Suffering

Lamentation in the Land

A couple days ago, I was encouraged by something a brother in Israel-Palestine said:
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How do your people lament?

The Great Lakes Initiative Leadership Institute in partnership with Duke Divinity School’s Center for Reconciliation invited me to Kampala, Uganda, to share what we at Musalaha have learned about reconciliation in the Israeli-Palestinian context. More than 150 African leaders from countries surrounding Lake Victoria attended this conference and for some of them it was the first time meeting a Palestinian Christian. An interesting aspect of this was their perception of all Arabs as being Muslim. It was also intriguing for me to understand how these African leaders are grappling with the issues of land and how they found several articles in the book The Land Cries Out relevant to their contexts. Other than being encouraged by how relevant our Curriculum of Reconciliation was to their local situations, I was also challenged by what they shared.

After a session on the prophet Jeremiah, we sat down to eat. One of the leaders and his wife asked me how our people lament. This question struck me, it is not something that I think about often, but I knew exactly what she meant. This is something that we have not done adequately or addressed enough in our society. We grieve when there is tragedy or great loss, but we don’t ask ourselves how we lament over the fact that there is no peace in our land, a hardness of heart among our peoples, and an unwillingness to reconcile.

Reflecting on the life of the prophet Jeremiah, several thoughts come to mind, especially as someone laboring for reconciliation. We become discouraged when a portion of the body of the Messiah doesn’t see the essential importance of reconciliation. It is like during the times of Jeremiah with people not heeding the warnings and looking to stand the tests of time. How many times do we see the hardening of hearts, embracing a victim mentality, and blaming the other without self-examination and repentance? We are living the consequences of a lack of reconciliation. It is a high price our society is paying for the enmity and hostility that we have towards each other.

Our African brothers and sisters have much to teach us about lamentation in light of the major genocides some of them have experienced. Lamenting for our people and having the willingness to change the course is something that we have not invested much in.

Prophets who suffered personal difficulty for the discredit of their work, also had to suffer for the grief and consequences their society brought on itself for not taking their warnings seriously. Taking a stand and lamenting comes at a high price. We want to remain in our comfort zones, be fearful of change, and have doubts of what will happen in the future.

Despite these hardships, we can learn from Jeremiah’s lesson of a future and a hope as demonstrated in his teaching about the New Covenant in chapter 31 and his act of buying a field in Jeremiah 32. We have a God who is constantly working through our history and his grace is new every day. We are excited that this hope was demonstrated in the recent successful events of Musalaha.

By Salim J. Munayer, Ph.D
Musalaha Director
http://www.musalaha.org/
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Some thoughts came to mind after reading this:

In Jeremiah’s writing Lamentations: He insists in the middle of the book that God’s mercies are new every morning. Towards the end of the book, Jeremiah says, “The Lord’s anointed, our very life breath, was caught in their traps. We thought that under his shadow we would live among the nations.” (Lamentations 4:20 NIV) In other words, the Lord’s Messiah, the Spirit of our face, was caught in their dungeons. … This is a messianic prophecy of Jesus & His crucifixion. Indeed, the Jews thought that He would be their protector among the nations, their strong king who would defeat the nations. Instead, there was an apparent defeat when Jesus marched to the Golgotha, to Calvary, to the place of the skull. Jesus came not to kill his enemies, but to be handed over by and killed by his enemies. Indeed, we were all those enemies.

We have met the enemy, and it is us. It is not some other nation. The enemy is not some pagan land or lord. We ourselves are the enemies of God.

Later, in Zechariah, again there is the mention of this enmity. It is an enmity which was first mentioned in Genesis 3:15 when the Lord prophesied that the seed of woman would crush underfoot the seed of the serpent after much hostility. This Seed of woman, this Seed of Abraham, this Seed of David would choke out the weeds of the world because greater is HE who is among us than the one who is in the world. The particular lament in Zechariah 12:10ff is this, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives.”

What do we see here? We see Jesus high and lifted up, all men (and women) of every family are being drawn to him, just as Jesus Himself prophesied in the Good News according to John. The seed fell and died and was buried. Then there sprung up a fount of mourning at Pentecost as those who had been in the crowds at Passover mourned at what they had done to their Lord: they had rejected Him, they had sought to trample Him underfoot and let the birds snatch him. But God is greater! Fifty days later, a jubilee of days later there was released in Zion great mourning as the Spirit was poured out and languages of many nations were spoken and Jews, Cretans, and Arabs from one end of the inhabited world to the other, gathered, heard the Word, and believed on the Lord Jesus, were baptized and repented. We know at least a remnant of 3,000 believed that day. More later. …

We cannot detail all the spread of the Good News in the New Testament accounts of the early church. However, this theme of Lamentation gets picked up again in Revelation 1:4-8 John writes, “to the seven churches in Asia: grace to you and peace from the one who is and the one who was and the one who is coming, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To the one who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—to him be the glory and the power forever and ever

Behold, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even every one who pierced him,
and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over him.

Yes, amen.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, the one who is and the one who was and the one who is coming, the All-Powerful.” (LEB)

Here it is not only Israel that will mourn, but all families of the earth. The very ones who would be blessed through Abraham’s seed. When people see, hear, and perceive Jesus, they will mourn, abandoning sin, and clinging unto the Savior. We all killed Jesus. It was because of our sins, the sins of all nations, that Jesus bled and died upon the cross. Your sins & my sins put Him there, as the Lord suffered on our behalf. Twice the Lord is called the one who was, is, and is coming. God is the same Yesterday, Today, and Forever, even Jesus our King, the All-Mighty. Revelation is essentially the story of how this prophecy is fulfilled: how God brings about morning and some degree (however slight) of repentance among the nations.

This repentance is accompanied by mourning and lamentation at what our sins have done to the Lord.

So what does this have to do with Salim’s words from Musalaha. Musalaha is all about reconciliation. Indeed, this is what Christian Ministry is all about: Reconciliation to God and reconciliation to one another. In another word: Love.

We are reminded of the man who came to Jesus and said, “Judge between me & my brother: decide who will get the inheritance.” Musalaha works betweens the brothers who are sons of Abraham: Jews and Arabs-who occupy the strip of land between the “great sea” and the “dead sea” between the river in the North and the River of Egypt. Today these two brothers fight among themselves about who should “inherit” the Land. I am sure that Abraham would want them to get along. Even more, Jesus steps above and beyond the conflict over land and says that this is not why he came. He came to reconcile the brothers in the land not to divide it between them. The sword that Jesus brings is His word which pierces our hearts when we hear how we have pierced His Heart with our fighting and wrangling and malice. Jesus cuts through out façade of pride and prejudice. He cuts across all cultural and social boundaries. You are either for Him or against Him. Then, when you have decided to follow Him, He gathers you in to His fold.

Oh, how we should mourn those who are outside of the flock of God!! How we should cry for those who are homeless, not only with regard to a roof, but have no eternal dwelling yet! How we must lament those who are not clothed with Christ! How we should weep and wail over those who are blind to the mercy and glory of God. Many have been baptized with water, some claim to be baptized with fire and the Spirit, a few are severely baptized with blood, but what is needed in this hour is a baptism of tears. Oh that we would be plunged into weeping, never to emerge, until souls are saved and lives are changed. Until there is peace in Jerusalem, no more a modern sodom, but a Heavenly City.

Because Musalaha has the same mission as we have, I encourage you to help them out if you want to see peace in the middle east.

PRAY that peoples will mourn over their alienation from God even though they live in the land of promise.
PRAY that nations will mourn over their assault on the throne of God by claiming rights of life and death of the unborn and the poor.
CONFESS the times you have been bitter or resentful in your heart. CONFESS the times you have clung to anything, any property, and object, any cherished relationship more than you cherished Jesus. PRAY that Jesus would be exalted in your land and in your relationships in the earth, just as you want Jesus honored in your relationship with God.

Now I will speak to another group of readers: those who are set on being hostile towards God, the haters of God. Do you really think you can cling even to your tomb forever? Tombs are transitory places, more transitory than your own body, for as soon as you die, you may well be forgotten and never praised or admired again. You say, “This is why I want to be cremated!” Do you think that this will burn away the impurity of your sins? Do you think by hiding your flesh in earthly flames you can hide from the coming wrath of God? Do not hate God, turn, and run to His arms. Now He is not eager to crush you but is wanting to embrace you if you will but turn back like a wandering child who comes home to his or her father. God will not hold you off in the pig sty … he wants you to come to Him. Do you think you are too defiled and that you love your sin too much? You will love the Lord even more as you get acquainted with Him. He will extend His Hand and lift you up though you are weary and fallen in the mud.

The Father is searching for his separated sons and daughters. He wants a reunion. Not merely in the land of Canaan, in the coming New Heavens and New Earth, where there will be no more crying or mourning or sickness or death or pain. Then, the piercing will have passed. The comfort will be complete. Those who have faith will be forgiven.

Come.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
Amen.

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Barriers to Joy & Peace

This Christmas, remove any barriers to joy & peace in your life so that you can share in the Love of Christ which is shed abroad in our hearts.

See if any of the following are blocking your capacity to love:

1. Bitterness & lack of forgiveness. If so, let go and forgive.
2. Lack of gratitude. If so, count your blessings.
3. Loneliness. If so, befriend the lonely.
4. Sickness. If so, go to the Doctor.
5. Ignorance. If so, study the Bible & hear a message on Jesus & be honest.
6. Feeling poor. If so, share something you have with others.
7. Hunger. If so, work with your hands and go to a Christian to ask for help buying food.
8. Fear of death. If so, repent of your sin & return to the Lord Jesus. He conquered death.
9. Worry. If so, pray in Jesus name and read promises from the Word of God.
10. Uncertainty. If so, do the one thing you know you last knew was the right thing to do.

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Redemptive Suffering: Judaism, Christianity, & Islam

Go outside the gate to the wandering peoples.

Go outside the gate to the wandering peoples.

Ashura is the day when Shi’ites comemoratethe martyrdom of Mohammad ‘s grandson, Hussein son of Ali. Some Shi’ites cut themselves with knives and chains to identify with the suffering of Hussein. One saying goes, `A single tear shed for Hussein washes away a hundred sins.`”
http://www.LoveSaudis.com
This Shi’ite holiday took place last week.

In Judaism and Christianity, there is also a certain amount of truth to the fact that suffering is redemptive. In the Hebrew Scriptures, it was a truism, that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness required bloodshed.

Perhaps the clearest place where this is taught in the New Testament is the Letter to Hebrews. In the Mosaic Law, the sacrificial laws of Leviticus are clearly explications of the principle of life for life via blood. However, the levitical sacrifices had to be continually offered. Those sacrifices & ashes were then taken outside to camp. Sin was removed as the sacrifice was removed.

When Jesus came, he preached the truth in love and then was rejected by His people. He too went outside the gate and suffered “outside the camp” thus removing the sin of the people against him outside the camp. He took away sin once for all.

Now Christians, whenever we are oppressed and opposed for taking a stand for truth in love and love in truth, whenever we suffer rejection, we can still praise the Lord knowing He has a plan for that rejection, namely to remove the sins of those who oppose. We leave people who oppress alone in order to allow them to find peace. We move on and allow the people we were reaching previously to reconsider.

In my own life, I have been removed from a number of jobs. Those which I most enjoyed have either regretted disallowing my role or have found a way to reincorporate me. Is that because I am special? No. It is because all those were works of reconciliation. Actually, that is the goal of life: reconciliation. We are born alienated from God and must be reconciled to God. While children are born somewhat innocent, they bear the guilt of previous generations. They inherit the load, genetic or social or moral or whatever you want to call it, that separates them from the peace God intends. However, by regularly leaving previous situations we have gotten ourselves into and the associated sins, we find ourselves gradually liberated to serve the living God with the Good News of Redemption.

Increasingly, we become better and better bearers to truth and purer and purer in our love for others.

Lest anyone believe that by their migrations they have already achieved perfection, if you are lowly enough to browse the internet, you are not perfected in the glories of heaven where people praise God perpetually. So then, what must we do? Praise God as much as you can now. Spend your days invested in the glories of grace by talking about Jesus.

You say, but that would be very unproductive!

Ah, what do you have to do that would be better than praising Jesus? Whipping yourself with and lacerating your skin? Let me urge you to press in to Christ and not to give up. Focus on Jesus in all you do.

Last week, my wife & I went to a lecture by John Lennox … however we were turned away due to the crowds. The theme of the discussion was going to be, “Does science need God?”

Let’s tie these two questions together: suffering & science and the redemptive power God in both.

Science ultimately has no real reason for why there is suffering. It can only say that there is. It cannot answer the question of why we are so dissatisfied with suffering if indeed death has been there from the beginning. So the Bible’s account of Eden when all was innocent is better than naturalistic, uniformitarian declarations. It is what it is is not a very satisfying truism.

God is who He is. Or better, God said, “I am who I am” That same “I am” has sent me to share this thought: we suffer because the human race falls short of God’s standards. All other discussions of secondary causation such as social pressure, genetic mutation, gravity, entropy, fall short if the question of Why? is left unanswered.

Pragmatic science is unsatisfying. Just like Adam was unsatisfied with naming animals until he named his wife and sang a love song over her, so all fields of science are meant to serve human society, and these are best accomplished when done in the covenant of love that God gives the human race.

So we see that even the Shoah, the Holocaust could be redeemed. God used it to motivate much of the West to call for an Independent nation for the Jews: Israel was nearly born in a day, as Isaiah had prophecied.

Now, do you want to redeem your suffering? Are you rejected by those who are powerful and prominent? Then go to those who are not so significant in your community. Go to those who are regarded as the nobodies. Sit beside those that the world laughs at. Hug the crying. Pray for those who are sick. Read to those who cannot read for themselves. Sing with a lonely child who longs to sing to the King.

There are so many ways you can go outside the gate as Jesus did. Don’t wait. Go today. God will go with you and then you will smile in His presence.

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Why do the poor experience more of the Kingdom than the rich?

A. The poor need God very evidently. The rich think they have all that they need.

B. The poor are oppressed by the world but blessed by God. The rich exploit to get rich, but hoard their wealth, taking their blessings for granted.

C. The poor cry out to God, and he listens. The rich boast of being self-made people.

D. The poor are generous because they know what it is to need, so they are eager to share with others.

E. The poor are always looking up for help. The rich are helping themselves.

F. The poor must be patient. The rich can afford instant service.

G. The poor see God provide for them and give thanks freely. The rich think their wealth is a shelter.

=> To give to the poor is to lend to the Lord. To give to the rich is foolish.

Give down and look up.

Invest in the Lord’s work among the poor, share your whole life with Him & His people wherever you go this week.
If you don’t find His people, make friends and help them become part of the Lord’s people.

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Cutting Words – Healing Hearts

Crushed, disappointed, insulted, rejected? ... Press on. There is more in store. Cry out to God for the promise to come.

Crushed, disappointed, insulted, rejected? … Press on. There is more in store. Cry out to God for the promise to come.

This post is dedicated to a young woman I spoke with recently, and to all who self-injure &/or have suicidal thoughts.

Sometimes in this world, people both old and young say things that are mean-spirited. Sometimes they say them simply to make themselves look good. It can hurt even worse when they say things just to hurt someone else. Either way, those words which expose how far short of perfection a girl or boy falls often lead to feelings of shame, loneliness, and hopelessness.

“Will anyone love me just for me? Does anyone really care about me? I want to be beautiful / handsome. I want to be strong / elegant. I want to be liked and appreciated. Instead my face is rubbed in the dirt.”

Sometimes fellow students tear down the weaker ones. It is after all easier to pick on those who won’t fight back.

Sometimes parents expect a cool perfection from their children. It is after all parents’ job to help their kids grow up to face the realities of the harsh world.

Sometimes bosses or co-workers can pressure a struggling worker to perform beyond capacity or even perform more than everyone else.

Sometimes other authorities can put pressure on those under their charge. NOTHING WE DO IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH, cries the hurting heart.

There are two most common ways to respond: In anger: lashing out at those who insult. In self-loathing, listening to all those voices that expose imperfection.

Imperfections that make us feel ashamed, can also add unique dignity to each of us. They are like the freckles that
Natasha Bedingfield sings about:

This reminds me of Jesus: sometimes people of His day talked about Him because He didn’t wash His hands. Sometimes people insulted Him because He was so confident that He had a special relationship with God. They hated Him because He worked long hours and healed the hurting and forgave the seemingly unforgiveable. Jesus forgave anyway.

In 1 John, it says that the spirit of the antichrist denies two things: 1. That Jesus came from God and 2. That Jesus came in the flesh. Taken to logical conclusion, the antichrist spirit denies the deity and humanity of Jesus.

So what? What difference does that make in how the poor kid who gets picked on in school feels?

When somebody treats you like you are not made in the image of God, that is the antichrist at work. If someone is despising you and all that you do, they are not doing the work of God but are serving the devil. Satan tries to get us to regret that we live. God gets us to regret that we have sinned. Lord, have mercy!

When someone treats you like you are not human with human feelings and an ordinary human body with human wants and needs, that is the antichrist at work. The antichrist expects a sterile sanctification. The Spirit of Jesus washes us with water from the Word, the Word of God. Lord, thank you!

And God’s word says, He loved us enough to send His own Son to cover over ALL our imperfections, sins, shame, and flaws. That is why Jesus was scarred on the cross and on the way to the cross was beaten and tortured, so that you and I could hold our heads up in dignity when the world, our old flesh, and the devil conspire to make us feel like we are useless and unwanted. He set aside heaven’s arms so that we could lift up holy hands and praise Him.

If people tell you that you are good for nothing and dirty: First, clean up if you are dirty. Second, be glad that you are clean in God’s sight. Third, forgive the people who have such dirty hearts that all they can see is filth.

If your own mind tells you that you are unloveable: First, separate the truth from the lie. While love is never “deserved,” anyone can be loved. God loves the least, the lost, the last. God loves you. Second, read promises in the Bible about how the Lord’s purpose is to bless and not curse. Third, receive God’s forgiveness for all your faults. He delights in you and rejoices over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in His love He will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

We need to realize who is the source of all these accusations though: it is the devil, satan, that old serpent, the dragon. Satan hates you. God, however, loves you and delights in you. If you have persevered in reading this, I believe God is calling you to a deeper knowledge of His mercy. Consider reading a chapter from the Proverbs and a chapter from the Gospels every day. Or, develop your own plan for reading through the whole Bible in a year … and stick to it. God will speak to you in new and amazing ways. The lies of the devil will fade.

Maybe you are married and your spouse hates you and you feel miserable and you feel like giving up: Let me encourage you to keep loving and keep forgiving. God has a prize for those who persevere in marriage.

Maybe you feel lonely because all your fellow students or co-workers seem to despise you and ignore you or trip you up: Let me encourage you that you are special in God’s eyes. What you are learning is something teachers can’t teach you. You are learning what Jesus taught us, to love your enemeies. Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up: your work will be rewarded by the one who supervises all bosses and you are storing up for yourself a retirement that is out of the world.

God loves you. Jesus proves it. Live.


Now, about those who tear you down, how do you deal with them?

I must be 100% honest here: I am far from perfect. When I was a teenager, I picked on other students. Then, one day, a classmate I was picking on, told me off. They responded and told me to shut up, I was getting on their nerves. Maybe I was more sensitive than some bullies, but I don’t think so. When they talked back and said, “Shut up, it’s not nice, I’m not all that bad, you don’t have your facts straight.” I shut my mouth. I stopped insulting. Later, the Lord would fill my heart with Love, with the Holy Spirit as I started to regularly read the Bible and pray for the Lord to teach me how to love. God changed me.

Life is not easier for me, it is harder. But that is OK. It was not easy for Jesus, and He is with me when I face insults and injury, hospitalizations and hatred.

If you care to contact me, write to: MertAKA -at- everybody .ORG

Peace,
Mert Hershberger

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Comfort, Comfort, My People Jerusalem

Right now the Middle East remains in an uproar: Egyptians are in an uproar, and Palestinians are raging against the state of Israel. Jordan is facing a flood of refugees. Bethlehem may soon have a few tourists. But I find that the “Jerusalem Syndrom” or “Stendhal Syndrome” to be most interesting of all this: people go to the “holy” city only to find that there are a bunch of sinners there. Sinners needing to be evangelized, so they evangelize them, or at least attempt to, in their own religious versions.

I’ve been there and done that! In 1994, I was a short term worker in Washington, DC. Enjoyed my time, but got a little too isolated from the group and my mind started to wander away from the mission. I started to peregrinate and preach. I dare say, it was fun. I thought the world was going to end in 3.5 days. (Times, time, and half a time, you know.)

Well, it didn’t, and the Lord forgave me for my false prophecy. So I am no prophet. Big deal.

But that does not mean I am not an evangelist. I may not be called upon to bring a final serious message of judgment, but I can bring a message of joy to the world. That joy is found in Jesus. Moral reform is good. Preaching is good. But all cities need this preaching. All souls need the good news. I am not much of a church planter, though my efforts to disciple others have resulted in a small disciplemaking movement.

The reality is though, that my life is marked (or some would say marred) by something else: suffering and disappointment with the worldly and the temporal hopes dreams. I work part time for a government agency that works among the least and among of those in the worst circumstances as a certified peer support specialist. In other words, I’m not just certifiable, I’m certified. I have a plaque to prove it.

That sits at my desk like the the Plaque I once received as a Distinguido Guesped used to at my dorm in college. I was a Distinguished Guest of the governor of Sinaloa State or Mayor Mazatlan there in Mexico, or something like that. Yippee!! Distinguished guest. All I had to do was do a little dramatic interpretation and travel with a bunch of choral members to a podunk, persecuting part of our Southern Neighbor and have a good, clean, moral life as I honored Jesus. The Bible says, those who honor God, God will honor.

What if the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Centre in Israel, were to not issue a certificate of insanity, but of honor to these guests, who like Saul (i.e. Shaul) had a few chips shy of a full bag, with a certificate for their intense interest and compassion for this city of conflict. Imagine how you would feel going on vacation to Hawaii only to find all the natives working in gray suits and ties and all the land given over to the chaos that happens on Wall Street … Doesn’t sound like a vacation.

Just because you went to such an advertized “tropical paradise” that had been corrupted and spoke out for a little common sense, would you want to be called a fool? No.

But Hosea said that the prophet will be called a fool (Meshuggah). When a nice person meets a wicked world which has been worshipped with wonderful words, that nice person might get a little upset when they find out the reality. You would … Right? I hope you would.

So, back to the issue at hand. As these prophets / religiously fanatical tourists recover, why not give them a certificate for wanting the city of Jerusalem to be morally pure and peaceful?? Honor them for their ability to cope again with a sinful world. Commission them in Jesus name to preach peace to all nations.

Use those with Jerusalem or Stendhal syndrome to become Fools for Christ … people who don’t fit in with the world because they love God. Let us be a little loony for the Lord! Let us give him our minds and let us give the world a piece of it too.

Maybe those that the world calls misfits are simply called to fit into another world, a world yet to come. A world that is perfect.

In this world, we will have trouble. BUT, TAKE HEART! Jesus conquered the world!!! He is alive! He’s not dead. He’s not crazy. He’s not lazy. HE really is LORD and HE really dead get up and folded the grave clothes at the tomb. Now, he is busy building a new Jerusalem.

The old Jerusalem is like Sodom and Gomorrah: it distresses the righteous lot who try to live their so much that they can’t stand staying there forever, they run for their lives. Distressed and dispirited. But Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He takes care of souls who go to great cities like Mecca, Rome, and Washington, DC and New York City, only to lose their grasp on “normalcy.” He comforts us with the hope of His return. He is the Messiah. We are not.

Now, what about those who think this world is all there is? I feel sorry for them. They may be in animistic tribes wearing animal parts or they may be in the ‘hood wearing hoodies or they may be businessmen wearing ties and going to fine restaurants or they may be on a campus wearing a backpack or they may be taking care of a posse of kids whom they hope will grow up to be “normal.”

Let’s get real. It is OK if dreams are shattered and illusions are exposed. It is OK to be different. It is OK to preach outside or in the streets. Let the prisoners free! Let the slaves go free! Let the fools go free! Maybe if Jerusalem had tolerated the most Divine Fool she would be a cultivated city today, instead of a city where the past is nearly all that there is to celebrate about it at the present.

Blessings on all who go to Jerusalem to comfort my people: the mentally ill and non-conformists. May God’s people surround the saints restrained with comfort and friendship.

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Prayers for Henry Beaudine

Written June 15, 2013
“I was not there today;
But, God, give grace that’s gain.
His valve should have no hole
so that his heart is full.
That wounds would heal and mend;
His blood should flow again.
That pains would go. Amen.”

Post Script:
June 25, 2013
I received a report last night that my nephew is eating much better. He may eventually catch up with his weight. God is clearly at work. All praise to His name.

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Connecticut Shooting and Jesus: A Massacre of the Innocents

Peter Paul Ruben

Peter Paul Ruben: Massacre of the Innocents. Painted 100 years before Newton, Connecticut was founded and 400 years before the recent American Massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School

 

I believe that this year, the Lord wants to be near the people of Newton. Just as the birth of Jesus was seared into the memory of Bethlehem by a massacre of innocent children by soldiers commissioned by Herod, so also, satan inspired this man to kill children around Christmas time this year.

Normally, the sheep of Bethlehem were the only offerings used to please God, but God was pleased in Jesus day to fulfill prophecy by permitting the death of children. Bethlehem had been the home of King David, a renowned figure, who set Israel free from pagan oppression and harassment. Normally, the town of Newton is small: only about 25,000. The town’s most notable person was James Purdy, who helped slaves escape to Canada in the 1850s and ministered to smallpox victims during the American Civil War, but now a man enslaved by anger attacked and killed many. The athlete Bruce Jenner, political leaders, and some authors also came from Newton. Nowadays, the following industries are the most prominent: manufacturing, professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, retail trade … Like Bethlehem, Newton was an ordinary town with a proud heritage.

The news of Bethlehem was conveyed in the Good News account of Matthew of the New Testament in the Christian Scriptures. The Bad News of Newton is heard wherever you turn. The murderer in this case was apparently upset by the divorce of his parents. Herod was troubled by the threat to his throne.

This shooting was the second deadliest school shooting in American History. The deadliest was a massacre at Virginia Tech. While the massacre at Bethlehem was a deadly and brutal act during Herod’s reign, he was more known for killing his own relatives and nobles in an attempt to elicit mourners and remove competition. Bethlehem consisted of only a few hundred inhabitants in Jesus’ day, thus the death of male infants would not have been mentioned in ancient secular-historical accounts.

Out of Bethlehem came Jesus. Perhaps some Jewish scholars doubted that Jesus came from there because so many were killed. “Surely he would have died in that generation if he was born there,” they speculated. But God had a divine purposed. Evil has a limited purpose. If some lives were destroyed by evil, we can be sure that those who remain are alive for a reason. They have a calling from God to live for Him.

This may seem to be of no comfort to the parents who lost children. But we cannot go back and revive all who died. We must go on living. Life is for the living and those who are dead though seemingly alive may truly live.

You are alive. You have a pulse. Evil has yet to consume you entirely. Will you live for God or for yourself? Will you fulfill your God-designed purpose or live like a beast seeking only bodily needs and acting on impulse.

This Christmas, we do not need merely civil religion uttering platitudes. We need redemption from slavery to sin and the sickness of soul that afflicts our race. We need men like James Purdy who will not stand idly by as violence happens against the human race. We need Jesus.

May God be with those this year who suffer persecution and massacre on a regular basis in cities and towns around the world where the Name of the Son of God, the King of Israel, and the Prince of Peace is not tolerated. May Jesus also be God with us, Immanuel.

Categories: Cross, Good News, Persecution, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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