I don’t often see eye to eye with the author of the below, but it is nearly identical to what I was going to write.
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)
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.
For Harland Cason, who reminded me what really matters.
Thank you, God, that you are the father of the fatherless. You are the friend of the friendless. The comforter of those who are broken, mourning and lost. You are the everlasting companion to the orphan.
I was forsaken until Jesus died on the cross and became the most wretched and forsaken being in all the known universes.
When He rose from the dead, I was no longer forsaken, but am now a Son of God.
Had I not been lost, you would not have found me.
Thank you for being my father, my friend, my comfort when all others forsake me. Teach me to forgive the hurts others have brought me in shunning me, just as you have forgiven me for shunning you.
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Psalm 27:10 NIV
Thank you, God, that by His stripes I am healed. Thank you that you cleansed the world of the sickness and decay of sin. I may not see or realize yet the efficacious power of your healing blood, but I receive your gift of life. Thank you that you touched me and have healed me.
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.” Malachi 4:2 NIV
Who is more blind, the one who has no eyes, or the one who refuses to see? Yet, to prove you are the Righteous Son of God, and to prove you have the power to forgive sin, in order to open MY eyes, you healed the eyes of Bartimaeus.
Even though my eyes may fail me, I see clearly that you are the Lord, The Only Begotten Son of God.
Teach me to see hope when I cannot see. Teach me to see love when I have none to give. Teach me to see the needs of others and meet those needs, just as you have continuously met mine.
Dry the tears from my eyes so I can see your grace and mercy and love and glory.
Thank you for helping me see, even in the darkest of night and despair.
Teach me to open the eyes of those who refuse to see, just as you have opened my eyes.
“Jesus said,a “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” NIV
Before I knew you, before I was even born, you knew me. Even though I was your sworn enemy, and dead to the Father, you loved me and breathed life into my dead, parched soul.
If I had not known you, Jesus, I would be dead. You gave me life. You died so I can live.
If you don’t receive this free gift Jesus paid for with his life, you are still dead. Come to life. Come to Jesus. I plead with you, LIVE in the blessed name of Jesus Christ, the Living Son, the Holy Anointed one, the one who spoke everything that exists into being. By his breath, you will live, if only you will receive it.
Because of our sin, we are all dead, unless we let Him bring us to the cross, and we die with him and are raised into a new life as he was.
As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
I thought I was a prince among men. I boasted of my skills and prowess. Then I was brought low and wretched. A reject to all who knew me. Then Jesus reached through all my filth, my sin, all the evil I had done in this world. He became wretched for my sake so I can be a child of God.
Until you can know that all your finery, status, education and wealth amount to absolutely nothing in Gods eyes, you will be more wretched than the lowest beggar on the street. God is not impressed with titles, or with wealth, or knowledge. All these things are puny and will be destroyed on the day of judgment, along with your soul. You will die a dreadful death until you come to the point where you realize what a desperate wretch you are.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24 Berean Study Bible
In the eyes of the world, I am a disgrace. I have squandered all my talents, my life, and my love.
But Jesus became a curse so I can receive His blessing. He reaches through the mire of my guilt and sin and lifts me up.
His Grace has made me whole.
There is no one alive whose life is so disturbingly disgraceful that Jesus cannot reach down and lift him up, and by His Grace, make you His beloved brother or sister. You cannot be too disgusting for God. All you have to do is receive the gift of Jesus Christ, and you will be clean and whole again.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Isaiah 50:7 NIV
God receives none but those who are forsaken,
restores health to none but those who are sick,
gives sight to none but the blind,
and life to none but the dead…
He has mercy on none but the wretched
and gives grace to none but those who are in disgrace.
(Luther, Weimar Ausgabe 1, p. 183f)
Let’s Be About It!
I love you in the name of Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord, whose death paid for our freedom, and whose resurrection lifted us up to the Throne of God, that we are called the Sons of God.
David G. Perkins
Not By My Self
One of the best butt kickings I ever had was while I was a student at the Seidokan Aikido School in Fort Worth, Texas.
She was probably 110 pounds soaking wet.
She was maybe 5’-0”.
She looked as if a strong wind could carry her away.
We were paired together to practice a technique called “Heaven to Earth.” The outcome of this technique is self-explanatory, but, when it is done on you, you see why it is called that. You fly through the heavens and land hard on the earth.
I was to be her assailant. Me, muscular, several black belts, virile, agile, and deadly (I was in my late 20’s back then, so…I thought I was all that). She had to protect herself from my attack.
I felt terrible about this pairing, but Master Sosa insisted we practice this technique together. I even warned her that I’m some kind of big deal in the Martial Arts World, and have combat experience, and am, well….awesome.
She smiled her charming, demure smile, looked at me with her big brown almond shaped eyes, tied her very long cascade of black hair behind her head with a leather string, and said, “We still have to do what we have to do. “
I attacked her hard.
When I woke up, little birdies were orbiting my head.
It turns out, she was an advanced black belt in the Aikido world. She taught the Dallas Police Department S.W.A.T. team Combat fighting and non-lethal takedown techniques. She also taught a women’s rape prevention course.
Regardless how highly I thought of myself, my opinion was immediately negated when faced with the real deal. I was not qualified on my own experience and merit to be part of the elite members of the Seidokan team.
Not By My Membership
I was a member of the Kaju Kiado Kwai Kwoon Do. The Red Dragons.
I spent decades studying several martial arts and earned black belts in many of them.
I assumed that my confirmed experience and membership in the Kwoon would mean something to Master Sosa.
Belonging to a particular club held no merit in Master Sosa’s eyes. It was what was in my heart that he wanted to reach and teach. I either wanted to be a real Aikidoka, or I could just go pound sand elsewhere.
When I stood on the judgment ground of the DoJo, my membership to the Kwoon became pointless. No one from the Kwoon was there to back me. I was on my own. I was defeated before the action began, and I didn’t even know it. My membership to the Kwoon didn’t admit me to the inner circle of the Seidokan Elite Team.
My arrogance was in the way.
In God’s Eyes
When you die, what will you take with you to your judgment?
When it comes to facing the test of your faith, will you rely on the fact that you taught Sunday School for decades?
Will you depend on your reputation as a Religious person to get you into the Kingdom?
Will you brag to God that you belong to the best church in town, and have been a member since you were a zygote?
Lucifer had more than that going for him, and God cast him from heaven to earth.
The only thing that matters now, and will ever matter, is where you are in Christ Jesus.
Your skill as a bible student will not get you there. Being a graduate of Seminary will not get you there. Being a Minister or Sunday school teacher will not get you there.
Hell will be filled with Religious Christians, Ministers, Sunday School teachers, people who belonged to the very best churches money could buy, yet, there they are, in Hell.
It is only because of Jesus and His righteousness, because of His suffering on the Cross, His death, and resurrection, that we even have a claim to God. It is only by His grace and faith in His promise that you are saved and qualified to be called a Son of God.
God doesn’t care how famous you are as a “Christian.” The book of Matthiew (Sheep and Goats) covers what happens to people who have deluded themselves into thinking they are safe from God’s judgment.
Jesus told them, “I never knew you.”
Does He know you?
Let’s be about it.
For Sandy, who gave me this idea, and whom I love with an undying love.
From Wence Cometh the Storm?
My favorite Hymn is “It is Well”, especially lately. It seems like I have needed this Hymn a lot these past few months.
What has happened? I have lost my family. I have lost my love. My identity was stolen twice. The plans I had made for the future of my family were destroyed in one fell swoop.
In the end, I was left with nothing, alone, bereft, broken. The pain of these losses is almost unbearable. Grief and confusion are powerful things. This grief is all consuming and threatens to smash the ship of my soul against the breakers. I am lost, with no mooring, with no GuideStar, with no compass. Everything I believed about love and family been betrayed by falsehoods and deception. The hopes I had for the future have been taken away from me.
This storm and confusion has taken hold of me and relentlessly tears my sails away. I have lost my anchor. I am taking on water. Where will I find that shore? Where is my mooring? Who will rescue me from this storm?
On top of this, if you know anything about Aspergers, you know that one so afflicted usually needs a “normal” to be the touchstone to all things normal. My touchstone is the woman I love, who is no longer part of my life. This too adds waves to my storm. My ship is being battered by things that normal people deal with as if only a gentle breeze were blowing. Without the touchstone, it doesn’t matter how “High Functioning” you are, some things simply do not make sense to you.
Where Do I Hide From the Storm?
If you run from the deck of your ship to the belly of your ship, you are still in the middle of the storm. So, where do you turn? How do you find your way back to safety, to the shore? Where is the touchstone? Where is your Guidestone? Where are safety and peace?
“Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will search for me, and when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me. I will let you find me.” Jeremiah 29:12-14a.
One of the hardest things to realize is that even these things are for a purpose. It’s hard to remember the greater good when you are being torn to shreds by your own circumstances. It ceases to matter why you are in this storm. It can be a storm of your own making (Which is usually the case) or a storm brought on by the selfish desires of people you depended on. Or this storm could be the plan of evil people who delight in your destruction for their own advancement. It ceases to matter when your ship is taking on water, and your sails are gone. At this juncture, all you can do is hang on to the nearest mast, lash yourself to it, and pray.
Screaming At the Storm Doesn’t Help.
I tore my clothes (I only got more exposed to the storm that way).
I cursed the waves and the wind.
Then I prayed for the storm to take me. I welcomed the sweet release of death. I wanted it all to be over. The storm had won. I had lost.
I discovered that screaming at the storm only makes you hoarse. The storm doesn’t care. The storm rages on whether you love it or hate it. Storms always do what storms do…wreak havoc. That is what storms do.
So, what is left? Tied to my mast, getting drenched, broken in spirit, all I had left was to wait and let the storm do what the storm does.
Be Careful Where You Turn
I turned to fellow believers.
In America, fellow believers are too busy being American to let things like storms in other people’s lives divert them from their lives. Afterall, it isn’t their storm, and God must have placed you (The Sailor) in that storm for a reason.
Best not to interfere with the storm.
What you, my fellow believers, fail to realize is, the storm exists to expose the heart of the sailor, and your heart. Indifference is not the fruit of the spirit. Berating the sailor in the storm is not a fruit of the spirit. Lecturing the sailor in the fine craft of Seamanship while the storm rages is not a fruit of the spirit. Pulling out the Sailor’s “The Art of Sailing Manual” and lecturing on all the shoulda coulda and woulda is not a fruit of the spirit (Or have you not read Job?)
So, where does this battered sailor turn when all hope is lost?
Deep in the midst of the howling wind and blowing rain is a still small voice. She is the voice of the Holy Spirit. She calls you into the presence of God. She reminds you that you are His beloved, whom He died for.
God is there, waiting for you to stop fighting the storm. The storm is not the problem. Storms come to everyone for any number of reasons. But to the lives of His children, even the storm is meant to be a blessing (See Romans 8:28). Storms sweep the deck of useless things. Storms shake up your life in a way that forces you to take stock of what is important.
And what is it that God, my Father has said to me?
BE STILL and Know I Am God.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psa 46:10 WEB)
“God is mighty. God is infinite. God is Love. God is ever-present, even in our storms.”
That is what He said to me.
In my arrogance, I railed against God and shouted, “Lord, am I ever seeking you?”, “Do I not always pray, read your word, listen for you?”, “Where are you, Father?” ,”God, I am done with my life, please bring me home.”
He let me know that He is why my ship has not sunk to the depts of the sea. He is why the Leviathan has not attacked me. He is what protects me from falling to my death. He is why I am still alive.
He is not done with me.
I asked Him, “Then why has my love betrayed me, why have I lost everything dear to me?”
He tells me, “You have Me. That is sufficient.”
I don’t feel like that is an answer.
Then something remarkable happens.
Even though the storm still rages, and my ship is being battered into toothpicks, all grows quiet.
A light penetrates the darkness.
He has arrived.
His hands are scarred from something that had pierced them. His eyes are so full of love and compassion, I cannot stand to look at him. I am undone. I can’t hide from Him.
He stops right in front of me, where I am lashed to the Main Mast. He looks at me with a love and compassion I have never, ever known before.
He tells me to stop fighting Him.
He tells me that the point in Being Still is to cease my useless striving after answers.
Be still…don’t move.
Stop trying to make it make sense.
Just…be, and know that He is God, not just of all the universes, but of my heart.
I will not tell you everything else He told me, but I will tell you this:
When you Be Still, and stop trying to put God in your little religious box, when you let Him into your storm, when you capitulate and know that your efforts are useless, when you give in and trust that He has your best interests at heart, that storm you tried to hide from becomes a ride that you relish.
You know that as Long as you be still and trust Him, no matter how things look to you, He is your Captain, and he will guide you through the breakers to a land full of His promise and purpose.
The difference is how much you try to fight the storm, or how well you stop fighting God.
I recently told Sandy, “Really and truly, All I want is less of me and more of Him. But I must be doing this all wrong. The more I try, the farther away He seems.”
I was trying on my own might. Not only that, I was trusting others, and not God for direction.
Life is full of storms.
Your spouse will eventually let you down, maybe even betray you.
You may make and lose fortunes.
You will have friends and lose friends.
You will end up in places where you are utterly alone, in a hostile environment, with no one you can really call a brother.
I confess, I relied on all these trappings for my sense of place and belonging.
I cannot be less of me unless I first am still. God has to do the work. I have to submit.
I needed my deck cleared of all that stands between God and me.
I confess I am useless and hopeless without him. I confess I made the mistake of using others to anchor me. God has allowed this storm to clear away all the things that stand between Him and me.
The first part of knowing that He is God is to be still…to stop striving…to stop your own efforts.
God will reveal himself to the heart that diligently seeks Him, but it first begins with being still. Being diligent doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself, it means that you diligently submit your desires, will, and understanding to Him.
The Hebrew words for “Be Still” imply a rich tapestry of meaning: To stop moving (Of one’s own passionate volition), to stop acting out and to stop speaking. To leave off your striving, to capitulate over to the knowledge that He alone is God.
When the Lord appears to you in your storm, you have begun to be still. When His love washes over you, the storm takes on new meaning and purpose. Instead of fighting all that has happened, you finally get to the place where you trust He will guide you through this, and He has a purpose for this, too.
God does not send evil your way. Evil will still come to you. Storms happen. It no longer matters if you brought on the storm, or sailed right into it, or were minding your own business when the storm suddenly appears (they do that when you re at sea).
God will take advantage of your circumstances and show His love and His might, and He will guide you through this. No matter what brought on the Storm, if you will submit to His Lordship in your life, you will see that even this pain, this grief, this sorrow, will bring you closer to Him, and make you like Him, and He will teach you how even this bitter grief serves the Kingdom.
My storm is still there. My sorrow is ever as deep as it ever was. My tears still fall, and the pain is still ever present. But I now know, He gathers all my tears in a bottle and will exchange them for His Joy.
Storms have to run their course.
However, in this storm, I have learned that all my vain striving is wasted and that I must fail, and accept that I have failed. No man can know God unless God reveals Himself to that man.
I have also learned that Heaven cannot be taken by storm, only by invitation. But I first must be still. He makes the pain and tears and sadness and loss take on a new meaning. We grieve for the loss of true love, but God will heal that hurt, if you just be still.
I cannot know the Lord unless I am still.
The Lord wants you to know Him, too.
Just be still….
I love you in Jesus.
PS – I love you, Sandy. No matter what. I love you, and I always will. No man can take that away from me. I pray God leads you to your new life. I will always love you.
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
… GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
(1Pe 5:4-7 NASB)
I threw hay once. It was in the early 1990’s. I spent an entire summer throwing hay and cutting down trees for the winter season. Missouri can have very cold winters.
Well…anyway, hay. The farmer (Bill) drove the tractor that pulled a wagon. The farmer’s Son stood on the wagon and caught the hay bales that were tossed up to him. He neatly stacked the bales on the wagon.
My job? I was the idiot who agreed it would be GREAT fun to run along both sides of the wagon, grab a bale and toss it to the guy on the wagon. In those days, I ran long distances, and I was a weightlifter. So, how hard could throwing hay be…right? Right? Ok,…it was hell.
The bales were in rows on both sides of the wagon and staggered so that, when you grab a bale and toss it, you can run around behind the wagon and up to the next bale just in time to grab it, spin and toss. As soon as you tossed that bale, you had to run right back around the wagon for the next bale in the first row.
We tossed hay from daybreak to dusk. We stopped every 30 minutes for food and water. We did this all summer. There were several farms all along this rural route in Missouri, and my Cousin’s neighbor, the Farmer, said he’s delighted to gather all the hay and stow it in the barns for the local farmers. There was nothing he loved more than to spend the day riding his tractor and singing hymns.
All. Day. Long.
At the end of one day, just as the sun was setting, and we had stored the hay in the loft and barn, the Farmer looked out at the field and pointed out I had missed a bale. I looked. My heart sank. Way off on the other side, out in the field we just cleared, you could just make out this lone bale. Guess whose job it was to drag his tired butt all the way over there to get that last bale and bring it home? Yup. It was my job.
Carrying that one bale all that distance after a hard day in the sun was more work than anything I had already done that day. The burden was too great. I thought it would kill me before I got it to the loft.
When I got to the loft, Bil, the Farmer, chuckled and held his hands out to me and said, “Here, I’ve got this, you go rest.” I nearly wept from the relief as I stripped down and washed in the trough he had set up. My burden was no longer mine.
I had blessed relief.
THAT, my dear reader, is exactly what it means to cast your cares on the lord. You may be the reason you are so burdened, but you cannot manage it. Only God can. He is waiting with outstretched arms, telling you to let him have it. It is, after all, no longer yours.
Your burden of sin and arrogance and living a fallen life is why Christ died on the cross. He didn’t die for your sins..no. He died for YOU. He died OF your sin. He took your burden and dealt with it, and asked you to rest.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Jesus
(Mat 11:28-30 – NASB)
Cast all your cares on Him. He will give you rest.
Let’s be about it.
I love you in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior.
David G. Perkins
Sammy.firstname.lastname@example.org (Write me, sometimes, I’d love to hear from you)
“May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe…” Steve Green, “Find Us Faithful”
From now on let no one trouble me [by making it necessary for me to justify my authority as an apostle, and the absolute truth of the gospel], for I bear on my body the branding-marks of Jesus [the wounds, scars, and other outward evidence of persecutions—these testify to His ownership of me]. Galatians 6:17 AMP
The Roads We Travel
I love riding my bike. Since I moved to Pueblo from Houston, I’ve been able to ride my bike nearly every day. I couldn’t do that in Houston because the air is too thick and hot for me to breathe. The last 26 rides I’ve been on I have logged over 218 miles. After one arduous ride, I saw tattoos of the bike petals deeply embedded in the soles of my shoes.
These marks are proof to me that I have been there and done that.
Life takes us many directions. Some, we want to go, some we don’t. Some are good roads, some are bad. All the roads we travel have something in common. It leaves an impression.
Who Bears The Scars?
When I go back to the various trails I have recently ridden, I see no evidence I have been there, but my shoes bear the marks of all the effort I have made being there. This made me ask myself a question.
When I go anywhere, wherever I go, I pick up impressions in my heart and mind, and sometimes body, that I have been there. But what evidence of my being there did I leave behind? If there is any evidence, who bears the scars? If I have been there and represented Christ, the trail I leave behind will reflect Christ. If I have been there and have not served Christ, if I am lucky, there will be no evidence I have been there. Too often, in my life, in my world, the scars I leave behind aren’t mine but have been imposed on people I have been involved
Paul made many missionary journeys. He went places he wanted to go, and many he didn’t. Some places he wanted to go, he never got to see. But everywhere he went, he bore the scars in his body of having been there. The evidence he was there lives today. We have Christianity in Europe and America because of what Paul did.
For once in my life, make my feet a blessing on the paths I wander. Lead me to walk in your way. Take me out of my way and place me on your way, so others can see the way. Let me bear the marks of Christ for the sake of the souls who need the mark of your salvation on their souls. For there is no other way to the Kingdom of God but through you, Lord Jesus.
I love you in the name of Jesus,
David G. Perkins
I’m supposed to be packing.
I’m supposed to be getting ready for this new chapter in my life.
I’m supposed to be strong and accept that yet another marriage has failed, and it is time to pick up the pieces and forget that the last 24 years were the whole world to me.
Inside my beating heart lives a little boy. He still believes in the magical world of make believe. He still believes that when he grows up, he’ll be Superman or a Firefighter, or a Marine.
He sees me packing boxes for our move, and he grabs my arm to stop me. This little boy believes that if I leave everything as it is, if I don’t change anything, if I hold still and believe, that everything will return to the way it was…the way it should be, the way it could be.
With each book I put in a box, each dish I wrap for safe moving, a small part of him dies. He doesn’t want to believe this is real and it is happening.
His tears become my tears. His hurt becomes my hurt. We can’t stop crying. So I stop packing for a while and we cry together. Our tears are hot and running down our faces as we hold each other. He wishes I could just believe, and I wish I could help him to stop hurting.
I have no way to explain to him why this hurt is on us. And I am not really the one that should do the explaining. The one who tore a hole in our lives needs to do that. So, we cry together until he is too weary to cry anymore. When he finally calms down and falls back asleep, I continue my packing.
You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book. – Psalm 56:8
Even in my brokenness, Lord, I believe in you and know you are guiding me through this storm. Get me out of the way, Lord until all anyone can see in me is you.
I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.
Let’s be about it
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 NLT
On the one hand, I know I am redeemed. I understand and accept that Jesus became all my sin, and died for my sin on the cross. I am now, because of my acceptance of Jesus Christ, a “son of God” (John 1:12, 11:52, Gal. 3:26, 1 John 3:1-3)
In my heart, I accept this, but my life doesn’t always reflect this. I struggle daily with temptation, the old self, and depression (a deep dark one that wants to swallow me in one bite). I lay this on the altar of the throne of God because he says he cares about our daily struggles (1 Pet. 5:7). Yet I struggle. I ask God daily when my life will be so full of His life, that mine becomes invisible. Sometimes I can’t tell the difference between people who are not saved and me.
I especially struggle with alienation because I am, according to the scriptures, “adopted” into God’s family (Gal. 4:5-6; Rom. 8:14-16). And I know this is true because, when I spend time alone in prayer, or in the word, or when I tell others about the glory of His grace, I feel His presence. I know He is there, and that He is my Father.
The alienation I feel comes when I get around other people who I know to be believers. I am rarely completely accepted into their fellowship. Perhaps I don’t do “Christianity” as they do, or our personalities just don’t mesh, or, whatever it is that separates us, separates us too deeply to be overcome. I recently spent time around some people who have a close walk with God, and I wanted to know them more, and better, but they had their walls up, and I was feeling too socially awkward to attempt to penetrate those walls.
I wonder why this dysfunction is present in God’s family but have to remember, we are still human, and deal with our own issues. We do not become perfected until the day we see Him face to face because it is then we will become just like Him (I Cor. 13:12).
I have to understand that, just because I struggle with the same temptations as I struggled with before I accepted the free gift, I handle those struggles differently now than I did in the past. The biggest difference is that I can now take these struggles to a loving God, who carries me through them.
I am no longer ashamed of the Gospel. I am no longer afraid to tell others about Jesus at the drop of the hat. I am not timid about stopping and praying with anyone who asks for prayer.
The joy I get from giving away the word, my “wealth”, my time and freedom just so someone who was like me can understand God’s eternal Grace cannot be measured.
In the past, life was meaningless. You could have died right in front of me, and I would hardly care at all. Today, I see life as a very precious gift.
This is how I know that, even if people I love dearly do not love me back, I am still loved and accepted in the arms of God, my Father.
I cannot separate myself from God. Not only do I have no desire to, but I couldn’t if I tried. God’s hold on me is permanent and forever. All the evil I have committed is in the past, and I am forever accepted into His kingdom.
I may have to struggle until the day I die with certain issues, but I know that, on the cross, Jesus became every sin I ever committed and ever will commit, and put them to death. Jesus became the sin eater so I can partake of the divine joy of the feast of the bridegroom on that day.
Why I Wrote This One
I wrote this blog entry because I know there are others like me. Others who know in their hearts the sweet joy of salvation. Others who understand they are part of an eternal kingdom. Yes, you will struggle with things, but Jesus made it clear that if you give that struggle to Him, your burden will be light. He will give you the strength to walk through the trial and temptation and grow in grace and strength and patience.
It may be, like me, you are destined to walk in solitude, whether it is for a season or a lifetime. It does not mean you are genuinely alone or forsaken. It means you have a unique calling, and only you can do what the others cannot do.
I have to set aside my selfish and petty feelings when it hurts to be rejected by people I want a closer fellowship and relationship with. It hurts because the Bible is all about restoring relationships. But it may be, no matter how important that relationship may be to you, it is not that important to them. You will need to accept this, and forgive the unintentional hurt, and move on. When it is time for you to have close relationships, God Himself will bring it to pass. When He does, it will be a perfect fit.
WALK WITH HIM
Walking with Christ, especially when you are new to Grace, is an exhilarating, sweet, hard, bitter, loving, tearful, strong, powerful, weakening, clarifying and confusing thing. This is because the struggle of the flesh is a continuous battle. The flesh does not want to die. The world is all about the flesh.
The more you pursue Him, the more time you spend in the word and prayer, the bolder you allow yourself to be with others concerning your faith, the more like Him you will become.
No matter who rejects you, Jesus understands rejection. No matter what temptation you endure, Jesus understands your temptation. Jesus bore all our rejection and temptation on the cross. In return, He gave you life and the right to be a child of God.
Now, take up your cross and walk with Him. It will be lonely, at times, but you will never be alone.
Let’s be about it.
I love you in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the Living God.
“My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” – Psalm 42:3
A Breaking Heart
The thing about a breaking heart is, it is the very first step toward restoration of fellowship with God. “When shall I come and appear before God? Ps. 42:1 – When tears have become your food.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
When you come to the altar to reconcile with God, know that no matter how eloquent you wax, what God is looking for is your broken spirit.
When I Am Finally Weak
It is when you have dropped dead of thirst in your wilderness and begin to cry out for the Hand of the Savior that you are really of any use to God. It is through the admission of your weakness and despair that the strength of God is admitted into your heart.
WHERE IS YOUR GOD?
He is the one who is holding you to his breast while you cry; So go ahead and cry. Cry well and thoroughly. Just as your tears restore your sanity, so does your broken heart restore you to the Living God.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Jesus, Book of Matthew 11:28-30
LET’S BE ABOUT IT
As a deer gets thirsty for streams of water;
I truly am thirsty for you, my God.
In my heart, I am thirsty for you, the living God.
When will I see your face?
Psalm 42:1 & 2 – CEV
Are You in that Wilderness?
Have I come to that place in my heart that I can say, “Enough!”? Has my rebellion against the will and way of God driven me far enough afield that my thirst for God has overpowered me? Have I come to my senses and finally seen that MY way has led me into the wilderness?
If I Thirst…
If I thirst, is it because my willfulness and rebellion has led me away from the source of “Living Water“? Only when I stray will I know this kind of thirst. One I have drunk the Living Water, noting else will satisfy. If the cup is not at my lips, it is because I have put it down. It is not the father who has made me thirsty, it is my rebellion.
I have to humble myself in order to receive this water. I have to drink His cup in order to know real satisfaction.
When will I come and appear before God? When I have had enough of my own way.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Psalm 51:17
Let’s be about it.
I love you in Jesus’ name.
David G. Perkins
God’s Gift of Salvation
1. We are sinners. As the Bible says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Sin is falling short of God’s perfection. Everyone has sinned many times in life. We have all lied, or stolen, or cheated, or done something wrong at some time in our lives. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10).
2. We deserve Hell. Realize that there is a punishment for being a sinner, and that punishment is death. “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Not only a physical death, but also a spiritual death. The place of spiritual death is called Hell. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rom. 21:8). There is probably no person alive who can say that they never told a lie. We all have sinned and we all deserve the punishment of Hell for our sin.
3. Jesus died for our sins. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Jesus willingly went to the cross, shed His blood, and died for our sins. He paid the price for our sins. He suffered the punishment that we deserve. When He was on the cross, Jesus suffered Hell for us. Hell is a place of total separation from God. When Jesus was on the cross, God the Father separated Himself from God the Son. That is why Jesus cried out “with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? That is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus was experiencing separation from God the Father. He was suffering the Hell that we deserve. He was paying for our sins.
4. We must receive Christ by faith. In order to become a Christian, it is not enough to know that we are sinners, that we deserve Hell, and that Christ died for our sins, but we must receive Christ by faith. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8,9).
Notice that we cannot earn our way to heaven. We obtain salvation through faith, not by works. Faith basically boils down to placing your trust in something or someone. If you are sitting down while reading this, you are placing your faith or trust in the chair that you are sitting upon. Faith requires more than just an intellectual belief; it involves an action of your will. For example, if there were a pond covered with ice, and there were people standing around saying that the ice could hold them up, but they were not willing to walk on the ice, then they would only be demonstrating an intellectual belief and not faith. If they stepped out onto the ice, they would be demonstrating faith.
One can place their faith in Christ by simply calling out to Him in prayer, for the Bible says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” I expressed faith in Christ by sincerely praying a prayer like this:
“Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I deserve Hell. Thank you for dying for my sins. Save me. Come into my life. Make me the kind of person that you want me to be. I thank you that you have and that you will take me to heaven when I die. Amen.”
If you sincerely pray that prayer with all your heart, then the Lord Jesus will come into your life and forgive your sins, and save you from an eternity of Hell. If you were to die tomorrow, you would go to heaven. Not because you are good enough to get there, but because you have received the payment of your sins. It is that simple.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (Jn 5:24)
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:
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
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
‘Cause tomorrow’s another day
And I’m thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain
– Jo Dee Messina & Tim McGraw – “Bring On The Rain”
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV
DAYS LIKE THIS
The Flight Attendant brought me a fresh, steaming cup of coffee. I had been up since 4:30 in the morning, and was on the last leg of travel that would get me to Chicago. I hoped the coffee would wake me up enough to make this final leg of my travels.
As the flight attendant hurried down the aisle of this tiny and overcrowded jet, I stirred in my sugar, and lifted the cup for a sip. Just as I did, the flight attendant came rushing back down the aisle, stopped suddenly next to my seat, and turned around to talk to another passenger. As she turned, she forgot to tuck her elbows in. Her right elbow struck the bottom of my coffee cup just as I was taking that first sip.
Hot coffee splashed all over my face, my glasses and my shirt. I cleaned up as best as I could under the circumstances, but reeked of airliner coffee the rest of the day. I was finally wide awake. The coffee had done its job.
Our flight landed and was delayed on the tarmac because the gate was still occupied by another jet.
After debarking, I headed to baggage claim B, where my ticket, and the flight attendant, said our bags would be found.
It took an additional 30 minutes for the bags to get to the wrong baggage claim kiosk. I wouldn’t have discovered this if I had not heard another passenger ranting about how the bags ended up in the wrong place. The electronic board at baggage claim happily claimed that my bags would be at claim B, even though the bags were being offloaded somewhere else.
The delay of the jet getting to the gate on time, and the confusion in baggage caused a delay in getting to the shuttle for the hotel. I ran as fast as a fat guy could run, but arrived only to see the tail pipe of the hotel shuttle bus speeding away. I called the hotel. They said they will send the shuttle back, but I would have to wait.
Two hours later, the shuttle returned. On my way to the hotel, I was lectured on what the shuttle schedule is, and why it is important to be on time. It would have been pointless to tell the driver about my adventures with the airline.
While I was in training class, my computer crashed and had to be replaced with another one. After that, the software we were learning how to use kept failing to do what it was advertised to be able to do. In order for me to complete my training labs, I had to shut down the program frequently, restart, and continue on where I left off.
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!
Before I left for my trip to Chicago, my company issued cell phone decided that it needed to reboot itself repeatedly then die. It is now dead. I get a “New” one this Monday.
LIFE LIKE THIS
During a lull in training, I thought about these things. The cell phone, the coffee, the baggage, the hotel shuttle, and the computer issues. It occurred to me that my life is generously peppered with little events like this.
Lately, it seems as if my life has been one interesting event after another, peppered by occasional bouts of normalcy. The frequency of these interesting events has increased ever since I started my job at this internationally famous company. I do NOT hold them responsible. I merely use this event as a time marker that earmarks when things really started getting even more interesting in my life.
My boss wrote me, regarding this run of “luck” I seem to be having, and asked,
“David, Have you always gone through life with that little cloud over your head that follows you everywhere? Eleanor (A co-worker who issues our phones) and I were talking about you…and all the things you have had to endure since you have been with us. Satan is really trying to trip you up, isn’t he?”
IT IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT
Jesus never said that becoming his disciple would protect us from life’s circumstances. – Jim Richards, “How To Stop The Pain”
Even Jesus was tempted in every way we are all tempted. In Matthew 18:7 Jesus said, “It is necessary that temptation comes.”
The opportunity my circumstances bring me is the chance to allow the Spirit of God to work in my life, making me a light and disciple of Christ.
The danger is that I will not.
That is not how the bumper sticker says it, but you get my drift.
I used to get seriously angry at all these little paper cuts. I am learning, through experience with the Holy Spirit, that blowing up only means I get to do it all over again.
I handle big events rather well. It is the little, niggling, “dogs chewing at my shoes” events that tend to bring out my worst.
Even though God Himself tempts no man, God is not going to stop problems from coming your way any more than He prevented them from happening to Jesus.
We are not better than our master.
How we deal with circumstances is what tells the rest of the world how much we really believe Christ changes our lives.
There is a season for everything under the sun.
This season of interesting events lead me to either cling to God in faith, or curse God for allowing them to happen. It all depends on how well I chose to understand what the Bible actually says about pain and suffering.
Whether these temptations are genuinely from Satan or are just life happening becomes a moot point. Jesus said, “Woe to the world for such temptations to sin and influence to do wrong.” And “Woe to the person on whose account or by whom these temptations comes!”
The World and Satan are in league with each other in that, if they have to go to hell, then so do the rest of us.
If I have said I do not have to go to hell on account of Jesus and his finished work on the cross, then I have told the World and Satan they can stuff their ambitions for my life.
Satan and the World do not like it when a sheep tells them to stuff it. So they fight back.
We either trust our Shepherd to take care of us, or we don’t.
So…let there be clouds, and let it rain…I was thirsty anyway!
Romans 8:28King James Version (KJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Let’s be about it!
Love always, and it’s good to be back in the blogosphere.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of my hand. – Jesus – (Joh 10:27-28)
My mind wanders, Lord. When it does, bring me back to you.
Like a sheep in the wilderness, my heart wants to stray.
The grass looks tasty there, but you know what I need.
Lead me and keep me on your fruitful ground. Pull from my food the weeds that poison my thinking, my moods, and my heart.
Show me your tender mercies and sing to me your song.
I crave the sound of your voice and covet your ways.
Lord, lead me, my Shepherd.
“In fact, our investigator told us that you have failed three other businesses. Furthermore, your editor in Kansas City said you are completely devoid of any imagination whatsoever.”
“We are willing to take a risk on you simply because it is the only way we can get rid of you.”
“Sign here, and we’ll get started.”
So, I signed my name.
“Why do you persist, any way, Mr….Um, I can’t read your writing, it is too flamboyant”.
“I persist because I believe in my work; It is what is in my heart. It’s just the thing that will lift all our spirits. And my name is Walter, Walter Disney. You can call me Walt.”
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4New American Standard Bible (NASB)
This morning, I wrote in my journal. While I was writing, I realized I was not writing what was genuinely and truthfully on my heart, but what I thought would be pleasing to God. I was fishing for brownie points.
I stopped writing what I was writing and began writing what was on my heart.
I decided to share this with you because I know you are going through this, too.
Remember, every situation, no matter how difficult, is here for a reason.
I dedicate this to my friend, who is hurting right now. I pray for you and for answers that make sense. You know who you are.
***** From My Journal*****
Eph 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
I wonder how quiet the world would be if we heeded this advice?
Do I speak just to hear myself speak? Is my speech such that others are blessed by it?…
We interrupt this diatribe so we can speak honestly about what is on our hearts.
Dear Lord God,
Why am I going around this mountain again?
What lesson is in this that I need to learn?
What part of yourself and your character are you trying to reveal and integrate into me?
Making pearls means having to deal with discomfort. Through our discomfort, we learn to apply the character of God to the situation. The end result is a thing of beauty.
So, I do not mind the discomfort as much as I object to my own ignorance.
Clear my mind, Lord, and prepare my heart for what it is you are working in my life. If my discomfort leads me to lead others to your Cross, then let’s make this time count.
I trust you , Lord, that your word is true when you said:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
(Rom 8:28 NASB)
In case I have never told anyone, I believe Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, who died of all my sin, and rose again on the third day to prove he is worthy to be my lord and savior. Because of this, I have inherited all that Christ has given in order to save me. This is part of the exchange on the cross. All that is unholy and sin became Jesus’, and all that is holy and righteous became mine. My righteousness has nothing to do with me, or anything I can do to please God. It all rests entirely on Jesus and what He accomplished in my place. Becoming what Jesus is, is what is known as laboring to rest in the finished work of the cross.
So, what am I? I am like you, someone who has sinned. Perhaps my sin nature was a bit more indulgent than yours. Perhaps not. Any sin separates us from God and demands a verdict of eternal damnation. In God’s eyes, all my sin is forgiven. In God’s eyes, I am His beloved child. In God’s eyes, I am no longer judged worthy of hell and damnation because I have accepted the mission of Jesus and the finished work of the cross. My fleshy character has to die, because it is dead, and will continue to die as I rest in the character of Jesus.
I am also someone who STILL sins. Just like you. I still sin, but I do not desire sin. Not any longer. I desire God and His kingdom. His grace sustains me as the Spirit of God leads me to a life that is better than the old life I lived. I am not alive anymore, but Jesus lives in me. I live this life because of the faith of Jesus that resides in me. I live this life because He lived me and gave His life for mine.
What I have described above is what GRACE is all about. Grace is unmerited favor. Grace is bestowed on me because I have accepted a free gift. That gift was paid for in blood. Jesus’ blood.
God’s grace continues to this day. That is why this planet still exists. He is showing us how patient His grace is, so that, somehow, you will have the opportunity to accept this free gift too, instead of living your eternity in hell. Hell is reserved for Satan and his minions, and all who refuse to accept this free gift.
This is grace, and it is free to anyone who will accept it.
Here is the truth, however…
No one wants God on God’s terms. If they believe in God at all, it is through a filter of righteousness (Self), that tells God why all the good stuff they have done in their life merits passage into Heaven.
We prefer to earn what we cannot possibly earn because we are too proud to accept the free gift of Grace given to us.
The truth is, some Christians have made Jesus noting more than a role model, a buddy, someone who looks at your foibles, chuckles, slaps you on the back, and says, “Keep trying, buddy, I am rooting for you.” Part of this is true, but the tools of Satan is to mix truth with error.
The error is in believing that Jesus is no more aware of a divine standard than we are, and He is simply walking through this life as befuddled as you are, but maybe a bit smarter about negotiating the mine fields of life. This inclusive theology waters down who Jesus is, and leads millions to a false sense of security. After all, we need to make our march into hell as pleasant as we can, don’t we?
The truth is, some Christians believe that their particular religious dogma has cornered the market on God, and God HAS to be pleased with our efforts. They like to invent an agenda, map out a plan, and insist that God approve of it. This is especially true if our map started in the scriptures.
Here is an example:
I recently attended a Men’s Prayer Breakfast. The theme of that breakfast was, Psa 127:1 “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;…”
The guest speaker rhapsodized about how it is our responsibility to build a Godly home. Which is true, but not the truth.
The speaker exposited that we have to work hard to make sure we are doing all we can to build a home that God will be proud of. The emphasis continued to be one of self-effort, self-righteousness, self, self, and self…ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
After all was said and done, I was asked what I thought. I spoke the truth. That unless the LORD build the house, they labor in vain who build it.
I was in my home turf with this synagogue of fellows, as I was raised in this particular works righteousness religion.
I suggested, and I mean this, I was kind, polite, and friendly, charming… everything that my best friend, Mark, would have suggested I be…I suggested that we look again at this verse and underscore WHO is responsible for the building.
(I was once one of them, and I know how easily they get provoked to self-righteousness and anger, and how swiftly they run to their own ego when they are cornered.)
I suggested, ever so gently that, unless God moves us to build the house, and unless He leads the building, and unless the Holy Spirit empowers this project, nothing we do will last. I suggested that any fool can build what looks like a godly home, a godly church, a godly reputation, but, inside, can be full of empty promises, lies, deceit, and vain imaginations. If this were not so, all churches and all homes that appear to be Godly would be winning souls faster than water could be gathered for the baptism.
The stony silence I was greeted with was deafening. The party was over.
The Truth is… We do not really want the truth so much as we want reassurance that the lies we tell ourselves are the truth.
My only claim to anything is that Jesus Christ is my lord and savior. He died for my sin. I accept that I am a sinner, saved by Grace.
I would not be able to comprehend why grace is being applied to my life, if I first didn’t understand that there is sin, and a need of repentance.
Grace juxtaposes the image of what God is trying to give you against the reality of the hell you will receive if you do not choose His free gift.
Is Jesus my friend? Yes, He said so himself. It’s in the bible, look it up.
Jesus is my friend because I have believed in him, trusted him, and accepted this free gift.
When He became my savior, and the spirit of God entered me, I was driven to the inescapable conclusion that I also want to be just like Him, which made Jesus my Lord, as well.
Somewhere between the dogma of the self-righteous religions of this planet, and the idea that Jesus is your buddy, we have to come to terms with the truth of the Cross. The truth of why the cross was necessary. The truth that none of us, none of our religions, and none of our watered down lies of Jesus will ever save us from the hell we deserve.
Jesus IS the good news. Jesus is all of the Gospel. There is no separation of eternal life and the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. You cannot have one without the other. To live otherwise is to tell God you know better than He does about what is best for your eternal soul. This will not comfort you while you are in Hell.
The truth is, if Jesus can redeem someone as vile and dangerous as I was, then He can redeem anyone. The truth is, none of us, not one, can do anything at all worthy of Heaven, unless Jesus Himself does the thing through us.
When you accept that you are a sinner, and that your religion, or lack thereof, is not going to save you, and you turn to Jesus Christ, and see what He has done to grant you eternity in Heaven, you will be saved.
I was told that I must be soft and sweet when I deliver these next few messages. I was told that I must separate grace from truth, because truth is not palatable, and will scare people off.
I hold that if you are not cognizant of the truth, any effort you make at making Jesus your Friend will be wasted in regret. You will never know Grace apart from the hard truth.
The truth is, you can do nothing at all apart from Christ.
The truth is, you cannot have Heaven and bypass what Christ did on the cross.
The Truth is, your deciding whether Jesus is Lord or not does not negate the fact that He is Lord whether you acknowledge it or not.
The truth is, in the end, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is lord.
Time is running out. Churches have failed Christ. We all have to stop and tell the truth and know the truth.
Grace reveals God’s love against our overwhelming sin. Grace reveals a truth that simultaneously hurts and heals.
Truth reveals Christ.
It pleased God to send His own Son to the cross so we, you, His creation, will not have to face His wrath. Jesus already absorbed God’s wrath. Sin is paid for. You are saved, if you believe what Jesus said about Himself.
Unless we first come to grips with our sin, and the overwhelming Grace God continues to show us, and until we accept this free gift of Salvation, we will never truly understand the depth of the powerful relation Jesus will be in your life. You cannot be His friend unless you first accept what he did for you. When that happens, you will see that he did not come here to build a religion, but a relationship.
Before any of my Hyper Grace friends ask me if I had thought twice about the gracelessness of this tome, and considered what Jesus would have done…I leave with this thought:
Still, it is all on His terms.
Let Him be about you.
I love you in Jesus Christ, and because of Him,
David G. Perkins
The world is watching right now. It is time to see the power of the living God at work in Ferguson, MO.
I believe prayer changes things. I believe that prayer can change the hearts of the people in Ferguson, The hearts of those who desire chaos, the hearts of those who desire anarchy, the hearts of those who say they want justice, but actually seek revenge.
It is written that God inhabits the praises of His saints. If you are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, you are a saint. You are, by definition, one who has been sanctified, set apart, for His purposes. No power on earth can get between you and God.
All we as believers have to do is pray, praise, and persist in the faith. No plan of evil can overcome the power of God.
Jesus said that where two or more agree as touching ANYTHING then it will be granted to you by the Father in heaven, to the glory of Christ.
Do you want Jesus to be glorified, or are you content to sit, cluck your tongue, and thank God you are not part of the problem? The enemy depends on your absence in this war. His desire is that you be AWOL in the middle of the fight. All he has to do to win, is convince you are not needed in this battle.
You would be mistaken to fall for that lie.
Praise Him in the assembly, Praise Him in the streets, praise Him in your lack and want and agony, and praise Him when your life is flush with good things.
Lift your hands in holy sacrifice, and watch the power of the living God make a difference in this world.
Are you distressed over what is about to transpire in Missouri? Trust God and pray. Because you are Christ’s, you are God’s own child. Ask Him whatever you will in the name of Jesus and it will be done.
Go find a friend to pray with. Do this now and until this trouble is past.
We are called to a greater thing than our own selfish desires and our own comfort zone.
Put on the whole armor and show up for this battle and watch the mighty hand of the Living God deliver peace and Jesus to this situation.
Failure to do this is to give the enemy the very ground Jesus died to save…human souls.
Today, decide you will do this. Watch the mighty hand of God work through his children.
Jesus is our Lord, and He has sovereign right and power over all that exists. Never doubt this. never give up on this. Always rely on this truth.
If you cannot do this, shut up about what a mighty Christian you are.
Many are called, few are chosen.
Let’s Be About It!!!
I love you in Jesus’ name.
David G. Perkins