Lost Among The Wildflowers

My rose. My friend. Where have you gone?
I’ve lost you in fields of yellow and white.
You were set apart. A promise about to bloom.
Where have you gone while I’ve wandered in the dark?

I lost my way and you are no longer where I left you.
Forgive me, my friend, I was a fool. I was deaf and blind.
I went searching for weeds when the Lord had given me a rose.
I tried to pick you before our time. I was pierced by your thorns.

Forgive me, forgive me. I found my way back to the light.
I’ve searched every path. I’ve looked under every tree.
Where have you gone? I can smell the ghost of your fragrance.
So close and yet so far away. Lost, lost.

When will I behold your beauty again? So radiant and alive!
When will I hear the ringing bells of your laughter?
When will I feel the warmth and joy of your company?
When will I feel your hand in mine? When… When…

The pain is too much to bear. All the flowers look the same.
None are like you. I am surrounded and yet I am alone.
There is an emptiness to each day. I am chained to dry bones.
When will I be free? When will this torment end?

Must I suffer forever? Surely, it is what I deserve for my sins.
Forgiven and yet the consequences must be paid.
Each smile tears at my soul as I mask the agony within.
If only you knew that even now I still wait for you.

In the darkness of each sleepless night, I cry out to the Lord.
I beg for freedom from this hell. I want to live. I want to die.
He covers me with love and mercy in my self-inflicted suffering.
Patience. Faith. Courage. He speaks life into me.

I rise each day to fight the flesh and the darkness in my home.
This war is beginning to take its toll.
I waver between faith and madness.
What will be left of me? Will you be there to hold me?

I will not give up. I will hold tight to the keeper of promises.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I know this to be true.
I will keep the faith and my eyes upon the field.

Someday I will find you among the wildflowers.

Hard Questions – Part Five – Final

This is the final part of the Hard Questions series. In parts 1-4 of this series we posed the following question and sought to answer it:

“Why did God allow me to be abused?”

At this point in our discussion, Jesus has saved the day! Hallelujah! Now, there are just a few… loose ends to tie up. The first order of business was filling the disciples with the Holy Spirit which happened at Pentecost in Jerusalem where Jesus commanded them to wait until this gift was given to them.

On the day of Pentecost, all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability. – Acts 2:1-4

After this, the disciples began to preach the gospel and for the past two thousand years, our goal as followers of Jesus Christ has been to spread the Good News to every corner of the Earth. As I explained in the first part of this series only God could possibly know when there will be a time when everyone on Earth will have had this opportunity, however, you can count on Him to wait until that moment for He desires everyone to be saved through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

So, how does this end? We still have sinful bodies and a new believer will quickly discover what it means to carry the cross every day and deny the sinful desires of the flesh choosing to instead follow the Holy Spirit that now lives inside them. Are we to struggle like this forever? And what of the rest of the world? What of the cursed earth itself? And the devil and his ilk, the enemy of our souls?

I could write until the end of time about “end times” and so I will do my best to keep the bigger picture in my mind and give a brief summary of what is to come when Jesus returns.

As for the flesh and its sinful desires, I would encourage you to read Romans, especially if you are a new believer as Paul explains the faith very well in that book. Chapters 6-8 of Romans address the realities of living with the Holy Spirit in a sinful body in great detail. One day we will have glorified bodies that are untouched by sin, incorruptible, and immortal. We’ll get to that in a moment.

There is a day coming and it is very close, some believe it has already begun when God will judge the world for its sin. It is known as the time of tribulation. At some point during this period or immediately prior depending on what you believe, and I am not going to get into a debate about that in this post, there will be a rapture of the saints (believers). We will be taken in the twinkling of an eye straight to Jesus. We will be given new bodies and return with Him at the end of the tribulation.

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord, himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the believers who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. – 1 Corinthians 15:51-53

God is going to judge the rest of the world and if you want to know more about that in detail then read the book of Revelation. There is a great debate about how much of the tribulation we will endure before we are raptured. I will not get into my belief on this subject here as I have said.

However, to very briefly summarize darkness and sin will increase and the world will face a multitude of judgments. There will be a great deception by the Devil/Satan/Lucifer, a counterfeit to the faith that will lead people away from the Lord to worship the Devil instead, and eventually into open rebellion against the Lord. There will be a false prophet that will require people to take a mark to buy and sell. DO NOT TAKE THE MARK EVEN IF IT COSTS YOU YOUR LIFE. I will do a more in-depth study on this mark and link it here.

Then the beast was allowed to speak great blasphemies against God. And he was given authority to do whatever he wanted for forty-two months. And he spoke terrible words of blasphemy against God, slandering his name and his dwelling—that is, those who dwell in heaven. And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made. – Revelation 13:5-8

He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name. Wisdom is needed here. Let the one with understanding solve the meaning of the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. His number is 666. – Revelation 13:16-18

Jesus will return with the saints (believers) at the end and Jesus will destroy this rebellion in an instant. Everyone in this army of Satan will be killed. Those responsible for deceiving the people will be thrown into the lake of fire to burn for all eternity. The devil will be locked up in the bottomless pit which is a place of eternal darkness. This place along with the lake of fire is what many would call “hell” although the word never actually appears in the Bible. They are two separate places and none will enter the lake of fire until the final judgment.

Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from a winepress. On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.

Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, shouting to the vultures flying high in the sky: “Come! Gather together for the great banquet God has prepared. Come and eat the flesh of kings, generals, and strong warriors; of horses and their riders; and of all humanity, both free and slave, small and great.”

Then I saw the beast and the kings of the world and their armies gathered together to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army. And the beast was captured and with him the false prophet who did mighty miracles on behalf of the beast—miracles that deceived all who had accepted the mark of the beast and who worshiped his statue. Both the beast and his false prophet were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. Their entire army was killed by the sharp sword that came from the mouth of the one riding the white horse. And the vultures all gorged themselves on the dead bodies. – Revelation 19:11-21

After the tribulation, this time period will be known as the “Millenial Reign”. Jesus will reign over the earth from Jerusalem for one thousand years and the saints will reign with Him. There are many that wonder if there will still be regular human beings without glorified bodies at this time. It seems there will be those that survived the tribulation and did not join Satan’s army or come to believe in Jesus Christ. Otherwise, there would be no one for the Devil to deceive when he is released.

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the bottomless pit and a heavy chain in his hand. He seized the dragon—that old serpent, who is the devil, Satan—and bound him in chains for a thousand years. The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward, he must be released for a little while.

Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

This is the first resurrection. (The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years had ended.) Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection. For them, the second death holds no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him a thousand years. – Revelation 20:1-6

The Devil will be allowed out of his prison and he will deceive the world one last time, leading an army against Jerusalem. However, he and his army will be destroyed by fire in an instant.

Then the devil will be thrown into the lake of fire. The dead will rise to be judged and they along with all of those that are still living that have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ will be thrown into the lake of fire as well.

When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be let out of his prison. He will go out to deceive the nations—called Gog and Magog—in every corner of the earth. He will gather them together for battle—a mighty army, as numberless as sand along the seashore. And I saw them as they went up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded God’s people and the beloved city. But fire from heaven came down on the attacking armies and consumed them.

Then the devil, who had deceived them, was thrown into the fiery lake of burning sulfur, joining the beast and the false prophet. There they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. – Revelation 20:7-15

Then the old earth and heaven will disappear. There will be a new earth and a new heaven. A new Jerusalem at the center of it all. Untouched by sin. There will be no more tears. He will wipe them all away. There will be no more evil or darkness. And we will live with God forever and ever just as He originally planned when He created us.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. – Revelation 21:1-2

Isn’t that beautiful? The entirety of human history has been about God saving us from our own terrible mistake. It brings tears to my eyes. He loves us so much we cannot even truly fathom it.

There will come a day when the only sign that sin and evil ever existed will be the scars in the hands and feet of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I cannot remember where I heard it put this way, but, I found it particularly beautiful and poetic.

No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever. – Revelation 22:3-5

Let us now return to the original question.

“Why did God allow me to be abused?”

This eternal paradise… This salvation through Jesus Christ is what the Lord desires for all of mankind. Only He knows how to lead us to Him. And He cares about our suffering and detests evil. He will wipe away every tear. He will right every wrong. He will heal every broken heart and give us bodies that will never fail us.

God doesn’t want you to be abused. I think those of us that have endured abuse hope that He will take us away or destroy our abuser. It is difficult to accept that He wants to save that person as well. I understand that. I have endured it myself. However, we have all fallen short. Jesus died for every man and woman’s sins. No matter how great or small. And so, we have a choice. We can either forgive our abuser as God has forgiven us. Or not.

I’ve lived with a bitter grudge in my heart and it is a heavy burden. Lay it down at the feet of Jesus. He will heal your broken heart. He will give you new life and there will come a day when you will have a new mind and a new body that will be untouched by evil. Those hateful words will be washed away. Those bruises and scars will be gone. Those deformities and diseases will cease to exist. No more pain. No more death.

Jesus Christ wants to save you. Will you let Him?

Hard Questions – Part Four

In parts 1-3 of this series we sought to answer the following question:

“Why did God allow me to be abused?”

We have now established that God created us to love Him and be loved by Him. We have shown the origin of sin and the fall of mankind that separated us from God. We have shown the complexity of moments in our lives and how only the Lord can connect them to draw us and those around us closer to Himself and to salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. We have discussed briefly the history of the Israelites and the law and how God showed mankind that we cannot live up to His standards and save ourselves from sin and death. So, who will rescue us? The answer is Jesus Christ.

If mankind cannot save itself then there is only one solution. The Lord Himself must save us. The question now becomes, “How can God save us?”

This leads us back to the price of sin. Sin leads to death. There must be a death to make us right with God. Animals and produce were not enough. They were a temporary fix. So, how can the Lord save us once and for all? What could possibly pay the price of sin for all of mankind? What if we offered a man to represent all of us? But, who could possibly be pure enough? If you read about the sacrifices offered by the Israelites they had to give the very best of their stock without blemish. These offerings then had to be prepared and presented in a sacred manner decreed by the Lord.

What man could possibly be good enough for this sacrifice? Have we not established that all men are sinners and have fallen short? Therefore no man is holy before the Lord. What can be done? On our own, it is impossible to pay the price to redeem mankind. But, with God, nothing is impossible. And so, He gave the sacrifice for us. He paid the price for our sins with His own life.

But, Michael, you said God IS life. He can’t die. How is this possible? I’ll tell you. God sent us His only Son.

In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. – Luke 1:26-38

So, the Lord came to earth as a man. Jesus Christ is not only the Son of God. He IS God.

In the beginning, the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony.John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light.The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him.He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

From his abundance, we have all received one gracious blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself, God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. – John 1:1-18

So, John the Baptist was sent to tell the Israelites that Jesus was coming and in fact, this had been foretold by many other prophets before him. God told His people to expect Him.

Jesus was born and lived a life without sin and in complete obedience to His Father in heaven. He was able to do this because He is fully man and fully God. God made Himself the perfect sacrifice. When the appointed time came He was sent out by the Father to teach about salvation and His kingdom. He performed many miracles and wonders during His time on earth. However, the Jewish leaders and lawmakers despised Him. They did not recognize Him as their Lord.

Jesus was betrayed by one of his own disciples, Judas Iscariot, and condemned to death.

And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

“Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled. – Matthew 26:47-56

Jesus was not a victim. He always knew that it was the will of His Father that He offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins. He could have walked away or called down an army of angels to protect Him. However, He chose to be obedient.

He was whipped and beaten. He was forced to carry His cross through the streets of Jerusalem to a place outside of it called Golgotha or Calvary. They nailed Him to the cross, piercing His hands and feet and let Him hang from the cross until He died. He lived a life without sin and in perfect obedience to the Lord and His precious blood paid the price for all the sins of mankind. Our identities as sinners were nailed to the cross with Him.

The earth shook and they pierced His side to see if He had died. After confirming His death, His body was taken and He was buried. After three days his tomb was found open and He was gone. He then appeared to His disciples and many others, risen. Victorious. A new creation. For as I have said, God cannot die. God IS life. His blood was spilled and His body broken for our sins. However, his Spirit endured and came to dwell in a new, glorified body.

This is the most important moment in human history. I cannot stress enough what this moment means for all of mankind. The God of the universe came to earth as a man, lived a blameless life, loving, healing, teaching, and forgiving all those that came to Him. Then offered Himself as a sacrifice for us, allowing Himself to be tortured and killed by the very people He came to save so that we could be forgiven and redeemed. I don’t think we can ever truly understand what it cost Him.

So, let’s return to the abuser and the abused for a moment. The abuser’s sins have been forgiven. The abused’s sins have been forgiven. It’s done. Jesus did it all. Not only that, our identity as sinners was crucified with Jesus on the cross. And Jesus has risen to a new life in a glorified body. He is the new Adam. The beginning of a new creation. So, where does that leave us? What do we do with this information?

Jesus told us two things. We are to repent which means to turn, from our sins. Where do we turn? We’ve already established that sinners will sin even if they stop temporarily, right? Turn to Jesus. Believe in Him. Believe that His sacrifice was enough to satisfy God and that you are completely forgiven of all your sins. Not only that, you have a new identity in Him.

After Jesus rose from the dead and visited with His disciples and others, He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. However, He did not leave us without aid. He sent His own Holy Spirit to dwell in the hearts of those that believe in Him. That’s right. If you truly believe in Jesus Christ in your heart and confess it with your mouth He will send His Holy Spirit to live inside you. Think about that for a moment. The God of the universe living inside your body. You have direct access to the Father.

You are a new creation if you accept Jesus Christ. So, what do we do with that?

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – 1 John 3:23

We are to love Him and each other. We are to forgive others as He has forgiven us. We are to believe in Him and share the Good News of salvation with everyone that will listen. We are to repent of our sins and no longer follow our sinful flesh, but, rather His Holy Spirit that lives within us.

God desires this for everyone and He is always for your good. Always. Even if you suffer or find yourself in a bad situation you can trust in Him to work it out for your good even if you cannot see it at the time. And He will use it not only to lead you closer to Jesus Christ and salvation but, to witness to others about the love and healing found in Him.

I have suffered and I will be covering that in my testimony which I will post at a later time. Just as a brief example from my own life, I had severe anxiety and depression for twelve years. Jesus healed me. He saved me. I have not had a panic attack in 8 or 9 years now. God can use the darkest moments of your life to bring hope to others and glorify His name. Because this isn’t the end my friends.

Which brings us to the final part of this series. Where does this end? I have the Spirit of God inside me and yet I still have this broken, sinful body. Ah, my friend. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior then you have eternal life. When this body dies you will be in heaven with the Lord. Someday you will be given a new body just like Jesus Christ after He rose from the grave.

More than that, those that believe in Jesus Christ are adopted by God. The God of the universe calls those that believe in His Son, Jesus, His children. You are a son or daughter of God. He is your Father. Your Daddy. You will live in a loving relationship with Him, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit, and all your brothers and sisters forever and ever just as He always intended.

I would highly recommend picking up a Bible and reading the gospel of John and Romans. There is nothing better than reading the message yourself straight from the word. I personally recommend the NLT as it is easy to read and understand.

So, what about the sin-filled, dying Earth? What about the enemy of our souls, the devil? What about all those that do not believe in Jesus? God is going to deal with all of that as well and that is what we will cover next as we explore how our Father will make all things new. Praise Jesus!

Hard Questions – Part Three

In Parts One & Two of this series, we posed the following question and sought to answer it.

“Why did God allow me to be abused?”

So far we have established the complexity of any given choice or event and our inability to make the connections necessary to fully understand the effects of them. We have also established that God CAN make these connections and His desire is for every single person on Earth to be saved through His Son, Jesus Christ.

We have established that God created us to love Him and to be loved by Him. We have also established that the current state of the world is not according to His original design. We were meant to be caretakers of the Earth alongside Him and there was to be no evil, sin, hatred, disease, pain, suffering, or death. We were meant to live in loving relationship with our God, each other, and the Earth. We have also learned the origin of sin and the reason for this fallen state of humanity, nature, and the rest of this world.

We have also established that the first two humans sinned and became sinners. Therefore, every human being is born a sinner. So, in the eyes of the Lord, all of us have sinned and fallen short.

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” – Romans 3:23

So, in the eyes of God, both the abuser and the abused have fallen short of His standard and because He loves us so much He desires for all of us to be saved. The abused may ask, “How can God love my abuser?” He loves all of us. We have all fallen short and our sinful nature compels us to sin. In the abused’s eyes, the abuser’s sin is surely greater than their own. And that might be true. However, it is in the nature of a sinner to sin just as it is in the nature of a duck to fly. Can you fault a duck for doing what comes naturally to it? No! That is the reason that Jesus told us not to judge non-believers. For before we placed our faith in Jesus to be saved, we were the same as them. We make hypocrites out of ourselves. What good does it do you to lecture those that do not have the nature of Jesus Christ? They cannot understand it without the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. -Matthew 7:1-6

We have now established that the abused and the abuser share the same nature and the same origin. The question now becomes, “How can God save us?” God sought to save mankind and His plan will surely remove any remaining doubt the abused may have that they have done no wrong and are in a better position than the abuser. For in order to save a person they must first be aware that they need to be saved.

Later, as Jesus left the town, he saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Levi got up, left everything, and followed him.

Later, Levi held a banquet in his home with Jesus as the guest of honor. Many of Levi’s fellow tax collectors and other guests also ate with them. But the Pharisees and their teachers of religious law complained bitterly to Jesus’ disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with such scum?”

Jesus answered them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.” – Luke 5:27-32

How did God show this to mankind? First, He chose a man of faith named Abram that would father a multitude of nations. He would give the nation through His son, Isaac, His laws and standards. This nation would serve as an example to the rest of the world. This nation is Israel. His chosen people are the Israelites or as most people know them, the Jewish or Hebrew people.

I’m going to very briefly summarize the timeline from Abraham to Moses as a study of this time is not the focus of this article.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:1-3

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life. I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.”

At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him, “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations! What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!

“I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.” – Genesis 17:1-8

The Lord gave Abraham a son, Isaac. Isaac then had a son, Jacob who became Israel. Israel had twelve sons that fathered the twelve tribes of Israel. Israel’s son, Joseph, was raised up by the Lord to rule Egypt as second-in-command to the Pharaoh. Joseph brought his father Israel, his brothers and their families to Egypt during a terrible famine.

Many years later, a Pharaoh that knew nothing about Joseph or what he had done for Egypt felt threatened by the Israelites that had greatly multiplied. So, he enslaved them. The Lord chose a Hebrew man named Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. The Lord performed many miracles and wonders to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelites and even parted the Red Sea so that they could make their escape. After this, God appeared to the Israelites on Mount Sinai and through Moses, gave the Israelites His laws and standards.

Then God gave the people all these instructions:

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

“You must not have any other god but me.

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.

“You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

“Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. For in six days, the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day, he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

“Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You must not murder.

“You must not commit adultery.

“You must not steal.

“You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

“You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.” – Exodus 20:1-17

These are the Ten Commandments. The pillars of the law if you will. If you want to read the rest of the law you’re welcome to it. However, it becomes apparent very quickly that no human being could possibly live up to God’s standard. So, what could be done?

Being sinners the Israelites naturally sinned. We established in Part Two that sin leads to the death. It must. It is just a fact of life. It is unholy. It is wrong. It is separation from God and God IS life. So, how could the Israelites bridge this gap? Something else had to die in their place.

The Israelites had to offer a sacrifice whenever they sinned. They would sacrifice animals according to the severity of the offense. Or they would offer specially prepared produce if they had no animals to offer the Lord. This would save them from the punishment of sin. Temporarily. And that is the problem. They were still sinners. They continued to sin and eventually died anyway. No matter how closely they followed the law all fell short. Severe or minor sin, it didn’t matter in the end. Their sinful nature constantly compelled them to do what the law forbids them to do and trapped them in an endless cycle of disobedience and sacrifice.

The rest of the Old Testament in the Bible shows the history and prophecies of the Jewish people and we can see that despite having God’s laws and standards they could not live up to them. They constantly strayed from the Lord and messed up. God was showing them that they could not in their sinful nature live up to His laws and standards. No sacrifice of men could bridge the gap between them and God. Mankind could not and cannot save itself. Sinners will always be a slave to sin. They needed to be saved by the Lord.

He never wanted to be separate from us. He never wanted sacrifices. He wants US. He wants you. He wants me. He wants what He always wanted when He first created mankind. He wants to love us and be loved by us forever and ever. That’s it.

So, again, we ask the question. “How can the Lord save us?” since we clearly cannot save ourselves. Well, at just the right time the Lord sent His answer. His Son. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the only way back to the Father. This is the best part of the story, my friends. This is the climax of the love story between God and mankind. This is where He saves the damsel from the mouth of the dragon. Hold onto your hats.

““For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16


Hard Questions – Part Two

In Part One of this series we posed the question:

“Why did God allow me to be abused?”

So far, we have addressed this question on the basis that God wants all people to be saved through His Son, Jesus Christ. In this case, abuser and victim. From that point, we have shown that it is impossible for us to understand the complexity of the choices and events in our lives and how they affect us, those around us, and mankind as a whole. We also stated that there is far more to life than what we experience in our lives on Earth. Sadly, pain and suffering are a part of it.

Of course, this only raises more questions. God’s ability to handle the infinite complexity of choices and events, deciding whether or not to allow something to occur, is not going to be of much comfort to an abuse victim or to anyone that has suffered for that matter. The next question to be asked would probably be either, “Why would God want to save the abuser?” or “Why does evil exist?”

Both of these questions can be answered if we examine the origin of sin. This will also address many other questions that we are asked. “Why am I a sinner if it was Adam and Eve that sinned?” “Why do we exist?” “What is the purpose or meaning of life?”

God created us in His image to love Him and be loved by Him. That is our purpose. That is the meaning of life. That’s it. Earth was meant to be a paradise and we were meant to be the caretakers of that paradise alongside our loving God.

26 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

27 So God created human beings in his own image.
    In the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”

29 Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. 30 And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.

31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!

– Genesis 1:26-31

I stated in Part One that you cannot have real love without free will. This is a simple truth that I believe most of us can understand. You cannot force a person to love you. And something that has been programmed to respond without any choice cannot truly love you. Try telling a chatbot like Siri “I love you”. Does it’s automated response strike you as real love? No, of course not. It has no choice. It can’t choose to love you.

In order to have a relationship of love with us, God had to give us the choice to not love Him. How did He do that? He placed two trees in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. The first human beings.

The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden, he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. – Genesis 2:9

God then informed mankind of the choice and the consequences of not choosing Him.

The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die. – Genesis 2:15-17

This is where some people might say that God is a bully and that isn’t really a choice at all. They misunderstand. It is just a fact for one simple reason. God IS life. You cannot have life apart from Him. If you are separated from life then what do you have? Death.

Let me use another example. Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space. Why? To put it simply, Darkness is the absence of light. It is the same here. Death is the absence of life and God IS life.

So, we have the Tree of Life that represents life, love, relationship, and dependence on God. Then we have the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that represents death, independence, and separation from God.

Let’s take a moment to examine the name of the second tree. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Weird, right? Why not just call it the Tree of Death or the Tree of Evil? That is because God is good and God is life. No death or evil exists in Him. It cannot. So, mankind must choose it if he wants it because it is not found in God. The tree is not death or evil incarnate it is the choice to go down that path.

Mankind is given this choice and most of us know how he responded.

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” – Genesis 3:1-9

Those three words from the mouth of God are heartbreaking to me. “Where are you?” It marks our separation from Him. The first question is probably, “Alright, what is going on with the snake?” That is Lucifer. Satan. The Devil. The Old Serpent. The Dragon. The Morning Star. He has a lot of names. He and his army of fallen angels are the enemies of mankind.

Lucifer is an angel that fell in the same way as mankind. He wanted independence from God. More than that, he wanted to be God. He made that choice and he deceived mankind into making the same choice. Some might say, “Well, then it’s his fault!” Is it? If someone tells us to do something wrong and we do it, isn’t it our choice to listen to them or not? Indeed it is our choice. We’ll address the agenda of the enemy another time. Let’s get back on track.

So, mankind sins by disobeying God and chooses independence from God. He is now aware of good and evil. He becomes the judge of his own life. Before he ate from the tree he could not do evil. He was not aware of it. Now he can choose to do good or evil. However, this separation has immediate consequences because as I said earlier to be separated from life is to die. Now, man did not drop dead instantly. He is still made in the image of God. But, eventually, he will now die. His life will fade away. God has to cast him out of the Garden of Eden. God is life and death cannot be a part of Him.

Mankind is now separated from life and the rest of the Earth is now cursed along with him and starts to die as well. We can see evidence of that today. So many extinct species. So much pollution and destruction. Disease, disorders, and disasters. This is not how the world was meant to be my friends.

What is a sin? What is evil? It is everything that God is not. It is disobedience to God. It is a perversion of His design. It is deciding for ourselves what is right and wrong. And because we are separated from God we cannot stop doing it! When Adam and Eve ate from the tree they became sinners. That is their identity.

When people ask, “Why am I a sinner if it was Adam and Eve that started it?” You are a sinner because your father and mother are sinners and it is traced all the way back to Adam and Eve. It would be like asking a duck why it is a duck. It’s a duck because it came from a duck. All of mankind are sinners because we all came from sinners.

We can see the effects of sin as soon as Adam and Eve leave the garden. They have two sons. Cain and Abel offered sacrifices to God. Abel gave his best and Cain did not so his offering was rejected.

 “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.”And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. – Genesis 4:6-8

God warns Cain that sin will control him if he chooses to do it. However, because mankind are now sinners Cain decides for himself what is right and kills his brother. And people have been killing each other and committing numerous other sins since then.

So, why does God want to save the abuser and the victim? Because they are both sinners. Both have fallen short. Neither measures up and we will go into greater detail on that. It makes no sense to man because we have become our own judge and we weigh sins on our own scales. There are greater and lesser sins, however, while using a cuss word is not the same as beating someone both have separated us from God. Both have offended him. Both will lead to death.

We’ll go deeper into this as we continue the series. Again, I want to urge you to turn to Jesus Christ. I will go into greater detail on salvation. However, to put it as simply as I can in the context of this subject, God sent Jesus to die for those sins and to put an end to our sinner nature. He is the answer to this neverending cycle of death that we live in. He was raised to new life so that you can have it and you can experience it right now if you will come to Him. I urge you to do just that.

Hard Questions – Part One

Last night I found myself thinking about how it can sometimes be difficult to answer those hard questions that non-believers always seem to ask us. Questions we may have pondered ourselves. I know I have both before and after I started to follow Jesus.

I found myself running through a dialogue with what I might say to such a person in my head and the Holy Spirit filled me with insight that I’ve never had before on these subjects. Today I was planning on sharing some more visions and prophetic words that I received a few months ago, However, I can’t seem to shake this line of thought and feel led to share these insights with you here. God’s plans are not our plans so I’m just going to submit to His lead. Always the right choice. Trust me.

So, in this conversation I imagined, the subject of faith came up and I shared that I am a Christian and that I believe in Jesus Christ. This person immediately claimed that God does not exist. I asked the person, “Why do you say that?” Their response was one that I think all believers have heard or asked themselves at some point. “If God exists and He is good then why did He allow “____” to happen to me?” or for those that have not suffered too many hardships the broader question is usually, “If God exists and He is good then how can He allow “____” to happen in the world?” or “How can God if He exists and is good allow evil to exist?”

In this case, the person had been physically abused as a child. So, we are going to use this example to address this question.

“Why did God allow me to be abused?”

This will require us to address several different areas in order to answer it completely.

We have to begin with this truth, God wants everyone to be saved. He wants everyone to come to Jesus Christ. He loves every human being on this planet and wants every single one of us to come to Him. From the least to the greatest. From the most despicable to the most saintly among us. That in itself is a hard pill to swallow for most people and we will address that later in this series.

“The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” – 2 Peter 3:9

This verse is in regards to Jesus Christ’s return. However, it clearly states that God wants everyone to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. That is the reason for His delay. He isn’t late. He wants everyone to have a chance to repent.

Now, with this knowledge let us try in our finite human understanding to imagine why God would allow someone to be abused. Again, I am using abuse as an example when it can really be applied to any evil or misfortune.

God does not experience time as we experience it. Past, present, and future are all laid out before Him. As it says in Psalm 139:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed. – Psalm 139:13-16

I want you to think about that for a moment. He saw you before you were born. Every day of your life has been recorded. So, let us try to imagine as an all-knowing, all-powerful, ever-present being how we could accomplish our goal of saving EVERYONE that would allow us to save them.

So, here we have this situation where a young child is being abused and we want to save the child’s soul and the abuser’s soul. We have given mankind free will and sadly, this is the choice the abuser has made. We cannot take away free will because if we did that then nobody could choose Jesus Christ. You cannot have real love without choice. Again, something we will address later in the series.

However, we could intervene and stop the abuse. Let’s pause here. I want to remind you that God can see all of history and time at once and will know the effect any given moment will have on all of Creation. If you are familiar with the Butterfly Effect you will understand what I am talking about.

“The butterfly effect is the concept that small causes can have large effects. Initially, it was used for weather prediction but later the term became a metaphor used in and out of science.” – Wikipedia

Let me use an illustration and you will begin to see how incredibly complex this becomes and how we are severely limited in making and understanding these connections.

Scenario: A young boy is walking home from school, tossing a baseball in the air as he goes along. He notices a decrepit house that he has seen dozens of times before and is certain that no one lives in it. He has the sudden urge to throw his baseball through one of the windows.

Choice A: The boy throws the baseball -> The window breaks -> An angry, elderly man emerges from the house -> Boy runs home -> Elderly man reports the boy to the police -> While boy is home he receives a call from a friend -> Friend asks boy to bring his baseball to a nearby park for a game as they have lost the one they were using -> Boy cannot help them as his baseball is gone and hangs up -> Police arrive and boy’s parents pay for the damages -> Boy is punished by cleaning up the old man’s property -> The boy befriends the old man

I could go on and on forever about how this one choice altered this boy’s life. And yes, I realize this is extremely cheesy and has been done in film. But, it serves to illustrate my point. Now, what if the boy changed his mind and decided not to throw the baseball?

Choice B: The boy does not throw the baseball -> He goes home as usual -> One of his friends calls him up -> Friends asks him to bring his baseball to the park for a game as they have lost the one they were using -> Boy leaves for the park -> Boy joins in the game -> He ends up playing with a kid he has never met -> They become friends

Again. Pure Cheese. However, we can see how one choice drastically altered this boy’s day. His entire world inside and out would be different after that. We didn’t even address how these events would change the boy’s inner world. His thoughts. His beliefs. His emotions. Our choices, actions, friendships, and life events are constantly changing who we are, how we develop, and the path our life takes us.

Neither did we address the myriad of details in each of these tiny moments that could have changed other things in this boy’s life. This is just one tiny, seemingly meaningless event.

We also did not address how this would affect everyone else involved in this boy’s choice! Imagine being able to see every single one of those moments for every single person in the entirety of human history at the same time and how they intertwine. Do you have a headache, yet? It can’t be done by us. Thank God that we aren’t Him!

A lot of people argue that such a small event couldn’t possibly affect mankind that much. They might say something like, “Michael, come on, it’s not like this kid was going to grow up and be the president or something.” Let me first say that there is no way for a person to know that because of how incredibly complex this branching of events becomes after just one moment. Could we make an estimate based on the person’s intelligence, class, background, ethnicity, etc. on the likelihood of them becoming president? Sure. But, the accuracy of such a guess could not be reliably measured, especially from a young age. Such a prediction might get more accurate as a person gets older, but, really it’s all speculation in the end. Look at our current President. He was a businessman and a reality TV star. Reagan was a comedian.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter because our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. He cares about our hearts. The changes in the heart of that boy and those around him and whether or not that event would lead him and those around him closer to hearing the Gospel and encountering Jesus Christ is far more important than him becoming president.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. – Isaiah 55:8

So, does God cause people to abuse other people? No. Does He allow it and use it for a greater purpose sometimes? Yes. Why? Because He loves us, all of us, and there is more waiting for us beyond this life. One of the biggest issues blocking a person from understanding this truth is that they believe living this life on Earth is as good as it gets so anything bad happening to us is unacceptable. My friends, it is not true. There is more joy, love, and life to be lived after this than we can possibly imagine and Jesus Christ is the bridge to that life. And you can begin to experience that life, right here, right now if you believe in Him. Come to Him.