Doubt, (The Dangerous Thief)

This one is from my heart, and written for a very close friend.

Doubt. What a lonely word. It creeps like a thief  through the cracks in the door of your heart, robbing the stability that holds you together. Promises, lies, scriptures, they float around in your head fighting for their place on top. Your mind becomes confused and full of crazy questions, wondering what truly is real and what is a lie. Next, a flood of emotions come crashing in, and mixes with the questions. Slowly, you begin to lose hope. Hope in who you are and what you stand for. The future becomes dark and uncertain. Even the past is now full of questions and doubts. Loneliness comes, telling you that you are all alone in this world. It spins its riddles of how you’re living lies and only half-truths of reality. Slowly, but desperately, your mind begins to make up its own truths. Not because you want to believe a lie, but because you need something to stand on while your world spins further and further out of control.

Now your quest is for peace, but it eludes you like a shadow fading from the light. Anger finds you frustrated and worried, giving you a new story to believe. A story that tells you everyone else is to blame that you feel this way. You think of all the people, each one, you can see their faces, you can hear their words. But now, somehow, their words have become distorted. Anger is telling you to look through the eyes of hate, and hear their words through ears of resentment. Again, a flood of questions comes crashing into your mind, being lead by the hand of doubt. “How could they lie to me?” “How could they leave me like this?” Anger and loneliness drive you to extremes, causing you to experience things, that as a child, you promised yourself you would never succumb to.

The final question comes to your mind, “how do I make it all end?” Anger, fear, and doubt laugh as you search for the answers. Just as the final verdict has been reached. Just as the final act of self-destruction is being ready to be played out. There is another sound at the door. It’s faint, and seems to be  in the distance. You lean in, and strain just a bit to hear it. Doubt, anger, and loneliness reach for your ears, but for some reason, you can still hear it. You walk closer to the door, and begin to reach for the knob, but doubt stops you for one last talk. He reminds you of all the times when you felt overwhelmed by the pressures of your “other life.” How it was only full of broken dreams and broken hopes. As he speaks to you, you begin to realize his words are only keeping you from what is on the other side of the door. Once more, you begin to reach for the door as the knocking grows louder and louder. Your heart begins to race and your palms begin to sweat as your mind spins around in circles, wondering, doubting, yet hoping. Hoping that if you open that door it will truly be all that it has been said to be. “Will it ease my pain?” “Will it make me free?” “Will it truly restore me?”

Your hand turns the knob and slowly begins to open the door. Tears come to your eyes and roll down your cheeks as the light shines brightly on your face. You begin to feel your heart heal and the darkness being replaced by joy. Anger and loneliness cower and run under the hand of the almighty, Prince of Peace. You feel yourself being carried away to a place of forgiveness and restoration. Jesus takes your fragile heart in his hands and begins to heal the wounds. He tells you of his love for you, and how it never ran dry, even as you walked away from him. He tells you of a plan he has for your life, and how beautiful it will be if you decide to walk in it every day. He puts his hand to your cheek, wipes away the tears from your eyes, and then pulls you close to his chest. ” There is one more thing I need to tell you,” he says, as you look into his eyes. “The road will not be easy, and doubt will often come to speak his lies. He will try to steal your heart away. But always remember, no matter what happens, I love you. I love you so much that I have given you power in your life. Power over the enemy, power to carry the burdens I give you, power to overcome the odds that are against you, power to carry on when it seems like there is just nothing left to give. But best of all, power to bring healing and restoration to the broken-hearted. I will always be as close as the mention of my name, and whatever you want or need, just ask me and I will provide. All that I have done or will do, is all done for you! You are my heart’s desire, and one day, we will be together in eternity. But for now you must go and do a work for me, while I go and prepare a place for you. Never forget, I will never leave you comfortless, and I will always remain in your heart.”

There’s a smile on my face now, and a peace in my heart. Often, I hear the voice of my father, reminding me of his love for me. I have fallen many times, disappointing myself, and sometimes others. Doubt is always there, waiting with his stories, but every time, no matter what, I have found grace. This one thing I have learned, and it always keeps me. My grace is sufficient for you: and my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Matthew 12:9

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The Lost Need Us to Love Each Other!

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! -Psalm 133:1 KJV

I was born and raised in the church, and have been in it most  of my life. During that time I have met all types of people, pastors and preachers. I have come to understand that we are all very different people with completely different ways of doing things. I don’t believe for a moment there’s a problem with this. The Bible states in  I Corinthians 12:14, For the body is not one member, but many. God made us different for a reason, and that reason is so every sinner could be reached where they are at. Rich, poor, young, old, smart, slow, it doesn’t matter, God brought us all into the body, as different as we are, so we could reach the lost!

Before you read on please understand I say all of this with love and not anger. I myself have stood in front of a mirror, and have been disappointed many times by the man looking back at me. I’ve read the Bible and wept as God exposed deep flaws within me, and my ways of thinking. I have begged God over and over to change me because I just couldn’t stand the man I was. I tell you this, not looking for sympathy or praise, but to try to help you understand.  I just want to see change, with the goal in mind of unity, for the purpose of soul winning.

“By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil” (Proverbs 16:6).

In the process of soul winning, some who are wise in their own eyes, have thought more highly of themselves than they should. They have pounded their self-righteous chests, dared  to compare everyone they encounter to their own level of righteousness, and condemned the sinner to hell before they even get a chance to repent, all the while, forgetting its mercy (love) that saves the sinner. Still others, in their efforts to become soul winners, have forsaken truth under the banner of mercy, and have traded away their treasures in heaven for a basket of empty lies.  We have even made our categories for these two types of people, the “Legalistic” and the “Charismatic.” Crazy thing of it is, at least these two groups are doing something about the lost, and that leaves something for God to work with!

It all begins with this scripture, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free(John 8:32). We have to let go of the belief that “We” are the ones who are right! The Bible clearly states in Romans 3:4, “Let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: ‘That You may be justified in Your words…’” The truly sad thing of it is, none of us really wants to admit we may be wrong in our thoughts and methods. It’s always somebody else that could benefit from becoming more like us and less like themselves. Please read carefully what Paul had to say in I Corinthians 12:25-27, “There should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”

The Story of Paul

He fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

“Who are you, lord?” Saul asked.

And the voice replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Then God put scales on his eyes so he could no longer see. (Story in Acts 9:3-8)  This first part of this conversion starts with Paul doing what he thought was right, then moves into God reveling His will and  instructions on how to be saved. In the mean time, God places scales on his eyes, and takes away his vision. The truly amazing part of this story is in Acts 9:17-19 when Paul was filled with the Holy Ghost, the scales fall from his eyes, and he was baptized. Have you ever asked yourself why God chose scales on his eyes? The Bible tells us why, it says in Acts 9:8, “he saw no man”! God took away his old vision, (the way he saw man without love), so that after his conversion, he would have a whole new vision (one with love, mercy, and truth)! You see, God loved Saul, and his deep desire for truth, also his willingness to stop at nothing to see it accomplished. Saul just needed it to be seasoned with love. The same man who was holding the coats of those that stoned Stephen, later said these words, “With Christ as my witness, I speak with utter truthfulness. My conscience and the Holy Ghost confirm it.  My heart is filled with bitter sorrow and unending grief for my people, my Jewish brothers and sisters. I would be willing to be forever cursed—cut off from Christ!—if that would save them.” (Romans 9:1-3) Look at how his heart breaks for his people as he sees them lost in sin.

My goal is not to try to get the legalistic to let go of some truth, nor to make the charismatic let go of some mercy.  There is no meeting in the middle, we never let go of truth, or of mercy, no matter what! We must love them both, with all our heart. Look at what Solomon says in Proverbs 3:3-4, “Never let mercy and truth leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.” If we continue to insult and despise one another, we will never truly be able to give the hurting of this world what they need, a savior with truth and love. We have so much to learn of the mercies of God.

To the Legalistic:

Why do we brag about our truth, but hold on to anger and unforgiveness toward one another? Why do we judge ourselves righteous by our works, but then forget to love those who fall short in their walk with God? Haven’t we sinned? Haven’t we broken our promises to God? Haven’t we failed? Haven’t we begged and hoped for the mercy of God after we have let Him down? Yes! Yes we have. Paul wept when he saw his people in sin, David wept when his king, his enemy, fell on a battle field. Where are our tears for the hurting in our church? Where are the hugs these people long to feel as they cry themselves to sleep at night, hearing only the lies of the enemy? Are we to going to push them away because they have failed? Are we going to ignore their cries and tell them they somehow deserve their misery? If we do, we are no better than the friends of Job that sat around a camp fire, condemning him for his words and his present state of misery.

To the Charismatic:

Are we going to turn our backs on truth, because it seems that truth is just too hard to live in this present day? Are we going to deny the very freedom that saved us, by obeying the Word, and thereby knowing God in his fullness? Would we really sell truth to buy more souls around an empty altar? How could we look a man in the eye, lie to him, and fill his mind with false hope?

If we all continue to live like this, and hold on to our religious prejudices, we will never reach the world in the way we could. WE MUST love one another!!!  Peter said these words in 1Peter4:17, “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God…” God starts with us, he judges our love and mercy, and then goes to the sinner.

I leave you with these words to consider:

“And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  We love each other because he loved us first. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?”  And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters. -1John 4:17-20