Monday, September 1, 2014

When Satan Taps Your Shoulder, DON'T LOOK BACK!

Most people know the story in the Bible about Sodom and Gomorrah, and Lot and his family. For those of you who don't know, or only know a fraction of this wonderful lesson, let me recap it briefly without losing any of the content. The biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were situated near the Dead Sea in Israel, most likely, and in all probability, on the southern end. Lot and his family lived in Sodom. The Lord told Abraham, who was Lot's uncle, that He was going to destroy the city because of the wicked immorality of its inhabitants. Pretty strong statement I might add! Abraham begged the Lord to show mercy toward those who were living there, for the sake of the good people in it, which included his nephew Lot. So Abraham asked the Lord if He would spare Sodom if 50 righteous people could be found in it (Genesis 18). The Lord said He would. Abraham gradually lowered the number to 10. The Lord said He would not destroy Sodom if He could find even 10 righteous people there.

Two angels visited Sodom and found that Lot was the only one there who had any decency. They found that the city was full of adulterers, pride, gluttony, greed, fornicators, extreme wickedness, people going after "strange flesh" and homosexuals who even tried to rape the angels while they were staying with Lot. Here is an account of this particular visit in Genesis 19:4-11, "But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house.  And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”  Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly.  Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.”  But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.  But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door.  And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.” 

Knowing God was about to destroy the city, the angels told Lot to get out of the city quickly with his family. Lot's sons-in-law didn't believe the city was going to be destroyed, so they chose to stay. Lot had sons as well but we aren't told that Lot so much as warned them, so many believe, and are of the opinion, that it's very possible the sons were so deeply involved in the immorality of the city that Lot saw it was pointless to warn them. As far as Lot's sons-in-law, Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian, said they were betrothed to the daughters and not yet married to them, which may explain why the girls were still virgins. This leads to the “assumption” by some scholars that Lot only had two daughters, but because it wasn't clearly understood, and maybe not of great importance to the whole of the story itself, it is then POSSIBLE that he had married daughters as well. God didn't breathe these words into His love letter to us so we can only go by what we KNOW from His words.

In any event, the angels only led Lot out of the city along with his wife and two daughters from among the parents and sons and daughters. One of the angels told the family to escape to the mountain, not to stay in any of the nearby cities of the plain, and not to even look behind them. Genesis 19:17, “So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said, “Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.” But Lot, who was very hesitant and resistant to go to the mountain, said he'd rather stay at the small village of Zoar where he THOUGHT he and his family would be safe. He eventually feared for his life in Zoar and went to the mountain anyway, showing us how much better it is to follow the Lord's guidance directly!

Found Near the Dead Sea!
As they entered into Zoar, the Lord rained massive fire and brimstone upon the Sodomites and the city of Sodom, and upon Gomorrah and the other cities of the plain and their inhabitants. And next, we are told of something truly amazing and in many cases, unimaginable, that Lot's wife “looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” She looked back longing for the old ways, the wealth, the forbidden pleasures and the things of "old" that they were told to turn from. She disobeyed and longed for what used to be so she looked over her shoulder and became a pillar of salt.

In Gen 19:24-25, it says, "Then the Lord rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, from the Lord out of the heavens. v25) So He overthrew those cities, all the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground." God will once again destroy the sexually immoral, the sexual deviants, and that day will come when either that person dies or Christ returns. As Jude wrote in Jude 1:7, "as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." To clarify, "Going after strange flesh" means going after flesh that is "different" than what is rightfully ours to claim (our spouse's body -1 Corinthians 7:4, "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.").

Notice that Jude mentions both "fornication" and "going after strange flesh." Obviously, Sodom's sins were more than fornication, and certainly more than a "lack of hospitality" as some people tend to believe. But the lack of hospitality is referenced in Ezekiel 16:49-50, "Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. 50 And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit." The "strange" flesh simply refers to that which is forbidden by God for us to have, it is flesh outside the bounds of God's laws; hence, the term "sexual deviance"  which means to deviate from what is acceptable to God. This does not just mean with humans. Anything that is outside the bounds of God's laws is a sexual deviance because it DEVIATES FROM THE NORM! Bestiality, raping, homosexuality, fornication, adultery. The list is endless but it must be understood to understand the extent of the extreme wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah.

In 2 Peter 2:6-8 it says, "v6) and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; v7) and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked v8) (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)...." The "filthy conversation" of the wicked, literally means, the "filthy manner of life" of the wicked. The Greek noun for "conversation" is "anastrophe," which literally means, "behavior." Hence, Sodom and Gomorrah were saturated with sexual deviance, filthy behavior, and every form of godlessness known to mankind. I might be so bold to add at this point in this post that there are cities in this present day and age that very much resemble that of Sodom and Gomorrah! And those numbers are growing the closer we come to the return of our Lord! Las Vegas, Nevada is one of those cities and has been aptly nick-named, "Sin City." Well, that isn't something to boast about, but the world over does! Genesis 13:13, "But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly."

God said that the men of Sodom were sinners EXCEEDINGLY! Exceedingly means, "to an extreme degree; extremely; severely; excessively." Surely we don't need a degree in theology to know that the word EXCEEDINGLY meant that these men of Sodom were rotten to the very core! These weren't some petty criminals we're talking about here. Remember, Genesis 19:4-9 tells us about two angels who were sent by God to deliver Lot, and his family, out of Sodom. The angels came in the appearance of regular men.  The homosexuals in the city of Sodom wanted to rape the two visitors.

In it's entirety, it says, "v4) Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. v5) And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.” v6) So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him, v7) and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! v8) See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please, let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish; only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.” v9) And they said, “Stand back!” Then they said, “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal worse with you than with them.” So they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near to break down the door." If you read verse 4 closely, it CLEARLY says ALL the men of Sodom were outside their door. Sodom was predominantly homosexual, and these homosexuals were violent.

Ok, now with that refresher course in place, let's talk about the desires of the human nature's desire to "look back" longingly for those things that were part of our distinct past. Our past is what Satan and his little minions want us to constantly remember because our past is full of sin. Desires that were mistakes, rebellion, desperate. But they were momentary "pleasures" as well and THOSE are the things he helps us remember. It's those times when he taps ever so slightly on our shoulders and says, "Psst, hey, remember THIS? Wasn't THIS fun? Wasn't THIS exciting? Didn't THIS make you feel good? Remember how THIS made you feel?" Oh he's conniving, isn't he? No wonder he took on the form of a snake, because that's exactly what he is....a slippery, slimy, sneaky, sorry, sly SNAKE! I've said over and over, that he cannot do anything new, ONLY GOD can! He only has the authority to drudge up our past, harass us with those temptations and plant thoughts in our minds. Nothing else though. He's good at what he does as it is.....but he's been defeated! He's condemned already and THAT, my dear readers, is exactly what he wants YOU to feel like....CONDEMNED! I wrote about the difference between Conviction and Condemnation and if you haven't read that yet, it's probably a good time to do so now! Satan CONDEMNS! A child of God, a Christ believer, born again, is convicted and the conviction comes from the Holy Spirit!

God's Authority to Us!
Satan is always tapping our shoulders and the closer we get to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, the more rapidly he taps! He doesn't want us to get close. He wants us to stumble. To fall. To doubt. To rebel. After all, isn't that exactly what he did himself? He was so good at the deception and the manipulation that he got a third of the angels to rebel against God and they too, got cast out of heaven. There is always going to be temptations that get in our way. It doesn't mean we have to act upon them. It doesn't mean we have to give up if we act upon the temptation. The path isn't easy and it gets harder the closer you become, BUT, it's not impossible!!!! That's where Satan fools so many into believing that once they slip and fall into a past sin, that God won't take them "back" so to speak! Satan wants us to doubt our Savior! That's why he's constantly trying to trip us up! God, however, gave us an armor to wear daily to protect ourselves from the fiery darts of the enemy, our adversary. The armor of God will not only protect us, but it will DEFEAT the enemy! The power given to us in Luke 10:19 says CLEARLY and LOUDLY, "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you." Ah, this alone should bring boldness and courage and strength to you!!!

Worth mentioning at this point is that the whole armor of God can be found in Ephesians 6:10-20, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. v11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. v12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. v13) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. v14) Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, v15) and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; v16) above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. v17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; v18) praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— v19) and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, v20) for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."

Satan knows our weaknesses especially if we say them aloud! Remember, ONLY God can hear our thoughts not Satan. Satan can only drop a few of them in our minds to tempt us back to the days of old, but in no way, is he able to HEAR what's in our minds, thoughts or hearts! He does NOT have that authority. Once Christians understand that fully, it makes things a little easier. If you aren't a child of God, and you haven't accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, then the torment is much greater because Satan knows he already "has" you in his darkened grip and that you are already doing his work for him without resistance. However, it's NEVER too late!!!! Satan also knows that the MOMENT that you begin to come towards the "Light" of the Lord Jesus Christ, he's lost another soul to Jesus! Praise the Lord! Satan doesn't want you to choose Jesus' side! He wants you to stay in the darkness....for all eternity! That's why he makes everything sinful on this fallen earth APPEAR pleasing, fun, innocent, beautiful, good and pure. That's part of his lure, his lies and his deception. He wants to MOCK God, after all, that's why he rebelled was because he wanted to be like God. Well, in an ironic chain of events, he IS a "god." Not THE Creator God, but he is the god of this world! Roaming this earth seeking whom he may devour. Some go with him willingly, some put up a fight. But those that are children of God....they are the ones he wants to torment the most. They're the ones he wants to make doubt the Lord Jesus Christ! 1 John 4:4, " Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world."

Anything that is a stronghold of yours, or was in the past, are the things he will use to tempt you and tap your shoulder ever so aggressively! Oh, at first he whispers. At first he taps you lightly. At first he is gently calling your sins out. But the more you listen, the more you pay attention to the lies, and the more you try to turn from them, the more rapidly and loudly and aggressively he proceeds. He thinks it's a green light! The moment you say "What?" when he says, "Psst, Hey___" is when he THINKS you've given in to him. He thinks that since you've answered him, well, he has free reign now. So remember this, if nothing else......when he comes calling your name....tapping your shoulder.....helping you remember your past.....don't ANSWER! When he taps your shoulder, don't look back because that's where he wants you to STAY! Jesus wants us to be present, to look forward to His return, to remember our sins are all covered by His shed blood on the cross, paying our sin debt in full for a debt He didn't owe! There is freedom in Jesus! There is bondage in Satan. There is PEACE in Jesus! There is Torment in Satan. There is Confidence in Jesus! There is Doubt in Satan. There is Love in Jesus! There is Hate in Satan. There is Victory in Jesus! There is failure in Satan. There is Comfort and Consolation in Jesus! There is Misery in Satan. THERE IS TRUTH IN JESUS! THERE IS LIES WITH SATAN. Every single time you look back, you miss out on one of the blessings of Jesus because Satan told you a lie that you believed. For a moment! For a time. For a season. Anytime we slip, stumble and/or fall, we're getting what the devil gives us, NOT the wonderful things the Lord God Almighty has for our obedience!

When we become a child of God, entering into a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ, our transformation begins. But it doesn't ALL happen overnight. We also become a bigger target for our enemy too! Some people continue to struggle with the same strongholds, or bondage, for many years before they're finally delivered. There are lessons to be learned in those struggles too. For some, it's learning to surrender. For others it could be Faith, Trust, Pride, or even control. God allows us to suffer through some of our struggles because we need to LEARN and in that learning, we need to LEAN on Him and use His strength and not our own. Some people deal with strongholds until the day they die, but they didn't have to! They just needed to understand how Satan operates in opposition to the Lord! Let's give an example here.....let's say you're dealing with an addiction to drugs. You're trying to fight this addiction in the FLESH and not relying solely on the Lord for your deliverance. I'll stop here before going on to say that the majority of the strongholds that can't be "dealt" with is due to our unwillingness to let go of them and when we "try" to overcome them, we're doing it in the flesh, thereby pushing the Lord right out of the equation. Ok, so you're trying to fight your addiction in the flesh and you think you're doing pretty good because you haven't done any drugs for a few months. Then, when you're feeling down or depressed, knowing those are your "trigger" emotions, Satan taps on your shoulder and says, "Hey, you know if you took (insert drug name) then you wouldn't feel so sad or depressed." Well, you don't look over your shoulder or don't look back. So, he taps your shoulder harder, but this time, places a person, place or thought in front of you to make you stumble, and loudly says, "Here. Look what I did for you! I brought you into the path of so and so, they'll get you hooked up just like before." This goes on and on until finally, if you aren't strong enough in the Lord and are trying to use YOUR strength, you give in. And the cycle begins all over again......

I'm going to spend just a moment on trying to overcome something in the flesh as opposed to using the strength of the Lord that has been given to us at the Cross! Many people don't want to admit that they are trying to overcome some kind of sin or temptation or stronghold in their flesh and using our own weakened strength. In many cases, that's exactly what's being done. We get so used to trying to do things OUR way, that it becomes a natural reaction to do everything in our wills. For those who struggle with giving up control, it's more prevalent in their lives. Some will convince themselves that they're relying on the Lord's strength to fight the battle when in reality, they just can't admit it's their own flesh. Giving up control is hard for anyone. But moreso for those who are fully engulfed in controlling all aspects of their lives. There are so many who can't let go of the control long enough to surrender to the Lord's WILL, that they continue fighting strongholds over and over and over! Now let me say at this fork in the road that just because a deliverance is made from a stronghold, doesn't mean we won't be TEMPTED. Just the opposite. Sometimes, the temptation is greater for AWHILE. Then it weakens. It lessens. It goes to sleep quietly, but only awakens rarely.

This could be ANY stronghold. Satan works the SAME way with everyone he has been given authority to harass, torment, chase after. We all must stomp on his talons, spit on his lies and turn from his thoughts. He lies. He manipulates. He deceives. He Tempts. He torments. Nothing new under his darkness. Same old same old. Once we grasp that truth, then we can be better armed for a future temptation. The best way to thwart his shoulder tapping ways is to replace each thought that comes to your mind with a promise from the Lord. For every negative thought, replace it with something positive the Lord spoke. For every single dark and evil thing Satan speaks or does, our Father God has overcome with His Son Jesus Christ and IN Jesus, there is LIGHT. The LIGHT ALWAYS OUTSHINES THE DARKNESS! Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, that is done in this world, by the god of this world, can ever win over the LIGHT OF THIS WORLD, THE LIGHT OF THIS UNIVERSE! So anytime you are struggling with some dark thought, or dark temptation just remember the Light that's within you is much greater than the darkness that surrounds you!

We all need to remember that Sodom and Gomorrah had more than just one sin. They were filled with pride, gluttony, greed, homosexuality, extreme wickedness, adulteries, and fornication as well. The sins of these evil cities are among us today. Their inhabitants fill the land. Let us never forget that these sins will not only destroy a nation, but also each of us individually. That's why it's so important to understand that our sins were paid in full at the cross but it doesn't mean we can WILLINGLY relish in them without guilt, conviction or repentance. As David wrote in Psalm 9:17, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” 

Never looking back is part of our Salvation process. We become a new creation in Christ Jesus. In Luke 17:30-32 says, "v30) Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. v31) “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. v32) Remember Lot’s wife."  Many people miss this one verse in the midst of the small three word verse, Remember Lot's Wife. It is packed full of warning though! It's warning us not to be apprehensive about leaving a place marked, or bound, for destruction, otherwise our wicked, sinful ways, and that whoever and/or whatever that's left behind that you find precious or dear to you shouldn't be longed for. We're not to look back in case we should be tempted to go back to our ways, or to the places marked and bound for destruction. Turning back to our old ways could definitely be construed as going back in heart to those eyes upon us who are watching our walk. Therefore, when we leave our past behind us, we should leave our old heart's longing behind as well. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt so that she might remain a lasting monument of God’s. Was Lot's wife looking back so wrong? Apparently what was really wrong with Lot’s wife wasn't that she was just looking back; it was IN her heart that she wanted to GO back. She looked back LONGINGLY with desire in her heart. In short, her attachment to the past most definitely outweighed her confidence in the future. The confidence that we can only find in Jesus! That, apparently, was at least part of her sin. It would appear that even before they were past the city limits, according to Scripture, she was already missing what Sodom and Gomorrah had offered her. She didn't have FAITH. She doubted the Lord’s ability to give her something better than she already had. She apparently thought, fatally, as it turned out, that nothing God laid ahead of her could possibly be as good, or better, than those moments she was begrudgingly leaving behind. So it's what's in our HEARTS that make the difference and our FAITH that pulls us through!

You need not dwell on the days now gone away, or the pains and sorrows they hold. Nor you need not vainly yearn for any of your yesterdays, no matter how good those yesterdays may have been. They're gone. The past is to be learned from but NOT lived in. We can look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not gather up the ashes from the fires that burned out. Then when we've learned what we needed to learn, no matter how long it takes us, then we look ahead! We remember that Faith is always pointed toward the future. Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives. To yearn to go back to a world that can't be lived in now; to be perennially dissatisfied with present circumstances and have only dismal views of the future; to miss the here-and-now-and-tomorrow because we are so trapped and bound up in the there-and-then-and-yesterday, well, these are just some of the sins of Lot's wife. Longing in the heart for things of old. Things we don't want to practice in our own lives! The Apostle Paul, after reviewing the very privileged and rewarding life of his early years, his birthright, education, his standing in the Jewish community, Paul says that all of that was nothing compared to his conversion to Christianity. Basically he says he stopped rhapsodizing for the old days and eagerly awaits the future when he may "apprehend that for which Christ apprehended me.” And then this wonderful reminder comes along. Philippians 3:13–14 tells us, "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, v14) I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

No Lot’s wife here for Paul. No looking back at Sodom and Gomorrah. Paul knows it's out there in the future, straight up ahead, wherever heaven is taking us, where we'll win “the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14. 

There is something in us, at least in too many of us, that particularly fails to forgive and forget earlier mistakes in life, either mistakes we ourselves have made or the mistakes of others. To be bound, tied or held in contempt to earlier mistakes, our own or others, is one of the worst kind of "wallowing in the past" that we are called to cease and desist. Such dwelling on one's past life, including past mistakes, strongholds and bondage, is just not right! For ourselves and in others. It isn't the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no greater requirement for us than to do as the Lord Himself said He does in Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins." 

So, When Satan Taps Your Shoulder, DON'T LOOK BACK!

There's only deliverance in the Lord Jesus Christ! If you are not a born again believer in Jesus Christ Alone, then I invite you to kneel down before the Almighty God and cry out for forgiveness, repent of your sins, believe on Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, as the only Begotten Son of God, who died on the Cross for ALL of your sins, paying our sin debt in full, who rose again three days later and who will return again! He's waiting for you with arms wide open!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams-Suicide and Salvation

John 1:12 - But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.

The recent passing of Robin Williams has sparked one of the most heart wrenching "debates" that I've seen in a long time. This will not be a debate and I won't allow it to become one. It would serve no purpose other than to incite pain and misinformation. But it was because of those debates that I didn't intend to write about his passing, or his life in front of the cameras. After all, I didn't know him personally, obviously, and all I would be able to do is just pay homage to him, grieve for the loss of another life and pray for comfort for his family and the loved ones he left behind. But, then, something changed. Something began to eat at me the more I read commentaries, articles and discussions. It seemed everyone had a "comment" or an "opinion." That part didn't surprise me because of this social media age of anonymity,  where everyone can "bravely" say what they want without regards to the feelings of others. However, something else was gnawing at me, something that I couldn't quite nail down and then! There it was, right in front of my eyes. One of the most horrific statements, that not only hurt my heart and shook up my spirit, but broke my heart for the millions of eyes who were reading those very harmful words who either suffered this kind of loss in the past or were in the middle of suffering and dealing with this kind of loss currently. What statement was it that turned my intention around? People were saying that suicide sent him to Hell! And worse yet was reading those words, from Christians! From people who didn't KNOW him on a personal level, and only knew him like the rest of the world.....PUBLICLY and IMPERSONALLY.

I always pray about my blog posts before writing them because I really try to write what the Holy Spirit leads me to write. I had two ideas laid on my heart, and on the burners, when he passed. I couldn't seem to write more than a few sentences before this subject would pop into my head and spirit. Well, as a result of not being able to finish the other posts right now, I prayed about it, was lead to a new, but hidden, article about him, and the Lord took me off the first article and changed my direction to this one! I'm OK with that because I pray that these words that I will soon be writing, will touch someone, comfort someone or give wisdom to someone that needs it!

Robin Williams was one of those rare comedic geniuses who crossed over into different generations. Comedy is a unique career path and an even more unique skill, or talent depending on how you look at it. The majority of comedians are generational-specific. By that, I mean, they resonate with those of their time and never really span much more than a decade, if that. Not Robin Williams. He came on the scene in the late '70's with a sit-com called, "Mork and Mindy," taking the world by storm ever since. Who was this man!?! Everyone has some memory of their favorite movie, stand-up routine, cartoon voice overs or the ingenious way he would completely take over an interview! No matter who you are, or where you live, he could make you laugh with his brilliance. He could make you forget about your pains and sorrows for just a little while. He could make you relate to his "characters" that he would so brilliantly create on the spot. His mind was amazing. His mind was unbelievably creative....unlike any other. The people who really knew him on a personal and professional level, couldn't say enough about his talent, his improvisational skills and his bullet-speed quickness in his delivery!

But, his mind was also fractured too. It was fragile and broken. Something, I'm sure, he didn't want to admit to the world; the same world he so desperately needed love from! Laughter was his fuel, his gas that kept him going, but more so, laughter was love. What Robin Williams showed, and shared with, the world and his fans, was the person he could never quite shut off. The person who was always making people laugh, who NEEDED that laughter for his own sadness, who was always "ON" and always in "character." That must have been so difficult to live the majority of one's life in full on "character" always afraid of not bringing joy and laughter to the world because that was what was lacking in the real life of Robin......Comedy is a mask. Some can take the mask off in private, and live semi-normal lives and some can't. Mr. Williams was one of those people who couldn't. Not because he didn't want to. Not because he didn't desire to. But because he didn't have the ability. He was clinically depressed. His television show recently was cancelled. He had addictions. He had failed marriages. He had financial burdens from those failed marriages. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, which also is connected to depression. He had heart surgery. God only knows the rest of his battles. He had been battling depression for most of his life. If truth be known, there was likely a personality "disorder" that was likely evident, and possibly diagnosed, that we'll never know about. It would only make sense for someone to have a personality disorder that lived split lives. But it's really none of our business anyway. He didn't want the world to know about his Parkinson's Disease, and probably other silent things he was internally dealing with, and the only reason we found out about it is because his most recent wife of 3 years, disclosed it. It just added to the rest of his battles and maybe helped some people understand a little more just how tortured he was, how desperate he became and how cornered he felt, but more so, how much pain he was truly in!

Now, with that said, when the media lit up about his suicide, it ignited so much emotion across the social media that it was mind blowing. First of all, it's not the first suicide that Hollywood has experienced and sadly, it won't be the last. Second of all, suicide is NOT the problem here and too many people focused on the ACT instead of the problem that caused the action. Mental illness, addictions, trauma and physical issues. The mind is a curious thing. It's one of the mysteries of our existence. It's fragile and can be "broken" at any time. I remember watching "Mork and Mindy" one evening with my mom and out of the blue she said, God rest her soul, "Sweety, now there's a broken soul. He's a very SAD man behind those eyes." Well, at 15-16 years old, what did I know, right? Then maybe a few years later, we saw an interview with him, and I could actually SEE that sadness that mom had spoken of a few years earlier. I suddenly saw someone that couldn't turn it "off" and for a second, when he'd pause briefly for reflection, you'd see it in his eyes. They were sad. Very sad. Very hurt. Very lost. This was the beginning of my looking at people in a whole different light. That was one of those "moments" that one doesn't forget and every time I'd see him in an interview after that moment, I saw the same thing, sometimes worse, but always behind those eyes, was a deep sadness. I remember the discussion mom and I had afterwards about depression and hiding behind "masks" and this was around 1979-1981! She felt it important enough at that time to talk to me about it and so I listened. And learned.

2 Corinthians 3:17
I saw him as having two personalities. The one he let the world see, which was the one he couldn't turn "off" and the one that nobody saw, only MAYBE a select few, and that, I believe, was solely out of fear of not being "accepted" for who he really was. That second person was the hurt one, the sad one, the struggling one. Maybe he didn't know who he really was since he primarily lived a life of a "character" in front of the world. I don't know. None of us like to be rejected. But when you're in the public eye for years and you're expected to act a certain way and BE a certain person, I only imagine how hard it would be to find one's "true self." Couple that with clinical depression and addictions, along with all of the other strongholds, and well, that's a toxic recipe for disaster! I read an article from someone who said they'd been CLOSE friends for over 30 years and knew of his battles with depression and addictions but NOT to the extent of it's true destruction and he said he felt Robin didn't have the capability of allowing that side to be seen much more than what his small circle already knew. How very sad to be so brilliant in some areas but to also be trapped by that brilliance! By this time, people were talking about the fact of him committing suicide was going to send him to eternal hell. Not people that KNEW him personally but lay people like you and me! People that had NO clue about who he really was as a person, a father, a husband, a son, a friend. Much less knowing about his salvation......

Before I begin my discussion on suicide, and his salvation, take a look at the below information found straight out of the Bible!

Christ died for US
John 3:16 - "And God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life."
Romans 5:8 - "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Acts 3:19 - "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."
John 3:36 - "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
John 1:12 - "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name."
Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."
Assurance of Salvation
John 10:27-28 - "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand."
Salvation ONLY in Him
John 14:6 - "Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Acts 4:12 - "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Remember, it isn't by the works you do, nor the hours you spend in church. It isn't about how good you are, or how good you THINK you are, that will get you saved and guarantee eternal life. Because it is important to understand that ALL people have a sin problem! Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" and in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." It's believing that Jesus died for your sins, repenting, asking for forgiveness and receiving the Son into your heart! And you will have everlasting life, reigning with the King forever more! Did you see conditions or exceptions there? Anywhere in those scriptures?! No! The conditions are set forth by your belief in Jesus Christ, your repentance of your sins, your receiving Jesus Christ as your Savior! Receiving the FREE GIFT. It isn't a gift until you accept it, receive it and hold it!

Back to the issue at hand....Suicide! This is an awful, terrible act and out of ALL the ways to die, suicide is the ONE act that not only leaves so many loved ones feeling as though they "missed" something, but it leaves behind guilt and blame and in some cases shame. Nobody understands suicide! Nobody really can even explain it because that would mean knowing the thoughts and minds of those who commit this tragedy. Only one person can do that and that's God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit! People call it "selfish" and "cowardly" or taking the "cowards" way out. To some, it is seen as such. Well, in the minds of those who take their lives, they BELIEVE the opposite. They believe everyone ELSE would be better off without them being a "burden" to their friends and family. That's how their minds work through this act and they convince themselves that they are being BRAVE by removing themselves from burdening others. Remember, if someone is at the point in their lives to commit suicide, they are NOT mentally stable. Whether they've been battling a mental disorder/disease all of their lives, or something recently "snapped," they have become unstable for whatever reason.

Suicide is MURDER. Let's make that distinction first. This makes suicide NO different than any other "sin" in the bible EXCEPT the ONE unpardonable sin of "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit." Matthew 12:31-32, "Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. v32) Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come." And in Mark 3:29, "but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to eternal condemnation” If you deny the Holy Spirit's entrance into your life, to work his sanctification in you, you cannot be cleansed from unrighteousness. Therefore, "blasphemy against the Holy Ghost" can be understood as a continued and persistently stubborn rejection of the gospel of salvation. This would be an "unpardonable sin" because as long as a person remains in unbelief, he voluntarily excludes himself from forgiveness of sin.

It would be difficult to argue that suicide is not a sin, because it's the taking of a human life, or to put it bluntly, murder. It isn't the murder of someone else, it's self-murder, but murder nonetheless. Murder is the taking of A LIFE. Yours or someone else's life. Period. The Bible clearly expresses the sanctity of human life in Exodus 20:13, "You shall not murder." God is the author of life, thus, the giving and taking of life ought to remain in his hands, Job 1:21, "And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” In Deuteronomy 30:19-20, you can hear the truest heart of God crying out for His people to choose life, "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; v20) that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” 

His Hands Hold YOU!
But, the question is, and remains to those who have been voicing their "opinions," can a sin as grave as suicide destroy one's salvation? Is suicide any different of a sin than the rest? Remember, suicide is an ACTION. It's not the root cause of the action but rather the RESULT of something else. The Bible tells us that at the moment of salvation a believer's sins are forgiven John 3:16, "And God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life." And again in John 10:28, "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." When we become a child of God, ALL of our sins, even those committed AFTER salvation, are no longer held against us. ANYONE who turns to Jesus for forgiveness is made righteous by His blood as stated in Romans 5:9, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him." He covers our ALL of our sins, through His shed blood on the cross of Salvation, past, present and future!!! When God purchased us with the blood of Christ, ALL of our sins were paid for (1 Peter 1:19). If a person who has truly received Jesus Christ as Savior, demonstrating that they have been redeemed, reconciled, forgiven, justified, etc., by God, commits suicide, the SIN of suicide was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Suicide is a terrible tragedy, but it does NOT negate the Lord's act of redemption! Our salvation rests securely in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. So then, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13! Will Jesus welcome home a believer who died at their own hands? I absolutely believe He will, tenderly and lovingly because He said ALL of our sins were forgiven and remembered no more. Would He not welcome home a believer who chose to have an abortion? Is this sin any different than suicide? He said that nobody would snatch them from His hands and that whosoever believes in Him shall have ETERNAL life. The Biblical basis for this is in  Romans 8:38-39, and I'm capitalizing the whole thing for emphasis upon His precious PROMISE to us, "FOR I AM PERSUADED THAT NEITHER DEATH NOR LIFE, NOR ANGELS NOR PRINCIPALITIES NOR POWERS, NOR THINGS PRESENT NOR THINGS TO COME V39) NOR HEIGHT NOR DEPTH, NOR ANY OTHER CREATED THING, SHALL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD." This covers A LOT of ground, wouldn't you say?! Are WE not "created things?" So then, how is it that we can trust in this beautiful promise that He so profoundly spoke to us, then deny its same comfort to those people who doubly grieve for brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and friends who, in horrible, desperate, clouded moments of total despair and in their darkest moments, decided to end their lives? I believe that Jesus died not only for the sins of us all, but for all of our sins, including the forgotten ones, even suicide.

Some people, Christians included, think suicide can't be forgiven. They say it's because the person who took their own life couldn't have repented of doing it and they were playing "God." I find terrible fault with this way of thinking because all of us commit sins that we're too spiritually cloddish to recognize for the sins that they are! And, as born again Christians, we ALL die with sins not named and repented of. That's why we have a Savior who remember our sins no more....covered us in His precious blood and forgave us of every single sin - past, present and future. Even those that we don't recognize as sin in our worldly fleshly ways. It's because of our humanly natural ways that we can't recognize all of our sins because we tend to justify them....sometimes to death. But if we are truly born again believers in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we will have eternal life with our Father in Heaven!

He Paid Our Sin Debt in FULL
For those Christians who believe taking one's own life is playing God and can condemn a fellow Christian to HELL, then I would suggest to look deep inside and remember that abortion, too, would be considered playing God just as much as murdering someone else would be considered playing God. Taking a life is taking a life no matter if it's yours or someone else's. And murder is a sin. No exceptions. Sin is forgiven, bought and paid for by the shed blood of Jesus for those who accepted Jesus as their Savior. I would also lovingly caution you not to be too quick to judge in this area because NOBODY knows if someone close to them could fall into this same kind of desperation, same kind of despair and suddenly decide to end their lives. Mental disorders are the "silent" disorders with shame attached. In many, they can go undetected for many years. Even the ones that seek and find help, still can "slip" into a bottomless pit and never fully recovery. There are those who have a temporary breakdown that can't find their way back. The list goes on. This can happen to anyone. Suicide has affected alot of lives and has touched many more. Suicide is a permanent “solution” to temporary problems. But it's really not about the ACT of suicide that counts. It's whether they are saved, born again, repentant Christians when they die! It's about their eternal salvation, not about the sins of commission.

As a quick side note, before I continue, is to make mention of being in bondage and under strongholds. Many Christians struggle with bondage and strongholds, most not even realizing it until something finally grabs hold of their spirits and shakes them up a little. Anyone who has been truly delivered from a stronghold or a form of bondage, understands how blinding they can be, how BINDING they can become, how heavy they can be to carry around and how they can cloud your views and judgment to a point of making poor life and spiritual choices. Satan is behind each of them. Lying through his teeth. Laughing the whole time. Being in bondage to a sin, or to sins, to the world itself, stifles your relationship and growth with the Lord BUT it doesn't mean He forsakes you or turns His back on you. Quite the opposite if we call out to Him with our hearts and souls! In our darkest moments, when we call upon the Lord the loudest, when our hearts are the most broken, is when He will be felt and seen the most! Sometimes, for some people, though, their illness, or bondage or strongholds consumes them and they find it more difficult to cry out during those times of total desperation. When you have strongholds and are under bondage and also have a mental illness/disorder, then how much more confused and desperate do you think that person becomes? Being in bondage is a very real thing. Some people would say something like, "Oh they are fighting their own demons." Or something like, "They've been fighting their own demons for years." And even something on the lines of, 'They're afraid to be alone in silence because they don't want to deal with their demons." Well, those are all pretty good examples of what being in bondage is like. Just because you are a saved, born again believer in Jesus, doesn't mean that everything changes overnight! We are sanctified daily! But the transformation doesn't happen overnight....and depending on if there is discipleship in that persons life, can also predict growth or lack thereof.

Every single day we are being worked on, growing, learning, changing, cleansed. It's easier for some than for others just as it is quicker for some than for others. Robin Williams was definitely in bondage to many things to a point that it overwhelmed him. It consumed him actually. He felt hopeless. And it's sad. Very sad. Nobody knows the torment this man suffered. Except for the Lord Himself! Yes, it's true that by accepting Jesus as our Savior transforms us from the inside out, but it doesn't happen overnight. Some very good, God fearing, born again believers in Christ suffered immensely unto their deaths because of bondage and strongholds, because of addictions and diseases. There are many more that weren't saved that went to their deaths the same way....which ones should WE, as Christians, be more concerned with?

Many commentators, bloggers and others reporting on this "breaking news" automatically ASSUMED that Robin Williams wasn't a born again Christian BECAUSE he committed suicide. How presumptuous! They flooded the comments sections with their thoughts and "truths" and they flooded the cyberspace areas with thoughts and memories. All on the first day of hearing about his death. All without even knowing for CERTAIN that it was suicide, even though it appeared that way. It's still presumptuous. It's still premature. So the next day, in a hidden article, tucked away nicely from the public view, late at night, there is the headlines...."Robin Williams "accepted Jesus Christ!"" For all to SEE. But did they? Not too many discussions arose after this hidden away article came out. Interesting? Not really. People would rather focus on other things of less importance and spewing condemnation of his eternal soul. I cringed but I prayed for peace! Now for those who followed Robin knew he had an Episcopalian upbringing and would base some of his jokes on that said upbringing. He was searching still when sometime later in his career, and through his depression, seeds had been planted by a few friends and one person in particular who shared the same kind of upbringing in the Episcopalian church and later became a born again Christian. This person is a Dr of Theology and said that after one of Robin's many stints in rehab, he "accepted Jesus Christ." He reminisced about their conversations and upbringing and how this Dr shared the gospel with Robin.

If you did follow Robin and happened to have the privilege to catch some of his interviews, on those rare occasions, when he would be able to contain the "public" Robin, he'd mention his reliance upon his FAITH and Jesus to get him out of his dark places. It was GENUINE. If you had eyes to see, then you would see how God was behind his eyes during those rare interviews. It wasn't a put on. Some things are just evident. He said at one point he realized, and I'm paraphrasing this, when he was at his lowest point, in the darkest part of his life, coming face to face with God made him come closer to Him and made him realize God and his family was ALL he had!!! As I read that, I was warmed to my spirit BUT furious at the same time!! Furious that people had already condemned this man without knowing anything about him. Or his HEART! Judging him before knowing truth. I was furious that they spoke about him spending eternity in hell because he committed suicide, to a world of HURTING people!!! To people who may have lost a loved one, that was a born again believer, to suicide now possibly putting doubts in their minds about where they will be spending eternal life. Furious that these Christians were HURTING the kingdom of God more than they were HELPING!!!

Then there's that statement, ""No one who is truly a Christian will succumb to addiction and depression or (fill in the blank) much less take his own life" which is tragically false. With all due respect, this is the sort of theology that damages God's children and minimizes one's ability to serve in God's Kingdom. There are "true Christians" all over the world who love Jesus with all their heart, who have faith in Him, but yet, are in bondage of some kind, or who suffer mental disorders/diseases. Being a Christian doesn't make any of us exempt from pain, suffering, flaws and mental disorders...but it does provide us a source in overcoming them daily. Still...with that being said, there are sometimes when we are overcome today by what we defeated yesterday. Remember what Ephesians 6:12 tells us, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." This battle is very real and while yours may not be provoking you toward suicide, depression or addiction, Robin's definitely was. What Robin lost was his perspective. I know you've all heard the saying, "Perception is reality." Well, Robin's perception became his reality. He may have lost perspective of life, but he didn't lose his status as a 'Christian' or his love from God.

And anyone who followed his career, and what he allowed in the public eye, also knew Robin Williams as a "giver" of himself and his wealth. He LOVED the  wounded warriors program and our soldiers, and put on some shows for them as well as visiting soldiers and supporting their cause financially. He LOVED children and supported St. Jude's hospital. He donated to causes that he DIDN'T brag about. He gave to others unselfishly because he loved. He did it humbly. Just like the bible tells us! Be humble givers and don't brag. He never did. He lived a primarily quiet life, out of the spotlight, unless he was promoting a movie or his recent television show, or a stand up comedy tour. Otherwise, he humbly stayed in the background, fighting his demons, struggling with his life, and silently crying out! There are lives he touched that none of us will ever know about. He made so many people laugh, and cry, and covered up his own sadness and tears. He had problems, sure. He had made mistakes. Sure. He wasn't perfect. But we all have problems, we all make mistakes and NONE of us are perfect. We ALL fall short of the glory of God! When Robin Williams accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior, he was sealed with the blood of Christ, promised eternal life and forgiven of ALL of his sins. The only thing that would condemn Robin Williams to hell is if he CHOSE NOT to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior. Not suicide. Not the sin that was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus. Let Jesus' own words be a comfort to all of you who may have experienced this kind of tragedy of a loved one who was a suffering Christian! Loved ones who have died at their own hands we can safely entrust to our gracious God!

He DOES Hear Your Cries!
I believe that, as Christians, we should worry less about whether Christians who have killed themselves go to heaven, and worry more about how we can help people like them find hope and joy in living! The loved ones whose spirits are, even right now, this very moment, slipping so silently toward death without knowing the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, these are our burdens. The most urgent problem facing us today and facing the world in general, staring us right in the faces, isn't the morality of suicide. It's the spiritual and mental despair that destructively drags the people down TO it. Satan is a thief! He lies to each of these hurting souls that they'd be better off dead. NOT TRUE!!! Satan is a liar! He wants to steal moments of joy that God has placed before you! Allow God to take victory over him. God knows each of us intimately, down to the very number of hairs on our heads, and He desires that ALL of us spend eternity in His presence. It's our choice though. His heart truly breaks over all the pain we suffer in this temporary life, but He promises us eternal life with Him, free of all life's burdens, through Jesus Christ. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." He knows that this life is difficult, so He wants to remove the burdens we carry. We, as Christians, should be very careful what we speak, how we speak and why we speak while publicly commenting, instructing or directing others TO Christ and FOR Christ. Our words are likened to life and death in the Bible.....and we have a huge responsibility to others in the Kingdom because many eyes are upon us! Both Christians and non-Christians alike. Our purpose here isn't to push people away, or to plant doubt where doubt shouldn't be! Doubt only draws people AWAY from Jesus....doubt is from Satan himself. Condemning people also draws people away from our Lord! Not a responsibility I want to assume! I desire to do the will of God! Our purpose is to love, comfort and share the TRUTH with others. Both Christians and Non-Christians alike. Our voices in writing may be the only voices they hear....So does a true, born again Christian lose their eternal place in heaven because they commit suicide? No.

The REAL question we need to ask ourselves, and not OTHERS, is, "Are WE doing the will of the Father? Or are we just acting like it?" If we truly have the love of God residing within us, we are mature enough to know that addiction, depression, idolatry, jealousy, pornography, murder and many more battles are being waged against God's children by Satan himself. Ephesians 6:12 once again, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."  This is why all of God's people need each we don't lose each other to the lies that Satan and the suicidal thoughts he whispers in the ears of our loved ones, or those we may know. We need each other to be encouraged to pray for one another and to serve each other in Jesus' name! I'm convinced there wasn't many, if any at all, of those kinds of people in Robin's circle doing those kinds of things for him. This serves as a grave reminder to be sensitive to others around us, to be able to spot someone who may be battling these same battles, and who just might be spiraling into that deep darkened pit of despair. Suicide is an act taken in RESPONSE to feeling absolutely defeated by life.

Robin Williams death left me convinced that what had driven him to commit suicide had been his inability see the Hope and Joy that Jesus set in front of him because of his mental instability that consumed his very existence. He struggled for many many years to try to shake his addictions, to conquer his inner demons that produced his clinical depression and that would eventually cause him to feel like a failure in everyone's eyes, but especially his own. He couldn't feel that way because he was expected to make the whole world laugh. His expectations, not others. I'm convinced that as he looked in the mirror, he didn't see the person the whole world saw. The person he created for the world to see was the person he wanted to be but just couldn't for whatever reason. I'm convinced that Robin Williams saw a totally different man that was broken, bound up, sad, and fractured. his death also left me convinced that we, as Christians, need more compassion and love towards the battles of others, and less of fingers wagging and condemnation. Nobody escapes this life without sin....there are two choices, to have those sins covered by the blood of Jesus and to accept Him as our Savior, spending eternity in Heaven with our Father, or to go to our death with our sins fully exposed, refusing the free gift of Salvation that is offered to us in this life, spending eternity in Hell. I've made my choice many years ago.....I pray that you have chosen Jesus too. If you haven't, please take this time, where you're at right now, and believe on Jesus Christ as the only Begotten Son, who was born of a virgin, died on the Cross for ALL of our sins, who bought and paid for our sin debt in full, and rose three days later, repent of your sins, ask for forgiveness, and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior!

In closing, with relation to depression, which is the primary reason for suicide in the first place, there isn't anything more of an extreme act of self-hate than taking one's own life and often the need to express such an overpowering and consuming emotion will manifest itself completely by the act of taking one's life! Self-hate comes in many forms. Some are seen, but many more are unseen, hidden deep within the recesses of our minds. Those are the ones that only God sees. This kind of clinical depression  drowns out God's voice of love and redemption just long enough to be overtaken. Asking for help is hard for anyone, and more so for someone suffering the degree he was...and most people can only see the depths of someone's pain on the surface. Nobody can see the true depths of someone else's internal pain, suffering or hopelessness. So, PLEASE, if your are reading this for whatever reason you were brought here in the first place, and YOU are struggling with thoughts of suicide, battling depression, or some other stronghold I ask you with all the love inside of me, to seek the help of a Pastor, Spiritual Mentor or Christian counselor. Someone you can trust who will lead you to the hope that can only be found in the Lord! Don't try to carry this battle on your own and don't try to carry all the burdens by yourself!!!! The devil is fighting hard for you; so whatever you do, don't give in to his lies. Don't listen to him. Realize that whatever you are facing will pass. Seek out someone to pray for you and with you. Seek out help! But more than anything else, SEEK THE FACE OF THE LORD! You may not think He's listening, but He is!!! Cry out and He will comfort you!!! There are those who love you dearly and want to help....Especially Jesus! May your darkest moments be interrupted by the purest love of God displayed through others He sends into your life for that very moment! May the lies that cloud your life be cleared by the TRUTH of God's love!

May you rest in peace in the arms of God!

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Right-Moving vs Forward Moving - Which One Are YOU?

Let's take a look at what it means to be forward moving first and then we'll compare it to being RIGHT-MOVING. This might surprise you! To be forward moving means that you are moving ahead, things are easily falling into place. Almost too easily. Everything APPEARS good, solid and smooth sailing. We move forward because of choices. We move forward because of desires. We even move forward because we convince ourselves that what we've chosen to do, and have succeeded in accomplishing, is what the Lord led us to do. Convincing ourselves of these little lies can, and will, often times take us directly outside the will of our Lord! We need a job so we find one with much prayer. We take the first job offered because it “appears” like it was sent from the Lord, an answered prayer. But the danger lies behind the word “appears” because we didn't listen for His voice! We prayed. Yes. We were in need. Yes. But, what good is it if we don't stop and listen to what He wants us to do or how He wants us to move forward? Well, there is no good to be found in not listening. It just means it'll take us much longer to get back around to what He intended for us in His perfect plan in the first place! We're hard nuts to crack sometimes, aren't we? If you're honest with yourself, the answer is a screaming YES!

So by forward moving, we appear to the fallen world around us that it's ALL from the Lord and that's why we keep moving forward. Most Christians want to appear this way, even when they know inside that it's not really what it appears to be! What we, as Christians, should be striving for, is RIGHT-MOVING. That's the beautiful part of the journey anyway, to be in His will, walking His chosen path, doing His directed work. I know some people, professing Christians, who are constantly making their own choices, from their WANTS and desires, manipulating the outcome of “prayer” so that when they achieve what THEY WANT, and what the outcome should be in THEIR eyes, they tell the world it was from the Lord. Here's the danger in proclaiming this. I'm going to give another example from of those professing Christians to drive this point home because it's very important to grasp this! These same people will get their desired results because either they don't want to wait on what the Lord is doing or where the Lord is directing them, or they feel entitled to what their desires are based on the Scripture in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.” The danger is when, after they've proclaimed all of their desires to be from the Lord because they're entitled to them, those desires turn out to not be in the will of the Lord and don't turn out quite the way they expected. It gives a bad and mixed message to the unbelievers who are watching and listening. If the Lord gave them the desires of their hearts, why are they so miserable, complaining or changing direction, they might ask themselves!

However, there is more to this Scripture that we need to look at in it's full context. Let's look at the verse before it first and then I'll tell you the verses 1-9. In Psalm 37:3, it says, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.” THEN it says to delight yourself ALSO in the Lord- emphasis mine – and He shall give you the desires of your heart. OK. Pretty clear to me that there are CONDITIONS in receiving the desires of our hearts. We are to trust the Lord, we are to do good, we are to dwell in the land and feed on His FAITHFULNESS! Now, let's look at verses 1-9 in their entirety. Psalm 37:1-9 reads as follows:

"v1)Do not fret because of evildoers, Nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.
v2) For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, And wither as the green herb.
v3) Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. v4) Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. v5) Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. v6) He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, And your justice as the noonday. v7) Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. v8) Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret - it only causes harm."

Now if you read these verses together, there are a lot of conditions, requests and commands. Committing our way to the Lord is an important part of receiving blessings and desires of our hearts! "Commit" in the Hebrew is "galal" (#1556 in the Strong's Hebrew dictionary), and it literally means to "roll it over, remove" it to our Heavenly Father and trust Him to take care of all those things that are troubling, making us anxious and are problems for us. This is a promise that we can count on, "Trust Him and He shall bring it to pass." There are two conditions that must be done on our part before "He shall bring it to pass". First we have to give all of those problems willingly over to God, and secondly, we have to trust and have faith in the Lord that He'll bring it to pass. But remember,  our request HAS to be within the will of God. Most Christians just can't cut those problems loose and turn them over to God because they have to find something to worry about. For some people, worrying makes them feel alive. Commit your problems to Him, He is the God of the Universe, and ONLY He can change the minds of the people when they are set against us.

Stand out!
I've always compared forward-moving people with those who are going with the flow or swimming with the current. It's easy. It's painless. It doesn't require exertion. It doesn't require pain. And it doesn't require feeling uncomfortable. But more so, is that forward-moving doesn't require WAITING ON THE LORD! These people are the ones who appear to have everything under control, who seem to have everything going their way. But a closer look, and you will find that's not the case at all. Just because you are moving forward doesn't mean you are right-moving! Anyone can move forward, but not everyone will be rightly moving in the Will of God Almighty! That's the difference. Forward moving usually is from our own doing, our own choices and from our own inability to wait for the Lord, for His timing and stay in His Will. Forward moving, from my observations, seems to look good from the starting point, when one starts off good, but finishes poorly. Or it ends badly. For example, we make a decision without waiting on the Lord's direction and convince ourselves the decision we've just made IS from the Lord. We WANT this "thing" that we've made the decision on because it fulfills our desires of the heart. It looks like things are going pretty good. For a temporary amount of time. The end result, which is oftentimes completed in front of those who've you've proclaimed the Lord's Will in front of, doesn't end so well. So, then, IF this was the Will of our Loving Lord, then it wouldn't have caused us shame and embarrassment and it definitely wouldn't have caused Him to look like He didn't know what He was doing.

To “swim against the current or tide” is an idiom meaning basically to go against popular thought, popular beliefs or popular practice. I compare this to "right-moving." The Collins English Dictionary defines this idiom as, “to resist prevailing opinion”. It has it's origins as a Shakespearean metaphor in Henry IV where it was used to describe characteristics in opposition to one another. Being so, to “swim against the current or tide” ultimately carries with it stark denotations and connotations of opposition, resistance, and contradiction. This doesn't really sound all too appealing or encouraging does it? Why do you suppose it doesn't sound appealing? Well, because it requires a lot of work! It requires being uncomfortable. It requires your FAITH!

Swimming upstream, against the current, takes strength, endurance, focus and determination. It's challenging. Going against the current is the hard way, and in many ways, it's the unpopular way. But while many prefer swimming with the current, or going with the "flow" so to speak, there are many more who choose to take the challenge. Swimming against the current sets us apart. It even sometimes alienates us from the "popular" crowd. But because we are NOT of this world, it shouldn't matter if we're alienated. We're instructed not to take on the "appearances" of the world, do as the world does nor are we to swim in the same "current" as they do. For some, that's extremely hard not to do. Let's look at John 17:14-19 before moving on. Jesus says, on the eve of His Crucifixion, "I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. v15) My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. v16) They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. v17) Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth." Now that we see what Jesus prayed for us even before He was nailed to the Cross, we know we are not OF this world. We are IN it, and must live here until the Lord Jesus Christ calls us home, but we are not to be conformed TO it! In verse 15, Jesus is praying for us to be protected from the evil one, or Satan. So why is that? Why would Jesus pray that if we are His children? The answer is found in John 17:18-19, "v18) As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. v19) And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth."

He has SENT us INTO the world, to be sanctified by the Truth but not to act, become or conform to the world in which we were sent INTO! As Christians, we must constantly be reminded of this because it plays a role in the direction we choose to move in....for the glory to God by "right-moving" or for our own selfish desires by "forward-moving." Both directions are a testimony to the unbelievers, although ONLY one GLORIFIES our Savior! The best part of this choice of right-moving is that with this choice, because it's the WILL of God, ALSO enables us to MOVE FORWARD with God! If we are only forward moving without the Will of God, then we aren't able to move forward WITH Him.....Oh what an awesome God we serve!!!

We are faced with all kinds of choices every single day. In every area of our lives. If we choose the right way, which is the way of the Lord and is RIGHTEOUS, then there will be a peace like no other! Philippians 3:13-14 “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” I have realized there are two things that need to take place in order to move forward WITH God that will oftentimes help with our choices in desiring the Will of God. 1) Stop dwelling on the past. 2) Reach out in front of you, taking the narrow path, swim AGAINST the current and let Jesus place within you a new and positive vision for your future, and then take hold of it. He WANTS us to have a beautiful future. No doubt about it!!! To dwell on the past, on your failures, hurts or disappointments, only serves to do a few things for you.....1) It bogs you down. Makes you feel heavy-hearted and full of despair. 2) It usually brings you into a depression in which you live and that depression holds you back from giving you the strength to swim against that current. 3) It tends to make you feel ashamed of past failures, either in life in general, or maybe something with school, work,or relationships. It makes you feel DEFEATED. Then you allow those moments to linger as darkened memories that will only stress you out and haunt you. Recipes for disaster!

His WAY!
Scriptures say, in Isaiah 43:18-19, "v18) “Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. v19) Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert." I have experienced this a time or two. Over the years, I've learned how God gives us signals when He wants us to let go of one thing, so that we can take hold of something else that He wants to give to us, or LEAD us to! Sometimes, He removes His grace, so that a job, position, or task that we once enjoyed becomes tedious and joyless because we've overstayed His will and became comfortable with the "comfortable." Other times, the Lord puts pressure on us, sometimes ALOT of pressure, squeezing us off of the old path, and redirecting us onto a new and better one. If we listen carefully, which is what HE wants us to do in the first place, we may hear His voice telling us something like, "I'm done with that! I have something else I want you to do now...I have something else I want to give you now.....I have someplace else I want to TAKE YOU!" Every time God asked me to let go of one thing that maybe I wanted to hold onto a little longer than I should have, it's always been because He had something even better, more fulfilling and more precious for me waiting up ahead!

However, before we can truly grab hold of any, and all, of the new things that God wants to do in our lives, we really have to let go of the old things that serve to only be a stumbling block. And it's a test of our faith. None of us like to be tested, really. But a FAITH that can't be TESTED is a FAITH that can't be TRUSTED!!!! Can't trust something that we haven't tested out first! When we start to sense that the Lord is leading us into new territory, unfamiliar territory, we have only two choices. We can either choose to righteously move forward in our faith, or "right-moving," or we can shrink back in fear, swimming WITH the current and go with the flow. What we need to remember that in times like these, it's that failing to trust God that always robs us of His best for us! I don't know about you, but I WANT His best for ME!!! Anytime I've swam with the flow of the current, MY best didn't compare to HIS best for me and learned some valuable lessons along my journey that I WANT His best for me! His best for me is so much greater than anything I can imagine! And learning to trust Him implicitly in some of the hardest, most difficult of times, has made some other people scratch their heads at how I walked out on complete Faith KNOWING it was the will of God, but not being able to explain it. Showing it sometimes conquers all the doubt though and I wake each day asking to be used and when you do so, it means you must be willing to surrender and do whatever, and go wherever, He calls you to do or say. However hard that may be.

Isaiah 43:19 tells us something so beautiful, "Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert." Also in Job 17:9, "Yet the righteous will hold to his way, And he who has clean hands will be stronger and stronger." The path is narrow and Jesus never said it was going to be easy. In fact He told us that He was hated and we will be also. But His promises for us He gave so that we could live them out fully in Christ! We can't move forward and righteously move if we are always looking back. We must look forward and see ourselves as the person Christ knows we will become regardless of our past. We are to be separate from the ways of the world and live as Christ did and that means swimming against the current, right-moving in His Will for us, and TRUSTING Him and practicing our Faith! The world should see the difference in us and through us. We aren't to be driven by our old desires and impulses. We must put on the new nature, head in a new direction and have the new way of thinking that the Spirit of God within us have given us. The renewing of the mind is imperative to right moving! Our thoughts oftentimes are listened to over the Holy Spirit! If our thoughts line up with the Holy Spirit and we listen closely for guidance, and WAIT to act, then it becomes easier and easier to find that strength to swim against the current and to find the Will of God for our lives!  Look to His Word for direction on how to live because it's very clear! Our attitudes and behaviors should reflect the Spirit of God that is in us, not the worldly lives around us. Don’t live as the ungodly do, because they are hopelessly confused by refusing to believe receive the Lord Jesus Christ. We need to reach out to those who are confused and lost, not become like them. Our approach will either repulse them or encourage them, plant a seed or throw it over their hearts. We need to let Him continue to transform us daily into the new creation that we ARE.

John 3:30 tells us simply put, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Wow, just how simple is THAT!?!! That's why I don't have lists anymore, other than my grocery list or maybe a to-do list for TODAY. Lists bogs us down and reminds us of failures. Failures present depression and defeat and defeat keeps us swimming with the current in the world around us. We're constantly to be righteously moving forward, growing in Jesus Christ and doing all we can to get the message of God’s love to others. Some are called to go out face to face, some are called to preach and some, as I am, are called to reach out through the written word! We have to make sure that we're living a life that reflects Christ’s nature to attract others to Him, to point others in the right direction. We need to fully understand that the Bible tells us to press on towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Even if it's a hard path, even if it takes us out of our comfort zone and even if we feel we're not well equipped. We're in a race for souls and we can’t go back and retrieve any time lost from the previous years. I want to live my life one day at a time, asking the Lord what He requires of me and how He wants to use me today. Tomorrow isn't promised to us! Seeking His plans for my life on a daily basis is sufficient because then at the end of the year, when most of us look over the events that had taken place, I won't be disappointed!

We aren't defined by what happens TO us, but rather by how we REACT to what happens to us! I tell others this all the time because as mere mortals with feelings and heart and emotions, we have natural tendencies to want to react less than Christ-like for sure! Is it hard to not react in our flesh!? You bet! But it is necessary to react to all of our circumstances and situations with the mind of Christ and react Christ-like! The Holy Spirit always gives us a warning in advance.....we either choose to listen to it or we choose to turn from that still small voice. I always tell people that there is ALWAYS someone looking on at what is going on in your life, how you are handling it and in the way that you are dealing with it when you are proclaiming to be a child of God. What we SPEAK, how we ACT, how we REACT all is a testimony to others about how good and LOVING our God is or it COULD send a negative message that God is judgmental and angry. We have a big responsibility to glorify our Lord in this fallen world. It's not easy, but Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us and comfort us.....

God promised that He has a great plan for you, for all of us that are His Christ believing children. When there are things that you don’t understand, difficult events that don't make sense, difficult roads that you must travel, don’t let yourself get in what you DON'T know or understand because that equals FEAR. Fear holds us back. Things may seem like there are pieces missing to the puzzle, and that very well could be true! It's only in HIS timing, in HIS will, and for HIS glory that God has more puzzle pieces coming your way. Those new "pieces" to the puzzle just may be the right opportunities, the right people at just the right time, the right words spoken at the right moment, or the right journey for God's perfect Will. God’s timing is always perfect. Keep righteously moving forward because what you gain through the difficult path is, and will be, much greater than what can be attained TEMPORARILY through swimming with the current. One day you'll be able to look back and realize the beautiful masterpiece that God designed for your life. For all of His children's lives! We just need to have a deeper inner trust and faith, a renewing of our minds, and a confidence deep down in our hearts that reminds us, “God has a great plan for my life. I know He is guiding each step I take. And even though I don’t understand this, somehow, someway, He will work it out to my advantage.”

Our determination to choose "right-moving" over "forward-moving" can make all the difference between living a life of frustration, complaining and disappointments or living the abundant life that God has waiting for you. The longer you've been a born again Christ believer, the more, and better, you know that the Christian life is far from easy. And the trouble with easy, is it's quite often not RIGHT. It's EASY to go along with the crowd. It's EASY to be self-indulgent and careless about others. It's EASY to do what the world does, like the things, clothes, music, styles that the world likes. It's EASY to live like the unbelievers. Determination means that you fix your eye on Christ and keep it on him, despite detours and distractions. What pulls you off the path, whether it's Satan or your own choices, you'll probably never really know, but there are sufficient temptations to sidetrack you along the way. Determination helps you get back on the main line, heading toward God.

The model for DETERMINATION is found in 2 Corinthians, 11:24-26, "v24) From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. v25) Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; v26) in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;" Paul wasn't going to let anyone or anything stop him from his mission of spreading the Gospel. Don't get discouraged if you're not as strong or determined as Paul was, but on the other hand, you CAN compare your setbacks and roadblocks to his and fashion this statement around them and think, "If Paul can overcome those with which he came against, all with God's help, then I KNOW I can overcome my problems with the strength in the Lord and with the same power that God gave him."

Paul learned to rely on Christ for his strength. He couldn't muster what was needed on his own. Neither can you. None of us are. Our own is weak. Our own is selfish. Our own is not perfect. It's possible that God could show you that you need to change YOUR plans. He might require you to back off until He has time to prepare conditions for you. He might set roadblocks in your way to stop you from manipulating the outcome. When you're in His will and need determination to go on, He'll give it to you. Don't be afraid to ask for His strength and determination. Don't be ashamed of being weak because really, it's only when we acknowledge our weaknesses that we are the strongest in Jesus. It's when you ALLOW God to replace your weakness with His strength and His power that the victory will be won. His timing is crucial. Have you ever heard it said that "The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing." Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that, "To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:" I recommend you read Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 for further understanding because the bottom line is in verse 11, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end."

Which one are YOU? Right-Moving or Forward-Moving? It's never too late to change the path you're on! God's plans for your life is eternal!

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