jesus.
Imagine yourself laying on a beautiful grass field looking up at a night filled sky of stars. Imagine sitting on a pier and smelling the ocean as giant waves roll in from the sea. Imagine sitting by the aroma of a fire surrounded by friends laughing and singing. Imagine sitting on a mountain peak looking for miles and knowing all things are beautiful. So many things you can imagine.
So now imagine a perfect Father. He is not in some distant fairyland. But right here next to you. Contemplate all His magnificent ways revealed in the Word of God. He wants to bring all His glory to bear upon you here and now. Imagine Jesus as the Brother of the resurrection. Imagine giving yourself fully to His death and resurrection.
This is the start of faith. Talk to Him. Fill your imagination with truth. Replace the lies with promises of God.
Would a perfect Father not make total perfect provision for the mistakes and failures of those He knows have a sinful human nature? He is well acquainted with our frame, that we are but dust. Jesus showed us the Father’s response (Lk.15:12ff).
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works within us…” (Eph.3:20).
There’s nothing more Jesus desires than for you to share in His brotherhood and behold the Father as He knows Him. So Jesus uses the word “calculate” to help us understand how to press in and press down into the attitude necessary to appropriate His salvation into our lives (Lk.14:28ff). The root of this word is calculus, which is a deep level of mathematics. Mathmatics is not based on feelings or fluff. It requires serious concentration, exercise of the mind and free will. Salvation is not an emotional whim of good feelings. It requires brunt force trauma against our own lazy, wicked and selfish ways.
People love to “fist bump” themselves as they see themselves attain their own standards of what they think God wants. Paul did this and said it was “crap” (Phil. 3;4-8). My flesh is no more righteous today then I was when I was smoking my joints, and listening to Moody Blues and Santana. As we grow in Christ our flesh does not assimilate angelic molecules.
I was not, at that time, nor at this time, a good man (Rm.3:10). I knew, and I know, I was, and I am a hopeless cause. But, as Abraham revealed, I find a brother’s love in a “hope against hope”. Jesus says his brothers are those who obey God, not their fleshly inclinations (Lk.8:21). Jesus faced the hopelessness of the cross yet His obedience of faith in the Father drew Him beyond the hopeless situation of death. So He now propels me into this faith (Rm.4:18).
HEALING THE WOUND
When I gave my life to Jesus, in the football stadium of Notre Dame, I focused on one Scripture; “learn from Me” (Mt.11:29). As a young brother, I didn’t have a clue. I was troubled by my ongoing guilt and failure. I found myself standing in line at Mt. Sinai along with multitudes. But I was intent in my faith that my Brother promises a real power and I had to find out.
It took years and it came from serious application to fully understand that to get to the other side of the law required passing by way of the cross. Paul says it is the “power of God” (1 Cor.1:18). Long after Jesus died, Paul says “I have been crucified” (Gal.2:20). Here then I discovered how to become united with His death (Gal.2:20/Rm.6:6). Whew. The end of guilt. Where there is no law neither can there be any violation (Rm. 4:7,15/1 Jn.3:9/John 8:11). The law began to tutor me how to rest solely on faith in Jesus (Gal. 3:24).
The other side of the law is not the common claim by so many of “I don’t need to do anything. I am saved by grace.”: i.e. lawlessness. Rather, grace is the power from the actual fusion of new ways brought into our lives by the healing of the blood of Jesus. He covers our sin and replaces our heart with His.
Jesus is the perfect Brother offering you fellowship with a perfect Father (Heb.1:3 /Jn.13:1). Paul says “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!…” (Rm.11:33). This was the first verse I taught my wife, Rachel, when I led her to Jesus, back in college. It is the path we now walk together as one family.
Those who know me understand my ‘tough guy’ appearance is to win the Harley bikers, Semi-truckers, and gangs. Paul learned from Jesus, to become like another brother is an effort to win that brother into the brotherhood of Jesus (1 Cor.9:19ff). Hey, it ain’t gonna last too much longer. Soon I’ll only be able to appear as an old fuddy duddy dude.
It is a joyful relief to see yourself loving someone more than yourself. Such is the privilege of having gotten to the other side of the law.
My friends, God teaches us through His Word, through prayer, meditation, contemplation, ordinary events in everyday life, the marvelous ways of His Father.
When I was in seminary I became quite grieved hearing the constant chatter of men trying to “find a ministry”. There was even classes specifically designed to help students determine whether they were to be a teacher, evangelist, missionary, prophet, etc.
Few of them listened to my claim, that I had no other identity, or desire, than to become a son and a brother. I don’t care about a title or a ministry. We live on the road in total obscurity. We care about pleasing our Father and communicating our Brother’s love to the lost. And as that storm, of all storms, rapidly approaches, we rejoice to be in the safety of His will. Join us.
Whatever we do, or don’t do, to the least of His brothers, we do or don’t do, unto Him (Mt.25:40). No one of us can meet this call, unless we go to the other side of the law, to immerse our mind in a Brother’s love. It is not in our nature to care for anyone other than ourselves. We are no better than the mankind of 2000 years ago. The “we” of then, is the “we” of now, UNLESS….we learn the care of the Brother’s Love; the living Jesus.
“Come to Me, I will give you rest…” (Mt.11:28).
My hope is that in whatever time you have left on this earth you will apply your heart to comprehend a Brothers love and the Brother’s love. Above all, I ask you for your prayers. Not for us, but for those brothers suffering so much whom we are working so hard to bring the resurrection of the living Jesus (Mt.25:40). Thank you.
The end of the world is near. I do not intend for this to sound like hyperbole because it is the truth.
God being fashioned in atoms, captured in stature, compatible with the tangible, and grafted into the actual; This disguise of mankind,He wore willingly though not befitting, the fully divine, His hand living and touching everything that touches us, the full circumference of suffering every injustice. Tasting death in a broken vessel, our decaying flesh and bones as His earthly temple. He endured every level of hurt to unearth the worth of needed new birth, Jesus silenced the violent cries in His mind as He heard the Father’s every word. He transferred our shame then took the blame, He did not evade being well acquainted with our physical abasement or to be named amongst the disdained and complacent. Called a glutton called a drunkard, with the criminals He was numbered, too much to suffer? So that in all things He could call us His …………..brothers.
“Fight the good fight… run in such a way, as not without aim; box in such a way as not beating the air” (1 Tim. 6:10/1 Cor.9:26).
I was face down on the floor of a Michigan Jail cell. My CMU football coach and I were arrested in a barroom brawl. This incident set my image amongst my teammates. I’m an old dog now, but back then, I benched 400 lbs. and welcomed anyone to “bring it!”. So I get the whole ‘badass’ thing. It is building an intimidating image to back people off so you can hide from reality. Images come in many costumes.
Why ‘give a damn’? No one else does. Why waste good energy on caring about others when hurt and self-pity come so easy? Even parents, a spouse or children can, without regard, drop unbearable grief upon our soul. Mental anguish can swirl in our minds like a tornado. My darkness was so dark, even my shadow left. But giving up was not in my blood. Is it in yours?
Life is just too short. I remember thinking that I was not going to let this weird unseen feeling of pride lead me to the monumental consequence of hell. Playing games with pride is like one of those “expert” animal trainers who end up being killed by the animal they think they know so well. Accepting reality can be very tough. I could easily end up in prison if I didn’t “come to my senses” (literally “came to himself”) (Lk.15:17). The word ‘beautiful’ had no place in my world… until then.
My mind was an empty warehouse, but I realized then, that it was up to ignite my intelligence. No more excuses. No one was going to change my life for me. If we don’t deal with the truth we will never know the truth. We have to face the hard issues. Like many, I asked “Where was God when I was broken by false accusations and terrible circumstances? Why did He not see my needless pain and invisible tears?” Please, my friend, give me a shot here. I won’t let you down.
When a man faces his nothingness, it can be his end or the beginning. It can be the very catalyst that kindles the level of fight necessary to become a champion. There is one thing better than fighting for what you imagine. It is fighting to obtain the promise to become what you can not imagine.
“God has chosen the foolish things…the weak things…the base things…the despised…the things that are NOT… to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works with us” (1 Cor.27ff /Eph.3:20).
It is saying nothing to say that we must fight for our life. Reaching beyond ourselves requires a Degree in Resolve. If you want something you’ve never had you must do something you’ve never done. For every famous boxer or athlete, there are tens of thousands of fighters defeated in the ring. Words like bravery, defiance, audacity, and intensity are words of the conquerer. This is the experience of being an individual in Christ. Not bound to the ways or opinions of any man. David rejected the armor of fear for the assurance of his own sling and stones.
Sincerity is not enough. Tons of people are sincerely deceived. In any field of life, there are men of heart and men of pretense. I have known a lot of guys who talk good B.S. They know a lot. It’s great stuff. They go on and on about how to do things, the “right” way. But they get their butt kicked in the ring of reality because they refuse to lay down their pride for Jesus. Armchair quarterbacks don’t have a clue to the vision for victory.
When we are punched in the face, “something” rises up within to punch back. It does not mean we are a fighter. This ‘something’ can lead to further heartache, anger bitterness, etc. and, at times, tragedy. The question is whether we will distinguish between the fight of hostile impulse, the flesh, and the fight of individually calculated, and anointed, grit.
There was a Saul and there was a David. Two kings of Israel. One who had a heart. There was a Jacob (“supplanter” -wrestled with God/ and an Esau who was a great hunter (macho). Jesus spoke of two sons. One focused on talking and the other applied himself to learn what really mattered (Mt.21:28/ Lk.15:11ff).
When I first considered God, I resolved, that I was not going to be a phony. No one in the world cares about your image. All I wanted to know is whether Jesus lives. Reckless abandon is the fast-track to the truth. You can get beyond all the B.S. of self-made excuses and religious “experts” in the snap of a finger.
It was in solitude that I contemplated how there is absolutely NO VALUE to pretense. None. Who cares? It’s about eternal life or eternal hell. I once saw a documentary on the very moment U.S. soldiers apprehended the German guards in a concentration camp. The most astounding scene was the expression on their faces. It was not, as one would expect, a look of shame. Rather, it was a look of being stunned and bewildered. They couldn’t believe what they had done.
Paul was a very “righteous” man but yet he killed men, women, children, and even Stephen; who was the 1st martyr. One day, he was bucked off his horse. While laying face down, God showed him the hole in his soul. How could he be so blind as to identify his own bitterness as the love of God? He fled into the Arabian desert all alone, for fourteen years, to try to understand himself (Gal.1:12, 2:1).
What he uncovered was nothing less than unfathomable. He said it generated a “waging war” within him like no other fight on earth. (Rm.7:23). Albert Einstein (E=Mc2) was a brilliant German scientist who said: “Education is not the learning of facts, it is training the mind to think”. These days, faith is identified by the nonsense religious sentiment. It is not. It always makes me laugh how people quickly identify an emotional hoot-n-holler frenzy as “anointing”. When I was in seminary I watched guys take on these ways as if they were learning the secret code to a secret society. There is nothing “anointed” about these common and generic intonations. It does not reflect an ounce of Holy Spirit anointed individual. It is always exactly the same because these blind leaders of the blind know that the blind can’t see.
Jesus calls us to His salvation based on a personal decision to “calculate” His reality using intelligence (Lk.14:28). The word calculate is a mathematical word (study synonyms). It is faith. It is the power to withstand Satan. No warm fuzzies. No room temperature feelings and experiences. Faith is proven by the power to conquer all aspects of selfishness. The things God showed Paul about himself broke him. All self-righteousness went out the window (Phil. 3:9).
Truth generates a level of fight to comprehend everything about self is “hostile” to God. This humiliation of self does not manifest itself in a forlorn melancholy, but in a newfound audacity to grasp and participate in a real process of transformation. It isn’t striving to be a “good person”. Quite the contrary. It is the ultimate payoff of freedom. Abraham calculated and defied the feelings of his aging body for FAITH (Rm.4:19/Heb.11:1).
This “good fight” is between two warring natures. Paul explains “I do the very things I hate… it is not me doing it but sin which indwells me… I find the principle that evil is present in me… waging war against my mind and making me a PRISONER OF SIN…wicked man that I am!” (Rm.7:21ff/Is.59/Job17:14, 25:6). This conflict makes most people give up on God because the bottom line is they love themselves. But it wasn’t in Pauls blood to give in to self (Phil.3:14).
Paul saw in himself what those German guards saw, and what I have seen. The monster of sin hides in the basement of our ego. We can never be a “good person” because God says “There is no one good… not one… all have become ‘nothing’…” (Rm.3:10).
I constantly tried to blame God for the consequence of my own wicked ways. It set my conscience on fire. Adam blamed Eve and she blamed the serpent. Blame is in our nature of sin. It impacts every moment of our existence and makes our life hell on earth. We wrongly blame a person, a crime, an event or our personality. Exactly what Satan wants, because then we never deal with the root of our problem. The cross is not waiting for them but for YOU.
Ignorance leaves us in a bitter winter storm, deep inside, that freezes our heart in cold isolation, pain, bitterness, and depression. Our mind drops to 50 degrees below. We become like a zombie existing in conscious torment. God says we are “desperately sick” (Jer.17:9).
This is not a religious issue, my brother. It is life or death.
Understanding sin answers thousands of questions to why we feel and act the way do. It is not by using a fist, muscle, and strength that we can conquer our greatest enemy of self It is by the fierce battle of faith, using intelligent comprehension of the work of Jesus to strip the rights of our future from the hands of Satan (Ps. 51:17/ Jn.12:25/Rm.6/ 1Tim.6:12).
The Ultimate Fighter
Bearing a thousand tears, and a face full of blood, Jesus bore every punch of man and Satan. He cared so much about our predicament that He bled in prayer. Imagine the FIGHT of such a Lion. “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood…” (Heb.12:3-4).
Jesus descended into our every ‘hell hole’ of filth and disgust and became the ‘Ladder’ for our escape. Do not gloss over this. You must stop and imagine.
This was not so you could feel all gooey and “righteous” about yourself, as a “better” Christian. It was so you could become a hero, of reality and truth, standing for Jesus in an insane world. Jesus offers the greatest power in the universe to ACTUALLY free you from every single thing that bothers you. No exaggeration.
When a ruthless soldier thrust a crown of thorns into His skull, and His body was hung from nails, Jesus revealed His heart to you, about you; “Abba”, meaning “Father… forgive him” (Mk.14:36). You and I are not “nice guys”, dude. We deserve hellfire. Jesus chose to come in the likeness of our wicked nature so He could bear the wrath we will receive for our sin. By “out of nothing” I mean… out of sin (Rm.5:20/1 Cor.1:28).
When Jesus was killed, our human body, corrupted by sin, died (1Pet.2:24). It was brilliant. God’s holy wrath for our sin was appeased. Jesus became our Substitute. He offered atonement to cleanse our conscience from all guilt once and for all time to cover all our failures on earth with unlimited forgiveness and redemption. Jesus can now “reckon” to us, by faith, everything He accomplished (Rom4/Heb.9:12).
Jesus rose with a new body. He offers us the resurrection life now, and a new body, when we die. Many of today’s “Christians” act “ho-hum” about all this because it is mere theory. They have never come personally to the living Jesus, Who alone imparts this revelation (Jn.11:25). The contrast between the Father’s offer of love, forgiveness, and compassion, and our persistent despicable ways is a reality that ignites a life-changing depth of gratitude and breaking of every self-centered claim of pride.
Multitudes have a troubled conscience because they wrongly think the gospel is to make them a “better man” by works of good behavior (Read: Rom.3:20/ Gal.2:16-21).
Don’t let “preachers” or “professionals” undermine the future that God promises to give you. Satan wants to neutralize and minimize the supernatural provision of the living Jesus.
The Right Fight
It is easy to expend your energy fighting to defend the very enemy that destroys you, self. You are “boxing the air”. Few things really matter. Really, only one (Lk.10:42). The right fight is to sit at the feet of Jesus, not just physically, so as to become the ultimate sensitive person to receive and give Love. Jesus was so loving that at the very time when He bore the sins of the world, He listened to the thief next to Him. Imagine that conversation. This thief was the first person in heaven (Lk.23:43). Imagine what kind of heart this thief had to admit he deserved to be crucified and watched, face to face, the Messiah die just like himself.
His same love is in me here and now so that I can now touch you with Him. Selfless love is the ultimate fulfillment. His call to you is not about you, but using you to express His love to rescue others (2 Cor. 5:15).
God does not just offer us a 2nd chance at life. He offers a life of 2nd chances.
Your future is not subject to anything you did in the past. It is based on what Jesus did in the past for your future. We can’t go back into the past but the living Jesus can redeem all things in proper perspective and heal any wound. Your future depends on the level of your fight. “God looks on the heart” (1Sam.16:7).
Time to get smart, my friend. Laziness and self-pity rendered me one level lower than a rock. Scale the mountain of excuses to get to the summit of your intelligence. Be an individual. You are the artwork of God. Deal with sin and repentance in a logical, calculated faith to become beautiful through Christ (Lk. 14:28/2 Cor. 5:17).
What we become on the inside automatically determines how we deal with things on the outside.
The true “sinner’s prayer” does not resolve sin by a one time feeling of sorrow. It is a 24/7 “prayer formula” of seeing your wicked self, yet living in grace. Jesus can stop the bleeding of any wound (Is.53). He promises “I have come for the sick” (Mk.2:16/ Heb.11:6/ Rm.1:17/ Jm.2:23).
I could never have imagined that such a scumbag like me could ever be given such a revelation. I am a “wretched man” who lives in a body of sin, but my heart loves God (Rm.7:24). I sought Him and asked Him to be born again (Jn.3:3/1Cor.15:45). What else matters but eternal life?
I was in the football stadium of Notre Dame. Jesus says “Ask, seek, find and receive” (Mt.7:7). I did. He did. No man can ever say of this “Criminal”… He doesn’t care about me. The hell we face is due to a world owned by Satan (1 Jn.5:19). Jesus came into our “hell” with everything we need. He pleads with you, “Come to Me… nothing is impossible… I am the bread of life; the Good Shepherd; the Way, the Truth, the Life,…Living Waters” (Mt.11:28/Jn.10,14,7:38).
Things can get much worse than they are right now. The Father can, not only prevent this but like a Potter and clay, form new life “out of nothing (sin)”.
Bitterness can poison your soul. Forgive yourself. Then, forgive everyone who has ever harmed you (Mt. 6:14).
Don’t be afraid to be alone and think alone. It is crucial because you will stand alone. Appreciate solitude. Talk to God about everything. Change is a simple choice of faith. The thief on the cross never went to a “service” or became a better person Luke 23:43). He could only offer a broken heart. He was the first one to go to heaven. My friend, I beg you. STOP! Quit being so passive and presumptive about something that demands you be desperate and become an intense fighter: ETERNAL LIFE OR ETERNAL HELL.
Don’t fight the wrong fight. Humble yourself and fight for a purpose beyond what you can IMAGINE (Jn.12:25). Paul says “Forget what lies behind and press on” (Phil.3:13). Don’t base your future on anything you may have done or accomplished in the past. Go deep (Study 2 Cor.10:3/Eph.6:12/Jn.8:44,10:10). Study God’s Word. I pray to see you on the other side of death. Remember, it is not by self-strength (2Co.12:9). He works in us out of nothing, IN WEAKNESS.
We all suffer from sickness and pain; physical, mental and emotional. No man can bear the stress of life. So sad how so many choose to merely talk about their problems, rather than humbly learn how to find real answers. Jesus promises to “bind up” (Hebrew literal “stop the bleeding”) anyone who comes to Him (Is.61:1). But we must come in truth. So many suppress and deny the pain of past and present bleeding wounds. “Oh, I’m fine. I know all about God”. But the REALITY of their lives exposes a sad truth.
Reality is not what we SAY it is, but what we SEE it is in our daily life.
Many accept the thinking; ‘Just hold on to what I got, because I have already done all that I am going to do in life to ‘get to God’. So whatever I have right now is what I am going to end up with when I die’. Oh, please, my friend, no. Why not seize answers, if they really exist? God doesn’t require exclusive knowledge of physics or celestial navigation.
It took me many years to translate spiritual terminology of the Scriptures into practical understanding for application to personal struggles. Christianity, as an impersonal system, that functions in a realm of theory and emotion. Multitudes are disillusioned.
Death is not something coming someday. It is happening right now within us. Every day, every month and every year our faculties of mind and body are aging and becoming inoculated to truth meant for immediate response. Our mental posture of childhood innocence is seduced by cynicism and bitterness. It is the curse of sin (Rm.6:23/Gal.3:10). What does it hurt to stop and check the compass of life?
The will of God for us is to know Him, not via a system built by men, but through the very thing called conscience He created within us (Rm.2:14). So many say “I’ve wasted my life. Can I still find God’s will for me?”. The answer is yes. The value of our life is not known by how much we accomplish in the eyes of this world but in the eyes of God. Before you spend one more thought on what you wish you did or did not do, should you not rather learn the wisdom to do what you yet can do?
THE EASE OF DISTRACTIONS AND PERILOUS CONSEQUENCES
My family and I used to live in Colorado. We often visited Yellowstone National Park as we traveled to bring the living Jesus to the campuses in the Northwest. On one visit, I took a hike by myself up into the backcountry. It was spectacular. I pondered many amazing mountain views.
I watched a black bear walk across an Alpine Meadow and was startled by an adolescent grizzlie that ran ten feet in front of me. It was the hike of a lifetime. I came over a ridge and was descending into a huge gorge, encompassed by a vast forestland range. I soon realized that I had gotten so distracted, I lost focus of my bearings. Suddenly I was gripped with fear.
As I peered out over this spectacular view, I realized I was surrounded by a circle of mountains all looking the same. Not a path in sight. I knew I could not take even one more step until I figured it all out. My amazing hike was about to turn into a nightmare of being lost in the wilderness. My heart sank.
We’ve all heard terrible stories of people being lost. The reason is usually due to walking the wrong radius. Imagine the letter V laid out over miles. I am at the bottom of it with the choice of going one way or another. Once I start walking the wrong way I would, increasingly, be walking away from the line to my campsite and farther into the wilderness.
The majority of well-intended people lose their bearings in life, not necessarily because of some vicious drive to do evil, but simply because they do not heed the serious need to maintain the God-given bearings of conscience. It is what we have been given by God to lead us in this world. If we lose it’s bearings, we become lost in the wilderness.
The conscience is every man’s God-given compass in life (con-with/science-knowledge). It is the measure of the choices of our freewill. Its composition is a profound impartation of God’s very image created within us at conception. It is not vague. It is upfront in our daily consciousness. It weighs all our decisions and delivers an instant “print-out” of its evaluation.
Our teachers and parents never taught us, alongside math, geography, and science, how to use this “compass”. But it is a moral mechanism more accurate than any man-made instrument. It measures truth, as our eyes and ears measure sights and sounds.
When I started out on my hike, I made a choice not to follow the typical path. So I knew I had to maintain serious focus so as not to lose my bearings. I never expected that distractions could be so consequential. I immediately sat down and asked Jesus to help me. Slowly, I began to realize how and where I went the wrong way.
SUPPRESSION OF THE TRUTH
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against… men who suppress the truth…because that which is known about God is evident within men; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly see, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but became futile (stupid) in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools…” (Rm.1:18-22).
There is no “Beep. Beep. Beep” alarm when the conscience is ignored. Rather, it dispenses varying degrees of guilt, anxiety, and stress which are warning signs of going off a radius. Here then, is where another inborn mechanism works to distract you off course. The sin in our human nature is bent on the “wilderness”. The wilderness is not some obvious red light district of drugs and punk heavy metal music. It is any subtle appeal to move outside the compass of conscience. The choice to NOT sit down in silence before God is a choice to walk on into “the wilderness”.
What we refuse to understand can ultimately kill us. Slowly, but suddenly, life can become occupied by a “reality” inconsistent with the truth. We build a subculture of self-delusion. Denying reality becomes your reality. This is exactly why God put a conscience within us, to specifically “bear witness” to His absolute truth (Rm.2:14ff). When we deny it, we deny Him and incur perilous consequences.
Distractions can be any number of things, whether Christian or secular, whether “nice” or evil. Sin is hostile to our very existence (Rm.8:7). Its constant mode is sabotage. Selfish pride and ego are not fun and games. Sin does not leave us the luxury of “I’ll get to it if I get to it”. Things happen. They can cause serious emotional and mental harm. Ever met someone absolutely devasted after a fifteen-year marriage now facing a divorce? How about someone who has perpetrated a serious crime and just can’t get over it? Maybe a soldier back from Afghanistan (PTSD)?
We were created to function in harmony with conscience, soul, and spirit. When our mind contradicts our soul (conscience) we alter our equilibrium. Our mind fights towards peace but is tormented by conscience in conflict. Paul says we can become as a ship caught in the tide, pulling it into the rocks of destruction. The question is how serious are you about knowing God. Can you dare to take control of yourself to the extent of becoming silent before God? Can you detect and discern your inner disposition? The outcome is a breakthrough in REALITY.
God created Adam and Eve (mankind), to reflect His Character by using the conscience as the perfect guide. However, sin corrupted this divine capability. So it is no longer a perfect guide. It must be cleansed of sins effects (pride). The conscience tells you this very thing. When a man chooses to disregard this inward compulsion, he alone bears all the consequences of independent autonomy; EGO.
The Father asks you the very same question He asked Adam “Where are you?” (Gen. 3:9). It’s not about geographics. It’s about your heart. The heart is not buried behind the rib cage. It is displayed in your face, your words, your actions, investments, etc.
Taking your bearings requires two or three turns on the combination into the vault of your heart. For King David, it was “cake” because he was a heart-master (1 Sam.24:11). Such a character reflects a sincere desire to steer clear of all presumption. Because presumption is the undercurrent that causes a “shipwreck of your faith” (1 Tim.1:19).
I remember the exact moment on that mountain when I dared to sit in silence and closely evaluate when, how and where I went wrong. I am so thankful for the courage to do so. It could have saved my life.
God said, ‘Let us make manin Our image, according to Our likeness…” (Gen.1:26). Few realize that the 150 songs David wrote, and how Solomon’s wisdom circulated throughout the world, were a direct result of the image of God. They demonstrated the profound capacity for the knowledge of God in every man. Every poet, philosopher, musician, teacher, and ruler throughout history has, in most cases unknowingly, drawn from the knowledge of God to rise in the society of their generation.
Our humanity is of no little composition. As our potential for depravity lies within our sin, the potential for glory is the beckoning of our divine image. An image by Rembrandt or Picasso sells for millions of dollars. It reflects a brilliant reality. How much more so is the brilliance of His mercy, ingenuity, humor, creativity, intelligence, reflected in, through and to us? God “painted” us, out of nothing, to reflect His divine Character. If we “suppress” our conscience, we suppress God.
Jesus did not lower his revelation to appeal to “cavemen”. On earth, He appealed directly to every man’s conscience, knowing it automatically bore witness to Him. We have “no excuse” (Jn.15:22). He held poor men, the sick and lame, rich men and Pharisees accountable to this same standard (Jn.8:44). Paul understood this clearly and stated his preaching was not hit and miss, but to “every man’s conscience” (2Cor.4:2).
We deal with people from entirely different countries who express the exact same complaint of all mankind: that God is too difficult to be known. It is not your five human senses that find God. It is the common sense, of coming to your senses (Lk.15:17).
Knowing God is not attained by conjuring up some emotional experience, but admitting the truth of the utter filth that reigns in your heart.
There is no knowledge quota that proves you know God. In fact, Paul explains “…now that we have come to know God, OR RATHER – TO BE KNOWN BY GOD…” (Gal.4:9). When I made All-City Fullback in Grand Rapids I realized I was being watched by coaches and sports writers. It is simply up to me to do what was in my blood. I had “SMASH” in my bones and all I had to do was display it on the field. If you love God you will love Jesus and this love will be displayed “on the field”.
King David does not say “I am intimately acquainted with Your ways” but rather “You are intimately acquainted with my ways…” (Ps.139). I know that I am known by God, not by some exclusive knowledge, but because I see Him in me, despite myself. I could never do the things I do.
I once saw a video of a swarm of serpents coming out of the woods on a beachfront to attack a passing lizard. If I hadn’t seen it I wouldn’t believe it. But this is exactly what happened to Israel in Numbers 21:8. God commanded Moses to fashion a staff with a snake and anyone who looked up it would not die. This symbol has come to represent the entire Medical system to this day. It is called the Nehushtan/ Rod of Asclepius.
It is the symbol of healing (Contrary to distortions by historians who reference Greek mythology). What makes this so significant is Jesus uses this precise event to explain how we must FACE our sin, on Him, on the cross (Jn.3:14). Essential to the saving knowledge of Jesus is facing our wickedness united to the cross (Rm.6:6). Paul realized how we, as men, have been so “poisoned” by sin our only hope is to be crucified with Christ (Gal.2:2).
You ask “How can I know God?”. It begins with truth. Admit the reality of a life devastated by your sin. How hard is it to sit alone and allow your conscience to speak its truth? The conscience can school you but it can not save you because it can not supply what you need to heal the wounds from sin.
It will bring you to true repentance and faith in Jesus. The law, both written on stone and in our conscience, is a “tutor” to lead us to Christ so that we may become justified by FAITH” (read Gal.3:24, 2:16,21). Trying to be Christian and do good things can not cleanse the corrupted conscience because sin is only appeased by receiving, FROM Jesus, His blood covering. Most people sweep sin under the rug and thus never come into true repentance. You can not overdo a broken heart before God.
Paul explains “For what the Law (both written in stone and in conscience) could not do (save us from our fallen sinful state)….God did… sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin (atonement)… gifts and sacrifices (good works) … CANNOT MAKE THE WORSHIPPER PERFECT IN CONSCIENCE…But when Christ appeared as a high priest …through His own blood, once and for all time… can cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God….” (Rom. 8:3-4/Hebrews 9 & 10). Facing Sin+His Blood+Repentance=Cleansing. Consience is now better than ever.
As a Catholic, I thought I already was a Christian. But I figured a person could never really know God. It was good enough to be the best I could. I did bad things but also good things. I believed in Jesus. (Even the devil “believes” Jm. 2:19). God was “up there” and I down here. He was holy and I was, well, whatever is the opposite. The truth is, I remember constantly in battle with my conscience. It drove me nuts.
I clearly remember one evening, walking back from a bar at CMU, knowing I no longer wanted to live with this anxiety. I had to yield to Jesus. I had no idea how powerful the release of guilt and enormous stress would be on that June morning in the University of Notre Dame football stadium when I gave my life to Jesus. The truth is you have assimilated guilt for so long you don’t even realize how much it bears upon your disposition.
The first step to know God starts with the choice of courage, to be real. To lay all your cards on the table. Stop resisting. Stop rationalizing. Fully surrender. To have the audacity to yank your ego down in any awkward moment proves your heart. Defy its defiance to the living God. Pride is the serpent who will destroy your life unless you face the cross in total transparency.
A love of truth involves a maturity of calculation, contemplation, and resolution to admit and turn from all instincts for pretense. To trust that God will come under you as you make deliberate choices to fly. It may sound theoretical, but its impact on reality is like nothing you have ever known. It is the breakthrough.
The answer to pride is not trying to be humble but brave enough to believe that by admitting the utter nothingness of your life is standing full face in front of the cross. Impose His death upon your most wicked ways. When we calculate beforehand, not with emotion, but logic, the distractions that entice us, we are ready to respond with “counterintelligence”. Jesus says “Calculate (pure logic) the cost” (Lk.14:28). Every moment of such contemplation expands your potential to conquer in the real world.
True forgiveness requires the intelligent calculation to create and implant predesigned “algorithms” that will automatically trigger a broken heart with pre-prepared resolution to avoid the downfalls of losing your bearings.
Jesus sent the “Spirit of Truth” for this very purpose; to provide anyone with the added witness to a divine intelligence to empower the conscience with understanding to combat the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn. 14:16,16:7-10 ).
We are offered the “right”; the opportunity, the authority to become actual children of God (Jn.1:12). What does this mean? It means living a life of profound victory and dynamic selfless love. Jesus came to earth to tell us exactly how to make these choices to supernaturally equip us to manifest Jesus, avoid the wilderness, escape hell and enter eternal life.
Salvation results from making the right choices of being real and truthful. Each choice is like finding a beautiful and delicate feather. We can design them, one by one, to create our own set of wings. Rebirth. It will take us into the reality of the Holy Spirit. Add one choice to another and soon we learn to fly in Christ. We “mount up like eagles” (Is.40:31).
A “CHRISTIANITY” ON STEROIDS
My family and I work-out in a gym here in Brazil. I’ve never seen so many guys with such muscular definition. So I wondered why the Bench Press is usually empty. Then I learned that most guys here are on steroids. The muscle definition is based on drugs and specific exercises, not on individual strength. They look awesome, but put them on the Bench Press and their weakness is exposed.
I was first introduced to the gospel, back in college. Like every wicked man, I was blown away by the amazing terminology and concepts of the Bible, especially the New Testament. My carnal mind could not comprehend such bewildering reality. I had a choice. I could fake being Christian because I was learning such new stuff. I could easily implement hypocrisy (taking steroids), or face the hard, cold TRUTH of how far I was away from such holy things.
The most disastrous choice a man can make is presumption. The only reason to pretend you have something that you don’t is stupidity. Because ultimately the “steroids” will fail. When a person wrongly equates the knowledge of conscience with New Testament salvation, it is tragic, yet common. The acquisition of New Testament lingo is adopted, but, in reality, the person remains under the Law of conscience and his life remains powerless. He has not come to the living Jesus. The New Testament realities simply awaken the knowledge of God in the conscience that had been ignored. People equate this novelty with salvation.
I chose to welcome the challenge of hand to hand combat with the truth. A guy named Jacob dared to “wrestle” with God and won the identity of Israel (Gen.32:24). Maybe it is from my All-City Wrestling award from High School but I love to wrestle. Maybe it was just because of my desperate state of conscience. To internalize the truth of Christ requires internal wrestling of repentance, not outward emulation of appearance. It is not merely the recognition of the truth but the obedience to it that results in salvation. I knew I had to become a grain of wheat and fall into the earth to die before I could become a part of this astounding revelation (Jn.12:24-25).
Repentance is not a matter of switching out one teaching for another. A personal dilemma arises when a man, in his head, comprehends the New Testament theory, but in his heart of hearts resists the personal call to repentance. Jesus requires nothing less than the ultimate ” price” of ego (Jn.12:25/Rm.6:6). So, he talks the talk of a “jesus“, but, in reality, he rules his own life (2 Cor.11:1-4). He remains subject to his conscience. He mislabels the conviction of the Holy Spirit as a mere “personal struggle” and accepts the sad state of his life as “God’s will”.
In other words, he remains under the Law, written in the conscience, while actively employing the New Testament language. He equates his pride of biblical knowledge with salvation but, because the conscience has not gone through the divine work of redemption, the battle evolves and expands, sometimes into unpredictable consequences. He equates the righteous impulses of conscience with his own godliness and thus becomes enslaved to the Law. He is confused because this is not reality. It is a deception.
We deal with so many such “Christians” who insist they are saved, not because the Holy Spirit bears witness to the living Jesus, but because (unknowingly) their “commitment” is not to the living Jesus but to the awakening to their inner knowledge of God. The absence of Jesus is clear. It’s all about doctrines and knowledge. They think by admitting this they are denying their “commitment”. But in fact, the conscience bears witness to the humility of retrospect and repentance. It can result in ultimate delusion. They are fighting the wrong fight. They have wrongly labeled pride as faith. If the light becomes darkness how great is that darkness, Jesus warns (Mt.6:23). James says “You believe that God is one. You do well: the demons also believe, and shudder” (Jm.2:19). Paul explains the difference between works of the law or of the Spirit (Eph.2:8-10).
It is tragic to see people equate pleasing the conscience with pleasing the Holy Spirit. They live by do’s and don’ts. Self-righteousness is the foundation of such hypocrisy. Their “happiness” is no different than that of the world. Their lives are a miserable bird cage existence. We see this daily.
I will never understand why men cover guilt with hypocrisy then parrot biblical concepts of grace and forgiveness. All it takes to get the real thing is a childlike heart of sincerity. As if God doesn’t notice. The reason a man refuses to sit alone in silence is that he is permeated with guilt and unbelief. He feels like he has worn out his welcome by God. Stress, anxiety and nervous energy are due to a troubled conscience. You need climb no mountain. Stop. Be still before the Father and ask Him to draw them deeper to find the truth of real freedom (Jn.8:32).
Today so many are consumed with church, church, church, good works, sermons, personalities, preachers, books, etc. etc. But no heart. No truth. No reality. No living Jesus. Developing a pretense rather than a heart. A church did not die on a cross and an experience can not administer the work of Calvary. The doctrines of both New and Old Testament, enlighten our soul but only the living Jesus can heal the wound of sin.
Two men can wear the exact same suit. One man knows it was given to him. The other man knows he bought it with his own money. The conscience bears witness to the source of our claims. It is easy to simulate Christian words and behavior. No one may ever question your source but you know, in your conscience, that your weakness is solely due to the truth that you never really trained.
The touch or scent of REALITY is undeniable, even if it is denied. The witness of truth is the truth. The witness of lie is that it is a lie. Everything you say may sound “Christian” but when the actual situation of your daily life is a disaster, whether you admit it or not, it bears witness to a lie. Instead of defending a lie why not seek the truth? When faced with the merciless oppression of Satan, the “steroid” hypocrisy cannot bear the weight of reality.
Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?”. Jesus sighed “My kingdom is not of this world…I have come into the world, to testify to the truth (reality). Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (Jn.18:37).
Imagine thinking that you are walking towards heaven when, in reality, you are on a bearing towards hell. The persistent rejection of truth can “sear” the conscience. It is like what a cowboy does to mark a cow. Self-deception is like living in a coma. The consequences are enormous (1 Tim. 4:2). The truth involves a thousand things, but yet it is only One. It is what is. He is Who He is ; “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex.3:14).
It is not complicated. When you don’t understand something, you make excuses which result in self-pity driving you further into the wilderness.
Jesus says “I am the truth…And they shall all be taught of God… Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (Jn.6:45). If you will work to identify and respond to your conscience, the Holy Spirit will work to bring you into Jesus.
The first time you realize you can save a soul is the last time you will think twice about trying. If you will go the extra mile, you can win the human race.
If anyone would like to help support our work it would be greatly appreciated. Our needs are great. You can email us or use pay pal:firstname.lastname@example.org.
I will recover my heart and exercise my will to discover how to.... rise from ashes.
Sometimes we can feel like our soul is frozen in a routine cycle of depressive thinking. We look forward to outward stimuli like food, work, friends, church, entertainment, recreation or TV to find euphoria. But temporary emotion is not enough to alter physiological brain paths. Our mind will anatomically return to how we have programmed it to process life. The idea of change will always be complex and “out there some day” unless we learn to live by a faith that is proven by analytical resolve rather than fickle emotions and feelings. We must probe our intelligence and engage our free will to build new brain paths that will lead us to actually experience the promises of God’s Word to rise from ashes. This is not some intriguing new teaching. It is just common sense that it seems everyone has abandoned.
I was sitting inside a hotel on our 3rd day in Port Alegre, Brazil. Suddenly…
“Bamm! Bamm! Bamm! bamm! Bamm!”.
Probably 20 gun shots rang outside our window. I won’t ever forget the sound because it was nothing like the movies. You felt it. The instinct of fear instantly kicked in for the safety of my family. I couldn’t see where the shots came from, but it was close by. I had the feeling that someone had died. The next morning on the front page of the newspaper confirmed my fears. A rival gang moved into the neighborhood and killed several people.
A few months later we were asked by city officials to go into this exact neighborhood to perform. It was a mind-blowing experience. As we turned the corner to drive up a steep grade two women were wailing on each other. When we turned into the plaza to perform we noticed at least five guys about seventeen years old carrying AK-47s.
One day I was standing in a bakery trying to order some pizza. I couldn’t figure out the ingredients in Portuguese. “Can anyone tell me what ‘acetonas‘ are?” I asked out loud, hoping someone else spoke English. I hope it’s not the acetone I know of that used to repair fiberglass. But it wouldn’t really surprise me down here.
A man at a nearby table a man yelled to me “The pizza is great! Today… two for one”. His mouth was stuffed full of crust, some falling on the table. When I told him I had recently arrived in this city he said loudly through his broken English, “Well, my friend… Welcome to hell”. Oh, wow. That’s cool, buddy. Just what I wanted to hear. Thanks for that. He went on how “The heat here is unbearable and this city should have never been inhabited. It should have remained part of the Amazon”. But mostly he considers it ‘hell’ because the violence is out of control and no one can do a thing about it. Through the conversation, he kept asking “But why??” “Why would an American leave America and come to live here?”. I respond “One Word…Jesus. He loves you brother“. This led us into a beautiful conversation and ended up eating at his table. Acetone wasn’t that bad.
If I had a dime for every time someone said their dream was to go to America I’d be rich. Many are shocked and thrilled when we share a little deeper about how going to America will not help one thing with their inner life. Though the outward circumstances are different, the pain and grief of life will be the same. It’s like with anything in life; you look forward. It comes. It goes. It leaves us the same. Many times it’s worse when someone achieves material wealth and loses a simple heart that was once content with lesser things.
I have seen how a man who once laughed as his children chase a chicken around a dirt shack in a poor country, now cries with a heavy heart as his kids grow up while he is away working for ‘better’ life in America.
A nicer house with a yard, a car to drive, or money to spend, will not take away the loneliness and hurt that everyone carries inside. Jesus says “what does it profit a man to gain the world, but lose his soul?”. He says “blessed are the poor”. And man, have we ever seen this to be right on. The less you have, the more you have. An ounce of heart weighs more on the scale of reality than a ton of nice stuff or furniture.
Word spread about us in this city and the directors of several large schools reached out to us. It is exciting when they ask specifically to bring our message of change and the Gospel to their students. It’s different. You got to see it. It’s not religious at all. Many have remarked how the boldness in which we stand for Jesus is something they have never seen. Other things these people say in response to our ministry are remarkable. They show the unique workings of a mind that has not ‘been there done that’ as many in the States feel they have.
Driving into one school (as I mentioned before), a major shooting had shut down the area that day and it had to be rescheduled. A few days later we tried again. Driving into the area, the pavement suddenly stops. Tiny dirt roads wind back though endless shacks. Countless dogs run across the road, AND, SOMETHING NEW, to our view of the “Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood” ready for this? ….PIGS, lots and lots of pigs. Hmmm. Not exactly the kind that you want to say “Here piggy, piggy, piggy”. Not to be offensive to the nation of Pig-land but these guys were so filthy the pink ones were black. They wallow amidst the trash floating down the parallel viaduct. Hard to believe beautiful people are forced to live here. Those pigs are there last ditch meal ticket. There is a school of nearly a thousand students down in here. And this is right where we are headed. We finally find it and arrive at the gate to a weary security guard standing at the gate.
“I can’t hold them back, if they wanna leave, they leave, if you guys are gonna do anything, do it quickly”. He says. Wow, what a leader I thought. A true beacon!
Through experience we have learned, as much as we want to be fun and interesting in schools, we have to start with a very serious attitude. I walked to the front and unfold a large blowup photo of inside one of the worst prison in South America. They aren’t offended. They know this will very likely be their future. They are sobered and scared. I talked at length about the consequences of life. Even though we are young and curious, we must be wise and take things seriously. One moment of being carried away by pier pressure can push the dominoes towards a tragic life.
I was honestly shocked that some 300 rowdy kids were dead silent. The look on their faces echoed the reality of what I had just explained. Some near tears as we talked about the pain of a father leaving or a relative dying. Abraham came out and took over and share the full counsel of the Gospel. In His hand he carried a “Berimbau” that he has learned to play. It is a crude Brazilian musical instrument that is used for the ancient Brazilian dance/martial art of Capoeira. He uses it to illustrate the need listen, as the martial artist does in the sport of Capoeira, to the voice of Jesus. He calls all of us to hear the Fathers ‘rhythm’ and learn the steps of new dance.
We eventually had some fun as well and did some magic and comedy for the kids. In between we share the gospel and the need to study the Scriptures and give our lives to Jesus.
Later that night I was texting a guy inside a military prison. He explains how there is so much complexity in some of their legal cases they just want to give up. In the Brazilian Favelas, the communities are small and cases of vengeance often get the better of a justice system already in shambles.
He explained that “the Gangs in Brazil are not “gangs”. they are armies. They have better weapons than most nations, AK47’s, hand grenades and a sophisticated network of communication. As cops we are told these are civilian gang members. But that’s wrong. This is war.”
They have an iphone app down here that reports every time there is a shooting. Morning to night my phone is buzzing with reports. In the coming months we will be working extensively in these Favelas. Some of these gange members are very young and desperate. Many of them open to the gospel and willing to change if there is a way out.
I ask my reader to bear with the length, wordiness, and repetition. My children are helping me to get the whole short-worded blog thing. My next one will be much better. I don’t mean to impose upon you with long-winded truths. I get it. I’m just trying to figure out hos I can give you a tight and edifying word. Thank you for putting up with my ignorance.
A man thought to himself “Why is it every night I feel like I could cry? I am alone. I have no one. I constantly feel sad and fearful. Everywhere I go, I can’t escape myself. Something is wrong with me. If only I had a friend. Someone who understood and loved me. Someone whom I could talk with and could help me battle life.”
People joke about having an invisible friend. This is exactly what God promises. “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness…and he was called the friend of God” (Jm.2:23).
There is nothing wrong with you my friend. Feeling helpless is human. A person may deny it, but the truth is we all live with hidden pain and chaos. It can be so severe you think you have a personal problem. But God the Father understands and yearns to become your Friend to help, love, forgive, heal and explain how He can bear your burden.
People identify the reason for their pain as a problem with their marriage, divorce or loneliness. Some think it is because of a failure, past experience, present wanting, a personality disorder or a stressful situation.
The truth is difficult issues only exacerbate turmoil that existed long before the incident and will continue long after. It is the strategy of Satan to link your pain directly to some specific thing or person which you can not change. Think about it. It will torment you with helplessness.
It’s time to understand change as revealed in the Word of God.
When we allow God to cut to the quick of our heart a most beautiful thing occurs. First, I must qualify this statement. It is no little thing to open up our doors to Him. Our sinful heart can hold a firm grasp on hiding our secret ways. We don’t want to let Him into our dungeon chamber. But when we release our tight grasp, when we trust in the Father’s love, when we release our life into His hands, and believe that all He wants for us is to know His love, something marvelous happens.
It is not sensational, involving emotionalism. It is the divine intelligent love of God. It is the thought process of the living Jesus releasing His thoughts into our brain called “living waters” (Jn.7:37). Yup. It’s real.
It is like an explosion of the divine colors of eternity entering our finite thoughts. It is called inspiration or anointing. It is the Holy Spirit. It is the echoes of rebirth. In a micro-second, the reality of God’s Spirit cuts into our slothful negativity with His vibrant eternal life. The heartbeat of Jesus touches ours. It is no exaggeration. If anything I cannot possibly express the inexpressible joy. Anything I state is an understatement. If you could picture the physical brain impulses suddenly forced to process divine life what would it look like?
What would a brain surgeon say if he could see this process on a monitor? It is what happened to the woman at the well in John 4, and the Roman Centurian at the cross, and Nicodemus in John 3. This is real. It happened for many people who spoke with Jesus. He defined the content of His words as “spirit and life” (Jn.6:63). The brain is only accustomed to natural thought patterns. The natural man does not understand the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them…but he who is spiritual appraises all things” (1 Cor. 2:14ff).
The default of our brain is negativity. It echoes the same voice of Adam “Why is our life not simple and everything is a syndrome of demand and burden?” Could there really be unseen forces using this cycle of thought to keep us down? Why do we so easily settle for this natural way all men think about things? There is a spiritual way.
Why not be brave? Ask God to cut to the quick with His thoughts (Is.55:8ff)? Things that start out simple often drift into mental gridlock. Cut them off at the pass. Learn God’s Word. Memorize a verse. Then, at that moment of a downward spiral, recall it to your memory and wait on God’s explosion of life. Do not conform to this world but be transformed (Rm.12:2). Use your free will to change.
A simple answer to complex problems is what we all desire. A brilliant scientist named Albert Einstein said: “God’s ways are always simple ways”. He said, “I am not smart, I just spend longer on figuring out problems”. Don’t be so quick to accept the negative. Wait for God’s simple answer. It always comes when you ponder, not the problem, but the living Person of Jesus. God promises “Those who wait…shall mount up like eagles” (Is.40:30-31).
Could it be that “unanswered” prayers have an upside as well as the downside? If what we wanted always happened every time we snapped our finger we would never develop character. God wants us to tap the profound colors of intelligence within our brains. As a Father, His primary purpose is to bring forth the Character of His Son in us. Paul learned that through difficulty God’s purpose is to show us that we are “more than conquerors” simply by using our mind joined with faith (Rm.8:37). He says patience brings about “proven character”. So the upside to “a silent God” is that He is training us to draw upon all that He has already given us and live by faith and walk in humility.
Could it possibly be that we ourselves, without even realizing it, oftentimes complicate our lives because we don’t know how to examine our thoughts and balance our emotions with the Word of God? Are we so consumed with our anxious thoughts that we miss the voice of the Shepherd Who calls us to learn how to utilze the beautiful gift called discernment?
“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…able to judge (cut-discern) between the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
We have problems at work, family, relationships, or lack of, or any number of other outward things. Then there are the inner problems with unbelief, regret, anger, fear, depression, and loneliness. In every, and any situation, our desire is to ‘Cut to the Quick’ to find if there is a simple answer.
Imagine the enormous joy you would feel if you were staggering through a thick forest and suddenly discovered a beautiful paved path. Oftentimes, I find how God is with me, but only by faith. Not my feelings or circumstances. It is only when I step out in faith that I come to the One Who has paved a path in Whom I find the Father’s intended plan.
Long ago, God the Father came up with a very clear path through the forest of the human struggle. At first, it sounds overly simplistic to say “The words of Jesus offer the answer to everything”. People says “That may be true at a theoretical level but what about the practical solutions needed in multitudes of specific situations?
So many problems require a specialized knowledge and require you to do things you don’t want to do. It was like this in the Old Testament. For a person, back then, to be right with God, a very tangled knowledge, that involved complex rituals of sacrificing the blood of particular animals was required. There were 10,000 laws that had to be obeyed.
Jesus ‘cut to the quick’ when He said “Come to Me… For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (Jn.6:40).
Multitudes of churches today have a long list of do’s and don’ts. Also in the secular world, much is needed to climb the social ladder for success. A specific education, vernacular and image is expected. Even with relationships, things can become very burdensome when the requirements for involvement escalate to unreasonable expectations. Everywhere you look things are not simple.
The magnificence of God is seen as profound in that, no matter the obstacles of human existence, God has ‘cut to the quick’ with a resolution in One Human. He simplified all matters concerning knowing Him in One Person. He took all our heavy, intimate and complex issues and determined the perfect answer to life is One Man. God requires no vast knowledge, moral observance or personal atonement.
We need notsearch beyond the boundaries of our own capability. We need notto strive to exhaust ourselves with imagining mental barriers that don’t exist in the sight of God. The answer, as they say, is right in front of your eyes. The question is whether you will “see”; i.e. “behold the Son”.
Jesus is the most brilliant Person ever to walk this planet. He says “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Mt. 11:30). How could Someone say such a thing when He was about to enter into the unimaginable burden of carrying the sin of mankind to the crosss?
Jesus came to earth the landscape of humanity was before Him. He lifted up His eyes and began the journey of God meeting man. Jesus walked with, sat by, laughed and cried with, taught, and touched as many as possible. He shared in and with us. Slowly, and ever so wisely, Jesus began to release the greatest gift the world has ever been given access to; His Father.
If the answer to life’s greatest burden of sin, was defined by Jesus as the relationship with His Father, how much more so is this our answer? So the issue for us is knowing the Father as Jesus does. He promises to reveal Him to us in the exact manner as He Himself knows the Father’s love (Jn.17:22).
There was no need for Jesus to electrify a crowd with a spectacular vision or sophisticated rhetoric. Jesus simply spoke and spoke simply. His Word is enough to generate revelation of the Father to the one who is willing to “behold the Son”. In other words, our part is to see through Jesus to the Father. To see God in Him. To be overwhelmed by His love and mercy.
To “behold the Son” is impossible today, they say if this “Son” is dead and gone. But, for a certain few, however many no one knows, they believe Jesus is a living Person. So then the question is this word “behold”. Nothing mysterious about its literary meaning. The depth Jesus intended only registers to a heart that knows such depth. It is in the sight of the beholder that the sight of Jesus is truly seen.
For indeed, to all those who come to behold Him today, is given the same chance that was given to those of yesterday. Oh, to behold Him. To see in Him, beyond the body of a Carpenter, beyond even the life of the Son, to the Character of He Who is called by Him “My Father” (Jn.17).
Jesus cut to the quick with His every word. Complex problems you say? Jesus revealed every issue is multi-faceted. One Rubix cube can be twisted and turned into a variety of color codes. Likewise, it is about the way in which you “behold” an issue, that determines the relevance and significance of that issue. To one who beholds the Son, the complexities of sin fade when seeing the profound ways of God are so simple.
Behold the Son shines His eternal light upon us to release the anxiety of darkness out which our struggles often loom. If we would let His Word ‘cut to the quick’ of our heart, to expose the gutwrenching truth of a situation, we could find a “complex” situation becoming quite simple. The truth will set you free, Jesus promises.
Sometimes we say something is very difficult to do when in fact what makes it so difficult is because we refuse to admit our own hidden agenda. We may not want to do something but want to pretend that we do want to do it. So we make our own situation complex by our lack of honesty and transparency. Thus the Person of Jesus simply exposes our actual motives and leaves it up to us to repent and believe His “My yoke is easy” (Mt.11:30.
John Denver sang a song about watching an eagle fly. He said that any man, no matter how rich, is really a poor man if he never saw an eagle fly. Don’t go your whole life without changing your mind, humbling your pride, and allowing God to bring His eternal word into your heart. No matter what you may have in this world you are poor man if you do not see this Eagle fly.
It’s titled “Legacy of Love”- This music is our attempt to meet those seeking the high energy euphoria of EDM with the high energy resurrection life of the living Jesus.
I would rather not name any one of the multitudes of highly admired personalities who have admitted they can not cope with their inner state. They sing. They dance. They make men laugh and cry. They instruct. They exemplify what men desire. But when no one sees, they abuse prescription or illegal drugs, alcohol and sometimes turn to suicide. All because they do not know how to deal with their inner self.
The media is always shocked. When public tragedy contradicts reason, there is an obsessive search for a motive, because people don’t want to think they themselves could ever do such a thing. Why do “normal” people do bad things? How could someone, who acts so capable, who has it all, do the unthinkable?
The truth is, that every single person, in isolated moments of pain, and memories of dark experiences, has varying degrees of depression and tormenting thoughts. It is not due to a unique personality “disorder” or some clinical “diagnosis” of a past failure. It is, in one sense, not our fault. It is due to the debilitating enigma in our bloodstream called sin. It is like a monster hiding in your home. It drives us to do things we hate (Rm.7:19ff). No one ever talks about yet it rules the world. We all share this “disorder” of a broken human nature but who is willing to understand why no one is “cool and together”?
Sin is clearly explained in the Biblical description that we are “desperately sick” and “insanity is in the heart of everyone” (Jer.17:9/Ecc.9:3). We are not “basically good” (Rm.3:10). It doesn’t matter how well we hide it, we are inadequate to deal with life. We need the context of creation, from the Creator Who fashioned our every bone (Ps.139).
Every aspect of our imperfection attests to the tragic outcome of the genesis of pride in Adam and Eve. You are not alone. Regardless of your sin, the Father yearns to come alongside you. He loves you. Don’t resist. Don’t rationalize. Exert the humility and will to understand His loving revelation of absolute truth. Find beautiful redemption. Our inner cry for help manifests itself in innumerable subtle ways. But thank God, He hears, He sees and He stretches out His arms with His profound solution of mercy. He can quantify and simplify everything we defy.
Come, go with me, to this “Land”…of the living Jesus (Numbers 13:30/Hebrews 4:11). I understand the isolated pain of loneliness. I know the “hell”, but most importantly, I know how to tap heaven. Listen to me, the answer is not “playing church” or striving for a pretense as a nominal Christian. I am sorry if my blunt phraseology offends anyone but I am just speaking the truth to help rescue a brother or sister into the astounding reality of Jesus. Time is like an evil magician who holds our life in front of us then suddenly “Zap” makes it disappear.
Bear with me in a little ‘small talk’ to give a bit of background to who I am. My family and I are in Brazil. We’ve been working in South and Central America for about 16 years. We shipped our van to Colombia, drove through Peru (caught in an earthquake), down to Chile and up and over the Andes through to Argentina. The culture of a ‘third world’ country is very different from the states. Many obstacles.
Rachel and I are in our sixties. Being older makes things much more difficult. Plus we don’t speak Portuguese, as our children do. So everywhere we go is an extreme challenge. But 45 years of marriage has taught us, and our six mighty warriors, how to venture in the land of faith in God’s promises.
Above, the high pass in Chile was the mountain cold. But we finally arrived in southern Brazil after ministering for a time in each of the countries. To transmit God’s love is the generating power of His resurrection. Our Father teaches us to lift the countenance of fallen men with the hope of Jesus. It is worth all hardship.
Besides the streets, God has opened up so many opportunities through the government into schools, prisons, and social events to preach how to tap His living Spirit. Long ago we put together a 90-minute presentation of dance, music, drama, comedy and most of all love. We use it as a very effective vehicle to preach Jesus and reach into places we would otherwise never have access.
I divide this blog into Part I, Part II and Part III. (someday I may actually write a short blog like they are supposed to be)
People make a hobby out of complaining. Let’s face it, nobody cares. So if we can finally find someone to listen, there’s a lot we have to share. Pity the poor soul. But seriously, no amount of someone listening to us can heal our pain. We will walk away with the same problems. Human love is never enough.
The Drawing refers to the specific, peculiar way in which God draws us to Himself. His divine love is the only love that can silence our tongue and lift our heart. People often said to me “You only came to God because you got desperate”. Well, that wasn’t difficult. I was born desperate. God comes to us in our darkest hours, because it is when we are the most real. He comes on a level to relate to our suffering with His suffering. Jesus killed the “monster” and provides the only weapon; the drawing.
We must understand that death is not just a one-time physical expiration of breath. It is the invisible shadow of the misery of the curse of sin upon all human and individual activity (Gal.3:10-14/Rm.6:23). It is the deep sense of anxiety over the vanity of life. It is the consequence of having a soul (self-life/ego) separated from God. It is the lingering sense of defiance of sin against God and the death of His Son. We never identify depression (as a result of sin) so we never resolve it. We blame others, or things or God but our grief is the death inlaid in our sin. Jesus yearns to enter and touch our death with His death, to see if we might want His “out”. He reached into our brokenness as the suffering Servant. He bore this curse so we might become free of it.
If we will seriously ponder the phenomenal love that He demonstrated for us, through His death on the cross, our wounds can be healed.
In our “Christian” culture, the phrase “Death and resurrection of Jesus” is as unimpactful as any book title. Men search for answers to drugs, alcoholism, murder, divorce, record numbers of suicide, PTSD and umpteen tragic problems. Multitudes of “daredevils” do “recreational” things with a hidden death wish. Everyone, at some point, wishes they could escape their life. Jesus is considered irrelevant. Because the “jesus” of today’s culture is nothing but an icon (2 Cor.11:4). How could an event 2000 years ago help anyone in modern-era conflicts?
At first, I hesitated to share this subject because who wants to read about death to self? I know it will cause some of you to stop reading. Everyone wants a quick and easy, snap-of-the-finger “salvation” pill. But if it doesn’t really resolve the inner depths of conflict what good is it? It is an icon.
What if dying with Jesus, is not only the sole manner of salvation but provides a depth of joy intended to draw you beyond “the old man”. Neither Catholics or evangelicals understand His death is not a ‘downer’. It is the awesome resolution to guilt, regret, and depression. The key is not to “believe” in some abstract doctrine of ancient history. It is to cooperate with the living Jesus drawing you into individual participation with His death and resurrection (Phil.3:10). Herein lies the “secret” remedy (Mt.10:25/Phil. 3:10). He promises to give you every ounce of wisdom, love, and healing you need. God cannot lie.
In light of all this, shall I not take a chance to share The Drawing?
I’ve heard famous millionaires use the expression “I’m dead to you” or “I’m dead to that” in a secular context. Everyone clearly understands what they mean. Maybe you have heard athletes, dieticians, coaches and people in all walks of life use similar expressions, indicating how a denial of self, is a discipline, or “death” to various comforts so as to attain a more noble goal. So dying to self is not some weird concept. It is the true gospel; the GOOD news of God’s spectacular provision through the Holy Spirit. What makes this death fascinating is that in dying to self the Holy Spirit begins to provide far-reaching parameters of who you are to become; i.e. an actual “new creation” (Jn.12:25/2 Cor.5:17). Take it from this master of failure, it works.
Truth is not a bummer. It’s a promise. It is a divine absolute (Jn.14:3). His death and resurrection lead to “living waters” (Jn.7:37). It is not moral attrition that “draws all men” to Jesus. The power of God is the cross (1 Cor.1:18). This is good stuff, my friend. Because God’s Personal love from Him is personal to you.
Rock stars, movie stars, politicians, and fat-cat preachers do a lot of crazy things to draw followers. They project their ego with an appealing image, slogans, and words to draw men to themselves. But who, and why, would someone sacrifice their very life to draw men? How could this possibly help anyone else?
Jesus says“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself“(Jn.12:32-33). Say what?! How could someone being “lifted up” on a cross possibly “draw all men”? And if He is dead, then what would there be for “all men” to be drawn to?
Someone could question whether all men are drawn to the cross when, in fact, all men are sinners drawn to sin. People aren’t running around seeking Jesus. Quite the opposite. The meaning of this verse is two-fold. The death of Jesus is so magnificent that the conscience in all men bears witness to His death as the ultimate sacrifice of love (Rm.1:20/2:14). Jesus also means is that all men who come into His realm, and deliberately calculate the sacrifice their life to His death, will experience THE DRAWING of His Spirit into His revelation. (The backstory of the above verse is where Moses lifted a bronze serpent to the people of Isreal in the middle of a plague. All who “lifted up” to look upon it’s lifting were healed (Numbers 21:9, John 3:14).
It’s like if someone tells you that if you go to the top floor of a building you will see, and be drawn into, the sight of a magnificent sunset. On any other floor, you won’t see it.
Likewise, when a person chooses to “go to” the level, in his own heart, where he can contemplate the love shown in the cross of Jesus, he will behold the Son (Jn. 6:40). If you are willing to lay down your life, He will honor your love. It’s a win-win situation. Do you not want to get rid of your troublesome ways and find peace?
When a person unites himself with the “lifting up” of the cross, the Spirit of God draws them to the living Jesus. Jesus meant that “all men” who come into the profound ramifications of His death will be drawn into the Character of Christ. He will be made new. Jesus promises all who are taught of God will come to Him (Jn.6:44-45).
The cross is the University of the Father. It is where He teaches us obedience. There is probably no more hated word than “obedience”. It is the school in which we study and accurately learn all the subjects of faith, forgiveness, redemption, wisdom, and love. It is where we learn how our inability to understand certain things, IS understanding God (Pr.9:10). The death of Jesus leaves us with a mystery which causes us to marvel, love and obey.
Our lives flash across this world, like cars on an expressway. Suddenly, we get old and arrive at the destination point of all men… Death. So if we are going to die anyway, why not die a death that’s already been died? I know that doesn’t sound correct but His death is a death to save you from death.
In divine foresight, Jesus saw our agony. So he came to earth to ‘kill’ the enemies of sin and death. His resurrection offers a death, more powerful than death, and a life, more powerful than both this life and this death. Paul laughs “Oh death where is thy sting…nothing in life can separate us from the love of God” (1 Cor.15:55/Rm. 8:35-39).
The school of God’s Spirit operates in only one “district”; the cross. Jesus says if you want Me, deny yourself and take up the cross (Lk.9:24). Paul says I “fellowship with His death” (Phil.3:10). He boldly explains “I was crucified with Christ…the life I LIVE is Christ… because if we become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly, we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, our OLD MAN (our human nature) was crucified”.
Paul continues “in reference to your former life, lay aside THE OLD SELF...corrupt with lust” (Phil.3:10/ Gal.2:20/ Rm.6:5ff). Think about it. Paul went back to the past, when Jesus died, in order to find a retroactive present identity and a future of eternity in God’s Spirit. Resurrection awaits.
Such language the world doesn’t know. And when they hear it they walk away. Likewise, the “Churches” of today fully understand buzzwords like “prosperity” and “success”. But death to self is like a foreign language.
How about you? Your true identity is waiting for you to leave your comfort zone.
Every step Jesus walked made an impression on earth never before seen in the history of mankind. It’s not about trying to follow footprints in the sand. An earthly Jesus we can not imitate (2 Cor.5:16). Salvation is not emulation. It is transformation through our personal death and resurrection.
Jesus was a divine dictionary of a new world. He said life is death, and death is life, and real love is when you die with Him because then you will be in His love (Jn.12:25).
Love is not a thing to do, but a Person in Whom you learn to love. God is love. He is intelligent love. He knows how to quantify and simplify our most complicated matters. He knows exactly what you need and designed the magnificent plan to draw you. As the most intelligent Being in the universe He calculates the exact care we need. So the way to love is to be drawn in Him. Being with Him you desire nothing on earth. Again, Jesus says, “No greater love than a man lay down his life…” (Jn.15:13). His death is the ultimate compass of love. John Denver wrote about how a man is poor who never saw an eagle fly. How much poorer is the man who does not know the love that comes if he will die?
Basically, we are only a problem for ourselves. We are our greatest hindrance to God’s love. Everything about us is an obstacle to the ideal. For this reason, the weakness caused by the cross is the one and the only thing of which Paul brags; “I will boast in the cross…through which I have been crucified to the world and it to me…I will boast of my weaknesses…for when I am weak then I am strong” (Gal. 6:14/2 Cor.11:30).
When a man becomes compliant to Jesus, he is compelled to lose his own ways because of how all complexity arises out of trying to mix and match new spiritual ideals with the routine of an old man. Imagine being free of deceit in secure transparency.
Human existence is regulated by that thing we call TIME. Time is a fierce taskmaster. We link our worth to seconds, days, months and years. Men are captured by it to work away their whole lives. Never thinking there’s something beyond it. But Jesus actually obliterated all of TIME when He rose again. He defied time and space. “I was dead but behold I live for evermore”. He created eternal “time”. He can penetrate and transcend our every moment with His realm of eternal life (zoe) (Jn.6:68, 17:3). Through rebirth, His Spirit breaks into our time-conscious existence to “see” the wind of His Spirit (Jn.3:3-8). It happened to me at Notre Dame.
The average tick of a heartbeat is about once a second. At precisely one predetermined second your heart will stop. How many people have you heard regret the time they wasted? The elderly, coaches, businessmen, parents, etc. look back with remorse. You don’t have to be one of them. Redemption not only inverts time but can redefine every moment to transform it.
60 heartbeats a minute + 60 minutes an hour times + 24 hours a day = 86, 400 moments a day. How many millions of moments do you miss living because your mind is frozen by a single memory locked in time?
Behold a vision of a new future. Be drawn to the cross. Find the ‘top floor’. See the Son rise. All your sin was engulfed by the past moments of His three hours of separation from His Father. Jesus became every man’s “old man of sin”. He experienced our every pain and cry from the curse. Jesus was “frozen ” in a moment like no other. By His wounds, He entered every moment of time and by His triumph, He can heal any one of our moments.
All He asks is for you to relate, identify and fellowship with Him in His death. To believe what He did was for you. Remember the finality of death is in glorious eternal life. Past bad memories can fade like a mist. His plan worked. His words fulfilled. All who want Him are drawn to Him when lifted up with Him. It is the true escape.
Paul says “redeem the time” (Eph.5:16).
The cross is not to turn you into a forlorn wimp but rather to become His high energy servant of love, free from yourself, to lay down your life for multitudes in need. Thanks to the relentless work of Elizabeth sending out endless emails online we are so grateful for the donation of thousands of Bibles and New Testaments that we received from an anonymous person. Now, we just had to get them 7000 miles to the other side of the world with the other 30 boxes of supplies. Exhausted Abraham made it work.
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!… Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, I will give other men in exchange for your life (sacrifice)” (Is.43:1-4).
My intention is to help you to see how your true identity is waiting for you beyond the death of your old man. God’s true love is the only power to draw you into a life beyond yourself. To align your mind with His redemption. It is not a suggestion or an option. Repentance is God’s command (Mk.1:15/Rm. 10:2). The Father holds us accountable to change because He has given everything in His Son for us to do so. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Gal.5:1). His truth “shall set you free” (Jn.8:32).
How do we get the most out of our moments?
The modern-day thinking about being a Christian is to accept and suppress frozen moments while trying to emulate Christian behavior. A sure formula for a miserable life. A one-time sinner’s prayer is supposed to be like a magic wand that puts a zap on us with an automatic change of heart. It just doesn’t happen. It is nonsense.
What happens after praying the ‘Accept Christ as savior’ prayer is that “Christians” continue on in their old ways and never find the drawing into “a new creation” (Eph.1:11/2 Cor.5:17). Because they refuse to be “lifted up”. Their sinful ways continue and they recycle the same old doctrinal rationalization of a forgiveness that is not based on a relationship with the living Jesus. Satan has free reign to play mind games of hypocrisy and delusion because the old sinful self is never actually dealt with by the cross. The old man lives with Christian pretense and Biblical rhetoric.
If you want to be ‘lifted up’ concede to be brought down so you can lay your life down on the cross.
I think everyone would agree that a man’s state of mind is a composite of his past. Memories are stored away in the library of your mind. It is an absolute wonder how God can access any ‘book’ and reconstruct our brain patterns of thought to establish a new storyline. He edits each one of our stories into a grand epilog. He inserts mercy and turns the curse of sin into a blessing. His cross takes the sting out of our death and inserts an elation of joy.
We are created in the image of God and our capacity is profound.
“…the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…”(Rm.8:6).
Jesus would never have told men “Repent…” if we did not have the potential within us to do so (Mk. 1:15). Likewise, Paul would not have said: “set their mind” on the Spirit. No matter how many teachings we hear, emotions or tears we shed, the human mind does not change by a poof. It requires the “work” of individual intelligent cultivation. It requires prayer, our words, our heart (Jn.6:39).
In some cases, we may not be fully aware of how much a past experience is holding us “frozen” in a time past. But we have a sense of it. It comes about in our daily disposition. Seconds, days, months and even years tick by, but we remain frozen in the same disorder. The Holy Spirit needs our cooperation to put an end to old ways and implement the process of redemptive humility.
Without it, certain thoughts keep you in “prison” to sadness, lust, despair, condemnation and worse. In fact, our very personality can be shaped by something we don’t even understand. This is the power of the old man. We don’t realize how our free will remains completely limp. This is why God uses hard times to shake us with the power of the cross. He is trying to activate our will, our heart and our lips (Rm.10:6-10).
It is the only way out of our dungeon of despair. Apply your intelligence and rigorous contemplation to believe God, despite the impossibility you now feel. Jump start your heart like kick-starting a motorcycle. It’s like waking up from a deep coma. You have given up and don’t even know it. Discipline your time. If you will just start anything little to force yourself to implement a new way of talking or acting you will see the deep potential of your free will.
The failure to do so is tragic.
One of the most penetrating sounds I’ve ever heard is when I’m walking through a prison and I hear the echo of a loud slam of steel prison doors. It shudders through me with the feeling that my brothers are suffering in inescapable torture. Likewise, memories can be like like a prison cell that holds you in the grip of a cruel ‘warden’.
We talk to thousands of men whose lives are dictated by one past experience of sin in rejection, sorrow, failure or some tragic situation. Millions of moments reduced to what they did in one. Our goal is to bring about that ONE that will change all the others; “Maybe there’s something more. Maybe I don’t understand the cross”.
God would never say “forget what lies behind and reach for what is ahead” if it were not possible (Phil.3:13). He would never say repent if you could not do it. He is not a monster but a Father.
How do you “forget” something you deeply regret? It is up to us to energize our free will and act on God’s promise (Mt.11:12) . He will interject His wind of grace.
“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col.1:14). This “transfer” can happen at any moment in any place.
It is so sad to see people captured by a mere thought. What is a thought? It is nothing. It is invisible. At best it is a mental image of something that doesn’t even exist in the physical world. It is not a grizzly bear. It is not a steel vice. It is not a machine. It is like a bubble to be popped by your will, your change, your repentance. A limp will leaves a man floating in the realm of abstract imaginations. It is the realm of Satan (2 Cor.10:3/ Eph.6:12). It leads to hell.
When you go through the motions of yesterday your free will floats in the misery of a routine dictated by time. God says “Without vision, a man will perish” (Pr.29:18). If you allow your will to be controlled by the thoughts in your mind, and your mind controlled by random thoughts of your past, you will have no future (2 Cor.10:3). Even the apostle Paul had to overcome his deep regret over frozen moments of his past (Acts 22:4/1 Cor.15:9).
Stuck in a sentence,
trapped in a wall with no exit,
under siege without weapons,
while the past repeats in the present,
all logic is threatened,
a flood of unresolved tensions
leave you like a vehicle with no engine.
You are frozen in a moment of endless questions.
I, the Lord, am here for the melting.
I am here for smelting,
the breath, the breaking, the helping,
I am here for the treading.
Be at rest, surrender to the wine press
and stretch your heart to find an intense stillness,
for when your mind is split asunder
breaking down your internal infrastructure,
when you are pulverized and pressurized
this is when I can purify you into Me
so as to sort and sift the inner life unseen.
I offer like a bridge to retroactively
redeem all things,
through the perspective of faith.
No moments left to waste,
but rather to penetrate
with a greater grace,
mediate to cleanse the stain,
expiate to wipe the slate
so as to recreate and to fashion,
a focus without distraction,
through the only timeless transaction,
your broken moment now unfrozen,
through My blood atonement,
So now see with greater dimension
that in the work of eternal redemption
the final result was the first intention.
-Poem by Elizabeth Faith Shalom Woroniecki (my daughter).
THE MOTIVATION OF BEING CALLED OF GOD-Romans 8:28-30
Salvation offers a magnificent redemption of your entire past, present, and future. The word for “healing” is Rapha in Hebrew. It means completely fresh, new, repaired.
God says for I, the Lord, am your healer…I will heal you of your wounds. Jesus constantly healed people by His touch (Mt.9:35/ Mk.6:13/ Ex.15:26/ Dt.32:39/ Ps.30:2, 41:4, 103:3, 147:3 /Jer.30:17/ Mal.4:2). Precious moments of contemplation lead to healing and redemption. Redemption is a release upon payment of a ransom. The death of Jesus paid our ransom to Satan to release God’s right to redeem all aspects of our life from sin.
“…you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life…but with precious blood, as of a lamb …the blood of Christ” (1 Pt.1:18).
God promises that He can take the greatest regret and transform it into a predestined purpose (Eph.1:11). The majority cannot be still in the moment because anxiety over their past and present life haunt their conscious life. Jesus promises to send His Spirit to interpret the past, while in the present, and walk on into the future with a profound wisdom and sense of His predestined plan. This is the marvelous provision of redemption. Jesus wants us to learn how to live in the moment. Take no thought for tomorrow (Mt.6:34/Jm. 4:13). And how can we live in a moment when it is full of misery from the past?
HAVE YOU ANY WOOL?
Jesus says “My sheep hear My voice” (Jn.10:27).
When I first read this verse I was baffled by Jesus saying His sheep hear His voice. It seemed as something I would never know because I knew I could never escape my wickedness. I never heard any audible voice or even a still small voice. My mind was so full of junk I could barely hear my own voice.
Hearing “the voice” of the Shepherd seemed to be something only for the saints. But I slowly “heard” as I believed. Paul explains “Faith comes by hearing” (Rm.10:17). Hearing what? Hearing God’s eternal Word speak to you in a moment of time. His voice is not an audible sensation. It is not reading circumstances. It is walking in faith and living in the school of the cross. It is practical reasoning by a mind transformed by the Word of God (Jn.10:3,16).
His voice is “heard” in the true understanding of forgiveness, grace, faith, the blood, wisdom, and love of His Spirit. This is the voice of the Shepherd. He speaks through His revelation in the Scriptures. In every moment, of every day, God is speaking to us in the majestic work of Jesus. He is waiting to translate your every nightmare.
You are quick to “hear” the voices of regret, guilt, sorrow, and woe but are we willing to “hear” the Word of God speak of forgiveness, grace, promise, hope, and new life? It is for us to explore.
When I was in seminary I had a teacher who would fill large blackboards full of diagrams of Scripture verses in Greek. It was extremely insightful. If you could diagram a moment, what would it look like? It would be fascinating. Imagine one of your moments of sadness. You could write a short sentence. Then under it and next to it and above it write the depths of thoughts and feelings. One moment can be diagramed with multitudes of related moments and they would be chained to multiple dimensions and levels of emotion. Good news. God is God. It is nothing for Him to grasp and transform. Again, He can quantify and simplify your most complex issues. Can you imagine if one of your worst memories could become one of your best? This is God’s promise and He is able (Eph.1:11).
“…a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions” (Heb.9:15).
Hearing His Voice is understanding His perspective. It happens from building the Scriptures in your memory. Your perspective then becomes the Word of God. Fresh invigoration of new creative views begins to spring forth. We learn to overcome any fear, any moment or sin. This is the whole purpose Jesus sacrificed Himself. So He can enter into our time with His eternal purpose, His wisdom, and destiny. God is God. Everything He does is eternal. Thus, time is overwhelmed by eternity. We can face natural moments in time because Jesus is supernatural. Death is swallowed up by victory (1Cor.15:54).
Faith grabs His promise of redemption and leads to paths of righteousness. Choose to hear the Shepherd. He yearns for us to find His victory for the most deplorable moments we face; to enter in and to walk out again (Jn.10:4). He can take a memory and transform it into His destiny by an act of your will to believe Him. To set your will to the resolute contemplation of a living God.
“Come”, I say, “Come!”
“Where is that voice heard from?”
“I am your invitation, an invisible publication, in suspended animation, like an inconclusive equation, a language lost in translation. I am taught by the clouds, the thought on the sprouts, reached out in the boughs, as spoke like the river flows, the oak that grows, a signal like the smoke, spread as a dandelion blows, as bold as the golden hour glows, covering like winters first snow. I am breaking down the walls, My voice has gone out never to exhaust, calling to the lost, to come without cost, to the light of the dawn given through the cross. I am heard in the moment, known by the one who will own it, My voice is petitioning, My words riveting, My call ever witnessing, the only question left is… are you even listening?”
Elizabeth Faith Shalom Woroniecki
Here are a few examples of situations that highlight the profound meaning in the word REDEMPTION. This past fall we returned to the States to work in some prisons there. As we traveled to a prison, we stopped off in my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was like crossing the bridge from the present into the past and actually into the future. I returned to Saint Adalbert grade school (these stairs). We took the time to explore moments of the past. And at this time we discovered a wealth of joy.
I ask you to look at the building in the background and stairs upon which this football team is standing. Notice little duff in number 14 on the top row. That’s me. I was 14 yrs. old. A few months earlier I was shot in the eye with a BB gun. The coach let me pose with the picture but I didn’t play on the team, nor could I play for the next several years.
My heart was shattered by that one moment in time. I felt devastated. Hopeless despair. I ran in the house screaming and crying in pain and fear. My mom took me to the hospital where I had to lay on my back for a month completely still. It affected every day following because I was mocked and isolated. I remember praying if God was real would He please help me.
In the picture below my family and I stand on the same exact stairs where I felt devastated and hopeless of any future. Never could I have imagined, back then, that in a ‘trillion’ blinks of an eye, I would be standing in the same exact place with a wife and six marvelous children. It is amazing to see how the drawing of His death results in the manifestation of predestination.
But “where” did that moment of being shot in the eye come from? Could it have been from my future? I returned to a place from my past, St. Adalbert’s, but indeed, was it not from my future? I revisited that “frozen” moment of great pain, isolation, and hopelessness. Only to discover His redemption had melted my character into the future of God’s destiny. What made the difference between me and a million others is that I chose to be drawn to the cross in Jesus Christ. He alone causes “all things” to work together for good (Rm.8:26/Eph.1:11).
I now know how crucial it is to have a posture of stillness before the Lord. I can go “there” at any moment. This began in the hospital bed not able to move. If you are willing to bring the death of Christ into your pain He can bring multi-dimensional perspective to your past. How many moments are being sent to you, right now, from the future? Will you find His redemptive power?
My football career never materialized as I dreamed it would be. So many injuries put me on the bench. Now I realize how God protected me, not only from fame but from physical catastrophe. I had many concussions. I used my head as a battering ram. Redemption gave me health and a special gift; how to be alone. Redeem the curse into a blessing. Believe God.
If we learn to comply with a balance in our reactions to sadness, in our emotions and thinking, and not overreact, we can breed a disposition “that passes all understanding” (Phil.4:7). Not to be erratic or headstrong. Not to be cynical or sullen. To find balance and maintain an equilibrium of mature hope and faith will bring to us the fulfillment of our moments. All my life I was obsessed with finding meaning. I found it.
Truth comes by revelation. It is the only thing to stabilize our fragile and erratic nature in a world of hypocrisy and madness.
I also took my children to the cemetery to plant a rose on my precious mother’s grave. Her name was Rose. It was like entering an actual Time Machine.
The following is a synopsis of a mere ten-minute event that rendered me a lifetime of comprehension.
FINALITY- the end
THE HIT: I heard a knock on the front door as the doorbell rang. I ran down the front stairway. I saw, through the door window, a spooky looking older man in a black suit. As I opened the door I noticed his hearse parked in our driveway. I quickly concluded he was the undertaker I had just called to come for the body of my mother.
Less than an hour earlier she had died, in her upstairs bedroom. In one short month, intestinal cancer had literally eaten her alive. Her body shrunk from a somewhat pudgy frame to look like a Holocaust survivor.
I open the door and we barely greet. I walk him up the stairs. He is carrying a large vinyl black bag. My mind does not connect that the bag is for my mothers’ body. A bag?!
THE BLACK BAG: As we approach my mother’s bedroom, I point to her lying on the bed. He coldly walks into the bedroom and lays the black bag next to her. The opening of that loud zipper echoes in my memory to this day. He awkwardly works to maneuver my mother’s limp body inside that black bag.
My mind was having trouble trying to process what my eyes were seeing.
Slowly my heart is gripped by a deep sorrow. In a matter of minutes, I again hear that huge zipper closing around my mother. My mom is inside that black bag. A reality of extreme pain, I had never before known, invaded my conscious existence. The moment was frozen. It was seared into my memory. It was the finality of death. Unlike physical pain, I could not fathom any remedy for this extreme pain. No doctor’s visit. No pills, no bandages, no crutches, no answer.
THE TOSS: My heart was sunk into a quagmire of darkness and sorrow. The man, nonchalantly, picks up the black bag, with my mother inside. Then, he makes a very awkward toss of her over his left shoulder. Is was like a work man’s toss of a cement bag. He walked out of the bedroom and back down the stairs. I’m thinking “That’s my best friend. How dare you treat her like that.” But I realize she is dead….actually dead. Gone. For good. It is something all men refuse to think about yet is inevitably coming for each of us. (Is it not bizarre that the human race pretends they will never die? No man, but Jesus made this subject His life focus.)
How could she be dead? I had just been with my her a few hours earlier, giving her ice to ease the burning pain of cancer eating away her internal organs. I led her into deep-hearted repentance as she turned away from religious deception and admitted her wicked ways.
The Undertaker walked down the stairs, out the front door, and to the back of the hearse. He opens the door and throws the bag inside. As he walks to the driver’s door, he looks up at me and waves goodbye. He gets in the car and backs onto the road to drive away. We did not exchange more than two sentences. Yet he just took away the love of my life.
My heart was shattered. Something told me to chase the car, to scream, to stop him… but none of these actions were consistent with reality. That’s my buddy. My fellow comedian with whom we shared a “Groucho Marks” routine. We shared my deepest words and so many tender hugs. This is the woman who gave meaning to our dysfunctional “family”. I had to let go. To accept the finality. I headed to the basement, to be all alone. I wept harder and longer than I ever have with such pain my stomach had cramps the next day. How could I ever find the motivation and the vision to live on?
THE FUTURE OF THE PAST: I could never have known in the living of those moments how much I would share about them in the future. In a sense, I was living my future, at my most painful moment. The death of my mother taught me finality. When you resolve the end of one source of life, it demands that you find another source of life.
Let me tell you, that you can go on. There is a purpose to your present day. Your moments can be melted. It is worth all the understanding and heart needed to find The Drawing.
I remember when I played football at CMU where I learned so much of how to die to my self. It was so very difficult to let go of ways in which I had come to find comfort. By losing my life I was finding space for an unknown future (Jn.12:25). We have so many shared emotions with our past. It is hard to get beyond them. There comes a time when we must end our love for our self. It must be final.
If we are to make space for new ways we must let go of the old things that occupy our mind. Jesus says a house divided against itself cannot stand. Either you be new or you be old. No one, even God, is going to make you be new. The love for my mother will never fade but my life with her will not return on this earth. This void has been filled with a “…no greater love…”(Jn15:13).
These incidents happened long ago but today I am the outcome of there impact. These moments of the death of my mother and the excruciating moments of rejection playing football at Central have produced decades of life for multitudes. They came with no instruction booklet. It was solely up to my faith in Christ to unravel their significance.
You can choose to take a moment that would be meaningless or negative in your life and interpret it according to the Word of God. You can then learn how to use it to build not only your future but help others with theirs. My friend, I beg you, don’t let your suffering be for nothing. Grasp the sorrow that leads to real change so you can give a depth of the love of Jesus to thousands and millions of suffering all over the world (2 Cor.7:10).
There are countless such moments of which I could share. As hard as it was to explore, once I chose to believe that I could face it in His Spirit, He utilized this incident of enormous suffering and confusion to bring about His glorious destiny(Heb.12). Destiny is a fluid thing. It doesn’t come to us as an iceberg but as the wind (Jn.3:8).
It opened up my cold heart to a heat wave of wisdom. It thawed those frozen moments. I could translate that pain into resolute maturity and gain remarkable insight. I began to learn how to tap supernatural grace to show me dimension into all my moments of pain. To go beyond my own selfish shallow self-pity to care about others with the comfort He began to show me. The living Jesus lifts our life to the Father as His work of the cross.
The finality of natural death is a paradigm for dying to myself. There is no place for a hope that I will see my mother in this life. All the times we shared together render me nothing but sadness so there is no reason for me to entertain them. Likewise, in regards to my OLD MAN. The death of Calvary left no remnants of the old Michael. He is gone.
My mom always had a dream of me becoming a priest. If only she could see my family and I as eight “priests” today. Back in 1974, she took me to a Catholic Charismatic Conference at the University of Notre Dame. It was there, in the football stadium, that I gave my life to Jesus. We visited the university this past fall, to minister at the Michigan/Notre Dame football game, which was the first of the season. We not only had a tremendous witness with our signs for Jesus, but I was able to recapture the greatest moment of my life I shared with my mom, so long ago, and with my family now.
I was reminded of when I first drove down to ND for the conference at 20 years of age. My mind was calculating the rejection that would be involved in following Jesus. It was after my sophomore year, just after I had traveled out east. (I had no car but I had a thumb.) I “hitchhiked” from Grand Rapids to Mt. Washington in New Hampshire to see a mountain and spend time on top of it to read the New Testament. Upon my return, this very empty man was transformed in one day, at one moment, in one place; Notre Dame, my “Drawing” began. Eternal life drew me into the meaning I so longed for.
Moments can be like dark caves that He lovingly enters with His redemptive light. From a ragtag lost soul, wandering about in the wasteland of the world, you can choose to believe in Jesus. I sat in the Notre Dame football stadium gazing upon “Touchdown Jesus”. My Father’s humor, of a football scenario, did not go unnoticed. It was then and there that I was born again. Slowly, I cultivated a focused vision of loving the lost in and by the marvelous Spirit of the living Jesus.
“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, Who leads you in the way you should go…your well-being will be like a river…” (Isaiah 48:17).
To watch our six children carry on His Legacy of Love is a fulfillment of indescribable joy. Mercy here Downtown Chicago.
While in the states we were invited into a number of prisons. It was nothing less than amazing. And the men, oh, the men. So precious and in need of the Father’s love and understanding. We went to a prison considered one of the worst in the country. Someone, at some time, was looking for a good spot to dump unwanted material. So horrible it had to be put somewhere out-of-sight, out-of-mind. So bad they actually purchased a landfill for it. Not just any landfill but a landfill on an island so no one would be bothered in any way. It is tragic that we are not talking about some dangerous chemical or a massive amount of trash, but human beings. It is to these men that we go to explain “The Drawing” of Jesus Christ.
There are so many guys from gangs called “the Bloods” and “the Crips”. Their focus is murder and death. Yet who thinks of how they became like this? They grew up in utter hell, treated like animals, whose parents were drug addicts. Their memories are filled with nothing but nightmares. Real nightmares. We did everything the Spirit led us to do to enter their moments with the hope of a new tomorrow in Christ. So many guys who commit murder in an impulse. Then the rest of their life is held captive by this moment.
People just like you and me. Sons of fathers and mothers, brothers to sisters and fathers to children. People who grew up laughing and playing with toys and hoping to buy ice cream from the truck in the park. But now put on an island and locked behind not one, or two or three, but five layers of barbed wire.
It seemed we were going to be very late because the New York traffic was its usual horrid condition. But, as the wind blows, God led my amazing son, Abraham, to navigate our (“compact car”) huge semi-truck, around the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan Bridge, to make us on time. It was all so planned to fulfill our Father’s profound destiny. I owe the heart I have for these prisoners to the many past moments that I was sent by the future.
God can use this life to break our ego and to create in us the one thing He will never despise, a broken heart (Ps.51:17).
Downtown New York is like another country. So many homeless people sitting just out of the way of rich people walking by. This woman was one of the many homeless we were able to reach in New York. Just think of her moments (below). What she must go through so as to write such words on cardboard then take them out to sit on the street.
One moment came to us with the idea to witness at the New York Marathon. While there we realize all the affluent runners were leaving clothes along the route. We went along and picked up bags of very expensive sweatshirts and pants. We then passed all of them out to the homeless.
Among the dozens of sharings we had with individuals in NY, Joshua talked to a man who had killed over a hundred soldiers in Afghanistan. He was devastated and frozen in time. He said “no one knows what’s going on me. Everyone thinks I’m just another tough guy but I can’t bear to live.” Joshua spent a long time sharing with him and the guy just broke down to tears in finding the moment where Jesus could come to him.
When we arrived at a certain prison the man in charge had attended CMU the same year as my wife. The security number he gave us was 33 which was my football number. He had us perform for several groups and we were blown away. So many open men. I have never met a man so loving and caring as the man in charge. He invited us to his home for a meal and gave boxes of food and provisions.
My precious Rachel working the harvest all by herself downtown Chicago (above). She is a hundred pounds of heart. One man, one woman, all alone, can ‘change the world’ of others into His eternal kingdom.
Imagine a homeless guy with no arms walking into a place to get something to eat. I watched him wedge a fork between his toes to bring it to his mouth. Yesterday I fed a guy in a wheelchair with stub legs. No big deal. But another guy had been watching and was so moved to see someone care he began weeping. Indifference is like an end-time plague.
Multitudes of homeless everywhere we go. We must make effort to feed the poor and homeless. We must care about the handicapped, orphans and prisoners. Not to boast of ourselves. Jesus says don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. But it is amazing what a person can do who dies to himself.
No one can escape the stench and curse of their dying carcass, except those promised a new body. No thoughts are new, except when given by the Spirit. All the ‘success’ offered by this world parallels the past indication that all “successful” men died with nothing. Every accomplishment in this world is a step backward. While every sacrifice and tear shed for Him is reward and laughter in waiting. The only way forward is total surrender.
Implement new thought patterns anchored in the truth of God’s Word.
“O Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause; You have redeemed my life” (Lam.3:58).
Sometimes people ask “What can I do to help?”. We say “Anything.” Our financial support is derived from our savings from working for two years. We could use any help. Our van is 16 years old beaten by South American horrible roads, potholes and overloaded to the max. It is on its last leg. We charge nothing for our CD’s, performances, gas, etc. We drive hundreds of miles every week to numerous places to bring thousands to Jesus. It is nothing. We could do so much more. But maybe someone who is able, might care, not for us, but that the gospel is preached. Thanks for hanging with me my friend.
When you were a little child you didn’t spend time being perplexed over how to act. You were carried by the innocent impulse of trust. The fresh scent of a blooming flower made you smile. It wasn’t dependent on money, a work related problem or a living situation. You believed, even though you didn’t know, Whom you believed. Ok, I get it, the world forces us to worry. But we always have a choice how to ultimately respond.
As a child you pondered the wind, the clouds, the marvel of flight. God’s love surrounded you and put a wonder within you. You didn’t ask for this love. You didn’t define it with doctrines. You didn’t try to be ‘good’ to earn it. It is the same today, my friend. God’s love is free and requires only that you surrender to Him as when you were a child (Mt.18:3).
Our body gets old, but the child that was in us way back then never went anywhere. We can reactivate our wonder and disposition as a child, at any time. It never vanished. This is the attitude that touches the love of the Father. Jesus says it is not only required by the only way to find true conversion (Mt.18:3).
Despite how bad your problems may be, or how much you may hurt, or have sinned, a marvelous Father is waiting to lift you. The cross of Jesus proves it so (Rm.5:8). You may feel distant from God, like a ‘perfect stranger’, but He is a perfect Father Who runs out to meet you, wherever you’re at (Lk.15).
God is waiting to reach you, with His astounding attributes, that are clearly seen, if you are willing to “see” in Him in them (Rm.1:20). As in a glistening mountain lake, He is trying to draw you into the pure joy of tranquility in solitude. The Creator of the universe is “speaking” to YOU. Will you will “hear” (Ps.19:1)?
Yes, it does take effort. But the effort is not beyond you. It is not for things to know. It is not an effort to comprehend theological doctrines, or to ‘get your act together’ or a ‘sinner’s prayer’. Not for things bought with money (tithe). Not for things learned from a school, church or ‘pastor’. Not by a feeling of righteousness attained by obeying the laws of the 10 commandments. It is grace. It is free. It is the gift of unconditional love. It is the ways of the living Jesus (Jn. 1:17).
The things God requires from you are already within you. They simply require intelligence. They require your heart (Rm.10:9-10). They are waiting for you to initiate and articulate. They are latent. They are….the person…of you. You are not a fallen angel or mechanical robot. You didn’t ‘evolve’ from pond slime. You are profoundly created in the exact image of the spectacular living God.
Yes, the sin of Adam corrupted this image. Satan took over, and rules, the world through sin (Lk.4:6/Jn.12:31,14:30, Jn.15:19, Jn.16:11/2 Cor.4:4/ Eph.2:2,6:12/ 1 Jn.5:19). But the redemption of Christ now offers us the one way back to rediscover our God-implanted potential (Jn.14:6).
You must stop. Utilize your brains. Stop following. You don’t need anybody. Begin to tap the ‘new creation’; the kingdom of God (Rom.14:17 /1 Cor.2:11/2 Cor.5:17/Jn.18:36). Be like a man in an air traffic control tower, who regulates high-altitude objects into perfect patterns of flight and landing (thoughts-2 Cor.10:3).
Use humility to unravel a new identity. You can bring forth a beautiful depth of humility, as seen in Jesus; a life-giving personality; a patience; a more time-consuming empathy of care for others. Talk openly, honestly to your Father. You can subject your pride; “I will learn to do, think and say things anew…with love for God and men in mind”. There are old thoughts, like a rusty vintage car, waiting to be converted by the power of your intensity, detailed focus, sincerity and reckless abandon for truth.
Listen to me, you beautiful person, all we got is a brief 70 years. That’s it!
You can choose, this moment, to defy your “obstacles”. Don’t let them win. No matter how scared or weak you feel, how much you fail, or others fail you, forgiveness is a simple one time decision. Faith blossoms quickly when seeded in the beautiful meadow of God’s love (Gal.5:6). Regret and fear require recalling bad things over and over again… and again and again. Forgive yourself and be done with it. Forgive others and be done with it. Believe God; His love.
The Father sees us in our fragile condition, as a tiny bird. Jesus says to the most wicked of men, that He yearns to hold you close as…a young bird. (Mt.23:37-Greek- chicks-“nossion”).
It is crazy-cool how two human beings, who have never met, can instantly dive into a dynamic relationship. This sounds impossible, even ridiculous. But I know, because of Jesus, I constantly lock eyes with someone and we become instant brothers (Mt.25:35). It is the power of God through the cross (1 Cor.1:18/1 Jn.1:6ff). How beautiful. How amazing.
My hope is that you and I could do this very thing, right here, right now. We could rise above ourselves, and without saying a word, participate in the movements of His Holy Spirit.
Of course, the naysayers chuckle of such talk as foolish idealism. They don’t believe, so they never experience. The world says “Relationships take time. You can’t just love unconditionally.” Have you heard the latest sermon cliche that has spread like a wild fire? A famous “preacher” said “We must agree to disagree”. Poison. It’s an excuse for resistance, to hold on to self-pride. Uniformity is not unity. Can you imagine Jesus saying that (consider John 17:21) ? His love makes men of one heart.
What I write is for the simple, the trusting child; willing to comply; who dare to believe the love of God is such a magnificent reality it can turn ordinary men into extraordinary men. To make us see past ourselves and become consumed with His purpose (2 Cor.5:19). His compassion is far, far beyond anything we have seen in a “church”. It is not a token smile or handshake. It is detailed concern.
Compassion draws us into a life of God; the supernatural, to make us big, with such a degree of heart, that we cover someone, who disagrees, not with our standard, but with His care; even an enemy. We seek no adherence or response in return. It is a one-way street, of other-focused love. We seek only to give him, or her the love they so desperately need. It is to be a “Hero”.
Jesus asks us to imagine how much He must care for mankind, if cares so much for a little bird (Mt.6:26/Ps.84:3). He sees each of us as such. He calls us to act like never before, because we are loved, like never before. We can care for others because He cares so much for you (1 Pt.5:7).
The Following is a poem by my daughter Elizabeth;
How I long to gather you, how I long to answer you, how I long to you love you in this manner.
To channel My love to you like a flame over a candle. For everyone tramples the hope that is so fragile. You are beaten in this battle, and life breaks into shambles. How I long to break those shackles that hold so strong.
How I long to gather you, how I long to answer you, how I long to you love you in this manner.
Your wing is fractured, and must be healed. My love is a shield under which I will conceal you, and My mercy will yield to you the things that may seem unbelievable, for you are not unreachable.
How I long to gather you How I long to answer you How I long to you love you in this manner.
Wisdom beckons you to create within you a warm heart, a wise focus, a personality to care. These are all things you can do right now. Don’t listen to old thoughts. Listen to love.
Anyone, at any time, can “invent” new ways to live in the love of God. If you return to innocence, it will return to you. It will reward you. What you must do is right in front of you. Just a choice away. It’s not complicated. Don’t make it so. Just alter your next thought.
God’s love welcomes a total stranger as a total brother (Mt.25:35ff). How much more can it do for those who already know each other; to love each other, to live with each other, to care for each other?
Healing is not a feeling. It is a decision. It is can be now. Faith is supernatural. Are you willing to be?
Uniformity is not unity. Jesus promises a oneness the world has never seen (Jn.17). My family and I confirm this. It is natural to love only those who already love you. It is easy to settle for a life put together by familiar relationships, surroundings, and past experiences. This is the norm. This is the way we are born to live. This is the way of our lazy nature. It does not want to reach deep, to expend the energy to create a deep heart, to engage our potential in the repentance to become bigger.
Jesus explains “…And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough.'” (Lk.5:39). Jesus says we must be born again (Jn.3:7). Into His love.
His love is defiant to our selfish ways. So much so, Jesus showed us what He thought of our sinful nature on a cross. He compels us beyond it, to an empty grave. He yearns, to teach us of it’s ways.
My family, of Rachel, our six adult children, and I, have begun to learn how we can live beyond who we are. We shock ourselves with His love. The power of our will dawns upon us constantly like a beautiful morning dew. We feel the triumphant joy rising within so we can bring others into this family of wonder.
In fact, we see this all the time. We see the supernatural. We live the supernatural. We give the supernatural love of God.
Because we know two people can become one, in a Heartbeat of love. We live with this reality in our daily lives. We know that we can dive into a relationship of love with anyone at any time, because we are ‘young birds’ loved by “the mother bird” (Mt.23:37-Greek-nossion/young bird/Lk. 13:34). We have learned how to draw how to expand our wings from within to cover anyone who receives our love.
So what’s my point? Where is this ‘crazy’ guy going with such talk? Well, my friend, I am not taking you to a doctrinal thing. This is not about me or anything I do or have done or will do. What I am hoping here is to bring you to Him. To Him Whom I have ‘seen’. To Him Who dwells amongst us. In the most unlikely, sinful and feeble places of our daily dwelling, God, our Father, is waiting to meet us in Jesus and propel us into greater ‘self’ (Jn.12:25). He Who was, and is, and will always be, yearns to take you with Him.
He is at your side waiting to touch you with His love. He beckons you to come alone. To find a field to walk, to run, to rest, to think. He leans against a majestic tree waiting for you to see His smile. If you will let go of the ‘kite’, He will lift it and you will fly. Like a true father, God awaits to sit and talk with His child. To take you on His lap, put His arm around you, run with you, laugh with you…and listen, and listen, and listen…and love you
Yes, this is the Word of the living Jesus. The Son Whom the Father sent to do exactly of what I write. To draw you into His abode of love and a joy you have never experienced and a place of forgiveness and healing. Where is this “place”? How do we find it? Do I write of lofty spiritual fantasy? No, my friend. I’m quite grounded in the nitty-gritty stuff of this world. I know failure, disappointment, and extreme pain and fear. And I know how the love of God has transformed my life.
Recently, my family and I were working with the homeless and others on the streets of downtown Chicago. What a gift. What a privilege. (For those of you who know us, we have came back to the states for a short time, from Brazil. We could not pass up opportunities offered to us here in the states in New York, Colorado and Philadelphia. We will be returning to Brazil shortly but had to seize this opportunity.)
We have been preaching Jesus at many college campuses and events since arriving. But we yearn to return to our third world home where the poor, the orphans, the forgotten and the prisons are as a ‘young bird’ fallen from its nest. The poverty there is of no comparison to here.
While in Chicago we went into the ghetto and projects to preach outside one of the worst ‘gang’ community high schools. In the few hours there we were amazed at the openness to the gospel. Just talking with so many on the streets our hearts were drawn into that ‘place’ of bringing all that is within us to them.
When we went downtown, and to the Monday Night Football game, we talked with so many, many precious people from all walks of life and various degrees of sanity and reality. From the homeless young man, broken to his core, to a man in a seven hundred dollar suit, all hiding their heart within them. A heart full of so many struggles and wrenching conflicts. Who are we to have any answers? Ah, but that is not the question. Rather, Who is He Who dwells on a high and holy place? And how is that we can draw from such a seemingly distant God? It is by faith.
To see others, not as we do, but as He does, is the pearl of great price (Mt.13:45-46). It is the reason and the reality in all that I write.
Jesus says ‘I want to hold you as…a young bird…’ (Mt.23:37-Greek-“nossion”). And He says this to the most arrogant and resistant people of his day; the Pharisees. How much more for you who have no such resistance and arrogance. To you who can reach deep and alter your attitude, your thinking, calculation, resolution, and comprehension. To you who change, in a heartbeat, who you are and consequently, who you shall become, and most of all Who you shall then discover.
There are far more things to our communication than words. Our soul is unseen but its voice is clearly heard through; our body language, the expression of our face, the tone of our heart, the look in our eyes, the motives for how and what we do.
Jesus says human beings can appear one way on the outside but be quite different within (Mt.15:8). David says “His speech was smoother than butter but his heart was war; his words softer than oil yet they were drawn swords…” (Ps.55:21/28:3). What I’m trying to show you is that there are many, many “things” that compose what makes you, YOU.
You have everything to say about whether you look within to bring them out. This is called repentance. As we intersect the lives of so many poor and prisoners we realize it is desperation that is the precondition of receiving the “instant” connection of the love of God. If one does not reciprocate the openness and willingness to communicate in truth and love nothing happens.
Jesus says “I did not come for the healthy…but for the sick” (Mk.2: ). Ah, such a sweet sound to the ears of this “sick” man; Michael. People have criticized us and distorted our involvement with “the sick” and that’s ok. God forgive them. But as for us, these are those whom we love. These are our friends. We suffer with them, and so we become outcasts like them. They are feeble. They are like a fragile ….. young bird.
Taking pictures in in some prisons is not allowed but some have allowed us to do so. So we appreciate this allowed photo that constantly makes us rejoice. It is of my three daughters and Rachel (my wife) dancing a cultural dance with prisoners.
A lady we worked with in Chicago asked me “What must I do to escape my misery? How do I ‘get God’ in my life?” The answer is not the typical response of “Accept Christ”. Of course, the answer is to ask Jesus to come to you, but this does not happen as some kind of magical experience.
Everything, and I mean everything, starts with reality. Not with praying a prayer, singing a song, jumping up and down, a breakdown into tears of catharsis or any kind of moral betterment (getting your “act together”).
The woman on I spoke with on the street corner had never heard such a thing. She thought she had to clean up her act first. No. Repentance is not “cleaning up your act”. It is learning to simply act. To reach within all your hidden parts and begin to bring them into the open.
Reality starts with reality. It starts with the very things I wrote earlier. Of reaching with expanding your heart. It starts with realizing what and who you are, as God says you are (Jer.17:9). It starts with finding a deep heart.
Begin to comprehend why you do and think the way you do. It is not your personality. It is sin in you. When I read Romans 3:10ff I was both floored and exhilarated. I was always taught I was a good person. I am NOT a good person. I am born as a wicked sinner and can never change this evil nature of mine. Never. It constantly ruins things for me. Redemption is not a way of God. Redemption is the only way God deals with us. My job is to be broken and honest with my Father about what I am.
Can you imagine a young little bird? Can you see it’s greatest weakness is it’s vulnerability? My son Joshua is working on a new website titled In Weakness because the more we have grown, the more we have realized, His strength is only out of our weakness (2 Cor.12:9). It is the only place in which you can truly learn to begin to fly: i.e. to live in His love, beyond yourself. Not that I love Him but He loves us unconditionally, despite our sin (1 Jn. 4:10).
When you truly understand, and fully accept, that you are inherently evil, through no fault of your own, you can begin to formulate effective attitudes of gratefulness because you begin to catch a glimpse of “the lake” (Romans 5-8). When you are overwhelmed by His care and love for you, proven in the work of Jesus on the cross, you let go of all that you hold to.
This process creates humility. It is the crown jewel. It puts us into the “place” to receive God’s favor (1 Pt.5:5/Jm.4:6). Suddenly, things that you were never aware of, within you, begin to change. The problem was never with God’s love for you. It was you not willing to face and understand your sin. It is in not believing Jesus actually died for you. So simple. So basic. So profound.
“Would you….love me?”
Can you hear them crying my friend? A ‘young bird’ is crying for your love. Actually, so many. Young, old, broken, hurt, scared, given up, thrown aside, considered worthless, totally abandoned. I’m not talking one or two. I’m talking millions and literally billions. The other day David met a man who came up to him while preaching on a campus.
The man had just gotten out of prison after 17 years. He was blown away by society. He was looking for a pay phone. Couldn’t imagine there were none. Of course, he was homeless. David was able to bring him to Jesus and get him a place to stay in a YMCA. The man was so grateful he cried with David. Two little boys, little birds, instantly entered into a relationship of love.
This is lif, my friend. This is joy. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our princess Elizabeth wrote this poem. She is a warrior poet. Also she is our resident ballerina.
When you walk the wire, remember Satan is a liar, his lies bind you tighter so don’t fuel his fire or let his burning conspire against the higher calling of your thoughts. Be a fighter with truth as your attire and the Spirit as your rider. For the blood is your buyer and grace your supplier peace the umpire and faith the provider of the promises of God as your advisors. Your desire has already transpired so do not tire, the saints look on as admirers, for your foundation is now laid in sapphires.
Joshua and David created this caricature to depict Freewillas a Comic Book Super Hero. It can drive us beyond all the struggles we face. Three cheers for an act that has proven extremely effective.
Someone recently told me that they love the photos on this web site. So I think I over did it. I got a little carried away. Hope you can enjoy them. Can’t say that we don’t love what God has give us to do. My family and I have been in Paraguay for the last few months. God has opened doors that we never imagined. The authorities welcomed us into schools, orphanages, prisons and even city events.
The Holy Spirit of the living Jesus has led us into amazing opportunities to share His gospel; “Praise You Oh Father”. They even invited us to share Jesus for an entire hour in their national independence day event which was covered by nation wide television. Their colors are also red, white and blue.
Paraguay is a nation saturated with the effects of a history of tyranny, communism and dictatorship. The oppression and extreme poverty determines, and is fully recognized, as causing incompetence at all aspects of society and has plundered this country into attitudes of destitution. We have probably learned more about compassion in our experiences here than in many other longer periods in various other countries.
The gospel was created to reach into such suffering with beautiful outcome if one is willing to learn the ways of the cross.
We may never be rich, or have great talent, but anyone, at anytime, in any place, can own great wealth by the choice to yield to the cross. The world looks down on a broken man, but I have learned how the cross is the only way to truly experience the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.1:18).
God says His child is not a coward but has power, love and discipline (2 Tim.1:7). It really doesn’t matter what we claim. It is what we do, with what we have, that shows the world who we are (Mt.6:21).
It is not from human motives that we are willing to bear the hardships and suffering for Jesus Christ. It is Jesus living in us. When we die He can move through us. Sometimes a guy will write who seems open. Then, after I share about the cross, he quickly fades away. He does not understand the power God offers in it.
The key to understand the cross is in this Scripture “By His wounds (scourging, stripes) we are healed” (Is.53:5/1 Cor.1:18).
You see my friend, it is called in Greek “kenos”-to be made empty. (This is salvation: True humility is death to self; ultimate ’empathy’). God emptied Himself of Himself as the ultimate example of love to us. His ‘humility’ resulted in our salvation. He emptied Himself, of His Himself in order to love us as one of us (Phil.2:7). He absolutely identified with everything about us.
It is the mystery of His mercy. And it works! It goes like this. All that matters; Faith cancels out the puzzles in the mind. Faith is bought by nothing (Rm.4:17-18). So anyone can get it. And grace is free. So anyone can have it. You just believe and receive. And if this truly happens Christ comes within you. Salvation is the Father implanting of the Son as the seed within us ( Gal.3:16). It is the condescension of God into our exact misery (Jn.1:18/Ps.18:35).
The photos depict a wide range of people. Prisons hold every walk of life. Every man is different.
Paul was in step with how Jesus enters the lives of all men. No prejudice. Any place a wicked man goes, God goes. God does not deal with men according to their sinful ways but according to His profound compassion (2 Cor.5:19).
In one photo we are in a catholic church. In other we are amongst men of all religions. We may be amongst obvious hypocrites, while in another gang-bangers. Our ‘haters’ say that such diversity exposes our compromise; “You associate with catholics, protestants, gang members, cults and atheists as if you agree with them”.
Paul says “I become all things to all men to win one” (1 Cor. 9:19ff). Jesus does not limit His love. In fact, there could be nothing more “compromising” than for a holy God to come into the nature of a sinful man. Thus is the mercy of the New Testament in contrast to the ten commandments of the Old Testament. Hypocrites don’t know how to be with sinners (or laugh with them) because forefront in their minds is “My righteousness”. To walk in the freedom of the Spirit demands we die to our self-righteousness. Paul became like any man so that, possibly, in some way, he could reach that man.
My son, Abraham, often tells men the key to knowing Jesus is not saying “Ya.I know all that already”. Rather three words to God; “I don’t know”. The humility of ‘kenos’ is like a huge castle with tons of rooms to discover and everyone is rich with revelation. In a bizarre twist of realities, Jesus completely surrendered Himself to men to apply their ‘tools of their trade’; wickedness, to His very Person. He chose to fully subject Himself to whatever men wanted to do to Him (Mt.20:28). He knew what it would be. Yet He continued.
Like an astronaut in outer space who is detached from his tether line, Jesus detached Himself from His divinity to join Himself to our humanity (Phil.2:9). While He ‘floated’ in moments of utter darkness; “My God, My God why have You forsaken Me”, Jesus was working to provide the healing love to our grave wounds.
Jesus displayed, on the world stage of the cross, the utter wickedness of man. Then, as His second ‘act’ manifested the ultimate love and power in resurrection victory. I confess. I believe. I live an ongoing testimony to the resurrection of the living Jesus, a magnificent mystery (Col.1:27,2:2). Jesus walks this earth today…in us….and all who serve HIm.
Little did men know, way back then, that by killing Jesus, they were killing their own greatest enemy; sin. In man’s worst event in human history, God was achieving His greatest event in human history.
In a way of speaking, the Father compressed His divine glory, into a human posture. In the womb of Mary, God impregnated a sinful nature with divine power (the incarnation). Then…Bam…33 years later, sin exploded and was forever destroyed. Jesus rose from the dead. This seed is now in me. A hammer and nails failed to kill the One Who reclaimed His divine glory. He was seen for Who He is; God.
“He who knew no sin became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor.5:21).
Wow. Big time stuff. Dancing, laughing and singing kind of stuff. We do not bring a dead and boring Jesus to men. Jesus went to the lowest sector of humanity to bring us to the highest sector of glory. This is awesome stuff. It generates creative intelligence and hope. In working with “criminals” we proclaim “The Criminal” Who “despised” the punishment but now reigns as Judge. Jesus became the ultimate… “prodigal son” Who danced His way back to His Father (Lk.15/Heb.12:1).
Failure and redemption are my ways. Jesus bore all my wounds, while He was in prison, in scouring, and on the cross. He entered the place where each of us is ashamed to admit and afraid to go. And it is here, in the heart of sin, where Jesus inserted Himself, to demonstrate the power of God (Mt.20:28). Although just a man, Jesus believed His Father would raise Him out of this human predicament. And as author of such faith the Father gave Him the Name above all Names and demonstrated the power above all powers; the resurrection (Phil.2:9). We now have access to this faith.
So many prisoners tell me the same experience that I myself know; i.e. the mind toils away at night, at times, as if caught up in a cyclone of destructive thoughts. Loneliness feels like it’s eating a hole in your soul. Sometimes sadness is imbedded in our every feeling. These are the precise wounds of being human.
Inescapable feelings of pain can conjure up terrible fears. As if some alien being of sorrow as infiltrated our body and is hiding somewhere behind our bones. This is the monster of sin. I must not listen to it’s echoes of death reverberating in the chambers of my brain. I must believe Jesus bore this exact thing and live by faith. At these moments, I believe that He was here, all alone, on the cross, in this darkness. As Paul writes I “fellowship with Him” in these sufferings, of the cross (Phil.3:10). I await the power of His victorious Character. Thus, I am healed of these wounds through identification and His participation.
In one prison we had shared with men for about three hours. Sometimes just don’t know if they’re “getting it”. After we finished, the prison Director walked with us out to our van. “My jaw is on the ground” he said. I don’t know how to explain what I just saw.” An unbeliever saw the amazing mercy and “kenos” of a ‘humble’ God towards men. It was not a family or a ministry. This is King Jesus.
In every prison, we face men, with whom we are at a loss for how to reach. Their living conditions are despicable, both physically and in their souls (Read Section A at the end of this article). But the blood of Jesus runs threw our veins as we are carry the heartbeat of God.
This past Friday, the 18 of May, we drove six hours into the middle of nowhere. I was literally stunned to see the faces, all look the same, as the men came walking into the gathering from their individual cell blocks. It was like an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’. A sci-fi movie scene where each face was molded into an exact same look of agony. Like we had landed on a distant planet, far from anything we had planned for.
We were there four hours. We could only beg God to help us reach them. Today we learned of the outcome. A very beautiful thing. The Director, after our visit, changed his web sight profile, from his individual picture, to a picture of him with our family. It is the ultimate compliment.
Todays “Christians” talk about the cross as a vague impractical doctrine. As if it is a mental gymnastics for “salvation”. Jesus never diminishes His work to a prayer; “Pray a sinner’s prayer to ‘accept Me as Savior”. He calls us to obedience and a new life. The cross is “the power of God” (1 Cor.1:18). It starts with a humility that kills your greatest enemy; the ego. But Jesus would never say things that lead to grief. So when He says “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Me” (Mt.16:24) it is a call to abundant life, not of this world (Jn.10:10). You simply don’t understand, or don’t want to.
No lasting victory over sin, can be had without detachment of yourself from yourself. The cross does this. No, it is not complex. If you yield, like a caterpillar, He will bring forth a butterfly. Read the book “Hope For The Flowers”. God used this book to simplify and edify the glory of the cross to me.
Long after Jesus died, Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Gal.2:20). The apostle Paul explains the cross as a contemporary ‘living’ experience. He says every Christian, to be a Christian, must be “united” with Jesus in His death (Rm.6:6). This one simple decision renders the promise; “By His stripes we are healed”. Paul says “that I may know…the fellowship with His sufferings being conformed to his death in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead….” (Phil. 3:10-11). Re-attach your tether line to the living promises of the Word of God.
There is real power in true faith. Not personal morality. Faith is the only power offered to us by which we can actually access divine life; the free gift of salvation. Every problem; physical, spiritual, emotional, mental, circumstantial involves sin. So by Jesus “becoming sin” and exploding it, He established “the place”; “the way, the truth and the life” experience of exploding it, for us to enter in order to conquer it (Jn.14:2,6).
This is the excitement in preaching the gospel. We feel so unworthy. We have something to take to men greater than material happiness. This world draws men with an ‘eye candy’ of happiness. One time we were preaching on the quad of Colorado State University. A marine recruiter was offering pamphlets to draw young men. I asked him “Do you tell these guys any stories from Walter Reed Hospital? If a package of cigarettes is required by law to warn of cancer how much more so should a job with death and life-altering injuries as a possible end?
They say “Be All You Can Be”, then something they incur does just opposite. It takes away their ability to be what they could have become. They offer PTSD counseling, because a handicap, a divorce or thoughts of suicide leave them wounded the rest of their lives.
Bank on it. Everyone has no one. And no one has any one… to love them. Don’t buy the ‘eye candy’. Everyone knows that they have no one. Regardless of image. God says ‘All men moan like doves…growl like bears (‘Is.59). No matter how many people you ‘know’, you know, that no one knows you. It is heart-wrenching. But it IS solvable through the supernatural work of the cross. No matter if you are a banker or a bum walking on Wall Street, true repentance, is the only thing that offers you a promising future.
Jesus says ‘God so loved the world that He gave…ME’ (Jn.3:16). He knew ‘what’ He was and all His Father had to offer and it made Him ecstatic. Master Jesus came as a poor man, to the poor, with poorness of heart (kenos), to conquer the poorness of the world (Mt.5:3).
In His thoughts, beyond the cross, Jesus anticipated He would find poor individuals to whom He would reveal His viable and profound joy and save men from hell. And man, was Jesus excited when He found such a person (Jn.4:32/Lk.7:9/Mt.15:21).
Contrary to the lies of fat-cat “prosperity” preachers, His “mission statement” is focused on the poor and suffering, not the rich and comfortable (Isaiah 61). The gospel is the provision of the enormous blessing of healing to the wounds of sin, not with material “blessings”, but spiritual revelation (Eph.1:3ff). A heart crammed full of materialism and comfort has no place to find faith in the invisible comforts of God (Mt. 6:24/Mk.10:25/1 Tim.6:10).
People who realize they are overwhelmed by inescapable ‘hell’, both outside and inside, have the divine opportunity to see God in their “kenos”; emptying themselves. Such circumstances yield the genre of God. God did, can and does heal the “incurable” wound but it is only when we yield to His kenos (Jer. 10:19,15:18,30:12-15,17:9).
We tell people “I want to show you something you can not see… to prove to you it exists”. This is our heart in our demonstration of preaching the living Jesus and all His rich promises.
Long ago, when we were walking the streets, next to a volcano, in a village in Central America, my daughters were playing with some children. I remember praying “Lord please use such beautiful women to their fullest”. Today I see His fulfillment far beyond anything I could have imagined. They are intimately involved with multitudes of children.
Below ‘Gentle Josh’ helps his mother calm her anxiety and introduce her to sing her heart to ‘children’ disguised as prisoners.
The cycle of desperation breeds children of such poverty with tragic stories. We stop some from ending up in prison. It takes courage just to face their wounds. In going to so many schools, as we do, it is a profound privilege to realize the impact a willing person can make upon another little human life. When you see their hearts it makes us wonder “What was the actual real tone in the voice of Jesus when He says ‘Let the children come to Me'” (Mt.18)? Could it have been in a depth of sadness from seeing their poverty and desperation of their condition?
They live in a state of panic because they are raised with the unbridled instinct for survival. Imagine growing up in, and slowly putting two and two together, to realize you have a life of absolute desperation.
They are wounded at an early age by feelings of desperation and abandonment. They realize if they want to eat they must do something. If they have no parents what are they to do? Some impersonal guardians are looking any opportunity to escape their responsibility.
We have tried to distribute food and are overtaken by heart-breaking desperation.Two little boys were at a stop light. Hugging and playing with each other in the intersection, as if displaying some circus act. One of them made the sign of the cross as he hurriedly ran up to cars hoping for a hand out. They got nothing. They huddled back and tried again, and again. While ministering in a prison here, the other day, I asked some men what they were going to do when they were released. They explained “working the intercessions”.
The cardboard neighborhoods are without number. The individual stories of murder, family tragedy, drug abuse and unimaginable suffering pile up in our minds. We think we can just hear them, comfort the people and keep working. But somehow they penetrate our hearts in ways we do not realize. It’s unbearable.
So sometimes we find ourselves so troubled and depleted. At the same time it is marvelous because it makes me wonder “Wow. This alone is proof of God; to make a selfish man like me care about total strangers.”
When the Scriptures say that He “bore” our sin we don’t realize it means as a real man 24/7 while He walked the earth. He was afflicted by the constant bombardment of immense suffering all around Him, constantly pressing upon Him.
My son Joshua received two pictures on his phone from an inmate in a very remote prison we visited. They were of left-over wrappers from candy and popcorn we distributed in our time there. This guy, we’ll call John, owns nothing. But, he would never say “nothing”. Because in his cell he has two candy-wrappers he protects like gold coins. When he holds them he thinks of far more. You see, the candy wrappers hold back the dark forces of despair pressing upon his mind and sustain him with a memory that calms his anxiety.
They represent three young women, Ruth, Beth and Sarah, and a family who “came from God” one morning in mid-March. The girls distributed, tracts, candy and popcorn down the rows of chairs set up in the prison courtyard. They stopped to greet him personally. They didn’t condemn him but rather treated him like a long lost friend.
Something like this had never happened to John, over the past seven years he had been in prison. So the candy wrappers held the ‘magic’ of these real memories. They help to balance the memories of deep regret that put him here. He remembers how Ruth placed the candy in his hand and Beth touched his shoulder. He often touches his shoulder and remembers what he felt like. Sarah actually paused to give him a place to talk. John knows that this experience will never happen again.
Below Joshua is working in one of the oh so many cardboard neighborhoods that fill Paraguay.
The man was hit in the head with axe, by a gang of thieves. He was left for dead, and for blame, at a crime scene, of which he had nothing to do. Of course no one believes him. He asked Joshua if he could call his eighty year old mother and talk to her. After Joshua did so, the man texted back that hearing the happiness in his mothers voice was like a miracle. It made him read the Scriptures that Joshua had been sharing. The awful sounds of crying prisoners, in the background, and the stench in his nose, fades for the duration he can maintain the memory. So John tells us how he imagines the program is starting over again…and again…and again. It was the time he was given something, other than hatred; hope, love and access to the words of Jesus.
Imagine: What would be your manner of life; your state of mind; for you to actually cherish candy wrappers?
THE CONSPIRACY- Can you recall the words, as you grew up, from teachers, parents and friends about how this world offers a great promising future? As you got older you realized it was all garbage. People say they don’t know why there is so much mental illness, opioid addiction, divorce, suicide and school shootings.
You might understand it in the desperation of a third world country but America? People don’t have ‘candy wrappers’. They have access to everything yet have no happiness.
I have walked the streets of rich countries, preaching the living Jesus, and on college campuses, for over forty years. To find one open soul is a very rare thing. There is no “kenos”. They claim to know all about the Lord but have no clue how to effectively cope with the pressures of this world. Young people are raised in the iniquity of parents who have been conditioned to comply with American values.
A culture of poverty adjusts to the poor and uneducated. It makes room for them. It holds to catholic values. America has no such adjustment. Get with it, regardless of age, or face the consequences. Parents are no where to be found. Teachers have no clue. The politically correct garbage does not discern between social issues and immaturity because of age.
Why did famous people Heath Ledger (Joker in Batman), Kurt Cobain, Avicii, Junior Seau, Chester Bennington, Robin Williams, Chris Farley and so many others, both known and unknowns, kill themselves? They had all that riches offer. But nothing can fill the void for your Creator. No purpose=No happiness. No meaning. Opioids and marriage. Big houses, fancy apartments, nice clothes and parties. Booze and entertainment. But when you get to the top you see something you were not prepared to see; it’s the same empty heart as at the bottom.
Below Abraham and Rachel perform a play about a girl chasing butterflies for happiness and a Prince (on stilts-the amazing Abraham) tells her that she must become a butterfly.
People living in rich nations, especially the young, are abnormally subject to a culture of immense anxiety and pressures, scandal, perversion, internet dominance, media distortion and many other things that do not exist in third world countries. The obsession of parents to focus their children on boyfriend-girlfriend relationships results in catastrophic consequences.
Rejection is nuclear destruction to the feelings of an adult, how much more devastating to the ill-prepared and immature? So when children (and they are only children) face rejection and breakups it begins a wound of mental breakdown. American children face things a child of the same age, in a 3rd world, will not face until their mid-thirties. Consequently, young people are full of excuses, rebellion and accusations as a result of the iniquity of their parents. These “christians” know it all. “Don’t tell me. Been there done that. I’m doing IT in my own way. Accepted christ years ago.”
It is the delusion resulting from self-consumption in rebellion to the cross. They can’t be taught a thing. Not an ounce of kenos humility. My family and I know the evil things people say about us, and as Jesus would, we respond “Father forgive them…”.
And, lest you think this perspective is that of an isolated religious vagabond, consider a famous man like Sylvester Stallone, in the movie Rocky:
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world is not butterflies and rainbows. It’s a cold cruel dirty place. And it don’t care how tough you think you are. It will beat you to your knees and keep you there as long as you let it. Not you, not me, not anybody can hit as hard as life. But it’s not about how hard you get it hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. About how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done. “
(Side picture: Abraham, Sarah, Ruth, Shalom, Joshua and David organized a birthday celebration of games and competition for juvenile center of orphan young men who will never have a real birthday.)
You only live once. Who are YOU? Don’t take the easy way out my friend. Maybe not today, but the day is coming when you will terribly regret it. Give up and give in to the cross of Jesus.
TO SELL, BUY AND PAY– The Game of Christianity
We beg you not to play “church”. The word for foreknowledge in greek is “prognosis”. Like a doctor who knows well the effects of a disease, we can foretell to you the effects of hypocrisy. Once you grow beyond a certain time, it is becomes “impossible” to change (Matt. 19:23ff).
Today’s modern “Christianity” thinking is an intergal part of Satan’s conspiracy against the truth. One man, calls himself a “preacher’. He projects an image with a rhetoric to sell his version of a “salvation” of trite involvement. It provides a good feeling of smiles and positive lingo about one’s own self as being righteous without one minor thing, the cross.
The naive buy this image and commodity of “salvation” to claim “I am a Christian. Look and see”. They each pay each other a lie, for the lie each agrees to accept. Amidst their 20,000 denominations they insist they are different than “lost souls”. Yet when confronted with their many contradictions and hypocritical living they are quick to rationalize “Well nobody’s really different or perfect”.
Anything to do with unregulated exposure to awkward situations, with the outside world of sinners, is forbidden. And anyone confronting this lie or living the truth is denounced as a vagabond “accuser”. They ask “Where’s your love?” while they themselves are do nothing, but token ‘works’, to care for others. Christianity is played within the confines of a building they call “the church”. It can be huge or you and one other person.
You can choose to believe whatever, or whoever, you want, but the witness of my family and I, is to the truth that the promises of the living Jesus, in His Word, produce dynamic oneness; John 17:11. I would be lying if I said otherwise. Don’t listen to the lazy cowards. Become alive.
My dearest friend, you have no idea how much you have to give and have been given. The Father is waiting to use you. You can see, hear, smell, walk, sing and do things you can’t now imagine. Aside from the most basic provisions of housing, food, transportation etc. you are offered all the riches and promises in God’s Word. You have no idea how much you can do, and say, to help someone else. Multitudes are waiting for your candy wrappers.
I tried to share the gospel with an older Spanish-speaking couple at the park the other day; “Good Lutherans”. It was hard to get a word in; ” We are saved by grace and need not DO anything.” Such thinking is nothing more than silly nonsense. When I asked if they ever shared the gospel with others they accused Sarah and I of being a cult and insisted that “works” won’t save us. I wondered if they ever thought of one word… LOVE.
Could caring about others trump doctrine? Today’s “Christians” use Bible verses to block out accountability to love men. People think that to call yourself a Christian means you are one. They equate sentimental feelings of love for Christ, and good works, or throwing token money, ‘tithe’, here and there, with salvation. Not quite (Mt.7:21).
I guess Jesus must have had aliens in His mind, when He said “Go into all the world…” because every “Christian” I talk to says “Oh, THAT is not for me. Don’t put your calling on us”. The aliens are yet to come to earth to obey God’s Word. The truth is Jesus calls the most common and the most nothing (1 Cor.1:20ff). Surely a fisherman had no schooling. I had no in-born ability or desire to tell men about Jesus. It’s not some big complicated “calling”. It’s just the outcome of energy from knowing His love. We are the most simple and share Jesus in all walks of life because He makes us care.
Paraguay recently had a big race event. Of course, all my guys entered it, including Rachel, to both run it and to witness at it. It was spectacular. Some forty thousand people. Everyone did fantastic. Lo and behold our “little” Rachel actually won her category. No little feat (feet) considering she has a stride befitting her petite stature. Sorry, got to brag on our sweetheart mother.
It was amazing but Ruth went up and talked to the man in charge. She told him about us being here in their country and asked if she could say a few words to the large crowd with the microphone. I thought it was in vain. He would never do so.
Well, as often times, I was wrong. He gave her the stage and she came through with a beautiful testimony to the living Jesus. She shared about the steel rod in her leg and how she was in a wheel chair. How Jesus raised her up and now she runs in many races. So this testified to how they can tap His redemptive power and find His healing in all their situations.
As I grew up I saw the lives of three of my brothers end in tragedy; divorce, drugs and perversion. I did one “little” thing at the age of twenty that led me into this beautiful life. I gave may life to the living Jesus. Your life will either end in the trash heaps of this wicked world or the divine destiny of the living God. You can invest in a life of sacrifice by caring for others with the love of Jesus or live a life of empty existence for yourself. The choice is yours…right now.
These streets were made for dancing, these hands for those that are grasping, these gifts for those who are lacking. This love for the hearts that are cracking, these seeds for the ground of planting, these answers for those who asking. This light was lit for the unmasking, so their burdens they might start casting, to make their eyes start laughing, their courage to be long lasting. Because Jesus is the dead man standing, and this life is the life everlasting.
SECTION A– Prison life
Have you ever seen a picture of the statue called “The Thinker”? Most statues commemorate a person or historical event. This statue is simply of a man sitting, with his head resting on his hand, with his elbow on his knee. It is obviously commemorating the posture of thinking; the art of contemplation.
I beg you, forget what everybody else around you says for a moment. If God is real would He not want you to think individual thought? The conformity of non-thinking to the system of “Christianity” is nothing more than political correctness. Peer pressure.
Stop waisting your life. Stop looking to “Christians” who draw their religious sounding babel out of their mental warehouse of excuses based on sermons, cliche’s and delusion. Jesus wouldn’t even be allowed to speak in the “churches” of today because He is not submitted to a “Pastor” (only His Father). He has none of the scholastic credentials or ‘speaker’ qualifications. He has attended no seminars or schools. He does not preach “church” attendance and a sinner’s prayer. He proclaims relationship with His Father.
Likewise, Paul would be labeled a “rebel”. The “super apostles” didn’t recognize him. His rebuke of the “prosperity” teaching and the love of money and comfort would be classified “You’re not being loving”.
Do something novel. Think for yourself. I have never seen a car fix itself. Have you? Never seen a refrigerator cut the grass or a computer wash the floor. No machine can do something it was not manufactured to do. It is a limited machine.
Not so with you and me. We each have the profound potential to change. I remember in college when I first began reading the Scriptures. The idea that God offered to change me was fascinating. He calls it repentance but it means “change of mind” (metanoia).
You will stand alone before God. So think alone now. His true blessing and destiny awaits one who will pick up his cross of personal accountability to follow Jesus. To care about others hearing the gospel. Jesus says “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few”.
The apostle Paul writes about the essential need for a man to think for himself. ; to think differently. It is our greatest accountability. It is a stunning reality but the majority merely acquiesce to common thinking.
Over the past ten years my family and I have worked very hard to penetrate the prisons in South America with the gospel of Jesus. It could never happen in the states but there is a huge harvest throughout the world. As a result of relentless prayer, and such efforts, God opened doors that we never imagined.
I share this to motivate some young sincere man or woman who loves Jesus. It is no small endeavor but the rewards of personal fulfillment are enormous. Little did we ever expect what we now know. What we have touched, and been touched by, has changed our lives.. We have uncovered a reality not unlike the concentration camps created by Hitler.
Along with all the innumerable horrors of human suffering; drug addiction, serial killers, abortion, child abuse, human trafficking, etc. being subject to prison is one of the worst tragedies on the face of the earth. As tons of “Christians” get re-saved for the tenth time, or “share a word” with a deluded congregation, who render no true repentance, there are literally millions who would give anything to hear what you have to share. To just have you come and talk to them. To touch their should or hug them.
Try to imagine the severe physical and mental anguish, of living in such hell, moment by moment, with the consciousness of having five, ten, thirty or more years, with not a shred of hope for escape. then compound them with all the hours, days, weeks, months, years of doing their sentence and nothing but sitting and sleeping in filth and stench.
Below is the art work shop in the biggest prison in Brazil.
No friends. No contact. No food or nutrition. Slop. No outlet. Nothing to look forward to. No park. No grass. No clean shower or change of clothes. Every view they have is of the exact same walls of hopeless despair. Never an escape. I’ve said these things before in some variation and I will say them many times yet to come because they constantly turn in my mind.
Memories of guilt and regret haunt their minds. They can not run away or hide. Barbed wire reminds them their label is “Dangerous (locked away) Criminal”. The other day I told a group that, in God’s eyes, all men are both criminals and victims. They were not inbred criminals. They spontaneously erupted into applause. That’s how much it is on their minds.
There’s a prison in Paraguay of five thousand men that is like walking into a mental ward. You see things you don’t want your mind to see. If you dare look closely into the eyes of these men absolute devastation and hopelessness. They have abandoned their soul and resorted to animal instincts of survival. They are hanging by a thread of human existence.
Imagine trying to sleep with ten other guys in 90 degree heat and no mattress or air to circulate. Imagine being sick or having a tooth ache or broken bone. Having no hope causes another wave of mental decline. No loving touch. No outside conversations. The guards treat them worse than animals in a zoo.
Above Sarah works to bring young people out of themselves as she conducts her “Leadership Challenge” at a local Paraguay school.
Then to see these same guys smile at us because of something we say or do. They instantly know our names. They just want to hear us talk to them. When we see them care about us when nobody cares about them. We have received more love from them than anyone we have ever known in the states.
They ask for stuff then apologize when they realize we don’t have stuff because are not supported by anyone and are not rich Americans. Yet some overflow with gratitude and insightful phrases. After studying us as a family this guy told me “You realize Michael that you have built yourself your own private army”.
We asked a guy what he thought of our performance. What could we do better? He said to be honest the performance was great. But what was really powerful was your kindness. Your humility in bringing yourselves as a family was most powerful.
We are not phonies. No fake smiles. No enhanced photos. No ‘Look at how good and righteous we are”.
Indeed, an army of lovers. An army highly skilled in combat compassion. Of “special ops” listeners. We toil constantly with things we could buy to give them but always come to the point that there is nothing greater than the gospel of eternal life. The simple choice to heed Jesus saying “I was in prison and you did not visit Me” (Mt.25:34ff).
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I am writing to someone who realizes they don’t have it “all together”. At times you feel like, just below the ‘happy’ surface, is an undefined grief. Unguarded moments totter on the verge of depression. Such pain can get the best of you and without realizing it influence your life. Mere thoughts can cause failure, dysfunction, and desperation. I know this from experience.
I am writing to my suffering-brethren throughout the world who know the cold, dark caves of loneliness and the pain of falling into, and getting caught in, the deep crevasses of life. Of doing things you regret, of thinking thoughts you never thought, or having feelings that seem to draw you where you don’t want to go.
The truth is, all men hide such thoughts and feelings. But they deny it and never dream of sharing it. Why? Because of the ‘something’ that lives within each of us called self-pride; image. It won’t let you be totally honest. We are surrounded by a wicked world that breaks us but then rejects us for being broken.
Well, my friend, despite what ‘they’ say, a broken heart is not a weird or a bad thing. Jesus came for the broken. He was broken to death. He rose out of the tomb to become an Expert at turning death into a beautiful life (Mt.5/Jn.12:25/Is.61).
I am not offering some weird psychoanalysis. I’m saying that when Jesus promises “the truth will set you free”, He means it for the deepest aspects of our life. Such a short well-known phrase contains one word we all desire; freedom, and one that makes us apprehensive; truth. But freedom can only come from truth.
A while back I gained weight due being laid up from some head and back issues. But recently, I finally lost 25 pounds. At first, I hated the scale. It was my enemy. I hid from its truth because it depressed me. Then I realized the truth was not my enemy but my necessity to get beyond who I was to become who I wanted to be. I had to stop saying “I don’t feel that bad”. I had to weigh myself. We don’t need to fear the truth because God is for you, not against you. He is not a self-righteous “preacher” Who winks at our self-strength. His power is realized in our lowest moments (1 Cor.1:26, 2 Cor.12:9).
God is a deeply compassionate Father Who, not only knows our weakness but, yearns to comfort those who draw near to His truth. There are real answers to the most difficult struggles. It is human nature to view hard times with a macho attitude. But God looks to the contrite (Is.57:15). He promises to give such men “life abundantly” (Jn.10:10). There is a third avenue beyond “I’m fine” and “I’m losing it”. It starts with a contrite attitude; “Maybe I don’t know everything about You, God. Maybe I could learn”. It involves not going to others but directly interacting with the One Who sees our hidden motives.
“There was a moment…..when I was all alone out there in the ‘dark’…
Everything and everyone I ever knew or loved… suddenly was nothing.
I was all alone.
My life was paper…
and I thought…
and concluded….. nothing mattered.
Then I beheld the sky and the ocean so alive.
And I wondered
“Could I ever be so alive?”
Could I ever know such symmetry and meaning?”
And I contemplated “Could God be? Could He really be?”
I defied cynicism and cried
“Could You care about me?”
I made a decision to believe…
the story of a Father…
Who sacrificed His Son to death…
to draw me into His love.
If everything was nothing that had I to lose?
And I woke up.
And it was as though I disappeared from the world of paper.
I became alive… in another world.
Then I spoke to my fears and said ‘Oh darkness, oh loneliness…. oh ya, ya… so what?”.
I am alive
to show others
Before… I hated phonies. But I was one. I hated being ignored. Yet, I ignored everyone. I hated men who hurt others. But I hurt so many. I despised the arrogance of men but saw it in me. I mocked others to feel superior. But was crushed when I was mocked as inferior. I was hostile and angry at those who irritated me and this irritated me. When I lived in the dark I felt nothing. I just didn’t care. I was haunted by my own existence; burdened by my own contradictions. But as I hid in the castle of my ego, I found no will to defend its walls. So I surrendered to faith and it led me to truth in Him.
I found the courage to admit the truth about myself… to myself. After all, who knows you… like you? You are your only chance to find you. I had to hate myself to find myself, lo and behold, this ‘crazy’ talk is the will of God (Jn.12:25, Rom.3:10).
Our journey through time can take us into a maze of unexpected twists and turns. Things happen to us that we never imagined. We come to realize that the ‘oomph’ we once had, to keep us going in a previous period of life, is just not enough to sustain us in the different stage that we now face. Every day demands more than the one before. Where do we turn? How do we turn? As strange as it all might seem, my friend, you are not alone, even in your aloneness. He waits to help you make the right move.
People on the street have said “You have a beautiful wife and children. How can you say that you suffer loneliness?” Family can be great but it can also be overrated. Never could my wife or children give me the comfort I need. They do not supply my identity. Never could anyone understand my deepest conflicts. King David said ‘Being with You, I desire nothing (no one) on earth…there is no good besides Thee’ (Ps.73:25/16:2). No matter how much family members may “care”, the stark reality is, no human being owns the love to solve our dilemma of total depravity. Do you know what this term means? It is a theological term I came to learn and love while in seminary. At the bottom or this blog, I explain in depth what this really means. It is a bit heavy, but it is very helpful if you have not read it elsewhere on my blog.
It’s kind of obvious, hey? What’s amazing, is the more I understand the Biblical exposé on my depravity, the greater becomes the joy of my salvation. God says “…no one does good (love)…each one has gone his own way” (Is.53:6 /Rm.3:10ff). We are “sick” with self-obsession (Jer.17:9). We are smitten by an incurable “wound” (Jer.15:18,30:12 ). No one but God can comfort a man in the wound of human loneliness. Because we are not a mere body of blood, guts and bones. We have a soul. Made by God, we cry for His Presence and reconciliation.
I don’t know how people make it. Because the reality is, both family and friends can hurt you and even turn on you. They can look at you in the face, saying how much they care about you, then totally ignore you when you need them the most. They never give you what you hope for and let you down more often than not. Why do millions commit suicide, space out on drugs or depend on booze to comfort their pain? Self-awareness, apart from God, is scarily creepy. You think “Man, am I whacked. What the hell is wrong with me? I’m sure glad people don’t know this about me”. Well, guess what? People may not, but God does. Isn’t He a bit more important? You think it is your personality. It is not. Good news. God knew how depraved you and I were before we were even born, and He absolutely dealt with it (Rm.5).
People are terrified by the thought of being alone because they are afraid to face what they really are; bad memories, emotional depression, guilt, sadness, failure, etc. I fully understand. I had no idea how to live the promises of Jesus while dealing with sin; myself. So after graduating from college, I made a decision to leave my girlfriend, beloved mother, who was dying from cancer, close friends and everything familiar, to travel three thousand miles to Fuller Seminary, in Pasadena, California. Jesus says “My sheep hear My voice”. I knew I could not honestly say I did. So I concluded that I needed to get all alone to learn what this meant.
I figured I had my whole life ahead of me. If I didn’t do it now, I may never do so. I feared the entanglement of the world could deprive my life of something God might have for me. Soon after I arrived at Fuller I got a job as a librarian. Weeks and months went by and I didn’t hear from those back in Michigan who said they loved me. I felt abandoned. I slowly realized how much they gave me identity and were my driving force to live. As someone who claimed to love Jesus, I felt this exposed my lack of divine relationship.
One night, after my work-shift in the library, I unlocked my bicycle and started my ride back to my apartment. Suddenly, I was overtaken by fear. I was emersed in thoughts of loneliness and despair. I got off my bike and just stood there, searching to stabilize myself. That huge empty parking lot depicted the desolation I felt within. Mental anguish got the best of me. How could I live with no one? My heart crumbled under the weight of such a burden. I was terrified to be all alone.
No one wants to be alone. Isolation is a form of suffering. It is used to punish prisoners in solitary confinement. One of the most common reactions to being all alone is the common insistence “Oh, I’m not alone. I have friends and family. I know that people love me. That’s what ‘church’ is all about”. You may be surrounded by nice, warm, smiling people. But if you are honest you know the sense of feeling all alone despite them all. They have no idea who you really are. And you know it. The truth is you can’t fathom an identity apart from them. But you don’t know what to do. God is not screaming at you. He says “Take my hand and let us walk” (Is.42:6).
Beneath all my Christian theology was a human nature I did not know how to deal with. Would I have to spend my whole life controlled by it, live in constant guilt and fake an abstract forgiveness millions of times? I could not escape it or make it “better”. I had to face that I was scared and wicked. It humiliated me. It broke me. I was a liar, a coward, a fool, a pig, arrogant and self-righteous. Paul said “I AM…the worst of all sinners” (1Tim.1:15). Present tense.
I heard no audible voice. No signs or visions. What came to me was “while we were yet sinners…Christ died for the ungodly…lo, I am with you always” (Rom.5:8/Mt.28:20). Either God’s Word is true or it is a lie. Either He gives new life or I am stuck with mine.
Jesus…walked… all alone;… made the decision to; leave His parents, call each disciple, rebuke the hypocrites, went fishing, help the poor, heal a leper, raise the dead… all alone; He was arrested one night… all alone; thrown into prison… all alone. Taken out in the morning by soldiers and tied to post…all alone. In each stripe, no one could offer Him comfort. Jesus was scourged… all alone; carried the cross to Calvary… each agonizing step… all alone. Jesus… hung… all alone. Pierced and mocked…all alone.
His all aloneness is waiting to come to you. His suffering can come to you in yours. Such a small thing He asks, to come to Him all alone.
I chose to believe He was with me in my aloneness. Beyond my carnal hope for some “extraterrestrial” comfort, came the hope that, if I obeyed the call to faith, I would find a hope beyond my hope. The Scriptures prophecy “with hope against hope” Abraham found faith (Rm.4:18). I began to understand the Word of God IS God’s Voice. God calls us to obey. There is no other way. In the dark, cold vacuum of our sinful “existentialism”, we must wake up, get up and walk. I am so alive. He leaves it to us to obey in order to experience divine life. It is a decision of pure worship.
I gathered myself, got on my bike, and….well…. here I am, 40 years later, writing of it to you today.
Jesus identified with our most terrible experiences. Obedience proves whether we believe Him in them. Jesus never called a group to salvation. He called individuals, one by one, face to face. Every single encounter in the New Testament is between Jesus and an individual. Paul says each of us will stand all alone before Him on the day of judgment (2 Cor. 5:10). So, if we will stand alone then, why be afraid to get all alone now? Faith is the only thing that will get you beyond yourself.
The immense pain Adam felt when he was severed from God in the Garden of Eden is part and parcel of us today. People are insistent of the necessity of a “church” because they are ignorant to the driving force of their own Adam-nature. They seek others to satisfy feelings of loneliness and identity. It’ll never happen. Neither church nor marriage can heal the enormous wound our separation for God. When a man is willing to stand all alone before the living Jesus, His Presence cures this incurable wound. You finally realize “I am Yours”. A man is freed from the bondage of seeking the passing comfort of people.
The truth is if you are willing to be all alone…before God… you will neverbe alone. The moment you turn to Jesus, you pop up on the Father’s radar. You DO matter…. to the Father. You matter so much He sent Jesus to DO something you need done for you because you could never do it yourself. Jesus substituted Himself so that you could be released out of the dungeon of self-obsession; SIN.
“…Awake sleeper, arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14).
Imagine a courtroom situation where a depraved criminal is being sentenced to death. Suddenly a “stranger” steps forward to claim the guilt and bear the penalty. The criminal is aghast. What depth of gratitude would you see? Of course, this could only happen in one lifetime. What about a “stranger” bearing the penalty for the crimes of 10, 50, 100 or a thousand or a million vicious criminals; for a time period over 50, a 100 or a thousand years? Jesus bore every ounce of our depravity.
This ‘stranger’ yearns to become your Brother, because He lives today. For it was one drop of His sinless blood that covered the crimes of a trillion souls. One tiny drop of perfect blood satisfied the demand for pure holy Character of “the Holy of Holies”. All His righteous demand for justice and punishment is appeased in that one drop; never to be found in any other man. Jesus came to earth to give His entire gallon and a half. It’s called Atonement, Propitiation, Substitution and Redemption.
Forgiveness is not dependent on moral consistency. It was ‘manufactured’ and accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus “once and for all”. It is impartially reckoned to anyone who is repentant. Repentance doesn’t mean you will never sin again. It means you will never again doubt His forgiveness.Forgiveness is not contingent upon righteous thoughts or moral behavior but upon the historical event in time and space by the Son of God. Forgiveness is not called Tentativeness or Subjectivity.
Forgiveness is not like an unfaithful marriage partner who flees the spouse upon seeing unexpected evil. Forgiveness does not come and go. It is anchored as a lighthouse embedded in rock that beacons it’s light in our most severe storm. Even if a ship fades from it’s view the light beacons all the same.
Picture the sprocket on a fast moving bicycle as the free will spinning in the vicious cycle of sin and propelling you in a wrong direction. You don’t have to slam on the brakes with a melodramatic “Mia Culpa”. The issue is not that you locked on to a wrong gear. What matters is that in every moment God is offering the freedom to switch gears, believe the cross and redirect your path. It’s not trite or lawless. It is faith.
True forgiveness is accompanied by clear facial recognition. There is a light. There is a lifting. Eternal life dawns upon the eyes. It is not the general smile men put on to appear nice. True happiness is the divine implosion of “nuclear” cleansing. Final. Resolved. It is finished. I am so forgiven it as though I have never sinned (1 Jn.3:9). It is a treasure in an earthen vessel
Some reject the absolute necessity of getting all alone. Others cannot fathom an existence apart from an identity with their “church”. Paul warns “when people measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding (2 Corinthians 10:12). Listening to others is like using a dictionary that has been doctored with false definitions. It is written to build a conspiracy of self-comfort. The tragedy is no one will stop you, not even God. It’s up to you to wake up. It’s your life. Don’t allow the things, job or people to get you caught up and miss your opportunity to become whom you can be in Christ.
I was a running back in High School. One time I overslept the departure of a bus for a football night-game. I was awakened by a furious coach on the other end of a phone call. I have never since been so terrified by simply oversleeping. I was hyperventilating as I raced my car to the bus. I overslept because I had piled down two of my mom’s delicious gigantic ham sandwiches. I played that game in a fog, got a concussion and fumbled the ball on the ten-yard line. It made us lose the game.
Oversleeping your life has far worse consequences. Yesterday I was 17 yrs. old. Today I am 65. Moments tick by so rapidly. The ‘game’ is on. The Father is not screaming at you on the other end of the line. You may sleep past the clock many times but His forgiveness and redemption wait for you to awaken just one time in faith. He is tender, patient and kind. His yoke is easy. His burden light. He knows it is easy to oversleep in life. From the womb to the tomb we are under the enormous pressure to prove ourselves. We are on the clock in a merciless world ruled by Satan (1 Jn.5:19/Jn.12:31/Mt.4:9 ).
The “bus is waiting for you”. Certain times arise in life that God arranges so He show you His love. Reading this right now can be this moment. Seize this opportunity. Get out of bed. Instead of cynicism, self-pity or unbelief, respond with a different response. Don’t settle for instincts of Adam’s lazy tendencies. Break the paradigm of human nature.
One time when I was a kid I found an old relic pistol behind a gas station. When one of my friends saw it he said: “Hey man, where did you find that?”. Such a response made it clear that I really did find SOMETHING. It was a setting where issues of rarity and personal discovery were the result of an obvious individual search. This is the precise context of facing who you are all alone and finding faith in Jesus.
An old pagan, named Abraham, was the first one to “find” faith (Heb.11:8ff/Rm.4:1). Abraham was all alone. When you stand all alone before God it is up to you to find faith. Find something no one else has. Find courage. Find heart. Find love. The result is enormous blessing from God. Abraham authored the hope beyond human hope. Faith is found in the setting of total obscurity. It sprouts in a desert; “a root out of parched ground”(Is.53:2). Abraham had to hope against everything that made sense and hope in a hope that made no sense.
Go someplace all alone where you can really think. No one else is around. It is on an open path surrounded by hills of grass and forest. It is warm. The sky is full of perfectly intermingled variations of grey and black clouds, to compose a majestic but yet sad sense of deep solitude. A subtle thunder bounces between the clouds and echoes across the distant skies. A subtle mist of rain sprinkles the air. Be alone. All alone. Fear not. He is by your side. Here’s your chance. Talk to Jesus. Find faith. Let Him redeem your broken life.
My family and I have been working for the last few months here in Brazil. So much corruption. The people are so oppressed. Next week we will go up to Rio De Janeiro for a week at Mardi Gras. Millions and millions searching to find an escape from the misery hiding within. They don’t know. They don’t understand. It is very rewarding to work in the many prisons, city streets, orphanages, etc. Countless stories of the gospel changing people.
The other day we got a message from a gang leader in a prison we just went to. He was a bank robber who used a machine gun to rob banks. One day he killed a man who was attacking his sister. We watched God change this man from absolute hopelessness and near suicide to gratitude for beginning to understand the gospel. He said he was getting out this year. We found out he had forty years to go. Many men tell themselves this because it is unbearable.
God has given us an open door into the prisons throughout the country. It is remarkable. Of all the places we could be in the world we are sitting in a “harvest field” of lost souls. When some people find out that we also work in prisons they say “Why do you help them? They get what they deserve”. Obviously, these people do not understand forgiveness.
Prisons here are like a House of Horrors which renders them a daily life of relentless punishment. Jesus says as we treat prisoners, so we treat Him (Mt.25:45/Heb.13:3). I praise the Father, that in every single prison we have ever been in, we have seen His mercy move upon men. Every single time I hear those steel gates open and close, and walk on, down the cold dark hallways, I marvel over where we are.
We are just an ordinary family of eight. We gladly live in obscurity to take the gospel to those who would otherwise never hear. We have no group or organization that support us. To get here, we worked many jobs in the states. Our savings will only last so long. So obviously any support would allow us to go longer, farther and help others more.
Paypal account is: firstname.lastname@example.org
I only share this in a hope that someone might read this, who has the means and cares about others.
We are all alone with Him, to reach those, who are all alone without Him.
May you open your heart to His love for you.
Foot Note Explaining our Nature of Sin:
The Father was devastated by the tragedy in the Garden of Eden. He gave man a free will and man chose evil, over God. Adam forever defiled our human nature with the insanity of sin and inexplicable rebellion. It’s you, who doesn’t understand how wicked you are, not God. You think you’re a pretty good person because you’ve seen yourself do some “good works” and, well…”Look at that God. Pretty impressive, hey?”. No. Not at all. God sees the pride and denial of what He has revealed about you and all mankind; “There is not one who is good… all have become corrupt” (Rm.3:10/Is.59: 2ff ).
I’d like to ask anyone who has a problem with this “Why?”. Why in the world, would you have a problem admitting how wicked you are? It stares you in the face. Truth can be easy. It’s so productive. It’s so comforting. It’s so freeing. Sin is the conflict of evil inside our “Adam” nature. No, it’s not schizophrenia. It’s the Biblical truth of having a sinful human nature and God offering a divine nature (Rm.7:16ff /2 Pt.1:4 ). Sin is lodged within our mind. It is the eerie sense that something evil is hiding in the room but you can’t put your finger on it. You don’t know the real you.
Satan plays men like a poker champion. Long ago, he inlaid this world with a “society”; jobs, thinking and goals easily within man’s ability to grasp and accomplish (Mt.4:8-9/Jn.12:31,14:30). So man can easily feel “I am good. I am productive” by just doing stuff. In reality, it is all utter vanity and exists for its sole purpose to subvert man from God. So the Father has to break through everything you think is of value to establish an entirely new reality (Rm.12:2).
People say this is crazy and “Christians” try to soften the blow of being a ‘sinner’ in a world that fully belongs to Satan (1 Jn.5:19). They become victims of fat-cat preachers who have no clue to reality. I am not saying this out of ‘attitude’. I heard and saw, first hand, the backstage scheming while in the largest seminary in the world. ‘Blind leaders of the blind’ (Mt.15:14 ). They reduce the magnificence of the Person and work of Jesus, and His salvation, to a cheap “sinner’s prayer” because they themselves are ignorant of Satan and sin. So “Christians” remain in bondage to sin while claiming to be saved. They live by a carnal and impotent understanding of “forgiveness”. Jesus spoke the most severely to the most religious (Matthew 23).
Look, I know this stuff is heavy, but this is the truth that will set you free. It is the principal of the Adam nature within us. It will get you beyond what you think is yourself (Phil.2:12). If we truly want to see God’s greatness we must accept our depravity. My friend, because of this nature of sin, our humanity has the capability to kill a thousand people and walk away with a smile. There are thousands of examples of the atrocities throughout history that expose man’s depravity. Our sin killed the Son of God. It is everything evil under the sun. Satan doesn’t want to ‘scare the hell out of us’. He wants to exploit this hell he put within us. He wants to arouse our hidden monster, then leave us to die in it. Satan wants to make you think hopelessness is your destiny but it does not have to be.
Sin is not you and you are not it. God wants to teach you to deal with it, as though it were a mechanical problem with your car. It’s called objectivity. It’s called discernment (Heb.4:12/2 Cor.2:11ff). I’ve talked to so many war veterans, prisoners, and victims of divorce or drugs. They have absolutely no clue what they are dealing with. Sin ‘gets away murder’ because no one identifies it as such. There is no more offensive word in the human language than the word “sinner”.
People find a strange comfort in self-pity. They say “God could never forgive me” as if their sin gives them an exclusive identity apart from what God has already declared about all men. Jesus bore everything evil in every one of us on the cross. Paul says “I do the very things I hate” ( Rm. 7:20). Therefore man does not go to hell for the outlandishness of some sin but for unbelief in Jesus, that His death cannot cover every sin. There is no greater sin than to shun forgiveness in deference to self-pride (Jn.16:8).
We were at the University of Utah for the eclipse. Really good. In Cincinnati where we were preaching at the second largest Octoberfest in the world. Just amazing ministry. So much suffering. So many lost souls. So many people from all walks of life, young and old, coming up to us. So many stories of pain. So thankful to be there to bridge the gap with reconciliation and touch their pain with His love and hope.
At the Detroit Lions football game, and often in many places, sharing the gospel is just very tough grunt work of standing for hours and sharing with sometimes only a few. Sex, drugs and rock n roll can’t heal the soul. They can’t patch the wounds or fears. No eternal substance. No invisible Messiah. They offer no Father’s hand to hold. No shoulder upon which to lean. All this sounds so obvious but why then do millions from around the country and world flock to a beer festival? No matter how much they drink, no answers are found in this “holy” beverage. Of course, it does cause worse problems. Abraham and Ruth also had an amazing witness in Dayton, Ohio which is the opioid capital of the U.S.
Paul says “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this… that One died for all therefore, all died…so that they who live might no longer live for themselves,but for Him…”(2 Cor. 5:14ff). Why is this so hard to “conclude”? Pride. Stinking old smelly pride. We think we are something. The Father loves us enough to break us so we can see that we are nothing. There is not one iota of our flesh that is any different than any wicked man. Christ does not make one cell in our body “better”. But no matter how much He loves us in such ways He always leaves it up to us to choose our response.
Have you ever stopped to realize life on this earth is absolutely meaningless? Have you “concluded”, yet that you are “worthless” (Rm.3.12)? From a doctor, lawyer or president, every walk of life and accomplishment means nothing in light of eternity. The world calls many very wicked men heroes because they do some good act. In light of eternity, no matter how “good” the act, it means nothing. It’s great that people help people but it won’t get anyone to heaven. If good works could get a man to heaven, Jesus would never have had to come to earth and suffer torture. All that matters is the gospel of Jesus because this is eternal.
I have “concluded” that I am nothing. I will never be liked, popular or well known. I fully accept I will never have any friends or home or medical or financial security. Just won’t happen. I have “concluded”, none of it is worth the effort to achieve. I am weak, tired, and frail. But I can talk about Jesus, carry a sign, and walk. I am worthless; because I was born this way.
I fully understand people’s rejection and accusations. I don’t blame them one bit. I love them. I accept that I contradict everything this world says is acceptable. I have, and am, absolutely nothing in this world. I represent nothing people want, because who wants nothing? I will never have a respected “ministry” or be asked to speak somewhere. Everything I do, and everywhere I go, is up to me.
No, this is not some self-pity “Poor me”, rant. Actually, it is my greatest joy. Paul says he boasts only in the cross, and in his weakness (2Cor.12:5/Gal.6:14). No schedule, no identity, no respect, no life… but eternal life (Jn.12:25). How God longs for a son who would be willing to learn to be led by His Spirit rather than the dictates of this world. I could never have imagined the living Jesus. All these things, and many, many more, have brought me to “conclude” that the only thing that matters, is “that I might no longer live for myself but for Him”. The only thing I can do that matters, is to bring eternal life to someone else.
You’d think such a confession would be that of some very miserable and depressed dude. Quite the opposite. Having nothing, in Christ, means having everything, because He is all in all. His comfort is immeasurable. In my saddest hours, He is there. In my most lonely times, Jesus loves me. His love has met me, in countless times, and places where I have given up. Where my mind is torn, He holds me in His arms. I love the Lord because He hears my prayers. When the ego is smashed Christ is unleashed. Brokenness is such a treasure. It just makes so much sense, that this is the one thing that God does NOT despise (Psalms 51:17). I am a broken and dead man and I love Him so.
How do we find the Father’s care and love? How do we learn to love complete strangers, when we ourselves are subject, like all men, to a nature of laziness and selfishness? These two issues are the very essence of the two commandments Jesus says to sum up salvation: to love God with everything and to love your neighbor as yourself (Lk.10:27). Wow. But how? This is no little demand. Impossible, in fact.
Ya, I know, it’s so easy to grumble and complain, against the Lord, that He just doesn’t help you. Day after day, then it turns into year after year, “God, where are You. Why don’t you help me?”. I don’t mean to be insensitive, “spiritual” or to put an undo burden on anyone. Please, my friend, don’t read this like it’s just me, beating the same old drum. I’m no “expert” on these things, I just know they work. Don’t you see this is God’s love? This is not one of many. There is only one answerto all the struggles we face in our sinful nature; loneliness, unbelief, guilt, lust, pride, regret, depression, grief, past sin, etc. One answer; the cross.You must come to realize what it means.
Jesus repeatedly says a man must die (Mt.16:24/Mk.8:34/Lk.9:23/Jn.12:25). Paul writes over and over, continually in his letters (Phil.3:10/Rm.8:17/Col.3:3/2 Tim.2:11) and a whole chapter in Romans 6 to clearly state that death to self issalvation; IF we are united with Him in death we shall know His life. This is the answer guys. This is the resolution to all your struggles and prayers. Just “reckon” all your garbage dead with Christ 2000 years ago. God’s Solution is right in front of your nose in His Word. Don’t look away (Jn.3:14). Don’t assume you already “did it”. Start with a mustard seed of faith. You have no idea the reward that awaits you.
There is only one thing that makes it “difficult” for you. It is the degree to which pride controls you. You think you know better. You don’t. It’s not like you have to go through a physical crucifixion. Reach deep. Give in. What do you “conclude”? It doesn’t start out with trying to prove how much you love God, but rather believing how much He loves you, that He won’t leave you stranded (1 Jn.4:10/Rm.5:8). He will meet you where you’re at. Do something different. Find a new response within your heart. Find the stillness of your individual spirit. Nobody will know. It’s between you and the God Whom you will stand alone before. To die to self is not a herculean self-work. Just the opposite.
In a sense, it is doing nothing, because this is all that a dead man can “do”. It is admitting the full scope of your nothingness. It is worthy of death. What does it mean to really believe this like Abraham (Rm.4)?
The lies Satan has to launch against us are far more destructive than the US arsenal of nuclear weapons, and more numerous than the books in the Library of Congress. “Day and night”. He is relentless and peppers our mind with reasons not to trust Jesus (Rev.12:10, 1Pt.5:8). This is why Paul says he takes “every” thought captive (2 Cor.10:3-5). It is not a warfare that ceases or fades. It is full of failure but also faith that Jesus says forgiveness is “70 x 7” (Mt.18:22) . At times the warfare is moment by moment until you grow into a larger scope of resolution. Just think of how you would feel if you could clearly see Satan speaking to you.
I want to walk gently and circumspectly. I know that everything matters, in regards to how I think, because it determines my future. So I must walk absolutely contrite (Micah 6:8, Ps.517).When you hunt a deer, you must use stealth. Every step you take can determine what happens. One foot breaking a branch or crackling leaves will spook the deer. Thus it is with learning to become a son and to master yourself. The Lord will teach you to discern between soul (self), and the Spirit (Heb.4:12). Our heart is more deceitful than anything in the world (Jer.17:9). Paul says he is aware of every thought that comes into his mind because our very selves, our body of pride and mind of sin, conspire to rob and destroy us.
No matter how much you search for an answer, it always comes down to the degree you know the Father’s love for you.
How do all the particulars (atonement, mercy, forgiveness, faith, grace, understanding, etc.) of His love, wrapped up in the work of Jesus, now come to us today? Surely you already know “God is Love”, and will heartily agree with this concept. But does this practically change your life? Do you realize what an enemy you are of the cross? How do you deal with it? In lawlessness or proud self-righteousness? How about neither? Paul says our goal in life, is to “being rooted and grounded in love to be able to comprehend …the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…” (Eph. 3:17ff). He loves you no matter what, but requires you to be broken to experience His love. Unless your pride (sin) is broken, you will never how to die with Christ.
Imagine if you could instantly counter Satan’s lies with truth because you were so grounded in knowing the Father’s love. If you are not rooted and grounded in love, you will never be able to build and expand upon an understanding of the Father’s love for you. Imagine being so disciplined as to have your impulses trained, not to react out of the flesh, but to respond in the Spirit.
I have no air valve that I fill with God’s love. No pill. No button. There is no way, other than to choose to initiate dying to self. This is love. Sorry, guys. No little prayer. Obedience. It is tough at times, but the joy from obedience is a fountain of life. The cross is not a matter of abstract theory. It is seen and proven in time and space. It was real. It is real. Paul proved it “I have been crucified….” (Gal.2:20) . There is just no other way to live, than to die.
The disciples were no brain surgeons. The concept of dying to self is as common to all men as breathing. Coaches, athletes, businessmen, politicians all talk of “dying to self”; “I’m dead to you”, “I died to that”. I have heard many football coaches talk of how they had to die to family times, in order to prepare for a game of fame (a bit warped). Rich men get rich because they know well how to deny themselves. They “deny themselves” constantly to ‘make a buck’.
Sorry. No excuses. Everybody understands death. Death is death. It’s the utter end. No more place to live. Denying yourself is denying yourself. In the blink of an eye, you can die. Stop. End. No more. Of course, if you don’t have real access to Christ, it’s pointless. Sure, you’re going to fail and rebel, but you “conclude” and resolve you don’t want to initiate a life for yourself, but for Jesus. It is faith that separates the decision of dying WITH CHRIST from the pagan dying to self to live for self.
We are preparing to go back to work in the prisons in Brazil in two months. The transition of tracts and signs from Spanish to Portuguese is no small work. But the image of those men suffering is etched in our hearts and minds, and propels us on. We are very excited. Seeing the power of God’s love is the other side of dying to self. It is the reward. The things we have seen are just beyond amazing. To actually change lives into eternal life is the greatest joy God offers. Jesus said the same (Jn.4).
People ask how we do what we do. We never ask for donations, we work for the money to do what we do. Once in a while, someone asks how they could help us if they wanted to. If anyone would like to help us, the plane tickets cost $4366.64 and our monthly lodging is $1560.00. Obviously, we have the money but, as I explained in previous times, whatever we use, takes down our savings and moves us closer to leaving the harvest field to return back to working. There are 657,680 prisoners in Brazil and God has given us an open door. So anything will help and I mean anything. There is only so much we can do depending on the means we have. Our paypal is: email@example.com
We have faced great danger in facing prison gangs, but love is so profound. Sarah did pick up a 3rd world bacteria last time we were there, from which she has been suffering quite seriously for many months. And Ruth also bears a tough time walking due to the steel rod in her leg. I too have been dealing with something weird in my head that causes vertigo and sometimes, I stop breathing in my sleep. Maybe due to a lot of brain trauma over the years.But nothing compared to the multitudes suffering from so many things, all alone.
We are so grateful that God enabled us to continue to minister effectively even while working full-time, most of the time working two or three jobs, by taking time off here and there. We were able to reach throughout Asia on an extended trip to China, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines all for the first time. We reached hundreds of thousands in Seoul’s largest gathering ever, the largest street crossing in the world in Japan and some horrible prisons in Manila and even touched Shanghai. We also reached many events here in the States, including about 5-7 million when the Cubs won the Series, events in Texas and Seattle, many universities across the country as well as the Presidential Inauguration.
If we can be of help to anyone in anyway, please feel free to contact us. We also have a new music CD and a beautiful new track, if anyone would like, just ask, and we will send them to you freely. God bless any person who reads this. He loves you so much.
“Come Lord Jesus. We await. Mount your white horse.”
(Greetings. Before we get started just a side note here, Music is so huge. God can use it to open our spirit to His revelation. If I might suggest to check out the new music CD we just finished writing in Logic. If it doesn’t help you let me know, I’ll send your ten dollars back. Any money helps us reach the lost (see bottom of blog). Maybe it will help you, like it helps us. This music is fully appreciated, for how I made it, by using headphones. There are microsounds that are hard to hear without them. The new CD is available at: www.itunes.com/theancientboom )
Imagine walking down a shoreline and coming across a familiar boat that has obvious signs it has been abandoned. You call out to a little boy playing nearby and ask him if he might know what happened to the owner. The boy says “Oh, you mean Peter? He left his boat to follow the carpenter”.
You recall an earlier time on the beach when you saw Peter engaged in an intense conversation with someone. Prior to that Peter was excited and was telling a small crowd how he had finally paid off a boat he cherished. You wonder out loud “Why would he suddenly then sacrifice his boat to follow a carpenter?”. The little boy smiles “Jesus was no ordinary carpenter”.
Many who met Jesus did similar “illogical” things in response to His touch.
He calls us not to conform to a religion or try to emulate a pious lifestyle. He promises a “magic”called the Holy Spirit, by which He, transforms a man into a life-giving compassionate person. “I will make you a fisher of men” He promised a self-centered Peter. The living Jesus comes to men in the midst of what they like to do and offers something far greater to do (Mt.12:6,41).
I was consumed with football in college. Peter was fishing. One woman was a prostitute. Matthew was ripping people off. Paul was a self-righteous “somebody”. One soldier was tormented by guilt. A thief on a cross was at his utter end.
I have talked to many older men; coaches, business executives, car salesmen, doctors, etc. They say “I wasted my whole life on a job. If only I had it to do over”. So common. Nothing new in this world. Just going through the motions. What you did yesterday will be similar to today and what you do today will be similar to tomorrow. The curse of mundane existence dates back to the consequences of a guy named Adam making a wicked choice. It affects all men, causing a fisherman named Peter, and his buddies, to do some crazy stuff.
Imagine yourself setting out in a boat, about two o’clock in the morning with rough seas in a gathering storm. No, you’re not drunk. Just a bit bored and fool hearty. No one else knows what’s shaking your heart and consuming your mind. You’re not really thinking about fishing.
Suddenly, you see someone appear walking on the water towards you. Such a man named Peter should have reacted to the sensational nature of the incident. Instead, he revealed his soul was preoccupied with one burning issue; ‘Jesus, will you command me to come to You?’.
This was no allegory or fairy tale folks. Jesus is God. He yearns to show you. People say “You shouldn’t ‘test’ God”. He says “Ask and you shall receive” (Mt.7:7). He will come to you in any way, at any time, anywhere if you desire His reality. Peter did walk on water. But he lost his focus. Jesus lifted him up and never gave up on him. Contrary to American Christianity, Jesus offers no career or insurance policy. No American Dream, retirement plan or 401K. Not even a title. His purpose is not for you to invest in becoming a successful professional working to make this fallen world a “better place”. His purpose is beyond this world (Eph.1:3-11).
My family and I are working very hard. We are battle warriors fighting on our terms, on so many fronts, for hurting people. We are not provoked by or compelled to respond to false accusations and banter. We do not speak when we should listen or listen when we must speak. We are set with laser focus, in these last days, on communicating true repentance and forgiveness of Jesus to all.
Somewhere in my big bald ugly head, I know you and I could become good friends, even if you don’t agree with me, or are my most ardent enemy.
There is an adage ‘ The enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Satan is working against you, “day and night”, behind the world around you. He uses sophisticated ways to manipulate our sin (pride) against us (Rev.12:9-12/Eph.6:12/2 Cor.2:11,10:3,11:3).
It is amazing how quickly contentions dissipate when gaining an intelligent perspective on fighting this mutual enemy: “love covers a multitude of sin” (1 Pt.4:8).
Today, everyone talks so lightly about repentance and forgiveness. As if, by a whim or prayer, it can be snatched off a tree like an apple. As if Jesus really has nothing to do with getting “IT”. Just pray a “prayer” and get “IT”.
Imagine being given an in-depth code to a hidden multi-million dollar treasure. Everything depends on knowing the code. Would you take it lightly? Jesus says true repentance and forgiveness is the key to have His message in your life as “GOOD news” (Lk. 24:47). Please, my friend, listen to me. You are not exempt from the influence of this culture of hypocrisy. So-called “Christians” refuse to humbly revisit their “foundation”. This, in and of itself, shows a “commitment” only to being stubborn, proud and lazy. I constantly revisit my foundation with a broken and contrite heart (Ps.51:17). It proves true repentance.
It’s not complicated. Quite the contrary. These things automatically transpire in a heart like Peter’s. If you reflect a similar response then surely there are no issues. The complexity is due to the inoculation of all “Christian” verbiage. God gives explicit examples of how someone can search for repentance “with tears” but not find it (Heb.12:17). This is terrifying.
Paul warns of two kinds of sorrow (2 Cor.7:10). The first is typical guilt and shame. As a young Christian I would beg God for forgiveness, over and over and over, only to find that, after many years, this cycle of stagnancy never changed. True repentance results in a forgiveness that eliminates this morbid cycle and leads to real change and new life. It resolves your past, once and for all (/Phil. 3:12-13/Gal.5:20).
Our sinful heart has so much junk going in and out of it, we don’t even realize how regret, over our life, sneaks in and lodges itself deep in our soul. It negatively affects all our thinking. Out of nowhere weird thoughts and feelings can vex our mind into the sullen madness of sin. It’s like one of those zombie movies. Things you thought were long gone, and dead, come back to haunt you. It’s because you don’t know TR&F (true repentance and forgiveness). Sin was never killed. To die with Christ is repentance (Rm.6). It is the only means to comprehend the depths of supernatural forgiveness.
WHY STRIDE WHEN YOU CAN FREELY RIDE?
True repentance and forgiveness (TR&F) does not involve trying to make yourself a good person. TR&F sets you on the tracks of reality. So many people think that walking down the tracks means they are on the train of salvation. They simply refuse to look into paying the price to board The Train (Lk.14:26). They are content to think they can get “there” in their own way; “No thanks. I’m fine”.
The pride hidden behind self-pity is the most successful weapon in the arsenal of Satan. Most people think of self-pity as an innocent comfort zone. Satan fills your mind with an array of lies; ‘God can never forgive me. I know what I did is terrible and what I’ve had to go through is terrible. God does not love me. I deserve to pout. I’m on my own’. As if such thinking gives you a solid negotiating position to manipulate truth. Secret rebellion is as vile as any outward acts of Hitler. It is absolute defiance to faith in what He has revealed. Until you learn to deal with sin, as the evil that it is, it will continue to thwart you from TR&F. God deals with every person on earth in justice and righteousness.
Here’s a fact you probably won’t believe. 20 veterans a day commit suicide. Ever think about them? Never. Why? Everything is about you. Yet they represent everything you are dealing with. How? I have met veterans who escaped death only to “be killed” in a battle with their mind. They could not withstand the onslaught of guilt, self-pity and depression over what they did. All their life they feel isolated and alone which breeds self-pity. Repentance is an insult to them and forgiveness is shrugged off as too simplistic a solution. The same is true for everyone dealing with battle scars from the world; divorce, drug addiction, sexual perversion, parental scorn, etc.
Sin is the greatest “mystery” in the world (2 Thes.2:7). It has as many masks as there are people on the earth. No one can understand it. No one even talks about it. No one, but One, can conquer it. I know this will sound extreme but the Scriptures reveal the root of all sin is our inborn hatred for God. I know you may not realize how everything we do, whether little or big, is an outcome of this motive. Jesus explains “there is no excuse for sin….they (all men) hate Me without reason” (Jn.15:25). We hate God for using His Law to expose us as utterly wicked.
The reason God does not act the way we want is because He is not the God we want. We want ourselves as god. However, He is the God He is; “I AM”. We are the ones who have fallen and must come to know and surrender to His revelation. The things we don’t understand are not an indictment against God but against our own stupidity and resistance to facing the magnitude of evil in us against Him.
When a man commits a crime legal experts search for a motive. Sin has no motive. It is illogical impulse provoked by unreasonable choices. It is the consequence of a THING within us. It is mindless rebellion. The never ending questions behind every sin are “Why or how could I?. It makes no sense.”
Sin is the most puzzling, vexing, avoided and offensive word in the human language.
My friend, listen to me, this can be a pivot point in your life here and now. If you will expend the heart to understand these things you will repent and find true forgiveness. It is not a one-time act, but a lifetime of wonderful relationship. It is time to shake yourself out of the lethargic conformity to procrastination. Your life is flashing by like a bullet train. You can be different. You can change the world. I’m serious. It’s time to be intelligent, sincere of heart and utilize your will to believe God as a real solution to your personal dilemma.
There are 7 billion victims of sin strewn across the battlegrounds of this world. Every place you look is overflowing with immense pain, prescription drugs, greed, insanity, and suffering. Do you really think this is the will of our loving Father?
Jesus accomplished the phenomenal victory of rising from the dead so we do not have to be subject to the garbage of this wicked world.
The “churches” today are a joke. They offer “lip service” of truth but live a lie (Mk.7:6/Mt.23). Their definition of “power” is sermon-hype. Jesus says the fruit of a tree shows it’s integrity (Mt.7:21). Ignorance of the Word result in sermons that replace the Holy Scriptures (Jesus says it is the “leaven”). Jokes and anecdotes are the “ear-tickling” ploy of wolves in sheep’s clothing. As a result, the “disciples” are as plastic and clueless as a bimbo media correspondent. This is not a bitter attitude but a prophetic warning over life or death end-time deception. This is no game. Today there are countless fools “preaching” about sin and their “holiness”. They have no idea what they are talking about.
First of all, they define sin, as does the world, by a classification system. It classifies individuals as “evil people” based on outward behavior; killers, bank robbers, drug addicts, drunks, perverts etc. In God’s eyes everyone from the Pope to the child killer is the same. Jesus was killed by something no one classifies as “sin”; self-righteousness.
People like to classify sin by outward behavior so they can feel self-righteous; “Oh I could never do that. I’m just not that kind of person”. This is only further proof they are “that”; self-righteous. I talk to countless “Christians” whose self-righteousness is far worse than any prisoner I’ve met; “Oh I know I’m a sinner but I’m not that bad”. At least the prisoners admit the prison in which they are captive. How many times have you heard on the news some local neighbor or family member of someone they “knew” say; “Oh he was not that kind of person. He could never have done that”?
The Bible defines several all-encompassing definitions of sin. It is “lawlessness”, “foolishness”, “knowing what is right and not doing it”, “anything not done from faith”, “all unrighteousness”, “haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked” and “the sting of death” (1 Jn.3:4/ Pr.24:9/Jam.4:17 /Rm.14:23/1 Jn.5:17/Pr.21:4/1 Cor.15:56). Such definitions “shut the mouths” to all self-righteousness (Rm.3:19). From the pope to every prisoner all of us are subject to a powerful evil force within us rooted in the very blood of our human nature. We are wicked to the bone.
My wife and I come from entirely different backgrounds. She was a “nice” beauty and I was, and am, the wicked beast. Yet, in the eyes of a holy God, we are the same. Sin is not in our personality. It is in our human nature.
LAW MIRRORS SIN
A mirror shows you what you look like. The Law is exactly the same (Jam.1:23-25). You may think that you are not “that bad”. In the eyes of God, aside from the 10 commandments, there are ten thousand laws He has written, that specify the precise behavior He demands for companionship (Hosea 8:12). The mirror-effect of the Law works like this: It is written “Thou shalt not lust….” – reflection – you instantly “see” that you lust. Paul says “through the law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rm.3:10,20). The mirror reflects the wickedness of your wickedness (Rm.7:13). We don’t have a hope in hell to be good enough for God.
I am constantly trying to prove to God that I’m not as bad as He says. “I CAN do what is right. Watch me God. For just one moment of time, watch, I’m going to do good. Here it goes. There, I helped someone. I witnessed to someone. I didn’t swear. I didn’t get angry. See. I can do right.” If only I could extinguish this cursed voice of pride within my soul. I can’t put a spear in it. I can’t tie up in a dog house. But the good part is coming; None of this is ME. God says “sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rm.6:14). Now, stay with me, you got to get this!
Paul explains “where there is no law there is no violation” (Rm.4:15). So where is this “where”? It is “where” Y O U are? Where I am, there is no law. Moses is not my Lord. I live, not by doing what he wrote but by what Jesus “wrote” in me (Jer.31:33). Not by trying to do, or be, right by the Law, but through “the magic code” of repentance and forgiveness; in truth and grace (Jn. 1:17).
From childhood, we are directed by what we should and shouldn’t do. This is the law written in our conscience (Rm.2:24). It is has been pulverized from the “nuclear fallout” of Adam’s sin. So it is by no means accurate, but still in tact to lead us to Christ. True repentance requires we yield our conscience to be “washed” so that our entire way of living “dies” and is crucified with Christ (Heb.10:22/Rm.6,8:3). A child of God is born of the Spirit and led by the Spirit, no longer the law of the conscience (Rm.8).
Paul explains that if being “right” comes by DOING “right” then Jesus died for nothing (Gal.2:21). (Read Romans 8:1-3)
In the most basic description, the Law is letters on pages. They can do nothing for you. There is no power looking at ink. The Law is not caffeine or testosterone. There is no energy but only misery in words that tell you to do what you can’t do; be good. It does nothing. The only thing the Law does is “kill” (2 Cor.3:3/Heb.7:19). At best it is a tutor (Gal.3:24-25).
As a result of Adam’s sin mankind plunged into ever deepening levels of evil. God created the Law to show anyone, who wanted His companionship, the purity His Character demands. But man had fallen too far (Rm.7:5). The Law (trying to be good) can not make an evil man acceptable to a holy God.
The Law started 10,000 years ago and also demands complex rituals of animal sacrifice to obtain forgiveness. God says if you insist on trying to be right, in even one small way, you are accountable to obey all ten thousand laws (James 2:10). Have fun. The evil of our sin is only magnified in any attempt to obey the law (1 Cor.15:56).
THE OBJECTIVITY OF SIN- seeing in the puzzle.
The very first thing John said when He saw Jesus was “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn.1:29).
The prophets foretold of an anticipated forgiveness that would be like “fresh spring rain” from a Messiah. He would not exact from us obedience to the Law but rather freely give to us grace, to cover all our sin, once and for all. Nothing would be required from a man (Hos. 6:3). . The Law came through Moses…grace…was realized in Jesus (John 1:17). Paul clarifies that the O.T. requirements are now “obsolete” (Heb.8:13). There’s nothing you have to do to repent and be forgiven. The issue is not about procedure but heart and truth (Ps.51:17).
“Behold, days are coming…when I will make a new covenant…not like the old...” (Jer.31:34). “I will tread down your sin…and cast all your sins into the depth of the sea…” (Mic.7:19). “…I will cast all your sins behind My back.” (Is.38:17). “I have wiped out your sins like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you” (Is.44:22). The heart of God is to give us forgiveness. That’s it.
So much can be learned from the initial encounter between Jesus and Peter (Lk.5:7). So check it out: God meets a dirty fisherman. Let’s see. What do you think would be their conversation? Peter said “Go away Jesus. I’m a wicked man.” (Lk.5:7). Jesus said “Repent of your sins and ask Me into your heart as your personal Savior”? Not quite. Jesus never said anything like this nonsense of today. No principles, emotional catharsis of contrived tears or promise of “prosperity”.
Jesus told a woman caught in the act of adultery “Go and sin no more” (Jn.8:3). How could He say this?
Something happened in that air that no one but those two knew; TR&F (true repentance and forgiveness). Jesus touched her with His Character as He touched Peter in the in-depth place with the secret code called reality. His tone, His look, His personal love. The words of Jesus were not Law but grace. Extremely Personal.
This is why you can not separate TR&F from the Person of Jesus. He alone is the One Who imparts reality to these terms. There was far more communicated between Jesus and the individuals whom He forgave. Jesus makes every effort to “reason” with us, compelled by His longing desire for us to know His forgiveness. Peter was weighed down with guilt. As a Jew he was well aware of his failure.
I am not driven to stop sinning. I am driven to serve Jesus. I am anchored in my seat and not lured to consider any STOP. I am in Christ. He is my Lord. In Him there is only grace. I have learned the “reasoning” of a God Whose reason is “hesed“; covenant mercy. In trying to describe TR&F Paul exhausted the human language and described forgiveness as being so emphatic it is backed by two promises of God (Heb.6:16-17 ). God “doubles-down” on what He offers.
THE TRANSACTION – Snow “reckoned” for Scarlet
“Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool” (Is.1:18).
As a catholic I went to confession hundreds of times, driven by my conscience, to be and do “right”. The passing euphoria of that “forgiveness” didn’t even last until I got home. It was a passing emotional impulse. I had no idea what repentance meant. Evangelicals don’t realize it, but they think exactly the same as the Catholics they condemn.
Repentance is the intelligent transaction in which we “reason together” with the Father and hand over our life (scarlet) to Him in exchange for His forgiveness (snow).
We have no clue how to deal with sin by our own reasoning. We feel bad over and over and over. We become addicted to feelings. But neither penance or a sinner’s prayer will lead to TR&F. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say you’re sorry for your sin. I say it thousands and thousands of times. I so terribly fear presumption. I know my heart is wicked.
It is hard to imagine but Jesus perfectly obeyed every single written Law (Rm.8:1-3). He is the only One Who was and is acceptable to the Father. Jesus mediated His life to the Father in a vicarious substitution for man. He provided atonement for sin. Thus the holiness of the Father was satisfied and His wrath for sin appeased.
People wrongly think salvation is something in us so we have to be careful to maintain our moral integrity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus says “I came for the sick…” (Mk.2:17). Salvation is not in us. Sin is all that is in us (Rom.7:18). Salvation is only in Jesus (Jn.14:6). Jesus provides the eternal posture of repentance for communion with His holy Father. He is constantly mediating our sanctification before the Father (Jn.14:23). He uses many things to break us into His disposition of humility. Our destiny and power arenot within ourselves but in our standing in Christ (Gal.3:16). It is in the mind-set of Jesus that we oversee and overcome sin.
This mindset (the standing of “white as snow”) was depicted long ago in Joshua as a type of Christ: “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments…and Satan stood accusing him…and the Lord said ‘Remove the filthy garments…and clothe him in festive robes…and put a clean turban on his head” (Zechariah 3).
Seeing The Puzzle
It is impossible to separate ourselves from sin but Biblical revelation says Jesus did exactly this. The Holy Spirit offers a discernment between Jesus and our sin (Heb.4:12). Have you ever seen one of those puzzles in which you try to identify certain things hidden in the design? Once you identify the objects all the distractions are no longer a problem. God does not make sin disappear as the ‘holy rollers’ claim. What He offers is the Spirit to separate and discern sin, so that we can understand victory rather than live in ignorance and defeat. Sin cannot be understood but God offers an understanding of how to deal with it.
Sin was not created. It is the aftermath of Eve’s “nuclear” defiance against God (1 Tim.2:9-15/1Pt.3:off/Eph.5:22/Col.3:18). You were not there when Adam and Eve sinned. You had nothing to say about IT. It is like a sickness (Jer.17:9). A cold is not you. It is something you did not choose at birth. But now you do have a choice.
Paul could not have made it any clearer: “…I am no longer the one doing IT, but SIN which dwells in me…” (Rm. 7:20).
It is Satan’s strategy is to convince you are the source of your evil. You are not. Sin is not your personality. It is human nature. It is Adam’s fault. His nature is ours. His arrogance was sin. Now you can agree with him or agree with Jesus.
There is a specific divine ‘mechanism’ God created to regulate TR&F. It is the only trigger to release you from your feelings and thoughts. To release you from sin. The concept is called “reckoned”or “credited”(Rom.4:9). It is like the transaction behind using a credit card. It is like the slogan of the Nike company “JUST DO IT”. No drama. No tears. No guilt or penance. No requirement for moral betterment. The faith to believe God for TF&F is “reckoned” to a man as what He deems “righteous” (Rm.4:3).
For hours and days on end, you can think “I am the only one who thinks like this. How could I do that? How can I think these terribly sinful things?” You feel horrible. You must choose to believe; “I know all this crap comes out of the sin in me, but Jesus is greater and my forgiveness has long ago been reckoned”. It is joy “unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pt.1:8).
6 billion others think the same Adamic cycle but refuse the Jesus cycle. Even Jesus was tempted in all things (Heb.4:15). In the O.T. the concept of a “scapegoat” was that a man had to lay his hands on a goat, confess his sin, then send it into the wilderness. In the N.T. Jesus chose to be our Scapegoat. Instead of blaming something or someone else, He stands willing to accept your blame because He bore it all.
All sin was cast into the sea. All of IT was forgiven. IT was “tread down” and is “remembered no more”. Jesus “objectified” sin ( 1 Pt.2:24). IT was put on The Lamb and killed (2 Cor.5:21).
We have all felt the seismic tremors that shake us to the core of our identity when we yield to something evil. We think “How am I ever going to change?”. If you think you already repented, at a subconscious level, you will really think “I have no hope. There are no other answers. I’ve surely exhausted my number of 2nd chances”. Jesus specifically addressed there are no limits or numbers to forgiveness (Mt. 18:21).
The truth is you did not do what you did. Sin did. A war of conscience arises to condemn you. If your conscience has not been “washed” you will ultimately give in to it (Heb.9:14,10:22). Sin comes from hell so we feel like hell. Paul says it makes you feel “death” (Rm.6:23). It causes chaos and confusion. It draws you further into self-pity and depression. All of it, based on a lie. YOU are not sin. It is going on in you, despite you. If repentance required piety, who determines how much? Are a hundred tears sufficient? How long of time does each sin require “sorrow”? Forgiveness is instant and eternal.
Now, of course, the issue of license is of concern. Paul asks “should we continue to sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” (Rm.6:1). Without becoming complicated he simply explains everything comes down to true repentance. To die with Christ is a real thing. It’s that simple. Either you believe or you don’t. When the men said “Help us in our unbelief” Jesus didn’t say “Sure. No problem”. Faith is not about quantity but authenticity (Mk.4:31). If you won’t believe just a little, then you don’t believe at all. A little true faith is faith.
MAKING WHITE- The finality of the death of sin
The death of sin was made sure; executed by a hammer, nails, a crown of thorns, a wooden cross and One Man of impeccable Character at one point in time. Sin began in Adam and ended in the Lord Jesus (Rm.5). There’s no question Jesus was killed. So there’s no question sin is dead. A ransom transaction of His perfect blood for our sinful blood was completed. Access to a holy God restored.
It is written “… the death that He died, He died to sin once for all” (Rm.6:10/1 Pt.3:18). New Testament forgiveness is once and for all (Mk.10:45/1 Tim.2:6/Heb9:26).
What’s done is DONE. No sin can be added. Jesus has already died and risen.
Forgiveness is both an impersonal and personal transaction. It is impersonal in that it invoked a “ransom” of which you had nothing to say (Mk.10:45/1 Tim.2:6). It was some thing done 2000 yrs. ago because of some thing called sin. It is Personal in that Jesus is the One Who resolved IT. He did so out of His own Personal love for you. Forgiveness cost Him every drop of blood that circulated through His body, down the cross and into the ground. About this, you have everything to say. It is from Someone offered to someone; you. This experience, Paul describes, as “lavish” (Eph.1:7).
The Father knew your name 2000 yrs. ago. Jesus knew He was dying for you. In the midst of His mental anguish, a vast number of faces flashed in and out of His pain-ridden body. You were one of them if you are one of them.
Predestination is not confusing. Eternity has no time line. Standing in heaven you will realize it is not predestination that is strange but the limitations on earth of days, months and years that are strange. What was shall be and this is only consistent with eternity. Paul says “The Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Eph.1:4). The Father wrote our name in His book “from the foundation of the world” (Rev.13:8).
Sin is not A sin. Thus forgiveness is not for ONE but for ALL sin. Sin is “as scarlet”. Forgiveness is for scarlet. Jesus became scarlet on a cross so all sin, past, present and future was in His scarlet bearing nature (1 Pt.2:24). He Who knew NO SIN became sin (2 Cor. 5:21).
REPENTANCE LEADING TO FORGIVENESS
Sin began in Adam and ended in Christ. It’s that simple. The question is whether you are ever going to truly claim TR&F. Jesus didn’t kind of die. Or kind of kill it (1 Pt.2:24). Or kind of rise again.
Sin is no longer a problem for God. If it’s a problem for you then it’s all you. The choice to believe is all yours. In some bizarre way men do not want to be rid of sin because then they can’t consort with their best friend any more; Self-pity. People depict their situation as so dire, either God does what they want, or it proves He doesn’t really care. In other words, men are God and “the man upstairs” is merely their divine Butler.
People talk about veterans who have died in war as having made the “supreme sacrifice”. But they did not choose to die. They were killed by chance. A man who sacrifices his life to Jesus dies a real death. It is not theoretical or poetic. The depth of resolution require to completely die is a completed sacrifice of self. Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ it is no longer I who live…” (Gal.2:20). It is a conscious and deliberate act of sacrificing his life on this earth for Christ.
My family and I die to our lives daily (1 Cor.15:31). We’ve made thousands of calculated sacrifices so others can live. Jesus replaces selfishness. It is the reason Peter left his boat. Catching men is a joy beyond any haul of fish Peter ever made. How could Jesus tell the woman “Go and sin no more“? The adulterous woman had no desire to continue in sin because the new identity in the love of Jesus was far greater than her carnal desires. Zacheus returned everything he stole and far more. He got it. Matthew got it. John got it. Get it?
Repentance is to prioritize your focus on Jesus despite all issues of sin (2 Chronicles 20:12). The kindness of God leads to the praise of His triumph (Rm.2:4). Sin ‘sits there’ insisting it is you, but you insist on being dead with Christ. So we do not promise to do things right from now on because it would never be enough.
Paul was not “extreme” or “radical” when he wrote “united with His death” (Rm.6:6). Death is the only way to strip sin of the power in the law (1 Cor.15:56).
“… for he who has died is freed from sin” (Rm.6:6).
If you are not going to die then you are not going to live. True repentance is true death. If you don’t die to sin then you will die from it. Partial death is no death.
Forgiveness is actually way easier than we want it to be. It is like accessing a credit card that has long been in your name, just waiting for you to personally pick up and use. It was done and ready for you long ago. Credit card fraud is when someone performs a transaction but it is not backed up by his own personal account. Ease of access does not forgo fellowship in Jesus.
Repentance is “metanoia”; coming to your senses and simply changing your mind. It is the heart of the prodigal son turning from himself out of the compelling love of the Father (Lk.15). Changing our thinking instantly “reckons” us and brings us into the posture of His thinking (Phil.2:5ff). We die. He lives. God “reckons” us “as white as snow” (Rm.4:9,22).
A train operator turns a deliberate switch of a lever to alter the direction of the tracks. You must change the direction of your will to believe the forgiveness Jesus wrought is yours. You are never forgotten and always forgiven. It doesn’t depend on a prayer but on the cross. The train then runs in a different direction. You begin to discover new places. The tracks of forgiveness have long ago been laid. There is nothing you need to do but believe like Peter. You can not change sin but you can switch tracks.
He says “…if we ‘ride’ in the Light (ride the train) as He himself is in the Light …the blood cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn.1:6-7).
Do you think there’s any question to massive power churning the wheels of a train? The TR&F Railroad will take you far beyond all your feeble and tentative considerations of salvation. It will set you on board forever. There are over 12 stories of faith in one chapter (Heb.11). Common ordinary people living extraordinary life. When I got on board, at my rebirth at Notre Dame, was the beginning of ongoing transformation; “from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18)
I fully expected something beyond myself to take me beyond myself; into another mode of life. I am not the same person I was 40 yrs. ago…..or 10 years ago….or five months ago….or last night. His forgiveness has never changed but my comprehension of it has. He has taken me places I could never get to by my own strength.
Old ‘friends’ try to hold me to past sin and immaturity. They say “You used to say this” or “You used to do this”. I am constantly seeing my scarlet ways and have to choose to live in His new ways (Mt.18:23). My forgiveness does not come from men. It has come from Jesus and keeps me securely on board His revelation.
God warned Able; “sin is after you but you must master it” (Gen.4:7). Paul says “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rm.6:14). The requirement to “master” sin is not self-purification. It is hearing God swear to you that He forgives you. A man who knows true repentance and forgiveness is a happy man ( Rm. 4). You don’t have to “get right” before you get serious with God. Simply believe Him to “reckon” you right by the only thing right in the world; His righteousness (Rm.4).
FINDING YOUR FREQUENCY
There is no one like you. So why try to be like everyone else? Create your own story. Find your own path. Feed a fire within for the “more” God promises (Eph.3:20). Your Father will lead you to His Son but you are the only one who can begin this journey. It’s not about trying to figure out what or how to do things. Like Peter, face Jesus and everything will fall into place. The puzzle will be solved. The code will be yours. You will be sitting on the train being taken into a destination beyond this world.
How often have you realized that because you are ‘set in your ways’ no matter how you have tried to change everything remains the same? There is no merit with God for being stubborn over a past “commitment to Christ” when in day to day life you have no clue to His Frequency. Pretense has no corresponding reality in God’s Word; except “hypocrite”.
If you define God by how, or whether, He enriches your life you contradict the revelation of the Father in the words of His Son; “If anyone wishes to come after Me he must deny himself, take up His cross daily and follow Me (Lk.9:26).
Paul says “I run in such a way as not without aim” (1 Cor.9:24).
Life is a maze of rock crevasses and dimly lit caves. Moab, Utah is full of such places. It is phenomenal. The tight spots, narrow passages, and sharp edges can bear upon you with fearful imaginations of danger. Then suddenly, you turn a corner and behold a view so magnificent you are angered at yourself for any hesitation you had in pursuing this venture; true change of heart. TR&F solves all the struggles of life by replacing our self-serving life with His focus on love for others.
Forgiveness cost the Father the blood of His Son. Therefore, how quickly, and full-heartedly, must we learn how to forgive ourselves, and each other (Matt.18:21ff )?
A few of us are presently preaching the gospel across the states. If you’d like to meet up contact us through our website. Some of us are working to save up money. Before we head back to Brazil, Abraham and Ruth will take the gospel with signs and tracks, in three more languages, to Manilla, Tokyo and Seoul this November. They will spy out the land for when we are done with Brazil.
If anyone is interested I would strongly suggest you check out the prison conditions, online, in Manila. There is no zoo or pig farm I have ever seen as bad as these prisons. We are trying to get in.
As I have previously explained we have no consistent support and rely on our own savings from working jobs. It would be great if anyone could care to help us. It will cost between five and six thousand. Traveling across the states is not free. I am not a fat-cat preacher. We don’t own a home. Thank God. I share this, not in a kind of begging spirit, but in joy and faith, as Paul also expressed his needs so he could reach as many as possible with Jesus (1 Cor.9). We proclaim the love of the Father to you and pray the precious Spirit of His Son upon you. Don’t forget to check out our music; search “Ancient Boom” on itunes.
Most people stay away from God because they think He demands something they simply cannot see themselves wanting or being able to do. I appeal to you. Look further. Come closer. Don’t be afraid. If He created you out of divine love then surely His plan for you is beyond anything you can imagine. You can’t allow all the Christian delusion that exists everywhere today to keep you from truth. The systems of men do not reflect the Person of the living Jesus. Understanding does not come by a comprehension of Christian doctrine.
Like Peter, I too was afraid to face Jesus, one on One, because, as Peter said “I am a sinful man” (Lk. 5:8). As if Jesus cannot relate to sin. Peter knew he could not give Jesus “a good person”. How can a wicked man go ‘toe to toe’ with a holy God? A guy named Abraham was the “father” of faith. God chose this 100 yr. old pagan to reveal the ‘grand exploit’ He demands is not moral aptitude.
Rather God made clear through Abe, for all the world to see, that what He desires is something anyone can do (Rm.4:1). God demands a transparent heart.Abraham said to God “I am but dust and ashes” (Gen.18:27). He felt himself to be “as good as dead” (Rm.4:19). He appealed to God out of the only place he knew; “his innermost being” (Ps.51:6). In this world of mega-pressure to conform to an image and meet worldly standards such simple reality can be either a distant and vague “someday” adventure or a simple choice that begins right now.
Peter, like Abraham, knew that his sin had rendered him a complete failure in the eyes of a holy God. Truth was his only hope. Unlike the standard of hypocrisy today a true relationship with God is not born out of a surface claim. It can only be truly appropriated in the collapse of self-confidence, where a man is laid bare and vulnerable, so as to come to grips with Jesus, on the cross in His, and in his, innermost being.
Think about it. God has created trillions of people. Each person is completely unique. So what happened between the point of His creation and the multitudes of the world all united as one in rebellion to God? Simple. SIN. It severed all of us from God and left us ignorant and stupid to wallow in our pride groping for acceptance by others. They call it peer pressure or political correctness. Are you really willing to spend eternity in hell for the gratification of this life?
You and I face a choice. It is the same choice trillions face in their time on earth. Don’t take this lightly. This moment will determine your eternity in heaven or in hell.
God demonstrated, through Abraham, that it is not exclusivity that causes a man to choose to believe God while others do not. It is a free individual choice to believe God while others choose not to. Abrahamic faith is not the “faith” of modern society. It is not to ‘wish upon a star’ or Christian presumption. Abrahamic faith is born out of the deep composition of a man’s will to surrender to the work of Jesus on the cross.
The “cross” is not a symbolic reference to Christian sentiment from the past. It is not a cerebral but personal BREAKING with ego. It is the living revelation solely able to expose and shatter the deep-seated rebellion in all us (1 Cor.1:18). Contemplation of the multi-faceted ramifications of the cross brings one to the most important choice of one’s life; death or self-pride. Hidden beneath this monster, we call pretense, are catastrophic consequences that must be confronted. The Bible reveals that Abraham’s recognition of absolute inadequacy was a choice of self-failure and the birth place of the divine substance called faith (Rm.4/Heb.11)
I remember a time in High School when I received a D grade on a subject. To me, it was like an A+ because I was terrified of an F grade. Getting an F meant I flunked and I wouldn’t be eligible to play college football. There’s just something so demeaning about getting an F. I was thrilled that my lame efforts got me a D grade. No other letter grade is equated with a word except for F ailure.
Our pride refuses to think of ourselves as a complete failure. However, in regards to the truth which God requires to know Him, the worst thing we can do is to pretend to be, or know something, that is based on false pretense (Jn.6:29). It means that we are living a lie. When your test comes right down to totally giving up on the subject called “ME”, at the last minute, you made some half-hearted effort to insist “I’m not “that bad”. I am not a sinful failure.
So many “Christians” of today are like D students fighting against that F. They know they fall short of God’s holy standards but sulk in the lie of self-pity, that they just can’t do what God requires. They fear the stigma of an F. They don’t want to be laid bare and exposed for what they truly are. So they strive to pretend they are something they are not. If only they realized the beauty of an F. F stands for Failure. F is for Freedom. F is for Faith and the Father. In truth, the “grand exploit” that God demands is to believe Him despite everything you think.
“Humble yourselves….Casting all your anxiety…upon Him because He cares for you…” (1 Pt.5:6).
THE SCARED HEART
To find the profound healing from agape love one must start by fully recognizing his complete inability and failure in everything he is, he has done and strives yet to be and do. I tell you the truth. If you can get this, it is the “formula” for ultimate fulfillment. To be laid bare and desperate before God, in your “innermost being”, is both the end and the beginning of true victory. It is only by the Spirit of the living Jesus, in the moment of here and now, that we find Him and His redemptive purpose. Recently, my family and I were setting up our equipment in the center of a prison courtyard in southern Brazil. It was full of some three hundred desperate men with looks on their faces like “Who do you people think you are, coming into our prison, assuming we want you here?!”.
Never, throughout my life, could I ever have imagined one day being sent by God into 3rd world prisons. There is no credential that prepares anyone for this. It is not a skill to be learned. None of my 20 years of schooling taught me how to bring compassion to hopeless men.
As I realized the hostility of the prisoners around me, my mind was frozen with thoughts of fear. What words could a nobody Polish ‘kid’ find, from the west side of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who was arrested the night of his High School graduation, for a bar room brawl? Such a predicament exposes who you are deep inside. Fear, desperation, and inadequacy define me as a failure. I don’t care like I should. I have not the answers they so desperately need. What do you say to cold-hearted gangs in their world of prison?
Jesus was in prison. He sat with others yet so alone. He was consumed with excruciating injustice and physical pain. His mouth caught the taste of blood flowing down from the thorns that punctured His skull. He suffered more than any man. It was at this terrifying hour that Jesus revealed the astounding reality of what was inside His true identity.
On the cross, Jesus thought He was a complete failure. He Who knew no sin became sin. He became all our failure and knew failure like no man. Jesus cried out, for all the public to hear, an outrageous question for the Son of God to ask…
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” ( Mt.27:46/Mk.14:36/Lk.23:46).
“Shhhh. Jesus! Don’t you know? Unbelievers will hear Your unbelief?!”
At that moment, Jesus became the ultimate failure. He was crushed by the fear that He had ‘missed God’. What if everything He did was in vain? How could His loving Father allow Him to incur such excruciating suffering? Such were His fears. Not a shred of presumption. He was laid bare as any man.
In His whisper that followed “Father into Your Hands I commit My spirit,” He let us see His heart as a Son dying, so we could live. He believed beyond His failure to His Father. He refused to quit on faith in God. He took on sin without sinning.
To His last breath, Jesus was utterly reliant upon the Father.
At that moment, His heart was torn in two, as Jesus bore the epitome of everything evil we despise in ourselves, and in others. It was a one time act in all of human history. Jesus became the sacrificed Lamb and the atonement that provided forgiveness for the trillions of men His Father created (2 Cor.5:21). In that horrendous moment of fear and despair, the Father had to look away. It was this very moment which left all the trillions without excuse, because Jesus provided everything God demands. He was the Mediator between sinful men and a perfect God. F is for Final salvation.
Jesus revealed that the essence of our fulfillment can only be born again out of complete failure (Rm. 4:19/Jn.3:7).
If Jesus had not shouted those words, I would never know that fear and unbelief is part and parcel of my daily identity before the Father. His “failure” in death is the bridge for a sinner to access the Father. Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Gal.2:20). True hope can only be found in true death. Resurrection life is an uncommon divine entity. It can only thrive as death clears away the hostilities of natural ways (Jn.12:25).
It is written “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor.4:10ff).
On THE EDGE
Many prisoners are in their early twenties. They know and see their life as one huge failure. They face the reality of living out the rest of their lives in this one filthy prison of barbed wire walls, cement beds and eight to ten other guys in one cell. Isolated, alone and living in a body ravaged by drugs, despair and unimaginable regret. I know you can say “Oh that’s terrible”. But I ask you to try to really imagine what this must be like. It is the way to cultivate real compassion.
For 24 hours a day, one thought burns in their mind “How could I have lived the way I did? Surely, God has forsaken me”. Every one of us is tormented by some variation of these same exact feelings. We don’t realize that Jesus Himself felt everything inside us. This precious 33 yr. old Carpenter was there with you, and in you, while bleeding to death 2000 yrs. ago, as a result of His own choice. He had, and has, superpowers. One of which is a personal love beyond all the wonders of the universe. We hide things for which we could be arrested. He forgives; F is for Forgiveness. One wrong impulse or urge may destroy your life. He redeems. The cross is the historical proof and validation of a compassion for all prisoners of sin.
Who will dare access His power manifested on a cross (1 Cor.1:18) ?
A cliff jumper stands on the edge of a mountain ridge. He looks over all the danger but knows his will has brought him to this point. Think he’s scared? You bet. But this is what he wants and what he has chosen to do. He faces death but has made his calculations. Every jump is a choice. Of course you’re afraid to take that leap of faith. But life is ticking away and death offers no second chance.
I, like you, must make an individual choice to believe God. No matter how I tried to relate to these prisoners, nothing was getting through. I was standing on the edge facing extreme hostile silence. Have I travelled thousands of miles, spent thousands of dollars to proclaim God’s mystery only to have common thoughts hinder me on the edge? Do I risk their eternity to maintain my life? Is my goal to appear as a success, for my sake, or a failure for theirs? We have a response we say when people say “Nobody cares”. We say “You’re right. Jesus was ‘Nobody’ to the world”.
When you are a kid, you bank on your parents coming to your rescue. I’m no kid. ‘Nobody’ was coming. We’re talking about a prison, so remote and depraved, only hell has not forgotten it. It makes the prisons in the states seem like a Holiday Inn.
Was I scared? Not really. Not as you might think.
”“The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom…Fear Him Who can cast body and soul into hell”
(Pr.1:9/Lk.12:5). I know myself. So I fear myself.
I choose to ‘leap’ beyond myself into the winds of the cross. A transparent son has no face to save or together-sounding language to espouse. I am a failure like all men and this is what they must see to “see” Jesus. They must see my scar. These are part of the trillions of souls Jesus yearns to save.
It is in this nothingness, of the cross, that I find the freedom of new life. I choose to believe God will open my parachute. I take the leap of faith with these men, to be as transparent and loving as I know to be. No pretense or conjured up image. Jesus says take no thought for what you will say because He will come at the last second (Lk.12:12). When we are dead, He lives.
As a father, having to lead six children and a wife into such danger, I thank my Father for His fellowship in the Spirit. It is everything. If my “parachute” doesn’t open, I am doomed.
The fear of God drives me into self-scrutiny. No place for ‘image’. Either there is a God and He will move or this is all one big sand castle awaiting collapse. Moments on the edge generate new life. Without this, I sulk into the grief of meaningless existence. In a world of utter routine boredom, it is rare to find the passion of a love that makes your hands sweat and your blood run fast.
Paul says “I die daily…” (1 Cor. 5:31). He came to end to find a beginning. He had to lose before he could win. So any victory was not his. I too was at my end. It was one of my many “Why have you forsaken me?” moments.
Then, as if on the head of a needle, everything reversed. The Holy Spirit acted. Between the time it took for my mouth to open, and the micro-seconds it took for the thoughts of my brain to reach my mouth, the Holy Spirit changed my heart from judgment to mercy. The parachute opened. The anointed love of Jesus broke through me to get to these men. Some of the trillions saw their choice.
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Do you remember when you were a little kid alone in your house at night? It seemed as if a shadow flashed by just as you turned the other way. You feared ‘someone’ was coming to get you? This was my experience many Saturday nights. Especially when I was watching some horror movie.
There are two kinds of fear. There is the fear shared with all men. It is the drive to be a success. The fear of death bears upon you that your time is ever so short. The fear of God is not such. It is the accountability of your conscience that you will answer to God for your choices, or lack of them (1 Pt.1:17/2 Cor.5:10).
You can be anywhere doing anything but deep within is a shadow of fear. Ever day, every moment, you just can’t explain the depths of your anxiety. It is the shadow called death. You do not define it as such but God does (Job 3:5, 11:21-22,12:22/Ps.44:19107:14/Is.9:2,13:6/Amos 5:8). God offers freedom from all fear. David knew His Spirit; “Thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me” (Ps.23:4/1 Jn.4:18). The trillions who are dead testify to the trillions who are alive that death is forever. F is for Forever.
Death is not something that is going to happen. It is something that has already happened (in Adam’s sin) and must simply be completed. It is the Grand Marshall leading the parade called life. The moment Adam and Eve sinned, we lost our immortality. Sin turned us into mere mortals heading to death. It is not someplace “out there”. We are born into a body in which death is a code written in our blood. God warns “the ‘wages’ of sin is death” (Rm.6:23).
It gradually kills human cells, causes wrinkles, muscular atrophy and the rapid deterioration of our brain and body. It will ultimately eat even our bones.
Thus death is in your shadow as the greatest fear. Yet, it is completely absent in all social discourse.
There is nothing more bizarre than man’s insane attitude towards death. If I were an alien, that landed on this planet, and found out that everyone walking around is going to die, yet never talks about it, I would ask “Why?” I would be completely bewildered.
No one runs around screaming “Death is coming upon me. It’s going to kill me. Can anyone help me?” Such people fill the buildings reserved for the mentally ill or are seen on the streets as derelicts. Such erratic behavior would be normal, if all men openly discussed the debilitating reality of our vain existence and abrupt obliteration that can happen at any moment.
Can your mind even consider that death could be one breath away?
I have visited and slowly walked through many cemeteries. I have stopped to ponder what must have been the life of the young and old whose bodies are now skeletons in the ground. I recently saw an article that explained how in Paris, they don’t know what to do with their dead because they are running out of room for them. Trillions! I have visited Convalescent Homes and spoken with people on the brink of death. They are about to die. You know it. They know it. Their entire physical state radiates it. Yet, the unspoken rule is “Don’t talk about death”. As if it will go away when you ignore it.
150 people die each day from heroin
7,000 die each day in the States alone
150,000 die in the world each day
You may do things, or had things done to you, that in and of themselves, did not kill you but affected you in such a way, as to render you incapable of considering the gospel. A boxer becomes “punch drunk”. A drug addict becomes “addicted”. A drunk develops “wet brain”. God says a contentious woman is worse than death to a passive man (Ecc.7:26).
People talk about all things that cause death but never about death itself. They talk of guns, drugs and many dangers but never of their end.
Man’s refusal to deal with death is of such stupidity, it is like the eighth wonder of the world. People think more of how to swat a nagging fly than death. Even now as you read this, your thoughts conclude it is not relevant and are driven beyond it to the here and now of your daily life.
We may fail at many things in life but magnitude of the consequences and finality of death makes all other failures as nothing. It is what you and I must face to escape the hell of the trillions.
THE MONSTER OF FIRE
My mother complained of pain in her stomach. So my dad made an appointment for a biopsy. No big deal. I remember at the hospital. They were wheeling her into the operating table on a gurney. She sat up as she passed by me, standing in the hallway, and did her Groucho Marx impersonation. She was a crack up. A little while later, they rolled her out and her face was buried in sorrow. A month later, she was dead. Extinguished like a flame.
I would not hear her voice again. No more jokes. No more special moments. No more dancing together or helping her bake an apple pie. So final. Never could I have understood at that time, this was a death which was both hers and mine. Her life was an obstacle to my death. I had to die to an identity that she kept alive; the very things that prevented me from becoming a new man. God uses the dying in our winters to bring us into the new life of His eternal Spring.
Dying turned a heavy set, jovial woman into a tiny frame of skin and bones. Night after night she would literally cry and scream from the pain. She constantly would eat crushed ice because she said it felt like there was a monster inside eating her with fire. Then, one moment in one day, when I was gone, she was gone. Death came to her. The monster won. Yet the “sting” was short lived because she had renounced all false religion and surrendered to the living Jesus. She blossomed on the other side of death into eternal life.
A SOUND OF DEATH
No screeching tires. No sound of a bullet. No terrible storm.
I will always hear the sound of a large vinyl, black bag being zipped closed. My mother’s body was methodically placed next to it, then rolled into it, by a creepy dude in a black suit. I had greeted him at the door and pointed him to the stairs to her bedroom. To my shock, he then tossed her body over his right shoulder, like a carpet, and carried her body right passed me down the stairs and threw it into the hearse he parked in our driveway.
My mouth was open. My mind was bewildered. What just happened? DEATH will come to you in a different way but it definitely will come. They took her to a Funeral Home to “show” a body pumped with chemicals and covered with makeup. As if to fool everyone for one last time into thinking “she” is still alive and looks like this. Nope. She’s long gone. A monster killed her.
Death has no moral code or “nice” sounding proper etiquette. Millions of young people are lured into the military, never told that death is an integral part of the job description. Death will violate your “peace of mind” and devastate your “comfort zone”. It doesn’t care whether you understand. Such talk is not “politically correct”. The trillions of the famous and the poor walked in your exact human shoes and are long forgotten so as not to comprehend their end.
My friend, I beg you to listen to me. All of this about my mother is not shared as a son blinded by his affections for a mother. This one woman changed the world because she discovered Jesus at a catholic charismatic meeting and first witnessed to me of a living Jesus. Now I go into all the world. But I recognize her no longer as my mother but as a woman whom God used to teach me a divine lesson.
I share this as though a divine lecture on life given to me by my Father to share with all my brethren. Stop living as though you are not going to die. Start dying so you can start living eternal life. You can go beyond the death of sin into the death of Jesus. You can be united in the “death” that ends in eternal life.
The monster of sin hides within each of us. It eats away the precious moments of our life. It burns like an unquenchable fire consuming our time and energy with fantasies and vanities. Satan lusts for our soul with an unbridled fury of hideous passion. If you think you can stop him with a song and a prayer, you have no clue. It was a death of horrendous torture on a cross bearing One Man Who actually surrendered to Satan. He ransomed His soul for ours. One word – D E C E P T I O N. “Oh I’m not afraid of death. I’m fine” are the thoughts of a fool already swallowed by the monster.
Like it or not, admit it or not, self-deception is an out-of-control fire consuming your “house”. Pride rages from room to room fed by the excuses and alibis of lies of why you don’t have to change. Men are gluttons for excuses. Death works in unison to hide it’s ultimate catastrophe. Every day we see it steal away our moments of time. It makes us do and say things that destroy our lives.
We are as if in a drunken coma of the moment. We think “I ‘m really something. I matter. RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE MATTERS”. No it doesn’t. Not even one bit in light of eternity. We are obsessed with ourselves as if the lead actor in a movie called ME. We are consumed with SELF; SIN. This is why we must fail. We must die before we die. We must allow the cross to kill the monster within called EGO.
A champion is not consumed with his present moment. His eyes are on the goal. He knows well his weaknesses and trains to defy them. A boxer does not obsess himself with the comforts and moments of NOW or he will lose his everything (Ps. 73:4).
“How do I feel, what I amthinking, these things are mine, what am I going to eat etc.” This, my friend, is the curse of sin.
The truth is nobody cares. The trillions are consumed with their lives. Your death will not affect one iota of the world. Society will not skip a beat. The clock will tick the same before and after you die. How many people will even know when you die?
The only Person Who truly came back from the dead warned that death is not some “light at the end of a tunnel”. It is terrible judgement and if your name is not in The Book of Life you will be cast into the lake of fire (Heb. 9:27,10:31/Rev.20:15). Have you ever seen a huge lake of lava or burning forrest fire? Hell is real. Satan is an “angel of light” who disguises death to men who fall unconscious then come back to tell others a lie (2 Cor.11:14). Even if you do not believe in hell, do you really think non-existence will be fun? In the blink of an eye, you will fall into the power of death and be taken away from whatever you are doing on earth.
Unlike all men, Jesus did not avoid talking about death. It was His life mission. But He did something never heard before. He talked about a death with a promise (Jn.11:25,12:25). Paul, the apostle explained
“For if we have become united with him in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; for he that hath died is justified from sin.
But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him;… For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin (everything related to self-life) , but alive unto God in Christ Jesus” (Rm.6).
Often times, as a catholic, when I saw the statue of Jesus on the cross, it bummed me out. It seemed so distant and irrelevant. So many sermons spoke of being a “sinner” and having to “die” with Christ. Quite depressing. Like most people, I lightheartedly admitted being a sinner because I had no idea what it meant.
To be a sinner is the most offensive and detestable thing before a perfect God. The accurate reflection of our worth is not known by reflecting on our worldly accomplishments, listening to our ego, the words of others or looking in a mirror. It is by contemplating the utter horrors of hell as the justice for the death of Jesus.
God made hell for the devil and his angels but man made himself suitable for such a place by contaminating himself with sin. Our “worth” corresponds to eternal damnation.
Jesus put Himself in our place of condemnation. He bore what we deserve. His vicarious death offers us a retroactive redemption.
Prior to the resurrection, death was final. It was over. No further hope for mankind. However, death could not stop Jesus. It could not hold him in the earth (Acts 2:24). Jesus took over death and made it usable; redemptive. The resurrection of Jesus inaugurated a new death. It is not a physical but spiritual.
“I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades” (Rev. 1:18).
SUCCESS THROUGH FAILURE
You have heard “fat cat” preachers hoot and holler about “the cross”. All you have to do is behold their exalted ego to know they are “enemies of the cross” (Phil.3:18). The cross is not a hollow, ancient symbol but a retroactive mystery of salvation (Col. 1:27). It is “the place” where our heart surrenders to His work (Jn.14:3).
As a once-successful rabbi; Paul said “ I will boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (2 Cor. 11:22ff/Gal.6:14). What in the world does he mean? For merely being just two pieces of wood, a “cross”, from some 2000 years ago, gave him a power(1 Cor.1:18).
This term “the cross” is as a foreign dialect from some remote village deep in the Amazon. No one speaks of it as the power over death. How many world leaders, scholars, actors, coaches, Wall Street bankers, executives, teachers etc. claim the cross as their formula for success?
The A students of this world have no clue. Paul said, in light of the wisdom gained through the humiliation of the cross, everything in the world is “dung” (Phil.3:7-8). And it does require humiliation, not just humility. For a man to embrace his nothingness is complete defiance to himself.
God specifically designed the cross as the only transition point into His world. Failure is in our blood and He bore it all when He shed all of His
Every single person who follows Jesus embraces his failure as a sinner (1 Cor.1:27). It is the way of salvation. It is not to be feared. It kills our greatest enemy; pride. It kills the monster. It kills our moments of time that we think are so important. “Blessed are those who mourn…” (Mt.5:3ff). It is not that you are left with your failure but with Jesus in His plan for your failure.
Embrace such a One Who designed such a thing. Embrace the truth of Jesus. By doing so you are saying to Satan that what God says to you, and about you, and what Jesus did for you, despite you, is everything to you. Become united into the specific workings of the Father’s plan.
The “participation” in the death and resurrection is for you today. It is the plan to turn bad things into good things (Phil.3:10).
Jesus promises “even though he dies yet shall he live” (Jn.11:25).
This, my friend, is beautiful. Our worst failure can turn into His design for victory. When I am at my end, as to what to do or how to be, in any and every circumstance, I choose to unify my end with His. I cry a thousand times “My God, where are You…why have you forsaken me?” And in this unification, I am free from myself by and in Jesus to rejoice and worship my Father.
It’s not like I ever stop being a failure and start being a success. I live as a failure but believe that if while I was an enemy, I was reconciled to God “through the death of his Son”,much more, being reconciled, shall I be saved by His life (Rm.5:10).
I have nothing to hide or prove. I am a failure to God and to all He intended for the trillions He created. It has been awesome to be freed from the fear of men. I am Michael and there is no one like me. Yet this awareness does not come from looking within but from looking upon the living Messiah. It is His love that has awakened me to be born again. I do not appeal to the Son on the basis of my ability but on the basis of His accomplishment.
“He Who dwells in the shelter of the Most High shall abide the shadow of the Almighty ….” (Ps.91). There is a “place” in Jesus beyond the shadows of our fallen nature (Jn.14:23). Surely, how to die to yourself is a “secret” to the proud (Mt. 11:25).
Abraham did not fight to to rationalize, justify or defend himself to God, but to expose himself as “dust and ashes” (Gen.18:27). Then he rose up and believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. He “found” an individual angle to believe God while “in the flesh” (Rm.4:1ff).
Death is not an option. The question is whether you become united with the death of Jesus now, unto eternal life, or are subject to Satan when he comes at your death with his rights to your soul, to take your soul to hell.
Look in the mirror and consider God warns “from dust you were taken and unto dust you shall return” (Gen.3:19).
(continued from beginning)
BREAKING THE PARADIGM
As I spoke I also listened to what words the Spirit brought as result of my repentance; “We fully understand your skepticism. I would feel the same. The only appropriate response to each of you is to cry with you. I don’t blame you guys for not wanting to listen. I can only tell each of you that God put us here because He loves each of you. He is here to save your life.”
As my eyes scanned their faces, back and forth, I could see that the divine contact of divine mercy was made. Jesus sent His Spirit. I was off the hook. My death released His life. The men were engaged. Nodding their heads and laughing. We even sang together. By sharing of The One we shared one on one with so many. No exaggeration to say everyone was touched by God’s love. Our hearts were broken by so many stories of such depth of failure. We did not leave this prison with feelings of elation and success but with great burden and intercession.
We know why God “so loved” these men (Jn.3:16/Heb.13:3 /Mt.25:36). Redemption is not one of God’s ways. It is the essence of all of God’s ways towards fallen men.Paul says “power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor.12:9).
A few days before, Elizabeth had contacted a man from the Gideon Society in southern Brazil. He was favorable to our work and offered us thousands of New Testaments. We were thrilled. It is something I always dreamed of having but not able to afford.
I placed a box of brand new Bibles on the ground and offered all the men this gift. As I watched hand after hand reaching down into that box, my memory took a picture I will always have in the library of my mind.
These are the men who we were initially forbidden to visit. The head of security was relentless in his insistence that the men were too dangerous. Yet he gave us a chance and later told us we had “broken the paradigm”. No one has ever articulated something of such meaning to us. He had seen a power which we know is Jesus. The wind of the Spirit had blown into that place.
We did end up laying the sewers in the one prison I previously wrote about. It cost us seven hundred dollars and several of us got sick from the extreme bacteria. But to begin to eliminate this wretched smell from their daily existence was a real privilege for us. We taught other prisoners how to do it and gave them the materials.
I have written much about prisons but God continuously moves on the streets, orphanages, convalescent homes, community centers and through many other avenues. The included pictures show some of them. The needs are literally without limit.
People think that because we never talk about our needs we must have some source of finances or support. We do not. For anyone who doesn’t know us and might share in our burden to reach the world for Jesus we are not supported by any group, organization or church. All eight of us work regular jobs and then, when we have sufficient funds, we minister out of these savings. This is very difficult and consumes time we could otherwise be spending reaching the world in Jesus. I hate to mention the great demands we face but someone may actually be grateful because they want to help. Such was the case for some people that Paul, the apostle, came to know ( 2 Cor.8:3-4). People today tend to only give money to those from whom they can derive some instant gratification and such is not the case with us.
It is hard to imagine someone supporting us whom I may offend with the truth of the gospel. You may not like to hear these things I share but it is out of love for you. All men have the power of free will. You don’t have to be offended. You can be open. If a true Christian has the means, I believe God’s harvest would matter and they would see this as an opportunity to help do what they may not be able to do. God willing we will get to Nigeria where there are millions who speak English. Also Japan and South Korea. While here in Brazil we need to yet get to Bolivia and Paraguay before leaving South America. But that involves driving through the Amazon Jungle which will require an enormous effort and time. It would be awesome to be able to fly.
Some may wrongly think that because we know the Lord that we are “blessed” with “financial success”. These are twisted notions from the materialistic poison of American Christianity. The concept of “prosperity teaching” thrives only amidst a culture in the circles of the affluent rich. It doesn’t work amongst the homeless or in 3rd world countries because it is not reality but delusion (i.e. “God wants you to have a nice car, house, successful business, etc.”).
Anyone who truly knows the gospel and the writings of Paul, understands the opposite is true. Jesus came to the poor and Paul constantly made mention of his needs (Is.61/1 Cor.9:9). This is reality. Having finances for his ministry was a constant issue for Paul because he lived in obscurity and traveled, not by ‘being sent’ by men, but by his witness of the Holy Spirit. If we were of the system, we would have plenty of support and backing, and this would be considered “prosperity”. Be as it is, we are of the Spirit and constantly face great need because we have chosen to “Go into all the world…” regardless whether anyone supports us. Jesus keeps His servants humble. Praise God.
If anyone would like to help us, I think it is clear, from my writings, such help will be directly spent to reach people in need to hear the gospel of the living Jesus. This is not about us. It’s not about our ministry. God doesn’t care how you think about us. This is about PEOPLE. This is about CARING. Jesus says whatever you do to the least of my brethren you do to me (Mt.25:45). I am not a fat-cat preacher building an empire of ego. God can orchestrate any means and use anybody through whom He can then convey His love. Even a wretch like me. I don’t know what else I can say. Our only goal is to bring men the living Jesus in the Spirit of His sacrificial love. We would greatly appreciate any help.
You could send anything as a “Friend” to our Paypal account: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please feel free to contact us about anything. I will not attack you or hold you to any standard. God became a man so that a man could know God. Compassion is my guide. We’d love to help break through any obstacle you may face. Jesus offers a wisdom, healing and light you can not imagine. Not a formula, doctrine or prayer. Reality.
You are on the clock. Your time is like sand funneling through the hour glass. Horrible judgement is coming soon. Madness floods the earth. Wickedness abounds. God is allowing Satan to move so quickly. All the filth and perversion has defiled the ancient boundaries and the “standards’ of the “new normal” are being set by the prince of darkness for the dawning of his final surge.
My wife Rachel, sons Joshua, Abraham and David, and daughters Ruth, Elizabeth and Sarah appeal to you “Come to the living Jesus. Your death is worth His life.” The short circuit to any of your “success” is the mere mention that you are going to die.
“What man is he that shall live and not see death, who shall deliver his own soul from the power of hell?” (Ps.89:48)
Picture from last fall preaching on the campus of Central Michigan University.
Ten Brazilian military police dressed in full battle-armor swat gear appeared right in front of us as though they were about to engage in a full-out battle. Four of them had machine guns. Three had double-gauged shotguns. Three had drawn pistols. One had a smoke grenade in his hand. They lifted their bullet-proof shields and, in a crouched line, proceeded down the narrow hallway leading to the courtyard.
A guard looked at me and said, “Follow us”. Their guns scanned both sides of the corridor. They would stop. A command was shouted and several broke off to search each cell we passed to make sure no prisoners could get behind us. One thought just kept pulsating in my mind “I can’t believe this is happening for me. They are doing all this for the Woroniecki family?!”.
(-See section titled Travel Update below for continuation -)
(next blog Part II)
(Battle Lines)- THE REFLECTION
Do you ever tire of modern ways? Do you ever yearn for ways of olden days, maybe even ancient days?
“I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, it’s wheels a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing and coming from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him and myriads standing before Him; the court say and the books were opened…and behold One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him” (Daniel 7:10:13,22).
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls” (Jer.6:16/Mt.11:28,7:7).
God. Who is He? What is He? Where is He? Imagine if we, as mere sinful mortals, could find a reflection of such a holy One? The reality is God has made known, in the Scriptures, that He yearns for men to know Him, to such degree, that in His creation of us, He placed a reflection of Himself. It is called conscience. It is not hard to figure out. It is, in a sense, “common sense”; truthful thinking about God (Lk.15:17). This thinking is at the forefront of our mind. It contains ancient thoughts of the Ancient of Days; God is holy, loving, good, right etc. Our conscience tells us we are to reflect these ways (Rm.2:14-15). The conscience is not salvation but it’s promptings lead to the One Who is salvation.. to what…Whom God deems righteous… His Son Jesus.
The conscience guided men of old, like King David and Jeremiah, to write hundreds of Psalms, to hear God and to lead the nation of Israel. In order to fully utilize it’s capability of intelligence, creativity and imagination it requires a depth of individual thinking in humble ways of a childlike attitude. The conscience tells you that you have individual accountability to God. It compels you to pursue and discover a divine purpose which is to reflect the image of the Son to the Father (Rm.8:29). It will help you figure how to do this.
Have you ever wondered why you want to show others that “I just want to do what is right”? The Scriptures teach just the opposite; that we all do want what is wicked (Rm.3:10ff). Yet, if you were to talk with any individual, they will insist that they want to do what is right. This contradiction can be traced to the inner battle in each of us between sin and conscience. We may know what is right, and want to do what is right, but end up doing what is wrong (Rm.7:19-8). From every President and Pope, to every leader of every religion or organization, to every citizen of every country, all men claim a vague undefined goal tobe right. No one says “I just want tobe wrong“.
Even the most hardened criminal, drug addict or murderer has the awareness that he should do what is right, even if he does what is wrong. Yet, what is “right” for some is wrong for others. So this strange battle rages at the very center of human existence. People fight over what is right. Multitudes suffer because nothing is right. Madness erupts into wars where people kill each other over what “right”. Families are devastated by divorce because husband and wife battle over what is right. The world is a reflection, not of the image of God, but of the powers of sin and Satan. Battle lines are drawn that do not mark off sections of land but “places” in our mind and heart that define the ancient paths of the image of God and the image of a selfish man.
God says that man is driven by sin to want evil while claiming to want what is right proving the reflection of His Law is written within every man (Read Rm.2:14-15). Men are stuck in this quagmire of pride that prevents understanding and breeds confusion (Ps.5:9,116:11,140:3/ Jn.8:44/ Rm.3:13ff). What about you? Will you read this blog in presumption and remain ignorant “Oh yes, I already know all that” or humble yourself and gain the understanding and freedom offered by a loving Father (Jn.8:32)?
Are you willing to consider that you do not understand something that you may say you already understand? We are not animals or plants. You and I are created in the very image of God so as to have His moral constitution at the center of our being. We evaluate life, automatically, with reason, intelligence and memory. It is not impulse that governs our existence. We do not chirp or bark. We articulate. We use our senses and experience to evaluate our surroundings and determine what we ought to do.
All these things reflect God. All these things originated in and proceed out of our Creator. We are like Him though we reject Him (Jn.1:11). God is not some weird sci-fi entity. He became like us so we could become like Him (Jn.10:34ff/Ps.82:6). We live our life in the Shadow of God, whether we want to admit it or not. Our conscience is built to reflect the perfect image of God. So until we do this to our fullest you will always feel troubled and unfulfilled. It is sin which keeps us from doing so.
The image of God is marked out in our mind by “lines” that distinguish the boundaries of right from wrong, good from evil, compassion from indifference, truth from distortion, humility from pride, grace from license, sincerity from pretense, etc.
Frustration and anxiety stem from crossing these inner “battle lines” of the conscience to know, be and do what is right while seeing sin and selfishness in control. Our conscience demands that we walk “the ancient path” of God’s Law. But we fail. We fall. The conscience was not created to condemn or complicate our life. Quite the contrary. It was created to empower us with “The Reflection”. It is our sinful nature that creates the conflict.
The conscience serves as a “tutor” of the truth that the only way to be right is to be “reckoned” right by faith in His redemption (Rm.4:5,13,15/ Gal.2:19,21/ Phil.3:9/ 1 Cor.1:30). The conscience beckons us with a witness to faith in Jesus (Gal.3:24/Rm.10:4). We can not do what only Jesus has done; fulfill the Law. Jesus was and is “The Perfect Reflection” of God to us. His conscience was so perfectly fulfilled that He was the “exact representation” of the Father to us. The fusion of His salvation transforms the conscience, beyond the 1st Adam, with The Reflection of the Son (Rm.8:29/2 Cor. 4:6).
Abraham is talking with a guy who is 21 and has 26 years to go. Men are weighed down with enormous grief .
YOU MAY ASK “How can the image of God reside in us if we are sinful?”. It is not a physical thing like a heart vale or or ear drum. Every day you see your image in a mirror. This does not mean that you are in the mirror. God is not in us but His reflection is. I can clearly see my image in the reflection of a pond but I am not in the pond. The conscience is a magnificent creation; “a science invention”. It is the reflection of God in having the composition of heart, mind and life. Conscience means “with” (con)“knowledge” (science) of God. It is the crown of His creation. It is the center of our reasoning capability. This knowledge is a reflection of light, not from this world. It gives us a continual sense of something beyond ourselves. The cross is meant to eliminate the prime obstacle to our reflection of Jesus (1 Cor.1:18). If we die with Him we shall reflect Him and His sacrificial love (Rm.6:6). It is supernatural automation.
King Solomon wrote, “God has placed eternity in the heart of man” (Ecc. 3:10). Eternity? Yes. Eternity. Paul explains that His invisible attributes are clearly seen (Rm.1:20). Even if one denies God, the conscience tells him He exists. All men are liars (Ps.116:11/Rm.3:13). When Satan seduced Adam and Eve, he appealed to the conscience because he knew he would win them if he could defile it (Gen.3:1ff). He won. Sin became alive but conscience did not die. A tainted mirror still reflects an image (1 Cor.13:12). Our accountability is great.
We all fight a war with guilt, shame and terrible failure to the dictates of conscience. Yet God has fully provided the means for victory. Peace of mind comes only to those who yield and learn how to utilize the conscience by becoming subject to the living Jesus. Satan taunts a proud man into a war between his conscience and sin he is not prepared to fight and does not know how to win.
This war is not with other people, who may have already trampled the lines of their conscience (2 Cor.10:12). It is with Satan who uses pride and ignorance to blur the lines so that you walk away from God’s will and into his (Isaiah 8:20/Mt.6:23/Eph.6:12). Salvation is all about position. It is about standing in Christ, not to reflect your glory but His. Will you stand in the “boundary lines” of the truth, to which the Holy Spirit bears witness to your conscience (Jn.14,16/2 Thes.2:12/18:36)? Satan knows if he can get you to ignore your conscience he will win your soul. He uses thoughts to diminish the significance of your focus and decisions. The mind regulates all “aircraft” that lands in and leaves out of our brain (2 Cor.10:3). Whoever rules the tower runs the airport.
One time, I was alone hiking in the high country of Wyoming. I crossed over a mountain range and suddenly, I lost all my bearings. For a short time I thought I was lost in the wilderness. I just couldn’t figure out my lines of travel. I begged God to remember. This deep sense of terrible fear radically changed my attitude, seeing how such a beautiful place can become so haunting when you are disorientated. I became extremely careful. Never again leaving my compass behind. In the midst of my alienation I realized how I must be riveted on things I took quite tritely; calculation and recognition of my lines of travel. The consequence of being cavalier about your conscience can send you on a path of no return.
God offers a top of the line moral compass. He wants to lead you into beautiful “places”. This is His promise (Jn.10:10). However, it requires extreme caution and attention. If your daily life is haunted by a troubled conscience, the depths of anxiety can make your existence anything but beautiful. The goal of Satan is to distract your focus with confusion and win your soul to hell. If you snub this reality, you are a fool. Paul says he fought to his very last day (1Cor.9:27/2 Tim.4:7).
There are many precise bearings on a compass. It demands the discipline of a disciple. Many have no idea how to accurately “divide” between soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12). Praise God that He did not leave us to flounder about subject to the whims of random thoughts and feelings. Conscience points you in the direction of the truth with a “witness” to the righteousness of faith in Christ. The Father has taught me, over 40 years of salvation, how to engage my conscience to reflect Jesus by the power of His Spirit in facing even the most difficult situation (2 Cor.3:18, 4:6). Jesus promises I can never get lost (Jn.10:29).
It is easy to exaggerate and lie and ultimately walk off the path and defile your conscience. No siren will sound. No alarm bell or buzzer will go off when you ignore Him. You will not be arrested or need to go to a hospital. No lightening bolt will flash at your feet. No one will shout “Hey you! What did you just do?!” You will not start walking into walls or forget how to cook or brush your teeth. You will just blink your eyes, turn your head and lean back in your chair. But the “silence” of another dark victory assures how loud shall be the screams of hell.
You have crossed a line of conscience and the ‘silence’ is deafening.
It happens every day in a split second. In countless places, over countless issues, all over the world, men deny their conscience and think there are no consequences. God does not grab anyone by the neck or shake anyone by the shoulders and point to your free will.
Look at the reflection of your life. What do men see? We were not created to reflect our SELF. The reflector on a car bumper holds no light of itself. It merely reflects the light it has received. Our conscience yearns to reflect our Creator to it’s fullest potential. Any resistance is the decision of your sinful nature. Jesus offers forgiveness, understanding and grace. But not license. When we continually resist our conscience we risk losing it.
Continual rebellion causes it’s function to become offset, confused and distorted. Reason is replaced by instinct, impulse and rationalizations that now become the guiding “light” of a troubled soul. Jesus says if “the light that is in you” becomes darkness “how great is that darkness” (Matt.6:23). Men reflect this darkness in their face, their choices and their obsession with selfishness. Virtue and integrity are easily replaced with shallow words and phony pretense. Bitterness and anger take lodging deep in the soul and leave a man to exist in a manhole of regret. Liars are not rare. Pretenders are everywhere. So many men become adrift on an ocean of doubt. God warns that a life without a clear conscience becomes a “shipwreck” (1 Tim.1:19). The ocean is full of sunken wrecks.
“Do not move THE ANCIENT BOUNDARY…” (Pr.22:28,23:10).
Have you ever run trails or gone hunting in the backwoods and seen a sign that reads PRIVATE PROPERTY-NO TRESPASSING? If you cross the boundary line, you risk being arrested, or worse yet, being shot by some redneck itching to fire his gun to protect his property. I have seen many trampled fences where there no longer remains a clear, defined, boundary line. It gives men a giddy sense that they can cross the line with no consequences.
Have you ever pondered a beautiful reflection of trees or a sky in a still clear lake? Such are the clear lines of what is right in the life of a believer. The voice of conscience is clear. Each line has an edge. You know what you should do. God has given each of us a free will with which we can blur the line and cloud the air with double-mindedness and selfishness. The person we reflect to others is not Christ but our own confused self. These ways trespass the line and lead you into enemy territory called rebellion. You can become disoriented in finding the road of Jesus back to the Father. You become lost in the wilderness of the world. Indecision and unbelief blur your lines of travel. Paul says his “proud confidence is this: the witness of my conscience” (2 Cor.1:12). You CAN do what you want but the consequences of confusion will follow.
Before Paul met Jesus, he obeyed his conscience and actually fulfilled the standard of the Law (Phil.3:6). Then, he realized he could not separate himself from the pride of his own self-righteousness. He fell under the death of the cross to obtain the saving righteousness “reckoned” by faith (Phil.3:7ff/Rm.4/Gal.2:20). His conscience was cleansed by the blood of Jesus and redeemed to live in spirit and truth by the Spirit of Truth (Rm. 8:1-3 /Heb.9:14). Two men can take a basket of food to the poor. Outwardly the act seems the same. One man can’t stop thinking “I am helping the poor”. The other man thinks “What is your name, my friend?”. The boundary of God’s love is marked by a line with a clear edge separating it from self-love. If a person talked to someone else about their needs a quarter of the amount that they talked about themselves this person would begin to learn both death to self and the love of God.
Lost men could care less about empty doctrines of Christ. They’ve heard them a hundred times. They need to see and hear the reality of Jesus. Today we see a “Christianization” of the conscience. These “Christians” use Biblical terms with no reality. They pretend to be saved but are lost so they wrongly label the conscience as the Holy Spirit and their own failures as “the old man”. They ignorantly use the terms of grace, faith, the blood and love, but don’t know how to, or even if they want to, apply them to their own life. They wander in a wilderness without a compass. Satan exploits this confusion born out of presumption (1 Cor.14:33). The Spirit explicitly says that in the last days men will be vulnerable to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons and by means of the hypocrisy of these lies become seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron (1 Tim.4:2).
A defiled conscience is not seen by someone drinking blood or killing babies. A man smiles. He shakes a hand and asks “How are you?”. He appears ‘nice’. But inside, where no one can see but God alone, he knows that he is not right. And it is the distance between that outward image and his inward conscience where delusion exists. This is the curse and vexing of God that automatically happens to anyone who makes light of the truth in the conscience (2 Thess.2:10).
The trespass shows itself in a fallen countenance and a misappropriation of, and disproportionate responses in, behavior. It is like what the reaction of the trespasser would be at the precise moment that the owner of the property caught him on his land. What should be a “normal” reaction to something, becomes a troubled wrong reaction. Emotional subterfuge becomes the norm. Common sense becomes “hidden”, because reason has now become unclear. You can read of these things, one after another, with the consequences in Matthew 23. (When I look at the picture below I instantly remember it’s stench. It was that terrible.)
“To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15).
A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken
“BEYOND REPAIR”(without remedy) (Pr.29:1).
GOING BACK FOR A FUTURE.
Of all things Paul could have written as the culmination and proof, of God’s covenant with Abraham and Moses, within us, he said it is that Jesus sends His Spirit into our hearts crying “Abba! Father!” (Hebrew ‘DADDY” (Gal.3:15-4:6). A child and his daddy. The primary identity of a true believer is a child of God. If you will expend your energy to comprehend this it will change your life. Jesus gives the right (the power of righteousness by faith) to become (ongoing) a child of God (Jn.1:12).
Paul says we must grasp “the mystery” of this faith with a “clear conscience” (1 Tim.3:9).
The strategy of the Father was for Jesus to bring a salvation that would cleanse and “enlighten” the conscience of every man to be transformed into a child of God. He spoke directly to, and explained, that this is the enigma in all men. To do what is right is to become a child(Jn. 1:9-13).
How long has it been since you were a child? Everyone accepts the thinking that being a child was a time left behind, in someplace you long ago lived. I spent 20 years at 919 Lake Michigan Dr. Two cherry trees in the backyard and a huge house with many rooms. It supplied many moments of simple play. I cherish and access memories of innocence, happy contentment and a pure conscience. We have aged and matured but we do not turn into aliens. (At least not most of us. Lol.)
What I mean is, as human beings we possess a physical brain and an unseen mind. They work together to provide a library of all our thoughts and memories. A thought travels at 250 miles an hour. So, we can literally access the memory of our childhood conscience in an instant. The cost is time, focus and a depth of serious contemplation. Can you remember a moment when you were aware of your own absolute innocence to life? You had no option but to be who you were and trust. The conscience of a child most accurately reflects the image of the Creator. God says the identity of child is everything (Jn.1:12/Rm.8:16/1 Jn.2:2).
The reward is a clarity of spirit. An absence of burden. No confusion. No complexity. Childhood was the closest time you have ever had to a pristine conscience. Satan knows the proud can never embark on such a contemplative journey to “become a child”. It’s ‘good enough’ to just try to do the right thing on your own. But the price is losing your soul. A childlike heart is more important than anything in your entire life. It offers the key to a sincere conscience, a beacon of contentment and established battle lines. A child releases the intended purpose of the conscience to reflect the joy of being His creation.
This is not just a neat thought. It is a divine command of Jesus as the only way to escape enemy territory and enter His promised land of peace and joy. Jesus put extraordinary emphasis “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you can not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:1ff).
A childlike heart is not naivety or silliness. It reflects the attitude of Jesus. It is the absence of all cynicism. It is absolute trust. It faces every fear with resolute surrender to God. The permanent elimination of complex thought leaves Satan no ammunition (2 Cor.10:3). You establish a firm and clear EDGE to the boundary called TRUST. It insures the edge of love, truth and reality. No trespassing means NO TRESPASSING. It is not Law. It is heart desire. I would have never called my natural father “Daddy”. He was so distant it would have been weird. But this is what my children call me without a thought because we share that special intimate love of the Father that Paul speaks of in Galatians 4:6.
We cannot know or control the future. We can only live in the moments of who we know ourselves to be. This is the essence of the humility that once composed you as a natural child and is now vital to become a child of God. The life of King David is a beautiful display of a sincere conscience. Sincerity is a beautiful Greek word. It refers to a metal proven to have no impurities (alloy). It is a most undervalued word. The lines of sincerity are clearly marked in the conscience of every man. When allowed to function properly, a sincere conscience will automatically lead a person into the truth of multitudes of profound benefits found in the living Jesus.
In the Old Testament the word leb is used for conscience. It means heart. David beheaded Goliath with the vigor of a child. David was smitten in his conscience when he showed disrespect for Saul by cutting off a piece of his robe and when he proudly numbered the tribes of Israel (1 Sam.24:5,2 Sam. 24:10). He instantly repented. David showed a conscience for God like no other man except Jesus. Of Jesus Isaiah prophesied “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;” (Is.9:6). Jesus was the ultimate Child and cried “Daddy” at His hour of agony (Mk.15:34).
Our conscience resonates with the Character of a loving Father. He put this within us, to empower us to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love each other(Lk.10:27/Mk.12:30/Mt.22:37/Dt.6:5). “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim.1:5).
My friend, listen to me. Jesus offers a cleansing of the conscience but it requires far more than a little prayer or sorrowful emotion (Heb.9:9, 14,10:22). In fact, Paul warns that you can search for it with tears and not find it (Heb. 12:15-17). No matter where you are in life, no matter how old or how tragic; no matter how impossible your situation might seem, you must go back to your past in order to find a good future. A childlike conscience will lead you into the truth that will set you free (Jn.8:32).
Childlike simplicity is the key, because it provides the necessary disposition of a child in submission to a Father, which was inlaid in our composition at Creation.
THINKING-The Road to New
Long ago, you chose to train your tendencies to be who you have chosen to be and this has carried you into the life you now live each day. If you have violated your conscience, your life is one big mess. You can barely stand to be alone with yourself, let alone be still enough to converse with God. A troubled conscience results in constant stress. Anxiety raises blood pressure and causes premature aging.
Good old fashioned “ancient path” thinking is a lost art. Modern thinking is demented. The core is self-obsession. Token words and shallow pretense is the norm in Christianity. Everything is conformity to the same image of someone striving to be right. Self-righteousness. Jesus says lose your life and you will find it (Jn.12:25). THINK. What does this really mean? Paul says “if we die with Him, we shall also live with Him”. He is speaking of something you have never seen or can imagine (Rm.6:6ff/1 Cor.2:off). You are not meant to be who you are but who you are not (2 Cor.5:17). Jesus puts “new wine” into “new wineskins” (Mk. 2:22). The writings of Paul overflow with a man who, beyond his enormous suffering, knew amazing joy. His articulation is nothing less than brilliant. He fully used his human capability of intelligence and creativity.
There is no problem Jesus cannot answer. There is no challenge He cannot empower you to overcome; even any mental or physical infirmity. The “secret” is childlike humility (Mt.11:25/1 Pt.1:18). Thinking that you are different does not make you different. Different thinking makes you different. Jesus speaks through your conscience to care for others. His purpose in your life is not to “receive blessings” but to give blessings. Not to spend your whole life focused on saving yourself but to be a servant to save others. I have learned His intelligence which is to learn to approach men at their feet, as He did, not at their face (Mt.20:28/Jn.13:1ff).
Pride tells you that you deserve things. Jesus demonstrated The Reflection of His Father’s love comes from becoming nothing and “success” is humiliation (Phil.2:7). The image within us speaks loud and clear that all His lines mark out the image of a Servant of sacrificial love. The “lines” in His face caused men to look away (Is.53). To meet a person at their feet is to instantly find access to their heart and mind. Nothing is the key to Someone who offers everything. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and captured their conscience, not by a summons to Law, but to a Friend Who sticks closer than a brother. The Reflection of love turns things inside out, upside down and recreates a man with a conscience to serve the Father with all the heart, soul, strength and mind. God came as the Servant. To reflect His image is to be a servant to the world. You will never distinguish the operation of your conscience if you are lost in the wilderness of your sinful nature. Never.
Jesus came so the poor, the homeless, the prisoners could find His land marks of “milk and honey” (Is.61/Ex.3:8/Lev.20:24/Num.13:27,14:8/Heb.4:8ff). This destiny can be yours, my friend.
“The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me” (Ps.16:6).
The humility of the Son is indispensable. It is the only seat from which to properly operate and discharge the “Megaplex” called YOU. A new you is not destined to be a small mini-mart but like a battleship, General Motors, an airport or military complex. At any given moment, you are processing hundreds of simultaneous decisions without any calculated considerations. Electrical impulses that skip across trillions of atoms and cells transmit instantaneous reactions, sent from your brain throughout your body, causing you to move in a set direction.
King David reflected the messianic heart of Christ (1 Sam.16-17). His exuberance for God reflected the freedom of a child so in love with God his transparency was astounding. He defied conformity to the fear in the army of Israel as he carried Goliath’s head to Saul. As much as I may quiver over the many challenges I face, as a weak man, I am constantly exhilarated by the courage that comes only from a clear conscience before God.
The only reason I can walk into a courtyard of 300 hardened criminals and face their hostility with love is because it is so far beyond me. I am like a stilled a child resting in his mother’s arms (Ps.131:1). I am completely at His mercy. If it was not something far beyond me I could never do it. If it was something within my grasp the enormous fear would ultimately crush me. As with David, courage comes from a heart for God. It requires the “work” to hammer out the potential of His image within me (Jn.6:29/1 Cor.15:10). It is my burning desire to give lost, suffering men the reflection of the Son. David says “Why are you in despair, oh my soul (the sinful nature)?…I will not fear 10,000…I am fearfully and wonderfully made (so as to find within my God implanted potential a response to all things” (Ps.42:5,139:14/3:6).
I love the word “realignment” because I get “off” quite easily. The Spirit finds no problem, as He aligns my life to it’s fullest. Like a river that flows down from a mountain, the channels of reason, logic, emotion, patience, etc. stream in perfect symmetry by simple trust. To use a computer term, a clear conscience provides “live streaming”.
When we follow the lines of what is right, good, and noble, the God of all peace rules our body (Phil. 4:6-9).
Our brain is full of microscopic electrons, protons and neurons that fire constantly to operate the matrix of motives, memories, experiences, and desires. It automatically translates colors, body reactions, smells, what we touch, taste buds, etc.
All these things develop “personality traits”. For every conflict you face, this highly capable system is waiting to launch your thoughts with the overwhelming response of resolution. Ever see one of those medical charts of your anatomical composition? Wow. The combined blood vessels in your brain, called axons, are 100,000 miles long. They could circle the globe four times.
All this constitutes YOU. The greatest “super-computer” in the world can only do 2% of your brain capacity. There is no cord to plug in or button to push. No yearly maintenance required. The Father created us with these phenomenal capabilities to transit on our expressions with His glory. There is no greater joy than to express the privilege of reflecting His love and humor to the world.
The creativity and childlike imagination, suppressed in our conscience, has the capacity to render us answers to things we never before considered. How will you know, if you do not try? Such thinking is a gift waiting to be opened. Men never consider that God offers something unique and different. They think everybody and everything is the same. If you are different they will quickly accuse you of exclusivity “So, you think you are different?”. Absolutely. They find no answers because they give up before they even search. We were created to be utterly dependent upon God not men. Independence from God is dependence on sin.
Satan uses fear to drive men to trample the lines of courage. To surrender the edge and blur the line called love with lazy tolerance; to trespass the lines of patience, maturity and wisdom and enter the land of apathy, indifference and natural thinking. We must weigh out and determine the value we place on the propositions of sin leading to hell or on the dictates of our conscience leading to Christ. The fear of God is a boundary line intended to lead men into His “ancient boundaries” (Pr.9:10/Lk.12:5). The edge of a line is of high value because it establishes a clear contrast between delusion and reality. When a person justifies and rationalizes his ignorance to the conscience, he blurs the lines. He who loses the EDGE shall not know when he wanders into the place where he is lost and in danger of hell fire. The terrible reality is that such a man chooses to reflect the power of sin to God and thus exalt Satan on earth.
For those who don’t know, but might care, my family and I are preaching the living Jesus in southern Brazil. The Lord has wonderfully opened many doors of opportunity to use a concert we created to get into places we otherwise would not be invited in to “perform” (preach Jesus). It is actually remarkable.
In the prison described at the beginning, the guards led us into a patio of some 300 prisoners. I touched each man with no words in Portuguese but many with my eyes, heart and handshake. The head security major explained that at a prior time, a few prisoners had dismembered someone and threw the head into the courtyard. Hence the reason he had originally forbid us to enter this place, but we convinced him to give us a chance. Thus the reason for the heavily-armed guards.
They instantly took positions with their weapons aimed directly at the men. The tension and intimidation were obvious. Childlike trust was our position. We immediately went into the crowd passing out the 300 bags of popcorn that the girls had made the night before (one of the only things we can get in mass quantity that costs basically nothing but time and blesses the guys a lot). As Joshua told his “hilarious” jokes and Abraham did his “Charlie Chaplin” card tricks, the men slowly realized that we were not there as members of some “evangelical” do-gooders or social group. Just a crazy family with a noble plan.
As we began, the courtyard slowly filled with laughter, tears and most of all the beautiful response to the Word of the living Jesus. Sarah wrote a poem/play about the prodigal son that is very powerful. No one would imagine how Ruth, despite a steel rod and 4 screws in her leg, does an Irish step-dance (think River Dance) that always wins a rowdy applause and the hearts of so many that have been through such tragedy. David and Joshua creatively thought of how to demonstrate the power of the will, as though it were a machine, through a costume and music (picture included below). The guys ate it up. Elizabeth has this beautiful story she tells about the ground for a seed to grow. She constructed the small model of a cell surrounded with barbed wire and bars out of cardboard as the ultimate soil.
So many stories. Marco is a man about my age put in a wheelchair from being shot in the spine. Your heart is slain by the lack of ability to do something for him. 10 years to go in this hell hole. A competitive humor lifted some men as they competed to show us their bullet holes and scars from operations. So many humble guys. So different from the states. One tiny-framed young man, who was from a town hundreds of miles away and never had his relatives visit, asked Joshua… “Is that your mom? Can I hug her?”. When Rachel came over, she just broke, and so did he. So many guys moved to tears just wanting to be held. So abandoned and forgotten. One black guy about 6’6 just wanted to give me a hug. These Brazilians are quite different than other Latins. One guy insisted I take his “Matte cup”. This is a coffee-like drink they take very seriously down here. I could go on ad-infinitum. We share with so many people in parks, soccer games, downtown city streets and festival kind of settings.
The Director took Abraham and I into a dungeon-like basement where pits were full of waste and the cells were worse than any dog cage I’ve seen. We offered our manual labor to lay some much needed sewer lines and he took us up on it. We will all be working on this for a while. It made me terrible sick after the first day but I just kept thinking they have to LIVE in this. Such things as this put something in your character and integrity that will serve my perspective for life.
Recently, while preaching in another prison, some guys asked “Are you from the 1st world?”. Not a question you’d ever expect. We are far out in the middle of nowhere. Everyone constantly asks “Why did you go out here?” The answer is not “Because we are so concerned” or “Because God told us”. It is simply the end result of the command “Go …” and “the wind blows…” (Mt.28:19/Jn.3:8). We ended up here as a result of Go…ing by our will and being blown by the Spirit.
In another prison, I stepped in a puddle while trying to reach up through the bars of a prison window to put a tract in each of the outstretched hands of five guys. I looked down and realized it was full of urine and waste. This prison has no drainage system. Sewage drains down the walls forming pools in the outside courtyard. The whole prison wreaks. The smell remains in your nose even after you leave. I realize this is a disgusting image but more disgusting is that this is the real life situation for men who could be your brother or father, being subjected to this for years on end. These men sit alone in a darkness that crushes their soul.
Tens of thousands of men are forced into cells so tiny that eight to ten guys have to sleep like pieces in a puzzle. Little water and little ventilation in 100-degree temperatures. No relief. No escape. No breath of fresh air. Incomprehensible. Prisoners of a war this world denies.
I seldom use the word miracle because in American culture a 30% discount at Wal-Mart is defined as a “miracle”. But we hope and believe it is God getting this meager family into so many hard-core prisons, city streets, and orphanages. There is no room for boasting or proud self-righteousness. We live by a clear edge of His love and courage. Below is Rachel sending up tracts in a milk carton to guys on the third floor.
I do not think that anyone who is a true Christian, and who has an abundance, could read this and not want to share in reaching people at the ends of the earth with Jesus. I am hoping for one day when such a person would read this and ask “How could I send something to help?” It’s never happened but I write this with a hope that it could. No “entanglement” necessary. It is awkward to write of the needs in doing such work but Paul repeatedly did the same (1 Cor.9:9/1 Tim.5:18). No man wants to be in such a difficult place but Jesus is worthy and these are the last days. We can not both work a job and preach the gospel around the world. However, my motive in writing this blog is not to get support. It is to teach and demonstrate the reality of living the gospel of Jesus Christ so someone might find true forgiveness in His blood and be rescued from eternity in hell. If you’d like to just correspond I could care less about your support. Please feel free to write and ask any questions. I do not bite.
“…not walking in craftiness or adulterating the Word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor.4:2).
Could there be a place, beyond the stars, where there is a real Someone waiting for you to seek His disclosure? Could you be wanted by the God of the universe? He is not ambivalent or neutral in His love for you and does not take into account all your floundering and failures (2 Cor.5:19). Jesus says the Father ‘RUNS out to meet you’(Lk.15:20). I don’t mean to be offensive, my friend, but the truth is that the way you see yourself right now is not at all the reality of your actual state. You are blinded to His love by your fear, rebellion and ignorance. Right now you have the ability to enact something so powerful it will change this moment, this day and your life.
I dare you. I challenge you. I beg you. Stop. Stop allowing Satan to play your life like a video game. Seize control. Unleash the power of your will against the unseen spirit pressuring you to look away and go on to something else. This is not from God but from a dark world within you. It is not unique to you but common in every man. I entreat you, face this anxiety head on. Stand as a brave soldier against a hostile army (Ps.3:6). The goal? Your own stillness of heart. Absolute inner silence with one Personon your lips…spoken slowly… deliberately… J e s u s. No little accomplishment. The answers to your present dilemma so close. The vigor to live at hand (Malachi 4:2). Impose your will. Refuse to conform to the “personality” dictated by a job and others around you. You are WANTED.
Be no one’s fool my friend. One life. One shot. One Spirit Who can rescue you…from you. Hell is not a lame possibility. Escape requires this kind of “work” (Jn.6:29). You don’t need to go anywhere to do something. You need to release what you hold so tightly… and what holds you so tightly; yourself.
I write this letter to enter your home and your heart because I love you. I really do. I am not a “preacher”. My name is Michael and I am a son. I want so much to share beyond all the generic blab and “Christian” terminology. I want to talk with you, to you, in you, as a friend who cares to sit with you and help you learn how to sense the actual Presence of the living Jesus. This is all that matters. In all of life…this is all that matters. This is not a warm and fuzzy “transcendental nirvana”. This is the nitty gritty call of a blood and guts work by Someone Who bore the ultimate brute force. This is reality. This is freedom, freedom from “the world” is what I write in this blog (Jn.8:32-34).
My family and I arrived here in southern Brazil about three weeks ago. So different. So much need. So much lack of the gospel. We fully rely on the Spirit to empower us with all we so desperately need. Beyond our personal needs are those of the many we face as we “Go…” (Mk.16:15). We also hope, somehow, to find a reliable vehicle that is big enough to carry all 8 of us, our equipment, and many supplies, so we can effectively travel, not only throughout Brazil, but Paraguay, Bolivia etc… If anyone would care to help us it would be so great. Just drop a note and we’ll let you know how. It is so humbling and motivating to experience the amazing mercies of the Father for the lost. Just amazing. We feel at times like the bread which He broke then gave to the multitudes.
God is opening so many doors into prisons. We are presently at the 2nd worst in Brazil. I was thinking the other day if you could set a prisoner free from a ten year sentence by serving one day in jail would you do so? What if you could free a thousand prisoners by one week of hard labor? You have no idea who they are or what they would do. Maybe they beat their children or could kill someone. You don’t know. Would you sacrifice your time, indeed your very blood, for the benefit of a complete stranger? Paul says maybe someone would sacrifice himself for a good man but “…while we were still sinners… Christ died for the ungodly” (Rm.5:6).
It is easy to think our love is some big deal. Nothing we can ever do will match the sacrificial essence of a 33 yr. old Carpenter sent to earth by His Father. Accurate perspective breeds humility. Jesus suffered, not a month of slave labor, not a few years in prison, not a week without food. He sustained a burning, hot desert for a month without food and water. His love actually sweat drops of blood. Jesus had no apartment. He carried no luggage. He was born in a barn and lived under the stars. He took care of 12 very stupid men. Most of which never understood Him.
Beyond this, and so much more, Jesus sacrificed the one thing that meant the most, His divine, intimate communion with His Father. On the cross, His eyes searched the heavens for His eternal Companion. He sacrificed everything He had as the very Son of God. Jesus bore the penalty of God’s wrath for our sin through a Roman crucifixion.
Understand The Past To Change Your Future.
He did all this for every single stranger He never met who would ever walk this earth. The ultimate moment of victory for Jesus was shared with no one on earth. He stood up, out of the ground, alone, in His new resurrection body. He got up from the dead in a remote and obscure desert graveyard, all alone. Imagine the Hollywood depiction of the undead bursting through as the grass and ground are unearthed. Well, this One was not a monster or beast from darkness. Jesus…the Morning Star.
All this so we could be freed from “the world”, here and now, and from being tormented in hell for eternity. …What is “the world”?In our day to day routine it is easy to gloss over the most mind-blowing reality in the universe; that all men hate God so much, we killed Him; while at the same time He loved us so much, it killed Him.
The greatest danger we face in life is not some scheme by Satan to unknowingly capture our soul. Rather, it is outcome of presumption; the erosion of the fear of God. “I already know all this” (Jn.8:32).
What in the world is “The World” and/rather/or Who In The World Is “The World”?
Paul says he received “something” notof this world (1 Cor.2:12). Maybe he discovered life on another planet. From where else would he have received “something” other than from someplace or someone in this world? My friend, in order to gain God’s light you must open, not just your mind, but your heart to another world. Jesus says “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn.18:36). There is nothing of God in this world. There is nothing of this world in God’s world. The two collided in Jesus on Calvary and the Lamb was found dead.
My friend, look beyond all the pretty songs, poetic words, and the religious guise of altruism. This world is not full of love but lies. The heart of the world is not for peace but for self. It was proven by what it did to ‘the Prince of Peace’. So vulnerable. So fragile. So innocent. The world is not some evil substance that fills the concrete mixture of buildings to cause high-level corruption. It is not in some TV or Hollywood image of evil.
The world resulted from Adam and Eve eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It scared God to the degree He had to frustrate man’s ability to communicate (Gen.11:7). This empire of sin now pulsates in you and I. We are “the world”. We are the hostile entity against God. We are sin and sinners. Jesus says “…the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.“ (1 Jn.2:16). The world of sin lurks within. Yet, despite this grievous truth, the Father and the Son have provided the work in which, in the stillness of time and soul, we can discover that we are WANTED.
Turning Yourself In – To The Authority
Oh, may we change how we talk of God. Both in our countenance and words, may we speak slowly and not in a pride of knowledge. We did not ascertain these things apart from Him. These are not matters of currency or furniture. We speak of Someone Who dwells on a high and holy place. Do we really know what we are talking about as we are talking about it? Do we really know Whom we are talking about as we are talking about Him? How can we be experts on One we killed?
Was there ever one time when you were very wrong about something you felt was very right? If there was one could there be another? This can be prevented by implementing a deliberate attitude of transparency. In the morning, we boast of our knowledge of God. Then later, in the same day, we resent Him for not doing what we think He should. When in fact He was just trying to teach and implant into us the humble attitude He Himself has (Phil.2:4ff). Our only hope is mortification. It produces the one thing God will not despise about us; “a broken and contrite heart” (Ps.51:19). Our only hope to “see” the Most High is to view Him from the lowest point we can put ourselves. Humility and a broken heart leave no trace of presumption. Without this disposition, the gift of sonship remains an abstract doctrine.
The obstacles of sin are not merely demonstrated in evil physical acts performed in society. The most hideous is seen in the meticulous nature of our own fascination with ourselves. It is self-deification. Pride is like an apparel for our ego. We are intrigued by our obsession with our world. We alone determine a destiny; sin. We can do what we want, when we want, how we want because we want; sin. Not one person can or will stop you. Free will is a Ft. Knox. Satan has fashioned sin with evil expertise to thoroughly corrupt the soul of man. He whispers the evil thoughts of a billion men from a thousand generations. He knows they work because he has seen them work. Evil works. In fact, it works way better than good because man is adept at evil. Lies and proud images fall instantly into place as if pieces into an age-old puzzle. A tiny smirk in one man reflects the unity and conformity with the worldwide conspiracy to defy God and do things your own way. Way to go Adam. Way to go MAN.
The ambiguity of sin is not an accident but an ingenious design. Thus, it leaves no excuse. So let me be clear in stating that behind such theological words as sin, ego, the soul and pride is any laymen’s understandable term of selfishness. Downright insensitive to anyone else’s needs but your own. Despite the caring-image-crap, you love yourself. Your life is a disaster because you are obsessed with yourself.
As unique as you think yourself to be, there are millions who share in the exact same struggles and deception. We all share the exact same body of sin and thus are all tied together as “the world”.
Immediately after Adam sinned God asked him (man);
“Where are you?”.
Man was out of place. Out of the place of absolute submission and obedience. This obviously was not a question of physical place because God knew Adam’s location. Adam had conspired with Satan to “relocate” himself into a world of his own; justified thoughts, rationalization, self-pity, defiance; “I am my own man”. Independence.
10,000 years ago Adam introduced us to the thinking process from hell. When Lucifer became Satan, the ultimate ego was born and in a divine microsecond, this archangel of light became dark and found himself cast down to earth. Hell was created as his eternal home of destiny and he busily went to work to subvert man away from the Creator.
Adam immediately received access to the most wicked thoughts that you and I are thinking this very moment. Satan manipulates our feelings and thoughts through the conduit of sin. We conspired with him back then and do so every time we side against faith in Jesus. He has successfully built another variation of hell within our very soul and thus, within every culture of mankind.
The common expression “I’m going through hell today” is actually a very accurate statement. I “go through hell” every day. This is why we are vexed by, and don’t know how to deal with, ourselves. We do not define ourselves as “the world” because it rubs our self-righteousness the wrong way. We are not like “them”. In this very thought, we are exactly “them”. We are “caught off guard” by something within us that if we refuse to recognize, we will continue to walk as “the world”.
Imagine a soldier who parachutes into the heart of enemy territory but doesn’t know it. He is shocked by coming into hostile places he thought would be safe. When you don’t understand that you don’t understand sin, you think you are living beyond it and it is this very thought, of pride, that shows it’s “secrecy”. You are trying to resolve something within you that is far beyond you. It is called “the mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thess.2:7). In all his brilliance, Paul could never understand sin (Rm.7:15). Jesus says the essence of sin is “they hated Me without reason” (Jn. 15:25). We live against God, in conspiracy with all men, because insanity is the essence of sin (Ecc.9:3).
The body in which you live is completely against you. It is your “world”. It is the “place” out of which you try to manage your life. You have not identified it as your enemy, so you treat as your friend. The very attitudes of hell pulsate in your soul. It is inescapable. I can’t stand living with myself. I hate myself (Jn.12:25). I discern and divide between my soul and my God-given regenerate spirit in Christ (Heb.4:12). Salvation doesn’t make me jump around like a happy bunny. It sobers me to realize the immense conflict I face and teaches me how to live by faith in the finished work of Jesus.
You and I can not fathom what it must have been like for Adam when his blissful God-consciousness was snuffed out by the petty and nit-picky, sick self-consciousness of rebellion and self-obsession. A consequence he never expected. Jesus says Satan is the master at lying (Jn.8:44). Basically everything you think -is a lie. Everything. A lie is not a singular notion but the end result of thousands of half-truths, exaggerations, misunderstanding, over-reactions, etc. The only way to reach beyond your world of lies is faith and action based on revelation of His Kingdom.
Men are terrified to be ALONE with this monster called SELF. We work in the worst prisons in this world and deal with thousands of men whose prison is even worse than the one in which they sleep. Isolation is a form of punishment and torture in prisons and war. Man does not know how to deal with himself. He can not escape his maddening thoughts and feelings. His spirit cries for a love he does not know. He cannot control his impulses because they are fueled by the supernatural powers of Satan, while he is a mere frail human. It is hell within. Literally.
Listen to me, my friend, it would be one thing if these things I write were common knowledge. They are not. They are “hidden” from the wise and only revealed to “the babes” (Mt.11:25). Written in the code of sin is the bizarre conspiracy of the world to defy the evil of sin and trivialize it, as though covered by a prayer or feelings of sorrow.
You are dealing with things far beyond your capacity to resolve. The wicked things you see within yourself are not proof of who you are, but of who Satan is. Once you come to Christ, Paul explains sin becomes an isolated entity(Rm.7:20). You have been crucified with Christ, thus, in a sense, you become a third party to what you once were. Yet in order for this reality to be your reality you must first recognize that you are now but a maggot; worthless as a tumbleweed ( Job 25:6 ). This will bring you to the humility needed for a new creation within. A new world. God’s world. Satan tells you that you are alone with your “personality traits” and evil tendencies of sin. So you hide, rationalize and deny them. As if God doesn’t see them.
We are trained from birth to go along with this narrative of the world within.They are attitudes coming into us through the pipeline of hell. Hell comes out of us because hell is within us. You must see this. You must define the monster within. Satan has stolen our greatest gift from God, free will. God is waiting to empower our will with the unction of His grace through true understanding of how the gospel works. We are seduced by the world into a laziness and comfort, so as not to unearth the power of our free will. So that what we define as “living” is really nothing more than acting.
The way OUT of the world
I don’t believe “something good is going to happen to me today”. I believe something good has already happened for me every day. I don’t believe tomorrow is going to be better than today. I believe what He already did will enable me to face tomorrow. I don’t believe I can be all that I can be. I believe I am nothing and anything I become will be produced by His Spirit. If I am nothing, He will be Whom He is in me. If I were to believe any of this “positive thinking” crap, I would fall for the grand old lies within this disgusting body of mine. I would live on the roller coaster of feelings and emotions, not on faith in the past work of Christ.
What I think in daily life was determined long ago. There is one past event by which everything I live each day is subject. Wacko thoughts, whether upbeat or downbeat, do not define my disposition. I believe the Word of God provides both the picture I am to paint and the paint with which to paint it. The reality and the power. I believe in one thing and one thing only; the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything I experience is subject to what His work means. My faith in the past renders my present and future already complete. I am a mechanical “robot” programmed to believe Jesus.
I don’t live according to my world. I live in His. This doesn’t mean I don’t exist in my world but I understand it. I live by faith, that the living Person of Jesus bore this exact body, mind, soul, feelings and thinking of mine. He took it to the cross to bear the Father’s fierce wrath. When He did so, it forever condemned the existence of my body on this earth. I can not, nor will I try to, make myself better. Any finger of effort would be to deny the entire revelation of the Word of God. “May it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal.6:14). I was crucified in the past. I died long ago.
Thus, nothing I experience in this body of sin and hell determines anything today. Jesus rose up from the death of our world, in a new resurrected Spirit-body. Although I’ve never seen it or had any “heavenly visitation” where “God told me” anything, I know what I live is real because I live far greater and far beyond my body of flesh. The life I live could not possibly be out of the power of my wickedness. There is no way I could ever live the way I do, if He were not real. I would never choose humiliation over pride. Never. I could never think of the things I think of, never (1Cor.2:9).
I don’t have wings. I can not float. (Not even in water, LOL.) What I do is to believe beyond myself to what Jesus did 2000 years ago. My spirituality is not determined by what I do or by what happens or doesn’t happen in a day or in a situation. It was determined 40 years ago at the University of Notre Dame when I decided to believe and follow Jesus.
My life is not determined by “my world” but by the teachings of Jesus, as He defines reality. No matter how real my thoughts and feelings may seem and what they may tell me, when I believe in the light from God’s Word, I am lifted by faith into another realm. What He has long ago spoken instantly pushes all the buttons of reality within me.
The war of the worlds was fought within the human body and has already been won by Jesus. Therefore, I live as a victor, not as a victim. I choose not to whine and moan but rejoice that my name is written in the Book of Life. I triumph over, rather than succumb to, the world of hell within. When I fall, I instantly rise because, in His world, I have never fallen (1 Jn.3:9). My sin is as the blink of an eye, because such confidence in His finished work is the greatest praise I can offer. My Father sees me under the blood of His Son.
When Jesus arrived on earth, He took the idea of “the world”, out of it’s positive context, and redefined it in His light, as inseparable from condemnation, judgment and ultimately hell. What had always been used as a generic term referring to the great accomplishments of men, was now exposed as the most evil hostile entity against God.
In speaking of the world as the place of all men, He says “Light has come into the world and men love darkness” (Jn.3:19) and “The world hates Me because I testify that it’s deeds are evil” (Jn.7:7). He is talking about us, mankind. In our world of hell, we hate God, because His light exposes us as so far from Him. We are faced with our free will to choose. Believe or pretend.
In the world of our sin, we feel resentment towards God for what we think we deserve. We are frustrated in our putrid, shallow existence. Jesus confronted the conscience of the world. His Supreme Authority over this world resonated, and resonates, within the conscience of our own individual world. In Jesus, an entirely new dimension had dawned upon the world, with the truth that “The Norm” of man’s existence (our individual existence) is absolutely abnormal to God. Everything we do, and anything we do, in this world is not only absolutely vain but wicked. There is no meaning, whatsoever, in any facet of this world. It is only to be condemned. Everything about men is essentially bizarre.
The transformation of His light is our only hope of becoming “normal”. He is our only hope to find the destiny of redemption. The world of sin is in our blood, atoms and molecules. It is a smirk with no explanation. It is the vain gazing in a mirror. It is as slight as a twitch of lust. It is the anger or jealousy right below the surface of our disguised pretense. It is in the gluttony we call overeating. It is the source and strength of every self-serving tendency. It killed Jesus 2000 years ago and resents Him in anyone in whom He lives today.
A homely looking Carpenter walked our streets and explained how His mere presence on earth meant “judgment is upon the world….now the ruler ofthe world has been judged ” (Jn.12:31,16:8/1 Jn.5:19).
In a short three year period, Jesus designated all the realities and terms of our world as of no comparison to the One for Whom He stood. Satan immediately came out of hiding and, with all the powers of hell, manipulated the world to kill Jesus for giving us this revelation.
The two worlds collided in a place where two pieces of wood made a cross. One act of One Son forever altered the accountability of all men to reject the world. “If I be lifted up…” (Jn.12:32). Jesus says their accountability is now before them. Jesus explained that the body of God upon a cross would summon all men to this inescapable accountability in their conscience. Each man’s response to His act would define their eternity.
“If I had not come and spoken to them (about the world), they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin (to live for the world). He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘ They hated ME without A cause.” (Jn.15:18-25).
I was driving up to Central Mich. University for a summer football test. I had just met Jesus, a month earlier, while at a catholic charismatic conference at the University of Notre Dame. I was contemplating the deep things of becoming a disciple. I could have never imagined back then that one day my six children, Rachel and I would be standing before thousands for Jesus.
All that was on my mind was that I was about to see my old buddies who knew me only as “the crazy War” (A wild ‘party-down’ dude). How would they respond to my new-found decision to follow Jesus? I remember the exact moment of pulling into the parking space outside the stadium housing.
I stepped outside of my dad’s car and, as I saw my buddies approach, I simultaneously realized that I had stepped into a world of complete hostility and opposition. Little did I know of what I had done, in giving my life to Jesus.“If the world hates you, you know that – It Has Hated Me – before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of thisthe worldhates you (Jn.12:31,15:18ff). It wasn’t me they were hating. It was Jesus in my world.
There were no sirens, alarms or bells sounding over what was happening. I was just an ordinary man who had been called OUT of the world. It surely hit me hard. “They” came up laughing, swearing and joking expecting me to reciprocate their insanity. While I saw myself in each of them, I was no longer “them”. I knew exactly what they were thinking, because I shared in their world. I was “of” the world but now I was called “OUT of” the world. I was “born again” and as Jesus promises I could now “see” the kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3).
“Remember the word that I said to you, ‘ A slave is not greater than his master. ’ If they (the world)persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. (Jesus attaches no names, countries or skin color to “them”. “They” are we. Unless, you are called OUT of them. YOU are either “them” or hated by “them”.) “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” (Jn.15:20).
All the generations of man, though they had never met together, responded to me out of the same conspiracy to hate God “without a reason” (Jn.15:25). My naive mind was stunned. It was “without reason”. The world within me was devastated, but who I had now become was secure. I felt His pain and I rejoiced that it was now mine. It all meant so much. It meant that I was no longer of the world. I had received the “something” of which Paul spoke that was not of the spirit of this world. I was actually, not theoretically, in Christ. Just a few months earlier I was “the life of the party”. Now, I was the life of the Suffering Servant.
“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate… (isolation and solitude) And I will welcome you. (The magnificent Friend is the alternative to “their” “friendship” (Jn.15:15) And I will be a Father to you, (The vague usage of “God” becomes “Father”) And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” (2 Cor.6:14ff).
Our family: (from Right to left): Joshua – Ruth – Michael -Abraham – Rachel – David – Elizabeth – Sarah
Instantly all the “they’s” and “them’s” of whom Jesus warned stood before me. It could have been any college campus, city, state or country. And since then, it has been thousands and millions from over 50 countries, cities and nationalities all over the world.
**This might be a good place to take a break and then come back and keep reading. It’s a lot to take in, but it is well worth the time and concentration. – Joshua
Jesus says “In the world you will have tribulation but be of good courage I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33). Jesus promised “I go to prepare a place for you” (Jn.14:2). This “place” is the abode I express in these pages. Jesus promises “My Father and I will come to you and create an abode within you” (Jn.14:23).. Beyond the soul, the self, the world, the ego is the precious heart of Jesus. Catholics call it “the sacred heart of Jesus”. In response to the sinister choice of Adam, Jesus, as the second Adam, has a heart of selfless love for the Father. He offers this to us by faith.
When I met Jesus in the football stadium of Notre Dame, the first thing I did afterwards was to go to a place on campus called The Grotto. I lit a candle of thanksgiving and life commitment. Prayer is a process of individual calculation to deliberately articulate to the unseen Father certain words about certain things. It is not repeating a “sinner’s prayer” or anything written in a book by someone else. It is the individual expression born out of the heart of a son or daughter crying “Abba. Daddy” (Gal.4:6). Yet, prayer is not just that. There is a much deeper prayer from a “grotto”, an “abode” within, yet beyond this world. This was the entire purpose of Jesus. To create a place for us to fellowship with His Father.
As a catholic, I lit a candle as a prayer many times. It took years for God to break through my thick skull, so that I could understand that such an outward ritual was something I could do within. I could become a flame burning in my love for Jesus, despite my world of sin and death. This inner communion is as of “tongues” to the Son, to the Father. It is the mature response of surrender to Christ beyond my suffering. It is to “connect” at every, and in every, moment, that Jesus might be the beginning and the end of all that I do. It is realizing and rejoicing in His accomplishment of working His will into mine. Paul says to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thes.5:17/Rm.8:26). This is physiologically impossible with audible words. Clearly He is talking about a supernatural operation, because you have to care on the affairs of everyday human existence.
The sole purpose of prayer is not the happiness of your world. No matter how the world accuses Him, the Father is not compelled to prove His love. He has already done everything HE can do. God met extreme hatred with extreme love. The world has no excuse. You have no excuse.
Prayer is intended to build communion with the Father. This is your greatest need. Move your tongue and your mind will change and you will “see” things differently. This is your only need. Once you knowthe Father, you have everything. He calls you OUT of your world into eternal life here and now. Whatever thing you may be praying for, will come and go, but if you could draw moments of eternity using your moments in time, imagine the joy.
The Titanic was a gargantuan ship. Imagine what kind of machine would be required to raise it miles off the ocean floor. This is a small, insufficient picture of how our will and reason remain dormant. The weight of the world upon us is so horrible. It pressures us to fear being rejected by others, to conform, to give way to sin, to give up “What’s the use?”, to be full of anxiety and stress. The world is not ONE reason for despair. It is THE reason for our “hell”. So once we understand it, we can forget it and start doing what Jesus says, “Go into all the world” (Mt.28:19). We are made in the very image of God Almighty, with tremendous capacity to be creative, strong and loving. To bring our light of the gospel to those who have no light. We can sustain enormous opposition and accomplish great things in Jesus’ Name.
To the degree to which we are willing to deal with the truth is the degree to which God can help us, because He says “I will ask the Father, and He will give you the Helper… the Spirit of truth,whom the world cannot receive” (Jn.14:16) .
Most people think if they want help, they have to pray for it. They wait and wait and wait for that “something” that never comes. They don’t think to think that it has already come. They must simply believe in the past. Or people think they have to change this and that and do a lot of other things BEFORE they get serious. These are exactly the lies of Satan to prevent immediate repentance. The Holy Spirit is not earned by prayer or change of lifestyle. No one can draw a picture of faith. It appears at a moment of action. It automatically triggers grace. It requires no journey of self-purification or time, not a second or a month, for you to think about it or ‘get things right’. Everything is done.
To know the character of the Father’s love is the supernatural lifting “machine”. God does not deal with you according to your sin but according to His vast accomplishment in Christ. He rejoices “It is finished” (2 Cor.5:19). What if the Father’s response to your prayers is at a far deeper level than you are willing to see?
God’s compassion will never be triggered by your self-pity. God does not feel sorry for us, in our rebellious world of sin. Our father Adam didn’t reject God by accident or mistake. So his code of defiance is reflected in our nature of response to God. We are defiant. Self-pity is not innocent. It is defiance to the work of Jesus. Sin is a calculated choice against conscience, revelation and free will. It is the choice to reject what is right and choose evil (Jn.5:20).
God’s compassion is based on His hope that if any man will see His glory, and grasp what He did, that man will conform, submit, obey and change. When Jesus taught the apostles to pray, He was not giving them a formula of prayer. Jesus does not say this is “what” to pray, but this is how and the way to pray (Mt.6:9). Jesus was giving men a divineperspective. We need to see things as God sees them. Beyond our minuscule world of selfishness is reality and truth as God reveals. The reality of our situation does not exist within us, or around us, but beyond us.
It is not what we think or see that should shape our desires and prayer, but rather what Jesus reveals. We are in a tragic state about to fall into eternal hell fire. The worst thing we can do is to “pray” contrary to the will of God. Behold God as Father, with the perspective of HIS realities.
This world is not waiting for condemnation. It is condemned. We need to get out of it and it is not going to happen if we are fixed on praying self-seeking prayers that only further breed our life of self-centered “happiness”.
The purpose of your struggles is to solidify your resolve. To prove what, rather Whom, you truly desire. I have talked with many people who cry over their plight. I understand the sorrows we must bear. It can be a good thing to cry like a child. I have done so in times of unbearable sadness. But in our crying, we must cry out to Him and not in a pouting tone of pity over ourselves.
We must stop the “praying” for what you think you need and decide to respond to how God has already met your needs. The frequencies of a right spirit are those joined with the song of the Lamb. Everything, everything, everything is about eternal life.
THE POWER FOR SUCCESS
”Having begun by the Spirit” (Gal.3:1ff).
The secret power for the success of any endeavor is your degree of will.
The formula for frustration is to follow Jesus without Jesus. Knowledge has no “living” power.
Knowledge has no voice of comfort and counsel. It is theory. Salvation can only begin when begun by the Person of the Holy Spirit; “having begun by the Spirit”. If it is God Who starts something, then it is God Who will complete it. Salvation is not a work you can begin, because it is not a work you can finish (Phil.1:6, 2:13/Jn.6:44-45). If it does not begin “by the Spirit”, it will never result in the Spirit. If you do not begin by the Spirit you will never learn how “It is finished” before you began (Jn.19:30/Rm.8:13/Gal.3:3).
The only way to do something that YOU can’t do is to be moved by something greater than you. Faith is understanding that you will never understand. Faith requires a nothing that is quite something. It is not just beyond you. It is in spite of you. It is the confident surrender to a promised outcome.
So often the world responds to the gospel as something so complicated they just can’t understand it. I have known people who go on for years and years without repentance because, they say, they just don’t get it. “How can I become new through an event in past history?” To me it is all so simple. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone chooses their response. We are not a plant. We are made in the image of God with logic, reason, love, truth, kindness, etc. God did not leave us to function with instincts as an animal but with everything we need to understand salvation.
The world uses it’s capacity to explain highly complex things like atomic fission as a process of splitting the nucleus of the atom. The result is a transmutation into two particles. Big words but not that complicated. A man can accept the complex ideas of nuclear fission, but say salvation doesn’t make sense. Jesus, as the second Adam, interposes His risen Spirit upon our fallen adamic soul to generate a life giving spirit (1Cor.15:45). Simple. So the issue is not a lack of intelligence but a desire to understand. Regeneration causes the “transmutation” of two entities; the soul and the spirit (Romans 7/Heb.4:12/1 Cor.15:45/Jn.4:24/Jn.3:3). Simple.
Scientists are all “ga-ga, goo-goo” over “the God particle” (Higgs Boson); an inexplicable explosion of undefinable, insurmountable energy which gives mass to matter. So what do you do with the history of one Man who rose up from being dead and offers eternal life? My friend, this is all about eternal life. When I decided to seek Jesus I interpreted my natural circumstances of isolation as the chance to repent. Interpret your circumstances as your chance to change.
I remember when my life had become one huge struggle. I wondered if God existed. Why didn’t He help me? I felt so alone. Could I ever escape the burden of my own life. Slowly, the composition of my free will began to materialize. I could DO SOMETHING about my life. What I DID mattered. My desire grew. Little did I ever expect that as the Father raised His Son so was He about to use this same power to raise my “Titanic”. When you are passive and lethargic God seems distant. Faith is action. It is the only road on which God travels.
I wondered if there was like one big thought about God that could help me figure it all out. Something where I did not need a spiritual experience or to see a vision of angels. Was there something very obvious and sure that could be known about God if I were to believe Him? He was just like so distant. Then one day I remember reading Exodus 34:6.
“And God passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” Moses had no clue to God and God gave him the ultimate revelation.
I chose to believe this. This answers my questions. God is good. The Shepherd is good. I CAN trust Him with my life. He has no hidden agenda of hurting me.
Who are YOU?
Salvation does not occur by God waving a “magic wand” over a man. It is an engagement in a two-way relationship or it is nothing. Paul says “work out your salvation in fear and trembling because it is God Who is at work in you” (Phil.2:12). He has heard your prayers and tried to use your struggles to draw you to Himself. It is you who are caught up in the world.
The “Christians” of today think that God should feel for them if they don’t have what they want. They want the Father to make their own life better according to what they say they need. This, my friend, is crazy lazy. Our problem in everything we deal with IS NOT what we think it is. It is our selfish world within. “ But your sins have made a separation between you and your God….”(Is.59:2). Jesus says to deny yourself and care about the needs of others. This is His answer.
Sin has rendered us as sleeping giants. We are deceived to our own accountability. Unless we awaken our potential, we will go to the grave like billions who have never tapped the latent power of the will. They never engaged the Father.
What if God allows you to think you are left alone in your suffering for a supreme reason? What if dealing with this thinking brings you to a realization you need? You need to see the person who lies within you rather than the person you CLAIM to be. It really means nothing to say you love God and will do this and that, when you live in a nice, comfortable world. Your inner true person goes unchallenged.
God knew exactly what Abraham would do when He told him to sacrifice Isaac. It was Abraham who did not yet know himself. Abraham came to see himself only when he faced his suffering. He was left alone to see what he really wanted in life.
The silence of God can seem excruciating, until you gain perspective on His revelation. His goal is to save you, no matter what. Your life here and now is the only thing God has to test every fiber that makes you, you. Will you rise up in individual faith in God? Will you insist that the death of Jesus is not enough? That you deserve “something” from this world?
When I gave my life to Jesus, I told God that if this commitment does not involve any spiritual experience, I will just follow Jesus out of my own strength. I determined He is worthy. I’ve never seen any visions of angels. Never been “slain in the Spirit”. Just get up every morning and love the Lord. Never could I have imagined that out of my seed could grow a tree and a place for the birds to sing (Matt. 13:32/Jn.12:25). It is nothing less than marvelous.
Yet times without number I have wondered “Where are You, Oh Father? Why won’t you answer me?”. In the silence and obscurity of severe storms the little seed is sending massive roots into the soil. Such is the outcome of relationship. There are times when I am desperate in begging God to do something, but absolutely nothing seems to happen. It is at these times when my roots keep me secure in faith.
This one issue of “unanswered prayer” is the main reason the world answers “Where are you, Adam?” with “Where are YOU, God?”.
Our world questions His love and existence, because He does not do what we think He should. The natural outcome of “unanswered prayer” is an atrophy of “faith” into despondency. We lapse into self-pity. What does anything matter if God doesn’t hear you? You are all alone. Our world says “God doesn’t care”. This is the same narrative from hell. Few will ever admit it, but gradually this “praying” undermines sincerity and turns a “Christian” life into a facade. On the outside you maintain a “confession”, but inside you’re going through hell.
A guy we know from Argentina typifies the world. He told us how his little girl was sick. He prayed and prayed for her to get better, but she did not. He gave up on God and is now filled with bitterness, as he blames God. God was trying to draw this man to Himself in testing the man’s character. If he would have ever conceded to God, God would have given Him an understanding that he never imagined.
This is not praying to GOD. This is merely expressing what we want to make our world happy. If we don’t get it, then we get angry. God is not a man who bases His response to us on our reasoning (Is.55:9ff/Rm.8:7). Satan wants nothing more than to advance the conspiracy to accuse and defy the Father. He has established this narrative of “prayer” in our world.
God is not a Genie in a bottle. He is not a divine “Make-a-wish” foundation. God is a Father. He is not obligated to us because our thinking tells us so. Jesus used the expression “Father” 184 times. The Father is so extraordinary, that just the memory of Him carried Jesus through His agonizing visit to earth(Jn. 13:3). Jesus was enthralled with the Father; “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was” (Jn.17:5). Our prayer must be rooted in a faith that the Father is Who Jesus revealed Him to be.
Existential suffering scrubs us down to the bone.King David says God searches our heart (Ps.139:23/Prov.20:30). One time, when we were on a boat, I had to swim down to set the anchor. It concerned me how this relatively small thing was our security in a storm. Tiny unseen motives are the anchor of our life. Each time you suffer, you swim down to see your anchor. It determines how you sleep at night.
Paul explained exactly what motivated him (motives). He was not trying to show everyone that he was a good Christian. He said:
“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing (not “accepting”) Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that (1)I may gain Christ, and (2) I may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that (3)I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; (These 3 things required) in order that (4) I may attain to the resurrection from the dead”. (Phil.3:7ff).
Change may sound like a gargantuan work, but in one quick tick of time Paul left the world. The distance between the saddle and the ground upon which he fell was maybe five feet. In this small space, Paul was raised from the deep. He had no time to pray, get rid of any sin, clean up his act, do any “good deeds”, obey any Laws or attend any Sunday service.
Such a salvation would not register with the evangelicals, but all that God wanted from Paul was Paul. Paul saw himself. All he ever really wanted in life was God. This is what God wants you to see, or not see, in His “answer” to your “prayers”. He wants you to see who you are, so that you can do what you want. Paul stood up from the ground but never again stood up for the world.
Could it be possible that you do not know the very thing; the very One Who provides the very thing you do not know you are seeking? What do you do when you have absolutely nothing and God seems far away? Whatever you do, this is who you are.. this is what you truly want.
Louis Armstrong wrote the famous song “What A Wonderful World”. Back in the 80’s everyone considered the song “We Are The World” a great unifying force. The term “the world” is not harmless. It slaughtered the Son, devastated the Father and necessitated the creation of hell. To understand the unseen powers is to bring clarity into your life.
Jesus translated every word of every language into one word; SIN. Every word and every action by every man, every day, everywhere is SIN. After the fall from his horse, Paul never again sought place in the world; “all things are but rubbish”. He never sought it’s acceptance. Never identified with it’s definitions of morality or thinking of righteousness. Paul lived outside himself. He lived in Christ (Gal.2:2).
Beyond all our sin is the debilitating loneliness you and I feel in our bed at night, as though it were some physical pain. It is rooted in our adamic nature incurred by the sin of Adam. This one feeling of isolation is the single most reason for all other sin. The depths of our heart cries out 24/7 for this one thing Adam lost in the fall, which we desperately need but can never supply; the love of an intimately personal Father. The love of our Creator God is waiting in Jesus to bring you into His family, in His love to be reconciled back to His Father. To this my friend I tell again that you are WANTED.
Jn.17:6ff-“ I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer in the world (He was standing on earth.); and yet they themselves are in the world…”.
I clearly remember in First Grade when Sister Marie Catherine took us to the library for the very first time. She told us to search for any book about our favorite subject. Some kids got books on fishing, cats or rivers. My eyes scanned the shelves until I found my book. I was so excited until I showed it everyone and they all laughed. The title was simply “Mommies Are For Loving”. I thought this book would give me a new way to love my mother, but they saw only my simplicity. I actually remember a deep sadness in my little mind because in that moment, I realized I could never say or be who I really was.
My point, however, is that each of us clearly reveals our true passion in life by the things we choose. On what do you spend your time, emotion, thoughts and money? These days, so many claim to be a Christian. They think it depends on what they “confess”, how many Bible verses they know or whether they prayed a “sinner’s prayer”. The truth is, as Jesus says, “where your treasure is there is your heart” (Mt.6:21/Phil.3:9/1 Tim.1:15).
I couldn’t hide my love for my mother. When she died of cancer, so did I. I had always been, like Jacob, a “momma’s boy” (Gen.25:28,27). (Such a confession shatters the hard-guy-macho image I ultimately developed to hide my heart.) But when I was twenty years old, I chose another book, that once again triggered the mockery of my contemporaries. This time, I did not hide the passion of my heart for God’s Word. I choose to live in Jesus and make contact with the lost. This is the ultimate story a man can read and live. It is not proven by words you speak but by the things you do. You can not overestimate the power found in being resolute.
Rachel and I were on the corner of Market and 12th St. in downtown Philadelphia during the days of the Pope’s visit. We were sharing with a guy named Ray who had just gotten out of jail after eleven years. He was trying to figure out how he could possibly get a job and was at his end. Another woman was not able to pay her rent and that very morning was forced onto the streets. She was shaken and devastated.
We couldn’t meet their material needs but we could contact them with the love of God we know they need. To make personal contact from our world into theirs with Christ. It is absolutely amazing what one human can do to help another, without spending a penny. Of all the things you think you are looking for, or that you need, I can tell you, without a doubt, that this thing of helping others in Jesus, is the thing that will answer your everything.
This “Christian” culture requires far more than typical and generic gospel lingo. You’ve heard it a thousand times. So has everyone else. In order to breakthrough with an effective witness, there exists an exciting adventure of shattering our own barriers to discover a living Jesus Who gravitates to sinners and despises religiosity. To bring Him to them in a way they have never heard is palpitating but exhausting.
Sometimes we force ourselves to think as if we were aliens bringing a message from another planet. Indeed, behind today’s complacent “Christian” presumption is the reality that this gospel is a very “strange” message; An invisible Being became the most loving man but was crucified yet rose again to give us eternal life. Even God says “Who has believed this message?….” (Is.53:1).
We must change men’s response from “Ho hum” into “Oh wow”. We must work to create “new wine” that is not befitting old wineskins; “Been there done that” (Mk.2:22). To the majority, this involves ways they define as offensive because they cut against the grain of status quo Christianity, where comfort breeds hypocrisy. Christianity has set the world’s standard for what is “loving”, important and unmentionable and they are all wrong. Christianity does not offer revelation of the living Person of Jesus. It is thousands of doctrines of men that put Christ in a theological system as seen 1 hour on Sunday.
The love of Jesus within us offers a profound magnificence to others, if we are willing to expend our own individual, creative energy to tap it. Our downfall is not a laziness of physical exertion, or the fault of some evil seduction, but of unwillingness to reach deep and expend the spiritual energy from within our spiritual character. This act is true repentance. It is born of love from and to God.
True repentance starts with true love.
Replace a token gesture with the time necessary for genuine empathy. Don’t look away. Look towards. Choose to make eye contact. Personally deliver the gift of the Holy Spirit as He comes to you. Like never before, lay down your fears. That ultimate feeling you have been searching for “out there” is actually right here in front of you, right now in presence of another human. Teach yourself how to engage the face of a downcast soul. This may be his only moment to be touched by the Spirit; “Hey Buddy, how ya doin? You exist my friend. You matter. You are so important to God He died for you.”
You can say it with your words or start with a determined smile. No money needed. He doesn’t care what you say, just that you care. Go to your inner ‘bank’ and draw from those deposits you have long ago made. Enter the secret workshop of your own heart, so you can distribute your personal design. God sees in secret and will reward in secret (Jn.14:23/Mt.6:4).
Noah sent out the dove in hopes of finding rest. Send out your spirit and it too, will find a place. You will receive far more than you give. What you have been searching for will now be within. What has long sat within you unused is exactly what others are waiting for. Stop allowing yourself to prevent yourself. Jesus guarantees He will “send” you a promise. Think about it. How do you send a promise? It’s all about operating unseen stuff in an unseen world. It’s awesome. His promise is His Spirit to anyone, anytime, anywhere (Lk.24:49 ). Freely receive, freely give.
We are constantly told by the homeless how devastated and hopeless they become, because no one even looks at them. Can you spare a look? A few words? I always ask someone’s name and repeat it in the most sincere manner, because, really, how often does anyone hear their own name, spoken in a deliberately loving tone? You don’t have to save their soul. Just make it more open.
After a few hours of sharing the gospel, Rachel and I got back on our bicycles and started riding down the street. A couple blocks away, off on a sidewalk, we saw a young man stooped down giving to someone a hamburger. When we looked more closely, we were so blessed to realize that that young man was our son, Joshua. He gave us a bunch of hamburgers and we went off to a local park.
Earlier that morning, Abraham had contacted a number of fast food places and finally found a sweet woman manager at Wendy’s. She sold him and Joshua a hundred hamburgers for a dollar each with a coupon for a free drink. It’s amazing how God so often leads us to people who will help. So he bought a large cooler and filled it with the hamburgers and was pushing it on a dolly down the street. He had to laugh as this guy yells out “You’re not going to try to give me some weird food or talk to me about some weird cult are ya?”. They’ve seen it all.
As we made our way through a large crowd going to see the pope, one tall black man was just randomly walking through the crowds saying out loud at a conversation tone “Could anyone please help me? I’m starving!”. Rachel could barely hear him. “What did you say?” she asked. He repeated his request. He was so grateful someone heard and helped. What if we weren’t there?
In another part of town were our daughters. A mother of a family asked Ruth if she had any food. Ruth and the girls had made sandwiches, so she had a bunch. The lady had four children and a husband and was so grateful. Another lady was sleeping in her car and came to see the Pope searching for a spiritual experience but had nothing. She was so happy to get not only a measly little sandwich but the counsel of a loving wise woman.
Story after story after story I could tell of so many individuals lost, devastated and in great need. At the same time, there were so many rich people walking by, talking about the great teaching they had just received on “Helping The Homeless”.
This is quite funny, but Ruth always cracks me up with her anointed creativity. She told some of the homeless guys to go up to the people who were coming out of the Convention Center and ask them for help because she knew they were just getting out of the “Help the poor” teaching sessions and would be feeling guilty. One guy came back and said “It worked”. He was so grateful to Ruth because he got like 60 dollars. It was a fortune.
I watched two women just staring at Rachel as she was helping this one guy. It was as if they were marveling over some kind of magic she was performing. All she was doing was stooping down on her knees and talking to this guy. It was like “How do you do that?” There was a subtle, puzzled yet condescending smirk on their faces as if to say “I don’t have to do that…I can’t do that…can I?”. It’s not complicated. You can not fail. They’ll take anything. They could care less about your words. They have nothing. It takes no education or qualifications. It’s called HUNGER…and it’s not a game.
Making CONTACT with people in the Name of Jesus is the purpose of a true Christian. Tons of “Christians” on campuses tell us how frustrated they are trying to find God’s will for their lives. They want some kind of self-serving “special ministry”. The Scriptures lay it out very clearly; Jesus says “Go therefore (anywhere)…I was hungry…in prison…a stranger…etc.” (Mt.25:30,28:19). You will find your purpose, not in a specific place, but in a specific effort to love the unloved. When the world beats the hell out of you, it is only natural to think there is nothing to live for. You become aimless. You feel useless. Everybody lapses into some mode of self-pity; “Where are you God? Why don’t you help me?”. Use yourself to help yourself give yourself. Then you will see God.
Pretend you are a young person. Your whole life is before you. You haven’t been beaten up by the world. No dreams dashed or shattered. No tragic events. No physical ailments. No huge worries, burdens or fears. No shattered relationships. Your heart still intact, not broken. Your emotions are not all over the place. Not yet seen the worst of yourself. No disillusionment or cynicism. Fresh. Happy. Alive. Ready to live. Genuine and energetic anticipation boils in your blood.
I tell you, my friend, this is the disposition required for real change. Put aside all the past stuff and be a child. You can do it. If you want. The crazy imaginations in your mind are just that (2 Cor.10:3). Thoughts are not actual physical or material stuff that weighs you down. They are merely invisible lies that you can ignore. No matter how much an imagination haunts you, resist it’s effect on your behavior. Just keep on doing what you’re doing. Resist the devil. He will flee(Jm.4:7). Imaginations are like copper to sound waves. They block the frequencies of faith.
God says we do not know HOW to do good. It simply is not in our nature. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil.” (Jer.13:23). We fail a thousand times to change a thousand things. It’s par for our human course. Accordingly, Jesus says His forgiveness is without number (Mt.18:22). He knows how the sin of Adam separated us into a bizarre world that has us having to deal with problems way beyond our ability. Our sinful nature is simply too strong.
So, how then can Jesus command us to “Repent”(metanoia-change of mind-(Mk.1:14)? Would a loving God tell us to do something He Himself says we can not do? This would be quite cruel. And crazy. Obviously, something is missing. I mean, if God clearly says striving to obey the law is, not only useless, but wicked, then how in the world are we to change (Gal.2:16/Rm.3:20)?
Is it about TRYING?
God says “Cease striving…” (Ps.46:10 ) and “by the works of the law (trying to do what a law says) shall no flesh be justified (-do what is right- . Read Gal.2:16,17,3:11,3:24, 5:4). The answer of trying is what I was told growing up. “Well, I may not be perfect (wow what an admission!) but I try as hard as hell to be good” (now there’s something to look forward to. LOL). Sorry Charlie. The best of your strength is the stench of a putrid rag (Is.64:4). It’s not like you can produce divine molecules that enhance God’s existence. He needs nothing (Acts 17:25). Nothing. We have nothing but sin. The only point of trying is “Look at what Ican do”. Ok, Adam. We got it. It’s called self- righteousness. Ego. It’s what makes the world go round. It is a complete denial and rebellion to what God reveals in the Scriptures of our worthlessness.
No. Change is not wrought by trying. Being right is not something we can achieve. Never, never, never. There is a food. It doesn’t require a prescription. No doctor needed. Have you ever eaten humble pie? It’s delicious. The beginning of everything and anything begins with your end. Taste and see that what the Master Chef prepares is good (Ps.34:8). Truth sets us free (Jn.8:32). “I am wrong. I always have been wrong. I will always be wrong. I am wicked. I will always be wicked. I am a scoundrel.” Ah, now isn’t that delicious?
Change requires that you move two ways:
One;come to Him in broken transparent truth to findlight from Jesus. From the beginning Jesus says “COME TO ME” (Mt.11:27/Jn.5:39,6:37,7:37 etc.)
Two;goto those in great need to bring His love and light. At the end He commands “GO TO ALL THE WORLD” (Mt.28:19/Mk.16:15). When you know Jesus you serve Him (Jn.12:26).
How is it that Saul changed to Paul? He yielded to the Light and came to see how he had something only he could do for God. No one is just another soul. The world may know you by number but God knows you by name. Paul was the only one who could do something specific God wanted. He alone carried a massive love no one else carried. What is your name? _______ (your name here) has something no one else can give. Paul hated life and wanted to die. One thing made him want to live beyond himself; to help others (Phil.1:21ff).
Nothing else in the whole world can change you but these two things. Nothing. The spring of some passing “Christian” emotion or prayer service may cause a temporary change, but hard-core reality will smack you in the face and force you back to your old ways. Your life will be as common and miserable as everyone else’s. You can talk your head off about how much you know God or how different you are from the guy next door but what you do shows your passion.
“The kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rm.2:4).
“God demonstrates HIS OWN love in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us…the ungodly” (Rm.5:6-8)
“In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 Jn.4:10).
It is common sense for someone to have to show their excellence in order to get a reward. God did not use common sense. He used mercy and did things backwards based on the secret mystery of His mercy. If you want to know this marvel, it will not happen by trying to prove your excellence. Don’t focus on proving your strength. It’s like trying to quit smoking by trying to quit smoking. It’ll never work. The law kills (2 Cor.3:6/Rm.7:6).
You have to replace the passion. Focus solely, and only, and always on walking over to the stream, in your mind, sitting down and beholding the Lamb; the living Jesus. “Who are You Lord? Help me.” Learn and meditate on the revelation He has given of Himself in the Scriptures.
Consider His phenomenal mercy….not for you(as though you are the focus)….but rather because of Who He is. The demonstration of Himself in His love is to be our focus. I don’t mean to sound complicated or “out there”. I am simply explaining real answers that require real work (Jn.6:29). God. Who really is He? To get beyond your ordinary ways you must do extraordinary things that you do not ordinarily do. Jesus. Who really is He?
You see, people wrongly exegete the focus of John 3:16 as to be God so loved this world. Such thinking breeds an arrogant entitlement. The scholastic emphasis of this verse is not on this worldbut on the revelation that God is of such a nature and Character that He “SO LOVED…THAT HE GAVE”. It’s trying to explain that the nature of His mercy is essentially sacrificial.
The world is not a lovable little teddy bear whom Jesus could not resist dying for. The world shall be destroyed with fire. God cannot love evil (Hab.1:13/Is.6:3). His holy eyes are not on random sinners or their sin. Rather the Father beholds the Son and the Son beholds His Father in a perichoresis (dancing around-trinity) in the Holy Spirit of eternal love. God is such a Person Who did such a thing as giving His Son, out of His heavenly glory, knowing He would be tortured by us and for us. His purpose for us is to be caught up in this glory which is the full realization of all the attributes of God.
It’s like, imagine someone building a playground to show their love for a community. It is not for any particular person. Nor does it matter whether anyone plays on it. It is all about the character of the one who made an enormous investment so as to build a playground (or spaceship – see CONTACT below).
His eyes were full of sorrow. Now, they are full of fire. His face was marred more than any other, now, is like the sun (Is.53/Rev.1:16-18). He was the Lamb and now, the Lion (Jn.1:29/Rev.5:5).
Everything starts, and ends in, and with, and by, and for, the mystery of His holiness (Eph.1). He has demonstrated, in time and space, a message to mankind which we humans have defined as love but is so far, far, far beyond any human concept. It is “hesed” (Hebrew-unconditional mercy). It is a wonder. It is a miracle. It is a holy mystery of divine majesty. It is something we can only comprehend when we stop, when we are still and when we believe. The prodigal son chose such a moment of awakening, like a lightbulb coming on. In it, he pondered all the everything his father had and all the nothing he had. It motivated his heart to change his direction (Luke 15).
I can not imagine a life without Jesus and finding opportunities to help people in need. It is the spaceship that landed in my world of selfishness (see CONTACT below). All that I have come to know in Christoverwhelms my putrid little mind. My heart is constantly grieved by the hatred we bear from this world because it is not my heart. I am occupied by another Being (Gal.2:20). I am driven by His purpose. I have His vision.
People lie and say evil things about us but our sounding board is a homeless man. He doesn’t know or care about our rejection. If anything, our suffering helps us relate to him. They have no one to comfort them. They have no food. I have plenty. Persecution and loving others is the blessed proof that Jesus lives within (Jn.15:20/1 Jn.3:14 ). When I was lost, I did everything for myself and yet could never find myself. Now, I have lost myself in everything that is His (Jn.12:25).
Surely, I was not born this way. I was born again to be this way (Jn.3:3).
The other day I was at Kent State University and utterly depressed by the blasphemy, mockery, and filth. The very things that God has given to help a young person find their way to Him: i.e. a stable mind, a will, a heart, a conscience, health etc. are the very things they give to this world to be destroyed.
Insane and lawless teachings of evolution, self-love, anti-God, behavior modification, etc. corrupts them. Their “friends” use peer pressure to force them to conform. It destroys their individuality. The intense scrutiny to succeed by their parents causes them to give in to the ungodly thinking of the world that defiles their conscience.
The educational system turns men, who are created in the image of God, into godless monsters in a very short time (1Cor.3:19, 2Cor.4:4, Jm.3:14, 2Pet.2:12).
You and I can do something, my friend. We can help one young boy or girl. We can rescue a young person from hell. So many young, energetic 18-year-olds look to their parents for direction, but their parents are only looking in another direction, out for themselves. So they run off into the world and never come back the same. What happened to that young, innocent child? He is engulfed by the abyss of self-pride. Like a sheep led to slaughter his will becomes trained in hypocrisy and rationalizations. He hides his cry for love with an IMAGE, and no one knows or cares.
Today, the colleges and job market destroy young lives like war killing men. I have met so many young guys whose lives are destroyed because they married a contentious woman (Ecc.7:26/1 Pt. 3/1 Tim.2:9ff). Now their goal is to work, work, work. God did not make us to work. It is a curse of sin redeemed by the purpose of Christ Who became our curse (Gen.3:19/Jn.6:29/Gal.3:13).
“Success!” is nothing but a lie from hell that ends in the grave of regret and disillusionment. If anyone, with an ounce of truth, listens to the language of the common world, they are terrified and aghast. We hear and see every day this world is full of mental illness, alcoholism, and drug addiction. It’s not here and there. It’s everywhere.
The standard of normal that my generation knew is long gone. An insanity concocted in hell is the new normal and sign of these last days (Mt.24:12). No one can imagine the stories we could tell. Parents are going to answer on the day of judgment. They give so much of their everything to so much of nothing, while their children suffer in silence, hoping for nothing more than the attention of love, of which they are due but never receive.
Getting married and having a baby is what young people are told is happiness. Then, once this bubble pops, another disaster results. They repeat their parent’s cycle of loneliness, frustration, anger, misery and divorce. They do not understand, and simply cannot bear, the unseen forces in the air against them in these last days (Eph. 2:1,6:12).
If you were to do a study on crime and all the killings on college campuses, you would find that the history behind every perpetrator is a personal suffering from parental divorce, a breakup or some major rejection, and an unbearable burden. The strain, tension and evil that demons impose upon the vulnerable is nothing less than supernatural (Eph.2:2/6:12 2Cor.4:4). Humans are fragile. God says all of us are desperately “sick” (Jer.17:9/Ecc.9:3/Is.59:11). To activate this inner sickness only requires some outward trigger. I could write a book on all the bizarre things we’ve seen, heard and experienced over thirty years of ministering, thousands of times, at colleges here and abroad.
All men are closed to the gospel. So we work hard on pamphlets, signs and a heart of gentle love, creativity and truth of Jesus to get beyond the religious garbage offered by the false preachers of today. It is no little battle. How do you effectively fight with someone to give them what they desperately need but deny? How do you warn men about a system that they think is for them, while it destroys them? We have no love or wisdom within our flesh. Not one atom in our body is angelic or divine. We are as selfish as anyone.
This mercy comes only from focus on the fascinating reality of the gospel. To constantly go to the foundation of revelation. We love because His love is so profound. The answer to defy weariness and banality is childlike comprehension, contemplation, reexamination and reevaluation of the gospel. From this do we realize a compassion and burden so deep it controls us (2 Cor.5:14). Eight individual choices to change because we glory in the mercy of God as revealed in Jesus.
There have been many movies about aliens from outer space beaming a frequency into the atmosphere of the earth. The people in the movie are flabbergasted when they actually make CONTACT. Scientists scurry about and military generals plot a strategy over any possible threat. They fear military superiority could annihilate their existence. What might a superior being, from another galaxy sound like, look like or be like?
Well, my friends, it has happened. God has made CONTACT. He beamed His message from beyond the outer limits to mankind on this planet called earth. From a place beyond the stars and all human imagination, this Being sent a clear, lasting and concrete statement. This distant Being reached across all obstacles in every universe, because of His immense and deep desire to communicate one message to mankind: ‘hesed’. He spoke one word. The only living word “Jesus” (Jn.1:1). Can you say this Word? Can you live His Name?
*I hope anyone who reads this understands that I am not being weird by using the analogy of aliens etc. I am just using this verbiage to fully appreciate the wonder of the Incarnation.
This Being is called “GOD”. Tons of people claim they know Him. Really? You KNOW GOD?! Wow. Tell me about Him. I don’t want to hear doctrines. God is not faith, truth, the death and resurrection, the blood, the Bible, grace, etc. These are all things. God is God. He is a Person; a Father. You know Him? Really? You have met Him? People think that using a flowery and poetic Biblical language proves they know God.
Let me tell you that the frequencies of this Being actually materialized into HUMAN FORM. This Contact from another world came not as a doctrine, militant, politician, educator or ruler. He came as the ultimate Servant. God made human contact with man, as a Man, so that He Himself could both relate to and actually come within man. He offers to transform humans into His very likeness. How does this take place?
There is a “space machine”. It’s design and engineering is the most sophisticated ever seen by mankind. It dazzles the mind beyond hi-tech gadgetry. It is beyond any robot, computer or sci-fi machine. It has the power to transcend time and space. It reaches to the depths and heights of dimensions unknown to men. Paul says it killed him while turning him into a selfless person (Gal.2:20).
It is made from two pieces of wood. A tree cut down and crossed together, split asunder the atoms of one man. The arms of this man must be opened, spread wide open and locked into position… but not by His own doing. Two soldiers of a fierce human army did so forcefully. Using nails as the positioning tools. The man’s blood would now be used as the fuel to generate the activation of the cross. The human beings of this world imposed their will upon the Being of another world. The purpose would be annihilation of Him, because He embodied the worst of all mankind.
He was not made of titanium but flesh and blood. He did not travel through time but devoured time as a Lion does it’s prey. “Oh, death where is thy sting?”(1Cor.15:55). A rocket is not required but the nitty-gritty engagement of your will with the living God. The cross is the “space age” vehicle to transport a human man from this earth into the Presence of the Other Being (1Cor.1:18). A human man can now receive a divine nature (2 Pt.1:3/Rm.6:6). In order for contact between the two worlds to take place, the two worlds had to collide. The battlefield was the cross and a Lamb was found dead. This excruciating experience of horror would provide the contact through which human beings can actually LIVE FOREVER.
What a strange tale. I remember sharing the gospel with one of my Psychology professors in college. How God became man etc. He sat and listened. After I was done, I asked what he thought. He said it sounded like some story from a Marvel Comic Book series. God asks, “Who has believed this message? …” (Is.53:1). In this day and age of 40,000 denominations and common Christian reference, where is real proof of CONTACT?
God decided long ago He would make CONTACT with the human race, through His Son, with a very specific people; The Poor. The fall of Adam contaminated the human race with arrogance and pride. God knew His only hope was to focus on those who have nothing in this world but suffer greatly at this very moment. These are those with His greatest hope for contact because they do not have the comforts of this world, so they are more receptive to the coming of His world. Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn.18:36).
Jesus says “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me (Why Lord?),
Because the Lord has anointed me (For what reason Jesus?)
To bring good news to the poor (literal Hebrew afflicted);
He has sent me to bind upthe brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedomto prisoners; (Is.61:1ff).
Want to know God’s will for your life? Here it is in black and white.
The Invisible People
We often wonder why, despite the efforts we make to share our ministry, no one from multitudes of those who claim to be “Christians” have ever made any effort to support us. In the Book of Acts, the true church would sell their houses and possessions to help the gospel go to the poor (Acts 4:32ff). People worked for this sole purpose. The needs of suffering souls, that we could reach throughout the world, are enormous. It is not about us. We want no home, boat or 401k.
The reason is so very clear. The world fully recognizes “Christian” individuals, personalities, groups, concerts, meetings, rhetoric, good works, etc. as long as they agree to throw in their lot for the conspiracy against being real in Jesus (Pr.1:14). When you associate with invisible people, you become invisible. You drop out of the system. No more games; either secular or “Christian”. Your words become silent words, that no one hears, because of this thing called Real.
Some simply refuse to contact us because they fear we may confront their lives. They think that because they may have crossed our path before, it is the same today. One predestined thing that has come out of all the controversy we have faced over the years is a family with one agenda: MERCY. Suffering burns away dross.
The truth is we are extremely sensitive to each contact we make or that is made with us. We treat no one the same or according to previous relationship. Nor do we have some preset radical platform by which we process everyone. God treats us, not according to our past, but according to His future. Likewise, do we deal with others. We made a T-shirt that says
I AM NOBODY.
People say “You think you’re the only ones”. No. We have never thought this but who cares? Surely not the poor or homeless. We are actually quite grieved when we are told by prisoners or homeless “You’re the only ones who have ever done this for me”. If we are doing anything wrong, God will make it clear and anyone can go out and do it better. Even if we were “off” in some way, Paul says all that matters is that the gospel is being preached (Phil.1:14-18).
You surely don’t have to worry about too many people. The harvest is plentiful. There’s plenty of room in this world. But be ready. Because nobody cares about what you’re doing. If you embrace the cross it will make you invisible in this world, but be encouraged, you will become visible in His world.
Don’t waste any more time. Refuse to let Satan hold you back with his mickey-mouse lies. Start small and God will turn your mustard seed into a tree. It’s about passion. Enjoy a piece of Humble Pie. Love truth. Talk to Jesus with your own real words. Ask Him for light. Love the unlovable. Identify with the rejects, the ugly, the rebels. The guy who seems the hardest may be the most vulnerable. Don’t settle for who you have been. Become who you are not.
There’s still time. Don’t think about it. Just let it happen. If you pray, just a little, you get so much. Just be ready. Because GOD WILL do what you ask. Become the message; the gospel; His heart, the Father’s mission; contact human beings with God’s love, experience the perichoresis of the Father (Jn.17:26). Judgment is near.