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.
(SEE END OF ARTICLE FOR COMPLETION)
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 am thinking, 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: [email protected]
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.