Faith

In The Wilderness


For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Rom 8:38-39 AMP)

This Wilderness

We all, eventually, end up in the wilderness. Whether we bring ourselves there or are dragged there against our will or run headlong into it thinking it has to be better than where we are right now or are led there by Ruach ha-Kodesh, the Holy Spirit of Yahweh, we will eventually find ourselves in “The Wilderness. ”

If you haven’t had this fantastic experience, perhaps you should ask why. Read the word, everyone the Father equips for service goes through some kind of experience where his mettle is tested, where he is purified by the refining fire of God, where all the useless dross is scraped away. There, in the wilderness, God prepares a table for you to learn to fellowship with Him and him alone. The question I have to ask myself then, is, have I denied myself and taken up His cross?

The Place Called Wilderness

Moses was kicked out of Egypt…with good reason. The mercy Pharaoh showed Moses by not killing him outright for the crime of murder is where the evidence of the Grace of the Living God began to exert itself. Moses was driven to the wilderness, eventually learning how to do the unprincely task of being a shepherd. Egyptians thought Shepherds were among the unclean and unwashed of society. Shepherds were shunned. Moses became a shepherd. Think of all the things Moses had to unlearn to learn to be a shepherd. It wasn’t until after a long while of being a shepherd that Moses was finally fit to serve the Living God. Moses had to lose the identity he was raised to believe about himself to become someone God could use. It was in that wilderness of humbling that God called Moses to take off his sandals and follow Him. It wasn’t until Moses lost his perceived identity as a Prince of Egypt that he gained the status as “The Friend of God.”

What self-deceptions do I need to shed to become “The Friend of God?”

Elijah had just witnessed the Living God consume the prophets of Ba’al with a holy blowtorch that consumed everything on and around Mt. Carmel. When Jezebel caught wind of this defeat, she sent word that she will personally destroy Elijah. When he heard about this threat, Elijah immediately ran over 80 miles away from Jezebel’s kingdom, then fled even farther into the wilderness. Elijah stopped under a juniper tree and begged God to take his life. Elijah thrust himself into the wilderness because it looked a lot better than his circumstances looked where he was. Fear and doubt are powerful forces. The conditions Elijah found himself in were not what he expected. After witnessing the awesome power of God at work, neither Ahab or Jezebel were moved to recognize the presence or authority of the Living God. Instead, they grew more defiant and angry. Instead of taking on God (Who just demonstrated he can put on a vast Bar B Que) Jezebel and her henpecked lackey, Ahab defied God and wanted to exact revenge on His messenger, Elijah.

Elijah wanted God to let him die, thinking it would be better to die at God’s hand than to suffer the agonies Jezebel was known to mete out to her enemies. He fell asleep from exhaustion.

While he slept, an angel of God made breakfast for Elijah, and gently woke Elijah up and fed him. Elijah was so exhausted he fell back asleep. A second time, the Angel came, woke Elijah and fed him.

After Elijah ate and rested, God gave Elijah evidence that He is always present and that He is the still speaks to His servants, and He gave Elijah new orders.

What we miss in our sermons here is this: God did not berate Elijah, but served him breakfast in bed, demonstrated His love for Elijah and encouraged him to keep going. When Elijah was exhausted and hiding in the wilderness, God showed up and reaffirmed that He is mightier than any circumstances that arise. Grace, not judgement, was what God fed Elijah.

Sometimes we lead ourselves to the wilderness. Even so, God will meet us there, take care of us, reassure us, and show us He is still God over our circumstances.

Have I led myself to a wilderness? Am I willing to be honest with God about my circumstances? Will I listen to His still quiet voice reassure me He is still Lord of my life?

Jesus was led to the wilderness to be tested. The Holy Spirit of God led him there. Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights, and at the end of that time, when he was weakest, Satan tried to tempt Jesus. If Satan did this to Jesus, you could bet he will eventually do this with you. Satan will tempt us with things God has already promised us. He will tempt us by questioning our position in God. Satan will examine your calling and offer what appears to be a better deal than God provided. He will challenge your very existence and ask you to do something foolish to prove you are who God has said you are. In every case, Jesus stood fast on the promises of God. Jesus showed if you resist the evil one, he will flee.

When this kind of wilderness arrives in our lives, rest assured, you will be sifted, and God has your back. God’s word has already equipped, you…know the word of God.

Would I survive this wilderness of testing at the hands of God’s enemies? How well do I know God? How well do I know His word?

Wherever your wilderness is; however you got there, understand that regardless the circumstances, God is in control, He hears you, He will take care of you, and he will fortify you when you are tempted beyond measure.

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over.

(Psa 23:4-5 AMP)

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom He called he also justified, and those whom He justified he also glorified. (Rom 8:25-30 ESV)

In the end, the only time we belong in the wilderness is when God leads us there.

Let’s be about it.

David Perkins

Sammy.snardfarkle@gmail.com

 

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Faith

The Solution to The Problem


Struggling with Sin

“O wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of this body of death?  Thanks be then to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Paul, Romans 7:24-25  The Berean Bible www.Berean.Bible

I see where I made my mistake that day in the Physics 101 class I took at Louisiana Tech University.

The Professor was as excited to be teaching this load of non-physics majors as we were to be taking this required class.   He (the Prof) was droning on and on about Kepler and some problem Kepler had with figuring out where an invisible spot was that lay between two planets orbiting each other.  The invisible spot was supposed to be a place where the force of gravity between the two bodies is equal. It is called the “Kepler Problem.”  Oh, …not the spot, per se, but the whole mental exercise.

The Professor drew two circles on the board (We still had slate chalkboards back then). He said they were planets orbiting each other. He told us the mass of each planet, the distance between them in English miles, and how fast they orbited each other.

Herr Professor went through the class and asked each student where that “invisible spot” is.

The fun thing about being a high functioning Asperberger is that we process information very differently than the “normals” do. It isn’t a boast; it is a simple reality.  We see solutions as vividly as you see your hands.  The downside is, we have a very difficult time translating what we see in terms that are relatable to the normals.  We don’t get that we have to work the problem because that is as valuable as knowing the answer.

The trap of my own arrogance

The professor called on me next. He had just eviscerated a very lovely young woman for not even understanding the question being asked.  She was an English Major.  I was mad at him for humiliating this very pretty girl in front of everyone.

I went to the board and immediately drew a spot on the board and wrote a number down, representing the actual distance and position between the two planets, and wrote another number down describing the forces being applied on that spot by each planets’ gravity.

As I was walking back to my desk, the professor told me to come back to the board and complete the question he had asked. I went back up to the board.

Her Professor said that my answer is wrong. I told him it is not. He said that unless I can show my work, my answer is wrong. I challenged him that unless he can prove my answer is not the right one, he has no business teaching Physics.

He asked me to leave his class.

I got the ‘F’ I so richly deserved.

What has this got to do with Jesus, Sin and Salvation and Gods gift of Grace and Mercy?

Simple. Just like I needed the discipline of going through the steps to prove my assertion was right in that Physics class, I need to go through the discipline of facing the things the world throws at me.

See…I thought my peers would thank me for embarrassing the Professor. It turns out that I simply put more distance between my peers and me. I showed them that not only am I arrogant, but I cannot understand what others have to go through just to get through their day. I bypassed an essential element of growth and understanding.

Paul wrote Timothy this lesson: “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. ” Ephesians 4:15-16 New International Version (NIV)

The Process of Temptation

We will grow.

Just like the cotton plant.

It only grows really strong roots and a full cotton bowl AFTER it has been placed outside the greenhouse, and into the field.  There, the plant faces lightning, hail, high winds, heat, and storms that can drown it.  That is the only way to build a healthy and strong bowl of cotton.  If it doesn’t face these things, the fruit it bears is weak and useless.

If I belong to the Living God through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, then I must grow to be like Him.

In the place of our sin and sin nature, Jesus gave us the gift of His place before God. We are now God’s beloved, we are now Heirs to the Throne of Heaven. We are complete and perfect in God’s eyes.

The whole process of temptation is not because God is powerless to stop it, but to reveal in us where our sin nature must give way to the nature of our risen Lord, who was tempted in all ways, like we are, but without sin.

Growing is a process. It cannot be bypassed if you are a Human living on this planet, in this universe, in this time.

I was unwilling in that Physics class to succumb to the discipline of doing the hard work simply because I could accurately give the answer every time. This kind of knowledge is useless if you cannot share it or explain it.  Something about having to solve the problem is part of learning.  You get to see where your weaknesses are and where the discipline of doing has increased your understanding.

It isn’t when things are going well that Christ is revealed in us.  It is when we are facing the taskmaster of sin and slavery that we discover where our strength comes from.  It is how we deal with strong temptation that we learn where we apprehend God’s grace.  It is in this crucible, suspended over the cauldron that threatens to dissolve us that we discover that, “One like the Son of God” stands in this furnace with us. We would not survive this life without His presence. We would have no hope of the next life without His presence in this one.

That’s the point, isn’t it?

AND WHEN WE HAVE OVERCOME.

We will not be exactly like Jesus until we see Him face to face. But we will grow to be like Him.  He faced terrible temptation and torture on our behalf.  His lesson here is, we must go through these things to be purified.  We face these things so we can understand why His Grace is sufficient.  These lessons in temptation are meant to refine us and make us more like Him and less like ourselves so we can share Him with others who also struggle as we struggle.

What is revealed in the act of solving the problem tends to be more valuable than if you simply assume you get it.

Let’s not be reticent to do the hard work.  Let’s learn these lessons temptation brings us.

Let’s not be like the man who puts his hand in the jar, but refuses to lift it to his mouth.  Do you see the food, but refuse to eat?

Let’s strive to understand why it is true that, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Take the time it takes to face these things that tempt you. Face the things that sweetly desire to destroy you. Don’t run from the wearying effort of submission to His will. It IS hard. It is challenging. It is draining. It can crush your soul if you are not careful or if you try to do this on your own understanding.

Here is the lesson. You don’t have anything in you but sin. He offers you His Holiness in exchange for your sinful nature. That was the deal He made with God by going to the cross and dying of all your sin.

Just because you see the answer doesn’t mean you understand the answer.

Let’s be about it

David G. Perkins

Sammy.snardfarkle@gmail.com

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Faith, Observations

Despair is Not a Fruit of the Spirit


from “Peanuts”, by Charles Schultz

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,[a] 23 gentleness, self-control.
Against such things there is no law. 

Galatians 5:22-23 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Footnotes: a: Galatians 5:22 Or faithfulness Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville Tennessee. All rights reserved.

SARCASM IS NOT A SPIRITUAL GIFT

I was looking at the most accepted list of what is considered Spiritual Gifts. Depending on whether you are a Baptist or a Charismatic, your list will vary. (That is a whole other blog in itself!).

1 Corinthians 12:

administration, apostle, discernment, faith, healings, helps, knowledge,
miracles, prophecy, teaching, tongues, tongues interpretation, wisdom

I am dismayed to find that many of what I consider my most endearing charms are not listed.

Take Sarcasm for example.

My first awareness of sarcasm was when I was about 4 or 5. We lived in Shreveport, Louisiana. Louisiana in the summer is not a treat. It was the early 1960’s, our Chevrolet Biscayne didn’t have air conditioning (yet, Dad later added it, but that, too is another blog, under the heading of, “How On Earth Did I Survive My Childhood?”).

Mom was careful to not use expletives around us kids, but she had a whole raft of colorful metaphors that covered her cussing. Dad taught us many of them, and Mom used them liberally. The family favorite was “Toot Blossom”.

Mom had taken me with her to the grocery store.

We left the Piggly-Wiggly store, and were on our way home. Mom was already angry because for the exorbitant price of $55.00, we only got 20 bags of groceries.

On top of that, the traffic in Shreveport, Louisiana was bad. Mom was trying to merge into I-20 traffic.

In the South, you take the on-ramp, get up to Highway speed, and merge with oncoming traffic. You let on-coming traffic know your intentions with the blinker. An oncoming driver dove into our lane just as we were merging. Mom had to swerve to the shoulder to keep from getting hit. She slammed on the brakes and said, “My stars and garters, that idiot nearly hit us!”, then she shouted at the offender, “TOOT-BLOSSOM!!!!”.

That is not the sarcasm part, although it did set the stage for what happened next.

We were sitting on the shoulder of the road, re-gathering our wits. The windows were down, and because we were not moving, we began to bake like potatoes at a Baptist Luncheon. The dirt from the road hadn’t even settled around our car when I told Mom in a very demanding voice, “I’m thirsty!”.

I had fantasies of getting a cold bottle of coke. (In the south, every carbonated beverage is called “coke”. It is only when you make your purchase that you get into the discriminatory categories of which one you mean.)

Mom slowly turned around to glare at me as I stood in the back seat of the Biscayne (Life was simpler back then. No seat belts. No one cared if you bounced all over the car as your parents careened from post to gate in their land yachts. If you lived long enough to get your license after all that bouncing, everyone figured you could be trusted to drive. After all, you already understood the physics of inertia and speed.)

Mom glared at me after I pronounced the depths of my thirst. She asked me, “What do you want me to do, spit in your mouth? Because that’s as close as you’re going to get to anything to drink before we get home!” She slammed the car in gear and sped off, daring any other careening toot-blossoms out there to try to ram her. She gave me a lot of visual imagery to think about as I bounced all over the car and quelled my disappointment. I decided as I ricochet off the rear window of the Biscayne, that guided sarcasm is a powerful weapon in the right hands.

WHAT FRUITS MAY BEAR

My other endearing gifts are a critical spirit and anger. I am a glass half empty kind of guy, and am willing to fight over it. I managed to perfect these gifts, as I tend to think I am an overachiever when it comes to some things.

The down side to all these amazing attributes is, you really do reap what you sow.

I fought a lot when I was in High School. My toot-blossom got stomped too many times, so I studied the Martial Arts. It helped me win fights, but did nothing to reduce the number of them. I took more beatings than I handed out.

I used to think all that fighting was because I was only one of about 7 or 8 “hippies” in Brownwood, Texas. Brownwood is a small cattle town in central Texas. I tell people Brownwood is where men are men, women are few and sheep are nervous. (See, Sarcasm!)

I drove a multi colored Volkswagen, had long hair, and didn’t play football or do rodeo. In Brownwood, if you are a male, and you do not do these things, then you are considered gay. I stacked the deck against myself, too, because I was Drum Major of the band for about 4 years, and held office in the Drama Club. I performed in musicals, took piano lessons and wrote horrible poetry. So, I wasn’t doing myself any favors at all.

I also used to think the fights were because, while all the Football players were busy calling me a fag, I was messing around with their girlfriends. When I got caught in the act with someone’s girlfriend, the red neck that caught me would shout at me, “Hey, Faggot, what the hell do you think you are doing!?!?!?”. I was dismayed because, traditionally, gay males do not engage in flagrant fornication with females. I mean, if you can’t figure out what you’re looking at, then you need your daddy to discuss the birds and bees with you.

I added insult to injury by explaining my thinking with him.

After he suggested a bout of intercourse, (he actually said something that starts with an F, and ends with a U) I replied, “No thanks, I prefer females!” Which, in my mind, if a red neck is offering to have intercourse with you, it may explain the whole girlfriend issue.

You can use martial arts with your pants around your ankles, but it isn’t easy.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS FRUIT

It has taken me 57 years to discover that my ways are not God’s ways, my thoughts are not God’s thoughts, and if I am ever going to learn to be like Jesus, I need to spend more time learning the scriptures, praying, and getting out of my way, so the Lord can get IN my way. I have especially learned that there is nothing I can do for myself that will make me be like Him. I actually have to die to myself in order that Christ will manifest in me.

Die to self. What a concept. It is especially a risky proposition considering that I suffer from depression. I haven’t always been depressed. Depression has manifest itself more and more over these last 24 years. I have actually considered suicide as an option.

As bad as I think things are, though, I still belong to God through Jesus Christ. I figured I will put off suicide so I can see why God is allowing me to go through this trial.

God has steadfastly said, “There is a reason for it.”

THIS IS WHY I AM WRITING THIS SERIES

God is using this time to teach me how He sees me.  If you are going through this, I hope you read this.

I intend to share this with you because He sees you the same way.

I have come very close to making a decision that cannot be unmade. I am not there, yet, but I am standing on that precipice, and the wind of decision is blowing me hard towards that irretrievable abyss.

I am writing about this until I can tell you what it takes to get from here to where the fruit of the Spirit shines through both of us.

I am going to be open, honest, truthful, and frank, in hopes that I can urge you to do the same.

BEFORE YOU DECIDE

Yes, a Child of God can suffer from severe depression, in spite of what all the well-intentioned “Christians” tell you. Augustine, Martin Luther, the Apostle Paul and others suffered severe depression. Many great Christian leaders did.  And God used them, and they knew joy.

Jesus was tempted in all ways, like us. Never lose sight of this.

Before you decide to end yourself, let’s sit a moment and think about other possibilities.

Let’s find out how we can get out of our own heads and into the life of Christ together.

Shall we explore?

Let’s be about it.

I love you in the name of Jesus Christ, who is our hope and salvation.

David G. Perkins

Sammy.snardfarkle@gmail.com

PS – I strongly recommend two books:

“How to Stop the Pain”, by Dr, Jim Richards

“You Cannot Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought”, by Peter McWilliams

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Faith

Teach Me, Lord…


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
(Php 4:4-8)

God,

When I feel like giving up, sustain me.

When people who claim to be your children act more like the children of your enemy, teach me to forgive.

When I am overwhelmed at how empty and meaningless life, sometimes, appears to be, come to me and fill me with your presence and joy.

When I feel tempted to be angry, or tempted to want revenge, remind me that, as your child, vengeance belongs to you.

Remind me that the judgment I want to use on others will be the judgment used on me. Teach me to love.

I have never felt more disconnected from others as I do now, and never felt more dismayed at those who say they belong to you. Alone, but I am not forsaken. You are with me.

By your stripes I am healed, so tend to my wounds and heal my heart.

I have less trouble over those who openly declare war on you than with those who swear they belong to you, yet act like the children of Satan.

Teach me mercy so I can show mercy.

Teach me grace so I can show grace.

Teach me your love so I can be lovely, even to those who I think deserve less than the bottom of my foot.

When Jesus took all your wrath and judgment on the cross, I was delivered from sin. I became your beloved child.

We are all your creation, but not all are your children.

Help me, therefore, Lord, to show in mighty ways what you showed me about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for me.

Help me give this gift away.

I love you.

David P.

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Faith

Agains All Odds


Sandy and I like to write songs. Below are the lyrics to one of them. It makes more lyrical sense when you hear the melody, but I am hoping this speaks to you, whomever you are, in this time of your need.

This is for all of us who really struggle with our faith, especially when things get frighteningly real.

A Prayer in My Darkness

If ever I need you Lord, I need you now.

O, deliverance flow in my life.

Remove all the heartache, the fear and the doubt,

I need to see Loves’ Holy Light

When Darkness persuades me I don’t stand a chance,

Yet Your Word says that I’ve overcome;

Touch me with Mercy,

Fill me with Hope,

dry my tears,

Teach my soul how to dance.

Scatter my sorrows,

Fill me with Joy,

Let me know Loves’ peace within.

If ever I need you Lord, I need you now.

O, deliverance flow in my life.

Remove all the heartache, the fear and the doubt,

I need to see Loves’ Holy Light

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. I Peter 5:6-7 KJV

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