Can you relate to the prophet Jeremiah who said “My soul has been deprived of peace: I have forgotten what happiness is.” (Lam.3:17-18).
Some folks have told me their formula for “peace” is a cup of hot coffee, a snack, and maybe some mellow music. Well, I enjoy that too. Sometimes people say peace is going on a vacation or (not) being with their family. Some say just plopping on a bed. Right on! Gotcha. Others talk about some meditation process or alone in silence. Yup. Got it. But all this is common peace of this world and can not resolve the complex unexplainable hostilities we feel inside us.
THE CURSE OF TIME AND SPACE
God asked Adam, after the tragedy of his sin: “WHERE are you?” (Gen.3:9). Instantly, Adam was aware that he had fallen out of his eternal fellowship with God into a tragic space of self-obsession, cursed by the time: “from dust to dust” (v.19). His body degenerated from eternal bliss into a wretched 930 years of pain and sorrow (Gen. 5:5). Imagine his experience!
Today the life span for us human critters is a measly 70 to 80 years. It may sound long but life is like a car flashing by on the expressway or a set of waves crashing on the shoreline. Time and space are full of deception. They are the curse of sin on Adam’s race, thats us. (All my fellow old codgers out there know these pains we feel ain’t what we expected in younger years).
I remember looking through a photo album in my parents attic. At the beginning was a photo of a little boy. The next page was of him with friends at a job. There were pictures of him with his family. Then in JUST A FEW PAGES, there was my grandpa, very old, wrinkled and sitting in a wheel chair. The last photo was of his funeral and grave site. Life is JUST A FEW PAGES in a photo album. And most people won’t even be remembered in a photo album. The Bible is full of men who mourn the vanity of life.
The impact of our immediate surroundings, the things and people we see, touch, and are touched by, define our little space and time on earth. The majority wrongly think our immediate space determines our level of peace. But nothing in this world, offers the peace we seek. This world has nothing but the curse of sin and all its deception, distractions and illusions: “The present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire” (2 Pt.3:10/1 Jn.2:15-17,5:19).
We wake up every day yearning for peace. We hope for something, or some one, to confirm the relevance of our existence. Our minutes, hours, days, months and years lie deceive us. They make us think our purpose is found in them. When you are all alone, you are forced to look within your inner space. And what you see is a nothing. God says Adam put “hostility” in us (Gen. 3:15). Neither time, knowledge or experience gives you peace. What if God offers you something you don’t know?
What is divine peace?
No matter how define it, peace of mind is usually something you hope for, or search for, to be found in the future. It is dependent a better time and place. What I mean is that procrastination is a monster born time. It says “Later….someday. At this time you’re fine”. Inlaid in our “Adam” nature, is a pride that insists “I’m fine”. But anxiety contradicts this lie. The “spirit in the air” says just roll on along, let time and space determine your future (Eph.2:2)
My brother, or sister, I’m not writing this for my ego or health. I love you man. I want to see you on the other side. The reality of your state does not occur on a surface level but at the subconscious level. The faint echo of “subconscious” fear leads into human frenzy. God alone sees our grief and offers His peace. You don’t know when your life will end. Today, you can grasp something you put off. JUST A WORD AWAY. Jesus loves you so much. He is waiting to reward your humility.
THE WORD OF THE CROSS (1 Cor.1:18/read Eph.2:13-16 )
Jesus says “My peace I leave with you” (Jn.14:27). The very peace in Jesus is what He left. But where did He leave it?In the Sea of Galilee? Hidden in a cave? On the Mount of Olives? Where do we go? Seriously. This is a matter of life or death, brother. In this insane dying world, afflicted with sin from within, and from around us, it is not a luxury. Peace is the only way to rescue your mind. We don’t have to fly to Israel and start a massive search. There is no record of Jesus leaving anything behind. So, where is His “peace”?
Jesus said, Look guys, it’s better that I go to heaven so I can send you the Holy Spirit, cuz when He comes, He will give you MY ETERNAL LIFE, here and now (John 16:7).
Finding peace starts with recognizing that there is no “IT” factor. Peace is not something you GET by getting “better”. It’s not a formula or prayer package. It doesn’t come from a warm fuzzy “good work”. It comes by dealing with the truth of your REAL condition. By facing your lack. By admitting that the “peace” you now have is defined by circumstances you manipulate. By admitting “I don’t understand”. Jesus says reality is where He will meet you (John 4:24). Being transparent and sincere is His only requirement. The cross is understood by all men, as here in the villages of Brazil.
You see, my precious brother or sister, something very real happened in Jesus on that cross. In His heart, Jesus bore the hostility in every one of us on earth, every lie, every fake pretense and ego, the deepest evil, against each other, and against God. Sin is not an act. It is the deep, unexplainable hostility in our nature. In His body He took on this nature and killed it dead. In that time and space, between the death and resurrection, the Father gave Jesus eternity as a reward for His sacrifice to give to us. Thus Jesus created a “new man”, freed of the hostility of sin. And freed from striving to attain goodness by obeying the law (read Eph.2:14-16/Rm.5:1). It is a gift.
This offer is no little thing. It cost Jesus His blood. It is not a fairy tale. Tortured for three hours, Jesus actually bore the pain of all time. In that time and space, He created the specific provision to our every need. He created the detailed means by which we can be fulfilled by love in Him. He was confined to the dimensions of a wooden cross. Every space in His body reeled with pain. He bore the agony of the most wicked ways in every man, in every moment of his time on earth.
Jesus entered every vile space in this world, including a jail cell, a street corner, every decrepit room in a ghetto, every place where vile sin was committed. Out of the nothing the Father exploded eternal life in His Son (Rm.4:17). There is no place or time He did not bear. He broke through the agony of all limitations put on every man.
Now the Father could finish His plan of redemption, because Jesus gave Him access to us through His own body. Jesus conquered the entire natural realm of man, so that in His resurrection body, full of eternal life, we can be freed of all hostility in our time and space on earth. He yearns to bring His space of victory into your space of defeat. Imagine being totally forgiven and never fearing death or hell. No matter what your burden on earth may be, this is the peace He offers us, here and now.
The living Jesus is the very substance of eternal life. He alone can regulate, negotiate and mediate our sin to His cross and by it reconcile us to the Father. No church, preacher or group can do this.
A soldier told Jesus, ‘just say the word and my servant will be healed’. You don’t have to climb a mountain. We don’t have to change our space or time. His space will fill your space. JUST A WORD AWAY (Rm.10:9-10).
Jesus says “IN ME” you will have peace (Jn.16:33). Peace is not a virtue He gives apart from Himself. Paul says “He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:14). His peace is the sign of real salvation. Be anxious for nothing. Peace is not an absence of conflict. It is not faith. It is the end of faith; the living Jesus.
ETERNAL LIFE; eternal “space and time”
Read Romans 1:20/Psalm 19:1- We are falsely told we can’t see things that are eternal. Every single thing created by God has a reflection of eternity. And all it takes is one real, eternal glimpse to look for more. The clouds, wind, rain, storms, trees, leaves, oceans, etc. reflect His Eternal Character. When we breath His air or feel the breeze, HIs eternal hands touch our heart with His love for us. Every day, all day creation “speaks” of His eternal glory (Romans 10:17-18).
When you ponder the achievements of man, they reflect the ways of a man. When you contemplate the creation of God Almighty, you contemplate His eternal character. You see a plan and a majesty. You see spectacular intelligence and creativity; love, kindness, purpose and meaning. You and I are His handiwork.
You are seeing eternal things when you look in a mirror and consider thousands of working parts and blood running through thousands of miles of veins and arteries, laid in microscopic places throughout your body. Your muscles move, protect and grow. You can’t hear even one valve open and close, yet there are hundreds. Your eyes blink and ears hear with no deliberate effort. My brother, all this and millions more reflect eternity. When we read the Word of God about Jesus, we touch eternal logic and divine sacrificial love.
All the stress and anxiety can be traced back to our grief of sin. It alone keeps us in lock down to the time and space fixed in our carnal mind. It blinds us with a kind of pouting self-pity. So, think about it, if we can open our heart we can find the wisdom leading us to eternal things f (1 Cor. 2).”This is the will of Him who sent Me….that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 6:40). When you “SEE” the Son, you crystalize eternal things (John 3:3).
Can you remember a time when you were a kid having so much fun you told your mom “I lost track of time and where I was”? I do it all the time when I go fishing or I’m sitting on a mountain. I get ‘caught up’. Well, this is an earthly example that you can escape time and space. How much more by something spiritual? Paul says THIS peace “passes all our human understanding” because the unseen defies the pressures of the things of this earth (Phil. 4:7).
“THIS IS ETERNAL LIFE: THAT THEY MAY KNOW YOU” (Jn.17:3).
My brother, or sister, eternity is not an illusion of the smart or elite but a gift for the downtrodden and the poor of heart.
Do you realize the entire Old Testament, of a complex system of sacrifices and laws, was written solely for God’s purpose to give back to men His peace, which Adam lost by sin? The Hebrew word for peace is SHALOM. The ancient Jeru (city) shalom (peace-healing-alvation) was a “type” of city where God reflected His ultimate purpose of an eternal peace in “New Jerusalem” (Jn.2:19/Mt.12:6/Rev.3:12, 21:1ff).
Jesus says that the peace, or rest, He offers us, here and now, “is not as the world gives” (Jn.14:27).
It is not in a brief personal experience or in the space of a “Sunday service”. The “sabbath” (rest), is fixed in the living Jesus, because His sacrifice resolved the obstacle of sin and created for us a new man in His Spirit. Shalom is the disposition of Christ; i.e. New Jersusalem. He is eternal life (Jn.17:3). Everything you have tried, in this domain of time and space, and everything you may yet try, can never give you the One Who comes down from heaven (Jn.6:33,50/Rev.3:12/ Heb.4:1ff ).
“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and our government (the ruling of our lives) will be on His shoulders (on the cross). He will be named…PRINCE OF PEACE” (Is. 9:6).
Jesus promises all men His peace will cleanse you of all sin and remove the weight of guilt and shame. Imagine unlimited forgiveness. (Jn.3:3,4:24/1 Cor.15:45/Heb.10:22). Time and space need no longer have jurisdiction over your life (Col.3:15) Hope is the courage to believe God Who will take you BEYOND yourself. His Word is waiting to release eternal rivers of living water (John 7:37-38/Hebrews 4:12). Just A Word Away, in spirit and truth (Jn.4:24/Rom.10:6-10).
“Get up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead and the Messiah will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:14)
People fight for a thousand things in this life: health, healing, work, success, recreation, entertainment, family. But when it comes to Jesus, eternal life, heaven or hell? Well, a gesture of presumption is about it: “No need to tell ME. I already know all about that”. Now, how will that statement sit with you… in hell? Please, I say this solely out of love for you my friend.
Presumption is a fatal blinding to the reality in your own life. Tormented inside, yet men insist, “Oh I’m fine”. This attitude is “boxing the air”. You never engage the very thing destroying your life. How does such a conundrum exist?
Please, I beg you, listen to me. Multitudes fall victim to a fraudulent teaching of “grace” ignorant to the effective fight with sin. Satan is real. He has “designed” this “speculation” to justify self-comfort and keep men from truth. So Christians wrongly presume salvation doesn’t require an all out fight. The Scriptures clearly warn otherwise: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling….His grace was in vain…I worked more than any…yet not I but God’s grace..striving with His strength that works powerfully in me.” (Phil.2:12/1 Cor.15:10/Col.1:28).
It is understandable, when facing this world, to be afraid to get in “the boxing ring” and fight for Jesus. But the reward is boundless joy, both now, and for eternity. A man named Jacob received the immediate reward of finding God’s destiny. In his fight to know God, he changed into a new man: “Israel” (Gen.32:24). Individual fulfillment is not a sentimental pipe dream. It is the effectual experience of fighting to engage Jesus in the accomplishment of His salvation (Rm.6:6/ Phil.3:8/ Gal.2:20/2 Tim.2:11).
When a man decides to “fight” for Jesus he goes beyond himself; beyond obligation to heart desire. He is not looking for excuses but eternal identity in the living Christ (Eph.3:18-20). So, as your loving brother, I exhort you to put up your fists in a fighting position. Catch the vision of a life yet waiting to discover. There is something you don’t yet know. Fight for it. Can you say within yourself “I know nothing Lord. Help me.”? My precious brother or sister, you are under siege by a fierce unseen enemy ‘out for blood’. Humble yourself and He will exalt you (Mt.11:25/1 Pt.5:6). Satan can push you around, punish you, bust you in the mouth, break your jaw and knock out your teeth. This description is allegorical for some, but for many it is literal. It could be by an accident, situation or person. If you don’t fight, Satan will destroy you (Jnn.10:10).
It begins with mere thoughts, ignorant to the ways of sin. One thought leads to another and suddenly you do something, or find yourself in circumstances, out of your control. If you think I’m nuts, you may already be “down for the ten count’. Cuz like how often do you wake up in the morning with a deep sense of wanting to just give up? How often do you think “No one cares about ME. No one knows MY burden. I’m all alone. Does anything matter?” Do these thoughts come to you while by aliens while on some distant planet? No. They come in the ebb and flow of every day earthly life. They are common. Every human being on earth is tormented by these feelings of self-pity and deep alienation. Of course, they won’t admit it. I feel it every day. It is not weird. It is not our fault or personality. I would say it is not about losing your mind, but in reality, this is precisely about reclaiming your mind.
I know this sounds strange, but our body is reeling, every moment of every day, from the “hit” Adam took 10,000 years ago. He was “punch drunk” by sin. Man was created perfect but sin defiled every pore of our humanity, because, through procreation, Adam’s sin renders all mankind depraved. At any moment we become vexed in inexplicable sadness. We are lonely and afraid. Selfishness saturates every cell of our composition. It permeates our mind with crazy and bizarre thinking. We blame bad circumstances but the truth is all problems derive from our body of human nature being separated from our Creator. This world says it is a ‘personality disorder’ and turn to prescription or illegal drugs, booze, ‘therapy’ and, of course, religion. No one identifies sin because no one understands it.
Ego was born when Eve ate from the tree. The “I am” in man defied the great “I AM THAT I AM”. We went from living in eternity to a 70 yr. span. Bam. Our inner core is frazzled. Adam’s sin diminished our composition from being God-consciousness to self-consciousness. We suppress and deny the inner despair and misery sin implanted in the center of our human existence. No surgery can remove it. No medicine can treat it. No prayer or ritual can stop our vulnerability to the lying voices Satan channels in our mind through sin.
Problems are not resolved by changing outward stuff, but changing the way we deal with our inner state. The debilitating effects of sin can shake you to your core, ruin and linger in your life, until you deal with it. As I’ve said a thousand times, sin isnot a mere act. It is what WE ARE in our human nature; sin…ners. It never goes away. I am more aware of sin today, than I ever was 50 yrs. ago before I received the light of Jesus. It requires an attitude of humility not a sinners prayer or confessional.
I will spend my life fighting to explain, to anyone who will listen, how to effectively win the fight with this enemy within, inherited from our forefather Adam. Pride leads every man’s ship into the fierce storms of our own darkness. Christians, today, think that Bible knowledge somehow spiritualizes their body into a Christian state. As if a “sinners prayer” zaps their wicked flesh into a “better” state than other human beings. So they are perplexed when the complexities of sin invade their lives.
“SPECULATIONS” – THE DEEP SPACE OF DARKNESS-(2 Cor.10:3-5)
Jesus says “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Mt. 6:22-23).
Just think about. If what you identify as “light” is actually the presumption of light, then everything you identify as truth, is deception. The seriousness of such reality demands the fight for repentance. True repentance results in accurate discernment between light and darkness and eliminates the conundrum of presumption. The Bible defines sin as foolishness, lawlessness, unbelief and unrighteousness (Rm.14:23/1 Jn.5:17.Pr.24:9/Jn.16:9). But how is it that God gives us a specific and detailed picture of sin and darkness? The witness and discernment of the Holy Spirit defines sin. Jesus says “I will give you…the Spirit of truth…and He will convict (expose) us…concerning sin” (Read: John 14:17,26,16:8,13).
Repentance is metanoia- change of mind. When the Holy Spirit “cuts and divides” our heart we must change our attitude and motives (Heb.4:12/Ps.51:17). Repentance involves the fight to “cast down speculations (imaginations) raised up against” the knowledge of God Who reveals Himself to us in 3 ways to which we are accountable: 1) creation(John 14:9/Rom.1:20/2 Cor.10:3-5), 2 )Scriptures and 3) and the revelation of the living Jesus. Speculations and imaginations are packages of lies. They are our opponent in “the boxing ring” of our mind. We must directly identify, engage and counter the “punches” of lies with truths in God’s Word.
Our mental capacity was designed to process and establish perfect peace. So it will do its part, if we do ours. It is a mechanism divinely created into “hemispheres” designed to regulate, filter and define the light from the darkness. Sin is imbedded in our mind and draws us into darkness, evil, self-obsession, self-pity and rebellion. Repentance is the conscious fight to receive Light and gain control. This is the process by which we recover our mind from darkness (Rm.12:2).
The idea of “space” (i.e.open unoccupied area or room) helps us understand that sin is not merely a one time action but a conscious existence in our daily perception that emanates from within. Our eye sees life out of whatever occupies our deep space. Is it darkness or is it light? This space determines the standard of our intelligence, creativity, will power, love, humor, depth of experience, memory recall and all related operations of our human capacity. Into what is our mind immersed? The scope of our individual choice is an outcome of our desire. The source of our space, sin or Jesus, determines how we function as a person. Simply put, a self-centered obsession exposes the dominance of sin and consciousness of darkness. To destroy the stronghold of sin is dependent on your desire for Jesus.
The term “Deep Space” is a speculation by scientists of an hypothesis that unknown galaxies exist beyond our skies. They speak of it as an eerie darkness, void of time and oxygen. It is freezing cold. It is an utter vacuum. Yet so heavy it will crush you. Sin is like this darkness. It is a realm of the unknown and undefined space so deep it can swallow us into a warp of misery so that we lose track of all time. Suddenly years have gone by and such dread can be a “knockout”.
Self-pity can consume your consciousness to the extent that you have no other awareness but “Poor me”. It is the reverberation of Adam so long ago vexed in his “new” state of sin. Sin is dark “space” where despair, regret, loneliness and unexplainable sadness pull us into unknown corridors of darkness. Scientists say a “black hole” pulls everything around it into a vortex with a power and speed beyond measure. Fear, anger and pain can be like this. We feel we can do nothing to stop it. But this is just another lie. Sin causes insurmountable damage to each person on earth yet remains hidden and undefined by this world. Never hear about it on the news or in a government report. It hides as the culprit of massive destruction. It gets away with murder.
Satan channels lie-formulas of speculations, proven effective throughout generations; thought patterns, that subtly permeate the human mind with dark space. There is no physical or practical way to identify sin. It can not be caught like an animal. It can not be shown on a screen or subject to scientific observation. The 10 Commandments expose it but do not supply the power over it. The law merely defines our lack, so if it is eliminated, so too is the obligation to fulfill it (Romans 4:15). The Holy Spirit offers the space of freedom (2 Cor.4:17). It is like the wind (Jn.3:8). He provides the sight in which to “see” sin and understand what happened on the cross so as to live free in the access to His power (Rm.8:1-4, 3:20/Gal.2:16,21). This is sacred space (Ps.91:2/2 Cor.19:13-15).
REPLACING DARK SPACE
WITH SACRED SPACE
loneliness into solitude (Jn.14:23).
The power of individual choice can not be overstated. What do you see when you stand in a field? There are the trees, grass, sky and maybe a hill. Can you be there? What is your consciousness? Do you see depression, grief, regret and a dim future that occupies your presence?
To defeat an adversary it is up to you to drive the fight. Can you, will you, identify what you see and engage any unseen obstacles that block your line of sight? The power of the fight is determined by your desire to engage reality and win.
When I ran Cross-Country in High School I had absolutely no desire to do so because I had no hope of ever winning. I ran “aimlessly”. The only reason I ran cross-country was because I had been shot in the eye with a B-B gun the previous year and could have gone blind if I continued to play football. I had to wait a year to see if my eye healed. So I ran only as an athletic outlet.
I loved football so much that the next year I defied my eye doctor and went back to playing football. I was driven by desire. Desire comes when you see that your fight has reward. When you engage reality, all cylinders fire. When you do what you thought you couldn’t do, you want to do more. You want to be what God shows you you can be. For this reason Pauls said;
“I discipline (Greek- bruise-buffet-beat black and blue) my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified”(1 Cor.9:26-27).
When I first read this, I saw the pride in my disdain; “Oh Paul, don’t say that! You are a man of God”. But the greatness of Paul was not seen in his travels or miracles but in the profound humility of his transparency over sin. Paul feared presumption. He did not fight based on his accomplishments but the accomplishments of Jesus.
“I have been crucified” Paul said, and I “buffet” my sinful body to make it my slave. Obviously, he wasn’t speaking in physical terms but explaining the depth of his fight against sin. He was fighting himself, not the air. Who admits such stuff? One who is intimately aware that sin and hell are real. He was not stupid and presumptious.
After he said “I do the very thing I hate” he defies human logic by concluding it with “yet it is not I but sin which dwells in me” (Rm.7:19ff). In other words, Paul was “crucified with Christ” and could “see”, by the Spirit, that sin no longer was his essential identity (Gal.2:20). The cross is not feel-good notion. It literally kills the subjectivity of sin (ego) and renders it an objective non-issue (1 Cor.1:18).
Jesus didn’t die for ten trillion individual acts of evil because, when He died in the very flesh of man, as a Substitute for man, he bore God’s “hit” of wrath upon the nature of Adam. By death, Jesus KILLED sin, for all time. One perfect Man for all sinful men. The 2nd Adam of the resurrection race replaced the 1st Adam of the sinful race (Rm.5:10). When you are born again into His new world, the domain of light floods the dark space with the sacred space of His Presence. Light will open your eyes to sin (Jn.3:3-8, 8:23-24,32-26/1 Jn.3:9).
LIGHT AND DARKNESS MEET IN THE PERSON OF JESUS. The cross was the ultimate depiction of reality. The darkness killed Him but the light raised Him from the dead. So we can go to Him in any moment of stillness and find compassion. He can expose and bare any darkness and release the power of His light (Luke 22:53). As the Lion of Judah, Jesus devoured darkness as the nothingness it is to such great Light.
I inhabit a body of sin but but when light invaded my world, I could “SEE” the kingdom (Jn.3:6,18:36). Beyond darkness. The grass and Notre Dame stadium was the same but I became a spirit-man into the domain of eternal light (1 Cor.15:45). The Holy Spirit is like the oxygen of God. He clears up our “brain fog”. He inhabits our void. He is the escape from the darkness within us. The darkness doesn’t disappear but the Light makes all things clear. One problem. One answer.
I can not cage the monster of sin. I had to die to “see” it. The reward is my destiny as a son in the fellowship in His divine love. I escape the vortex of dark space, not by striving, but by my “seeing” the light of Jesus. I desire to fight in the light. I love my plight. My desire is love from Him to give to you. It is the love God manifested 2000 yrs ago (Rm.5:8).
My friend, if you do nothing, nothing will happen. If you don’t change your mind, nothing will happen. The fight of repentance is always the gateway to new revelation. At first thought, these things may sound complicated. They are not. You are fully aware that the basic step to truth starts in your innermost being. It is “where” Jesus promises to meet you (inner space)(Ps.51:6-10). It is the step of opening your mouth to Jesus, not in a passive lame “prayer”, but in the fight of your heart. Jesus said His power to face the cross came out of His desire to please the Father (Heb. 10:7). He promises to put this heart in us (Heb.10:15-22).
Faith working through love is the voyage that takes you beyond the limitations of selfish-obsession. My bald head will never again grow its once blonde hair. Rats! But my born again spirit is growing in His multi-dimensional eternal expanding love.Jesus says to tell everyone the answer is “Repentance (change of mind) for forgiveness” (Lk.24:47/Acts 3:19). There was an adulterous lady who met Jesus and her consciousness was altered by simply being in the Presence of His light. Her space became His (John 8:14)
When you fight for heartfelt repentance, you will discover His sacred place of solitude is always LEARNING (Jn.14:23). Jesus says “learn from Me” (Mt.11:27ff/Eph.5:10). The greatness of Paul was not all the letters he wrote but the letter of his character for all to read displayed in the treasures of a humility so as to write:
“I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air” (1 Cor. 9:26).
Jesus came to earth, conquered every tendency of Adam-nature, and promises to enlighten us with HIS DIVINE FIGHT. No, it is not easy, but it is within our mental capacity to become more than we are. No one is exempt from the barrage of sin. Everyone suffers. Everyone, at some time, wants to hide. We all know the human curl of the fetal position. But the Spirit of truth neutralizes all speculations with truth; that we are NOT all alone; that we are NOT destined for misery and gloom, etc.
My friend, you ARE in “the ring” whether you want to be or not. Defeat is not a mere possibility. It is inevitable if you box “like one beating the air”. You must fight.
Paul feared the tragic consequences of hypocrisy so much he developed this visual description; “boxing the air”. It is making the motions of boxing without hitting the enemy. It is appearing to do something while doing nothing. It is pretending to be a Christian in the pride of sinful flesh. It is christian words and smile with no heart for Jesus. It is self-righteousness. You can see it if you want to. You can change if you desire to. Boxing the air has no value. No correlation to reality. No triumph over the enemy. It is religion.
The proof of “boxing the air” is the dark space of aimlessness. It is the consistency of hypocrisy. It is floating in deep space with no tether to reality. It is the lack of fellowship with the living Jesus. It is the lack of fulfillment promised in the living waters of Jesus (John 7:37). Salvation is the outcome of our FIGHT FOR THE LIGHT to be in Jesus. Paul says “I have fought the good fight of faith” (2 Tim . 4:7).
Paul says “…everyone exercises control in everything…but we do it to win a crown that will never fade…” (1 Cor. 9:26).
Please my friend. You made it all the way to the end of this, so you have more than a little fight. Receive God’s “light”. Increase the personal fight. Understand Scriptures such as John 9:39-41 and Romans 4 (esp. v15,17-18). Learn how to learn. Counter the speculations he puts in your mind (Eph. 6:12). Be a warrior. You can plant seeds of light into the dark space of a desperate man.
Over a hundred thousand people overdosed on drugs last year. Suicide became a viable alternative to existence. Do you care? 17 veterans kill themselves each day. Why? Will you fight for someone else? Venture out of your comfort zone to plant a garden in dark space? They are blinded by the darkness.
My family and I have fought our way through the darkness in countless cities throughout the world. We have joyfully beheld the Endeavor of our salvation. He is the living Jesus. If I can help you it would be my privilege. If you’d like to help us we sure would appreciate it. We work with all our heart to reach countless lost men and women in the love of the living Jesus. We have PayPal account with the Email address of: email@example.com
Greetings my friend. I’m not trying to write here some kind of exclusive super-spiritual far out thinking. I am a very simple guy but the gospel I live is not a flippant or trite “good news”. It requires, and then produces, a depth of heart, to understand, in order to withstand, the brutal difficulties of life in this world.
As my family and I deal with thousands and thousands of people we touch their meaningless sad loneliness. It kills me to see how everyone assumes there is no real answer, other than to mimic Bible talk. Multitudes claim to “be saved” yet dwell in the cellar of heartache and misery. This is a contradiction to the answer of God to provide a “live-feed” into the living Spirit of Jesus.
The feelings of hurt, pain and sorrow is like a “land” within us that determines our thinking each day. we must find the noble courage to escape our “castle” of fake IMAGE which is the source of our portal of pain.
What is “hurt”? Where is it? How do we measure it? With a bushel or a yard stick? Is it made of steel or tin? How does it come to us? Can a person, a fear or experience fire rockets of pain? Is it like a sun ray that can burn our skin without us even knowing it? What is the place within us that registers pain? My dear friend, we must learn to access our intelligence and will power to determine the impact and influence of pain. If we believe the work of Jesus we can control, determine and harness our pain to help eliminate our pride and build a warehouse of wisdom.
As a consequence of ignorance we can become bewildered by our struggles.
We are actually born into pain. David says “in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5). We live with the agony Adam incurred from the sin of mans defiance to God. He passed on to us his exact same human nature with all its shattered feelings of absolute devastation. Image how you would feel if you caused the fall of mankind from fellowship with your Creator. You don’t have to imagine. Sin hurts. It drives us into dark thoughts and hopeless despair. Satan exploits our ignorance of this plight. Paul says Satan attacks us out of the very air we breath each day ( eph2:2). His demonic thoughts are closer to us than our nose. So effective is Satans power that we automatically assume our sad feelings are a personal unique problem. No one else has it. So we suppress and deny this existence of inexplainable sorrow. We lie. “We have no portal of pain” (2 Cor10:3-5).
Oh my friend, is it not crazy to deny and hide this very real struggle that operates deep within us? Do you not yearn for relief? It is a relief that comes by simple accurate understanding.
“He Himself bore our sin in His body on the cross SO THAT we might die to sin and LIVE to righteousness; for by His wounds YOU WERE HEALED” (1 Pt.2:24).
It is sheer madness, this craziness of hiding what is really going on within us. It is playing into Satans hand. We pause, ponder, grieve, hesitate ALL ALONE in this place of ‘Go-Between’, of who we pretend to be and the real pain going on within us. The masses spend heir entire lives, waisting precious years of energy trying to negotiate with themselves which life is more real. Afraid to face their pain, afraid there are no answers and afraid that telling someone else who might not hear or care about our highly sensitive expression. We have seen, firsthand, how no one really listens or cares.
Jesus cares so deeply He alone actually, already, bore your exact pain and in His shadow we find shelter (Ps.91).
Right now, at this moment, you don’t realize the impact of your hidden pain upon your daily existence. It determines your attitude, perspective on hope, relationships and words. The majority LIVE and DIE in the portal of pain never getting to other side to find Gods answer. They never realize God is waiting to be “found” in the very pain we hide. To participate with Jesus to answer the “Why?” that torments your consciousness. Jesus says “Come to Me….I am the way”.
It is in fellowship with Jesus where we learn how to build a “spirit in truth” (Jn.4:24). The Door awaits anyone brave enough to be truthful and thus understand how to face and deal with the portal of pain. Then fight to get through the cross to the tomb. Most people spend hours, days, weeks, months and years, trying to construct a better image, a castle, of defense to their self-pity.
The Portal of Pain is not some pyscho-religious babel. It is the place of decision to choose or walk away from the cross. It is the Door into participation with the living Christ in His overcoming battle with the world. It is the choice to believe. Jesus fought every single pain you fight. It is this understanding that contextualizes all pain of sin and sorrow. To relinquish the “right” to complain and take on our accountability for sin results in true salvation. It is the beginning and end of dealing with the complexity of suffering.
Paul explains”We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed. We always carry the death of Jesus in our body, so that the life of Jesus may also be displayed in our body. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that Jesus’ life may also be displayed in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor. 4:8-11). This passage presupposes one thing: PARTICIPATION. This is word never heard amongst christian circles. It is reiterated in Philippians 3:9.
How do we “participate” in the gospel? Choice. Humility is like turning the lens on a camera to find sharp focus of reality. Self-pity is not humility. Humility is backing down from everything we insist we already know so that we can know that we don’t know. Self-pity is self-pride and holds us in the gallows of pain. To participate in the cross of Jesus is to relinquish ALL pride. The power of the cross is transferred by the Holy Spirit into a humble man when he releases the natural tendencies of self-pity into the light of His Spirit. This is participation, involvement, engagement and joining in redemption.
All the practical benefits of the big words: redemption, atonement, sanctification, forgiveness, reconciliation happen through our participation in the cross. It’s like moving furniture around in a house. Repentance is a definitive change.
For you see my friend, regardless of all the things we think and say about our own identity, the sum total of how we live is traced to how we are responding to the suffering of Jesus on the cross. Can it still our sinful ways? Do we fully yield or persist in our own ways? We are either melted by His love or hardened by our own isolation. Do you have compassion on what Jesus actually went through for you? What does it do to you? Pain has no meaning in an of itself. It only takes on purpose when we stand and gaze up at the cross. It is not meant to isolate us but break us into His loving Presence. This is the answer to the “Why?’ of pain. Jesus said “Father….WHY have You forsaken ME”? In that very moment He Himself was answering this cray of all mankind as He BECAME SIN (2 Cor.5:20-21). The answer? SIN IS.No reason. No logic. No excuse (Jon.15:25).
If you want to see your pain actually become a good thing it is by the sole act of faith. God says “the word of the cross is the power of God” (1 Cor.1:18). To believe that eternal life can come out of the other side of your situation can start right now. God is with you in this solitude. Speak to Him. Jesus injected His entire self into His suffering on the cross. He “designed” His work to transform the will of every single man ever to walk this earth. “I’ll meet you and change you here, in my cross” says the Lord. Become “united” with Him (Rm.6:6).
He brings His suffering into our suffering like well-fitted clothes to take on and wear.”Ahh. This is the humility to extinguish my pride” I’ve said so many times. In every situation when I have dealt with physical, emotional or mental pain God has met me with a maturity and love. Another word for love is “compassion” that comes from “passion” which means suffering. All of life only makes sense through the portal of our pain into His ultimate act of love on the cross.
This is why Paul defines his essential credential, not as knowing doctrines, “accepting christ as savior” or theology, but as being “crucified with Christ” (Gal.2:20). He entered The Portal of Pain and learned how to negotiate life according to the very heartbeat of Jesus. God’s will. When we enter the portal of pain contemplating the sufferings of Jesus; we come out the other end and find His eternal destiny. It is explicitly laid out in Ephesians 1. The finished product is not a better you but a love far beyond you. Jesus says “I AM LIFE” (Jn.14:6). His life was death so that His death could be our gateway to His life.
“…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to
His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection…being united with His death” (Phil.3:10-11/Rm.6:6).
There is no other way. The answer to our pain is to understand His pain. To have compassion ON Jesus is to learn FROM Jesus. To understand His pain is to contexualize our pain. The Word of God is not my interpretation or view. Paul explicitly explains that sharing in the suffering of the cross is that with which he finds “fellowship”. It has to be because IT IS. There is no other grounds to touchJesus other than to be touched by Him. It is where you become “spirit and truth” as the only means out of which to know God. It has to be personal suffering because every relationship with God is personal, individual, unique, your name, you, you, you.
In order for God to ‘touch’ you and ultimately for you to touch someone, in order to establish divine connection, in a real way, we must learn how to speak out of our fear and pain, like a caterpillar struggling to become a butterfly. In order to relate and communicate with anyone in spirit and truth, we must learn the fellowship in suffering, pain and hurt.
My friend, how are YOU? I have dealt with tons of brothers and sisters all over the world. No matter your background, I meet you on your grounds of sorrow and hurt. Not in superficial words of shallow greeting and token exchange. Please believe that I am just like you. Open your hand and let me grasp it with a firm hold as we walk together through the barrage of dark feelings and thoughts. What I write is not some far out thing. It is the real of our lives. It is true access to God’s answers.I love you and I mean it.
It is my profound privilege to bring true hope and joy to you, maybe as we have performed, possibly at some time for you, as we do for people all over the world who suffer terribly all alone. The most endearing experience is not dancing, singing, doing magic, comedy, or hearing applause. It is the time before and after the show meeting individuals, hearing their personal stories. Most of all, it is engaging someone, one on one, in the look we all share, of longing to be loved; longing to be understood. A thousand words are written in the expression of one face. It is eternal joy to share real answers of the gospel and not sentimental hype.
The gospel is “magic”. It is the magic to disarm the tragic. It is marvelous to transform pain into power. The greatest power in the world; love. It is the culmination of the cross. The death of self is the seedbed of Jesus. It can be your magic. Instead of being irrelevant and forgotten in the dark shadows of a heartless world, you can take this magic on the road of the Majesty on High.
I can show you how to switch your mind from the grievous burdens of self-autonomy into the freedom of marvelous discovery. People often ask me to do a magic trick. I love to accommodate anyone. Let me share the most powerful move I have learned. You can do it too. In fact, it’s right at your fingertips. My fellow magician, we can pull a switch on our life from grief into a phenomenal privilege. The secret to this trick is to make life NOT all about us. We get so obsessed with talking about ourselves that, to make this switch, midcourse, defies imagination. So the secret requires we “see” into the eyes of another, to reach into their suffering, and touch them and draw out the LOVE that makes magic happen.
It’s really not magic. It’s God. “God is love” (1Jn.4:8). Everything about God is love. Love is bigger than us all. It magically shrinks big problems. We replace hostility with maturity and shock the world. It is the power to trick our own minds with change. A miracle takes place right before our eyes. It makes us do things we can’t and think things we never would. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a face is worth a million. So I want to tell you, my precious friend, I hear YOU, I see YOU, I care about YOU. You matter so much to God that He gave His only begotten Son to die for you to live forever (Jn.3:16). You matter; to me; to others and most of all to God. Your words are not lost in the sea of humanity. Your life is not a blade of grass in a sprawling meadow. God sees your face and can pick out your voice from the chatter of an overflowing cafeteria or downtown crowd.
So many times, when talking to people, I spot one individual in the crowd. Our eyes lock onto each other. Suddenly, in one instant, we “speak” to each other, while uttering no words. That look of longing in our eyes is louder than any sound. Two kindred spirits who have never seen each other suddenly engage in that one so special moment. I describe God’s love as magic, not in heathen irreverence or foolish ignorance but in allegorical license because it contains a dazzling but lasting aspect undefined by religious jargon (1Cor.2:9). We may not know each other but we are the same in the common nature of our humanity and can come to the same love offered in the Presence of a merciful Savior. The shambles of sadness, the loneliness of isolation, the crumbling rubble in a broken life, and so much more, are transmitted by waves and frequencies of a music called pain. We understand it is the language of HURT. It is the essence of why God became Man. It is the essence of the love demonstrated in Jesus as He died and rose again (Rom.5:8). The Spirit of Jesus is called “the Comforter” because He synthesizes the agony of the cross with the power of the resurrection and brings us divine life (Jn.14:26/1Pt.2:24). I remember one time after a prison performance holding a fellow brother. He was sharing the injustice of his sentence. Suddenly I saw water dripping on my tennis shoes. I looked up for a leaking pipe only to realize it was his tears pouring onto my feet. One hug of two strangers speaking in the language of HURT: an overflow of pain. God so loved the world. It’s called catharsis. It’s called healing. It’s called love and it’s in high demand. But there is no factory that can supply the huge demand. No, my brother. The Father is asking you to make your heart a “factory” of His love. As long as there is one or two or three who will pay the price of their life to be a supply-chain of His love there is hope; there is BROTOCOL. It can occur any time anywhere. It’s yours to give as a performer on your stage of life. But how do we find this magic when we are so caught up in our own pain and sorrow? Ahhhh. Pain. No other way. Dying to self is a tough adventure (Rm.6:6, Jn.12:24-25). But the question is; do we wish to only watch the magic or learn how to do it? I have performed on hundreds of city streets, ghettos, campuses, prisons, and military bases not to entertain but appeal to the Deep Heart within each man. Because each man has a deep heart which needs to be released; born again into the manifestation of God’s love in the living Jesus. Anyone who is willing to believe will “see” this kingdom. Jesus says “Come to Me… learn from Me… anyone who comes I will certainly not cast out.” He offers “…rivers of living waters…” to bring us His divine healing (Jn.3:3, 6:37, 7:37/Mt.11:28). Some say, “How is it that I feel so void of God even though I do believe in Him?” My friend, the Son of God cried, “My God…why have You forsaken ME?!” (Mt.27:46). The Father’s answer to Jesus is the same to us: Deafening Silence. But no ordinary silence. A silence so full of answers so loud it demands you listen, you think, you understand, and realize. God cannot make sin disappear. This world is not neutral. It is hostile against us, ruled by Satan (Lk.4:6/Jn.12:31/1Jn.5:19/2Cor.4:4). Look and hear a world gone mad. Listen to the cries all around you. What do they sound like? SIN. The catastrophic outcome of Adam setting His heart to defy His loving Creator. The echo of his cry transferring into the chambers of the nature we inherited in procreation. Sin has ruined us all (Rm.3:10, 5:12). Jesus actually bore all the “Why?” issues of a thousand generations. Now we can find the answer through one substance an old pagan guy named Abraham gave us: FAITH in His resurrection and redemption (Rm.4:1). God won’t violate our will, but He will turn us around to see His love in using bad things to cause good things (Rm.8:28). Imagine the eyes of the Savior locking eyes with you, saying He feels your pain while knowing His plan, but allowing you to choose. Imagine the eyes of an ultimate Brother, Who has literally been through hell for you. My man, this love is not religious feelings. It is factual history. Discovering His divine love hinges on your decision to believe. It will be released to you when you come directly to the living Jesus. Faith is a “conviction of things not seen” (Heb.11:1+6). Jesus really did walk in our shoes and feel all our pain in His body on the cross. He became the sacrificial Lamb to atone and cover our sin. One Brother for another. The Substitute. He bore the wrath we deserve so we could live forever. Jesus rose to live to send His Spirit to you. My precious brother or sister, don’t give up. You are meant to fly. Faith is real, to rise up, to mount up, to be lifted up. By faith in His resurrection, we can sprout wings out of our valley of morbid self-pity (Is.40:31/Ps.23).
ESCAPE THE INNER NOISE
After being in the midst of the chaos of war and death Elijah escaped to a mountain. Each of us bears within us the chaos of our sinful torment. To hear God, beyond issuesof stress, anxiety, past memories, regret, that today constitute PTSD, requires a will to discern God’s Presence.
Elijah did not hear God in the realm of experiential sensation ofrushing wind or fire but rather it was in his own cherished suspended silence “where” Elijah heard God in a still whispering breeze.
This “place” is the outcome of thoroughly relegating ones self to the cross to pass THROUGH his own portal of pain into the victory of Jesus. It is a silent space that one must create inside oneself before one can fellowship with God and express pure love for others.
God wants to speak to you and teach you how to master your sin like a horse champion. The cross is contoured to suit your individual pain. All you need do is yield to His wisdom and work. Learn to be still and actually hear God speak to you in through His living Word.
I know the byline of Try, try, try but never attain the desired goal of happiness. Multitudes give up on God because they simply can not attain the standards set by self- righteous. Jesus nullified all our human righteousness in one sentence; “He who is without sin… let him cast the first stone” (Jn.8:7). God’s plan is not to make you “better”, but to draw you to Himself so He can make you new (2Cor.5:17). Salvation is not some THING you must DO but Someone Who has done everything for you.
We all feel ugly, damaged, useless, or forgotten because we have all failed in many ways. But God “CREDITS” the very righteousness of Jesus to any sinner on the basis of faith – unlimited, unmerited, automatic, forgiveness and redemption (Rm.4:1-9). The Scriptures are not flowery words of an untouchable religious man. Jesus demonstrated the greatest “macho” power in history. He went to the lowest regions of depravity to eliminate any excuse not to be lifted beyond our darkest abyss and discover the heights of His Spirit. In His DNA was written every thread of mental anguish, personality type, sociological stigma, and label known to mankind. He walked away from that tomb to free all who believe and speak His Name: JESUS.
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When I played college football, at Central Mich. University, we won the National Championship but I lost everything (Jn.12:25). Little did I comprehend what was going on in and around me. I could lift 405 lbs., but I could not budge the weight of pain-filled loneliness. I could halt a linebacker by a crushing block but could not stop the oncoming devastation of personal rejection. I could run a 40 yd. dash in 4.4 seconds but could not outrun depression.
I was just saved. I had just met Jesus but I was torn up inside and felt like my entire life was crumbling before my eyes. I did not understand The Inner War and how gut-wrenching truth would get beyond it.
Within a matter of hours and days I was confronted by the enormous clash of two opposing realities within my mind. I did not understand then but what what happened to Him happens to all who follow Him: Two Worlds Collide – Lamb Found Dead. Up until the first day of football camp I was welcomed as a fellow comrade and teammate. But in that one afternoon arriving on campus for double-sessions I faced dimensions of hostility from teammates, that simply baffled my thinking.
Hey man, I was just a dumb, beer-guzling, polish kid, from the west side of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I cheated my way through school and Mass on Sundays, after the bars on Saturdays, was about it for my duty to God. I had no clue to the divine ramifications of what it would mean to actually get personal with a living God and experience the switch from darkness to light.
How could such contrast and hatred arise due solely to one decision? I left college in the Spring as one man and returned in the Fall as another. I was seen and despised as a traitor because I made an uncompromising stand for “the Other side”; Jesus.
When my teammates looked to my mouth to spew wicked words of dark inspiration they were shocked to watch my lips formulate light; “It’s all about the living Jesus fellas”. I took two pieces of medical tape and made a cross on the back of my helmet and used a magic marker to put one on my wristband. I went from a “Badass” to a ‘weirdo’. Smash stuff and mock others and I was “cool”. Love people and help others and you’re a “nut”. It would be a long time before I could begin to normalize this abnormal reality.
Mockery is no little thing. I did it to others but never had it done to me. It shattered my entire mind-set of people, the world and my own identity. I felt like a building collapsing from being detonated by an inward implosion. I was left in the rubble of wounded isolation not knowing this destruction of my old man was God’s answer to a ‘deal’ in which I came directly to Jesus to build me a new man. Now He was fulfilling His end by bringing me to Himself.
God was becoming my Father and was leading me into the place, where a boy becomes a man, and a man becomes a son. It is the place designed to render every son the lesson of turning loneliness into the solitude of contemplation, to discover awesome stuff, that every human craves, whether they admit it or not, like meaning, and feeling intimately loved, having a purpose and a joy of “streams of living water”. Not mickey mouse poetry but deep piercing supernatural reality. I had entered what is known in the animal world as a “cocoon” (i.e. the cross-Rm.6:6/Jn.7:37). Butterfly… yet to fly.
One year earlier things were totally different. I was treated like dark royalty because I did the things that caused “the guys” to revere me. Like one night, I got drunk and started a barroom brawl. Things were broken. Police were called and sirens filled the night air. I fled down a back alley and up a chain-link fence. A cop threw me in jail. My football reputation kept me out of prison, but the inner war was spiraling out of control.
Over the next year I learned how to switch the force of my will from being subject to the lies of darkness to grasp the truth.And when we do this life changes for the good. It involves turmoil. I don’t mean to sound corny, my friend, but I love you and can help you find happiness. It is crucial to face and identify subconscious fallibility.
My friend, there exists today, a twisted thinking that combines cynicism with Christianity. It involves the confession that Christ is the answer; “No need to tell me. I already know and have IT” BUT the underlying thinking is “Hey, ya I know I got loads of “issues” in my real life, but there’s no real answers. Nobody is perfect”. So go to the extreme. As if anybody is saying this.
Being honest and understanding the inner war is essential to avoid the tragedy of being blindly driven by subconscious fallibility.So please, pause a second and don’t say “Oh, no need to tell me about Christ. I already know”. When the reality of day to day life is full of denial of sad contradictions it only increases the misery and depression. Jesus says “The truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). To replace this bad stuff with blessing merely requires simple humble honesty. So let’s go beyond this crumbling paradox of abysmal cynicism.
Look man, I get it. I thought it. I did it. But please, give me a chance. There is a purity of reality that has been so defiled, and set aside as UNATTAINABLE, that it is accepted as normal Christian thinking but is straight from the pit of hell. You don’t have to go on with the inner war that you are dealing with. I am not lying, exaggerating or trying to sound ‘better than thou’. A life in the Holy Spirit is beyond the inner war and only requires truth.
The force of your will can bring you out of any darkness if you do what is necessary. Maybe, just maybe, you don’t know it all, hey? Maybe you haven’t “Been there, done THIS”. Let me help talk you through the most serious deception that most people accept as truth. After I met the living Jesus, I couldn’t figure out how to deal with ongoing depression and “issues” that I was told by “Christians” would disappear by a ‘sinner’s prayer’.
So let me go back, for a second, to cite a microcosm of today’s cultural dilemna. My dad was a very angry selfish dude, but man, he was obsessed with church. So one day, out of nowhere, my mom comes home and says “I met the living Jesus.” My dad got furious. I was shocked. Why would a “christian” rage against a wife who talks about Jesus? I began to probe their conflict and came to understand the absolute tragedy of christian hypocrisy.
Stay with me. First, can we agree our pride can be a tricky beast? It blinds us and drives us to say or do stuff that we later regret. We yearn for true understanding, forgiveness, meaning, identity, and love but pride insists “Oh I’m fine.” God promises to heal and fulfill us but how do we really get to God? Can you possibly put aside any self-righteousness presumption?
Deception does not wave giant red flags. Truth demands humble character. We face a need for a bandwidth of discernment. There are 67k denominations, 300k churches, and a glut of TV “preachers” mimicking gospel terminology with ersatz “compassion”. Like sheep, the multitudes do not question, but quickly accept, a lethal counterfeit of prosperity-tithing that exploits desperate men like pawns. Do you dare be an individual and seek the Word of truth of a living Jesus (2 Cor.11:3-4)?
I grew up seeing my parents and many others destroyed by religion and refused to be a naive hypocrite or forlorn and cynical. I decided to make a straightforward deal with God. I asked for, and received, an “All-City” fullback award that I needed it to be recruited. But I “chickened out” of my part.I even got worse into booze and drugs. Recruited by Central Mich. Univ. the team called me “The War”: badass image, but inside, terrified of hell. Why was I running from God?
Injuries threatened my football world. I couldn’t afford to stay in college so I made another deal with God. This time I contemplated the Scriptures and found out that our part of the deal is to come directly to Him and surrender our self; “lose your life to find it” the very answer to the inner war with self (Jn.12:25/6:37/Mt.7:7/Malachi 3:10). So, in my mind, faith was squarely on the line, dependent on whether a living Jesus would come to me.I had also been reading a book about a caterpillar, a process of a dark cocoon, and a butterfly. Very relevant.
One spring day, my coach calls me in to his office and awards me a full-ride scholarship. I exploded with a “butterfly” dream. I was “playing with fire.”JESUS IS ALIVE! This was about not about football but my future life.I walked outside and dove into a pond (I was later told it was filled with insecticides. Whoops). A few months later, I visited Notre Dame. While sitting in the stadium, I gave my self to the living Jesus. I didn’t know it then but Iwas “born from above” on June 14th, 1974 (Jn.3:3-8).
I share all that, to say this: Jesus says “Come to ME… Learn from ME… MY ways are easy…” (Mt.11:28). He knew, back then, that He wouldn’t be in Israel when we read this. And He sure wasn’t calling us to a religous system, that ended up killing Him.His Word is relevant today because He is here.Give your self to Him. He will give Himself to you; a “life-giving spirit”; an inner manto conquer the inner war (1 Cor.15:45/Eph.3:16).
We look inside ourself for answers, but the need is to just be still, reflect, contemplate His promises, and look upward, call on His Spirit. The inner war is not some unique “personality flaw”: “Oh nobody knows what I’m dealing with”. It is in all of us like a poison in our blood. Satan tricked Adam to defy God (Rom.5:12). Sincorrupted our entire flesh with a blotch of pure evil.
I was thrilled to finally understand the evil in me as objective sin. God knows this yet loves me.Ignorance to sin tricks us, ruins our lives, works death, and leads to hell (Rom.7:19 Rom.6:23/Rev.21:8). Paul speaks at length, contrasting a man of the Spirit to a man of the flesh. The ultimate purpose is to live beyond your problems so that other lost men can know the true gospel of Jesus. Jesus says forget about trying to make yourself perfect. It’s just more self-obsession. Love will take your mind off yourself.
Anyone who tells you that you can “better” your self is as ignorant as the phonies who dragged a sinner to the feet of Jesus. In one sentence, God, in Christ, nullified all human “righteousness”: ‘he who is without sin, stone her’ (Jn.8:7). There is no one righteous.. our heart is desperately sick… Pride must be “excluded” (Rm.3:10,27/Jer.17:9). We can never “better” our self because there is nothing in self better than self. We must look outside of ourselves. Run to, not away, from God. Today “Christians” want no part of suffering. Yet this is the true gospel. When Paul said he was “crucified” with Christ he meant it.
We all crave to be, do or say what is right. But sinful flesh cancels out this possibility. We are tormented by failure. In Love, God designed a plan to rescue us from self; sin, ego, pride. It is not striving to be a Christian by applying Bible verses to our sinful flesh. It is coming to Jesus Who alone can mediate His plan to reconcile us to His Father. The plan demands our faith. It “reckons” to us the perfect righteousness acquired by the Risen Jesus.
This faith is the ultimate force of the universe. It instantly and automatically cancels all failure and sin and makes you right in God’s eyes (Rm.1:17, 10:9-10). This is the healing to your scars. It takes you beyond the inner war, onto the road of purpose and destiny. Joy proves and reflects this faith. God can finally look on us with the same favor as He does upon His Son (Rm.4:9/Phil.3:7-11).
If we do not have clear discernment between the flesh and the Spirit, we will mistakingly identify the operations of the conscience as the Spirit, which will only result in legalism. Once a man comes into the Spirit the conscience must be cleansed because it fights against the Spirit. It must be “washed clean” from driving us to do good works to justify ourselves (Heb.9:14,10:22).
The term living Jesus is not a novel cliche. It is Biblical revelation and the only legitimate identity of theliving One waiting to come to our side right now.He took on all your sinful ways, in His flesh, on the cross (Rm.6:6,8). Imagine replacing guilt with untouchable triumph; Free as a “butterfly”; a son of the Father (Jn.8:32,36/Gal.2:16-21/ 2 Cor. 5:17,6:17-18). A “deal”for a material blessing does not compare to the exuberance of unlimited forgiveness, meaning, and things you never imagined from His Holy Spirit. To learn discernment of the Spirit requires the breaking of the “old man” and the witness of the Spirit to the inner man.
Upon graduation, I went to three seminaries; MST, the priesthood and later Fuller Seminary but saw further into how Christianity is a counterfeit institution of with no answers but theology and social-political values. A system about Jesus is not the living Person of Jesus. You can learn tons of Bible knowledge, but none of it means that you have come to Him (Read Jn.5:39).
The true church is seen in the live in the Book of Acts 4:32. The ways of the Spirit are not some deep, hidden mystical formula. That kind of stuff is rooted in self-pride. The Spirit honors only childlike humility of faith. Having your guts ripped apart for Jesus and dealing with emotional struggle is part and parcel of the gospel (2 Cor.4:8-11). It is turmoil beyond time, with an eternal purpose and reward. Glory to God!
A systematic approach to God of “Do’s” and “Dont’s” and striving to BE RIGHT dulls the instinctive impulse of our conscience to find the Personal love of our Creator (Rm.2:14/2 Cor.3:6). It exposes a clear void of the Holy Spirit. The downfall here is to instantly feel defensive and try to distance yourself from this reality. Rather, choose transparency before God. Be grateful to see the problem and identify your ignorance to the ways of the Spirit. There are scores of“christians” strewn across the battlefield of life. You don’t have to physically go to a church on Sunday to confirm the influence of our culture.
Everyone builds their own inner “church” of self- isolation. The question is whether it is built on your “righteousness” or His? The snare of group think is man-think. So you don’t have to attend a building to be part of the system. You give up to man-thinking because you do not give in to Jesus thinking. A 1 hour system of 5, 10, or 20-minute segments, that you or others orchestrate, cannot heal the inner war or give you “rivers of living water” (Jn.7:37-38).
We must come to understand that the edge between being in the Spirit and walking in the flesh is a mere decision of transparency away. It is the choice between humility or to remain proud and confident of carnal ways you choose to identify as God. I remember when I was riding in the hearse with my Dad, after my mothers funeral, he turned and said to me “I cannot recall even one of the reasons that I constantly fought with your mother”. It took him his whole life to reach this moment of subtle and partial humility. Full humility is no little thing.
I can not imagine how anyone lives their whole life in this lost world never knowing the individual touch of the love of Jesus. Stupid pride leads men to hell.Please, my friend,dig deep into humility. Get real. Learn the power of contemplation (Rm. 4:19). Don’t let the scars win. Talk to God.In a moment, you can choose childlike faith (Mt.18:3). The Spirit of Jesus has led me over decades to 50 countries to walk the city streets, campuses, prisons, ghettos, etc., and bring the living Bread to all who hunger. He is calling you by name to fulfill your destiny. Game?
If you’d like to help us reach people with the living Jesus, everything helps. We have no group that supports us. Thank you. More than anything we’d love to touch base with you if you’d like. We love you my friend!
Have you ever heard people interpret the rugged misery of their broken lives as God’s will? As if using positive claims, Bible cliches and spiritual terminology magically hides grief and transposes sadness into happiness. As if a desired reality is created by interpreting things with ‘happy words’. My friend, random circumstances, occur from self-centered living, not God’s will. It is heart-breaking to deal with this.
If only a little humility was used the outcome would be to UNDERSTAND God’s will. Then, the happiness that people pretend to be real, could actually become real.
The common death-trap is to claim “I already know what is necessary to be saved”. It is poison. I have never met a musician or artist who says anything like this. They express a natural humility in light of the vast sum knowledge of their field. Yet, todays “Christian” conveys presumption as the apt tendency of spiritual pride. What person, in their right mind, would equate 10 words (I accept you Christ as my personal lord and Savior) to a fixed end of knowing the omniscient eternal will of God?
The truth is that we all, as sin infected human beings, wander into the rugged scenes of this lost world. God does not display Himself like an image on a TV. There are no defined paths on this earth. Every choice renders unknown consequences. No signs posted: THIS WAY TO GOD’S PERFECT WILL. We define reality by our senses. We want a feeling like a sugar-high from coffee and donuts. But God is Spirit and says we must become spirit to find His will (John 4:24,3:3/1 Corinthians 15:45).
In fact, be honest, everything seems a guess, so vague, both in, and around us, that natural human instinct ultimately predetermines the outcome of our choices to be whatever is most safe, comfortable and familiar. Right?
But let’s consider the supernatural. How do we get THERE? Let’s consider what truth might bring us. What if one day, we see a wrinkle, or two, or three in the mirror, and realize time is on a fast track rushing us to death. We get scared. We choose to challenge the rugged appearance of things. We slap fear in the face. We demean comfort for not being all it claims. What if we replace compliance with defiance to our natural instincts?
A professional photographer ventures into the wilderness with just a hope and a camera. His goal: capture that one picture when all the fascinating elements of nature converge to display the absolute glory of one pristine happening. What if you could venture into the rugged challenges of life and learn how to acquire the capacity to capture moments of divine destiny? To “see” the Son in you is His promise (Col.1:27)?
The Wasted Grief over “Accidents”
People expend so much human energy on grief rather than discernment. Accidents and failures can become the means to become spiritual, rather than remain natural. You see my friend the truth is that ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, all of life, in this world, is an accident. But long ago the Father designed a plan to turn everything around THROUGH FELLOWSHIP in His Son.
Everything in life is a result of Adams sin. Everything in us and everything we touch and see is corrupt. Nothing we will ever experience from this world is perfect. Everything is held in the grip of Satan. It holds the potential for tragedy because sin is the essence of this world all around us. Sin is the curse upon this world and every man (Galations 3:10-16).
All our encounters with this world, with people, places and things, are in the rugged setting of the “accident” called sin. Our senses are inaccurate. But we can find destiny in every accident by a simple choice of faith. To bring faith to determine, rather than allowing things to determine. Jesus appeared in order to transform our every encounter with this world. When we are IN HIM He does this by bearing the grief in every situation, through the cross. He takes on the bad stuff of every encounter, then uses all the struggle to bring us into His Spirit, to see how everything it geared to glorify “the ONE seed”.
Instead of an accident we can enter His destiny; the Presence of the Father.
Everywhere we turn, everywhere we look, everything we touch in life is abounding in sin. Nothing is right. No one is right. Everything is an accident from what it could have been if Adam did not sin. Everything is rugged. But being IN CHRIST we can enter beyond the veil of outward circumstances to inward promises of God.
To consign ourselves to the safety and comfort “promised” by this world we settle into a future in a canoe headed over a waterfall.
Please my friend, let me explain something very beautiful. It scares away some but it offers the the thrill like walking a high wire. It is walking on the edge of divine reality. No other way to describe what the Father offers us.
The secret of “IN”
The Word of God is exactly this. He speaks and reveals His will but who “hear”. Who obey? Paul writes “Now the promises (words to find His will, here and now, His blessing in our inner experience; the actual eternal Character of Jesus) were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ” (Galations 3:16). In other words ALL activity of God is towards, in and with Jesus. Nothing He does is towards us; i.e. our body of flesh.
To claim that God is blessing YOU and YOUR life, when indeed, all men are under the curse of sin is just plain ignorant of truth and stupid. God does not bless any man. His blessing is to His Son; “not referring to many, but rather TO ONE”. Period. So unless we are IN Christ, what we claim to be a “blessing” is nothing more than good feelings of the flesh. The only way out of the flesh is IN Christ.
Paul uses the term “in Christ” over 220 times.
Faith is the only means to be in Christ. There is no ritual required. Remember any specific times when you were playing as a kid? Go back to those moments. Go back before the age when the world began to poison your mind with all it’s complicated pressures. That’s where you find faith. Remember when you first laid under the stars or realized the magnificence of creation? That was the “place” of innocence that God built His image for you to identify Him in all of His creation. That’s where faith is born. Abraham was the father of faith and it was conceived when he simply looked up at the stars and believed in God.
Abraham (Isaac, Jacob) became….IN CHRIST. David became…IN CHRIST. Job became…IN CHRIST. Every prophet became…IN CHRIST. Christ came upon men in the Old Testament but could not yet come within man due to sin. So Paul explains that the promise of Abraham, which was long before the giving of the law, actually supersedes the moral behavior demanded by the law.
Paul goes on to explain how ‘obeying the law’ (“trying to be a good better Christian”) can not “impart life”, but indeed, only results in further sin; self-righteousness (v. 21-22). In other words, the presumption of becoming a good Christian, is nothing but proud flesh. To relinquish this is to still the flesh and allow the spirit to believe God and receive His Son within you.
Scores of people claim God’s will is this or that: a job, marriage, car, circumstance, etc. They claim something that is not. God’s blessing is found in one simple way; to be IN CHRIST. Jesus fulfilled all things concerning the demands of the law for perfect moral behavior.
Paul explains that everything God does, is never an isolated focus on “seeds” (men), but always solely focused on Jesus. As wicked sinners we are unworthy of His holy eyes. Unless we are IN JESUS we can never receive His promises. Never. Our fallen flesh is despicable to Him.
My precious brother or sister let me help you figure out how to break through this rugged world and travel the terrain of our disgruntled human nature. You can yet capture and live in the Spirit of the Son. You can yet enter the destiny of God’s plan of redemption IN THE LIVING JESUS.
God brought all His “high and lofty” ways down to earth in Christ. He brought the very destiny of Jesus within our grasp. Don’t let this world win. Don’t let the picture of the rugged scene cause you to settle. God is waiting to lead you within His Son that you might be His love here to men. There is no greater joy than to be in the actual compassion of Jesus to men.
P.S. Over the last month we have been to over 20 prisons throughout the South. It has drained us beyond anything we’ve ever faced. Performing in 90 degree prison yards. We have touched such brutal suffering of so many individuals damaged by a system that breeds mental illness. Just imagine, every day behind barbed wire, secluded to one room, facing 30 years as a 20 year old living in a room full of thirty guys. Every night hearing screams, crying, coughing, sickness etc. Please, I beg you, do not turn a deaf ear. I am not lying or exaggerating. In our nothingness we have clearly seen the magnificent workings of the Spirit bringing the gospel of Jesus to wounded men.
If anyone is in a position to help us we need a Cargo trailer. We almost bought one before we went to Brazil and when Covid hit all the prices soared so when we got back things were double the price. It’s been quite rugged. Now what used to be three thousand is twice the price. We just don’t have the room in our RV for all the stuff to work in the prisons. Surely the Lord can provide and I hope that mentioning it here might be a way. Thank you very much! We love you.
Fascinating is the word I use to describe the intimate activity of the Father in the life of His Son, and, by consequence, in me living the life of a son. I base this on the revelation of Galations 3:16. Paul explains that everything God does, is in, through and towards Jesus. He does nothing, in a sense, in isolated focus on us. We are not worthy of His eyes.
So therefore it is to our utmost expediency to figure out what it really means to be In Jesus (THE seed). Only then can a man discover the design of God’s plan and eternal destiny.
This may sound a bit lofty, but actually anything about a Supreme Eternal Being is lofty. But God brought all His loftiness down and dirty in Christ to earth. So it simply means that everything about salvation depends on being IN the living Jesus. Cuz we can’t get what He offers by prayers, church attendance or moral behavior. Only Jesus. Repeating 9 words in a “sinners prayer” does not quite fit the bill.
So our focus must become what does it practically mean to be IN CHRIST. What does it mean to be “anointed with Christ”; i.e. a Christian.
When John the Baptist saw this “guy”, walk up to him at the river, Jesus outwardly looked like any fellow human man. But John said “Behold, the Lamb of God….” (Matt.3:13/John 29,36). Why? John saw the unseen. Pilate saw Jesus and said “Behold the man….”(Jn.19:5). Why? He chose not to see the unseen. When the Jews saw Jesus they said “He has a demon….” while others said they saw someone who was insane. (John 10:20).
What do you “see” inside Jesus?
Are you left with your self-pity and feelings of inadequacy or His majesty and living power? Do you engage or rationalize? Some people think, they not only deserve God’s favor, but that John 3:16 implies God could not resist loving them because they are so ‘lovable’.
The truth is that your life will reflect exactly what you see? If you force yourself to “see” the unseen, then this work will give slowly but ultimately give birth to heart.
My friend, it surely is my utter privilege if I can be used in any way to help anyone come to know the living Jesus. This is my life focus. But it’s not up to me to save you. It’s up to you. It’s up to you to bring forth a heart to Jesus that shows you see inside of Jesus and realize His salvation is the most serious thing in the universe.
Have you ever read Proverbs 17:16? “Why is there a price in the hand of a fool to buy wisdom, When he has no heart?”
It’s a like someone who thinks he is a marathon runner because he watches, observes and expresses interest in a marathon. He’s run a bit and knows the feelings of sweat and exhaustion. But his deliberate choice to “jump the line” and see inside himself the capacity to run a marathon can be described as nothing other than stupid pride. This absurd presumption is what Paul describes as the result of spiritual blindness and the curse and consequence of hubris.
Salvation occurs only if a person fully engages his will and consciousness to calculate and conclude that he must break with self and turn away from pride, once and for all (2 Cor.4:3-4 and 2 Cor. 3:16).
IT IS NO LONGER “I”
When Paul met the living Jesus he instantly explained “it is no longer I (ego, pride, self) who live” (Galations 2:20). This may be the most insightful verse of the Bible into the gospel because it defines the absolute necessity of replacing self life with the life of Jesus. It can only happen through the cross; “I (self, pride, ego) have been crucified with Christ”.
Sometimes people write me some token words on a page in an obvious sense of expecting me to feel giddy and privileged that they did so. As if “Here I am. Now honor me by responding as I expect”. Like they are doing me a favor. Like they already know it all, but want me to see them as a peer and give them some “spiritual stuff”. If you are side by side, with me, then show it by seeing Whom I see Jesus to be, and doing what I’m doing and living WHOM I’m living. See inside me with heart to “see” the living Jesus, not me.
My dear precious friend, do you not see that He sees inside you?
Your salvation is not up to you to define. The Scriptures reveal that, like Paul, we must receive, and obey, the REVELATION from God, not the culture or traditions of American Christianity (Galations 1:12).
It is not up to God to do something “special” for you. You don’t need some personal “vision” or “experience”. Salvation is finished. It is up to you to now believe, repent and receive the Spirit of the living Jesus. God did everything and Jesus completed salvation. It is a work so phenomenal that nothing needs to be done for you or anyone ever again. For you to realize this is totally dependent on the depths of your repentance.
God doesn’t need you. You desperately need God. Jesus says “If I be lifted up I will draw all men…” (John 3:14, 8:32,34). This term “lifted up” refers to the cross and is as impactful as when Israel obeyed God and physically riveted on the staff of Moses to be spared being bitten by snakes. When I focused on the Jesus my only question was such a One alive today Whom I could come to? It is the only “drug” from despair, guilt and depression. Paul says “But we SEE Jesus…” (Hebrews 2:9,12:2).
What are you going to see? It’s up to you. How serious are you about eternal life?
To go to heaven requires the full engagement of your will. It’s not a part time hobby. I seek the living Jesus with a panting heart, like a deer craving water; like a runner dashing towards the finish line. Everything in my life is consumed with Him. This ‘race’ it is not, like the story of the turtle and the rabbit, where “slow and easy wins the prize”. No turtles. Just rabbits. Paul says “I beat my own body and make it my slave” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
It’s about snapping your mind into subjection and changing your ways. It’s about exerting heart. Replace a lazy slothful disposition with a ‘heads up’ awareness. Changing the words you say and the way you say them. Replace defensiveness with quick-twitch humility and sorrow. Find HEART. Force yourself to “see” the unseen (John3:3ff). To comprehend and contemplate into the deep heart of Jesus.
You got to get out of the quick sand of self-pity. It will kill you a slow death. Then you got to see it as poison. Self-pity is NOT entitlement due to God’s neglect but the wall of separation from God. The very first commandment of Jesus is to love the Lord with all your heart.
Everything, and I mean everything, in the words of Jesus in the Scriptures is a command to ACT. It is a summons and a call to CHANGE. Not to sit back and “wait” (The Hebrew word for “wait” in Isaiah 40:31 is “expect”) by listening to lazy lies and excuses. Expect the living God to bless obedience not to bathe you with compliments over an appearance of religiosity because of occasional good works.
God is no beggar. He needs nothing from you. He is King. He only desires heart. To see Him for Who He is. The great “I AM THAT I AM”. It is not for us to be in control and He to be our Butler so as to serve us whatever we think we need. Anything and everything we can do is only what we should do out of heart (Luke 17:10).
The cross is not a past historical event but a living power (Phil.3:10/1 Cor.15:31/Rom.6:6). It is the only “place” for a wicked filthy wretch. It is the only “experience” where the essence of salvation can take place. It means one thing: death. It stands front and center for us to see. Without it there is no reality of Jesus. The cross is the only living active “power of God” (1 Cor.1:18).
Whenever I mention the cross people instantly become ‘deaf’ because they do not understand its practical positive implications.
The cross is the only place to start; to learn. The very first command of Jesus is “If anyone wishes to follow Me he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me” (Luke 9:23/Matt. 10:38).
The cross results, not in morbid misery, but in unspeakable joy of freedom from self. Jesus then fills this void with love and creative intelligence to care for others. To have compassion and make others laugh instead of cry, to lift prisoners and the homeless, drug addicts and the suicidal out of the dungeons of darkness.
There is a fascinating Scripture in Matthew 11:7-19. Jesus asks the crowds what the exact motives were that drove them to go out to see in John, in responding to the rumors of a man in the wilderness baptizing people. He first refutes the typical expectations for self-comfort or appearance. Jesus cuts through all the games and ignites dynamite with the declaration that what they were SEEING INSIDE John was greater than anything seen in any man before him.
Right there, in a common shabby, weak, human being resided the ultimate manifestation of the Most High. It is what happens in someone who chooses to engage God in Jesus. Jesus gave great esteem to John because what it required from him to “seize” this revelation was an attitude of “violence” (v. 12). John was not exactly sitting around waiting for God to “lead” him or “bless” him. Obedience starts with true faith to act.
It’s almost as if Jesus is ‘tongue in cheek’ when He asks “What did you go out to see? A reed blown by the wind?”. As if what was in John resulted from him being a religious wimp. In fact Jesus doubles down on the power of will in John by saying “no one has ARISEN amongst men” like him. It was Johns choice to “arise” from living amongst the ways of a lazy human race to LIVE for what he saw inside Jesus. Does you will blow in the wind like a reed? Seize control my brother or sister. It will blow your mind.
It was John who exerted the engagement of his will to such an extent that it literally made Jesus pause and marvel. It was kind of the same response when Jesus watched King David deploy his heart on earth.
This was a similar situation with a woman whom Jesus called a dog and she responded “YES….but even dogs will eat crumbs from your table” (Matthew 15:27/Mk.7:28). In a very mundane common day experience for Jesus in the house of lowly woman one of the most profound things was revealed: our nothingness is our only gateway to His love.
Then in the following parable of Matthew 11:16-19 Jesus lets us have it. He basically says that people expect God to do a song and dance for them if they wiggle a little ‘bait’ in front of him by a feigned twitch of religiosity. As if acting christian just blesses the socks off of God. Like “WOW! You actually might consider MEEEEE!”.
Jesus didn’t tell this parable because it is a rare attitude. People, in general, act like God owes them answers and should be at their feet if they clap their hands to Him. No, my brother, this ain’t it. You got a loooong ways to go before you have a clue. The darkness and evil of our wicked nature has only one vortex upon it and that is from the winds of the fires of hell. For God to actually have done what He has done in Jesus is so far beyond anything we will ever deserve, the only appropriate response is absolute worship.
So what I am saying my dear friend, is that all that attitude of thinking that you deserve answers is very… ready for this… “sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). We ‘deserve’ nothing but hell. Entitlement is sin. It is self. It is pride. It is the world of “ME” first. No matter what you ‘think’ you deserve, in the eyes of the Master of the Universe you are nothing. Any sense of “Hey, I’m here for you to love me” means you are totally missing the gospel.
The Father has provided, not only the way, but all the means necessary, grace, wisdom, forgiveness, etc., for you to SEE INSIDE and enter into the heart of the livingJesus. And this is the judgement “Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light…but he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deed may be manifested…” (John 3:19ff). Jesus is soon to return. This is no game. Please, wake up.
Someone who comes to the Light shows Jesus to the world so they can SEE INSIDE.
His ways… are High-ways. They are the roads upon which the lowly travel.
“As high as the heavens are above the earth so are My ways above your ways”
Imagine the journey of learning hand in Hand with Jesus of His comfort and compassion. (Com-”with” /Passion- “suffering”)How can such a word express the ultimate love of God? Because it IS the greatest love another man both needs and wants; a suffering love. This is the kind of love He offers you right now through His Spirit.
So many times in dealing with people, I can see by their lack of response they don’t get what I’m saying. I see a “blank look”. So I realize how far away they are because they just don’t understand my terminology when speaking of God’s ways. It’s not that I am speaking in a sophisticated manner with big words and lofty ideas. Quite the opposite. My tone and words are in the realm of “nothingness” and this language is simply and deliberately not understood by those who do not want to walk this road.
I walk a highway. On this highway, I have walked for over 45 years. It is the highway of the cross. I know even this very word “cross” is not understood as a way in which to walk unless you walk it. But it has brought me to the lowlands where there is absolutely NOTHING.
This “highway” is humility. Not false piety. It is the seeing of myself as dust and ashes. It is here on this road of nothingness that a man can choose to believe and thus begin to “see” the Kingdom of the living Jesus(Jn.3:3). It is out of the ruins of our sinful ways that we realize the utter futility of all earthly striving. The only stimulus is pride and when that pride collapses we are left to see the nothingness. And when you truly see that you are nothing then there is nothing to be proud of.
When I speak to people about this kind of humility I see instantly that the natural man is offended. He has no idea how to find this highway because all he travels on is the highway of mankind which is pride. This is quite a remarkable reality.
How can a man NOT find humility?! It’s right there, in front of his nose. Duh! But it’s true. The “highways” of humility are those that automatically lead to the revelation of God’s wisdom, truth, grace and ultimately His Son, the living Jesus.
It’s not a way that is at all common to men. It’s not like just one description away. Like, if I can spend the time and vocabulary and articulation then, ahhh, finally, you will understand what I’m saying. No. You will never understand if you travel the highways of man.
Jesus says “I praise You, Father,….You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants…this is WELL PLEASING in your sight” (Matthew 11:25-26).
The highways of the Father are an entirely hidden way. You have to go down broken roads and evaluate “pot holes” of the past obstacles in your mind and heart. Transparency is the map which leads beyond all obstacles to the High-ways of the Spirit. Most people who start out just refuse to travel in such a way. They don’t want to “lose face”. They hold on to what they have, afraid to let go of it. Unbelief.
Truth is another highway of thinking that is just so far beyond the roads of men. Lies and pretense are so built into the psyche of men that they accept it as their truth. So the real truth is defined as non-truth. Truth is a painful road because it shows us the reality of who we are and who we are not. But truth, apart from the Spirit of truth, results in cynicism. Truth in the shadow of the Most High results in light and ultimately rebirth.
I realized how blessed I am to have chosen to travel the roads of humility and truth, so long ago, that today, these days, I instantly know “where“ they are. I know how to find them. I watch the majority of men travel the low roads of nothingness that lead to the low ways of constant failure, grief, blame, accusation, unbelief, pride, equating material wealth with spiritual blessing, and the selfishness and rebellion which all of it breeds.
They are going nowhere. My friend, please listen to me, one little choice can make a world of difference. The High-ways of the Almighty lead to high hopes and high times of wisdom and joy and the blessing that only comes from His hand in a lowliness of spirit. He makes them appear out of the ‘wilderness’ of our brokenness (Is.43:19). It is absolutely beautiful that God has chosen that a man does not have to be “somebody” but rather nobody.
It always amazes me that He chooses to reveal His High- ways to the rejected, the weak, the contrite, the crushed (Is.57:15/1Cor.1:27-28).
Jesus says, “…I am lowly of heart” Matt.11:25-28. This is the ‘down to earth’ disposition in which He reaches out to introduce and teach of the manifold roads that unfold within us to the Father’s character.
When you step out beyond your weakness to draw your strength from His…
this is when you find the “highways to Zion” are paved from within
His High-ways are inviting saying… “Come follow me”…
Create feathers out of failures and turn your wounds into wings.
A “pinnacle” is the highest peak of individual fulfillment. Ever since childhood we each hope for such fulfillment. But bad things can happen that make us feel like our dreams are lost. But I am living proof that all things are possible for him who believes.
Pin·na·cle / pinək(ə)l/ Latin- pinna: wing
1. A towering peak, as of a mountain, or rock high above the ground. 2. The word used to define greatness, to be the best. The highest point or the culmination of one’s potential.
I know an inmate from a 3rd world prison. He was falsely convicted of a capital crime and headed for Death Row. Imagine: His hands and feet were shackled as he shuffled past cages with a stench like a zoo and sounds of shouting, crying and screaming. So I’d like to start here, at the bottom of life.
The word “Truth” comes from a Greek word: alethea. It means REALITY. It is an illusion that happiness rules this world. The truth is that suffering rules this world. Injustice, corruption, greed, lust, rage, divorce, drugs, homelessness, orphans, financial ruin, sickness, physical and mental scars are reality. Every single on of us deals with our own level of unique pain. But the abyss of hopeless despair is the same.
THE ORIGIN OF WINGS
Imagine a carpenter in his workshop. One day, Jesus is working on a table for a neighbor. He strikes a nail with His hammer into the wood from a tree he cut down. Suddenly, His mind launches into anguish of thoughts over the pain of nails piercing His own very hands and feet as He is soon to be sprawled out upon a cross. He can’t escape the living nightmare because He knows it’s real. It’s going to happen. He is no longer “there” as Josephs’ son, but transfers into the contemplation as the Father’s Son. He ponders His purpose, His mission, His agony.
“Can I endure it?” He wonders. “I must… I will.” Jesus knows He is our only hope. He knew He would carry heavy wood, step by step, up the hill, that would become the very altar upon which He would sacrifice Himself for us. So right then, right there, in those moments, in his carpenter’s workshop, Jesus forged THE ATTITUDE He needed to make it through the life He chose to live. This is how you make wings. You forge them in His “workshop” of anointed heart and mind contemplation in His Holy Spirit (Jn.14:23).
It is not up to God to equip you to serve Him. You see, my friend, this is what it means to make wings. It’s about you. Your will. Your choice. Jesus was able to ‘fly above’ death itself because He forged such will. You must learn to use your faith to draw upon this same attitude of His Spirit: WINGS.
I sometimes recall the night I was face down in a jail sewer hole. I saw into the abyss of my nothingness. It scared me. I felt as a slain soldier looking for a place to crawl off the battlefield of life. A few weeks later my college football buddies and I were downing beers and eating cookies that my mom sent in a huge box.
All of sudden “BOOM!” My buddies fled like a hand grenade landed at our feet. A little book appeared in that box that scared them silly. But I refused to let the refusal of others, to be real, keep me from finding reality. I began to read that little book and it began to lead me down the path to my pinnacle.
You must fight, like your life depends on it, because it does.
When God came to earth, He didn’t come in a circus act as a ‘fat cat’ in fame and fortune.That would have given us false happiness. You see, my friend, Jesus is that prisoner I mentioned above on Death Row, in my opening. He chose the bottom of life, so He could show us that He can lift anyone to their pinnacle, no what their circumstances are on earth, no matter what our past has done to us.
Wings are portrayed as a Hollywood gimmick or fantasy. But I’m here as your brother who loves you, like an archer with a loaded bow, to pierce through the lies with a straight arrow of absolute truth: WINGS ARE REAL!
Everyone knows that the labels men put on other men make them feel “better”, while degrading the victims with twisted facts and accusations. The truth is we are all offenders, all the same, potential “drug addicts”, “murderers”, “perverts”, “drunks”, etc. and God loves each one of us. No one is “better” than anyone. God does not see lust, booze or drugs as hereditary, personal, “addictions” but as the result of isolated pain and our desperate need for salvation by the revelation of His love.
Depression is not a unique “personality disorder”. It is a common struggle resolved by understanding and “seeing” human nature as God does9. All thoughts can and must be deactivated by truths (2 Cor.10:3-5).
God is not a Monster spewing wrath but a compassionate Father waiting to help you find your greatest gift. Wings are the unparalleled capacity to see divine reality and by this “seeing” to be empowered to act accordingly. And by this personal dynamic, we learn how to transform our own wounds to rise above everything we face. You don’t need a doctor, church, pastor, drugs, therapy, etc. You need to change.
Ignite your will. Wake up my friend before it is too late. If you think “Oh no problem. I can be truthful” then you ain’t got a clue to the truth. It is in fear and trembling that I must fight to reckon myself to the cross so that the Spirit of Truth might have His way. Doing what you know you should do is what you must DO (Hosea 4:1). It starts with one step. Step by step, results in getting to your pinnacle! Let the wind of the Spirit kiss your face with the vision of eternal life.
Wings begin as you begin to turn away from phony pretense to gut-wrenching truth of who you are. My friend, your life can become INCREDIBLE. I hear thousands of people tell me the same exact line of regret over the time waisted and the wish that they could go back and do it over. God says you must not think like this ( Ecc. 7:10,8:12 / Rm.8:28/ Eph.1:11).
If you can read this…You can yet reach your pinnacle.
You can turn your failures into feathers by allowing your suffering to crush your pride and release your faith.
What is your “True Grit”? If you are willing to switch natural instincts for trained responses, you can elevate your 5 senses to see, hear, touch, sense and taste divine reality. You must take divine promises and put them into your daily thought process. In order to make a delicious meal a chef must take ingredients off the shelf. He uses his own ingenuity to put together a meal to eat. Spiritual ideals do no good sitting ‘out there’. You must take them from being “out there” and put them into practice.
My story is not born from an “altar call” or “sinner’s prayer”. It is born from above, where eagles glide in the freedom of open skies. Jesus says “Unless a man is born from above he cannot SEE the kingdom of God”24. I was in the football stadium of Notre Dame when I RESOLVED to follow Jesus. I didn’t demand or expect any “experience”. I just conceded to what my conscience had long craved. What is there to lose if you know you are nothing?117 Jesus says “the truth shall set you free”(Jn.8:32). I ‘died’ to take a chance. Now
I see… therefore I’m free.
Faith is not fairy dust or wishful thinking. It is calculated resolution of individual heart. It is intimate engagement between you and God alone. It is acting according to God’s Word. Faith is like an instrument that God created. But He leaves it to us to compose our music.
It has been 45 years that I have been making decisions of how to turn my failures and wounds into feathers and wings. I have spent day after day, night after night, in deep fellowship with Jesus, exchanging attitudes of failure and wounds for feathers and wings. David says he learned to fly “under the shadow of His wings”.
People ask “How can ancient Scriptures impart wings?” They don’t. It is by our faith that we “see”, beyond the black letters on white pages in the heart of the living Jesus Who and are thus compelled by His Spirit to act. Feathers are offered in the “I see” moments of Biblical revelation. Jesus says “My burden is LIGHT…”. 80 You can replace a heavy heart with this “feather” of God’s Word. The impact of your life depends on the degree you expend of your will power (Mt.11:12).
We can heal our own sorrows, regret and pain by a simple choice of individual faith. We can choose to touch, taste, feel, sense, and see; to BELIEVE in the reality of the living Jesus, more than what our physical or emotional senses dictate our situation should be.
When you hurt someone or are hurt by them, humility is reconciliation. 9 You have hurt God, and been hurt by Him. The wounds that break you can also provide the wisdom to learn to “see” your failures and His redemption; wings (Read Jeremiah 30:12-17).
The strategy of hell is to take advantage of self-pity and ignorance, and thus cripple our mind with confusion and subtle accusations against God. Slowly this can harden our heart. Our will falls limp, and we give up. This is the strategy of the devil by which he wins countless souls. No one else knows it or sees it but God, and you. But we can turn off the dripping faucet of negativity by engaging our will, intelligence, and shut down thoughts from the abyss.
Jesus conquered The Abyss and every hellhole on earth (Rev.9:11). So He can cover every aspect of every struggle. There are not 10 abysses. There is only one. We see into it through the hole in our heart. Jesus can reach into this “hell hole” because He overcame the human wound of sin with His new divine wings of a resurrection heart.
This is exactly WHY I dare to fly. I know how to transform my failures into feathers. My wings grow bigger because His love has no measured limit.
There is something terrible “in the air” (Ephesians 2:2). The bothersome depression “I just can’t ‘put my finger on it” is designed precisely to keep you from doing so. We are subject to a fierce unseen battle of hostility and hatred. The Scriptures warn “in the last days lawlessness will increase… ” and “Satan prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (Mt.24:12/1 Pt.5:8).
The pinnacle of your will is required to triumph in these last days. Please, listen to me.
You can’t change or eliminate evil. It’s not going to go away or get better. But you can learn to cover, compensate and rise above it. This is the endeavor to build-out WINGS. God does not drop His power out of the sky. We must each learn how to receive and express His love out of which comes the desire and investment of will to build our wings.
We each choose our level of response to Jesus. Thus, I create my individual manner of tone, vocabulary, sensitivity, creativity, investment of my own belongings and personality to express my love for God and each person I meet. I choose the level of my energy in how, or what, will be most effective. His love comes under me and I choose to sprout my wings. We choose every aspect of who we are. What I’m saying is that God does not give us wings. We must learn how to create them.
If wings can lift someone out of the worst situation how much more anyone in a lesser situation?
Reach for your pinnacle, and find something you never imagined. If you won’t try to find wings, you can’t deny that they exist. “Oh, but you don’t understand how bad I got it”. You’re right. No one can, but the Father does. His love can redeem even the worst situation (Rm.8:28)
In conclusion, my friend, I ask you to ponder that facial look of unflinching courage on the face of an eagle. This is the attitude we must build within our will, to build our wings here and now. God cannot lie. He “swears” to “bless” (total package of help, grace, strength etc.) to create your wings in The Pinnacle of His Son (Hebrews 6:13-19).
God told Ezekiel ‘I have made your face harder than your enemies…like a rock’ (Ez.3:9). This is godly defiance. To defy yourself and this world for the sake of faith in the living Father; Abba! Daddy! It is the very first thing a man receives, and proof of, the Holy Spirit (Galations 4:6).
In the cold shivering of this brutal world, the Father calls you by name. He yearns for you to understand the language of “Abba! Father!”15 It is the Eagles screech that God teaches us as we learn to build our wings. This prayer is the language of desperation. Begging is the norm. Like a majestic eagle on high, His silent voice screeches across the blue skies…
‘Why do you say that the justice due you escapes My notice’…Lift up your eyes and see Who created the stars…because of the greatness of My power not one is missing…Behold, the Lord God will come to you with might…His reward is with Him…Like a shepherd He will gather you under His arms…though you grow weary and tired and stumble badly yet those who EXPECT the Lord to come will mount up and ascend on high with wings like eagles’ (Isaiah 40) .
As this deadly virus obliterates the world around us, you, of course, are not shaken in the slightest. You are confident that you know everything relevant to your present existence on earth. You know exactly what’s going on and what to do. Right?
Of course not. Everyone is at a loss for answers. The truth is, no one on earth has ever faced such calamity. Who does not feel utterly inadequate in such a time as this? As a friend, I ask you to take this attitude of humility and go far deeper. Let it trigger in you a place you’ve never gone; a deep calculation of individual accountability; “What am I going to do?”. Humility is the road that will offer you real answers.
We have preached the living Jesus on the streets of New York, Tokyo, Chicago, Rio, Paris, Madrid etc. We have touched the suffering of multitudes but never the shock of something that can only be answered by the living God. But the gut reaction of many is to accuse God of enjoying the terrible suffering of mankind: “He must be some kind of monster”. But this thinking is not objective consideration of sound reasoning of Biblical revelation and the human conscience. It is rooted in an emotional knee-jerk grudge against God as a result of some prior ill-effect from the world upon one’s life experience. An intelligent analysis of even the most basic facts eliminates such distorted accusations.
Instead of remaining in the dark, the Father beckons YOU to come into His light and discover a new place of secret things occurring behind the frightening scenes on TV. He is using this disaster to draw a human heart into the life-transformation of the death of His Son. This is no little thing. People are conditioned by Hollywood movies of zombies and apocalyptic scenarios where men conquer “end time” conflict in a sensational world setting. “Lights, camera, monsters, lightning, action…”. The reality is Jesus shall return in the most mundane and common setting; like a “Thief in the Night” (Rev.15:16, Mt.24:43, 1Thess.5:2).
This is about a real battle for human souls. And you are the ONE He is looking at right now. God is offering you, this “acceptable time”, to get alone and learn His secret antidote (2 Cor. 6:2/Heb.3:7,-11,4:7). The spread of this virus is not instigated by the wrath of God. One “little” fact. God was not behind all the wars, crimes, disease, etc. throughout time. The Scriptures reveal that the devil, not God, rules this world. He has all power to use all evil to destroy mankind (Mat.4:6, 2Cor.4:4, Rev.12:9, Jn.12:13, 1Jn.5:19). It is God, the Father, Who initiated merciful redemption, despite man’s rebellion to Him, to send His Son to earth to rescue us from this world (John 10:10).
Please, I beg you, to stop and ask yourself; “Do I really know God? Do I really understand what it means to know the living Jesus?”. You are at risk of hell, and have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by deep humility. Even as you read this, most will gloss over what I write, driven so deeply by a “virus” far more deadly than this. For generations Satan has long been spreading another kind of “virus” called presumption. I would beg you to: S.T.O.P:
Stop in everything you DO or SAY and…
Think. Reevaluate the quick response by your instincts.
Open your heart to God. What is your actual state of mind and heart.
Pray like never before. Just shoot from the hip. Beg God to protect you from presumption. Talk to Him from your depths.
No one likes violent ways. No one listens to radical voices. I am not a religious zealot on a wrath-of-God rampage. I am a son. I am your brother, fighting with you, and for you, to help you understand that God is a very holy Creator and Father. He is not bum on a park bench or a passing stranger with an opinion. I love you man. But Jesus warns that a “violence” of will is essential to get beyond our lazy and selfish ways, escape the perils of this world and break into the reality of a fearful God (Mt. 11:12,4:1-11/Rev.12:9/John 12:31/ 1Jn.5:19).
You are not a scarecrow dangling from a post in a corn field. You have a power to awaken what God has put in you, the free will. It has the capacity, when united with faith, to touch the supernatural. It is God created and God imparted and if you will reject the claims and excuses of a victim and exert the attrition of a fighter you will receive great reward (Heb.11:6).
Do you understand how “presumption” is like a deadly “virus”? It entered our human bloodstream 10,000 years ago when Adam sinned. Satan designed presumption as the thinking to separate all mankind, from God (Gen.3:4/2 Cor.10:3). We think exactly what Adam and Eve thought; “I already know God. Therefore I can presume He is with me in what I choose to do”. It is the arrogance that God is subject to YOU rather than you are subject to Him. Presumption is deference to SELF, instead of a bended knee and bowed head of obedience. Don’t let this be a platitude. Stop… Open… Pray… A unique response is “What more can I do to know You oh God?”. To admit your void of God is not to deny a prior “commitment” but to dare upon the mercy of God at the price of your humiliation. How much more does God need to shake you to wake up? There comes a time when He sees the casual indifference and self-righteous response and says “Fine. Your choice”.
Jesus says; “I warn you whom to fear: fear the One, Who after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:5).
Stay with me. This is crucial. If you think this does not pertain to you, presumption is working perfectly. It is the reason for all your problems. You see, presumption is what gives you a feeling that everything is fine with God, when it is not. We are all born with a phenomenal knowledge of God already in our conscience. This knowledge is tragically equated with a relationship with Jesus (Rm.1:20).
We live in a “Christian” world where the knowledge of Christ is common. It streams to us in multitudes of venues. Millions of preachers and “churches” flood the cities and airwaves. This glut of Christian knowledge has greatly increased presumption (1 Cor.8:1-3). Jesus says even knowledge of the Scriptures results in presumption, without directly coming to Him (Jn.5:39-40)
Our con science (with knowledge) reflects the image of God. It also resounds to us of His Character, regardless of whether men deny it (Read Romans 1:20,2:14). So presumption says “I already have all this knowledge about God. I don’t need to go to the cross and lose my life in Jesus”.
David begs God to protect him from this foul attitude because presumption of God is defiance to God (Ps.19:13). It exposes ignorance to the intimacy of Jesus. Consider Job. Initially he exalted in his wisdom of God. But when he finally came into His presence he shut his mouth and put his face to the ground (Job chapter 42). An eternal God can not be known by a finite brain. Can you imagine standing before God and saying “Hi God. I already know You so I’m fine”? Absolute stupidity.
God tests each of us for the “virus” of presumption. Then, on the spot, He presents the results to our conscience. When you insist that you already know God, but deep inside, you are fully aware that you are not in fellowship with Him, your conscience is tormented because you are living a lie. It reverberates with the symptoms of deep anxiety, the false sense “I’m fine”, frustration over lack of change, spiritual laziness, blame, and self-pity. All these expose the void of the living Jesus. It is a foundation in presumption. Obligation and guilt replace a sincere love for God.
Tragically, this “virus” of presumption does exactly the opposite of what you think. It does not give you a relationship with God. It takes away all the time and hope of you building one. If you are not “violent” against presumption it will kill you, like it does to billions. No matter how much you may know “God RESISTS the proud” (Jm.4:6/1 Pt.5:5). The secret antidote?
“Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will show him the way he should choose…The secret counsel of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He reveals His promises to them…How great is Your goodness that You have stored up for those who fear You…You hide them in the protection of Your presence” (Psalms 25:12-14,31:19).
So I ask you. Would you like, once and for all, to extinguish the flames of presumption? To not leave one ember of pride burning. To look at its face in the mirror and say “I shall defy that defiance. I shall fear God. I shall learn to love God”. (Rm.3:18, 5:12)? If Jesus humbled Himself how much more should we (Phil.2:5). If He became a bondservant, and washed His brothers filthy feet, how low will we go to behold the Father as He did?
“The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Prov.9:10).
God has done His part to literally ‘scare the hell out of us’. Now it is our part to put our face in the dust and realize we deserve hell fire. People throw around the word “sinner” like it means a social misfit. When in reality it is the most offensive word in the human language. God says we are not basically good, but essentially wicked (Rom.3:10-12 Is.59:4-11). Where are you sitting? Find the tiniest particle of dirt closest to you. Put it on the tip of your finger. It has more value than our life. “…We are but dust.” (Ps.103:14). This realization is the attitude that Paul used to fight presumption (1 Cor.4:13/1Tim.1:15, see also Job 25:6). It was not a complication but a qualification for God’s grace.
Now how does that strike you? Can you get “there”? This honesty puts us in the perfect position for mercy. On the ‘heart-monitor of meaning’ our lives read out as a flatline. In fact, our life is worse than nothing, because our wicked ways are an assault on the nature of a holy God. When I first realized this, it did not offend me, it freed me from striving to be what I knew I wasn’t; a good person. I then learned to live by faith in Jesus.
Answer this: Why is it we want others to think we are something that we are not?Why do we hide our little stupid stuff from everyone? Because we know that what we really are is wicked, while at the same time project to others our presumptuous ways. The only way to break this stronghold is to set our will on being transparent about our sin (John 3:14).
The secret antidote to presumption requires a depth of transparency. It is here where the fear of God goes from being an ambiguous term to a reality in your life. Paul said he was the worst sinner and ‘the scum of the earth’ (1 Tim.1:15/1 Cor. 4:13). He saw humiliation, not as demeaning, but as a means to learn transparency. For when you know that you deserve eternal torment in hell this changes everything. Whatever it takes to brake your pride then becomes a blessing (Ps.84:10).
Lesson 101 in the fear of God; nothing should be based on the measly in’s and out’s of whether this or that happens in your life. God is not a means to an end, but the means and the end. “Oh the depths and riches of God…” said this man who was beaten, homeless and shipwrecked (Rom.11:33).
No mind can fathom His beauty. His glance gives birth to galaxies. Ocean waves explode at His nod. The sun sits still while gigantic planets zoom about it in perfect rotation. He hears every sound, frequency and whisper. He knows how many times every animal blinks. His compassions for mankind moved Him to sacrifice His only Son and attack us with mercy like an army sent to rescue. He is the “Watcher of mankind” (Job 7:20). His majesty reigns forever. My heart grieves for all those suffering at this time. If anyone will hear what their conscience tells them, they will recognize God calling them to escape the fear of the virus by the fear of His Holy Word.
We must learn, like Job, that regardless of any suffering, God is worthy to bow in silent tongue and worship Him. If we are in touch with God we realize it is not “What about ME?”. The outcome of true repentance is not self-happiness but to walk in awe of God. This is to give Him His due. This is contentment and peace of mind. It is what everyone is seeking at this time of consternation. It is the blessing of knowing the secret (Phil. 4:12,6-7). No more contending with God that He must be, or do, what we want.
We declare “YOU ALONE ARE GOD. AND THERE IS NO ONE LIKE YOU”. And for this holy decision He renders reward (Heb.11:6).
The living Jesus knows the secrets of God and the secrets of our sin. He knows the lingering effects of presumption (2 Cor.4:4). On the cross, Jesus produced the ultimate antidote, to mediate the secret sin in our heart with the secret of a holy God. So He designed a humility not found in the common market. It remains presumption to “the wise and intelligent” and is revealed in the spirit of truth to a little “child” (Mt.11:25).
The word “secret” in Hebrew is “sod” and means friendship. (see Ps.25:14 ASV/ Amplified/ KJV “the sweet friendship and companionship of the Lord is with those who fear Him”). Imagine replacing presumption with a depth of God. Jesus says “No longer do I call you servants…but friends” (Jn.15:15). He doesn’t want self-righteousness (Rm.10:6-10). He requires we come to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Lam.3/Rm. 6:6). He returns like a thief in the night.
The Scriptures warn; EVERY MOUTH WILL BE SHUT AND THE WHOLE WORLD WILL BECOME SUBJECT TO GOD’S JUDGMENT (Rm.3:19).
I wasted a lot of time “waiting on God”. My prayers went “unanswered” day, after day, year after year due to my presumption. I expected God to do a song and dance for me when I prayed. Guess what happened? Nothing. So then I began to think “Could He be waiting for me to get up and do the song and dance for Him?”. Could my “growing up” open up God? I faced my presumption. I became accountable for my life. I taught myself to fear Him, obey His Word and implement a plan.
Of course, we don’t want to think this, because laziness is the root of presumption. We want to throw everything on God because……well…because He is God. He can do anything, right? No, He can’t. God can not violate His own creation. He has given us a power of the free will. He cannot lie. It would contradict His holy Character to then violate our free will to impose His will. It is not that God refuses to answer your prayers. It is that you refuse to “hear” His answer.
Have you ever had something right there at your fingertips but you let it slip away? Everything you need from God is right there at the fingertips of your heart. All you need do is act.
Things can change on a dime, now, tonight on your bed, in the morning, turn right instead of left, change your mind, slide to your knees, feel bad instead of self-righteous, take back that word. What if all you have to do is ask Him for help? Maybe you just need to hear words come out of your mouth that you never heard before. Like “I’m sorry” or “I shouldn’t have said that” or “I changed my mind” or “Can you give me another chance?” or “Can you help me I have no idea?”.
This kind of change is an outcome of the fear of God. If you don’t stretch you will never touch. Reach always requires a stretch. If you would just be willing to realign your demeanor with one tiny mustard seed (Mark 11:22-26). Can’t be any closer. God is giving the whole world the time to think and say what we need to think and say.
“And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence” (1 Peter.1:17).
If you want to “Go for it” it doesn’t make any sense to do so in ways that do not guarantee the “with an oath” to give you the desired outcome (Jn.12:25/Heb.6:16,7:20). The cross does not mean 10 things. It means one thing; death, resulting in eternal life. God does not make us a “better” person, by fixing our problems. The cross is God’s power for us to die (1 Cor.1:18).
We are like sheep led to slaughter that so we become a ‘new creation’ by the power of His resurrection (Rm.8:36ff/Phil.3:3-11). Every fear can be traced back to our fear of death. So the fear of God, to obey Him, eliminates all fear, because His “perfect love casts out all fear” (1 Jn. 4:18). If you are willing to die with Christ you are promised that you shall live with Him (Rm.6:6).
Apply the branding iron of the cross. It’s not ‘out there’, my brother or sister. It’s RIGHT THERE, in front of you. Here, take it. Die. Pick up it up. Right now. No, you don’t have to go someplace or wait one more second. Stop it. Seal His cross upon your “old man”. This one second can determine your eternal destiny. It’s just faith man. Love the burn.
“Do not fear what they fear; do not be terrified. You are to regard only the Lord of Hosts as holy. Only He should be feared, only He should cause your dread” (Isaiah 8:12-13).
This is the moment to brush aside whatever holds you back. What others say or think, including family and friends, will mean nothing in heaven or in hell. Some people are set on drugs, some on religion, some on guns. I advise you to set your heart to find the words like the prodigal son. It wasn’t enough to come to his senses. He had to find the heart and the words (Lk.15:18). It starts with a cherished whisper “Save me Jesus”.
Moses was the “humblest man on earth” (Num.12:3). He was told to remove his shoes and did so without question. His fear of God rewarded Him with the presence of Yahweh “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious…” (Ex.34:6ff). God says we must test ourselves; 24/7 “Am I being moved to do this by my presumption or by Your Spirit Oh Father” (2 Cor.13:5/ Phil.2:5).
When you feel shaken, as if life’s foundations are taken down around you, looking for a substance strong enough to ground you, and when the streets of paved routines seem desolate, reaching are His eyes that found you. For when common freedoms are defeated and uncertainty yields to grief and weakness, there remains yet the deepest and most obscured secret. It is undisclosed to those who suppose this hidden mystery is already well known. But yet to the humble who would dare to draw near, so as to tremble and to hear Him, The secret of the Lord is revealed to those who choose to fear Him. resolute reverence, as the antidote well tested, created in wisdom with which God long ago invested, giving His perfect Son Who bore our infection to heal us with His love through fellowship, showing all things will be done just He has made known to the one with whom His secret has been disclosed. -Elizabeth
Things are terrible here in Brazil. But we are learning the secret and cast ourselves before His throne. We pray for His mercies upon those of you we know and upon this world, especially Christians. We hope for one more chance to witness Jesus in greater fervor than ever before. If anyone would like to help us we would greatly appreciate it. Despite what anyone might think, we’ve only had like two responses. Everything helps us. Especially in these difficult times. Thank you for reading this.
Pay pal account at: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Fear God and give Him glory for the hour of judgment has come” (Rev.14:7).
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.
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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