I know I’ve been writing longer and deeper these last two blogs. Most prefer a quick read of “fun facts”. I understand. Who wants to read some long essay that demands serious focus? I can only say that for anyone who will do this it may really help you. It starts down further at A Wounded. I will try to return to the quicky version next time.
Winter is now starting here. A beautiful fresh snow fell quite heavily on the mountains last night. It is starting to get cold. We are considering leaving the mountains and going to where it will be warmer and easier to minister. The problem is that for every country we enter we require the cost of eight visas. God will lead us.
What are the chances that a family, doing what we do and being who we are in Christ, find themselves in the exact area in the world at the very time of a huge earthquake? Then, after leaving that town, hear of a huge fire consuming a city that is in the very area they can reach. Then finding a city teeming with people who respond as if they’ve never heard the gospel. It looks like we will be getting into three prisons and orphanages here.
As we arrived in the town with the fire there were hundreds of people walking about the city carrying shovels and covered in dirt and hard hats. We went directly to the area hardest hit by the fires. Our van could not make it up the steep climb so we went to the town center.
There were secular musicians performing in the ideal place with huge speakers. We prayed and just asked them if we could have a few hours. Their only condition was that we help raise some money for the victims of the fire to which we heartily agreed. They were grateful for the large crowd we gathered.
One big advantage for me, with six children, is being with young Americans wearing cool looking uniforms. ‘Despicable Me ‘ becomes ‘Cool Daddeo ‘. There ‘s always that initial EMP where the crowd suddenly realizes we love the Lord and that this is not a worldly event. Yet aside from those who come and go, the Lord gives us wisdom to ‘come in the back door ‘ so as not to spook the very people we are there to try to win. Jesus is the Master of creativity.
A man in that crowd, who was an entertainer in the city, came up and told us that he had direct access to the place that was housing many of the victims. It was a huge Catholic High School. He led us there when we were done downtown. We are not against Catholics, protestants or any one else. We are FOR the living Jesus. We can work with anyone. This took years for me to learn. Preaching Christ is about souls not my self-righteousness. Paul says he was “all things to all men” to win one. God gives us a wisdom that is neither compromise or abrasive confrontation. Jesus was Lord! The “houses” burned down were shacks on the side of a mountain. The ground and supplies are contaminated. They have NOTHING. Some are headed to live on the streets. An old woman in a wheel chair just grabbed my hand so tight as I told her how much God loved her. Her caretaker explained she was all alone. Her house burned to the ground as she barely escaped because of the wheel chair.
So many individuals on the cusp of a destiny headed down or up. A ray of hope for a new life in Christ can snatch them from the claws of despair. It’s not a hope to rebuild a house but a life in Jesus. “WHAT” can a mere family do for such a vast need? No sponsorship or group sending us clothes or money. Answer below.
Ok, multiple choice question for you here. Right after Jesus rose from the dead what was the very first thing Peter did:
1) Read a passage from the Scriptures,
2) Gather with others to eat then sleep
3) immediately go fishing?
Answer- John 21:3.
This dude, Peter, was no priest, certainly no pope. Jesus just rose from the dead! A poor fisherman focused on money. It is so encouraging to realize that the Spirit of Jesus can completely change a man in a mere 40 days. He did so with me in a month. The same guy who blew off the resurrection and denied Jesus now told someone “I do not possess silver or gold but what I do have I give to you…” (Acts 3:6). What is the “what“? The personal touch of love goes a long ways in sowing seeds of hope.
We always want to dig into our pockets when we see the homeless or the devastated. If we can, we do. However, just as giving money can enhance a witness in preaching Jesus, so too can it diminish the power of what the gospel truly offers a man. Peter had no money but “what” God had given him was of far more value. Do you have a “what”? What I have I give to you.
King David says “Oh Yahweh, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle (or ‘weapons’-Hebrew-nesheq)(Ps.140:7).
It was not as though God reached down out of heaven and literally equipped David. David was personally involved in the intimate process of a thing called LEARNING. He had to DO certain things for certain things to happen. Jesus says “Learn from Me…” (Mt.11:29). It is not enough for you to read this. It is not enough for you to know all this. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will change unless you move your will to practically try it.
What is the default of your mind? Where does your mind go when you are alone with your thoughts? What is your presence of mind? The common expression ‘Where ‘s your head at’? says it all. What if God has a far greater plan than to do what you think He should do for you? A perspective void of ETERNAL LIFE is not God ‘s perspective. So many times in my life I was absolutely convinced that something was God ‘s will but it never happened. Then, years later, I realized exactly “what” God was trying to give me.
What Satan uses to destroy you God can actually use to save you. It doesn’t just happen. Wishful thinking will get you nothing. I have been “wounded” numerous times. Multitudes suffer from, you could say a shot to the headbut will never experience God’s healing because they stop short of the will necessary to take on the helmet of salvation (Is.59:17/Col.2:2/Jn.17:3).
As a little peanut in third grade I was thrilled when I got special permission to leave the classroom and go across the street from my grade school St. Adalbert ‘s. I was receiving a piano lesson from a nun in the convent. Then, in the middle of the lesson another nun screamed for her to come quickly. She came back and told me that President Kennedy was near death and said I should go back to my class and tell the others.
I told everyone that President Kennedy was shot right in the heart so he was probably going to die. As I nervously stood in front of the class, I remember thinking, “I don ‘t really know this but, if the President was near death, he had to have been shot in the heart. Right?!”. Whoops. When I learned he was shot in the head, a serious dawning moment began to evolve in my little mind. It was not the heart but the head that was the most vulnerable. I just never thought of that before. To be shot in the head just made this tragedy far more tragic. It scared me. How could there be people who would deliberately do such a thing? This meant that the world in which I was preparing to live was inhabited by “monsters”, REAL monsters called men (Mt. 10:17/Is. 59:11).
THE “DAY OF BATTLE”
Imagine being shot in the head with a burning arrow. This is how the Scriptures describe Satan’s merciless assault on your mind (Eph.6:16). Now imagine standing strong wearing a shining helmet with the arrow at your feet. We have all heard about or seen on TV someone shot in the head. But we will never hear about all the multitudes shot in the head at a subconscious level.
This is what I am writing about here. Reflect, for a minute, back through your life. Recall a particular incident that devastated your life. It penetrated the mind so deeply the heart stopped living. The most scary thing about this is that you yourself do not even realize the depth of the consequences it has caused. You were one way before it and now another way after it. You will never remember who you used to be. This is no light matter my friend.
Your very personality is altered by something you never saw coming. You are in a battle for your soul. It can involve such complexity it is impossible to accurately define the how, what and why. You were shot in the past but that arrow can be burning in the present. It will prevent God’s destiny. It causes one to slowly spiral into a dark MOOD out of which you can not escape because you don’t realize what exactly causes it. It involves deep regret. It makes you despondent. People treat you as quite normal but in reality you are just “not there”. You merely “go through the motions”.
The sign a person has been wounded or shot in the head is an ever-present apathy and underlying attitude of bitterness, cynicism and self-pity. Beneath the smile on the face is the fallen countenance of inner disengagement. It is an ever-so-subtle look of grief. It is a sign of bad things present and worse things to come. Indifference lingers beneath a daily pretense. Genuine love is not to be found. Self is lord.
Your mind is like a seized engine. You look in the mirror and see someone who is like frozen in a block of ice called pain. You do not understand either why you do certain things or how to stop being the way you are. The arrow must be extinguished and dislodged. The imaginations controlled. The mind must be healed. It can happen. It MUST happen. This, my friend, is not weird. It is the norm. Trust me. There is a way to melt the ice.
Every one of us deals with some kind of shot to the head. But everyone responds differently. It could have been a divorce, a terrible mistake, physical injury or any one of a thousand things. It could have been something a person did or that was done to him. The consequences are the same. Day and night the mind is obsessed with personal fear and pain over your shot to the head. The mind becomes like an abandoned house haunted by loneliness and agonizing fears. It is so sad to sit alone knowing there is no one in the world who understands what you are dealing with. No one else will ever know. The world offers no help, no mercy. It is a “WHY ME?” that will rob the rest of your life. Imaginations are the daily diet.
Disappointment, failure, misunderstanding, false accusations,depression, drugs or booze, despair, perversion, cynicism, etc. can become chains to a personal abyss. Behind the smile, behind the eyes, behind the words is the inner place of the head. It is the target of God’s love because if it is transformed than you will be transformed (Rm.12:2,8:4-6).
The first piece of armor made by the Greeks in the seventeenth century B.C. was the helmet. No other part of the body demands such priority of protection. It is the center at which you process every single action in your life. The first thing Paul says is required to be a Christian, is “Take the helmet of salvation…” (Eph.6:17/Is.59:17/1 Thes.5:8). What does he mean? What really is “salvation”? Salvation is the only supernatural power that can heal the head and actually reverse negative consequences to your advantage (Rm.8:28). How seriously do you want to understand and “put on” the salvation that cost God His very Son?
When I was in seminary I heard all the theological arguments for and against whether a man can lose salvation. My answer was always the same “A man can ‘t lose what he never had”. This is not about condemnation but HOPE. You have something to look forward to. Something that you thought you already had, but reaped no real power from. When a person traces his “foundation” all the way down to the core of his being and finds any hint of insecurity he faces a challenge to his character. Will he live a lie or face the truth? As tragic as any realization of self-deception may be, as long as the clock ticks, there remains hope for repentance. It is the only hope to change your mind.
The issue is whether you are going to face it or fake it. DON’T TAKE THIS LIGHTLY. Whatever you do, the helmet of salvation is not something you should claim when a wound occupies your mind. Do not allow the light to become dark (Matt.6:23/Isaiah 5:20).
The only real notion of ‘losing one ‘s salvation ‘ is that on the way to the bank you are robbed of everything. In other words, as a man is in process of coming to Christ, he is never able to get to HIM because his shot to the head causes him to fall short (READ: Heb. 4:1,12:15/ Matt.13:20ff). So, though he equates, his partial knowledge of Christ with salvation, in reality, it was never enough to secure his soul for eternity. A bullet is lodged in the mind.
“THOU HAST ANOINTED MY HEAD” (Ps.23)
Healing starts in and comes from in Jesus (Is.53:1-5). He is the only One Who knows, understands and has proven how much He cares. He alone can equip you to think beyond yourself. He offers you His anointing of how to think. He promises “living water” (Jn.7:37ff). He can wash the brain because He was shot in the head and conquered every sin ever committed. A crown of thorns crushed his mind and He overcame a delirium of agony.
In that very hour Jesus said “Father forgive them they know not what they do…” (Lk.23:34). By this one sweeping epic event of the cross Jesus provided a healing of forgiveness that can reach to the depths of your mind. Of course, in one sense, you know what you are doing at any given sin. There is no escape from personal accountability. However, what Jesus is saying is that there is no possible way that you could have known ALL the implications of your sin. No way. For this He cries out for, and abundantly receives, a mercy from His Father that is more than adequate for anything. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb.13:8).
Many claim salvation yet the absence of profound joy over forgiveness is a red flag. The disposition is of someone who has been wounded. The helmet of salvation comes about as a result of the love a man has for God (1 Jn4:10). So if you do not have this love you have no helmet. An accurate and anointed understanding of what the blood of Christ means puts an END to all scars resulting from the world. An understanding of His redemption has long ago absolved all consequences of sin.
A sign of reality is understanding… IMAGINATIONS. Proud thoughts are the weapons of Satan (2 Cor.10:3-5). The specific situation that caused your wound is not the real issue. Although will Satan insists that it is. The real issue is all the inflammatory thoughts (“flaming arrows”) that burn as a result from the impact of the shot. Imaginations are meant to debilitate your will. So his ultimate goal is to dislodge your will from controlling your mind. If he can keep your life solely at a mental level Satan will maintain control. You will THINK you are what you THINK. But you are deceived. You must move your will.
Satan attacks the human mind 24/7 (Rev.12:10). There’s NO WAY you can ignore his impact. Whoever controls this one small faculty, about five and a half inches by five and a half inches, called the brain, will determine your future. Paul the apostle had such love for God it moved His will to find the key. He explains “take every thought captive…casting DOWN imaginations” (2 Cor.10:3-5). This is impossible without the Holy Spirit. No one is ever going to stop your madness but God wants to give YOU the love to do so.
Thoughts may seem unstoppable but every action is a choice. A computer is made to be a passive conduit. A man is remade to animate a love for God. Faith is the proof of this love. It works through love (Eph.5:6). It is the shield created to extinguish the flaming arrows (Eph.6:16).
You must find reasons to believe God. The Scriptures are full of them. The first two I found, which I built as my cornerstone forty years ago, were that God IS and that He is GOOD (Ex.3:14,34:6/HEb.11:6). The thought that “Oh ya. I already know that and I love Him” is not from God but Satan. It is a flaming arrow. Why? Because it is coated with presumption not humility. It is FROM hell and will take you there. If you don ‘t know God you will not truly serve Him. So this is where you start.
You may have seen the report on 60 MINUTES about a man in the Israeli Mossad who wrote a book called GOLIATH. In it he scientifically documents how the rock which David slew at Goliath from his sling had the impact as if he fired a 357 magnum. What this guy doesn’t understand is that the real source of that impact was not scientific trajectory or physics. It was the impact of David ‘s love for God (1 Sam.13:14/Psalms).
Surely Goliath wore a helmet. But David wore a love. His strength was in that He KNEW GOD. The real impact of salvation is meant to be powered by a will in love with God. There is no power from obligation or pretense. It ‘s all about IMPACT. How much sheer force do you have at your disposal? Does your life reflect defense or offense? David cut off Goliath’s head. Each of us has a Goliath within that must be slain by the impact of God’s love. True humility will absolutely blow you away. It is not passive. It is the decision to believe God loves you, period!
Many people think, deep down, they have committed an unforgivable sin. However, this attitude does not merit pity. In a bizarre way their pride holds on to this suffering as their one ‘claim to fame ‘ (?!). As if it ‘s going to hold water when they stand alone before God. As if it was His fault they were not strong enough. God does not want your strength but your weakness. He will merely point to what His Son did on the cross so you could have forgiveness for; “all sin ” for “all time” (Heb. 10: 10,14).
God has an answer for every problem and every sin and it is always the same. Change. Obedience. Repentance. Whether someone finds His answer is an individual decision. So many guys who been to war or prison wrongly think the things they did are unforgivable. Likewise, so do many divorced or abused people. NOTHING is unforgivable except refusing to be forgiven.
I ‘ve met people who are convinced their destiny of hell is unchangeable. No other word in the human language can so alter a man ‘s life than the usage of, or consideration of, the word HELL. Many respond to this concept as though it originated from a Satanic cult. Jesus was the most loving man ever to walk this earth. So many I talk to about the harsh realities of sin and hell act like it ‘s God ‘s fault that they don ‘t believe. No one goes to hell because of some sin but because they refuse to believe Jesus is greater. Men go to hell because they choose to sulk in the unbelief of imaginations rather than BELIEVE God ‘s love (Jn.3:16). Satan knows well that a real consideration of hell can lead to true repentance (Prov.1:9).
Let me make it very simple and clear. My salvation directs my daily path. It is the windshield of my car. It is how I view the world. If, per say, my “salvation” is not real then my view is not real. My view is false. Then my shot in the head is keeping me from true salvation. What must be done is to establish the real and deep foundation of salvation? How do I receive God ‘s love? What is FAITH? No games. No excuses. All the feelings, emotions and every little twitch of the mind must be silenced and subject to my WILL TO BELIEVE. No more excuses allowed to influence your thinking. IT ‘S TIME TO DIE (Rm.6:6/John 12:24-25).
Salvation is not something that just HAPPENS to you from heaven. It is the outcome of faith in Jesus. It requires your active implementation of learning and doing. Put on salvation, not as a pretense, not as an obligation, not as a doctrine, not as something a preacher or priest told you. Secure it to your head as a “helmet of salvation” . BE A WARRIOR. Shut up. Soldier on! I am constantly shot at. I have been falsely accused many times but I am deeply rooted in Christ so nothing untrue finds place. The helmet of true salvation is so profound it is impenetrable. Paul says “I know WHOM I have believed….” ( 2 TIm.1:12).
It is a very sad thought to sit alone and realize that no one in the world knows you or cares about you. Everyone deals with this yet you think you are the only one. When you resolve it as nothing because God explained it all long ago you rise above your self-centeredness. Welcome to The Club… of reality. Only a few members (Mt.7:14/(Rm.3:10ff). Just because nobody cares about you doesn’t mean you should. Salvation is about turning from yourself to love others. It ‘s between you and your Creator God.
Find love, the very love God first offers you(1 Jn.4:10). Face yourself. Bring down Goliath. Yield to the cross. Let Jesus die for you so you can live for Him (2 Cor.5:15). No matter how much people may say ” I understand and sympathize with your suffering”. It is yours alone. I am a man “who has been trained by it”, I know the profound peace that suffering yields (Heb.12:11). So for this reason I welcome it. It is not an option. It is not a curse. It is a way of life. It is Jesus (2 Cor.1:5/2 Cor.4;11,17/Rm.8:36/1 Pt.4:1). Jesus is the only One Who can give you the impact of His love to change your life. Don’t say “I know it”. God is a Father Who runs out to meet a prodigal son (Lk.15).
In closing, (I just say this to keep you going. It’s not even close to the end…there’s ten more pages) we had some spectacular drives along the ocean, that helped balance out those excruciating desert drives. The other day we noticed just off shore a beautiful rock formation where something was happening. Imagine a few hundred birds, then a few thousand, then a few hundred thousand. They were in some kind of random yet seemingly choreographed rhythm. They circled a huge school of fish while randomly diving straight down under the water to snatch a fish. Cormorants, pelicans and seagulls flew together as others were perched on the rocks in one long line, like judges on a long bench. As suddenly as it all began, suddenly, it just stopped. It was amazing. I will include a picture of it. It just reminded us of why we dance. We dance because it is in our DNA. We dance because the choreograph of the Holy Spirit involves so many things it is only for us to yield.
We have seen things these past couple weeks that we have never seen before. Long ago, when I first started preaching on college campuses, a crowd of sincere young people would gather for debate and conversation. It is what I live for. Dialogue with individuals over the things of the gospel, faith and Jesus. Now, here, today we are finding something far better than even those early days. One woman, on her way home from work, found a Bible in a screened waist basket. She had grown up a strict catholic. She was outraged over such a thing and went home starting to read it. When she came upon us and heard about being born again she knew God was speaking to her. Several have said they’ve never heard or seen anything like it. Someone said the city will never be the same even when we leave.
The Latin culture has received a bad rap about being passive, due to communist rule, socialistic rule and 3rd world conditions and thus easily vulnerable to the American influence. This is true to a certain extent. However, when it comes to the gospel, men have no natural inclination, whether Latin or any other culture. Men in every country are proven to be ultimately led by their free will. People from all walks of life and social class surround us with questions and desire.
People who have been catholic and evangelical and are now seeking Jesus and finding there IS hope for their wound.