We were at the University of Utah for the eclipse. Really good. In Cincinnati where we were preaching at the second largest Octoberfest in the world. Just amazing ministry. So much suffering. So many lost souls. So many people from all walks of life, young and old, coming up to us. So many stories of pain. So thankful to be there to bridge the gap with reconciliation and touch their pain with His love and hope.
At the Detroit Lions football game, and often in many places, sharing the gospel is just very tough grunt work of standing for hours and sharing with sometimes only a few. Sex, drugs and rock n roll can’t heal the soul. They can’t patch the wounds or fears. No eternal substance. No invisible Messiah. They offer no Father’s hand to hold. No shoulder upon which to lean. All this sounds so obvious but why then do millions from around the country and world flock to a beer festival? No matter how much they drink, no answers are found in this “holy” beverage. Of course, it does cause worse problems. Abraham and Ruth also had an amazing witness in Dayton, Ohio which is the opioid capital of the U.S.
Paul says “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this… that One died for all therefore, all died…so that they who live might no longer live for themselves,but for Him…”(2 Cor. 5:14ff). Why is this so hard to “conclude”? Pride. Stinking old smelly pride. We think we are something. The Father loves us enough to break us so we can see that we are nothing. There is not one iota of our flesh that is any different than any wicked man. Christ does not make one cell in our body “better”. But no matter how much He loves us in such ways He always leaves it up to us to choose our response.
Have you ever stopped to realize life on this earth is absolutely meaningless? Have you “concluded”, yet that you are “worthless” (Rm.3.12)? From a doctor, lawyer or president, every walk of life and accomplishment means nothing in light of eternity. The world calls many very wicked men heroes because they do some good act. In light of eternity, no matter how “good” the act, it means nothing. It’s great that people help people but it won’t get anyone to heaven. If good works could get a man to heaven, Jesus would never have had to come to earth and suffer torture. All that matters is the gospel of Jesus because this is eternal.
I have “concluded” that I am nothing. I will never be liked, popular or well known. I fully accept I will never have any friends or home or medical or financial security. Just won’t happen. I have “concluded”, none of it is worth the effort to achieve. I am weak, tired, and frail. But I can talk about Jesus, carry a sign, and walk. I am worthless; because I was born this way.
I fully understand people’s rejection and accusations. I don’t blame them one bit. I love them. I accept that I contradict everything this world says is acceptable. I have, and am, absolutely nothing in this world. I represent nothing people want, because who wants nothing? I will never have a respected “ministry” or be asked to speak somewhere. Everything I do, and everywhere I go, is up to me.
No, this is not some self-pity “Poor me”, rant. Actually, it is my greatest joy. Paul says he boasts only in the cross, and in his weakness (2Cor.12:5/Gal.6:14). No schedule, no identity, no respect, no life… but eternal life (Jn.12:25). How God longs for a son who would be willing to learn to be led by His Spirit rather than the dictates of this world. I could never have imagined the living Jesus. All these things, and many, many more, have brought me to “conclude” that the only thing that matters, is “that I might no longer live for myself but for Him”. The only thing I can do that matters, is to bring eternal life to someone else.
You’d think such a confession would be that of some very miserable and depressed dude. Quite the opposite. Having nothing, in Christ, means having everything, because He is all in all. His comfort is immeasurable. In my saddest hours, He is there. In my most lonely times, Jesus loves me. His love has met me, in countless times, and places where I have given up. Where my mind is torn, He holds me in His arms. I love the Lord because He hears my prayers. When the ego is smashed Christ is unleashed. Brokenness is such a treasure. It just makes so much sense, that this is the one thing that God does NOT despise (Psalms 51:17). I am a broken and dead man and I love Him so.
How do we find the Father’s care and love? How do we learn to love complete strangers, when we ourselves are subject, like all men, to a nature of laziness and selfishness? These two issues are the very essence of the two commandments Jesus says to sum up salvation: to love God with everything and to love your neighbor as yourself (Lk.10:27). Wow. But how? This is no little demand. Impossible, in fact.
Ya, I know, it’s so easy to grumble and complain, against the Lord, that He just doesn’t help you. Day after day, then it turns into year after year, “God, where are You. Why don’t you help me?”. I don’t mean to be insensitive, “spiritual” or to put an undo burden on anyone. Please, my friend, don’t read this like it’s just me, beating the same old drum. I’m no “expert” on these things, I just know they work. Don’t you see this is God’s love? This is not one of many. There is only one answerto all the struggles we face in our sinful nature; loneliness, unbelief, guilt, lust, pride, regret, depression, grief, past sin, etc. One answer; the cross.You must come to realize what it means.
Jesus repeatedly says a man must die (Mt.16:24/Mk.8:34/Lk.9:23/Jn.12:25). Paul writes over and over, continually in his letters (Phil.3:10/Rm.8:17/Col.3:3/2 Tim.2:11) and a whole chapter in Romans 6 to clearly state that death to self issalvation; IF we are united with Him in death we shall know His life. This is the answer guys. This is the resolution to all your struggles and prayers. Just “reckon” all your garbage dead with Christ 2000 years ago. God’s Solution is right in front of your nose in His Word. Don’t look away (Jn.3:14). Don’t assume you already “did it”. Start with a mustard seed of faith. You have no idea the reward that awaits you.
There is only one thing that makes it “difficult” for you. It is the degree to which pride controls you. You think you know better. You don’t. It’s not like you have to go through a physical crucifixion. Reach deep. Give in. What do you “conclude”? It doesn’t start out with trying to prove how much you love God, but rather believing how much He loves you, that He won’t leave you stranded (1 Jn.4:10/Rm.5:8). He will meet you where you’re at. Do something different. Find a new response within your heart. Find the stillness of your individual spirit. Nobody will know. It’s between you and the God Whom you will stand alone before. To die to self is not a herculean self-work. Just the opposite.
In a sense, it is doing nothing, because this is all that a dead man can “do”. It is admitting the full scope of your nothingness. It is worthy of death. What does it mean to really believe this like Abraham (Rm.4)?
The lies Satan has to launch against us are far more destructive than the US arsenal of nuclear weapons, and more numerous than the books in the Library of Congress. “Day and night”. He is relentless and peppers our mind with reasons not to trust Jesus (Rev.12:10, 1Pt.5:8). This is why Paul says he takes “every” thought captive (2 Cor.10:3-5). It is not a warfare that ceases or fades. It is full of failure but also faith that Jesus says forgiveness is “70 x 7” (Mt.18:22) . At times the warfare is moment by moment until you grow into a larger scope of resolution. Just think of how you would feel if you could clearly see Satan speaking to you.
I want to walk gently and circumspectly. I know that everything matters, in regards to how I think, because it determines my future. So I must walk absolutely contrite (Micah 6:8, Ps.517).When you hunt a deer, you must use stealth. Every step you take can determine what happens. One foot breaking a branch or crackling leaves will spook the deer. Thus it is with learning to become a son and to master yourself. The Lord will teach you to discern between soul (self), and the Spirit (Heb.4:12). Our heart is more deceitful than anything in the world (Jer.17:9). Paul says he is aware of every thought that comes into his mind because our very selves, our body of pride and mind of sin, conspire to rob and destroy us.
No matter how much you search for an answer, it always comes down to the degree you know the Father’s love for you.
How do all the particulars (atonement, mercy, forgiveness, faith, grace, understanding, etc.) of His love, wrapped up in the work of Jesus, now come to us today? Surely you already know “God is Love”, and will heartily agree with this concept. But does this practically change your life? Do you realize what an enemy you are of the cross? How do you deal with it? In lawlessness or proud self-righteousness? How about neither? Paul says our goal in life, is to “being rooted and grounded in love to be able to comprehend …the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…” (Eph. 3:17ff). He loves you no matter what, but requires you to be broken to experience His love. Unless your pride (sin) is broken, you will never how to die with Christ.
Imagine if you could instantly counter Satan’s lies with truth because you were so grounded in knowing the Father’s love. If you are not rooted and grounded in love, you will never be able to build and expand upon an understanding of the Father’s love for you. Imagine being so disciplined as to have your impulses trained, not to react out of the flesh, but to respond in the Spirit.
I have no air valve that I fill with God’s love. No pill. No button. There is no way, other than to choose to initiate dying to self. This is love. Sorry, guys. No little prayer. Obedience. It is tough at times, but the joy from obedience is a fountain of life. The cross is not a matter of abstract theory. It is seen and proven in time and space. It was real. It is real. Paul proved it “I have been crucified….” (Gal.2:20) . There is just no other way to live, than to die.
The disciples were no brain surgeons. The concept of dying to self is as common to all men as breathing. Coaches, athletes, businessmen, politicians all talk of “dying to self”; “I’m dead to you”, “I died to that”. I have heard many football coaches talk of how they had to die to family times, in order to prepare for a game of fame (a bit warped). Rich men get rich because they know well how to deny themselves. They “deny themselves” constantly to ‘make a buck’.
Sorry. No excuses. Everybody understands death. Death is death. It’s the utter end. No more place to live. Denying yourself is denying yourself. In the blink of an eye, you can die. Stop. End. No more. Of course, if you don’t have real access to Christ, it’s pointless. Sure, you’re going to fail and rebel, but you “conclude” and resolve you don’t want to initiate a life for yourself, but for Jesus. It is faith that separates the decision of dying WITH CHRIST from the pagan dying to self to live for self.
We are preparing to go back to work in the prisons in Brazil in two months. The transition of tracts and signs from Spanish to Portuguese is no small work. But the image of those men suffering is etched in our hearts and minds, and propels us on. We are very excited. Seeing the power of God’s love is the other side of dying to self. It is the reward. The things we have seen are just beyond amazing. To actually change lives into eternal life is the greatest joy God offers. Jesus said the same (Jn.4).
People ask how we do what we do. We never ask for donations, we work for the money to do what we do. Once in a while, someone asks how they could help us if they wanted to. If anyone would like to help us, the plane tickets cost $4366.64 and our monthly lodging is $1560.00. Obviously, we have the money but, as I explained in previous times, whatever we use, takes down our savings and moves us closer to leaving the harvest field to return back to working. There are 657,680 prisoners in Brazil and God has given us an open door. So anything will help and I mean anything. There is only so much we can do depending on the means we have. Our paypal is: [email protected]
We have faced great danger in facing prison gangs, but love is so profound. Sarah did pick up a 3rd world bacteria last time we were there, from which she has been suffering quite seriously for many months. And Ruth also bears a tough time walking due to the steel rod in her leg. I too have been dealing with something weird in my head that causes vertigo and sometimes, I stop breathing in my sleep. Maybe due to a lot of brain trauma over the years.But nothing compared to the multitudes suffering from so many things, all alone.
We are so grateful that God enabled us to continue to minister effectively even while working full-time, most of the time working two or three jobs, by taking time off here and there. We were able to reach throughout Asia on an extended trip to China, Japan, South Korea and the Philippines all for the first time. We reached hundreds of thousands in Seoul’s largest gathering ever, the largest street crossing in the world in Japan and some horrible prisons in Manila and even touched Shanghai. We also reached many events here in the States, including about 5-7 million when the Cubs won the Series, events in Texas and Seattle, many universities across the country as well as the Presidential Inauguration.
If we can be of help to anyone in anyway, please feel free to contact us. We also have a new music CD and a beautiful new track, if anyone would like, just ask, and we will send them to you freely. God bless any person who reads this. He loves you so much.
“Come Lord Jesus. We await. Mount your white horse.”
(Greetings. Before we get started just a side note here, Music is so huge. God can use it to open our spirit to His revelation. If I might suggest to check out the new music CD we just finished writing in Logic. If it doesn’t help you let me know, I’ll send your ten dollars back. Any money helps us reach the lost (see bottom of blog). Maybe it will help you, like it helps us. This music is fully appreciated, for how I made it, by using headphones. There are microsounds that are hard to hear without them. The new CD is available at: www.itunes.com/theancientboom )
Imagine walking down a shoreline and coming across a familiar boat that has obvious signs it has been abandoned. You call out to a little boy playing nearby and ask him if he might know what happened to the owner. The boy says “Oh, you mean Peter? He left his boat to follow the carpenter”.
You recall an earlier time on the beach when you saw Peter engaged in an intense conversation with someone. Prior to that Peter was excited and was telling a small crowd how he had finally paid off a boat he cherished. You wonder out loud “Why would he suddenly then sacrifice his boat to follow a carpenter?”. The little boy smiles “Jesus was no ordinary carpenter”.
Many who met Jesus did similar “illogical” things in response to His touch.
He calls us not to conform to a religion or try to emulate a pious lifestyle. He promises a “magic”called the Holy Spirit, by which He, transforms a man into a life-giving compassionate person. “I will make you a fisher of men” He promised a self-centered Peter. The living Jesus comes to men in the midst of what they like to do and offers something far greater to do (Mt.12:6,41).
I was consumed with football in college. Peter was fishing. One woman was a prostitute. Matthew was ripping people off. Paul was a self-righteous “somebody”. One soldier was tormented by guilt. A thief on a cross was at his utter end.
I have talked to many older men; coaches, business executives, car salesmen, doctors, etc. They say “I wasted my whole life on a job. If only I had it to do over”. So common. Nothing new in this world. Just going through the motions. What you did yesterday will be similar to today and what you do today will be similar to tomorrow. The curse of mundane existence dates back to the consequences of a guy named Adam making a wicked choice. It affects all men, causing a fisherman named Peter, and his buddies, to do some crazy stuff.
Imagine yourself setting out in a boat, about two o’clock in the morning with rough seas in a gathering storm. No, you’re not drunk. Just a bit bored and fool hearty. No one else knows what’s shaking your heart and consuming your mind. You’re not really thinking about fishing.
Suddenly, you see someone appear walking on the water towards you. Such a man named Peter should have reacted to the sensational nature of the incident. Instead, he revealed his soul was preoccupied with one burning issue; ‘Jesus, will you command me to come to You?’.
This was no allegory or fairy tale folks. Jesus is God. He yearns to show you. People say “You shouldn’t ‘test’ God”. He says “Ask and you shall receive” (Mt.7:7). He will come to you in any way, at any time, anywhere if you desire His reality. Peter did walk on water. But he lost his focus. Jesus lifted him up and never gave up on him. Contrary to American Christianity, Jesus offers no career or insurance policy. No American Dream, retirement plan or 401K. Not even a title. His purpose is not for you to invest in becoming a successful professional working to make this fallen world a “better place”. His purpose is beyond this world (Eph.1:3-11).
My family and I are working very hard. We are battle warriors fighting on our terms, on so many fronts, for hurting people. We are not provoked by or compelled to respond to false accusations and banter. We do not speak when we should listen or listen when we must speak. We are set with laser focus, in these last days, on communicating true repentance and forgiveness of Jesus to all.
Somewhere in my big bald ugly head, I know you and I could become good friends, even if you don’t agree with me, or are my most ardent enemy.
There is an adage ‘ The enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Satan is working against you, “day and night”, behind the world around you. He uses sophisticated ways to manipulate our sin (pride) against us (Rev.12:9-12/Eph.6:12/2 Cor.2:11,10:3,11:3).
It is amazing how quickly contentions dissipate when gaining an intelligent perspective on fighting this mutual enemy: “love covers a multitude of sin” (1 Pt.4:8).
Today, everyone talks so lightly about repentance and forgiveness. As if, by a whim or prayer, it can be snatched off a tree like an apple. As if Jesus really has nothing to do with getting “IT”. Just pray a “prayer” and get “IT”.
Imagine being given an in-depth code to a hidden multi-million dollar treasure. Everything depends on knowing the code. Would you take it lightly? Jesus says true repentance and forgiveness is the key to have His message in your life as “GOOD news” (Lk. 24:47). Please, my friend, listen to me. You are not exempt from the influence of this culture of hypocrisy. So-called “Christians” refuse to humbly revisit their “foundation”. This, in and of itself, shows a “commitment” only to being stubborn, proud and lazy. I constantly revisit my foundation with a broken and contrite heart (Ps.51:17). It proves true repentance.
It’s not complicated. Quite the contrary. These things automatically transpire in a heart like Peter’s. If you reflect a similar response then surely there are no issues. The complexity is due to the inoculation of all “Christian” verbiage. God gives explicit examples of how someone can search for repentance “with tears” but not find it (Heb.12:17). This is terrifying.
Paul warns of two kinds of sorrow (2 Cor.7:10). The first is typical guilt and shame. As a young Christian I would beg God for forgiveness, over and over and over, only to find that, after many years, this cycle of stagnancy never changed. True repentance results in a forgiveness that eliminates this morbid cycle and leads to real change and new life. It resolves your past, once and for all (/Phil. 3:12-13/Gal.5:20).
Our sinful heart has so much junk going in and out of it, we don’t even realize how regret, over our life, sneaks in and lodges itself deep in our soul. It negatively affects all our thinking. Out of nowhere weird thoughts and feelings can vex our mind into the sullen madness of sin. It’s like one of those zombie movies. Things you thought were long gone, and dead, come back to haunt you. It’s because you don’t know TR&F (true repentance and forgiveness). Sin was never killed. To die with Christ is repentance (Rm.6). It is the only means to comprehend the depths of supernatural forgiveness.
WHY STRIDE WHEN YOU CAN FREELY RIDE?
True repentance and forgiveness (TR&F) does not involve trying to make yourself a good person. TR&F sets you on the tracks of reality. So many people think that walking down the tracks means they are on the train of salvation. They simply refuse to look into paying the price to board The Train (Lk.14:26). They are content to think they can get “there” in their own way; “No thanks. I’m fine”.
The pride hidden behind self-pity is the most successful weapon in the arsenal of Satan. Most people think of self-pity as an innocent comfort zone. Satan fills your mind with an array of lies; ‘God can never forgive me. I know what I did is terrible and what I’ve had to go through is terrible. God does not love me. I deserve to pout. I’m on my own’. As if such thinking gives you a solid negotiating position to manipulate truth. Secret rebellion is as vile as any outward acts of Hitler. It is absolute defiance to faith in what He has revealed. Until you learn to deal with sin, as the evil that it is, it will continue to thwart you from TR&F. God deals with every person on earth in justice and righteousness.
Here’s a fact you probably won’t believe. 20 veterans a day commit suicide. Ever think about them? Never. Why? Everything is about you. Yet they represent everything you are dealing with. How? I have met veterans who escaped death only to “be killed” in a battle with their mind. They could not withstand the onslaught of guilt, self-pity and depression over what they did. All their life they feel isolated and alone which breeds self-pity. Repentance is an insult to them and forgiveness is shrugged off as too simplistic a solution. The same is true for everyone dealing with battle scars from the world; divorce, drug addiction, sexual perversion, parental scorn, etc.
Sin is the greatest “mystery” in the world (2 Thes.2:7). It has as many masks as there are people on the earth. No one can understand it. No one even talks about it. No one, but One, can conquer it. I know this will sound extreme but the Scriptures reveal the root of all sin is our inborn hatred for God. I know you may not realize how everything we do, whether little or big, is an outcome of this motive. Jesus explains “there is no excuse for sin….they (all men) hate Me without reason” (Jn.15:25). We hate God for using His Law to expose us as utterly wicked.
The reason God does not act the way we want is because He is not the God we want. We want ourselves as god. However, He is the God He is; “I AM”. We are the ones who have fallen and must come to know and surrender to His revelation. The things we don’t understand are not an indictment against God but against our own stupidity and resistance to facing the magnitude of evil in us against Him.
When a man commits a crime legal experts search for a motive. Sin has no motive. It is illogical impulse provoked by unreasonable choices. It is the consequence of a THING within us. It is mindless rebellion. The never ending questions behind every sin are “Why or how could I?. It makes no sense.”
Sin is the most puzzling, vexing, avoided and offensive word in the human language.
My friend, listen to me, this can be a pivot point in your life here and now. If you will expend the heart to understand these things you will repent and find true forgiveness. It is not a one-time act, but a lifetime of wonderful relationship. It is time to shake yourself out of the lethargic conformity to procrastination. Your life is flashing by like a bullet train. You can be different. You can change the world. I’m serious. It’s time to be intelligent, sincere of heart and utilize your will to believe God as a real solution to your personal dilemma.
There are 7 billion victims of sin strewn across the battlegrounds of this world. Every place you look is overflowing with immense pain, prescription drugs, greed, insanity, and suffering. Do you really think this is the will of our loving Father?
Jesus accomplished the phenomenal victory of rising from the dead so we do not have to be subject to the garbage of this wicked world.
The “churches” today are a joke. They offer “lip service” of truth but live a lie (Mk.7:6/Mt.23). Their definition of “power” is sermon-hype. Jesus says the fruit of a tree shows it’s integrity (Mt.7:21). Ignorance of the Word result in sermons that replace the Holy Scriptures (Jesus says it is the “leaven”). Jokes and anecdotes are the “ear-tickling” ploy of wolves in sheep’s clothing. As a result, the “disciples” are as plastic and clueless as a bimbo media correspondent. This is not a bitter attitude but a prophetic warning over life or death end-time deception. This is no game. Today there are countless fools “preaching” about sin and their “holiness”. They have no idea what they are talking about.
First of all, they define sin, as does the world, by a classification system. It classifies individuals as “evil people” based on outward behavior; killers, bank robbers, drug addicts, drunks, perverts etc. In God’s eyes everyone from the Pope to the child killer is the same. Jesus was killed by something no one classifies as “sin”; self-righteousness.
People like to classify sin by outward behavior so they can feel self-righteous; “Oh I could never do that. I’m just not that kind of person”. This is only further proof they are “that”; self-righteous. I talk to countless “Christians” whose self-righteousness is far worse than any prisoner I’ve met; “Oh I know I’m a sinner but I’m not that bad”. At least the prisoners admit the prison in which they are captive. How many times have you heard on the news some local neighbor or family member of someone they “knew” say; “Oh he was not that kind of person. He could never have done that”?
The Bible defines several all-encompassing definitions of sin. It is “lawlessness”, “foolishness”, “knowing what is right and not doing it”, “anything not done from faith”, “all unrighteousness”, “haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked” and “the sting of death” (1 Jn.3:4/ Pr.24:9/Jam.4:17 /Rm.14:23/1 Jn.5:17/Pr.21:4/1 Cor.15:56). Such definitions “shut the mouths” to all self-righteousness (Rm.3:19). From the pope to every prisoner all of us are subject to a powerful evil force within us rooted in the very blood of our human nature. We are wicked to the bone.
My wife and I come from entirely different backgrounds. She was a “nice” beauty and I was, and am, the wicked beast. Yet, in the eyes of a holy God, we are the same. Sin is not in our personality. It is in our human nature.
LAW MIRRORS SIN
A mirror shows you what you look like. The Law is exactly the same (Jam.1:23-25). You may think that you are not “that bad”. In the eyes of God, aside from the 10 commandments, there are ten thousand laws He has written, that specify the precise behavior He demands for companionship (Hosea 8:12). The mirror-effect of the Law works like this: It is written “Thou shalt not lust….” – reflection – you instantly “see” that you lust. Paul says “through the law comes the knowledge of sin” (Rm.3:10,20). The mirror reflects the wickedness of your wickedness (Rm.7:13). We don’t have a hope in hell to be good enough for God.
I am constantly trying to prove to God that I’m not as bad as He says. “I CAN do what is right. Watch me God. For just one moment of time, watch, I’m going to do good. Here it goes. There, I helped someone. I witnessed to someone. I didn’t swear. I didn’t get angry. See. I can do right.” If only I could extinguish this cursed voice of pride within my soul. I can’t put a spear in it. I can’t tie up in a dog house. But the good part is coming; None of this is ME. God says “sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rm.6:14). Now, stay with me, you got to get this!
Paul explains “where there is no law there is no violation” (Rm.4:15). So where is this “where”? It is “where” Y O U are? Where I am, there is no law. Moses is not my Lord. I live, not by doing what he wrote but by what Jesus “wrote” in me (Jer.31:33). Not by trying to do, or be, right by the Law, but through “the magic code” of repentance and forgiveness; in truth and grace (Jn. 1:17).
From childhood, we are directed by what we should and shouldn’t do. This is the law written in our conscience (Rm.2:24). It is has been pulverized from the “nuclear fallout” of Adam’s sin. So it is by no means accurate, but still in tact to lead us to Christ. True repentance requires we yield our conscience to be “washed” so that our entire way of living “dies” and is crucified with Christ (Heb.10:22/Rm.6,8:3). A child of God is born of the Spirit and led by the Spirit, no longer the law of the conscience (Rm.8).
Paul explains that if being “right” comes by DOING “right” then Jesus died for nothing (Gal.2:21). (Read Romans 8:1-3)
In the most basic description, the Law is letters on pages. They can do nothing for you. There is no power looking at ink. The Law is not caffeine or testosterone. There is no energy but only misery in words that tell you to do what you can’t do; be good. It does nothing. The only thing the Law does is “kill” (2 Cor.3:3/Heb.7:19). At best it is a tutor (Gal.3:24-25).
As a result of Adam’s sin mankind plunged into ever deepening levels of evil. God created the Law to show anyone, who wanted His companionship, the purity His Character demands. But man had fallen too far (Rm.7:5). The Law (trying to be good) can not make an evil man acceptable to a holy God.
The Law started 10,000 years ago and also demands complex rituals of animal sacrifice to obtain forgiveness. God says if you insist on trying to be right, in even one small way, you are accountable to obey all ten thousand laws (James 2:10). Have fun. The evil of our sin is only magnified in any attempt to obey the law (1 Cor.15:56).
THE OBJECTIVITY OF SIN- seeing in the puzzle.
The very first thing John said when He saw Jesus was “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn.1:29).
The prophets foretold of an anticipated forgiveness that would be like “fresh spring rain” from a Messiah. He would not exact from us obedience to the Law but rather freely give to us grace, to cover all our sin, once and for all. Nothing would be required from a man (Hos. 6:3). . The Law came through Moses…grace…was realized in Jesus (John 1:17). Paul clarifies that the O.T. requirements are now “obsolete” (Heb.8:13). There’s nothing you have to do to repent and be forgiven. The issue is not about procedure but heart and truth (Ps.51:17).
“Behold, days are coming…when I will make a new covenant…not like the old...” (Jer.31:34). “I will tread down your sin…and cast all your sins into the depth of the sea…” (Mic.7:19). “…I will cast all your sins behind My back.” (Is.38:17). “I have wiped out your sins like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you” (Is.44:22). The heart of God is to give us forgiveness. That’s it.
So much can be learned from the initial encounter between Jesus and Peter (Lk.5:7). So check it out: God meets a dirty fisherman. Let’s see. What do you think would be their conversation? Peter said “Go away Jesus. I’m a wicked man.” (Lk.5:7). Jesus said “Repent of your sins and ask Me into your heart as your personal Savior”? Not quite. Jesus never said anything like this nonsense of today. No principles, emotional catharsis of contrived tears or promise of “prosperity”.
Jesus told a woman caught in the act of adultery “Go and sin no more” (Jn.8:3). How could He say this?
Something happened in that air that no one but those two knew; TR&F (true repentance and forgiveness). Jesus touched her with His Character as He touched Peter in the in-depth place with the secret code called reality. His tone, His look, His personal love. The words of Jesus were not Law but grace. Extremely Personal.
This is why you can not separate TR&F from the Person of Jesus. He alone is the One Who imparts reality to these terms. There was far more communicated between Jesus and the individuals whom He forgave. Jesus makes every effort to “reason” with us, compelled by His longing desire for us to know His forgiveness. Peter was weighed down with guilt. As a Jew he was well aware of his failure.
I am not driven to stop sinning. I am driven to serve Jesus. I am anchored in my seat and not lured to consider any STOP. I am in Christ. He is my Lord. In Him there is only grace. I have learned the “reasoning” of a God Whose reason is “hesed“; covenant mercy. In trying to describe TR&F Paul exhausted the human language and described forgiveness as being so emphatic it is backed by two promises of God (Heb.6:16-17 ). God “doubles-down” on what He offers.
THE TRANSACTION – Snow “reckoned” for Scarlet
“Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool” (Is.1:18).
As a catholic I went to confession hundreds of times, driven by my conscience, to be and do “right”. The passing euphoria of that “forgiveness” didn’t even last until I got home. It was a passing emotional impulse. I had no idea what repentance meant. Evangelicals don’t realize it, but they think exactly the same as the Catholics they condemn.
Repentance is the intelligent transaction in which we “reason together” with the Father and hand over our life (scarlet) to Him in exchange for His forgiveness (snow).
We have no clue how to deal with sin by our own reasoning. We feel bad over and over and over. We become addicted to feelings. But neither penance or a sinner’s prayer will lead to TR&F. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say you’re sorry for your sin. I say it thousands and thousands of times. I so terribly fear presumption. I know my heart is wicked.
It is hard to imagine but Jesus perfectly obeyed every single written Law (Rm.8:1-3). He is the only One Who was and is acceptable to the Father. Jesus mediated His life to the Father in a vicarious substitution for man. He provided atonement for sin. Thus the holiness of the Father was satisfied and His wrath for sin appeased.
People wrongly think salvation is something in us so we have to be careful to maintain our moral integrity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus says “I came for the sick…” (Mk.2:17). Salvation is not in us. Sin is all that is in us (Rom.7:18). Salvation is only in Jesus (Jn.14:6). Jesus provides the eternal posture of repentance for communion with His holy Father. He is constantly mediating our sanctification before the Father (Jn.14:23). He uses many things to break us into His disposition of humility. Our destiny and power arenot within ourselves but in our standing in Christ (Gal.3:16). It is in the mind-set of Jesus that we oversee and overcome sin.
This mindset (the standing of “white as snow”) was depicted long ago in Joshua as a type of Christ: “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments…and Satan stood accusing him…and the Lord said ‘Remove the filthy garments…and clothe him in festive robes…and put a clean turban on his head” (Zechariah 3).
Seeing The Puzzle
It is impossible to separate ourselves from sin but Biblical revelation says Jesus did exactly this. The Holy Spirit offers a discernment between Jesus and our sin (Heb.4:12). Have you ever seen one of those puzzles in which you try to identify certain things hidden in the design? Once you identify the objects all the distractions are no longer a problem. God does not make sin disappear as the ‘holy rollers’ claim. What He offers is the Spirit to separate and discern sin, so that we can understand victory rather than live in ignorance and defeat. Sin cannot be understood but God offers an understanding of how to deal with it.
Sin was not created. It is the aftermath of Eve’s “nuclear” defiance against God (1 Tim.2:9-15/1Pt.3:off/Eph.5:22/Col.3:18). You were not there when Adam and Eve sinned. You had nothing to say about IT. It is like a sickness (Jer.17:9). A cold is not you. It is something you did not choose at birth. But now you do have a choice.
Paul could not have made it any clearer: “…I am no longer the one doing IT, but SIN which dwells in me…” (Rm. 7:20).
It is Satan’s strategy is to convince you are the source of your evil. You are not. Sin is not your personality. It is human nature. It is Adam’s fault. His nature is ours. His arrogance was sin. Now you can agree with him or agree with Jesus.
There is a specific divine ‘mechanism’ God created to regulate TR&F. It is the only trigger to release you from your feelings and thoughts. To release you from sin. The concept is called “reckoned”or “credited”(Rom.4:9). It is like the transaction behind using a credit card. It is like the slogan of the Nike company “JUST DO IT”. No drama. No tears. No guilt or penance. No requirement for moral betterment. The faith to believe God for TF&F is “reckoned” to a man as what He deems “righteous” (Rm.4:3).
For hours and days on end, you can think “I am the only one who thinks like this. How could I do that? How can I think these terribly sinful things?” You feel horrible. You must choose to believe; “I know all this crap comes out of the sin in me, but Jesus is greater and my forgiveness has long ago been reckoned”. It is joy “unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pt.1:8).
6 billion others think the same Adamic cycle but refuse the Jesus cycle. Even Jesus was tempted in all things (Heb.4:15). In the O.T. the concept of a “scapegoat” was that a man had to lay his hands on a goat, confess his sin, then send it into the wilderness. In the N.T. Jesus chose to be our Scapegoat. Instead of blaming something or someone else, He stands willing to accept your blame because He bore it all.
All sin was cast into the sea. All of IT was forgiven. IT was “tread down” and is “remembered no more”. Jesus “objectified” sin ( 1 Pt.2:24). IT was put on The Lamb and killed (2 Cor.5:21).
We have all felt the seismic tremors that shake us to the core of our identity when we yield to something evil. We think “How am I ever going to change?”. If you think you already repented, at a subconscious level, you will really think “I have no hope. There are no other answers. I’ve surely exhausted my number of 2nd chances”. Jesus specifically addressed there are no limits or numbers to forgiveness (Mt. 18:21).
The truth is you did not do what you did. Sin did. A war of conscience arises to condemn you. If your conscience has not been “washed” you will ultimately give in to it (Heb.9:14,10:22). Sin comes from hell so we feel like hell. Paul says it makes you feel “death” (Rm.6:23). It causes chaos and confusion. It draws you further into self-pity and depression. All of it, based on a lie. YOU are not sin. It is going on in you, despite you. If repentance required piety, who determines how much? Are a hundred tears sufficient? How long of time does each sin require “sorrow”? Forgiveness is instant and eternal.
Now, of course, the issue of license is of concern. Paul asks “should we continue to sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” (Rm.6:1). Without becoming complicated he simply explains everything comes down to true repentance. To die with Christ is a real thing. It’s that simple. Either you believe or you don’t. When the men said “Help us in our unbelief” Jesus didn’t say “Sure. No problem”. Faith is not about quantity but authenticity (Mk.4:31). If you won’t believe just a little, then you don’t believe at all. A little true faith is faith.
MAKING WHITE- The finality of the death of sin
The death of sin was made sure; executed by a hammer, nails, a crown of thorns, a wooden cross and One Man of impeccable Character at one point in time. Sin began in Adam and ended in the Lord Jesus (Rm.5). There’s no question Jesus was killed. So there’s no question sin is dead. A ransom transaction of His perfect blood for our sinful blood was completed. Access to a holy God restored.
It is written “… the death that He died, He died to sin once for all” (Rm.6:10/1 Pt.3:18). New Testament forgiveness is once and for all (Mk.10:45/1 Tim.2:6/Heb9:26).
What’s done is DONE. No sin can be added. Jesus has already died and risen.
Forgiveness is both an impersonal and personal transaction. It is impersonal in that it invoked a “ransom” of which you had nothing to say (Mk.10:45/1 Tim.2:6). It was some thing done 2000 yrs. ago because of some thing called sin. It is Personal in that Jesus is the One Who resolved IT. He did so out of His own Personal love for you. Forgiveness cost Him every drop of blood that circulated through His body, down the cross and into the ground. About this, you have everything to say. It is from Someone offered to someone; you. This experience, Paul describes, as “lavish” (Eph.1:7).
The Father knew your name 2000 yrs. ago. Jesus knew He was dying for you. In the midst of His mental anguish, a vast number of faces flashed in and out of His pain-ridden body. You were one of them if you are one of them.
Predestination is not confusing. Eternity has no time line. Standing in heaven you will realize it is not predestination that is strange but the limitations on earth of days, months and years that are strange. What was shall be and this is only consistent with eternity. Paul says “The Father chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Eph.1:4). The Father wrote our name in His book “from the foundation of the world” (Rev.13:8).
Sin is not A sin. Thus forgiveness is not for ONE but for ALL sin. Sin is “as scarlet”. Forgiveness is for scarlet. Jesus became scarlet on a cross so all sin, past, present and future was in His scarlet bearing nature (1 Pt.2:24). He Who knew NO SIN became sin (2 Cor. 5:21).
REPENTANCE LEADING TO FORGIVENESS
Sin began in Adam and ended in Christ. It’s that simple. The question is whether you are ever going to truly claim TR&F. Jesus didn’t kind of die. Or kind of kill it (1 Pt.2:24). Or kind of rise again.
Sin is no longer a problem for God. If it’s a problem for you then it’s all you. The choice to believe is all yours. In some bizarre way men do not want to be rid of sin because then they can’t consort with their best friend any more; Self-pity. People depict their situation as so dire, either God does what they want, or it proves He doesn’t really care. In other words, men are God and “the man upstairs” is merely their divine Butler.
People talk about veterans who have died in war as having made the “supreme sacrifice”. But they did not choose to die. They were killed by chance. A man who sacrifices his life to Jesus dies a real death. It is not theoretical or poetic. The depth of resolution require to completely die is a completed sacrifice of self. Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ it is no longer I who live…” (Gal.2:20). It is a conscious and deliberate act of sacrificing his life on this earth for Christ.
My family and I die to our lives daily (1 Cor.15:31). We’ve made thousands of calculated sacrifices so others can live. Jesus replaces selfishness. It is the reason Peter left his boat. Catching men is a joy beyond any haul of fish Peter ever made. How could Jesus tell the woman “Go and sin no more“? The adulterous woman had no desire to continue in sin because the new identity in the love of Jesus was far greater than her carnal desires. Zacheus returned everything he stole and far more. He got it. Matthew got it. John got it. Get it?
Repentance is to prioritize your focus on Jesus despite all issues of sin (2 Chronicles 20:12). The kindness of God leads to the praise of His triumph (Rm.2:4). Sin ‘sits there’ insisting it is you, but you insist on being dead with Christ. So we do not promise to do things right from now on because it would never be enough.
Paul was not “extreme” or “radical” when he wrote “united with His death” (Rm.6:6). Death is the only way to strip sin of the power in the law (1 Cor.15:56).
“… for he who has died is freed from sin” (Rm.6:6).
If you are not going to die then you are not going to live. True repentance is true death. If you don’t die to sin then you will die from it. Partial death is no death.
Forgiveness is actually way easier than we want it to be. It is like accessing a credit card that has long been in your name, just waiting for you to personally pick up and use. It was done and ready for you long ago. Credit card fraud is when someone performs a transaction but it is not backed up by his own personal account. Ease of access does not forgo fellowship in Jesus.
Repentance is “metanoia”; coming to your senses and simply changing your mind. It is the heart of the prodigal son turning from himself out of the compelling love of the Father (Lk.15). Changing our thinking instantly “reckons” us and brings us into the posture of His thinking (Phil.2:5ff). We die. He lives. God “reckons” us “as white as snow” (Rm.4:9,22).
A train operator turns a deliberate switch of a lever to alter the direction of the tracks. You must change the direction of your will to believe the forgiveness Jesus wrought is yours. You are never forgotten and always forgiven. It doesn’t depend on a prayer but on the cross. The train then runs in a different direction. You begin to discover new places. The tracks of forgiveness have long ago been laid. There is nothing you need to do but believe like Peter. You can not change sin but you can switch tracks.
He says “…if we ‘ride’ in the Light (ride the train) as He himself is in the Light …the blood cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn.1:6-7).
Do you think there’s any question to massive power churning the wheels of a train? The TR&F Railroad will take you far beyond all your feeble and tentative considerations of salvation. It will set you on board forever. There are over 12 stories of faith in one chapter (Heb.11). Common ordinary people living extraordinary life. When I got on board, at my rebirth at Notre Dame, was the beginning of ongoing transformation; “from glory to glory” (2 Cor. 3:18)
I fully expected something beyond myself to take me beyond myself; into another mode of life. I am not the same person I was 40 yrs. ago…..or 10 years ago….or five months ago….or last night. His forgiveness has never changed but my comprehension of it has. He has taken me places I could never get to by my own strength.
Old ‘friends’ try to hold me to past sin and immaturity. They say “You used to say this” or “You used to do this”. I am constantly seeing my scarlet ways and have to choose to live in His new ways (Mt.18:23). My forgiveness does not come from men. It has come from Jesus and keeps me securely on board His revelation.
God warned Able; “sin is after you but you must master it” (Gen.4:7). Paul says “For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace” (Rm.6:14). The requirement to “master” sin is not self-purification. It is hearing God swear to you that He forgives you. A man who knows true repentance and forgiveness is a happy man ( Rm. 4). You don’t have to “get right” before you get serious with God. Simply believe Him to “reckon” you right by the only thing right in the world; His righteousness (Rm.4).
FINDING YOUR FREQUENCY
There is no one like you. So why try to be like everyone else? Create your own story. Find your own path. Feed a fire within for the “more” God promises (Eph.3:20). Your Father will lead you to His Son but you are the only one who can begin this journey. It’s not about trying to figure out what or how to do things. Like Peter, face Jesus and everything will fall into place. The puzzle will be solved. The code will be yours. You will be sitting on the train being taken into a destination beyond this world.
How often have you realized that because you are ‘set in your ways’ no matter how you have tried to change everything remains the same? There is no merit with God for being stubborn over a past “commitment to Christ” when in day to day life you have no clue to His Frequency. Pretense has no corresponding reality in God’s Word; except “hypocrite”.
If you define God by how, or whether, He enriches your life you contradict the revelation of the Father in the words of His Son; “If anyone wishes to come after Me he must deny himself, take up His cross daily and follow Me (Lk.9:26).
Paul says “I run in such a way as not without aim” (1 Cor.9:24).
Life is a maze of rock crevasses and dimly lit caves. Moab, Utah is full of such places. It is phenomenal. The tight spots, narrow passages, and sharp edges can bear upon you with fearful imaginations of danger. Then suddenly, you turn a corner and behold a view so magnificent you are angered at yourself for any hesitation you had in pursuing this venture; true change of heart. TR&F solves all the struggles of life by replacing our self-serving life with His focus on love for others.
Forgiveness cost the Father the blood of His Son. Therefore, how quickly, and full-heartedly, must we learn how to forgive ourselves, and each other (Matt.18:21ff )?
A few of us are presently preaching the gospel across the states. If you’d like to meet up contact us through our website. Some of us are working to save up money. Before we head back to Brazil, Abraham and Ruth will take the gospel with signs and tracks, in three more languages, to Manilla, Tokyo and Seoul this November. They will spy out the land for when we are done with Brazil.
If anyone is interested I would strongly suggest you check out the prison conditions, online, in Manila. There is no zoo or pig farm I have ever seen as bad as these prisons. We are trying to get in.
As I have previously explained we have no consistent support and rely on our own savings from working jobs. It would be great if anyone could care to help us. It will cost between five and six thousand. Traveling across the states is not free. I am not a fat-cat preacher. We don’t own a home. Thank God. I share this, not in a kind of begging spirit, but in joy and faith, as Paul also expressed his needs so he could reach as many as possible with Jesus (1 Cor.9). We proclaim the love of the Father to you and pray the precious Spirit of His Son upon you. Don’t forget to check out our music; search “Ancient Boom” on itunes.
Most people stay away from God because they think He demands something they simply cannot see themselves wanting or being able to do. I appeal to you. Look further. Come closer. Don’t be afraid. If He created you out of divine love then surely His plan for you is beyond anything you can imagine. You can’t allow all the Christian delusion that exists everywhere today to keep you from truth. The systems of men do not reflect the Person of the living Jesus. Understanding does not come by a comprehension of Christian doctrine.
Like Peter, I too was afraid to face Jesus, one on One, because, as Peter said “I am a sinful man” (Lk. 5:8). As if Jesus cannot relate to sin. Peter knew he could not give Jesus “a good person”. How can a wicked man go ‘toe to toe’ with a holy God? A guy named Abraham was the “father” of faith. God chose this 100 yr. old pagan to reveal the ‘grand exploit’ He demands is not moral aptitude.
Rather God made clear through Abe, for all the world to see, that what He desires is something anyone can do (Rm.4:1). God demands a transparent heart.Abraham said to God “I am but dust and ashes” (Gen.18:27). He felt himself to be “as good as dead” (Rm.4:19). He appealed to God out of the only place he knew; “his innermost being” (Ps.51:6). In this world of mega-pressure to conform to an image and meet worldly standards such simple reality can be either a distant and vague “someday” adventure or a simple choice that begins right now.
Peter, like Abraham, knew that his sin had rendered him a complete failure in the eyes of a holy God. Truth was his only hope. Unlike the standard of hypocrisy today a true relationship with God is not born out of a surface claim. It can only be truly appropriated in the collapse of self-confidence, where a man is laid bare and vulnerable, so as to come to grips with Jesus, on the cross in His, and in his, innermost being.
Think about it. God has created trillions of people. Each person is completely unique. So what happened between the point of His creation and the multitudes of the world all united as one in rebellion to God? Simple. SIN. It severed all of us from God and left us ignorant and stupid to wallow in our pride groping for acceptance by others. They call it peer pressure or political correctness. Are you really willing to spend eternity in hell for the gratification of this life?
You and I face a choice. It is the same choice trillions face in their time on earth. Don’t take this lightly. This moment will determine your eternity in heaven or in hell.
God demonstrated, through Abraham, that it is not exclusivity that causes a man to choose to believe God while others do not. It is a free individual choice to believe God while others choose not to. Abrahamic faith is not the “faith” of modern society. It is not to ‘wish upon a star’ or Christian presumption. Abrahamic faith is born out of the deep composition of a man’s will to surrender to the work of Jesus on the cross.
The “cross” is not a symbolic reference to Christian sentiment from the past. It is not a cerebral but personal BREAKING with ego. It is the living revelation solely able to expose and shatter the deep-seated rebellion in all us (1 Cor.1:18). Contemplation of the multi-faceted ramifications of the cross brings one to the most important choice of one’s life; death or self-pride. Hidden beneath this monster, we call pretense, are catastrophic consequences that must be confronted. The Bible reveals that Abraham’s recognition of absolute inadequacy was a choice of self-failure and the birth place of the divine substance called faith (Rm.4/Heb.11)
I remember a time in High School when I received a D grade on a subject. To me, it was like an A+ because I was terrified of an F grade. Getting an F meant I flunked and I wouldn’t be eligible to play college football. There’s just something so demeaning about getting an F. I was thrilled that my lame efforts got me a D grade. No other letter grade is equated with a word except for F ailure.
Our pride refuses to think of ourselves as a complete failure. However, in regards to the truth which God requires to know Him, the worst thing we can do is to pretend to be, or know something, that is based on false pretense (Jn.6:29). It means that we are living a lie. When your test comes right down to totally giving up on the subject called “ME”, at the last minute, you made some half-hearted effort to insist “I’m not “that bad”. I am not a sinful failure.
So many “Christians” of today are like D students fighting against that F. They know they fall short of God’s holy standards but sulk in the lie of self-pity, that they just can’t do what God requires. They fear the stigma of an F. They don’t want to be laid bare and exposed for what they truly are. So they strive to pretend they are something they are not. If only they realized the beauty of an F. F stands for Failure. F is for Freedom. F is for Faith and the Father. In truth, the “grand exploit” that God demands is to believe Him despite everything you think.
“Humble yourselves….Casting all your anxiety…upon Him because He cares for you…” (1 Pt.5:6).
THE SCARED HEART
To find the profound healing from agape love one must start by fully recognizing his complete inability and failure in everything he is, he has done and strives yet to be and do. I tell you the truth. If you can get this, it is the “formula” for ultimate fulfillment. To be laid bare and desperate before God, in your “innermost being”, is both the end and the beginning of true victory. It is only by the Spirit of the living Jesus, in the moment of here and now, that we find Him and His redemptive purpose. Recently, my family and I were setting up our equipment in the center of a prison courtyard in southern Brazil. It was full of some three hundred desperate men with looks on their faces like “Who do you people think you are, coming into our prison, assuming we want you here?!”.
Never, throughout my life, could I ever have imagined one day being sent by God into 3rd world prisons. There is no credential that prepares anyone for this. It is not a skill to be learned. None of my 20 years of schooling taught me how to bring compassion to hopeless men.
As I realized the hostility of the prisoners around me, my mind was frozen with thoughts of fear. What words could a nobody Polish ‘kid’ find, from the west side of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who was arrested the night of his High School graduation, for a bar room brawl? Such a predicament exposes who you are deep inside. Fear, desperation, and inadequacy define me as a failure. I don’t care like I should. I have not the answers they so desperately need. What do you say to cold-hearted gangs in their world of prison?
Jesus was in prison. He sat with others yet so alone. He was consumed with excruciating injustice and physical pain. His mouth caught the taste of blood flowing down from the thorns that punctured His skull. He suffered more than any man. It was at this terrifying hour that Jesus revealed the astounding reality of what was inside His true identity.
On the cross, Jesus thought He was a complete failure. He Who knew no sin became sin. He became all our failure and knew failure like no man. Jesus cried out, for all the public to hear, an outrageous question for the Son of God to ask…
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” ( Mt.27:46/Mk.14:36/Lk.23:46).
“Shhhh. Jesus! Don’t you know? Unbelievers will hear Your unbelief?!”
At that moment, Jesus became the ultimate failure. He was crushed by the fear that He had ‘missed God’. What if everything He did was in vain? How could His loving Father allow Him to incur such excruciating suffering? Such were His fears. Not a shred of presumption. He was laid bare as any man.
In His whisper that followed “Father into Your Hands I commit My spirit,” He let us see His heart as a Son dying, so we could live. He believed beyond His failure to His Father. He refused to quit on faith in God. He took on sin without sinning.
To His last breath, Jesus was utterly reliant upon the Father.
At that moment, His heart was torn in two, as Jesus bore the epitome of everything evil we despise in ourselves, and in others. It was a one time act in all of human history. Jesus became the sacrificed Lamb and the atonement that provided forgiveness for the trillions of men His Father created (2 Cor.5:21). In that horrendous moment of fear and despair, the Father had to look away. It was this very moment which left all the trillions without excuse, because Jesus provided everything God demands. He was the Mediator between sinful men and a perfect God. F is for Final salvation.
Jesus revealed that the essence of our fulfillment can only be born again out of complete failure (Rm. 4:19/Jn.3:7).
If Jesus had not shouted those words, I would never know that fear and unbelief is part and parcel of my daily identity before the Father. His “failure” in death is the bridge for a sinner to access the Father. Paul says “I have been crucified with Christ…” (Gal.2:20). True hope can only be found in true death. Resurrection life is an uncommon divine entity. It can only thrive as death clears away the hostilities of natural ways (Jn.12:25).
It is written “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh” (2 Cor.4:10ff).
On THE EDGE
Many prisoners are in their early twenties. They know and see their life as one huge failure. They face the reality of living out the rest of their lives in this one filthy prison of barbed wire walls, cement beds and eight to ten other guys in one cell. Isolated, alone and living in a body ravaged by drugs, despair and unimaginable regret. I know you can say “Oh that’s terrible”. But I ask you to try to really imagine what this must be like. It is the way to cultivate real compassion.
For 24 hours a day, one thought burns in their mind “How could I have lived the way I did? Surely, God has forsaken me”. Every one of us is tormented by some variation of these same exact feelings. We don’t realize that Jesus Himself felt everything inside us. This precious 33 yr. old Carpenter was there with you, and in you, while bleeding to death 2000 yrs. ago, as a result of His own choice. He had, and has, superpowers. One of which is a personal love beyond all the wonders of the universe. We hide things for which we could be arrested. He forgives; F is for Forgiveness. One wrong impulse or urge may destroy your life. He redeems. The cross is the historical proof and validation of a compassion for all prisoners of sin.
Who will dare access His power manifested on a cross (1 Cor.1:18) ?
A cliff jumper stands on the edge of a mountain ridge. He looks over all the danger but knows his will has brought him to this point. Think he’s scared? You bet. But this is what he wants and what he has chosen to do. He faces death but has made his calculations. Every jump is a choice. Of course you’re afraid to take that leap of faith. But life is ticking away and death offers no second chance.
I, like you, must make an individual choice to believe God. No matter how I tried to relate to these prisoners, nothing was getting through. I was standing on the edge facing extreme hostile silence. Have I travelled thousands of miles, spent thousands of dollars to proclaim God’s mystery only to have common thoughts hinder me on the edge? Do I risk their eternity to maintain my life? Is my goal to appear as a success, for my sake, or a failure for theirs? We have a response we say when people say “Nobody cares”. We say “You’re right. Jesus was ‘Nobody’ to the world”.
When you are a kid, you bank on your parents coming to your rescue. I’m no kid. ‘Nobody’ was coming. We’re talking about a prison, so remote and depraved, only hell has not forgotten it. It makes the prisons in the states seem like a Holiday Inn.
Was I scared? Not really. Not as you might think.
”“The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom…Fear Him Who can cast body and soul into hell”
(Pr.1:9/Lk.12:5). I know myself. So I fear myself.
I choose to ‘leap’ beyond myself into the winds of the cross. A transparent son has no face to save or together-sounding language to espouse. I am a failure like all men and this is what they must see to “see” Jesus. They must see my scar. These are part of the trillions of souls Jesus yearns to save.
It is in this nothingness, of the cross, that I find the freedom of new life. I choose to believe God will open my parachute. I take the leap of faith with these men, to be as transparent and loving as I know to be. No pretense or conjured up image. Jesus says take no thought for what you will say because He will come at the last second (Lk.12:12). When we are dead, He lives.
As a father, having to lead six children and a wife into such danger, I thank my Father for His fellowship in the Spirit. It is everything. If my “parachute” doesn’t open, I am doomed.
The fear of God drives me into self-scrutiny. No place for ‘image’. Either there is a God and He will move or this is all one big sand castle awaiting collapse. Moments on the edge generate new life. Without this, I sulk into the grief of meaningless existence. In a world of utter routine boredom, it is rare to find the passion of a love that makes your hands sweat and your blood run fast.
Paul says “I die daily…” (1 Cor. 5:31). He came to end to find a beginning. He had to lose before he could win. So any victory was not his. I too was at my end. It was one of my many “Why have you forsaken me?” moments.
Then, as if on the head of a needle, everything reversed. The Holy Spirit acted. Between the time it took for my mouth to open, and the micro-seconds it took for the thoughts of my brain to reach my mouth, the Holy Spirit changed my heart from judgment to mercy. The parachute opened. The anointed love of Jesus broke through me to get to these men. Some of the trillions saw their choice.
(SEE END OF ARTICLE FOR COMPLETION)
Do you remember when you were a little kid alone in your house at night? It seemed as if a shadow flashed by just as you turned the other way. You feared ‘someone’ was coming to get you? This was my experience many Saturday nights. Especially when I was watching some horror movie.
There are two kinds of fear. There is the fear shared with all men. It is the drive to be a success. The fear of death bears upon you that your time is ever so short. The fear of God is not such. It is the accountability of your conscience that you will answer to God for your choices, or lack of them (1 Pt.1:17/2 Cor.5:10).
You can be anywhere doing anything but deep within is a shadow of fear. Ever day, every moment, you just can’t explain the depths of your anxiety. It is the shadow called death. You do not define it as such but God does (Job 3:5, 11:21-22,12:22/Ps.44:19107:14/Is.9:2,13:6/Amos 5:8). God offers freedom from all fear. David knew His Spirit; “Thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me” (Ps.23:4/1 Jn.4:18). The trillions who are dead testify to the trillions who are alive that death is forever. F is for Forever.
Death is not something that is going to happen. It is something that has already happened (in Adam’s sin) and must simply be completed. It is the Grand Marshall leading the parade called life. The moment Adam and Eve sinned, we lost our immortality. Sin turned us into mere mortals heading to death. It is not someplace “out there”. We are born into a body in which death is a code written in our blood. God warns “the ‘wages’ of sin is death” (Rm.6:23).
It gradually kills human cells, causes wrinkles, muscular atrophy and the rapid deterioration of our brain and body. It will ultimately eat even our bones.
Thus death is in your shadow as the greatest fear. Yet, it is completely absent in all social discourse.
There is nothing more bizarre than man’s insane attitude towards death. If I were an alien, that landed on this planet, and found out that everyone walking around is going to die, yet never talks about it, I would ask “Why?” I would be completely bewildered.
No one runs around screaming “Death is coming upon me. It’s going to kill me. Can anyone help me?” Such people fill the buildings reserved for the mentally ill or are seen on the streets as derelicts. Such erratic behavior would be normal, if all men openly discussed the debilitating reality of our vain existence and abrupt obliteration that can happen at any moment.
Can your mind even consider that death could be one breath away?
I have visited and slowly walked through many cemeteries. I have stopped to ponder what must have been the life of the young and old whose bodies are now skeletons in the ground. I recently saw an article that explained how in Paris, they don’t know what to do with their dead because they are running out of room for them. Trillions! I have visited Convalescent Homes and spoken with people on the brink of death. They are about to die. You know it. They know it. Their entire physical state radiates it. Yet, the unspoken rule is “Don’t talk about death”. As if it will go away when you ignore it.
150 people die each day from heroin
7,000 die each day in the States alone
150,000 die in the world each day
You may do things, or had things done to you, that in and of themselves, did not kill you but affected you in such a way, as to render you incapable of considering the gospel. A boxer becomes “punch drunk”. A drug addict becomes “addicted”. A drunk develops “wet brain”. God says a contentious woman is worse than death to a passive man (Ecc.7:26).
People talk about all things that cause death but never about death itself. They talk of guns, drugs and many dangers but never of their end.
Man’s refusal to deal with death is of such stupidity, it is like the eighth wonder of the world. People think more of how to swat a nagging fly than death. Even now as you read this, your thoughts conclude it is not relevant and are driven beyond it to the here and now of your daily life.
We may fail at many things in life but magnitude of the consequences and finality of death makes all other failures as nothing. It is what you and I must face to escape the hell of the trillions.
THE MONSTER OF FIRE
My mother complained of pain in her stomach. So my dad made an appointment for a biopsy. No big deal. I remember at the hospital. They were wheeling her into the operating table on a gurney. She sat up as she passed by me, standing in the hallway, and did her Groucho Marx impersonation. She was a crack up. A little while later, they rolled her out and her face was buried in sorrow. A month later, she was dead. Extinguished like a flame.
I would not hear her voice again. No more jokes. No more special moments. No more dancing together or helping her bake an apple pie. So final. Never could I have understood at that time, this was a death which was both hers and mine. Her life was an obstacle to my death. I had to die to an identity that she kept alive; the very things that prevented me from becoming a new man. God uses the dying in our winters to bring us into the new life of His eternal Spring.
Dying turned a heavy set, jovial woman into a tiny frame of skin and bones. Night after night she would literally cry and scream from the pain. She constantly would eat crushed ice because she said it felt like there was a monster inside eating her with fire. Then, one moment in one day, when I was gone, she was gone. Death came to her. The monster won. Yet the “sting” was short lived because she had renounced all false religion and surrendered to the living Jesus. She blossomed on the other side of death into eternal life.
A SOUND OF DEATH
No screeching tires. No sound of a bullet. No terrible storm.
I will always hear the sound of a large vinyl, black bag being zipped closed. My mother’s body was methodically placed next to it, then rolled into it, by a creepy dude in a black suit. I had greeted him at the door and pointed him to the stairs to her bedroom. To my shock, he then tossed her body over his right shoulder, like a carpet, and carried her body right passed me down the stairs and threw it into the hearse he parked in our driveway.
My mouth was open. My mind was bewildered. What just happened? DEATH will come to you in a different way but it definitely will come. They took her to a Funeral Home to “show” a body pumped with chemicals and covered with makeup. As if to fool everyone for one last time into thinking “she” is still alive and looks like this. Nope. She’s long gone. A monster killed her.
Death has no moral code or “nice” sounding proper etiquette. Millions of young people are lured into the military, never told that death is an integral part of the job description. Death will violate your “peace of mind” and devastate your “comfort zone”. It doesn’t care whether you understand. Such talk is not “politically correct”. The trillions of the famous and the poor walked in your exact human shoes and are long forgotten so as not to comprehend their end.
My friend, I beg you to listen to me. All of this about my mother is not shared as a son blinded by his affections for a mother. This one woman changed the world because she discovered Jesus at a catholic charismatic meeting and first witnessed to me of a living Jesus. Now I go into all the world. But I recognize her no longer as my mother but as a woman whom God used to teach me a divine lesson.
I share this as though a divine lecture on life given to me by my Father to share with all my brethren. Stop living as though you are not going to die. Start dying so you can start living eternal life. You can go beyond the death of sin into the death of Jesus. You can be united in the “death” that ends in eternal life.
The monster of sin hides within each of us. It eats away the precious moments of our life. It burns like an unquenchable fire consuming our time and energy with fantasies and vanities. Satan lusts for our soul with an unbridled fury of hideous passion. If you think you can stop him with a song and a prayer, you have no clue. It was a death of horrendous torture on a cross bearing One Man Who actually surrendered to Satan. He ransomed His soul for ours. One word – D E C E P T I O N. “Oh I’m not afraid of death. I’m fine” are the thoughts of a fool already swallowed by the monster.
Like it or not, admit it or not, self-deception is an out-of-control fire consuming your “house”. Pride rages from room to room fed by the excuses and alibis of lies of why you don’t have to change. Men are gluttons for excuses. Death works in unison to hide it’s ultimate catastrophe. Every day we see it steal away our moments of time. It makes us do and say things that destroy our lives.
We are as if in a drunken coma of the moment. We think “I ‘m really something. I matter. RIGHT NOW, RIGHT HERE MATTERS”. No it doesn’t. Not even one bit in light of eternity. We are obsessed with ourselves as if the lead actor in a movie called ME. We are consumed with SELF; SIN. This is why we must fail. We must die before we die. We must allow the cross to kill the monster within called EGO.
A champion is not consumed with his present moment. His eyes are on the goal. He knows well his weaknesses and trains to defy them. A boxer does not obsess himself with the comforts and moments of NOW or he will lose his everything (Ps. 73:4).
“How do I feel, what I amthinking, these things are mine, what am I going to eat etc.” This, my friend, is the curse of sin.
The truth is nobody cares. The trillions are consumed with their lives. Your death will not affect one iota of the world. Society will not skip a beat. The clock will tick the same before and after you die. How many people will even know when you die?
The only Person Who truly came back from the dead warned that death is not some “light at the end of a tunnel”. It is terrible judgement and if your name is not in The Book of Life you will be cast into the lake of fire (Heb. 9:27,10:31/Rev.20:15). Have you ever seen a huge lake of lava or burning forrest fire? Hell is real. Satan is an “angel of light” who disguises death to men who fall unconscious then come back to tell others a lie (2 Cor.11:14). Even if you do not believe in hell, do you really think non-existence will be fun? In the blink of an eye, you will fall into the power of death and be taken away from whatever you are doing on earth.
Unlike all men, Jesus did not avoid talking about death. It was His life mission. But He did something never heard before. He talked about a death with a promise (Jn.11:25,12:25). Paul, the apostle explained
“For if we have become united with him in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin; for he that hath died is justified from sin.
But if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him;… For the death that he died, he died unto sin once: but the life that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Even so reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin (everything related to self-life) , but alive unto God in Christ Jesus” (Rm.6).
Often times, as a catholic, when I saw the statue of Jesus on the cross, it bummed me out. It seemed so distant and irrelevant. So many sermons spoke of being a “sinner” and having to “die” with Christ. Quite depressing. Like most people, I lightheartedly admitted being a sinner because I had no idea what it meant.
To be a sinner is the most offensive and detestable thing before a perfect God. The accurate reflection of our worth is not known by reflecting on our worldly accomplishments, listening to our ego, the words of others or looking in a mirror. It is by contemplating the utter horrors of hell as the justice for the death of Jesus.
God made hell for the devil and his angels but man made himself suitable for such a place by contaminating himself with sin. Our “worth” corresponds to eternal damnation.
Jesus put Himself in our place of condemnation. He bore what we deserve. His vicarious death offers us a retroactive redemption.
Prior to the resurrection, death was final. It was over. No further hope for mankind. However, death could not stop Jesus. It could not hold him in the earth (Acts 2:24). Jesus took over death and made it usable; redemptive. The resurrection of Jesus inaugurated a new death. It is not a physical but spiritual.
“I am the first and the last, and the Living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades” (Rev. 1:18).
SUCCESS THROUGH FAILURE
You have heard “fat cat” preachers hoot and holler about “the cross”. All you have to do is behold their exalted ego to know they are “enemies of the cross” (Phil.3:18). The cross is not a hollow, ancient symbol but a retroactive mystery of salvation (Col. 1:27). It is “the place” where our heart surrenders to His work (Jn.14:3).
As a once-successful rabbi; Paul said “ I will boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (2 Cor. 11:22ff/Gal.6:14). What in the world does he mean? For merely being just two pieces of wood, a “cross”, from some 2000 years ago, gave him a power(1 Cor.1:18).
This term “the cross” is as a foreign dialect from some remote village deep in the Amazon. No one speaks of it as the power over death. How many world leaders, scholars, actors, coaches, Wall Street bankers, executives, teachers etc. claim the cross as their formula for success?
The A students of this world have no clue. Paul said, in light of the wisdom gained through the humiliation of the cross, everything in the world is “dung” (Phil.3:7-8). And it does require humiliation, not just humility. For a man to embrace his nothingness is complete defiance to himself.
God specifically designed the cross as the only transition point into His world. Failure is in our blood and He bore it all when He shed all of His
Every single person who follows Jesus embraces his failure as a sinner (1 Cor.1:27). It is the way of salvation. It is not to be feared. It kills our greatest enemy; pride. It kills the monster. It kills our moments of time that we think are so important. “Blessed are those who mourn…” (Mt.5:3ff). It is not that you are left with your failure but with Jesus in His plan for your failure.
Embrace such a One Who designed such a thing. Embrace the truth of Jesus. By doing so you are saying to Satan that what God says to you, and about you, and what Jesus did for you, despite you, is everything to you. Become united into the specific workings of the Father’s plan.
The “participation” in the death and resurrection is for you today. It is the plan to turn bad things into good things (Phil.3:10).
Jesus promises “even though he dies yet shall he live” (Jn.11:25).
This, my friend, is beautiful. Our worst failure can turn into His design for victory. When I am at my end, as to what to do or how to be, in any and every circumstance, I choose to unify my end with His. I cry a thousand times “My God, where are You…why have you forsaken me?” And in this unification, I am free from myself by and in Jesus to rejoice and worship my Father.
It’s not like I ever stop being a failure and start being a success. I live as a failure but believe that if while I was an enemy, I was reconciled to God “through the death of his Son”,much more, being reconciled, shall I be saved by His life (Rm.5:10).
I have nothing to hide or prove. I am a failure to God and to all He intended for the trillions He created. It has been awesome to be freed from the fear of men. I am Michael and there is no one like me. Yet this awareness does not come from looking within but from looking upon the living Messiah. It is His love that has awakened me to be born again. I do not appeal to the Son on the basis of my ability but on the basis of His accomplishment.
“He Who dwells in the shelter of the Most High shall abide the shadow of the Almighty ….” (Ps.91). There is a “place” in Jesus beyond the shadows of our fallen nature (Jn.14:23). Surely, how to die to yourself is a “secret” to the proud (Mt. 11:25).
Abraham did not fight to to rationalize, justify or defend himself to God, but to expose himself as “dust and ashes” (Gen.18:27). Then he rose up and believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. He “found” an individual angle to believe God while “in the flesh” (Rm.4:1ff).
Death is not an option. The question is whether you become united with the death of Jesus now, unto eternal life, or are subject to Satan when he comes at your death with his rights to your soul, to take your soul to hell.
Look in the mirror and consider God warns “from dust you were taken and unto dust you shall return” (Gen.3:19).
(continued from beginning)
BREAKING THE PARADIGM
As I spoke I also listened to what words the Spirit brought as result of my repentance; “We fully understand your skepticism. I would feel the same. The only appropriate response to each of you is to cry with you. I don’t blame you guys for not wanting to listen. I can only tell each of you that God put us here because He loves each of you. He is here to save your life.”
As my eyes scanned their faces, back and forth, I could see that the divine contact of divine mercy was made. Jesus sent His Spirit. I was off the hook. My death released His life. The men were engaged. Nodding their heads and laughing. We even sang together. By sharing of The One we shared one on one with so many. No exaggeration to say everyone was touched by God’s love. Our hearts were broken by so many stories of such depth of failure. We did not leave this prison with feelings of elation and success but with great burden and intercession.
We know why God “so loved” these men (Jn.3:16/Heb.13:3 /Mt.25:36). Redemption is not one of God’s ways. It is the essence of all of God’s ways towards fallen men.Paul says “power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor.12:9).
A few days before, Elizabeth had contacted a man from the Gideon Society in southern Brazil. He was favorable to our work and offered us thousands of New Testaments. We were thrilled. It is something I always dreamed of having but not able to afford.
I placed a box of brand new Bibles on the ground and offered all the men this gift. As I watched hand after hand reaching down into that box, my memory took a picture I will always have in the library of my mind.
These are the men who we were initially forbidden to visit. The head of security was relentless in his insistence that the men were too dangerous. Yet he gave us a chance and later told us we had “broken the paradigm”. No one has ever articulated something of such meaning to us. He had seen a power which we know is Jesus. The wind of the Spirit had blown into that place.
We did end up laying the sewers in the one prison I previously wrote about. It cost us seven hundred dollars and several of us got sick from the extreme bacteria. But to begin to eliminate this wretched smell from their daily existence was a real privilege for us. We taught other prisoners how to do it and gave them the materials.
I have written much about prisons but God continuously moves on the streets, orphanages, convalescent homes, community centers and through many other avenues. The included pictures show some of them. The needs are literally without limit.
People think that because we never talk about our needs we must have some source of finances or support. We do not. For anyone who doesn’t know us and might share in our burden to reach the world for Jesus we are not supported by any group, organization or church. All eight of us work regular jobs and then, when we have sufficient funds, we minister out of these savings. This is very difficult and consumes time we could otherwise be spending reaching the world in Jesus. I hate to mention the great demands we face but someone may actually be grateful because they want to help. Such was the case for some people that Paul, the apostle, came to know ( 2 Cor.8:3-4). People today tend to only give money to those from whom they can derive some instant gratification and such is not the case with us.
It is hard to imagine someone supporting us whom I may offend with the truth of the gospel. You may not like to hear these things I share but it is out of love for you. All men have the power of free will. You don’t have to be offended. You can be open. If a true Christian has the means, I believe God’s harvest would matter and they would see this as an opportunity to help do what they may not be able to do. God willing we will get to Nigeria where there are millions who speak English. Also Japan and South Korea. While here in Brazil we need to yet get to Bolivia and Paraguay before leaving South America. But that involves driving through the Amazon Jungle which will require an enormous effort and time. It would be awesome to be able to fly.
Some may wrongly think that because we know the Lord that we are “blessed” with “financial success”. These are twisted notions from the materialistic poison of American Christianity. The concept of “prosperity teaching” thrives only amidst a culture in the circles of the affluent rich. It doesn’t work amongst the homeless or in 3rd world countries because it is not reality but delusion (i.e. “God wants you to have a nice car, house, successful business, etc.”).
Anyone who truly knows the gospel and the writings of Paul, understands the opposite is true. Jesus came to the poor and Paul constantly made mention of his needs (Is.61/1 Cor.9:9). This is reality. Having finances for his ministry was a constant issue for Paul because he lived in obscurity and traveled, not by ‘being sent’ by men, but by his witness of the Holy Spirit. If we were of the system, we would have plenty of support and backing, and this would be considered “prosperity”. Be as it is, we are of the Spirit and constantly face great need because we have chosen to “Go into all the world…” regardless whether anyone supports us. Jesus keeps His servants humble. Praise God.
If anyone would like to help us, I think it is clear, from my writings, such help will be directly spent to reach people in need to hear the gospel of the living Jesus. This is not about us. It’s not about our ministry. God doesn’t care how you think about us. This is about PEOPLE. This is about CARING. Jesus says whatever you do to the least of my brethren you do to me (Mt.25:45). I am not a fat-cat preacher building an empire of ego. God can orchestrate any means and use anybody through whom He can then convey His love. Even a wretch like me. I don’t know what else I can say. Our only goal is to bring men the living Jesus in the Spirit of His sacrificial love. We would greatly appreciate any help.
Please feel free to contact us about anything. I will not attack you or hold you to any standard. God became a man so that a man could know God. Compassion is my guide. We’d love to help break through any obstacle you may face. Jesus offers a wisdom, healing and light you can not imagine. Not a formula, doctrine or prayer. Reality.
You are on the clock. Your time is like sand funneling through the hour glass. Horrible judgement is coming soon. Madness floods the earth. Wickedness abounds. God is allowing Satan to move so quickly. All the filth and perversion has defiled the ancient boundaries and the “standards’ of the “new normal” are being set by the prince of darkness for the dawning of his final surge.
My wife Rachel, sons Joshua, Abraham and David, and daughters Ruth, Elizabeth and Sarah appeal to you “Come to the living Jesus. Your death is worth His life.” The short circuit to any of your “success” is the mere mention that you are going to die.
“What man is he that shall live and not see death, who shall deliver his own soul from the power of hell?” (Ps.89:48)
Picture from last fall preaching on the campus of Central Michigan University.
Ten Brazilian military police dressed in full battle-armor swat gear appeared right in front of us as though they were about to engage in a full-out battle. Four of them had machine guns. Three had double-gauged shotguns. Three had drawn pistols. One had a smoke grenade in his hand. They lifted their bullet-proof shields and, in a crouched line, proceeded down the narrow hallway leading to the courtyard.
A guard looked at me and said, “Follow us”. Their guns scanned both sides of the corridor. They would stop. A command was shouted and several broke off to search each cell we passed to make sure no prisoners could get behind us. One thought just kept pulsating in my mind “I can’t believe this is happening for me. They are doing all this for the Woroniecki family?!”.
(-See section titled Travel Update below for continuation -)
(next blog Part II)
(Battle Lines)- THE REFLECTION
Do you ever tire of modern ways? Do you ever yearn for ways of olden days, maybe even ancient days?
“I kept looking until thrones were set up, and the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow and the hair of His head like pure wool. His throne was ablaze with flames, it’s wheels a burning fire. A river of fire was flowing and coming from before Him; thousands upon thousands were attending Him and myriads standing before Him; the court say and the books were opened…and behold One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him” (Daniel 7:10:13,22).
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, Where the good way is, and walk in it; And you will find rest for your souls” (Jer.6:16/Mt.11:28,7:7).
God. Who is He? What is He? Where is He? Imagine if we, as mere sinful mortals, could find a reflection of such a holy One? The reality is God has made known, in the Scriptures, that He yearns for men to know Him, to such degree, that in His creation of us, He placed a reflection of Himself. It is called conscience. It is not hard to figure out. It is, in a sense, “common sense”; truthful thinking about God (Lk.15:17). This thinking is at the forefront of our mind. It contains ancient thoughts of the Ancient of Days; God is holy, loving, good, right etc. Our conscience tells us we are to reflect these ways (Rm.2:14-15). The conscience is not salvation but it’s promptings lead to the One Who is salvation.. to what…Whom God deems righteous… His Son Jesus.
The conscience guided men of old, like King David and Jeremiah, to write hundreds of Psalms, to hear God and to lead the nation of Israel. In order to fully utilize it’s capability of intelligence, creativity and imagination it requires a depth of individual thinking in humble ways of a childlike attitude. The conscience tells you that you have individual accountability to God. It compels you to pursue and discover a divine purpose which is to reflect the image of the Son to the Father (Rm.8:29). It will help you figure how to do this.
Have you ever wondered why you want to show others that “I just want to do what is right”? The Scriptures teach just the opposite; that we all do want what is wicked (Rm.3:10ff). Yet, if you were to talk with any individual, they will insist that they want to do what is right. This contradiction can be traced to the inner battle in each of us between sin and conscience. We may know what is right, and want to do what is right, but end up doing what is wrong (Rm.7:19-8). From every President and Pope, to every leader of every religion or organization, to every citizen of every country, all men claim a vague undefined goal tobe right. No one says “I just want tobe wrong“.
Even the most hardened criminal, drug addict or murderer has the awareness that he should do what is right, even if he does what is wrong. Yet, what is “right” for some is wrong for others. So this strange battle rages at the very center of human existence. People fight over what is right. Multitudes suffer because nothing is right. Madness erupts into wars where people kill each other over what “right”. Families are devastated by divorce because husband and wife battle over what is right. The world is a reflection, not of the image of God, but of the powers of sin and Satan. Battle lines are drawn that do not mark off sections of land but “places” in our mind and heart that define the ancient paths of the image of God and the image of a selfish man.
God says that man is driven by sin to want evil while claiming to want what is right proving the reflection of His Law is written within every man (Read Rm.2:14-15). Men are stuck in this quagmire of pride that prevents understanding and breeds confusion (Ps.5:9,116:11,140:3/ Jn.8:44/ Rm.3:13ff). What about you? Will you read this blog in presumption and remain ignorant “Oh yes, I already know all that” or humble yourself and gain the understanding and freedom offered by a loving Father (Jn.8:32)?
Are you willing to consider that you do not understand something that you may say you already understand? We are not animals or plants. You and I are created in the very image of God so as to have His moral constitution at the center of our being. We evaluate life, automatically, with reason, intelligence and memory. It is not impulse that governs our existence. We do not chirp or bark. We articulate. We use our senses and experience to evaluate our surroundings and determine what we ought to do.
All these things reflect God. All these things originated in and proceed out of our Creator. We are like Him though we reject Him (Jn.1:11). God is not some weird sci-fi entity. He became like us so we could become like Him (Jn.10:34ff/Ps.82:6). We live our life in the Shadow of God, whether we want to admit it or not. Our conscience is built to reflect the perfect image of God. So until we do this to our fullest you will always feel troubled and unfulfilled. It is sin which keeps us from doing so.
The image of God is marked out in our mind by “lines” that distinguish the boundaries of right from wrong, good from evil, compassion from indifference, truth from distortion, humility from pride, grace from license, sincerity from pretense, etc.
Frustration and anxiety stem from crossing these inner “battle lines” of the conscience to know, be and do what is right while seeing sin and selfishness in control. Our conscience demands that we walk “the ancient path” of God’s Law. But we fail. We fall. The conscience was not created to condemn or complicate our life. Quite the contrary. It was created to empower us with “The Reflection”. It is our sinful nature that creates the conflict.
The conscience serves as a “tutor” of the truth that the only way to be right is to be “reckoned” right by faith in His redemption (Rm.4:5,13,15/ Gal.2:19,21/ Phil.3:9/ 1 Cor.1:30). The conscience beckons us with a witness to faith in Jesus (Gal.3:24/Rm.10:4). We can not do what only Jesus has done; fulfill the Law. Jesus was and is “The Perfect Reflection” of God to us. His conscience was so perfectly fulfilled that He was the “exact representation” of the Father to us. The fusion of His salvation transforms the conscience, beyond the 1st Adam, with The Reflection of the Son (Rm.8:29/2 Cor. 4:6).
Abraham is talking with a guy who is 21 and has 26 years to go. Men are weighed down with enormous grief .
YOU MAY ASK “How can the image of God reside in us if we are sinful?”. It is not a physical thing like a heart vale or or ear drum. Every day you see your image in a mirror. This does not mean that you are in the mirror. God is not in us but His reflection is. I can clearly see my image in the reflection of a pond but I am not in the pond. The conscience is a magnificent creation; “a science invention”. It is the reflection of God in having the composition of heart, mind and life. Conscience means “with” (con)“knowledge” (science) of God. It is the crown of His creation. It is the center of our reasoning capability. This knowledge is a reflection of light, not from this world. It gives us a continual sense of something beyond ourselves. The cross is meant to eliminate the prime obstacle to our reflection of Jesus (1 Cor.1:18). If we die with Him we shall reflect Him and His sacrificial love (Rm.6:6). It is supernatural automation.
King Solomon wrote, “God has placed eternity in the heart of man” (Ecc. 3:10). Eternity? Yes. Eternity. Paul explains that His invisible attributes are clearly seen (Rm.1:20). Even if one denies God, the conscience tells him He exists. All men are liars (Ps.116:11/Rm.3:13). When Satan seduced Adam and Eve, he appealed to the conscience because he knew he would win them if he could defile it (Gen.3:1ff). He won. Sin became alive but conscience did not die. A tainted mirror still reflects an image (1 Cor.13:12). Our accountability is great.
We all fight a war with guilt, shame and terrible failure to the dictates of conscience. Yet God has fully provided the means for victory. Peace of mind comes only to those who yield and learn how to utilize the conscience by becoming subject to the living Jesus. Satan taunts a proud man into a war between his conscience and sin he is not prepared to fight and does not know how to win.
This war is not with other people, who may have already trampled the lines of their conscience (2 Cor.10:12). It is with Satan who uses pride and ignorance to blur the lines so that you walk away from God’s will and into his (Isaiah 8:20/Mt.6:23/Eph.6:12). Salvation is all about position. It is about standing in Christ, not to reflect your glory but His. Will you stand in the “boundary lines” of the truth, to which the Holy Spirit bears witness to your conscience (Jn.14,16/2 Thes.2:12/18:36)? Satan knows if he can get you to ignore your conscience he will win your soul. He uses thoughts to diminish the significance of your focus and decisions. The mind regulates all “aircraft” that lands in and leaves out of our brain (2 Cor.10:3). Whoever rules the tower runs the airport.
One time, I was alone hiking in the high country of Wyoming. I crossed over a mountain range and suddenly, I lost all my bearings. For a short time I thought I was lost in the wilderness. I just couldn’t figure out my lines of travel. I begged God to remember. This deep sense of terrible fear radically changed my attitude, seeing how such a beautiful place can become so haunting when you are disorientated. I became extremely careful. Never again leaving my compass behind. In the midst of my alienation I realized how I must be riveted on things I took quite tritely; calculation and recognition of my lines of travel. The consequence of being cavalier about your conscience can send you on a path of no return.
God offers a top of the line moral compass. He wants to lead you into beautiful “places”. This is His promise (Jn.10:10). However, it requires extreme caution and attention. If your daily life is haunted by a troubled conscience, the depths of anxiety can make your existence anything but beautiful. The goal of Satan is to distract your focus with confusion and win your soul to hell. If you snub this reality, you are a fool. Paul says he fought to his very last day (1Cor.9:27/2 Tim.4:7).
There are many precise bearings on a compass. It demands the discipline of a disciple. Many have no idea how to accurately “divide” between soul and spirit (Heb. 4:12). Praise God that He did not leave us to flounder about subject to the whims of random thoughts and feelings. Conscience points you in the direction of the truth with a “witness” to the righteousness of faith in Christ. The Father has taught me, over 40 years of salvation, how to engage my conscience to reflect Jesus by the power of His Spirit in facing even the most difficult situation (2 Cor.3:18, 4:6). Jesus promises I can never get lost (Jn.10:29).
It is easy to exaggerate and lie and ultimately walk off the path and defile your conscience. No siren will sound. No alarm bell or buzzer will go off when you ignore Him. You will not be arrested or need to go to a hospital. No lightening bolt will flash at your feet. No one will shout “Hey you! What did you just do?!” You will not start walking into walls or forget how to cook or brush your teeth. You will just blink your eyes, turn your head and lean back in your chair. But the “silence” of another dark victory assures how loud shall be the screams of hell.
You have crossed a line of conscience and the ‘silence’ is deafening.
It happens every day in a split second. In countless places, over countless issues, all over the world, men deny their conscience and think there are no consequences. God does not grab anyone by the neck or shake anyone by the shoulders and point to your free will.
Look at the reflection of your life. What do men see? We were not created to reflect our SELF. The reflector on a car bumper holds no light of itself. It merely reflects the light it has received. Our conscience yearns to reflect our Creator to it’s fullest potential. Any resistance is the decision of your sinful nature. Jesus offers forgiveness, understanding and grace. But not license. When we continually resist our conscience we risk losing it.
Continual rebellion causes it’s function to become offset, confused and distorted. Reason is replaced by instinct, impulse and rationalizations that now become the guiding “light” of a troubled soul. Jesus says if “the light that is in you” becomes darkness “how great is that darkness” (Matt.6:23). Men reflect this darkness in their face, their choices and their obsession with selfishness. Virtue and integrity are easily replaced with shallow words and phony pretense. Bitterness and anger take lodging deep in the soul and leave a man to exist in a manhole of regret. Liars are not rare. Pretenders are everywhere. So many men become adrift on an ocean of doubt. God warns that a life without a clear conscience becomes a “shipwreck” (1 Tim.1:19). The ocean is full of sunken wrecks.
“Do not move THE ANCIENT BOUNDARY…” (Pr.22:28,23:10).
Have you ever run trails or gone hunting in the backwoods and seen a sign that reads PRIVATE PROPERTY-NO TRESPASSING? If you cross the boundary line, you risk being arrested, or worse yet, being shot by some redneck itching to fire his gun to protect his property. I have seen many trampled fences where there no longer remains a clear, defined, boundary line. It gives men a giddy sense that they can cross the line with no consequences.
Have you ever pondered a beautiful reflection of trees or a sky in a still clear lake? Such are the clear lines of what is right in the life of a believer. The voice of conscience is clear. Each line has an edge. You know what you should do. God has given each of us a free will with which we can blur the line and cloud the air with double-mindedness and selfishness. The person we reflect to others is not Christ but our own confused self. These ways trespass the line and lead you into enemy territory called rebellion. You can become disoriented in finding the road of Jesus back to the Father. You become lost in the wilderness of the world. Indecision and unbelief blur your lines of travel. Paul says his “proud confidence is this: the witness of my conscience” (2 Cor.1:12). You CAN do what you want but the consequences of confusion will follow.
Before Paul met Jesus, he obeyed his conscience and actually fulfilled the standard of the Law (Phil.3:6). Then, he realized he could not separate himself from the pride of his own self-righteousness. He fell under the death of the cross to obtain the saving righteousness “reckoned” by faith (Phil.3:7ff/Rm.4/Gal.2:20). His conscience was cleansed by the blood of Jesus and redeemed to live in spirit and truth by the Spirit of Truth (Rm. 8:1-3 /Heb.9:14). Two men can take a basket of food to the poor. Outwardly the act seems the same. One man can’t stop thinking “I am helping the poor”. The other man thinks “What is your name, my friend?”. The boundary of God’s love is marked by a line with a clear edge separating it from self-love. If a person talked to someone else about their needs a quarter of the amount that they talked about themselves this person would begin to learn both death to self and the love of God.
Lost men could care less about empty doctrines of Christ. They’ve heard them a hundred times. They need to see and hear the reality of Jesus. Today we see a “Christianization” of the conscience. These “Christians” use Biblical terms with no reality. They pretend to be saved but are lost so they wrongly label the conscience as the Holy Spirit and their own failures as “the old man”. They ignorantly use the terms of grace, faith, the blood and love, but don’t know how to, or even if they want to, apply them to their own life. They wander in a wilderness without a compass. Satan exploits this confusion born out of presumption (1 Cor.14:33). The Spirit explicitly says that in the last days men will be vulnerable to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons and by means of the hypocrisy of these lies become seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron (1 Tim.4:2).
A defiled conscience is not seen by someone drinking blood or killing babies. A man smiles. He shakes a hand and asks “How are you?”. He appears ‘nice’. But inside, where no one can see but God alone, he knows that he is not right. And it is the distance between that outward image and his inward conscience where delusion exists. This is the curse and vexing of God that automatically happens to anyone who makes light of the truth in the conscience (2 Thess.2:10).
The trespass shows itself in a fallen countenance and a misappropriation of, and disproportionate responses in, behavior. It is like what the reaction of the trespasser would be at the precise moment that the owner of the property caught him on his land. What should be a “normal” reaction to something, becomes a troubled wrong reaction. Emotional subterfuge becomes the norm. Common sense becomes “hidden”, because reason has now become unclear. You can read of these things, one after another, with the consequences in Matthew 23. (When I look at the picture below I instantly remember it’s stench. It was that terrible.)
“To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled” (Titus 1:15).
A man who hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken
“BEYOND REPAIR”(without remedy) (Pr.29:1).
GOING BACK FOR A FUTURE.
Of all things Paul could have written as the culmination and proof, of God’s covenant with Abraham and Moses, within us, he said it is that Jesus sends His Spirit into our hearts crying “Abba! Father!” (Hebrew ‘DADDY” (Gal.3:15-4:6). A child and his daddy. The primary identity of a true believer is a child of God. If you will expend your energy to comprehend this it will change your life. Jesus gives the right (the power of righteousness by faith) to become (ongoing) a child of God (Jn.1:12).
Paul says we must grasp “the mystery” of this faith with a “clear conscience” (1 Tim.3:9).
The strategy of the Father was for Jesus to bring a salvation that would cleanse and “enlighten” the conscience of every man to be transformed into a child of God. He spoke directly to, and explained, that this is the enigma in all men. To do what is right is to become a child(Jn. 1:9-13).
How long has it been since you were a child? Everyone accepts the thinking that being a child was a time left behind, in someplace you long ago lived. I spent 20 years at 919 Lake Michigan Dr. Two cherry trees in the backyard and a huge house with many rooms. It supplied many moments of simple play. I cherish and access memories of innocence, happy contentment and a pure conscience. We have aged and matured but we do not turn into aliens. (At least not most of us. Lol.)
What I mean is, as human beings we possess a physical brain and an unseen mind. They work together to provide a library of all our thoughts and memories. A thought travels at 250 miles an hour. So, we can literally access the memory of our childhood conscience in an instant. The cost is time, focus and a depth of serious contemplation. Can you remember a moment when you were aware of your own absolute innocence to life? You had no option but to be who you were and trust. The conscience of a child most accurately reflects the image of the Creator. God says the identity of child is everything (Jn.1:12/Rm.8:16/1 Jn.2:2).
The reward is a clarity of spirit. An absence of burden. No confusion. No complexity. Childhood was the closest time you have ever had to a pristine conscience. Satan knows the proud can never embark on such a contemplative journey to “become a child”. It’s ‘good enough’ to just try to do the right thing on your own. But the price is losing your soul. A childlike heart is more important than anything in your entire life. It offers the key to a sincere conscience, a beacon of contentment and established battle lines. A child releases the intended purpose of the conscience to reflect the joy of being His creation.
This is not just a neat thought. It is a divine command of Jesus as the only way to escape enemy territory and enter His promised land of peace and joy. Jesus put extraordinary emphasis “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you can not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 18:1ff).
A childlike heart is not naivety or silliness. It reflects the attitude of Jesus. It is the absence of all cynicism. It is absolute trust. It faces every fear with resolute surrender to God. The permanent elimination of complex thought leaves Satan no ammunition (2 Cor.10:3). You establish a firm and clear EDGE to the boundary called TRUST. It insures the edge of love, truth and reality. No trespassing means NO TRESPASSING. It is not Law. It is heart desire. I would have never called my natural father “Daddy”. He was so distant it would have been weird. But this is what my children call me without a thought because we share that special intimate love of the Father that Paul speaks of in Galatians 4:6.
We cannot know or control the future. We can only live in the moments of who we know ourselves to be. This is the essence of the humility that once composed you as a natural child and is now vital to become a child of God. The life of King David is a beautiful display of a sincere conscience. Sincerity is a beautiful Greek word. It refers to a metal proven to have no impurities (alloy). It is a most undervalued word. The lines of sincerity are clearly marked in the conscience of every man. When allowed to function properly, a sincere conscience will automatically lead a person into the truth of multitudes of profound benefits found in the living Jesus.
In the Old Testament the word leb is used for conscience. It means heart. David beheaded Goliath with the vigor of a child. David was smitten in his conscience when he showed disrespect for Saul by cutting off a piece of his robe and when he proudly numbered the tribes of Israel (1 Sam.24:5,2 Sam. 24:10). He instantly repented. David showed a conscience for God like no other man except Jesus. Of Jesus Isaiah prophesied “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;” (Is.9:6). Jesus was the ultimate Child and cried “Daddy” at His hour of agony (Mk.15:34).
Our conscience resonates with the Character of a loving Father. He put this within us, to empower us to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love each other(Lk.10:27/Mk.12:30/Mt.22:37/Dt.6:5). “The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim.1:5).
My friend, listen to me. Jesus offers a cleansing of the conscience but it requires far more than a little prayer or sorrowful emotion (Heb.9:9, 14,10:22). In fact, Paul warns that you can search for it with tears and not find it (Heb. 12:15-17). No matter where you are in life, no matter how old or how tragic; no matter how impossible your situation might seem, you must go back to your past in order to find a good future. A childlike conscience will lead you into the truth that will set you free (Jn.8:32).
Childlike simplicity is the key, because it provides the necessary disposition of a child in submission to a Father, which was inlaid in our composition at Creation.
THINKING-The Road to New
Long ago, you chose to train your tendencies to be who you have chosen to be and this has carried you into the life you now live each day. If you have violated your conscience, your life is one big mess. You can barely stand to be alone with yourself, let alone be still enough to converse with God. A troubled conscience results in constant stress. Anxiety raises blood pressure and causes premature aging.
Good old fashioned “ancient path” thinking is a lost art. Modern thinking is demented. The core is self-obsession. Token words and shallow pretense is the norm in Christianity. Everything is conformity to the same image of someone striving to be right. Self-righteousness. Jesus says lose your life and you will find it (Jn.12:25). THINK. What does this really mean? Paul says “if we die with Him, we shall also live with Him”. He is speaking of something you have never seen or can imagine (Rm.6:6ff/1 Cor.2:off). You are not meant to be who you are but who you are not (2 Cor.5:17). Jesus puts “new wine” into “new wineskins” (Mk. 2:22). The writings of Paul overflow with a man who, beyond his enormous suffering, knew amazing joy. His articulation is nothing less than brilliant. He fully used his human capability of intelligence and creativity.
There is no problem Jesus cannot answer. There is no challenge He cannot empower you to overcome; even any mental or physical infirmity. The “secret” is childlike humility (Mt.11:25/1 Pt.1:18). Thinking that you are different does not make you different. Different thinking makes you different. Jesus speaks through your conscience to care for others. His purpose in your life is not to “receive blessings” but to give blessings. Not to spend your whole life focused on saving yourself but to be a servant to save others. I have learned His intelligence which is to learn to approach men at their feet, as He did, not at their face (Mt.20:28/Jn.13:1ff).
Pride tells you that you deserve things. Jesus demonstrated The Reflection of His Father’s love comes from becoming nothing and “success” is humiliation (Phil.2:7). The image within us speaks loud and clear that all His lines mark out the image of a Servant of sacrificial love. The “lines” in His face caused men to look away (Is.53). To meet a person at their feet is to instantly find access to their heart and mind. Nothing is the key to Someone who offers everything. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and captured their conscience, not by a summons to Law, but to a Friend Who sticks closer than a brother. The Reflection of love turns things inside out, upside down and recreates a man with a conscience to serve the Father with all the heart, soul, strength and mind. God came as the Servant. To reflect His image is to be a servant to the world. You will never distinguish the operation of your conscience if you are lost in the wilderness of your sinful nature. Never.
Jesus came so the poor, the homeless, the prisoners could find His land marks of “milk and honey” (Is.61/Ex.3:8/Lev.20:24/Num.13:27,14:8/Heb.4:8ff). This destiny can be yours, my friend.
“The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me” (Ps.16:6).
The humility of the Son is indispensable. It is the only seat from which to properly operate and discharge the “Megaplex” called YOU. A new you is not destined to be a small mini-mart but like a battleship, General Motors, an airport or military complex. At any given moment, you are processing hundreds of simultaneous decisions without any calculated considerations. Electrical impulses that skip across trillions of atoms and cells transmit instantaneous reactions, sent from your brain throughout your body, causing you to move in a set direction.
King David reflected the messianic heart of Christ (1 Sam.16-17). His exuberance for God reflected the freedom of a child so in love with God his transparency was astounding. He defied conformity to the fear in the army of Israel as he carried Goliath’s head to Saul. As much as I may quiver over the many challenges I face, as a weak man, I am constantly exhilarated by the courage that comes only from a clear conscience before God.
The only reason I can walk into a courtyard of 300 hardened criminals and face their hostility with love is because it is so far beyond me. I am like a stilled a child resting in his mother’s arms (Ps.131:1). I am completely at His mercy. If it was not something far beyond me I could never do it. If it was something within my grasp the enormous fear would ultimately crush me. As with David, courage comes from a heart for God. It requires the “work” to hammer out the potential of His image within me (Jn.6:29/1 Cor.15:10). It is my burning desire to give lost, suffering men the reflection of the Son. David says “Why are you in despair, oh my soul (the sinful nature)?…I will not fear 10,000…I am fearfully and wonderfully made (so as to find within my God implanted potential a response to all things” (Ps.42:5,139:14/3:6).
I love the word “realignment” because I get “off” quite easily. The Spirit finds no problem, as He aligns my life to it’s fullest. Like a river that flows down from a mountain, the channels of reason, logic, emotion, patience, etc. stream in perfect symmetry by simple trust. To use a computer term, a clear conscience provides “live streaming”.
When we follow the lines of what is right, good, and noble, the God of all peace rules our body (Phil. 4:6-9).
Our brain is full of microscopic electrons, protons and neurons that fire constantly to operate the matrix of motives, memories, experiences, and desires. It automatically translates colors, body reactions, smells, what we touch, taste buds, etc.
All these things develop “personality traits”. For every conflict you face, this highly capable system is waiting to launch your thoughts with the overwhelming response of resolution. Ever see one of those medical charts of your anatomical composition? Wow. The combined blood vessels in your brain, called axons, are 100,000 miles long. They could circle the globe four times.
All this constitutes YOU. The greatest “super-computer” in the world can only do 2% of your brain capacity. There is no cord to plug in or button to push. No yearly maintenance required. The Father created us with these phenomenal capabilities to transit on our expressions with His glory. There is no greater joy than to express the privilege of reflecting His love and humor to the world.
The creativity and childlike imagination, suppressed in our conscience, has the capacity to render us answers to things we never before considered. How will you know, if you do not try? Such thinking is a gift waiting to be opened. Men never consider that God offers something unique and different. They think everybody and everything is the same. If you are different they will quickly accuse you of exclusivity “So, you think you are different?”. Absolutely. They find no answers because they give up before they even search. We were created to be utterly dependent upon God not men. Independence from God is dependence on sin.
Satan uses fear to drive men to trample the lines of courage. To surrender the edge and blur the line called love with lazy tolerance; to trespass the lines of patience, maturity and wisdom and enter the land of apathy, indifference and natural thinking. We must weigh out and determine the value we place on the propositions of sin leading to hell or on the dictates of our conscience leading to Christ. The fear of God is a boundary line intended to lead men into His “ancient boundaries” (Pr.9:10/Lk.12:5). The edge of a line is of high value because it establishes a clear contrast between delusion and reality. When a person justifies and rationalizes his ignorance to the conscience, he blurs the lines. He who loses the EDGE shall not know when he wanders into the place where he is lost and in danger of hell fire. The terrible reality is that such a man chooses to reflect the power of sin to God and thus exalt Satan on earth.
For those who don’t know, but might care, my family and I are preaching the living Jesus in southern Brazil. The Lord has wonderfully opened many doors of opportunity to use a concert we created to get into places we otherwise would not be invited in to “perform” (preach Jesus). It is actually remarkable.
In the prison described at the beginning, the guards led us into a patio of some 300 prisoners. I touched each man with no words in Portuguese but many with my eyes, heart and handshake. The head security major explained that at a prior time, a few prisoners had dismembered someone and threw the head into the courtyard. Hence the reason he had originally forbid us to enter this place, but we convinced him to give us a chance. Thus the reason for the heavily-armed guards.
They instantly took positions with their weapons aimed directly at the men. The tension and intimidation were obvious. Childlike trust was our position. We immediately went into the crowd passing out the 300 bags of popcorn that the girls had made the night before (one of the only things we can get in mass quantity that costs basically nothing but time and blesses the guys a lot). As Joshua told his “hilarious” jokes and Abraham did his “Charlie Chaplin” card tricks, the men slowly realized that we were not there as members of some “evangelical” do-gooders or social group. Just a crazy family with a noble plan.
As we began, the courtyard slowly filled with laughter, tears and most of all the beautiful response to the Word of the living Jesus. Sarah wrote a poem/play about the prodigal son that is very powerful. No one would imagine how Ruth, despite a steel rod and 4 screws in her leg, does an Irish step-dance (think River Dance) that always wins a rowdy applause and the hearts of so many that have been through such tragedy. David and Joshua creatively thought of how to demonstrate the power of the will, as though it were a machine, through a costume and music (picture included below). The guys ate it up. Elizabeth has this beautiful story she tells about the ground for a seed to grow. She constructed the small model of a cell surrounded with barbed wire and bars out of cardboard as the ultimate soil.
So many stories. Marco is a man about my age put in a wheelchair from being shot in the spine. Your heart is slain by the lack of ability to do something for him. 10 years to go in this hell hole. A competitive humor lifted some men as they competed to show us their bullet holes and scars from operations. So many humble guys. So different from the states. One tiny-framed young man, who was from a town hundreds of miles away and never had his relatives visit, asked Joshua… “Is that your mom? Can I hug her?”. When Rachel came over, she just broke, and so did he. So many guys moved to tears just wanting to be held. So abandoned and forgotten. One black guy about 6’6 just wanted to give me a hug. These Brazilians are quite different than other Latins. One guy insisted I take his “Matte cup”. This is a coffee-like drink they take very seriously down here. I could go on ad-infinitum. We share with so many people in parks, soccer games, downtown city streets and festival kind of settings.
The Director took Abraham and I into a dungeon-like basement where pits were full of waste and the cells were worse than any dog cage I’ve seen. We offered our manual labor to lay some much needed sewer lines and he took us up on it. We will all be working on this for a while. It made me terrible sick after the first day but I just kept thinking they have to LIVE in this. Such things as this put something in your character and integrity that will serve my perspective for life.
Recently, while preaching in another prison, some guys asked “Are you from the 1st world?”. Not a question you’d ever expect. We are far out in the middle of nowhere. Everyone constantly asks “Why did you go out here?” The answer is not “Because we are so concerned” or “Because God told us”. It is simply the end result of the command “Go …” and “the wind blows…” (Mt.28:19/Jn.3:8). We ended up here as a result of Go…ing by our will and being blown by the Spirit.
In another prison, I stepped in a puddle while trying to reach up through the bars of a prison window to put a tract in each of the outstretched hands of five guys. I looked down and realized it was full of urine and waste. This prison has no drainage system. Sewage drains down the walls forming pools in the outside courtyard. The whole prison wreaks. The smell remains in your nose even after you leave. I realize this is a disgusting image but more disgusting is that this is the real life situation for men who could be your brother or father, being subjected to this for years on end. These men sit alone in a darkness that crushes their soul.
Tens of thousands of men are forced into cells so tiny that eight to ten guys have to sleep like pieces in a puzzle. Little water and little ventilation in 100-degree temperatures. No relief. No escape. No breath of fresh air. Incomprehensible. Prisoners of a war this world denies.
I seldom use the word miracle because in American culture a 30% discount at Wal-Mart is defined as a “miracle”. But we hope and believe it is God getting this meager family into so many hard-core prisons, city streets, and orphanages. There is no room for boasting or proud self-righteousness. We live by a clear edge of His love and courage. Below is Rachel sending up tracts in a milk carton to guys on the third floor.
I do not think that anyone who is a true Christian, and who has an abundance, could read this and not want to share in reaching people at the ends of the earth with Jesus. I am hoping for one day when such a person would read this and ask “How could I send something to help?” It’s never happened but I write this with a hope that it could. No “entanglement” necessary. It is awkward to write of the needs in doing such work but Paul repeatedly did the same (1 Cor.9:9/1 Tim.5:18). No man wants to be in such a difficult place but Jesus is worthy and these are the last days. We can not both work a job and preach the gospel around the world. However, my motive in writing this blog is not to get support. It is to teach and demonstrate the reality of living the gospel of Jesus Christ so someone might find true forgiveness in His blood and be rescued from eternity in hell. If you’d like to just correspond I could care less about your support. Please feel free to write and ask any questions. I do not bite.
“…not walking in craftiness or adulterating the Word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor.4:2).