Archive for May, 2012

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BASILICA of the STARRY SKY

May 25, 2012

This is a reflection of rendezvous, holy communication, and mission. Of separating from the default consensus and securing quality time in the presence of the Lord Jesus; through prayer, through his word, and in being about those issues that are dear to his heart. It’s about venturing beyond the boundaries of the status quo and dwelling continually in heavenly places. Of abiding in the realm of the everlasting; even when our physical setting is contrary, or, even hostile to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s not a frantic pursuit of experience or seeking a dose the warm fuzzies to carry us through the day, but an authentic dwelling with the Lord Jesus who is with us always. It’s a place of complete separation from what we once were, and an embracing of what the Lord is desiring to do; both in us, and through us. 

It’s a quest that few of our contemporaries will even remotely understand and it begins at the moment our name is recorded in the book of life. When time seemed to stand still as we consciously turned from what we had always been, in true repentance, and believed on the Lord Jesus. A new birth, transpired, the writing of ordinences against us was blotted out, and a new work was launched. The things which we once depended on for amusement begin to lose their appeal  as we now had an authentic relationship with the Author of life. His word, which beforetime may have seemed like a collection of fragmented ideas tied together with old English terminology, now begins to flow like life giving water in a dry and thirsty land. We quickly discover that the Lord satisfies our soul as nothing else can. His peace fills our heart as we partake of  a life that we previously didn’t even know existed.

Matthew 11:28-29 “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall fine rest unto your souls.” 

The hour that I first believed transpired in September of 1983. It was, and still is, incredible to know Jesus as Savior and Lord as opposed to knowing about him. Time given to prayer became….almost an adventure….and 29 years later, I still don’t quite know how to describe it. During those early days, I would venture outside late in the evening. The fields surrounding our house became my open-air prayer closet. Beneath a canopy of heavenly bodies which seemed to stretch into eternity, I found sweet communion with the Lord Jesus…..without distraction and oftentimes without a particular list of requests.  In those first few months, my scriptural understanding was at a minimum as was my level of spiritual maturity. Yet these times with the Lord were priceless and they established a pattern that continues to this day.

In the secret place before the Lord, we can be real. He sees our thoughts afar off and understands every aspect of our status. Jesus truly is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. In Isaiah 9:6, a number of names are given which describe his nature; one of which is “Councellor.”  He understands the elements of our situation that we are not aware of and sees the bigger picture that we may not be taking into account as we observe the flow of events from point-blank range. A contemporary cannot do this. Those in our ambience can offer advice based on the parital (and oftentimes biased) information that we provide. They can be helpful if they are grounded in truth and walking in the Spirit, but this will not be a complete remedy. While we need to admonish and encourage each other, none of us can see the end from the beginning; nor do have a comprehensive understanding of every aspect in a situation. Ultimately we need to be grounded in truth and atuned to what the Spirit is saying to us. (Jeremiah 33:3 comes to mind)

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

There have been times (especially in the past three years) when I was so overwhelmed by the myriad of complexities in my life, that prayers would end up sounding  like a mixed bag of scattered thoughts and not-completely-thought-out requests. No earthly councellor could address such a fragmented situation. Yet the Lord understood every word, every time. We can cast every care upon him; knowing that he, not only has the remedy, he truly has our best interest at heart. As I was typing out the above verse, the word “minds” became a focal point. The Lord will keep our hearts “and minds” in the midst of situations that would cause most of our contemporaries to have a complete meltdown. This truth is all the more important as the days are fast approaching wherein we shall witness “Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” This swerves into the another primary reason for diligently seeking quality time with the Lord Jesus.

In this present season, my favorite prayer closet is still available. I arrive home from work between 12:30am and 2:30am. I exit the truck and survey the ambience. Usually the only sounds are the gentle breeze making its way through the trees, the occasional burst of howling from the coyotes in the distance, and the owl that presides over the patch of woods to our west. The presence of the Lord is incredible and my thoughts are instantly in heavenly places. I want to just “stay in this place for the rest of my days,” however, such a desire is not obtainable in this temporal realm. The time is approaching, when everything familiar will be dissolved and our faith will be tried in ways that we may have never considered before. In the pre-dawn hours of may 23, I had a dream. In this dream, I was in a line of people which seemed to meander through what looked like a maze. The line was gradually moving forward until finally, I was near the final bend in the line.

Around this final bend, there was a gillotine. I was in a line of people who were to be beheaded for the testimony of Jesus. As I was inching ever closer to the final moment, apprehension began to build. I awakened and knew that this dream had a dual purpose. First, it was a reminder of what is coming upon the earth. “and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands;” (These words are found in Revelation 20:4) The dream lined up with bible prophecy. Second, the element of apprehension at such a critical moment was a personal wake-up call. I need to engage in spiritual preparation on a deeper level. I need to take advantage of every starry night and every available moment to draw closer to Jesus. I need to likewise be busy concerning the issues of eternal significance. We all need to be doing these things.

Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
 
Matthew 6:6 “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
 
Luke 6:12 “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.”

There are a lot of aspects to this topic which haven’t been adequately addressed, however, I must be going for now. My prayer is that this will encourage any who pass by to draw closer to Jesus and seek his perfect will. To abandon every attachment to the temporal realm, and be about the Fathers business while there is still time to do so. As Leonard Ravenhill once observed, “after only five minutes in eternity, all of us will wish that we had done more for the Lord.”

Psalm 63:5-8 “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.
My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.”

Psalm 63 is one of my favorites. Please check out the following posting: An Angel of the Lord Led Us This is a retelling of a dream which informs us of things to come while revealing the need to be atuned to the Lords leading. he will never leave us, nor forsake us.

Blessings always in Jesus name.

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Adversity and Anguish

May 16, 2012

Job 13:15 “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.”

Hebrews 3:12-13 take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you, an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

Exhort one another daily.” This post is written for the saints who currently find themselves “besieged.” Those who, despite having a heart that’s pure before the Lord and consistantly doing “the right thing;” (not to gain approval, but out of a sincere love for Jesus) find that their lives are filled with turmoil. The upheaval seems to have no finale as new complexities are continuously entering the arena without warning. This is an inadequate attempt to offer encouragement to the faithful witnesses who are, at their wits end. To focus on the eternal and look steadfastly to Jesus; even while the enemy is hurling every dark asset in our direction and then whispering lies into our ear in an effort to foster doubt. It seems a daunting task; especially when I am struggling with adversity on so many fronts. We know from scripture that, prior to the return of Jesus, the enemy will “wear out the saints of the most high.” Subsequently, this topic is most critical. 

It cannot be stresed enough. When the kingdom of antichrist is fully manifest, the deception will be complete. It will appear to be the answer to all that has troubled this world ever since the beginning of time. We will have to stand completely upon what we know to be true when all of the physical manifestation, coupled with the entirety of world opinion, endorses a lie. The promise of Jesus is most comforting; even more so concerning this season: “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

In the arena of firey trials, there seems to be two semi-distinguishable groups of professing saints. At the one extreme, I have encountered saints who seem to never have a single problem. Everything they touch is “blessed.” They are relatively successful in this world, they are devoted to a local assembly, their kids seem to be perfect, they have never missed a mortgage payment, and…….they always have a smile on their face. And while I know that this perception isn’t necessarily accurate, they do,  nonetheless seem relatively immune to the random curveballs of life. They aren’t haughty; in fact, they re usually quite approachable and “down to earth.” They maintain their testimony of Jesus without wavering and are quite generous with their abundance.

This isn’t to say that any of this is necessarily wrong. It’s always encouraging to see folks maintain a solid testimony of Jesus. Nor is this a post written from a platform of covetousness. My heart truly is not in this world. I wouldn’t trade this freedom for any of the worlds offerings.

The other loosely identifiable group includes those who seem to be in over their head in trials. While everyones embodiment of disruptions  and uncertainty is unique, the effect is the same. Their physical situation offers not a shread of stability, every possible exit from the venue seems locked, family members and friends may be quick to make accusation (you made your bed, now lay in it) and they do not possess the necessary resources to remedy the situation on their own. This is oftentimes compounded even further when the saints in their venue have little to offer in the way of exhortation; save some cookie-cutter advice that they once picked up from an obscure ten-step seminar. Even if their heart is in the right place, they can offer little to the one currently standing in the furnace.

In times of incredible upheaval and uncertainty, we cannot necessarily expect the brethren to have an answer to what we are going through. While godly counsel from another is always of benefit, there are times when the only solution is from on high. During some of my most astonishing complexities, I only found resolution by shutting out the chatter, finding a quiet place, and bringing the issue before the throne of grace. There are, at this moment, many issues on my heart; the answers to which cannot possibly come from the contemporaries. While the Lord often places people in our lives at critical moments, some things can only be resolved by a steadfast “praying through.” Even through as my life seems to be in continuous hyper-drive, I’m (“slowly”) learning to take advantage of every spare moment and spending it with the Lord Jesus with whom we shall dwell forever. It’s a place of perfect rest while the storm rages all around. The truth found in Isaiah 26:3 supercedes every complexity.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” because he trusteth in thee.”

Before proceeding into the benefits of the season of trying, it’s necessary to quickly address some of the other reasons that we may be facing upheaval. While we prefer to believe the romantically noble “my faith is being tried and that’s why this is happening” senario, it’s not always the case.

1. Bad Planning. It hurts to acknowledge it, however, a significant portion of our current complexity is the result of hasty decision making in previous years. I’ve reached a point where an increasingly common prayer requst has been “Lord…..please don’t let me do anything stupid.” While this lack of wisdom in the past hasn’t shaken my faith, I do wish that I had done a number of things differently.

2. Chastisement. We don’t like this one either, however, in recent weeks, I’ve been finding comfort in this aspect. When we are corrected of the Lord, he’s working in our lives. I wasted about 13 years in a profoundly backslidden state. The Lord could have turned me over to my devices, but in either march or April of 2004, he called me back. That backslidden season was very rough, but the Lord, in his mercy, never let go and I am eternally grateful. I have learned much because of that dark season, but I wish that I had never drifted so far off course.

I Corinthians 11:32 “But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.”

3. Random Chaos. Sometimes contrary things just happen. Equipment breaks, the electricity goes out, the alternator on the truck fails, the employer moves off-shore, the sewer backs up…the list is endless. To add even more confusion to the mix, the reasonings behind a particular discomforting may not be easily definable. In my situation, for example, there are aspects of all three and it’s oftentimes unclear as to which catagory a particular aspect of the chaos belongs. 

 This brings us to the final element of chaos; that being the legitimate trying of our faith. While the preventable and the random will also try our faith, the default season of trying has a unique function. In these dark valleys, all that’s superficial is stripped away and the content of our heart is exposed. Here, we may be in free-fall while the onlookers are astonished. Some may inquire “Where is your God?” Days can turn into weeks; and then into years, without reprieve. Here, we are at the end of ourselves and reduced to a complete dependance on the God of all comfort, who sees the end from the beginning. In this place, words and exhortations offer no comfort, familiar scriptures feel cliche, (even though we know them to be true) and prayers seem to bounce off the ceiling. It’s a time where questions go unanswered, all sense of purpose is removed, the true nature of all that we have filled our lives with is exposed……….

And our roots grow deeper. It’s in these seasons that we learn to stand on the truth of Gods word alone and not rely on the accompanying fuzzy feelings or place confidence in our contemporaries who may later embrace the lie. (Matthew 24:24) Of all the benefits that result from the season of trying, this particular one is pivotal because it becomes a deciding factor in whether a person stands or falls. It’s a truth that is best summed up in the following passage

Mark 4:16-17 “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness;
And have no root in themselves, and so endure for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.

Most of us recognize this as being the second senario that Jesus explained in the parable of the sower. It tells of those who believe on Jesus (receive the word) and endure so long as everything goes smoothly. These may be quick to make lofty proclamations while nestled within the cozy confines of westernized churchianity. They may be able to rattle off scripture and run circles around anyone who presents an unbiblical worldview. But when the storms suddenly arise and they are staring at the end of themselves, these may be the first to fall. I remember Richard Wurmbrand once stating that the composer of one of Romanias most beloved hymns, later wrote songs that glorified communism.

The truth presented by the initial passage in this posting revolutionized my outlook a few years ago. It was an earlier season of upheaval and I wanted to just “go somewhere and disappear.” A question was dropped in my spirit. “what would it take to cause you to no longer follow Jesus?” I had to pause for a moment and really think about this. I mean, the short answer is an obvious “nothing could cause me to turn away from the Lord Jesus.” I was as certain of this as Peter was when he told Jesus “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” And yet we know how deceitful ones own heart can be. This question continues to cause me to examine if I’m harboring unbelief, while the passage from Job has become a formula for enduring. Even if everything goes awry and God seems far removed from our situation, our confidence in the Lord Jesus must remain steadfast.

The word of God must be more real to us than what we see, feel, or hear in this present world. The age to come must be more real than this temporal realm. Our love for Jesus must surpass our affections for anyone (or anything) else. We must “love not” our lives in this present world. Here are the additional benefits to tribulation. Firey trials are never pleasant, but Gods grace is always sufficient and the finished work is worth every moment of anguish.

 1. They enable us to stand in the face of adversity. This one is already covered, but it bears repeating. Those who never venture beyond the cozy confines of their earthly routine will be ill-equipped to stand in the hour of trying. A continual prayer request is that the Lord will prepare us spiritually for anything that we may have to face in the days ahead.  There will be a faithful remnant, standing on the earth, when Jesus appears.

2 Increases our faith. We learn to let go of what we cannot keep and trust in God who raises the dead. Earlier this year, it became obvious that our physical situation can not be maintained much longer and I do not know where we will be living by the end of this year. (I think it’s the result of one part random chaos, two parts chastisement, and three parts bad planning.) I reached a point where the fight ended and I placed it completely in the Lords hands. I still work, pay bills, and tend to the mundane tasks of life, however, I no longer lose sleep over things that are beyond our control. 

3. Strengthens our testimony. A good example of this would be Matthew. He creates such a bizarre set of circumstances that onlookers routinely ask “how do you do it? To be honest, it’s the grace of God because sometimes it becomes so stresseful that I want to just run away. It keeps me in prayer, keeps me from getting lazy, and keeps me looking toward the day when we are forever in the presence of the Lord Jesus. A hundred years from now, everyone that we know will be in their eternal place……and Matthew will no longer be autistic.

4. Enhances our eternal reward. I have to leave for work soon, so I’ll be quick. II Corinthians 4:17-18 reads “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Once the thrust of our affections are in heavenly places, the threatenings of this world lose their influence over us. The peace of God will be present; regardless of circumstance, and our reward will be great.

Well, I have to go for now. I don’t know if this offers any comfort to those who are facing the extremes of upheaval, but perhaps it offers some thoughts concerning the bigger picture, and placing the current adveristy in a proper perspective. Blessings always in Jesus name. 

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Somebodys Baby

May 7, 2012

The embodiment of cogitation began even before I was born of the Spirit. It surrounded the occasional reports involving individuals who had strayed way off course; to the point where their lives were all but unrecognizable. The paths from “default normality” to “the extremities of society” seemed too numerous to count, however, all had a common result. A priceless eternal soul had somehow become so entangled and twisted that, from a natural point of view, there appeared to be no remedy. It seemed as though such reports were on the increase and I began to inquire, “how does one go from taking their first breath, to becomming so distorted and fragmented that they almost seem to no longer be a complete person? How does a person become so given to, and overcome by, extreme evil and confusion?”

On one particular afternoon in the early 1980s, these unusual ponderings for a then-unsaved midwestern teenager, took an unexpected turn. During the evening news, a special report was broadcast featuring an Austrian town known as Braunau am Inn. As the reporter began to speak, there was, displayed on the screen, a photograph of an infant which had been taken in the late 1800s. He looked very normal and, without a doubt, the parents must have rejoiced as this child entered the world…..Then the correspondant revealed that it was a picture of  Adolph Hitler. This revelation jolted me; which is why I remember it thirty years later. Before going into the heart of this posting, it seems necessary to re-identify some well known truths.

1. We are all born in sin; with the selfish fallen nature, passed down from Adam. We are capable of commiting the unthinkable; especially if or when our survival is threatened. Some cross the threshhold into the unacceptible over seemingly trivial matters while others may endure a lot before they finally snap.

2. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He is not willing that any should perish and that all would come to repentance. This includes the contrary people in our ambience.

3. God grants the increase and is able to save to the uttermost. He can remedy situations which are so confounding. that all hope seems to be lost.  

4. When considering the depths of Satan that others have sunk to, it’s important to remember what we have been delivered from. While engaging in deep thoughts during my teens, I was every bit as wicked as those under my microscope. I considered myself to be an all-around good guy when, in reality, I had a nasty self-centered attitude, coupled with a very occultic world view, and wrapped in a thick layer of pride. I was a disaster in the making.

II corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

His name was never recorded in this world and the general details of his life are sketchy. His family may have been quite wealthy, or they may have been deeply impoverished. His parents may have been full of years, or they may have been taken shortly after his birth. He may have had a lot of siblings, or he may have been the product of a single moment of indescretion. Regardless of his situation, one thing is for certain. In a particular moment of time, this eternal soul, created in the image of God, made his entry into the world. He was cradled in his mothers arms and while the future was a complete mystery, for the moment, time stood still and all was well.

The child received adequate nourishment and he grew. His first birthday arrived, followed by a second, and then a third. He was on his way to becomming an adult. At some point in his life, he began to veer away from the commonly held standard. We don’t know what circumstances manifested that caused doors in his life to be opened, or how old he was when “things began to go horribly wrong.” Perhaps one of his contemporaries introduced him to the more extreme elements of darkness, or perhaps curiosity caused him to venture alone into things that scripture warns against. Or it could have been external meddling by folks with a sinister agenda. Regardless of the “how” the result was a man who began to take on demonic presence.

The descent into darkness was most likely gradual. As the demonic element increased its influence, leading a normal life became increasingly difficult. At some point, he became no longer able to function in society. He became increasingly isolated and misunderstood. Even those close to him were at a loss to find a resolution to the mans condition.  Eventually, he reached a point where he was not only a nuisance to those in the vicinity, he was becomming dangerous. Dangerous and supernaturally strong as the demonic host was now clearly in the drivers seat. Efforts were made to restrain him, however, he managed to break free of every such campaign.

Finally, this shell of a man was driven beyond the stretches of society. Stripped of all dignity, purpose, and cohesion of thought, he now dwelt amongst the rremains. Those who knew him had no choice but to leave him to his devices. He had no companionship….except for the two thousand demons whose unshakable presence drove him to continuous crying and cutting himself with stones. One time, long ago, he had been wrapped in clothing and laid in his mothers arms. Now clothing was a thing of the past. He was several years removed from any resemblence of a normal life as he spent his days in a partition of ground that was set aside for the deceased. None could pass by that way and while his countrymen knew of him, they kept a safe distance. He seemed destined to live the remainder of his time in madness and torment.

Or so it would seem….. 

Across the sea, there was a man who knew all about this tortured soul. He embarked on a special trip across the sea to deliver this captive. He was so wearied from his journeys that, he slept soundly through a potentially life threatening storm on that sea……until the panicing ones awakened him.  This was not an ordinary man, like the untold others who had made notable efforts at intervention. This was the only begotten Son of God, by whom the worlds were created. He was before all things, and by him, all things consist. He likewise had created all of the mans tormentors. He remembered how beautiful they had once been…….before they believed a fable and alligned themselves with folly. The seemingly hopeless situation surrounding this deep captive, was about to be resolved in a single moment.

Mark 5:6-8 “But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him.
And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
For he said unto him,
Come out of the man thou unclean spirit.”

While I don’t know all of the specifics, somehow demons seem to find temporary relief when they inhabit a person. In another scripture, Jesus mentions how a demon, when it is cast out, wanders through dry places and finds no rest. I’ve even wondered if it has to do with us being almost 70% water. In the case of these 2000 demons, their relentless driving of this man to near ruin was ending…….now.

Mark 5:9 “And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is legion, for we are many.

Many or few, it mattered not. They had no power in this situation and were reduced to a panicked “please don’t hurt me” petitioning.

Mark 5:10-11 “And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.”

We know the incredible conclusion of this account. Jesus mercifully granted this request and suffered these demons to enter a herd of swine. Then the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. The keepers of this herd ran to the city and reported the event. The vilagers came running to the scene of the upheaval. They saw Jesus. they saw the man who had been possesssed, sitting, clothed, and in his right mind……..NOW they were afraid. They had grown accustomed to the man crying and howling amongst the tombs. They should have rejoiced in that this man was now free. Instead, they became frightened and they asked Jesus to depart from their coasts. The formerly possessed man greatly desired to follow, but Jesus had another mission for him.

Mark 5:19-20 “Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.
And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.”

A hopeless situation remedied. An eternal soul now maintaining the testimony of Jesus. One can only imagine how many souls in that venue believed on Jesus and are now a part of the great cloud of witnesses, because this man did as he was instructed. And this swerves into a truth which is somewhat uncomfortable, however, necessary to consider. With so many priceless souls around us, we need to be in the Lords perfect will. Everybody who is in hell at this very moment, was once somebodys baby. They took a first breath and uttered a first word. They reached an age of accountability…..and later on passed from this world; either without having a supernatural encounter with Jesus, or falling away when such a time arose in which they left their first love. It would be better to have not existed than to be lost for eternity. This was touched on when Jesus told about the man who was going to betray him.

Mark 14:21“The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.”

But he was born; just like Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, and the untold billions of others who have passed through the valley of decision. He will forever regret his decision to turn on the very Author of life. Here’s a final though concerning this. The antichrist either has been, or soon will be (I’m certain that he already has been) born into this world. He will take a first breath, be tenderly wrapped in a blanket, and handed to his rejoicing mother. It will seem like a routine moment wherein a man enters the world. At the end of this life, however, he will be cast into a lake of fire…….alongside the false prophet…….a thousand years before the white throne judgment…..at which time they will be joined by all who either gave no thought to their eternal soul, or sought enterance into heaven apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, who paid for our sins with his own innocent blood.

Blessings always in Jesus name.

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A Day and a Life

May 2, 2012

This is a revisiting of a day from my past which spawned a flury of cogitation over what qualifies as a life of tribulation as opposed to a life of relative ease. In the course of this particular day, I was granted a glimpse, not only into the worlds of other people in my ambience, but also a viewing of my own situation from other angles. It’s not a day from long ago, wherein the course of my life was adjusted in accordance to increased revelation. It was…..yesterday…..the 1st of May, 2012. The primary scene is a department at work which I have been temporarily assigned to. Most of the people in this department are relatively new and, with one exception, I didn’t really know any of them until last week. 

This report begins, not in department 86, but at a local retailer which I had visited earlier in the day. It was a normal outing with Matthew which concluded at the Meijers store in Three Rivers. (for any who are not familiar with my situation, Matthew is our 17 year old son who hs autism) As we fulfilled the routine which has become a part of Matthews “requirement” (for lack of a better term. Anyone who has dealt with autistic people will understand what this means.) we passed by Brook; a co-worker from my temporary department. After a casual exchange of greetings, Matthew and I headed for the checkout counter. This is where the adventure begins.

Usually I can tell when Matt is becomming agitated, but on this occasion, I missed it. Without warning, he grabbed me, had me on the ground, and began attempting to drag me through the store. For a few seconds an incredible disturbance in the normal flow of life at Meijers transpired and, as is always the case, folks in the near vicinity were in total shock at what they are witnessing. I didn’t know it at the time, however, from a distance, Brook also witnessed this event. The situation finally reached a conclusion (when Matthew finally decided to end it) and I was able to get back up. The usual bewilderment of the onlookers was interrupted when an employee came up and asked “is there a problem?” I finished our business at the counter and quickly exited the store with a Matthew, now returned to his normal happy state, following 6-8 ft behind.

That evening, Brook inquired further about what had happened. Autism is not something that can be summed up in a sentence or two. Subsequently, my attempt to give a brief answer turned into…..a book…..on the history of Matthew and the general perimeters of low-functioning autism. It truly is a world which, unless one has a similar set of circumstances, they cannot possibly fathom its consuming nature. It influences everyone in close proximity. At the conclusion of the discourse, Brook offered the common, but well intentioned reply of “it has to be really rough; dealing with this.” I can fully relate to Brooks amazement because….I don’t fully understand it. Matthew does things that completely defy logic, such as intentionally destroying things that he likes. We have had to stop replacing the Nintendo 3DS because he loves playing it….for hours on end….he’s very skilled at most of the games…..and then he suddenly snaps it in two. The most recent one lasted less than 96 hours and our budget simply doesn’t allow for the purchasing of a Nintendo 3DS every four days.

The contrast between one who has a relatively normal life and one who has an incredibly complex one was played out that evening. But this was just the beginning of the observations that night. (It’s interesting that I had been pondering what was to be the next post; a visiting of the lessons found in Psalm 73) Later in the evening, I was working in the vicinity of Brittney and Jay, who were engaged in nearly endless dialogue with each other. Seeing no inroads to the conversation, I resorted to just performing my duties and listening from afar. I learned much about both, but more about Jay. Jay is a full-time student and for him, this is little more than a “filler job.” He’s 21, and engaged to be married. His fiance is also a full time student, working on a double major in….something. He loves to drink and thingks nothing of spending $400 or more on alcohol in a given weekend. The wedding will cost over $25,000 and they plan to honeymoon either in Hawaii or Rome.

His fiance inherited a home in San Jose California which was purchased for $80,000, but because of its location, is now worth well over a million. They are contemplating the selling of this property. Both Jay and his fiance have seemingly fail-proof careers plotted out. In fact, as the conversation unfolded, I witnessed the inner thoughts of one to whom money seems to be no object and life is smooth sailing on every possible front. As I was listening to the amount that he spends on “expensive alcohol” (forget the cheap stuff; he likes a high-end stupor) Psalm 73 came to mind, followed quickly by a……vision? For a brief second, I saw, as it were, a calculator. The old kind, that has the roll of paper in the back. The roll of paper was flying out the top of the calculator as an unseen operator was feverishly crunching numbers. It was a reminder to me that “Gods recordkeeping is perfect and he knows what every division of resourse is spent on, and by whom.

After work, I was sitting in the truck for a moment….prayerfully taking it all in. I wasn’t even remotely envious of the normal life; nor was I discouraged that we seem to have chaos on every front, coupled with more uncertainty than I can wrap my mind around. I thanked the Lord for giving us Matthew and reaffirmed the truth that “I wouldn’t trade situations with Jay (or anyone else) for any amount of treasure or benefit. The drive home became a time of rejoicing in God my Savior who changes not. A time of focusing on eternal things and savoring another victory over the enemies attempt to lure me into a “woe is me” session. Without a doubt, the peace of God “does” surpass every obstacle, circumstance, uncertainty, and trial. I reached the house, thinking that the days allotment of meaningful ponderings had run its course. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Matthew was still awake and…..agitated. I grabbed a quick snack and headed to the bedroom. When Matthew is agitated, the best thing to do is just retreat to a safe room and let him unwind on his own. As I was about to get into the scriptures, I noticed the large, still unopened envelope containing this months newsletter from Voice of the Martyrs which had arrived a few days ago. With so much going on lately, I had yet to open it, and so this became an opportunity to do so. This months focus is on North Korea and what the saints in the “hermit kingom” are subjected to. The testimonies of Jo Chung Hee and Yang Hea Woo presented a glimpse into the real world and were sobering reminders of how incredibly easy my life is. I have never had to fight for sand because it was the only thing to eat. I have never been in a hard labor camp where the only way out is death. (Camp 14 is located 45 miles northeast of Pyongyang. It is a complete containment camp with an average prisoner population of 50,000. People sentenced to this camp are simply worked until they die)

It was after midnight when I went outside for prayer. “Lord I have just seen some glimpses into various worlds. You see them all at the same time. At any given moment, you know which of your children are literally eating sand and tree bark to survive, and which of them are spending hundreds of dollars on a new gaming system. You know who is being beaten by shovels until their entire body is black and blue (this has happened to Yang and untold others) and which ones cannot wait until church service is over so that they can run to the restaurant and feed their true god. (Philippians 3:19) You know who is serving you, and who is putting on a show. I feel so foolish. I have wasted so many years and squandered so much resource on things that do not matter. This foolishness on my part has to end now.”

Psalm 73:16-19 “When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me.
Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down to destruction.
How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.”

Psalm 73″22-23 “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
Nevertheless I am continually before thee: thou hast holden me with thy right hand.”

Well I have to go for now. Matthew was awake all night, but is now finally asleep. I don’t know how the day will unfold. I don’t know if I’ll still be breathing by nightfall. Seriously; none of us have a promise of time which has yet to arrive. But I do know; that some adjustments in my life are demanded. It’s time to give much more diligence to the issues of eternal significance instead of focusing on the distractions. The enemy will do whatever it takes to get us off the battle field. To get us mired in self-pity, buried by endless campaigns for acquisition, lost in a maze of runaway foolishness, or consumed by a form of godliness that lacks power. (but gives one the illusion that they are doing God a great service) To keep us from assaulting the kingdom of darkness and sharing the words of life with the captives. We oftentimes live casually; even treacherously. Satan never wastes a moment in this manner. He is continuously seeking to devour with an unabridged hatred of God and hatred of the precious eternal ones who are created in Gods image.

May we all be about our Fathers business with renewed urgency and resolve. Blessings always in Jesus name.

Psalm 90;12 “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

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Chorus of the Bride

May 1, 2012

II Corinthians 11:2 “For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

Romans 8:18 “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.”

I John 3:2-3 “Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when we shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

Three passages which are far deeper than the casual ponderings of this post. In the first passage, the apostle Paul tells of his godly jealousy for the Corinthians. He was a man who had cast off his former reputation and riches and set his eyes steadfastly upon the Savior who miraculously entered his life on a dusty road outside of Damascus. He continuously encouraged the saints to likewise grow into the fulness of Christ. (My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.) In the second passage, Paul reminds the saints in Rome that the present tribulations, regaredles of how intense they may be, are very temporal. In II Corinthians 4:17 he goes on to explains the benefits behind such trials. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 

In the third passage, the apostle John reminds us that, while it’s currently not observable, we shall inherit a state of incorruptible perfection when we enter into the presence of Jesus. Every heartache, every disappointment,every infimity, and every season of sorrow will vanish in the face of that which shall never pass away. Revelation 21:4 reads “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and their shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

 A lifetime of ups and downs, of mountaintop rendezvous followed quickly by lengthy seasons of trying, of falling in love and having our hearts broken, of hardship and despair in wharsoever measure it may have been;all of it will seem as little more than a split-second of inconvenience.

Revelation 21:7 “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I shall be his God, and he shall be my son.”

“He that overcometh.” This post is about those who believe on Jesus to the saving of the soul and what that finished product will be like. The embodiment of saints that will make up the bride of Christ can be described in part by identifying the commonalities between the spiritual bride of Christ and a physical bride in this world. (The word itself is interesting. In the natural, the term “bride” is singular while in the spiritual, “bride” is plural.) Here are a few observations concerning a bride in the physical.

1. “Singularity of affection.” In her past, she probably entertained a number of prospects. For one reason or another, none of these captured her heart to the point that she wanted to spend the remainder of her days with them. Finally the right one came along and from that moment on, the search was over. Every ambition from that moment on became geared toward the day of the wedding; when a new name would be taken and a new life begun.

In this life, everything that we say and do; every ambition and motive, should be geared toward the everlasting. Our time here is so temporal, and yet, many saints seem consumed by cares which have no eternal significance. I have much to learn in this area as well. At the moment of salvation, our eternal destination changes from an eventual lake of fire to a city made without hands. Subsequemtly, every affection that is contrary to this inheritance should be discarded.

Hebrews 13;14 “For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”

2. “Boasting.” In the course of her converstions, the bride to be will routinely make reference to the one who has stolen her heart and the marriage that is in the works. Our conversation will always gravitate toward the embodiment of our affection. It’s relatively easy to discern what a person is all about and what their god is. Regardless of what they profess outwardly, sooner or later, their true passions will spill into their conversation.

Jesus should be the focus of our boasting. I’ve known profesing saints who are quick to say “Oh yes; Jesus is my first love….without a doubt.” And yet, when given the opportunity to direct a conversation, they tend to discuss their career, their favorite sports team, their earthly ambitions, their trappings, and what have you. This is a simple self spiritual exam that we can perfom on-the-go. “Where is my conversation going? What is so important to me that I look for any opportunity to talk about it? Is the testimony of Jesus like “burning fire shut up in my bones?” (Jeremiah 20:9) 

3. “Preparation.” A future bride will be incredibly busy; planning the wedding and preparing for the new life that awaits. Likewise, one who is born of the Spirit should be busy preparing; laying aside every weight, every besetting sin, every contrary attitude and what have you. They will be ever so careful in what they subject themselves to; lest they make provision for the flesh which still contains the old nature. They will strive against anything contrary to God and, on those occasions where they stumble, they will be quick to repent.

4. “Watching.” She is aware that, while a wedding is in the works, several things can transpire which could derail the event. She will give all diligence to minimize unnecessary complexities that could cause an unraveling of everything hoped for. She will approach complications with discression as her foremost priority will be preserving the relationship with her beloved. In like manner, those who are the inheritors of eternal life should be alert to pitfalls because they are many. Furthermore, we have a relentless adversary who continuously seeks whom he may devour. Satan never misses an open window and the moment that we let our guard down, he is quick to use it to his advantage.

5. “Increasing Familiarity.” She will seek to be with her significant one at every opportunity and become increasingly more acquainted. She will consistantly work on strengthening the relationship. If our affections are truly on the Lord Jesus, we will run to prayer time and hold his word in higher esteem than our necessary sustainance. We will consistantly seek greater understanding of  the Lord Jesus with whom we shall abide forever; world without ending. We will strive daily to become more like him and less like what we once were.

6. “Anticipation.” The former things that once consumed so much of our energy and resource will lose all appeal as our hearts cry becomes “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”  Just as a natural bride will literally “count down the days” leading up to the wedding, we should eagerly look for the moment when we are forever with Jesus. As the apostle Paul observed “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

7. “I’m Already There.” This kind of sums up the previous attributes. In short, we will conduct our affairs as though we are already in our heavenly abode. Our hearts should be there now. At the moment of salvation, we became the property of the Lord Jesus. We are no longer our own and, subsequently, our lives should be in complete submission to him. To place a natural spin on this, imagine a lady who is engaged, but continues to entertain other lovers. Even though there hasn’t been a marriage yet, this lady is unfaithful.  

The truths that are contained in the following passages, as they relate to the bride, should put a song in the heart of all who love the Lord Jesus. (Amazingly, they are all found in a book which many consider to be unnerving.)

Revelation 7:13-14 “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
And I said unto him, Sir thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes in the blood of the lamb.

“Sir thou knowest.” I love Johns careful response to the question “Who are these?”

Revelation 19:6-8 “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Aleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints.”

“His wife hath made herself ready.”Each of us should search our hearts; inquiring “am I making myself ready? Do I have oil in my lamp at this late hour?”

Revelation 21:2-3 “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”

Revelation 21:9-10 “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lambs wife.
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Revelation 21:27 “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lambs book of life.”

WOW!!! None of us have ever been in an environment that is completely void of sin and sorrow. None us have, as of yet, put on incorruption. None of us know what it’s like to live in a state of timelessness. Yet we know that such a place is being prepared for us. We must arrive at a place where that which is to come is more real to us than our current setting. Jesus must be our first love; far above ambitions, above the mechanics of the faith, and above everyone in our ambience. We shall be in the presence of the Lord for ever; a bride without spot and blameless.

Blessings always in Jesus name. 

Rev 22:17 “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”