Two to six and a new perspective


“The cancer has spread throughout more of your body than we had anticipated. You have two to six months to live.”

No one wants to hear those words spoken from the mouth of your doctor. In the natural, it’s devastating and completely overwhelming. It’s a slap in the face as you suddenly realize how frail life truly is.

There has been division in our family for years. On my wife’s side. No one denies that fact. Satan has used words, situations, and events to chip continually away at unity until nothing remains but pain and torment. He has been rather successful at it.

People always ask, why does it take someone in the family getting cancer to bring everyone together?

I see this entire situation in a completely different perspective.

First, here is one thing I don’t see. I don’t see God trying to teach anyone a lesson by punishing them with a disease. Good things come from above, not sickness, death, or pain.

I see this as the enemy attacking someone’s body with a disease that originates straight from the pit of Hell. The enemy is here to kill, steal, and destroy. If you are going through anything that involves death, loss, or destruction, it’s from satan.

I also stopped asking why the possibility of death brings people together and started to realize that anything the devil tries to do will ultimately fail.

The Cross, for example. Satan thought he had secured a wondrous victory, when, in fact, quite the opposite happened. He suffered his worst defeat when Jesus walked out of the tomb.

The same thing is happening in our current family situation.

Romans 8:28 says:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

The enemy has tried to rip us further apart with cancer, but the family is coming together. Once again, father of lies, you lose.

There is no doubt in my mind that the journey will be long. The walls built up over the years between everyone are stronger than reinforced steel.

Every meaningful embrace. Every soft kiss. Every kind word. Moments of shared tears. Those are the weapons we will use to defeat the enemy once again. Love will be the wrecking ball to division and strife.

And we have hope. Instead of going the chemo, medicine, and drugs route, my father-in-law is going all natural. There are countless stories of people diagnosed with stage 4 cancer who have survived. Juicing. Enzymes. B17. The plan of attack has already begun, and there is hope for many more years of life. Good quality of life.

The devil’s plan will fail. Regardless of what happens throughout this journey, we still win.

We will move forward in faith.

Faith that all things do indeed work together for good.

Faith that the Spirit inside of us has the power over sin and death.

Faith that relationships will be restored and better than they’ve ever been.

Faith that love never fails.

Faith that no matter what we see with our eyes, nothing changes the truth of who we are in Christ. Nothing changes God’s love for us. And nothing can ever defeat the hope we will hold onto with reckless abandon.

We won’t be shaken.

The enemy has already been defeated.

No matter what happens, we are living in a win-win situation.

 

There are two ways in which you can help.

The list of food items alone needed to attack this naturally is staggering. Juicing requires so many pounds of ingredients per week. Austin will also be taking pancreatic enzymes, B17 supplements, and an array of other natural remedies. Anything you can provide to help us on this journey is most certainly appreciated. Donate HERE

The other way is with your support and prayers. We have a Caring Bridge page set up where you can keep up to date on Austin’s progress and also leave words of encouragement. Click HERE

Am I Worthy?


From I Was There

The shame haunts me on a daily basis.

I’ve tried to be a good person, but I always end up failing. It’s not easy. It never has been. I am a woman with needs. I thought once I was married, everything would be perfect. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that is not the case at all. There are times when I still feel alone, unwanted, and not very important. In his eyes, I’m just an object, or more like a slave. He thinks my sole purpose for existing on this earth is to serve him. If I don’t make him happy, he threatens to leave me. How can I continue to live like this?

My mother told me, on numerous occasions, that divorce is a sin. A sin that God will punish severely. I’ve always had a difficult time understanding that. My husband doesn’t beat me, but abuse takes on many different forms. Is it still a sin to leave him? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. I’m afraid of what might happen if I leave. I don’t want to disappoint my mother, but most importantly, I don’t want to sin against God. I’m lost and confused and don’t know what to do anymore.

I don’t have anyone I can really talk to. My friends are busy with their own lives, and their own set of problems. I tried to pray, but I just don’t know what to say. How do I even know anyone is up there listening to me? There has been so much talk about God and His Son, Jesus, but I have yet to see anything worth believing in. I’ve heard the stories of miracles being performed, but nothing has ever happened to me personally. I just need something to believe in. Something I can use as my anchor in this world so full of uncertainty and confusion.

I make no excuses for what I’ve done. Yes, my marriage is failing, and I am nothing more than a lost soul searching for help, but I have to face the consequences of my actions. I don’t know what the penalty is, but somehow I will endure it. My mother hasn’t spoken to me in three days. I didn’t think she knew about what happened, but her actions indicate otherwise. I know they will be coming soon to determine my punishment. I just have to be strong.

I hear commotion outside, and I open the front door. Several men, with their long beards and flowing robes, stand there in heated argument. They stop talking as I walk forward. I see my mother standing off to the side, watching intently. My husband is working and will not be around to witness what is happening. The other man is there with the group, looking at me with eyes full of contempt. I don’t understand that. He told me that he loved me.

I stand there, with hands stretched out in a gesture of surrender.

One man walks over to me. “Do you know what sin you have committed?”

I nod and drop my head in shame. “Yes, adultery.”

“Do you know what the penalty is for such a sin?”

“No.”

“According to the Law of Moses, you are to be stoned to death.”

My heart begins to beat faster, and I swallow the lump of fear that has formed in the back of my throat. These were the teachers of the law. It wasn’t possible they were wrong in their knowledge of sin, or its consequences. They had studied the ancient Scriptures more than anyone.

He turns to address the small crowd that has gathered, but before he can speak, one of the older men walks over. “Why don’t we take her to the Teacher? The one they call Jesus. Let’s see what he has to say about this woman. If He doesn’t do what is required, we will have reason to suspect His true intentions.”

They all agree. They push me forward toward the temple, and the crowd follows. I feel the eyes of every person staring into my back. I am so ashamed. Not only have I brought disgrace to myself, but I have embarrassed my family as well. I am terrified. I didn’t know the penalty for adultery was death. I have seen people being stoned before, and it’s not a pleasant way to die. Tears stream down my face as we enter the temple courtyard, and I see a large group of people.

They are all standing around listening as someone speaks. As we approach, the crowd turns, and starts to move back, giving us a path. We reach the front of the crowd where the one they call Jesus is sitting. He stops talking and looks at us.

For several moments, there is complete silence. I am trembling as I stand there awaiting my judgment. I keep my head lowered, facing the ground so he doesn’t see the shame reflecting in my eyes. I begin to hear whispers from the crowd, and my face burns with embarrassment. I try to stop my tears, but it’s futile. The stories of this Jesus have been spreading like wildfire. According to some, He can cast out demons and heal the sick. What will He do to me now?

Two men walk up from behind and force me to my knees. “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. According to the Law of Moses, we are to stone such a woman. Now what do you say?”

I glance up through my tears. Jesus looks at the men for a couple of seconds, and then kneels to the ground. With His finger, He begins to write in the dirt. He says nothing. A murmur trickles through the crowd as He continues to write and ignore the question. I notice that all of the men who came to my house are now holding large rocks.

“Teacher?” the man repeats. “Surely we are to obey the Law of Moses and stone this woman. She has sinned against God. What do you say?”

Jesus writes several more things, and then He stands up. “Let any one of you, who is without sin, throw the first stone.”

The men roughly push me from my knees to a prone position on the ground. I close my eyes and cover my head with both hands. The intense pain of rocks slamming into my body will begin at any moment. It’s often hard to recognize a person after they have been stoned. I wasn’t sure if my mother was still around, but I hoped she wouldn’t remain to watch me die. I am terrified, but I know there must be a consequence of my failure to keep the law. I am a sinner.

I hear the sound of a rock hitting the ground. At first, I assume someone has thrown a stone, and missed. I hear the sound again, and I open my eyes. In utter disbelief, I watch as one by one, the men open their fists and allow the rocks to fall harmlessly to the ground. They slowly turn and walk away. Following their example, the remaining crowd walks away as well. I don’t know what to say or do. Will Jesus stone me Himself? Is that the point of making them all leave? He wants to be the one to punish me?

I rise to my knees and look up. He is staring directly at me. Surprisingly, He is not looking at me with contempt or condemnation. His eyes burn with an expression of love that I have never felt before. What I have done is unforgivable. Am I worthy of this love? How could I have committed such a sin against God, and this man is looking at me with love? Why isn’t He picking up the rocks and stoning me like I deserve?

He smiles and offers His hand. He helps me to my feet. “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?” He asks.

I fight back the sobs that threaten to overtake my entire being. I shake my head. “No one is left, Sir.”

“Then neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”

You say, but I say


Have you ever read Matthew chapter 5? I’m talking about reading past the Beatitudes (which are no less awesome and amazing) and starting at verse 21.

Jesus goes into the “You have heard it said, but I say” section that is truly mind blowing.

He is basically saying that we have been home-schooled in the wrong home. We think with the mind of the world, the enemy, and then He proceeds to shred every bit of human wisdom and reasoning, replacing it with truth.

Let me back up a bit. Proverbs 14:12 says:

There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

The way that seems right to a man is human wisdom, human reasoning, and human logic. Three things that desperately attempt to undermine the truth of God’s Word, and lead us down the path of destruction.

Think about it. When we hear a story of two people torturing and beating a 3 year old boy to death, we immediately get angry. There’s no way around it. That is a heart-breaking story full of loss and pain that most of us can’t even fathom. I read so many comments on Facebook from people, who say they are Christians, talking about what they thought would be a fair punishment. Death penalty. They need to be tortured themselves. Someone should forget the judicial system and kill them both. Things like that.

It breaks my heart.

Those comments sound normal. Even to other Christians, they sound like valid suggestions, especially the death penalty idea.

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Wait. What?

That’s completely opposite of how we want to react. Those people deserve to be punished.

If we want what we deserve, we can all go to Hell. 

We deserve eternity in the fiery pit. If Jesus thought like we do, He would have never died on the Cross.

Human reasoning would have said “But wait, I haven’t done anything wrong. I did nothing but help these people. I healed them. I fed them. I spent time with them when no one else would. You know what, I don’t deserve to be treated this way. Look, Father. I’m done with these people. They don’t deserve my innocent blood. They have completely rejected me in every way possible. Wait, what are they yelling out? Are they saying Barabbas? Barabbas??? Are you serious??? You have GOT to be kidding me! Come on! I’m done. I’m outta here. Beam me back up.”

Can you imagine those words not only coming out of the mouth of Jesus, but even running thorough His mind?

Of course not. It sounds absurd.

Another comparison can be found in John 20:16-18, which says:

16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!”

She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

Jesus is alive. Mary sees Him, and didn’t even know who He was at first. Look very carefully at what He says. “Go to My brethren.”

Wow.

He could have said “Go tell those knuckle heads, who are all in hiding, that you have seen me, and where I’m going now.”

The disciples deserted Him, betrayed Him, and didn’t believe Him, yet He still referred to them as His brothers. To me, that is a big deal.

How do we act towards people who do those very same things to us?

It’s easy to love those who love us right back. The key to living like Jesus is to also love our enemies.

No matter what situation or circumstances we find ourselves in, let’s follow the letters in red. We can’t go wrong with those.

Labels


Everything has a label. Actually, everyone has a label as well.

I read in my Bible that we aren’t supposed to regard people in the flesh once we are born again. Well, here, let me show you. 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 says (emphasis mine):

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. Truth just leaps off the pages and screams from the mountaintops. If you combine this with the other passage about our fight not being against flesh and blood, it all begins to make sense.

When we label people, we are regarding them in the flesh. We fail to see their created value.

You’re pro abortion.

You’re a homosexual.

You’re Catholic.

You’re Presbyterian.

You’re Mormon.

You’re a devil worshiper.

You’re an alcoholic.

People find their identity in that stuff. The bottom line is this: We are all people, human beings, created in the image of God. Period.

Galatians 3:28 says:

28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

That’s awesome.

Insert a label into that verse to take the place of Jew or Greek, slave or free.

Paul isn’t saying we are all the same. Like robots. We are all one in Christ. Everything was made through Christ. We were created in His image. We are all sons and daughters of the King. We all have a destiny and purpose. It’s why we were created.

To manifest the image of God here on Earth.

To become love. That’s why we’re here. How can we do that if all we see is a label?

If you’re a Baptist, and you come across a Lutheran, you’re already thinking about differences in beliefs and how you will defend your doctrine, etc. It’s crazy.

We get so tied up in debate, the desire to be right, and our own arrogance, we fail to see people through the lens of God.

And there is only one way He looks at us. With love.

How do I know that? Because the Bible says that God so loved the world, that He gave. And you know what is truly awesome? It will say that same thing tomorrow. And the next day. And the next.

There is only one way I want to be labeled, and that’s as a believer.

I’m not any one denomination. I’m not a result of my past. I have been bought with a price. I’m born again. The old is gone, and all things have become new. Not some things. All.

Once we realize that, and understand that we are no longer bound by sin, it will change everything.

Let’s throw away the labels of denomination and society, and see people through love.

To the brave men and women


I wrote this military tribute a couple years ago. I was at work one day just thinking about the drastic differences of my life compared to that of someone who serves in our military. Thank you is never enough.

 

Thank You Isn’t Enough
Copyright 2012 Chris Martin

It’s a typical morning. My dreams dissolve into the sound of two little girls running up and down the hallway. Birds chirp outside the window as golden sunlight trickles in through the half-open blinds. Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I greet my wife with a kiss and stumble into the kitchen. With the press of a button, frothy hot liquid pours into my mug. The aroma brings a smile to my face.

Thousands of miles away, a young man sits on the damp earth, trembling. Bombing continued throughout the night, shaking the very ground beneath him. His eyes burn from lack of sleep. He grips the M16 rifle across his lap with both hands as his thoughts drift away to a normal life he can barely remember. Tears dampen his face as he recalls the last words his mother spoke to him right before he left.

After hugging the wife and kids, I walk downstairs to my office, carefully sipping my coffee.  I sit in a very comfortable chair waiting for my computer to boot up so I can begin my work day. I look outside and watch in wonder as the day comes alive. Reaching beyond the trees, a hawk soars across the crisp blue sky that seems to go on forever. He dips toward the horizon where sky reaches down and kisses the earth.

A husband and father of two glances up, wishing the sun would break through the smoke and haze that surrounds him every moment. He ties the laces on his boots as he prepares for another day of work. He has been selected to go on patrol. They will search the face of everyone they meet, looking for signs of friend or foe. Two weeks ago, one of their own was killed when a thirteen year old boy tossed a grenade across their path. He pulls out a picture of his wife and two little girls and imagines what it would be like to hug and kiss them.

I answer the phone with a smile. It’s the tenth call of the day. I talk jovially about the weather and the customer’s favorite football team. After twenty minutes of troubleshooting, the problem is solved and we end the call. I document everything in my ticket and decide it’s time to take a break.

A mother of four speaks softly, but with authority as she directs several families to leave the building. Within minutes there will be nothing left but a pile of rubble and ash.  It’s a suspected safe house for anti-American extremists and it’s targeted for destruction. The innocent women and children are being ushered out before the order is given to launch the attack. She urges them forward; the gun in her hand speaks louder than her words. There’s no time to take a break.

I’ve put in my eight hours and now it’s time to go upstairs and create everlasting memories with my family. There is a choice to be made. Chicken or hamburger for supper. We decide on chicken and I fire up the grill. Thirty minutes later, we’re sitting at the table eating and talking about our plans for the weekend.

A young girl, just three years out of high school stares at the scene before her. Her training never prepared her for this moment. On one side of the road, a small child screams in terror as wild dogs attack. On the other side of the road, rebel forces hold a pregnant woman at gunpoint. There is a choice to be made. Try to save the child, ignoring the fact he might be wired with explosives or go for the woman which would undoubtedly draw an onslaught of gunfire.

I lay on my bed, warm and safe, thinking about what tomorrow might bring. The children have fallen asleep after watching TV in their room. The neighborhood is quiet with only a gentle echo of crickets in the distance. In another country, far from safe or warm, men and women are giving their lives to protect the very things I take for granted on a daily basis.

One of my favorite movie lines comes from Saving Private Ryan. With his dying breath, Tom Hanks pulls Matt Damon close and whispers, “Earn this.” He had just given his life so that Private Ryan could leave the war and go home to his grieving mother who had just lost three other sons.

Whether we agree with the politicians in Washington or not, we need to earn each and every second we are given by the brave men and women sacrificing their freedom so we can enjoy ours. They are the ones who allow us to sleep in peace at night. They are the ones who allow us to get up every day and earn a living. They are the ones who answer the call and drop everything to serve their country with dedication and pride.

Thank you isn’t enough.

Veterans Day


Tomorrow is Veterans Day. It’s a time when we honor the men and women who have served in our armed forces. Great sacrifice is something to honor and preserve throughout the ages. Many of you have probably read this before, but I wrote it last year as a military tribute. I wanted to post it again in honor of the men and women who have served, and who are currently serving. God bless you.

When a Soldier Cries
Copyright 2013 Chris Martin

A tattered picture, nearly faded to white
Faces of the ones for whom a soldier fights
In the empty silence of a world so far away
On the rocky ground, the only place to lay

A father dreams of home, family, and friends
In war, there is no guarantee he will see them again
Thunder roars with fury, lightning burns the darkened skies
The mighty angels shed a tear, when a soldier cries

She walks across the street, a young child stands alone
Memories haunt her dreams of the daughters she left at home
She tries to smile, show happiness through the tears
Although she wants to help, the child retreats in fear

At night she dreams of home, bedtime hugs and kisses
She prays to one day have again, everything she misses
She can still see their faces as they spoke their last goodbyes
Nothing can soothe a heart, when a soldier cries

In the pouring rain he stands guard, rifle in hand
Just two years out of high school, his parents don’t understand
He wanted something greater than just video games and fun
He dedicated his life to become more than just an ordinary son

A young man dreams of home and wishes upon a distant star
The letters are few and far between, only time can heal a wounded heart
In the gathering shadows, just beyond where the unseen lies
Those who have gone before, bow their heads when a soldier cries

The growl of crunching metal, searing heat and flames surround
Voices of the wounded, silent screams that have no sound
She left college early and signed up to answer the call
Now lying in the wreckage, she wonders if it’s time to give it all

The young woman dreams of home, but she doesn’t surrender to the fear
She knows if they’re alive, they will come back and find her here
Chaos and confusion, in a place where hope and fate collide
She fights for every breath, there’s no shame when a soldier cries

They stand in single file, one hand raised to touch their brow
Men and women, young and old, bound together by a sacred vow
Silently they watch as each car drives slowly past
A beautiful flag covers every casket, heroes returning home at last

Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, bravery at its best
Defined by the unselfish act of sacrifice, courage passed the ultimate test
With a will stronger than iron, nerves of steel and no compromise
There’s nothing to give but respect and honor…when a soldier cries

What if Jesus meant what He said?


I wrote an article last year entitled What If. (Click HERE to read) It was one of those moments where I just kept asking the question over and over about a variety of things. It’s something that sparks inner dialog and even more questions. It makes you think. I know it did for me anyway.

I’ve been a Christian for quite some time now, but I haven’t truly known what that means until just in the last year or so. See, we’ve been taught so many things in churches, and unfortunately, many of those things are just plain wrong. It’s time to open our Bibles, get alone in the secret place with our Father, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak truth.

Something that baffles me is how easily we stake our belief system on what someone says. Or teaches. Or preaches. Before you light up the torches and fashion a stake, hear me out.

There is a place for teachers and preachers. No doubt about it. What scares me is when these people base their doctrine, or beliefs on what they’ve experienced or seen, and not on what Jesus said.

Hebrews 2:6-9 says (emphasis mine):

But one testified in a certain place, saying:

“What is man that You are mindful of him,
Or the son of man that You take care of him?
You have made him a little lower than the angels;
You have crowned him with glory and honor,
And set him over the works of Your hands.
You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” 

For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

This is an amazing passage of scripture. 6,7,and 8 talk about how ALL things have been put into subjection under our feet by God. We are after all, man…mankind. That’s who he’s talking about here. When I read this, I think of praying for someone to get healed, taking authority over demonic spirits, and situations where we can’t see God working. These are areas where we might be easily shaken because immediate results are lacking.

We might pray for someone to rise out of a wheelchair and walk, and they don’t. That shouldn’t determine our belief system on healing. From that one experience, we can’t say healing isn’t for today. Why? Because the evidence we don’t see with our own eyes, doesn’t change the truth of God’s word. Jesus said one of the signs that follow believers is that they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. Hebrews says we might not see everything yet, but we see Jesus.

It’s a clear directive to keep our eyes on Christ no matter what we see or experience.

If we pray for someone, nothing happens, and we immediately feel like a failure, we have no faith at all. Faith is believing what Jesus said, praying for someone, and praising God no matter the outcome.

So many doctrines and beliefs come from human wisdom and experiences. It’s a tool used by the devil himself to deceive people.

I’m sure everyone on the planet knows who Brittany Maynard is by now. The 29 year old woman with terminal brain cancer who moved to Oregon so she could take advantage of the death with dignity act. This story is so sad to me. Let’s get something straight right off the bat. God came to give life, He doesn’t take it. Satan is here to kill, steal, and destroy. Cancer is straight from the pit of Hell, and it’s God’s will to heal people from the horrible disease. Jesus laid hands on people, and they were healed. If it wasn’t God’s will to heal, Jesus would have been going directly against His father. That just wouldn’t happen.

There is no such thing as terminal illness in the Kingdom. We’ve been given the same power that raised Christ from the dead. I believe 100% that Brittany could have been healed from that horrible disease. I’m not mentioning this as judgement towards her or her family at all. Not even close. It’s just an modern day example of whether we believe the words of Jesus or not. And there is no guarantee she would have even allowed a believer to pray for her. And that’s okay. Cancer is one of the largest, fear causing words in the English language. Fear isn’t of God. We don’t need to fear cancer. We need to believe we have power over it through our Savior.

And please don’t get me wrong. I’m not being insensitive to those who have lost loved ones from any kind of illness or disease. I am so very sorry for your loss.

The body of Christ needs to wake up and embrace the truth that we have power. God is the giver and creator of life. Satan is here to destroy us.

Mark 16:15-18:

15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

What if Jesus meant what He said?

Love Never Fails


Earlier this year, I published a collection of 10, first-person perspective Bible stories entitled I Was There. (Click HERE to purchase) I had such a great response to the book that I decided to write another one. The proposed title for the new one is I Believe. I plan on publishing first of next year. I still have a couple more stories to write, and then the editing process. I wanted to give you a taste of what’s coming. This story is entitled Love Never Fails. It’s not the complete story, because that would be more than just a taste. Let me know what you think. (This is not the completely edited, polished manuscript, so please ignore any errors)

 

I wasn’t sure how the day was going to end, but there was a feeling deep inside my being that would not go away. Regret, mixed with dread, churned in my stomach and clawed at my conscience. I have done some things in my life that I am not proud of, but I may have gone too far this time. The addiction had rooted itself into such a level of my soul, that I feared its hold would never be broken. I felt so ashamed.

No one knew anything when we met to break bread together. The secret I carried in my heart would more than likely destroy many people. Some of whom were my closest friends. That fact alone caused me to hesitate, but unfortunately, the damage had already been done. The money burned like hot coals inside my cloak. Even though I loathed the very thought of what I had to do, my greed claimed a larger piece of my soul.

The men I had met with earlier knew my weakness. They devised a plan that would ensnare me and render me helpless to refuse their enticing offer. I always said that loyalty could never be compromised by gold or silver. Apparently, I was dreadfully wrong. They had purchased my services and would force me to hurt someone I truly loved. By the time we met that night, it was far too late to change my mind. They owned me, and they knew it.

I wasn’t sure what the others would say if they found out. We were so closely tied together, like a family, for several years. The friendships I had formed were real, not just casual and fleeting. There were times we didn’t all get along, but that was to be expected. We were following a man who was different than anyone else. We didn’t’ always see things the way he did. We couldn’t possibly. I could honestly say I loved each and every one of them. They knew things about me that not even my blood relatives knew. Hidden things. Secret things.

If they had any idea about what I would do that night, they would be devastated. Somehow I had managed to live a double life for a period of time, and had covered my tracks very well. I would be labeled a traitor; there was no doubt about that. I would have to accept it, and somehow move past the hurt feelings and broken hearts. Somewhere down the road of my life, I would once again find peace. That was my hope.

Things had become rather chaotic leading up to our last meal together. We entered the city under the praises of most everyone just a few days earlier. We were accepted at first, but things began to take a turn for the worst. The religious leaders couldn’t stand our Teacher. On several occasions, they attempted to trap him in lies and deceit, but always failed. They began to see him as a threat and not the promised Messiah. That’s when they contacted me. I guess they could sense my wavering dedication to the man I had lived with for three years.

Shame burned through my veins as I sat there wondering if anyone knew. I had been extremely careful with my meetings. No one ever seemed to notice I was gone. Although I was confident my secret was safe, I had a sinking feeling at least one of the men at the table knew exactly what was going on. Would he say anything to the rest?

When we had all finally gathered at the table, there was an uncomfortable silence for several moments. It was hard to describe. Jesus looked troubled. He sat there looking at us as the soft candlelight danced inside his soft, brown eyes. I had noticed him in that mood occasionally during our travels over the years, but something was bothering him even more on that night. His stare met mine and I couldn’t blink. His eyes bore deep into my soul. Even though he could read my every intention like an open book, he suddenly smiled.

I wanted to feel at ease, but I couldn’t. I looked down and waited until he stood up from the table. He took a bowl and carefully filled it with water. He knelt before Thomas and began to wash his feet. There was a tenderness and sincerity in the action that nearly brought me to tears. This was God’s only son, born into the earth as a man, removed from his throne as a king, and was now honoring the men he called family. I couldn’t understand. I looked around and realized everyone else was confused as well.

He finished with Thomas, and moved over to Peter.

“Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Peter asked quietly, almost in a whisper. The silence felt like a fragile vase that no one desired to break by speaking too loudly.

The guilt and shame gripped my heart even tighter as I watched the scene unfold before me. I had accepted money in exchange for betraying my Master. That was something I would have to live with until the day I passed from the earth. I swallowed the lump of emotion that had formed in the back of my throat. I was so thirsty, but didn’t dare move to get a drink.

“You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand,” Jesus replied as he knelt down.

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” He shook his head and drew his feet back. I knew Peter was stubborn, but there was something else going on in that moment. Something I couldn’t explain.

Jesus reached out and rested his hand on Peter’s knee. “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me,” he said.

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you. You are not all clean.”

My heart dropped after hearing those words. Of course he knew what I had done. He was Jesus. He knew our every thoughts, desires, and secrets. I bowed my head and stared at the floor. If any of the other disciples looked me in the eye, they would see my guilt and shame. They would know the Master was talking about me.

When Jesus was finished with Peter’s feet, he knelt down in front of me. The weight of the silver in my pocket couldn’t compare to the heaviness that hung over my shoulders. Darkness like no other had invaded my heart. I didn’t want to look up.

“Judas?”

 

To be continued…

The twisted Gospel


I’ve gone about one week without Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, and it is amazing. I seriously doubt I will return to any of those apps. I want to keep my blog here, because I am a writer. I like to write. I want to share things that God puts on my heart, whether anyone agrees with them or not. I’m not here to argue or debate over things. The bottom line is this: Jesus paid a high price to reconcile me back to my Father. He said, she said…yeah, but…well, that’s not right… None of that stuff matters. If it’s not aligned with the heart and mind of God, I’m not interested.

The Gospel is good news.

Luke 2:10-11 says (emphasis mine):

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Somehow we have turned this message into a struggle not to sin, barely making it through life, and riding the ups and downs of our experiences. Jesus said “It is finished”, not “To be continued.” Where is the joy? Where is the hope that lost people are so desperately seeking? Christ in us, the hope of glory. (Col 1:27) There is nothing that shows we are any different from the world, except that we go to church.

Here is what Christianity in this country looks like.

  1. See that you are a sinner
  2. Say this prayer (which didn’t even exist until maybe 500 years ago)
  3. You now have a ticket into Heaven
  4. Go to church

The problem with this is that we walk out of a church service, revival, or crusade and get mad at someone who cuts us off in traffic. We complain about our money, jobs, and circumstances. We argue and fight with our spouse on the way home. We are teaching our children that Christianity is just going to church.

Saying the “sinners prayer” doesn’t make us Christians. It’s a twisted form of the true Gospel.

The Gospel isn’t about being blessed by God and having our names in the book of life.

The Gospel is dying to self, picking up our cross, and following Jesus. During His time on Earth, Christ modeled the Christian life. He was entirely dead to His own flesh, and completely surrendered to love. He was love personified. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. Jesus was a human man, filled with the Holy Spirit, walking in love. He said to follow Him. I know it’s possible.

We can live just as Christ did. 

Mark 16:14-18 (better known as the Great Commission) says:

14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they[b] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

It doesn’t say the signs that follow believers are: complaining, division, conditional love, hypocrisy, judgement, condemnation, pride, and selfishness.

Just the very fact that we complain shows we are concerned with our self. Which, if I read my Bible correctly, means we aren’t dead to self, which means we aren’t following Christ. He said to die to self.

It’s impossible to walk in love if we are still holding on to our self. 

Here are the attributes of love from 1 Cor 13. I love the Message Bible version.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

All of these attributes are the complete, polar opposite of self.

Satan believes that we love our selves more than we love God.

Let’s prove him wrong, and drop the twisted Gospel. Let’s die to our self, and walk in love.

Is a sinless life possible?


My quick, simple answer to this question is, yes. I believe it’s entirely possible.

But Chris, we’re only human. Well, we are, but that can’t be an excuse.

While on the earth, Jesus was a human man, filled with the Holy Spirit, and in constant communion with the Father. His flesh, His self, was completely and utterly submitted to the Spirit. He was love personified, and walked in absolute righteousness. I believe He chose to endure the entire birthing process as a human to show us that it’s possible to live exactly how He did. After all, He did say to follow Him. If it wasn’t possible, He wouldn’t have said it.

Can you imagine the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords spending nine months inside the womb? He could have easily beamed down to the Cross, allowed Himself to be beaten and hung, and walked out of the tomb three days later. I mean, this is the guy Who spoke, and everything was created. Why would our Creator choose to be human?

He wanted us to know that no matter what we go through, what persecution might come our way, we can face it all without sin. If it isn’t possible to live a sinless life, then His death on that dark day was meaningless. He conquered sin. It no longer has any power over us. Is it present? Of course. Does the enemy try to drag us into his lies? Certainly. But once we become born again, ALL things are new, the old is gone. We inherit a new blood line, free of sin, generational curses, and any baggage left unclaimed in our past.

But something vital has to happen. We can’t just rub a genie in a bottle and, poof, everything is perfect.

They key to living a sinless life is dying to self on a daily basis. 

All sin is rooted in self. It started in the Garden when Adam and Eve ate from the tree and fell. To this day, satan still wants us to believe that it’s impossible to walk in righteousness. Well, he’s pretty much a liar, so I don’t care what he says. What else is he going to do? Tell the truth? Um, no.

What happens when we sin? Guilt and condemnation are heaped upon us like coals on a fire. Romans 8:1 is pretty clear when it says:

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

“We’re only human. We’re only human.” Why is that the number one justification to sin? If we’re Christians,  we aren’t supposed to be living by our human flesh, but by the Spirit. So that excuse is null and void.

And if Jesus already forgave  ALL our sins, why do we think we have to grovel on our stomachs, weeping and wailing whenever we do stumble? If bad thoughts enter our mind out of nowhere, we immediately think it’s something inside of us, and we seek prayer, deliverance, or at least counseling. But, it’s coming from the outside, from the one who was already defeated. Yes, we repent and go in the other direction, but we don’t need to accept condemnation and guilt. It can be as simple as saying “Father, I know you didn’t create me to think like that. It isn’t me. I love You so much. Thank you for dying on that Cross for me. Thank you for making it possible to walk in righteousness. I thank you that I no longer live by my flesh, but by the power of Your Holy Spirit.”

If we do that on a continual basis anytime we have bad thoughts, or do something we know is wrong, eventually satan is going to find an easier target. He sits back and laughs when we run around in our guilt and shame. He revels in it. Just the fact that we feel bad means we have a new heart. We could think those things and do those things in the past, and it wouldn’t bother us.

Is a sinless life possible? Yes. God created us in His image, perfect and blameless. Man fell, and sin entered the world. Jesus died to reconcile us back to the Father.

It’s as if we never ate the fruit from that tree.