In our most recent work in a prison here in Brazil, we saw the marvelous love of the Father. Little did we expect, the town was also hosting a massive convention on alcohol with people from all over the world. We were so privileged to touch these men with Jesus, in the mornings, while also distributing some 14,000 tracts at the conference, in the evenings. Sorry to say, our precious Rachel paid the high price of now coming down with pneumonia as a result of our close contact with the prisoners. Such is the price of love

Everyone suffers from sickness and pain; physical, mental and emotional. But most would rather talk about their problems than learn how to find the real answers. Jesus promises to “bind up” and heal everyone 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 lives.

It is easy to accept the status quo of thinking that says ‘Just hold on to what you think because you have already done all that you are going to do to get to God. So whatever you have right now is what you are going to end up with when you die’.

My friend, please, listen to me. You have no idea what you are dealing with. Death is not something that is going to happen to you. It is happening to you right now. It is called”the curse” of the Law (Rm.6:23/Gal.3:10). Please, let me explain. It is ravaging your present existence by affecting the inner and outer condition of your life and circumstances. What does it hurt to stop and check the compass of life?

We use people and things of this world to evaluate and check our bearings in life. Who are we? What have we done? But there is no other world with which to compare whether the value we put on this world is worth it. Ahh, but there is…. the conscience that speaks to us of the truth, of another world, the kingdom of God.

“I have wasted so much time…so much time…so much time.” What person of wisdom has not known this thought? But what is time, but a mere four letter word? Our watches are broken. It is much later than we think. The measure of our life, between birth and death, is not known by a man-made mechanism. It is known by how we respond to “the Law written in our conscience” (Rm.2:14).

It is not the watch on our wrist that should dictate the course of our life, but rather this thing, that ticks like a clock within us, we call a conscience. Who are we accountable to? God put there when He created us and will hold us to it when He judges us. And what are we accountable for? These are the thoughts that transcend all others. Before we spend one more thought on what we wish we did or did not do, should we not rather prove whether we have learned the wisdom to do what we yet can do? 

THE EASE OF DISTRACTIONS AND PERILOUS CONSEQUENCES

A stunning view suddenly became a sight of terrible fear.

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.

It is a myth, disseminated by Satan in the garden of Eden, that man does not know God.  The conscience is our direct link to the image of God. It alone holds the power to lead any seeker of truth to the saving knowledge in Jesus.

 

Joshua is not bound by a religious appearance as his only desire is to get down and dirty with guys using a “rap” song he wrote about how Jesus will come to them in the midst of sorrow, fear, pain, murder and death.

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.

The men love to participate in a cultural dance which we relate to the rhythms of Jesus.

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 which is the initial evidence of being off course. Here then, is where another inborn mechanism bears down. The sin in our human nature generates rationalizations that justify our distractions. The choice not to sit down in silence is a choice to walk on into “the wilderness”.

It is always so edifying to watch men touched by Rachel’s song of the Father crying for their love. She sings it in Portugues,acapella, no backup music whatsoever.

What we refuse to understand can ultimately kill us. Slowly, life can become occupied by a “reality” inconsistent with the truth of the conscience. 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. You see, my friend, we already have three strikes against us from birth. We have this other unknown ‘mechanism’ inside called the sin nature. It is hostile to our very existence (Rm.8:7). Its constant mode is sabotage.

Jesus told a fisherman named Peter “I will MAKE YOU…a fisher of men”. It wasn’t up to Peter to become something he was not. True salvation is the work of the Spirit of Jesus. Multitudes cry alone each day because they are brutalized by a world gone mad. Yesterday, we had twenty young people, from the ghetto, over to our place. Their laughter and joy of being fed and loved brought us to tears. We are here for them. Will you be there for others? The Father is waiting for you to learn “how to go fishing”.

God created Adam and Eve, mankind, to reflect His Character using the conscience as the perfect guide. However, sin corrupted this ability. So it is no longer a perfect guide. It must be cleansed and it tells us so. When a man chooses to disregard conscience, 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.

Ruth “shows off” her outcome of the wound recorded on her x-ray and shares how the twelve screws drilled into her leg drove her to be able to dance despite them. She constantly deals with pain. She relates it to everyone’s obstacles in life which they too can learn to conquer and dance beyond.

Taking your bearings from your conscience does not require sophisticated knowledge, but a sincere heart. David was amazingly heart-sensitive to his conscience (1 Sam.24:11). Such a character reflects godly desires for intricate navigation of life to steer clear of all presumption. Because if you are careless, you will make a “shipwreck of your faith” (1 Tim.1:19). It WILL happen… if you refuse the silence to hear your conscience speak. 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.

Abraham is a leaders leader. He could design a FORTUNE 500 company. He designed this dance we call “Rhythm”. I am constantly blown away by his creativity. His motivation is not based on “works” of obligation but out of God’s image of mercy, destined long ago (Eph.2:8-10). In various settings, both outside and inside, within schools, delinquent centers, on the streets, and in prisons, we use the different modes of communicating the gospel. The torches obviously represent the fire of God’s Holy Spirit.

God said, Let us make man in 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.

Jesus left no excuse for not expanding our life into the fullness of His love.

Our human creation is of no little composition. 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”. He appeals directly to every man’s conscience, then and now, knowing it automatically bears witness to Who He is. We have “no excuse” (Jn.15:22). He held poor men, the sick and lame, rich men and Pharisees accountable to the same standard of undeniable revelation in the conscience (Jn.8:44). Paul commended his preaching 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 lifting your heart into a pure lofty sensation, but admitting the truth of the utter filth that reigns in your heart. There is no determined “quota” that proves you know God. In fact, Paul explains  “…now that you have come to know God, OR RATHER  – TO BE KNOWN BY GOD…” (Gal.4:9). 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.

You ask “How can I know God?”. It begins with truth. Admit the reality of your life. 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. You must allow it to 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.

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 (thus nullifying good works, out of guilt for our sin, as a sufficient offering )… 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). 

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The pull of conscience is far more powerful than that of the magnetic pull that reaches within this instrument to direct even a tiny needle.

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. He 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.

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 because you defy its defiance to the living God. 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.

Comedy and humor serve to open the hearts of all men. Proverbs says it is like medicine.

The answer to pride is not trying to be humble. It is to be so brave as to impose the cross of Jesus upon your most wicked ways. True forgiveness requires the intelligent calculation to create and implant predesigned “algorithms” that will automatically trigger pre-prepared resolution to avoid the downfalls of losing your bearings. 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.

Elizabeth has learned ballet to project the elegance of beauty of God’s glory and impart this expression to girls who would otherwise never have such an opportunity.

Jesus sent the “Spirit of Truth” for this very purpose; to provide anyone with the added witness to empower the conscience to fight with understanding against the world concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn. 14:16,16:7-10 ).

We are offered the “right”; the opportunity, the authority to become 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.

Be careful with every choice you make. Create your feathers into wings.

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).

Those who live in the desperation of severe poverty have no hope of ever seeing a magic show. Many have never seen it. We rejoice to bring some sense of a special presentation to them.

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.

Amazing to see how “badass” guards want to talk and ask about Jesus. We explain how we must act as mediators between both sides because God sees no difference. All men are criminals in His eyes.

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.

“Little” David created a “Transformer” character to explain the power of the free will.

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”.

David exemplifies the FOCUS that comes from deep within yourself to accomplish things far beyond yourself.

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 their “commitment” bears witness to an awakening of their inner knowledge of God. They think by admitting their confusion they are denying their “testimony”. It is the ultimate delusion. 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).

The worst prison is a closed heart. The key to freedom is a broken heart.

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. The conscience bears witness to the truth. As if God doesn’t notice. The reason a man refuses to sit alone in silence is because of the pounding sound of guilt in the conscience. Stress, anxiety and nervous energy all due to a troubled conscience. So many multitudes seek escape in a knowledge frenzy. Learning about everything and everyone but unwilling to 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.

Abraham has constructed from scratch so many things to use to preach and teach Jesus. He has had to overcome many obstacles including major surgery on his throat that caused restricted air flow through his throat.

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.

Sarah radiates in costume and heart the freedom of new birth. How she has turned 40 yrs. old right before our eyes is like surreal. Her work ethic for the gospel and her family has the angels singing.

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.

Joshua created each one of these nine, six-sided images. It required hundreds of hours of research and development to construct solid Biblical principles to break through the shallow and token misconceptions of the gospel.

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).

My family and I are here headed up into the “high country” of a Brazilian ghetto. Flanked by my son Abraham, my old legs wobble along, hoping to find the steps set before us by One Who already walked them. They lead into the remotest parts of the earth to search for those who are “of the truth”.

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).

These men live in concentration camp-like jail cells. There are 150 men in places built for 30. There is no airflow or sleeping space, even on the floor. There is no electricity so they sit in total darkness. We beg God to bring His gospel of Jesus.

It is not complicated. When you don’t understand something, you make excuses which result in self-pity driving you further into the wilderness.  

The schools have been a phenomenal harvest field. In today’s society, suicide is rampant. Drugs are the norm. Single parents with no finances have no love to give.

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.

 

Growing together, from childhood, as a family of eight, has allowed us all to cherish the formation of conscience and reminds me of the first time I was taught how to use a compass.

Since our early days in Colombia, God has used us to bring multitudes of precious people into the truth of Jesus Christ. We have received countless emails and texts of those who express words like a soothing aroma of joy and marvelous accounts of how God came to them with His personal love to save them.

 

Elizabeth demonstrates the burden God puts in someone for total strangers. She borrowed an inmates shirt to express her song.

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.

“Come, follow Me….I will make you new”.

Descending to earth as the Father’s living proof,
Jesus says, “I was born to testify to the truth”.
The spoken Word to heal every wound.

Truth is this that binds,
Truth is this that divides.

Some were drawn to follow Him, others pulled to leave,
Some remain as captives, while others are set free.

Some were made blind, as to others, restoring sight
Some gnashing their teeth, while others marvel in delight.

Some responded in mockery and laughter, yet others broken to cry.
Some chose to remain darkness, while others walked into the light.

Some turned to sorrow and repentance, while others were bitter and offended.
Some sought branches to lift, while others turned to crack their whips.
Some worshipped with praise, while others condemned Him to the grave.

Some are left with the only Answer to conclude,
others, just a question to elude,

But all who look on Jesus clearly see, 
“What is Truth”

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