Posts Tagged With: death

Prayer of Abandonment

Loving Father,

I offer you my pain

and trust you for healing.

I offer you my tears

and trust you for comfort.

I offer you my darkness

and trust you for light.

I offer you my loneliness

and trust you for companionship.

I offer you my despair

and trust you for eternal hope.

I offer you my death

and trust you for new life.

I offer you all that I have in this world

and trust you for a new heaven and new earth.

I offer you nothing

and trust you for all.

Categories: Cross, Poem, Prayer, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Love and Hate

The Lord’s hatred is more loving that the most compassionate Buddhist or most devout Muslim.

Buddhism states that that the key to escaping the pit of suffering is to cease desire.

The Word of God says that the way to escape suffering is to desire the Lord Jesus more than your necessary food.

Often, compassion  is demonstrated by Buddhists by allowing people to die with dignity.

Jesus displayed the depth of His compassion by getting angry at death and raising the dead.

Mohammed demonstrated his devotion by calling for the execution of those who dishonored him.

Jesus displayed his devotion by calling for mercy on his executioners as he was shamed on the cross.

Mohammed demonstrated his love by gathering up to 10 wives at one time to himself, regardless of their marital status, age, etc.

Jesus showed his love by rebuking religious hypocrisy and forgiving the immoral woman who threw herself at his feet.

Human religions of every variety excuse sin.

Jesus judges sin and pardons sinners so that we might come to Him.

Jesus did not stay on the cross for us to gaze upon; He rose from the grave on the third day so that we might have power to transform societies into gatherings of saints who likewise hate sin and love one another.

O that I might hate sin more and live in God’s love more!!

Categories: Cross, Good News, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amid chaos, look to the God of order

God is not a god of disorder, but a God of peace.

He orders things and brings harmony. He doesn’t intentionally try to disturb us just to disturb us just to disturb us. Indeed, God desires that calm, quiet spirit in us that we find so sweet in wonderful friends we trust.

So why do we sometime go through the fire? Why must we face trials and tribulations if God wants to lead us in triumph?

Why did Paul say that soon satan would be trampled underfoot in his letter to the Romans and then get executed in Rome?

God uses our defeat to bring forth His victory. The Lord wants it totally clear that it is not this world that is the end, it is the world to come that we are to look for and pursue.

Yes, it is good to have joy while in this world.

But if our joy terminates in this world, then we are pitiful people.

Have you ever been to a funeral where some seemed at peace though they mourned and some seemed disheartened though they spouted off platitudes like “They are in a better place now.” One contains true joy, though the joy is decorated by tears of longing. The other is sorrow though it is paper mache’d over and sprinkled with glitter.

What is the difference between true hope and utter hopelessness?


He too faced a horrible death. He too did not want die, certainly not the way he did. But Jesus did want to bring many people into the Kingdom of God as children of God. The only way to open the door of death was to pass through it himself, so that others could triumph when they went through it.

And so too, when Paul, not fearing death, so opposed the evil of False Religions and False Justice that he was executed for his stand against worship of any mere man, he rejoiced in hope, knowing that the final victory is not in this world, but in the next. When we fix our eyes fully on the world to come and the joy that is awaiting us there, then we are free to endure hardship like good soldiers.

A soldier fights a battle for his allegiance to a better country. Christians stand firm in the faith knowing that a better world awaits when Christ returns.

Categories: Suffering | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silence Leads to Violence

The complacency of fools will destroy them. (Proverbs 1:32b)
One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. (Proverbs 18:9)

We are all limited in our knowledge, to some degree or another. We are all also limited in our service to the Lord, in one way or another, either due lack of ability or lack of faithful effort. Anyone who fails to serve is subject to destruction. Jeremiah knew this full well:
A curse on anyone who is lax in doing the Lord’s work!
A curse on anyone who keeps their sword from bloodshed! (Jeremiah 48:10)

The reasons there are wars & rumors of wars at this time is because of the shortage of those doing the Lord’s preferred work of blessing the nations. If we do not bless, we will be accursed. If we do not build up the Kingdom of God among the nations, we will have to tear down the kingdoms of man called nations.

Ezekiel (3:16-21), who prophesied about the same time, received a message from God that made what Jeremiah prophesied clearer:

At the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.

“Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.”

In other words, if a person does not share the wisdom that God has given them with those who are ignorant, the wise man must execute judgment. Silence leads to violence.

In what was likely one of the first portions of the New Testament that was written down and distributed, Paul wrote in Galatians: As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (1:9) Later on in the book, Paul expanded later in the book of Galatians how we are to identify with Jesus’ ostracism from the community of the self-righteous by setting the example: For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (2:19-20) So we see that there is a dying that must take place to identify with Jesus.

Paul went on to make it clear that:
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. (3:10-14)
To follow Jesus is to believe that His death on the cross was sufficient to take all the curses that you deserve, so that through the Messiah Who was crushed, you might be lifted up with Him Who is exalted over every other name and so receive the Spirit of God through the promise you trust. We who receive this promised spirit then are able to bless the nations.

Back to an idea in Proverbs about character: Who are we? Paul says, “We are fools for Christ …” (1 Corinthians 4:10a) To be fools for someone means you will do some things that seem foolish because of your attachment to that person. This may seem like a bad idea, but the alternative to being zealously in love with the Lord is not a good one. Paul includes in the conclusion to his letter to the Corinthians, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!” (16:22) Whoa! Either we love the Lord or we love the world. There is no middle ground. The world may seem good and full of goods, but God is the Truly Good.

Yet our love for the Lord should lead to a love for the lost that says, “Better I die & go to hell, than that many people would die & go to hell.” Again, Paul testifies in Romans 9:2-4a “I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it through the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” As he was about to go to Jerusalem and then on to Rome itself, he said, “I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:23-24) The only reason we live on planet earth after we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior & acknowledge Him as Lord is to make known the Kingdom of Heaven known on earth. God is patient with us so that we might make known His salvation known through our whole life.

Lest we think of this as merely exemplary living, Paul opens his letter to the Philippians with a meditation on his future on earth:
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. (1:20-26)

The point of his life is not himself, but Christ who lives in Him. Christ has become our hope of glory. Let us glory not in being right in ourselves or right with the world. Rather, let us boast of the Righteous One who has come to our defense.

Do you lack any joy? Stop looking for joy in special seasons or special saints or special gifts or special sources of happiness. Let all your springs be in the Lord Jesus. Take offense at no humbug this season. Let not death quench your happiness, but let all things lead you closer and closer to Jesus. Let Him be the Word of God to you. Let Him be the Open Door that is set before you. Let Him be your Bread of Life. Let Him be your Resurrection & your Life. Have you lost your way from the path of peace? Look to Him as the Prince of Peace and pledge allegiance to Him alone. Follow Jesus as the Way. Believe in Him as the Truth. Love Him as the Life. He will bring you to the Father from whom all family derives its name and your spirit will mingle with the Very Spirit of God this Christmas.

Let us go out and tell our families, our friends, our neighbors, and yes, even our enemies what the Lord has done for us not only at Christmas, but also on the cross. The devil also needs to hear more about the saving victory of the Lord Jesus Christ who is risen and coming quickly. Marana tha!

Categories: Evangelism, Holiday, Missions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jesus came to give you a hard time … for now.

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn:
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

Perhaps you will disagree with the assertion in my title of this blog entry, but taken at face value, these words quoted above from Jesus’ sending of the 12 in Matthew 10 certainly do seem to agree with the title. The normal pattern of people on planet earth is to do other than what Jesus wants them to.

Oh, sure, people may be nice enough, they may participate in religious observances, even Christian religious observances, even often, but at their heart, people want to be comfortable in this world.

Jesus makes it clear: HE does NOT want you comfortable in this world. He wants you to find joy in the world to come. While the rage in Christian circles is to get people busy about their jobs, their careers, their families, their health, their ease and to enjoy this world and to share that joy in this world.

Jesus, being ever counter-cultural, calls us to get uncomfortable. “Leave your comfort zone,” is sometimes said to those going on short-term missions. However, we are to daily take up the cross and get uncomfortable for Jesus. We are no where in the Good News encouraged to be comfortable in the world. If you are comfortable in the world, you will be uncomfortable in eternity. That is a promise.

However, if you find your life right now uncomfortable, not just occasionally, but regularly, routinely, daily, you open up the way for the Kingdom of God. No longer is it about this world nor is it about you. Rather, it is about eternity. Your life is to be about God. 100%. Sold out, consumed with the vision of the Living Lord who guides and controls every moment of your life.

You are NOT your own. You belong to Jesus. You are no better than anyone else, but you do belong to Jesus. If you accept this as the mission for your life, you will have a reason to live and a reason to die. Jesus bought you with His life. Your life is now to be hidden with Christ in God. If you reject that, you reject hope, meaning, purpose, and a reason for living.

Oh, you will say, I am my own god. I define my own purpose.

Really? What happens when you die? All your efforts to define yourself will fall flat and you will be cast into hell. IF YOU define your purpose and YOU define your life and YOU define your destiny, the moment you get sick, the moment you die, your meaning is challenged and then extinguished.

However, because Jesus proved that meaning is not coterminous with one’s natural life by rising up out of the grave of His own accord, those who hide themselves in Jesus and accept Jesus Christ as the definition of their purpose suddenly have a life beyond this world.

Even if your own family members reject and crucify you and beat you and spit on you and persecute you, you will have meaning. God redeems your suffering if you let Him. However, you must look to Jesus Christ the righteous Suffering Servant when you are suffering if your suffering is to have meaning.

Notice, I do not merely say that you will feel good. There are many who feel good though they are ultimately going to be cast into hell. The wrapper on a fine chocolate may look and appear gorgeous, but the moment the chocolate is consumed and enjoyed and the chocolate reaches its fulfilment and the wrapper is cast aside into the trash, discarded, it is JUNK. People do not go to the candy store to buy wrappers, they go to buy confections. The wrapper is merely a transportation device for getting the goods from the factory to your home into your body so your heart will rejoice.

Likewise, our comforts in this body and in this world are merely means to an end. If we ever look at them as an end, we will be disappointed.

Yes, despise this world. Do not love it. Do not pursue a high place in the system of the present world. Your throne satan will be cast down and you will come to nothing.

Rather, if you want an enduring life, seek a low place. Seek humility. Seek poverty. Seek abandonment in the arms of the infinite Creator. You are not infinite. Anything you create has limits on how satisfying it can be. But if you look to God to create satisfaction in your heart, you will find it. Though the final peace waits many days and though you see not a glimpse of joy in this world, do not be discouraged: there is a resurrection.

Rejoice in the world to come.

Peace to all who heed these words.

Categories: Cross, Humility | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loving Isn’t Love until You Love Those who Hate You

I used to think that I was a good guy.

I got all A’s in school.

I was healthy.

I was voted most likely to succeed.

I excelled in all that I set my hands to.

Then, there came a point at which I really got to know Jesus.

Now I know what a wretched sinner I am!

Oh, I had already called on the Lord and was saved, but this was different. I committed to follow Jesus by identifying with his death, burial, and resurrection. He who knew no sin, became sin for us so that we might become the integrity & virtue of God.

I do not follow the traditional teaching of the church on this verse. The traditional teaching of the church is that Jesus became a sin offering, thus inserting the word offering. I go behind the traditional teaching to look at Jesus Himself. He did not come to offer sin. He offered His Holiness. The Father came close in Christ.

Let us take this at face value though. What is this verse actually saying:

1. Jesus knew no sin.

2. Jesus became sin for us.

3. 1 & 2 are so that we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus became what he did not know so we could become what we are not. Jesus allowed himself to be humiliated so that we might become honored. Jesus was shamed so that we would be saved.

Jesus was indeed a sin offering. But that is not necessarily what this says explicitly. It says he became sin.

Ask any Muslim what the greatest sin is and they will say it is “Shirk.” to ascribe partners to God. I.e. to identify Jesus as divine.

Jesus was sinless. All are agreed on that except for a few people who claim that there is no absolute morality, which is self contradictory, so we will kindly ignore those proud souls for now who exalt themselves over God in their own mind (particularly since their own morality often is less than that of Jesus.)

Jesus also asserted that he is God. When he claimed to be the Son of Man, he was claiming not merely to be human, but to be made in the exact image of God and to be exalted as the one like a Son of Man who reigns in glory before the Ancient of Days as described in Daniel.

For a man who appeared to have been born of an illicit union, though he was not, to have claimed what appeared impossible, that he is God, resulted in the predictable condemnation at the courts of the Jewish leaders and the Roman authorities. This was indeed a most preposterous claim for mere flesh to make.

But Jesus was no mere mortal. He was also immortal. He laid down His life freely (that is, he chose to make that claim, when he could have kept it to himself). He also took up his life again (that is, he happily and triumphantly rose from the grave and left the grave clothes behind. He was victorious over death. He submitted to what appeared to be the defilement of the grave that he might sanctify the grave yard as a rest area for the saints, a mere passing through place which leads to a much better place.) Jesus is fully alive and well today.

So what? What difference if Jesus rose? I haven’t seen him, the atheist will say.

Ah, but Jesus is alive and active in His Body. Wherever 2 or more gather in the name of Jesus, submitting to His authority as Lord, they experience and communicate the presence of Jesus. It is not merely in this ritual or ceremony. It is a moment by moment reality.

And so it comes to pass, that when the doubter, the bitter soul, the slanderer, the evil doer, or any other person with any bad intentions comes against a church (that is, such a gathering of saints who are submitted to Jesus) the presence of Jesus is assaulted. But so also, the power of the Messiah’s resurrection is present in His people. He comes back again and again to present the truth claims of God on man. Because Jesus demonstrated what it is to be 100% submitted to God, he can claim to be fully God without any duplicity. Not even the angels can claim to be God without lying. But Jesus not only claimed this power, he demonstrates it over and over again every time His people demonstrate patience with the wicked. Everytime the church witnesses to the truth in a world of falsehood. Everytime a believer confesses the deity of Jesus the Messiah to a Muslim or Jew or Hindu or Buddhist or atheist or tribal practitioner, he experiences the righteousness of God.

You say, then how come witnesses seem so care-free, so unworried of what the world says about them? Why is it that missionaries go about their mission as though ignorant of the plans and purposes of the world to destroy them and to undermine them?

We can laugh at adversity, not because adversity is inherently fun, but we know the One (the Father, the Son, and the Spirit), the Lord who is greater than all our troubles.

We know the provider. Even if we starve and are indebted, we know the One who will feed us daily bread and who will forgive all our debts. Even if we are slaughtered, as the Islamic State is trying to do in Mosul, we know the One who Saves from the grave through the power of the resurrection.

Jesus is Lord.

No government can stop Him.

No army can harm Him.

No bank can buy Him.

No store can sell Him.

No religion can restrain Him.

No human can exhume Him.

No hand can hurt Him.

No sickness can weaken Him.

No failure can flunk Him.

Jesus reigns supreme!

He took ALL our shame.

He took ALL our sin.

With His Holy Claim.

And He rose once again.

Categories: Good News, Suffering, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Disappointed, but Hopeful

Imagine going to a tomb to mourn your Beloved Leader, you go, and the body is gone. Disappointment.
You wanted to honor doing the final rites. Then HE’s GONE!!
You had dreamed that he would bring peace to the land. You had dreamed that he would help you not only cope with life, but be truly free. Then he was killed, or rather executed as a criminal. Rejected.

Now you are dejected. Every remnant is gone. His life is a mere memory … soon to be forgotten.

You are so desparate for help that you turn to the first ordinary person you meet, though you were sure that your friend was extraordinary and was indeed the best. You ask questions, you ask for help.

He calls your name. Your Extraordinary Friend meets you in the most ordinary way in a garden on the first day of the week … you recognize His Voice: He’s alive!!

You are disappointed no longer, but hopeful.

That is something of what I have felt in life at times: God disappointed my petty expectations only to exceed them by surprising me with news of something better. What was bad news becomes good news when the Sovereign surprises me.

I dreamed of being a missionary. I became a mere mentor to missionaries.
I dreamed of having a beautiful wife and a lot of kids. I married an excellent wife and have lots of people I care for.
I dreamed of being a leader. I serve leaders.
I dreamed of traveling the world. I ride an urban bus system, talk to people from the nations and pray for the world.
I dreamed of being wise. I rarely seem to use the education I have and my library is relinquished to the basement. I give away more copies of The Books than I read.
I dreamed of a comfortable home. My house is in the middle of a remodel that is taking longer than expected.

I wanted to see my Dad reach his 75th birthday. On Resurrection Day, I had to take him to the hospital to get a battery of tests for his heart.

Right when we were singing about the victory of Jesus over death, I realized that my Dad might die sooner than desired. What would happen next?

I was disappointed, but as the days have passed and as I realized that my Dad probably just was a bit anxious, I found hope and celebrated in a store by buying a lily & gift for someone that acted like a disciple on the sabbath after the crucifixion: mourning and depressed. Dispirited, as one translation puts it.

While I went to the Sunrise Service this year, the real resurrection celebration happened in a most ordinary way: sharing a little kindness with a stranger who was discouraged.

I am a missionary of hope.

Have you seen Jesus? Have you heard of His resurrection? Have you perceived the Love of God?

Look up.
Look ahead.
Look around.

Jesus will return, so we must gently & faithfully make disciples of all nations, everywhere.
Expect to meet Jesus in the midst of your most disappointing moments. When you lose your direction in life, start looking for those who are truly lost. Share the promises of God and let Him find you as you are finding help for the hurting.

Are you wounded? Heal someone. You will feel better.
Are you tattered and torn? Mend someone else’s heart. You will be more complete.
Are you weary? Stay alert in prayer for the broken. God will answer you when you call.
Is the world mocking at you? Rejoice in your affliction. The world mocked at Jesus; you are honored in heaven.
Do you feel dirty? Wash the feet of the wise. You will come clean in the process.

It is not about looking after your own interests that your needs will be met.
It truly is in giving that you receive.

Recently, I offered to give a partner in ministry 5 DVDs. He said just 3. After I delivered what I promised, God blessed me with 3 more DVDs of the same kind from another friend.

Amazing? Grace. Surprising? Mercy. Blessed? Indeed.

Where are you disappointed?
Don’t give up, and you will meet the Anointed.

Categories: Missions | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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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