RECTANGLES (A Plea To Seek His Glory)

Related imageHave you ever wondered why people are drawn to look outside through windows?  As I pondered this question a few things become clear to me.  In the first place, most windows are rectangular.  I have looked through many windows in my life; most of them have been shaped this way.  Most of those windows are made of see through glass, as it would not be much of a window if you could not see through it.  Even in the case of stained glass, it is see through in order to let the light shine through to enhance the beauty of the art.  The rectangles we call windows act as portals through which we see into another environment.  They can be sweet escapes.

Windows let light into what are dim areas; they remind us there is more of life to encounter, outside the room we are in.  Rectangular windows have a way of bringing needed perspective.

For forty hours a week (or more, we are in a cramped office, school or factory with little natural light.  In the midst of your activities you encounter issues, problems and the human stuff that often times over takes over our thoughts to such a degree that even the drive home seems to be swimming in them.  This can go on for weeks, months and even years and although you have the weekend to look forward too, the grind and its drive can overwhelm… yet wait, you see it… a rectangular window, with light that is calling you over.

Image result for mountains outside my window

As you look through this rectangular escape, you see the sun is shining and the birds are flying.  You feel warmth as you lean against the pane of glass and see a vast expanse of sky in all its blue beauty and you long to be outside instead of in your cramped, dim circumstance.  As you think of the monumental problems of your day and the difficulties of your inside undertakings, you realize by looking outside that the issues and dilemmas you face, in the little bit you of creation you can see, are not so monumental.  In just a two minute view through your rectangular escape you feel the tightness in your chest decompress.

 

 

As we consider the power of these little perspective checks in our lives, it is important to understand why they are such compelling escapes. Looking through them shows us where we belong to find perspective and hope; in the created order, seeing God’s majesty, being overwhelmed by His presence and knowing our place in His world.

Our rectangular windows may periodically decompress our life, but if the light coming through is not followed outside, your rectangle may become stumbling block to what is really necessary; to get outside to see the immeasurable majesty of creation and embrace the blessings of God.  I realize this may sound a bit like a tree hugging plea to get back to God’s creation, but it is not.  It is a plea to consider how the rectangles, even windows, we look through can be a hindrance to walking in what God calls us too.  If we are constantly staring at rectangles, our world actually shrinks and we need not look far to see we are a people of rectangles.

Every day we wake up after sleeping in beds that are rectangles, walk through countless doors that are rectangles and look through windows that are rectangles.  We drive in cars that from bird’s eye view… yes look like rectangles.  We read books that are rectangles, talk on phones, read from phones and watch on phones that are rectangles.  In fact through T.V., computers, tablets and cell phones we spend ridiculous amounts of time looking through rectangular windows.  Out of all these rectangles the most biblical one, in my humble opinion would be the book rectangle, for it is where can encounter the written Word of God.

One of my favorite scriptures is in II Corinthians 3:18 where the Word of God declares,

“We all, with unveiled face, as in a glass (mirror “rectangle”), behold the glory of the Lord and are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord”.

Related imageOne must recognize this is not necessarily in reference to the Bible, but that beautiful rectangular book is the best place to start beholding the face of Christ.  The passage itself transcends the reading of the written Word, which gives us a window to encounter the Living Word, which is none other than Jesus Christ.  This of course takes a deeper journey than just reading.  At some point, the written Word, must lead to encountering the Living Word of God, who cannot be contained on the pages of Holy Writ.  In order to encounter the full majesty and glory of the One True God, we must walk with the Holy Spirit through the rectangular window of the written Word.  This leads to my main idea; American Christians must be careful not to miss the very Savior we say we pursue in the dimmer light of all our modern rectangles. This message is a warning to us all. We are being programmed to be directed by our rectangular windows of our modern life.

A few years ago, while I was away at the Christian and Missionary Alliance General Council, I saw in person the power of modern rectangular windows and in fact the addictive quality of them.  For those of you who have no idea what the C&MA General Council is, let me briefly explain.  Every two years most of the ministers and lay delegates from the Christian and Missionary Alliance gather in a city (this year it was Tamp Bay) to hold meetings.  These meetings have necessary denominational business, times of prayer, times of worship, and times of preaching.  God was moving by His Spirit, yet were many of us missing Him, while staring at windows or being called by windows to engage them instead of Him?

What troubled me, in light of the above questions, was how dependent (I could say addicted) many of the ministerial and lay delegates have become to their rectangular windows.  During business and worship times I saw many constantly looking to their phones and tablets.  Some I am sure were taking notes, but many others were surfing the internet, playing games, tweeting clever comments, answering emails, and engaging social media. It seemed to me we needed a scriptural admonition or rebuke. Ecclesiastes 5:1 is such an admonition/rebuke “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools”.

Image result for church all on tablets

Whatever did the man of God do 30 years ago before they were constantly connected to everyone in the world with a rectangular device?  My question is not for the sake of being a curmudgeon, as I am probably too young to be longing for the good old days where we walked up hill four miles and ate dirt to survive.  I am asking all who read this, how is your rectangle enhancing your connection to God?  Sure you can connect with a congregation member instantly, but maybe we need to teach them to connect to God instantly.  Sure we can find information as fast as our connection can take us, but is that information taking us where He wills us to go and do what He desires.

We can all recite, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge the Lord and He will direct your paths”, but that passage implies we wait on the Lord for His direction, that we cultivate an ear to hear His instruction.  This is wildly difficult when our flesh pulls us to connect whenever there is an unfilled moment.

God does not tweet, but He leads His listening children moment by moment if they are in tune with Him (Romans 8:14).  So as good as rectangles can appear, they do hinder our getting to where the real blessing lies.  Is the church of Jesus Christ better and more relevant for our use of rectangles in the American Church? Is this connectivity and “convenience really enhancing the way we explain the gospel?  Does God really need His children to use worldly and modern windows to be a conduit of revival or are they just a clever way to make us feel relevant and less bored?

Consider that at this General Council a seasoned and Holy Spirit filled man of God spoke the burden of the Lord.  His message brought business to a standstill, and prayer was offered.  Our outgoing President suggested we pray further at the close of that session, which was more than appropriate.  With close to 1500 in attendance less than 150 people remained too labored in prayer.

I am not blaming wireless devices sole for 90% of the most spiritual leaders walking away from the burden of prayer; but those rectangles as well as the others we spend hours with, steward a mindset of instant gratification at the click of a button. Our relationship to God through prayer (or for anything else) does no work in an instant gratification manner. The use of these objects are not compatible with the life of the called out and are part of the world system, which trains us in fleshly patterns instead of Christ-like and Spirit led patterns.  Just for a moment consider a passage of scripture…

1 John 2:15-17 (NKJV) 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

The world pattern set up by the devil begins with the lust of the flesh.  This speaks of the perversion of natural desires which begin to become more prominent than they should.  Our flesh cries out for them to be gratified and that instantly, without thinking if we are sowing to the flesh or the Spirit (Galatians 6:7-8).  I

Image result for love not the world

n thinking just about the phones we use, we can see our natural desire for connectedness being perverted with instant connection to thousands.  Is this what the Lord really desires for His people?  What about the lust of the eyes?  Our eyes were made to see glorious things; in fact they are easily drawn to the extraordinary.  Because of this natural predisposition we need to make sure we are no falling to the enemy’s temptation to stare continuously at little lights and images, at the risk of missing the way the truth and the Life.  In Steven Curtis Chapman’s Song “Wake Up and See the Glory” the chorus sings…

 

 

I’m playing Gameboy standing in the middle of the Grand Canyon…

I’m eating candy sitting at a gourmet feast…

I’m wading in a puddle when I could be swimming in the ocean…

Tell me what’s the deal with me?

Wake up and see the glory.

Make no mistake beloved we are addicted to our rectangles and this is where we encounter the pride of life.  While in Tampa a brother and I were talking about why I choose not to have or use these devices (except the computer for limited tasks).  We discussed the ease off falling into pornography as one reason I chose not to partake.  It was not the only reason and in fact not the most prominent one.  As previously stated these things are part of a world system of communication that is unnecessary for the child of God.

I am not advocating for complete abstinence from rectangles in our life (although we might want to prayerfully consider that option), but asking the needed question; Are we so in love with them, in need of them and enamored by them we are being shaped by their limits and missing out on experiencing the fullness of God?

Here in lies the problem with many of the rectangle in our lives; they show us extraordinary things so often as to make it all common place.  Just take the rectangle of the movies we watch.  With each passing film the ante goes up as to what will shock or amaze us.  The special effects and digital images illicit feelings on sight that please the flesh for a moment, like a fix.  When we need more we can go to our other rectangles for a fix to our hunger.

The problem is we are no longer able to wait on God for real miracles or contact with His presence.  Think I am wrong, stop all media rectangles in your life for one month, see how agitated, depressed and sad you may become, but pull it off and know a real and growing hunger for God  in your heart.  “Oh God you are my God and early I will seek you.  My soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is not water.  To see your power and your glory as I have seen it in the sanctuary (Psalm 63:1-2)” Is this truly your heart’s desire?  If it is stop staring at rectangles.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Individually Fashioned

Image result for God shapes the heartThe Lord looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks On all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.”

Psalms 33:13-15 (NKJV)

A few weeks ago I found myself being led to the Greece Ridge Mall. This trip was not devoid of purpose, but orchestrated by the Holy Spirit.

While attempting to pray earlier that morning, I seemed thick and lethargic. The thought came to mind go to the mall and study for Sunday’s message. Over the years when such a thought comes, I have learned to trust the Lord, understanding He wants me to hear something in particular. I grabbed my Bible and journal and drove to the mall.

Image result for greece ridge mall fye

Arriving I ha the idea walking through the mall to a location about 7 minutes in to the facility, but before I got to my intended location, I found a bench sandwiched between two kiosks and sat down. This location (tpicture to the right) is what the Lord had in mind. I opened my Bible to Psalm 33 intending to pray for whatever and whoever the Holy Spirit brought to mind. When my eyes fell over verses 13-15 the Lord began to speak to me very clearly. The message has been with me for two weeks.

I read The Lord looks down from heaven; He sees all the sons of men”, I began to consider the people walking by all looking for something; most of whom unaware of the one True God, who is observing their every move.

The one person which stood out to me most, was the muslim man attending to the custom T-shirt kiosk to my left. Here was a man, quietly doing his work and who most likely has some idea about God. Some of what he believes is true (most of it is not), but does he really consider that God is watching him? Are most people in general or other wise aware of God’s personal gaze? Even more do most Christians live with this truth in practical awareness?

Further still, my eyes panned down the page and read the next line “From the place of His dwelling He looks On all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.”  Considering this truth my soul flooded my mind with truth from the word of God. Belwo are the conclusions the Holy Spirit led me too.

This passage reveals God’s personal care for each individual that has ever been born. Many would agree that God gives life, yet forget that without God involved in the very procreative act itself, no life would ever be conceived. We believers are often so in awe at seeing life in its earliest stages (through medical technology), we can forget God’s care over every soul ever conceived, even those who turn out to be the biggest God haters.

That is correct, pick your villan… Stalin, Hitler, Kim Jon Un, Jeffery Dahmer or any Isis terrorist committing heinous atrocities; and know that God individually fashioned their heart, and wanted them to come to repentance, even though they did not.

Looking over at this Muslim man I understood, that his false version of God (Allah) does not allow a God who loves, cares for and desires to be with of men in His image. In spite of that fact, God still individually fashioned his heart and wants the man to repent and receive His mercy in the cross. In Islam Allah (a false god) is so transcendent and above his created order, that he would never condescend to be with men. In fact, he has no real dealings with them now, nor even in the Islamic view of paradise, where Allah will not be near those who make it to that place.

Contrary to this view, the one true God does see men moment by moment, and is concerned for them and considering their works, because He individually fashioned his heart. The LORD God Almighty does this through Jesus Christ the Lord, who “is the Light that lights every man coming into the world (I John 1:9). How God does this is remarkable. As He knits us together (Psalm 139:13), He forms the heart and places His image upon it.

Image result for g.m. press

This comes about through Jesus Christ, who is “the expressed image of His (God’s) person” (Hebrews 1:1-3). This phrase describing Jesus Christ refers to a die which casts and image in metal. For those who have worked in a metal fabrication plant this is a very familiar concept. The machines that imprint metal for cars and trucks and other machines are called presses (Like the one to the right).

The press is the entire machine. Hidden in the top is the weight, and glory of the press. This weight has gears, hydraulic lines and electrical circuits, which when fired, push the weight down closing the space between top and bottom. In the space between there is  a die with a top and bottom piece, made often of titanium. This die will cast the intended image.

Just as the entire machine with its weight and die are the press, God is fully involved in fashioning the heart of every man individually. As the character that impacts the metal,is the die, in a similar fashion it is Christ, the eternal Word of God, that impacts and casts the image of God upon every soul coming into the world. This leaves the moral stamp of God’s character on core of a person’s being, What we often refer to as conscience is a good understanding of how this imprint functions. Not only is it remarkable that God individually fashions the heart of all men individually, but how He does this through Jesus is cause for rejoicing and sober reflection.

Reading further in verse 15 we find that beyond individually fashioning our hearts “He considers all their works.”  This totally slays the Islamic view of God, as well as the way many Christians view God’s involvement in their life. Although many “believers” may be able to recite a version of Isaiah 7:14 where we read “Behold, a virgin conceive and bear a Son and shall call Him Immanuel”, do we really understand the full weight of the name Immanuel?

This name referring to Jesus means “God with us”, yet it is not only a reference to God’s desire to dwell with those He created, or His means to bring that about through the atonement of Christ, or even that Jesus is literally God dwelling with us in the flesh; It also refers to the promise of all those who call upon the name of Jesus in faith and repentance. The promise that He will abide with us forever (John 14:16; Hebrews 13:5). The promise that if we obey His commandments He and the Father will make their home with us (John 14:23). The promise that the fullness of redemption in this life is “Christ in us the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

Therfore, because He individually fashions our hearts and gives promises in Christ for that heart, He is intimately involved in every aspect of the Christian’s life; observing all of our activity attempting to lead us in the Christ life. We need to understand this and live according to this truth. Fat to often we treat Him as if He stands behind the answer counter in heaven awaiting our request, giving us what we want, only to remain distant and far off until we need him again. If we are to avoid falling into sin, we must run from that kind of life in practice.

Even David knew in Psalm 51:4, without proof positive of Holy Spirit indwelling, that against God He had sinned doing evil in His sight. Why would he say that unless he understood it was his neglect of God’s presence with him that led to his fall? We need to consider this truth soberly and recover the practice of His presence in our hearts, no only for ourselves but for the lost among us as well.

No matter what we beleive God individually forming their the hearts of the lost and their responsiblity to God for their actions, without the manifest presence of Christ encountered in us, they will never find conviction. How does God bring conviction of sin, judgement and righteousness in the lost? Through those in whom God is supposed to be abiding. Remember it is our eyes He choses to see through, our voices He choses to use to diagnose their works as insufficient, our mouths through which He pronounces the remedy for the sin that separates them from Him. It is the new heart He gives us in the new birth, that is to display the true righteousness of Christ through transformed actions.

The knowledge that God individually fashions the heart of every person, is not a sappy message bent on proving a sentimental view of God, but one that knows the outcome of the unrepentant heart; to burn in conscious existence forever separated from the love and relational presence of God. That is the hell god wants no person to encounter ,because in His love he individually fashions their heart to be the throne of His presence; the place from which His love flows to other in all ages and that age to come.

This week count how many people come with in 5 feet of you when you are out and about. Consider God individually fashion their heart as His throne. Ask yourself… how will they know with our a preacher to tell them? THEN BE THE PREACHER!!!

 

Posted in God individually fahsions the hearts of all men, Hebrews 1:1-3, I John 1:9, Psalm 139:13, Psalm 33:13-15, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Our Silly and Sinful Musings About Suicide (“Say Hello To Heaven”) #3

voices_in_my_head_by_maticha92The picture to my left is a terrifying reality for many people, who merely want to live in peace. As I revealed in part #2 of this series, I had demonic voices telling me to hurt others and myself. So personal were the suggestions I began to believe the lies that I was evil; from that belief I formulated the world, my fiance, and my family would be better off without me. In fact I believed they did not want me around at all. Blessed be the God of heaven who spoke through the screaming demoinc wall of sound, on that day, “If you kill yourself, you’ll meet God as a murderer”. Today we will look at two further truths concerning suicide, but before diving in let’s remember the two truths about suicide we covered last time 1) Suicide is Murder 2) Suicide is the Pinnacle of Unbelief.

(If you have not read both or one of the previous parts of this article feel free to do so now by clicking on Part #1 or Part #2)

THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE ARE DEMONIC SUGGESTION FOR DESTRUCTION

If a person is on the way to ending their God-given life, they are listening to demonic spirits from Satan’s kingdom. we often forget that Satan is the father of lies, who comes to kill, steal and destroy (John 8:44, 10:10). Therefore the basis of all temptation are the enemies lies through his fallen and demonic make_the_voices_stop_by_insanitys_sanity-d3lcfnscohort, and spoken to our sinful proclivities. In their lies they appeal to our natural born selfishness (“flesh” or “old man”).

This appeal will move us away from God’s clear written or spoken command, the real-time leading of the Holy Spirit, and our God given conscience. Therefore we understand that appeals from demons (through injected thoughts), seek to create a justification for taking our life into our own hands, . In this the enemy employs fallen angels, demons, and satanically aligned human culture, filled with men and women, who put forth his lies to be the “truth” people believe. It must be noted these demonic methodology transcends suicide, to cover the pantheon of Satan’s plan of temptation toward men.

As pertaining to suicide, the enemy’s lies seek to redefine what it means to be a living soul made in the image of God. It is for this reason the secular world pursues the worthless lie of evolution, searching for random explanation of the universe, when the proof of the Creator God is apparent in creation and in men made in His image (Romans 1:19-20). It is for this reason Satan has pushed the contradictory perversion of homosexuality; where in the name of “sexual freedom” and “love”, the partakers guarantee the extinction of the race for not engaging in the blessing of procreative sex (between one man and one woman). It is for this reason the Devil has pushed the lie of the after life being “a better place”, where a person is released of suffering and is granted “peace” without any accountability to God for their life on earth. This utter foolishness leads people to live hard and die young as they party on the “Highway to Hell” and it is the basis of so many countless people who murder themselves.

Related imageIn the new and evil T.V. series “13 REASONS WHY”, we can see how the lies remove responsibility from the perpetrator, in order to make a scape goat. The show’s plot centers on a high school girl who committed suicide; yet leaves messages for a former friend. These messages reveal all the people who failed and hurt her. These people are the 13 reasons she had to kill herself. Of course this creates sympathy for the self-killer, yet the real accountability is never addressed. In the show’s view, suicide is not the perpetrators fault, but the people who failed them.  Satan does not care to change people’s behavior to stop bullying, or being neglectful, or loving those who are hurting. This is the demonic lie. He is only interested in creating a pretext for more young people to off themselves, by giving them a champion of death to identify with. This is why we must blow the roof of the deception with God’s truth. What is the truth?

The enemy has been trying for millennia to redefine the image of God, so he can destroy it. He does this with passion and malignity because He cannot destroy God. Satan has learned the fastest way to destroy men made in God’s image is to deceive them into hating each other, by diminishing their God-given created worth; that they would kill with weapons, hands, words or whatever is convenient.

Make no mistake, when God destroyed all that lived on the earth because every imagination of the heart was continually evil (Genesis 6:5-6), it was murder that was rampant along with every other form of demonic machination. Therefore God declared, in covenant with Noah after the flood, that no man should take the life of another (Genesis 9:6). Therefore it is a sin to unlawfully take any man’s life, including our own, no matter what the demonic lie is put forth to justify it. No man is to destroy or alter the image of God, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:18). Therefore suicide is also the height of sinful hatred for God and hatred of self.

Let’s grab hold of thRelated imagee fact that life is filled with prattling demonic creatures, tempting us to kill ourselves and our relationship to God (in a million different ways). May we also pity the one who is battling depression and evil lies masquerading as “self talk”. These two santanic tools seek to deconstruct what the word of God declares about the precious nature the lives of men God. Instead of assigning mental illness, a hard life, or some physiological chemical imbalance (needing pharmakia), lets pray and seek the LORD Jesus that they would be set free. Satan’s desire and plan to destroy humanity and suicide is an extremely satisfying means for him to  accomplich his plan. Why? Because the one who kills themselves, perpatrates and act that will keep destroying others on the enemy’s behalf for generations.

SUICIDE IS THE SIN THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

To be so bold in declaring eternal judgment for self-murder is a risky proposition. I would agree, yet suicide’s prevalence demands that we warn the church of its sinful and destructive nature; commanding all to never perpetrate the act. This is often lost when a Christian commits suicide, as we are caught up with the question “Had they accepted Christ?” or “were they saved?”. Our answers to those questions are irrelevant, when considering the sinful mess left behind.

Consider the lack of faith and love displayed by the person and the sinful and sensual example their act leaves behind; not to mention all the questions. If we are uncomfortable consigning them a spot in eternal darkness, I understand. Should we also not be equally uncomfortable assigning them a home in heaven forever, based on a profession of hope in Christ they were not living out when they murdered themselves?

My suggestion: Let’s deal with what’s left behind. Consider once more Chris Cornell, whom we began our discussion with. This man had everything the world can give at the tips of his fingers; money, influence, worshiping fans adoring his every breath. Yet none of that was enough. He had a devoted wife and three beautiful children, yet even they were not enough for him to live. His death is an interesting commentary on the emptiness of what the world seeks for satisfaction. Can you hear the echoing words of Jesus “What does is profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his own soul; and what would a man give in exchange for his soul” (Mark 8:36-37).

download

What is Chris Cornell’s legacy? It is not his music or the empty platitudes of other rebellious rockers or their fans. His legacy is a wife that blames herself for not being with him to save him from his sinful act. His legacy is a wife and children who will hear a bump in the night and not have his presence to protect them or tell them they are safe—a wife and children who will question what they did wrong that made him miserable enough to leave them—a wife and children who will question and wonder what was wrong with them, that he would not find comfort in their presence—children who will grow up thinking “Am I like him?”—children now with the makings of a generational sin, where Satan’s Kingdom will work through hate, doubt, and fear to perpetuate the destruction of their own lives made in the image of God.

Let this man’s death serve as a wake up call for the church in our land. Millions of lost men, women and children, are being lied to concerning who they are in relation to the Holy God of compassion. Night after night, day after day, they are immersed in the culture of death, spewed forth out of the mouth of hell. Will we show them the way to Life?

Or how about the problem the church has with suicide in America? Do some research friend, over the last 5 years I have seen so many reports of ministers killing themselves, I lost count. If this is happening among those who guard His flock, how many are potential in the flock?

SUICIDE IS SIN! SUICIDE DESTROYS A PERSONS RELATiONSHIP TO GOD!

WE MUST MAKE THIS CLEAR TO EACH OTHER AND THE WORLD.

Posted in Chris Cornell, christian response to suicide, despair, murder, say hello to heaven, Seattle music scene, self-murder, Soundgraden, suicide, Temple of the Dog, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Our Silly and Sinful Musings About Suicide (“Say Hello To Heaven”) #2

(If you have not read part #1 please close click this link to read   https://4rs4thechurch.com/2017/05/28/our-silly-and-sinful-musings-about-suicide-say-hello-to-heaven/)

In 1997 I was a very different man. In spite of being collRelated imageege educated (and graduating in 6 months)—being engaged to my wife Kim and awaiting our marriage in a year and half—and having job at G.M. waiting for me, I was about to take my life. On February 22, I cut from class early having had enough of the demons filling my life with misery and wicked thoughts. I did not want to hurt anyone, but the voices would not stop. Like many I was on anti-depressant and anti-anxiety drugs (Here’s a newsflash: they did not work and made the issues worse). Is it too far to say the voices (real demons speaking lies) in my hear, were trying to kill me? Not in the least .

My decision was to end my madness and pain, following the voice in my head. In the home of my parents, alone and with the implement of death in my hand, I was moments away from saying hello to “heaven”. One voice spoke through the madness and demonic oppression. It spoke more clearly than anything I had ever heard to up to that point of my life… “If you kill yourself, you’ll meet God as a murderer”. That one statement was enough for me to put the weapon of death away, and called for help.

How was it that a lost and utterly desperate man, with zero knowledge of God’s word, knew suicide was murder with such certainty that it made me fear God enough to not kill myself?

I knew because God was present in that moment and He spoke. I knew because He had placed His moral stamp on my soul before I was born; same as He does in all men and woman. Thank God for His intervention through one thought. Sadly, while I was thinking on committing suicide as a young man, I never heard any person declare that it was inherently evil, a sin that could have separated me from God forever.

I realize that such clear statements may elicit strong reactions like…

“That’s unmerciful how could a loving God punish someone in hell who is suffering?”

“Well that may be right Mike, but you were not saved”

“We don’t know what’s in their minds when that happens, maybe they are mentally ill”.

In spite of the feigned compassion in such statements, it is never unmerciful to speak the truth in love. God’s word calls us to warn the righteous and unrighteous concerning the outcome of their sinful actions…

Ezekiel 3:18 (NKJV) When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.

Ezekiel 3:20 (NKJV) Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand.

Some many cry foul being that the above passages are from the Old Testament, and that grace covers the sin of the righteous, lets remember that grace given in the cross does not permit unrepentant sin (Read Romans 6:1-4). In fact it declares we can and must choose not to sin. If we do sin we must seek forgiveness through confession and repentance. Consider I John 1:7, 9.

1 John 1:7(NKJV) But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:9 (NKJV) If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

(If you would like more discussion the nature of the forgiveness of sin in the believer’s life and the difference between iniquity, transgression and missing the mark email me at mje4jesus@gmail.com)

Image result for grace does not mean we sin

By grace our sin is continually forgiven should we remain walking in the light with other believers—confessing our sins—and holding to the promise of God’s forgiveness and cleansing of the sinful patterns of our life. The point being, to willfully commit a sinful act which cannot be repented of, places the person in a state contradictory to God’s grace concerning His forgiveness. This is the problem with suicide. How can one repent of self-murder if they are dead (it is appointed for men to die once, then the judgement)? This is where we need to fall on this issue. We are so afraid of being seen as unloving, that we are being unloving by not speaking the truth. Here are some truths to be considered.

SUICIDE IS MURDER

Suicide is to be a manslayer, and the reason does not matter, it is simply a rebellion against God’s moral law, which cannot be repented of (Genesis 9:6; Exodus 20:13).

SUICIDE IS THE PINNACLE OF UNBELEIF

When dealing with people who are outside of Christ, this should not be all that difficult to understand. God places eternity in every man’s heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). This eternal sensibility deals with not only the realm of eternal bliss, but the reason for that bliss, which is God’s presence through the Lord Jesus Christ. We have already affirmed the unbelieving world’s view of heaven (which is a demonically instituted lie) is one where we rest in peace, or party or simply exist without any knowledge of God. For a lost person to kill themselves is to declare God or “heaven’ must accept me on my terms.

In God placing eternity in the heart of every man, we understand this not olny means knowledge of eternity in bliss, but also knowledge of Himself and His moral law (Romans 1:19-23). It is for this reason man is without excuse concerning any unrepentant sin, whether they hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ or not. To commit suicide for an unbeliever is to die in unbelief.

Yet in dealing with followers of Jesus we must not minimize the sin of unbelief, which the book of Hebrews declares to be a real potential in every believer’s life. This potential is loaded with faith and relationship to God killing power (Hebrews 3:7-4:3).

Unbelief is described as hearing the word of God, but not mixing it with faith or belief; biblical belief (or faith) is not merely mental assent but, responding with action commensurate to what is believed.

In the case oImage result for unbelieff a Christian who commits suicide—they deny that God is the God of life (Psalm 31:15; Matthew 22:32)—they deny that God works all things together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)—they deny God’s sovereignty and the Lordship of Christ, whom bought us through His precious blood and would never command us to kill ourselves (Genesis 9:6; Deuteronomy 32:39; Romans 8:9, 10:9-10)—they deny the Blessed Hope of the Church the great and Glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior the Lord Jesus Christ (Titus 2:11-14)—they deny God’s command to persevere unto the end, even if it means another takes our life for our witness of Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:13; Revelation 12:11).

In dealing with suicide as the pinnacle of unbelief, we must regard how we talk of self-murderers and “the burden they carried” and “you don’t know how much pain they were in” or “they were such a wounded soul” or even “you know they had a mental illness”.

These “thoughts” are not noted in mockery (I understand them from personally experience), but even these have answers in Christ.

  1. He is the One who declares to all “come to me all who are heavy laden and find rest, my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28-30)
  2. The word of God declares that in the midst of our pain, He makes us strong in our weakness and comforts us with His power and presence in affliction (II Corinthians 1:8-10, 12:7-10)
  3. He is the One who heals us through His own wounds from the cross (Isaiah 53:5; I Peter 2:21-25)
  4. He is the One who brings us peace of heart in mind if we focus on Him (Isaiah 26:3; John 14:27; Philippians 4:6-7).download

Consider for a moment, the possible mental state of a Christian in prison and on death row in Pakistan. Refsuing refusing to renounce the name of Jesus Christ, she holds fast to her faith. For seven years she has lived in a dark cell, infested with and eating only what supportors are allowed to supply her with. She never is allowed outside and has been in constant threat of violence against her person. She has only seen her three daughters and husband a few times in seven years. The courts won’t hear her appeal, so she is waiting her death by natural causes or execution. How is she not offing herself? How is she not succumbing to depression, PTSD, wounds, pain and her carnal desire to escape her pain?

THE ANSWER: She is living her life for Christ, and in light of His return. This dear saint of God will not be robbed of her inheritance with Jesus forever; she will endure until the end. In Christ our hope is in living our last breath in service to Him. Suicide is to live your last breath in total narcissistic focus on self. The Psalms discuss the burden of no seeing good and God’s glory in our days and the burden it can be, while telling us it is true belief in God that enables us to endure anything…

Psalms 27:13-14 (NKJV) I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!

In my next posting we will discuss further what suicide is according to the scriptures…

To read part three click here… PART #3

download

Posted in Chris Cornell, christian response to suicide, Christian suffering, self-murder, sin of self-murder, Soundgraden, spiritual sickness, suicide, Temple of the Dog, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Our Silly and Sinful Musings About Suicide (“Say Hello To Heaven”)

download“Say Hello to Heaven” is the title and chorus of a song recorded and made famous by the band “Temple of the Dog” in 1991. Temple of the Dog was a unique group of musicians from what would become two of the most influential and successful bands of the last 25 years (Pearl Jam and Soundgarden). The song itself was written by the singer from the band Soundgarden, concerning the untimely death of his roommate and friend, Andrew Wood. “Say Hello to Heaven” details the writer’s relationship to his departed friend. Moving through the lyrics takes you on the singer’s journey as he tried to save his friend, who was attempting to silence his demons through heroine. In frustration in the last verse the singer declares with great force “There’s just one thing left to be said…” (a huge high octave wail)… “Say Hello to Heaven”.

Did the writer of the song believe his friend was in heaven? Most likely, but that heaven is nothing like the eternity Jesus guarantees for those redeemed through His shed blood. The “heaven” written about in the song reveals a place where one can run away from their earthbound problems in order to rest in peace. This idea of heaven is one where a person is not accountable for their sins or debauchery. This idea of heaven is one devoid of the love and Presence of God. The writer’s version of heaven is that of a world that seeks solace, comfort, and fullness apart from the Creator; some do this through religion. The writer of the song was Chris Cornell, husband and father of three. He, in a cowardly fashion, ended his life a week ago.

Cornell’s song reveals the unfounded and sinful view of many lost men and some “Christians” concerning life after death. No doubt it is for that reason I was so enamored with the singer and the song, as a young man who had demons of his own. His song also reveals our silly and destructive musings about sin; and more germane to our discussion, the sin of suicide. In order to see this plainly, let’s consider responses from fellow “rock stars” this past week.

Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame tweeted out “Related imageR.I.P” along with other niceties. What kind of peace could Page be referring to, as he is a man steeped in Satanism and the occult? Elton John declared Chris Cornell “a lovely man” with similar blather of resting in peace. Other’s have expressed his suffering is over (really), or “He’s in a better place”. Of these platitudes not a one reflects anything remotely true concening Cornell’s present state or final destiny. These are empty words at best.

Heavy Metal icon Dave Mustaine, who claims to be a born again Christian, proclaimed in his tribute that he would see Chris Cornell in heaven (directly after he commanded a bored concert goer to “shut the F@#K up”). Funny how the Christian world in America goes crazy when celebrities like Mustaine and Alice Cooper “get saved”, only to find out they are basically Universalists who believe in a fairy tale heaven. Christian news outlets cheer their “conversions” presenting them almost as spokesman and evidence of God’s moving among us. We ought to get wise to these men who continue to make filthy amounts of money off of lost people, by singing their old evil songs all while professing a new life in Christ. We ought to command them to “come out and be separate, touching no unclean thing…” (II Corinthians 6:14-18). We need to call them to repent of their wickedness, being that they are poisoned with bitterness and bound in iniquity (Acts 8:20).

More importantly we ought to use Mustaine’s comments as fuel to grow a burden in our heart for proclaiming word of God truth concerning issues of sin, redemption, death and eternity. Although Dave Mustaine was in error concerning his declaration, he may be one of only a few professing Christians giving definitive answers about suicide and its reward or punishment. In a time when networks produce shows like “13 Reasons Why” which highlights suicide (almost romanticizing the act) among the young, most ministers and lay Christians are silent to give any light or truth on the situation. Oh we often offer platitudes about God’s mercy, or we don’t know what happened the moment before they die or even “maybe they repented”, but we appear to be flippant—confused—or simply scared to give an answer.

Years ago while my wife and I were at a dinner celebrating new deacons in the church we attended, our pastor was asked a very specific question. As was often the case while eating together at a restaurant, our pastor declared to the waitress that we were followers of Jesus Christ and asked if there was anything we might pray with her for concerning her life or family. She turned down our prayer request but asked if he might answer a question for her. Her question was concerning her cousin who had recently killed herself.  The waitress wanted to know if the deceased was in heaven or hell. I will never forget his reply “I am sorry I just don’t know, but what I do know is that wherever she is, she is in the hands of an infinitely merciful God, who never makes mistakes. You can take comfort in that”. His answer, seemed to quell the angst in her question, and the answer did have truth in it, but was it true he did not know? Some may declare affirmatively YES or NO to her question, or at least ask whether the deceased person was a believer (even though that should not matter). Most would not even attempt and answer.

While attendiImage result for just answer the questionng another local fellowship’s youth ministry, my two oldest children were involved in a discussion concerning the eternal destiny of those committing suicide who were “believers”. To answer this question the youth pastor called on the senior pastor, who simply and quite inadequately pronounced “when it comes to suicide we will let God be the judge”. Knowing this pastor and how gifted and caring he is, I was shocked. Never was there any mention of suicide being sinful, or any positive scriptural reinforcement to keep LIVING! Like so many others, in the face of the plague of self-murder where the culprit is a professing believer, this pastor waffled, leaving young and impressionable youth to find an answer on their own.

Church we need to wake up! In a culture where our youth are inundated with evil in floods from the time they wake up till going to bed, we must understand the question demands an answer. This answer need not be concerned about whether it is perceived as being judgmental or unmerciful or legalistic.

Christians speak our minds concerning rampant homosexuality and rightly so. We understand that particular perversion keeps a person (whether a professing Christian or not) out of God’s Kingdom forever, if not repented of (Revelation 22:15). We will speak passionately to those who are drug addicts, who are practicing a form of sorcery (pharmekia), which will keep them from God’s eternal kingdom, if not repented of (Revelation 22:15). We will speak with pleading and aggressive rhetoric concerning the murder of living souls in the womb, for murder if not repented of keeps a person out  of the Kingdom of God (Revelation 22:15). In the American church we ought to speak with power in the Spirit concerning the sin of being dishonest, as all liars (meaning unrepentant concerning dishonesty) are barred from God’s eternal Kingdom (Revelation 22:15). We ought to speak to all people who chose these particular sins or any sin practice that keeps a person from God in Christ; whether outside of Christ or a professing follower of Jesus. It is our calling.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 (NKJV) Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

Yes we need to be pleading with the lost, as well as those who profess Christ and have fallen into sin, to repent of that which breaks their relationship to God. Since this is the case, why don’t we speak more clearly concerning the sin of suicide? While we sit idle in our silence, our culture infused with murderous and demonic hatred, continues to offer its satanic glorification of self-murder.  In the afore-mentioned television series “13 Reasons Why” the responsibility for suicide was not placed on thImage result for it's not my faulte person who decided to murder themselves, but on the people who damaged them or let them down. Is that not the spirit of this age, to point fingers at others for our own sinful behaviors and problems? Should we not seek to give clear and definitive answers to our Christian young people concerning the wicked sin of suicide?

Next post we will continue to explore the truth concerning our silly and sinful musings concerning suicide, beginning with my personal encounter with suicide.

To read Part #2 right now, click here… PART #2

Posted in Chris Cornell, Pearl Jam, R.I.P., say hello to heaven, Seattle music scene, sin of self-murder, Soundgraden, suicide, Temple of the Dog, thou shall not murder, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Elijah Will Be His Name! (Concerning God’s Faithfulness)

IMG_20170523_082433Two years ago today (May 23, 2015) Elijah James Erdel was born. As you can see (eating his birthday donut) he is as handsome as he is gifted at stuffing his mouth with food. Being our fifth child, one might think that the delightful parental joy of observing his first encounters, or seeing him develop (physically, emotionally, spiritually, verbally), or hearing him say or do the “darndest things” would have worn off. I can with great pleasure declare, encountering all those things still tickles my heart in ways that few other human activities do.

Recently Elijah has been saying that Jesus is “Up n’ Heaven” and “I go up n’ Heaven” and “Daddy u go up n’ Heaven? His favorite songs to sing randomly are “Invincible” form Christian hard rockers “Skillet” and the old camp song “I’ll Fly Away” or as Elijah sings it “I flyz awayeee”. To hear him, see him, and encounter him is truly a delight (as it is with all our children).

Elijah’s life has been a blessing from the Lord Jesus Christ in many ways. One of those blessings has become a recurrent lesson to me concerning God’s faithfulness. The lesson of which I am writing has to do with my son’s name.

IMG_20170520_202505

In the earliest days of my walk with Christ, I was drawn to the scriptures concerning Elijah the prophet more than any other Biblical figure (except the Lord Jesus Himself). I could identify with this man of great faith and obedience to God. His ability to hear the the voice of the LORD and declare His word to Ahab, going wherever God commanded inspired me. Elijah trusting God to feed him, raise the dead and bring fire from heaven astounded and challenged me (I Kings 18). The prophet’s fall into despair and depression, at Jezebel’s declaration to kill him, enabled me to identify with him because of my own battles with depression and anxiety (I Kings 19). Elijah’s ride to heaven in a chariot of fire, gave me deepened hope that if I remained faithful (even in times of failure in bringing glory to God), I too would one day be translated when Jesus descends at the last trumpet and the voice of the archangel (II Kings 2; I Thessalonians 4:16). To me it was a “no brainer” my first son would be named after Elijah the prophet.

Upon my wife becoming pregnant for the second time, we began to discuss names. My first choice for a boy was of course Elijah; she on the other hand liked other names, especially Michael. “If its a boy we ought to name him after you” is what she said. I told her, I had not done well with the name, so it had to be Elijah. She returned with this epic excuse “With a name like that he’ll probably get beat up at school”. Of course I told her how silly her argument was. I stood firm. I mean Elijah prayed fired down from heaven, certainly he could take care of a few school bullies with God’s help. In my estimation this should have been enough, but she persisted, so I brought out the big gun… “You know even though John the Baptist father could not speak, he wrote what his son’s name would be, when there was opposition to naming him John. You know honey, it really is the father’s place to name his son”. Not even this unshakable argument could sway her entrenched opposition to the name Elijah. When our first son was born (16 years ago), I demurred to her and we named him Michael. Thankfully he has done better with than name than I.

IMG_20170512_083059Three years later, as Kim was again pregnant, she very reluctantly agreed that if we had a boy, I could name him Elijah. Praise God we had an Abigail. Could you imagine who would have been my wife’s least favorite kid, had Abbey been born a boy? After Abigail was born (13 years ago), the Lord would use 9 years to deepen our marriage and tightly knit our family together in Christ, until Kimmy was with child once more. This time around she came to me with great happiness and said told me if we had a boy we would call him Elijah. I was so delighted. It seemed the Lord had ordained this name for this time. Until we learned we were having a girl. My wife was instantly concerned I would be disappointed, but how could I be disappointed in receiving a child from the LORD, regardless of its sex. As you can see in the photo there is nothing to be disappointed in concerning Ellie Mae.

Contrary to what one might think, when Kim became pregnant for the fifth time, I was joyful and a bit anxious. My wife and I were 41 and although Ellie Mae is a blessing, becoming parents of a newborn after 9 years off, took all our strength and the fullness of the Holy Spirit. “Could we do this once more and maintain our sanity?” was a passing thought.

In spite of these meanderings of the mind we went to the ultra sound in the middle of December 2014. On that great day I saw what was missing for the last 14 years before anyone else did, while we were in the ultra sound. I think the tech slowIMG_20170416_164958ed her footage down on purpose so I could see it… “Wait… did I just see it… is it what I think… YES, YES, its a… Penis”. A few minutes later the tech asked if we wanted to know and it was confirmed: It was a penis, we were having a boy!!! His name would be Elijah.

That very night I had sent out the ultra sound crotch shot of my son, with an arrow pointing to the evidence and the declaration “Its a boy”. My poor wife was a little embarrassed, but I was stoked, Elijah would be arriving in 5 months. The next day, in what was one of the warmest Decembers on record in upstate New York, and as I walked home from work at the church, I began reading my Bible in Jeremiah. Less than a quarter mile from home I read these words.

Jeremiah 1:4-5 (NKJV) Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

Upon reading these two verses I stopped on the side walk, recognizing the presence of the LORD; then He spoke to me.

“The reason you could not fully forget the name Elijah, was that I placed his name upon your heart. Your son Michael was intended to be Michael”.

In that moment, I knew I had mistakenly blamed my wife for not allowing the use of the name Elijah. Now I was going to find out why.

The Lord spoke again…

“Before I formed your son Elijah, in your wife’s womb, I knew him. Not only did I know him, but I set him apart to be my servant”.

By this time tears were streaming down my face, as cars were zooming by me on the right. I turned toward the empty field off to my left, unable to move ahead. Then He spoke once more…

“You had lost hope in my promise to you in the name Elijah, but when you could not carry it, I carried it for you for I AM faithful”.

As the Spirit of the LORD finished speaking to me, I was off like a shot running the rest of the way home. The Lord continued to turn things over in my mind. How many times had I wanted to quit, almost listening  to voices telling me to give up ministry? How many times had I prayed the Lord would take me home (like Elijah), not wanting to face what I perceived as failures to glorify Him,IMG_20170509_133558 or my inability to bring His kingdom to where I was ministering? At that moment I knew the word of God which had been anchoring my soul throughout my Christian life… “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and  present you faultless before the presence of His glory, with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24).

Let me say that my son’s name “Elijah” will continue to remind me of God’s faithfulness. This is not just to me, but all of us who endeavor to follow Christ. Times and trouble come. We wallow at times in our failures and weaknesses and wounds, yet there is One who is sustaining us. There is One who is holding us together. This Jesus is before us and behind. He is the Light who lights the darkness around us. He is God’s presence in the valley of the shadow of death. He is the very fullness of God in bodily form and in His promise to never leave or forsake us, He not only holds us up as individuals, but He holds to His promises when our grip is waning. Jesus the King of Kings and LORD of Lords is Faithful!!!

2 Timothy 2:11-13 (NKJV) This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

Posted in "Kid's say the darndest things", Ahab and Jezabel, Elijah the Prophet, God's faithfulness, I Kings 18, I Kings 19, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

COMPASSION IS AUTONOMIC

(Matthew 9:35-38) Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Compassion is a wImage result for moved with compassion sermonord we hear an awful lot about in our culture. In simple terms it is defined in its noun form as “a deep awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering”; in its verb form compassion is defined as “the humane quality of understanding the suffering of others and wanting to do something about it”. Even apart from being followers of Christ, humans can experience feelings of compassion. Yet experiencing sympathy for another’s suffering and even wanting to do something about it does not complete compassion’s purpose, unless we move to alleviate the suffering. Consider Psalm 103:13 where we read “As a father pities his son, so the LORD pities those who fear Him”.

In the word “pity” we see the complete definition of compassion. Pity in the Hebrew tongue means to condescend or to lower oneself to the embrace them in their low estate. This is for the purpose of laboring with the sufferer, in order to lift them out of their suffering. This word picture marries both the noun and verb above. Only in God is this constant and efficient. When it comes to lost humanity our experience with compassion is fickle at best. For those who are the redeemed of the Lord Jesus, compassion ought to be experienced as our Savior experienced it.

Matthew 9:36 records, that Jesus was “moved with compassion”. We understand this to mean “to be moved in ones bowels”. In biblical times bowels were seen as the seat of love and emotion. This is a fairly good assessment regarding how we feel when upset, anxious or afraid? At those times we don’t think, we simply feel in our bowels. This is what medicine calls and autonomic reflex, or a body process that is automatic per conditions and need. In this way the compassion such as our Savior experienced was as non-thought-of as breathing or responding to pain by flinching. For Jesus seeing people in peril, elicited an automatic feeling leading to a response. As we examine Matthew 9:35-38, we will begin to see the characteristics of Jesus’ life and disposition that let compassion flourish to be seen by all for God’s glory.

JESUS WAS ON MISSION 24 HOURS A DAY 7 DAYS A WEEK

When reading Matthew 9:35 we can see Jesus was on His mission at all times and in all places. Regard the word choices of the Holy Spirit from the Holy Spirit… In “all the cities” he preached, taught and healed “every sickness”. It should be no trouble to observe from reading all four gospels, Jesus is  the 24/7 Savior on His mission to seek and save the lost. Let me challenge you to read Mark chapters 1 and 2  to see how Jesus only had time to be on mission. As we read in John Chapter 4, where Jesus meets the Samaritan woman, He needed to go through Samaria. Why? Because He had to get a drink from a Samaritan woman, in order to lead her into the kingdom of God. Every place and at all times Jesus was on mission.

In order to be on mission 24/7, Jesus had to lay down His prerogative to express any self-will, that He could follow the Holy Spirit’s leading according to the Father’s will, with no wasted word’s actions or time. In other word’s Jesus had to live as a bond slave, with no will of his own, where His greatest joy was to do his Father’s will. In fact Jesus reported that doing the will of the Father and completing His work was actually like food to Him(John 4:34). We are to be on mission 24/7 just like Him; “As He is so we are in the world” (I John 4:17).

My honest opinion is that one of the reasons we short circuit on compassion is that we do not understand our calling to be on mission 24/7. What is our mission as saints of God?

1) GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES (Matthew 28:18-20)

2) BE SET APART AND HOLY FOR HIM (I Thessalonians 4:3-4; I Peter 1:13-16)

4) TO PRAISE HIM AND CAUSE OTHERS TO PRAISE HIM (I Peter 2:9-10)

3) TO BE AS HE IS IN THIS WORLD (I John 4:17)

This call of God knows no vacation nor sabbatical. Even when we are asleep, God may wake you to pray for a Christian face in a faraway land you will never see this side of heaven. The above passages do not imply that only a special category of redeemed people are on call 24/7, but all of us.  This is a problem among America Christians, because we compartmentalize our faith into appropriate venues and times to be overtly Christian. We also set aside compartments for ourselves in order to pursue our dreams, wants, and desires. This is an egregious error.

The time has come for us to stop mouthing the scriptures and consider their true implications and blessings. In Philippians 1:21 Paul declares “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain”. For the apostle, to continue on earth was to live for Jesus 24/7. Many will say Amen to this passage, without considering if they truly are growing and living in that fashion.

If we desire to have compassion like Jesus, which does not flicker like a light bulb with a faulty filament, we must be renewed in our minds to our calling to be on mission 24/7. Are you at all times on mission, or merely saying so, while living for Christ giving less than He is worthy of?

JESUS COMPASSION AROSE FROM WHAT HE SAW 

Related image

When we commit to living 24/7 to our mission for Christ, we enter a wonderful yet difficult life where we begin to think, feel, and behave differently. We begin to see life with all its ups and downs and joys and troubles, with new eyes. We begin to see life through Jesus’ eyes and scripture confirms this in Galatians 2:20 (“and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God…”). Faith in the simplest of terms is to see what God sees and trust His assessment (Hebrews 11:1). In this we understand that living on mission 24/7 takes Jesus supernatural sight. What is it that Jesus sees?

He sees the rebellious nature of the lost and their bondage and affliction; He also sees the righteous that follow Him in faith and the fear of the LORD (Psalm 14:2; Isaiah 61:1-3; Psalm 11:4-7). Jesus also sees the heart of every believer and true condition of His church (Hebrews 4:12-15; Revelation 2:23). As we examine why Jesus was moved to compassion, we discover it was because of what He saw. “When Jesus saw the multitudes He was moved with compassion”.

Jesus saw the “weary” (to be exalted and fainting in heart)—He saw the “scattered” (those flung apart from community because of enemy attack).  Our Savior saw those who were so broken and hopeless they would follow Him anywhere, because He was their only hope of life. They embarked after Him desperately, even though they did not understand what He came for. The O.T. confirms Jesus’ mission to bring them good news of salvation, to heal their broken and sinful hearts, to proclaim their freedom from the world, flesh and devil, as He would comfort them, console them, bless them with transformation, and fill them with praise inducing joy(Isaiah 61:1-3).

Note He did not come to give them food for the sake of filling their bellies—miracles for the sake of entertaining their need for signs and wonder—He did these things for the sake of bringing them to understand He was whom the scriptures foretold was their Messiah. This was for the sole purpose of reasoning with them to repent for the hour of redemption had come (Isaiah 1:18). In this redemption He would pay the price for complete removal of sin, a new life now and glory with Him forever. In this life He would become their Shepherd, and God would be their Father (Romans 8:14-16).

What He saw moved Him, it moved the early Church, and it is to move us. Yet we must train ourselves to see what He sees. Our purpose must be to preach Christ crucified and to call people to follow Christ as we follow Christ. We must understand that kindness that does not eventually lead the Holy Spirit being able through our ministry to confront their lost estate and need for Christ, is wasted effort.

Today the church in this land is being turned into a “compassion movement” where we are often “guilt-tripped” into all sorts of felt needs ministry. We are told “they won’t want to know what you know about Jesus till they know you care”. In this false argument Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 “in as much that you have done it to the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto Me”, are taken and used as a hammer to move us to meet needs.  Now I am not saying we ought to shut up the bowels of compassion and mercy, which would be sinful, but I am saying our calling to compassion deals with the broken and sinful nature of the lost and weary and scattered; for without reconciliation to God through the blood of Jesus, no felt need will matter in their day of judgment. Yet with Christ’s sight all our efforts in the realm of meeting material needs serve as a channel of proclamation of Christ and His glorious kingdom.

Next time we will consider how we must train our eyes to see only see what Jesus sees.

Posted in 24/7 great commission mission, autonomic, compassion, Matthew 9:35-38, moved with compassion, Uncategorized | Leave a comment