Why Would God Allow Cancer?

I want to dedicate this piece to my mother, Mary Elizabeth Schott, who died of lung cancer in 2006; also to my brother-in-law, Gary Banks, who died of leukemia in 2015; to my dear friend, Lisa Laskovich, a sweet and godly woman, who died of brain cancer in 2016, to Bruce Rolland, who died of colon cancer in 2017, leaving behind a young widow and four children. There are a host of other friends and loved-ones who have been taken from us, in horrible suffering, by this evil disease.

I can’t tell you the number of times that someone has looked me in the eye with an angry heart and asked, “Why Does God Allow Cancer?”

Indeed. Why does God allow such evil to exist? But to more specifically answer the plaintive question of cancer and disease, we begin at the beginning, in the Book of Genesis, and note, in chapter one, that there is no mention of disease being created by God. The Scriptures never say, “…and God created cancer and saw that it was right and just, and it was evening and there was morning, the eighth day.”

The Holy Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to mankind and according to the testimony of the scriptures, God did not create disease upon the earth, nor any other evil thing, but, obviously, someone did. The creation scriptures, however, tell me that God was very aware of the evil that entered into the world, following His creation, a work that He saw and labeled, “Good,” on all counts. The Biblical proof that what God created was somehow corrupted after His Sabbath lies in the scripture following the creation of Adam, in Genesis, chapter two, verse seven. Because what God created before the Sabbath was, in God’s own words, “Good,” then God, in verse seven, formed Adam from the dust of a pristine world, as it is described in verses one through six.

Following that, I find it telling that God created an isolated garden, a special place for Adam to be separated from the rest of the earth, “eastward in Eden.” This garden, I’m convinced, was a place for Adam to be safe from the corruption and violence that God, in His omniscience, already knew was coming into the world. Otherwise what would be the point of the garden at all? Why wouldn’t God just grow the trees in the place where He formed Adam from the pristine dust of the ground, unless God already knew that something wicked was on its way?

I hope, as a Christian, you have an understanding of the phrase, “…and there was war in Heaven.” That phrase, from Revelation 12:7, is a vital key to understanding life on Earth. It is the key to understanding our world, its history and present, our relationship to God and the motivation behind His plan for us. It is the key to understanding the deeper meaning of so much of old testament scripture. For example, in the Book of Job, chapter one, beginning in verse six, a council of angels is called to present themselves before God and, according to the scripture, “Satan also came among them.” Because he is called “Satan,” and not “Lucifer,” we can know that his rebellion against God, in Heaven, has already taken place. Then the Lord asks him, “From where do you come?” Satan’s answer to this question should be of vital interest to every human being who has ever lived. He responds, “From going to and fro upon the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.

Further evidence of Satan’s prehistoric war coming to Earth is given in the New Testament with Jesus’ revelation to His disciples, in Luke 10:18, that he, Jesus, “…saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” And again, His warning in Revelation 12:12, “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.

Remember, as you read these scriptures, that the authority who speaks to you is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Living God, who created the Heavens and the Earth, the second of the Trinity, who identifies Himself in Genesis as “Elohim,” the plural God. It is the Apostle John who connects Jesus with this creator entity in the first chapter of his gospel, identifying Him as the “Word,” Who spoke the whole of creation into existence.

The story continues, however, in Genesis chapter three, where a sinister and subtle third party interjects himself into the relationship between God and the man He created. The Apostle John makes a connection between Satan, the “dragon” and “serpent” of Revelation 20:2, and the “serpent” in the Garden, who tempts Eve to self- destruction, and through her, Adam. Their fall results in the destruction of God’s immediate plans “to prosper” mankind in the protection of a pristine Garden He created just for that purpose. God is left with no choice. In order to prevent Adam’s sin, thus his separation from God, from becoming an eternal condition, God is forced to cast him out of the garden and prevent him from reaching the Tree of Life.

Many say that on the day of Adam’s rebellion, everything was changed, that all of God’s “good” Earth became corrupt in that instant, but the evidence, Biblical and otherwise, indicates that the world outside the Garden had long since been corrupted and Adam was desperate to get back into the Garden because of the corruption and wickedness of the world outside. Otherwise, why would God have sent angels to prevent Adam returning to the Garden? It wasn’t because Adam would first seek out the tree of life. Adam, like his descendant, Esau, had no interest in that inheritance. He could have eaten the fruit of that tree at any time, but he chose the fruit of knowledge. No, God sent cherubim with flaming swords because, in returning to the safety and ease of the Garden, Adam might discover the Tree of Life and its fruit. In Joni Mitchell’s song, “Woodstock,” she penned a line, “…and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” Indeed we do, we like our father Adam, desperately need to return there, but, as Adam learned, and Joni didn’t, we can’t get there by ourselves. So it was, by Adam’s rebellion, called “sin,” in the Bible, that we have all been birthed into a fallen world, A world at war with God, because “sin,” our inheritance from Adam, is an intrinsic part of our nature.

Let’s begin there, in the knowledge that we are fallen people living in exposure to a fallen world. Where did the corruption and violence outside of the Garden come from? Let me tell you a story of rebellion and war, of the fallen “sons of God,” in Genesis six, called Egregore, or, as they were known by the Sumerians, the Urshu. These are only two of the monikers given the fallen angels of Satan’s rebellion, whose existence is recorded by every major civilization throughout the world. They are, in fact, the “gods” of ancient mythologies, whose stories are told in the apocrypha of The Book of Enoch. It is these fallen angels who were the true creators of disease, including cancer, all resulting from their failed efforts to foster their own race of eternal, hybrid beings through genetic engineering.

With regard to the mechanics of the disease, I don’t know if you’re aware, but, by God’s design, we are continually renewed. Each day, millions upon millions of our cells die and are replaced with new cells. That is God’s plan for us, if not His original design, but cancer exists in defiance of God’s plan, as do the angels who unleashed it on us. The story of Henrietta Lacks has taught us that cancer cells tend to never die, at least not as long as they are supported metabolically. (ref. Rebecca Skloot) These virtually, “eternal cells,” were engineered to defy the natural entropy of the cells that God created for a temporal world. They came from genetically engineered cells, designed to defy God on Earth, in the same way that the fallen angels defied Him by their rebellion in Heaven. The disease of cancer is a corruption of normal cell growth by cells with altered DNA that rapidly reproduce without dying off, as they should. Their continual existence and rapid reproduction most often forms a living tumor, in effect a foreign entity, living within the body of its host, that begins to usurp the body’s supply, as any parasite would. Of course there are many forms of cancer, not all develop as tumors, but all of them function on the principle of altered cellular DNA that creates a variant cell, the result of ancient experiments gone awry in repeated, rebellious attempts to create eternal beings in the flesh. I think I hear you asking, “So why did God allow such experimentation?”

In this current age, mankind has just caught up to the knowledge that angels had way back then. Today, scientists and even hobbyists are busy altering DNA and splicing genes in order to create new life forms for, God knows what purpose. God allows it now just as He allowed it then, but, because He allows it, doesn’t mean that He approves. But these experiments are all part of the rebellion against Him, in which Satan is compelled to prove to the angels who joined in his rebellion, that he, like pharaoh’s magicians, can reproduce the miracles of God. So, you might as well ask, “Why did God allow the rebellion in the first place?”

The answer to that is a little more complicated. It has to do with what I will call God’s Prime Directive, that is, His principle of free will. I will go into the doctrine of free will in another posting, but for now, just know that free will is the keystone to God’s ultimate plan for His creation. As a result, the angels were free to rebel, to show their true colors and when they were cast out of Heaven, down to the earth, they brought their corruption with them.

“So what about cancer? Why won’t God prevent it, if He can?”

This question is the more appropriate one. God certainly can, but the answer to the question has everything to do with God’s mercy. It’s important to first understand that God’s mercy lies in the principle that He does not inflict upon us what we truly deserve as rebels against His rule. Bear in mind that “rebels” are what we are to God. As sinners we have rebelled against God’s rule. Thank God that He is infinitely merciful to us in that He does not rain fire down upon us, as He did on Sodom and Gomorrah. Of course He warns us in that example and in other prophesy that He will, someday, when the cup of our iniquity is full, as it was then for the people of Sodom. But in the day of His mercy God has warned us that His wrath is ever building against us in equal proportion to our sin, like water building up behind a dam. And that is the crux of it. God’s mercy is like that dam. There are limits, and one day the dam will burst.

There are a ton of other metaphors in the Bible for God’s mercy. I prefer Nehemiah’s wall because it illustrates our equal responsibility in maintaining the mercy we so desperately require. Without God’s wall of mercy surrounding us, we have no defense against the destructive forces that have been unleashed in our world, both by Satan’s prior rebellion and by Adam’s following sin. What we need to recognize is that we who believe are responsible to build and to maintain the wall of God’s mercy through a proper relationship with Him.

Just as in the day of Nehemiah, each family in Christ, and within that family, each individual has been assigned a section of the wall to maintain, remembering that the wall protects us all, in its individual sections, as well as in its entirety. Nehemiah’s wall is the essential representation of God’s Mercy. When I fall into sinful behavior, as I sometimes do, my section of the wall begins to equally fall into disrepair. If I continue in sin, my section of the wall begins to crumble and soon, there comes a breach. That breach is like a door opened to evil, through which all manner of depravity can enter. Whatever enters in through my broken section of the wall effects anyone and everyone within. Let me say that again. Whatever evil enters in through my crumbling section of the wall effects anyone and everyone within. That literally means that my failure to maintain my section of the wall could be the source of your cancer.

That’s a very hard truth to accept, but we must come to understand that God’s merciful protection of us is directly proportional to our obedience to Him. Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commands.” What’s obvious, though left unsaid, is the converse. If you don’t obey His commands, it means that you don’t love Him, so don’t expect to have his mercy to protect you from the forces that lie in wait to consume you. God explains this principle of balance through the prophet Hosea in chapter five, verse fifteen when God’s people have once again turned away from Him:

I will return again to My place

Till they acknowledge their offense.

Then they will seek My face;

In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.

How true it is that we fail to seek God until we are afflicted. And you don’t have to look far today to see how afflicted we are, with disease and disaster, with depravity and moral collapse. We are drowning in a sea of sin and depravity. So let me ask you, how is your section of the wall. Is it crumbling? Somebody’s section obviously is, so much so, that, at times, it seems the wall has completely collapsed.

The time has come for God’s people, the Church, to get serious about sin. The time has come to fall on our knees and weep, to truly seek God’s face, to show our love for Him through obedience. The time has come to rebuild the wall, or suffer the consequences of its collapse.

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Making America Great Again

I’m not sure that we, as a nation and as a people understand just how angry God is with us in the moment. In the early 18th century of Colonial America, Johnathan Edwards, a Puritan preacher and theologian, wrote a sermon entitled, “God Makes Men Sensible of Their Misery Before He Reveals His Mercy and Love.”

He based the sermon on the scripture from Hos. 5:15,

“I will return again to My place

Till they acknowledge their offense.

Then they will seek My face;

In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”

Edwards concluded that, in the pride of our sinful nature, we will always turn our backs on God and that, until we clearly see our need for Him, we are not inclined to seek Him out. He put it this way, “Until the sinner is convinced of his sin and misery, he is not prepared to receive the redeeming mercy and grace of God, as through a Mediator, because he does not see his need of a Mediator till he sees his sin and misery.”

The truth of that message is revealed again and again throughout the scriptures of the Bible and supported by the extrabiblical history of the entire world, not just Western culture.

Knowing this, I find it strange that so little of what we hear today from the pulpits of America reflects this truth, or acknowledges God’s righteous anger over our apostacy. In the time that Edwards wrote this sermon, our pulpits were “aflame with righteousness,” as Alexis de Tocville observed. That flame led to a “Great Awakening,” a massive spiritual revival in 1734-35 and again in 1741. As much as the godless in America don’t want to acknowledge that we are a “Christian nation,” those revivals of the church’s power led to the birth of our freedom from tyranny and to our unique constitution, a set of laws that is the greatest plan for secular governance the world has ever known.

Today we, the church in America, half-heartedly pray for revival but our message to a lost nation is a weak, watered-down version of the Gospel, not the meat of our relationship with a living and, in this new age, angry God.

I wonder, did you go to church on our so-called “Easter Sunday,” without recognizing that we have allowed and even helped our “Easter” to become a Pagan celebration? But Easter is the one Sunday of the year that the churches in America are most filled with the lost who are seeking God’s forgiveness in exchange for their attendance. What was the message you heard from the pulpit on that day? Did it accurately reflect our sinful condition and the misery it has caused in every part of the world? (America’s reach is long and powerful. It has been so since the time de Tocville wrote about our nation’s greatness.)

Did the message you heard from the pulpit accurately reflect God’s righteous anger, or our dire need to repent and humble ourselves in fear before an angry, Living God? I seriously doubt it. The verse from “Oh Holy Night” comes to my mind, however, “Fall on your knees, oh hear the angels’ voices?”

Our reality is in fact described in the verses prior to Hos. 5:15, where the prophet speaks for God, saying, “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, And like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue.”

But we are so blinded by our own depravity that we don’t see the truth of our situation. Whatever we see that we recognize as being wrong, we blame on circumstances, on politics, on each other, or some interfering third party, but Jesus spoke the truth when He said of the church in this age, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, I am rich, I have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—”

Wake up church! Wake up from your sleep and repent!

When Alexis de Tocville, the French sociologist, came to America in 1831 to study our prisons, his experiencing of this nation prompted him to greatly expanded the scope of his journey. From it he ended up writing his famous treatise, “Democracy in America.” In it, he makes the following observation;

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”

Want to “Make America Great Again?” Then recognize your sin and the misery it has caused, humble yourselves before your angry God, repent, pray for forgiveness then “go,” as Jesus commanded you. Go out into your communities and beyond. Go out from within the walls that are hiding the Truth and making you feel safe. “Go, and make disciples, not just converts. Go, as John the Baptist, urging repentance. Go and live the gospel, instead of just talking about it from flaccid pulpits. Show them the Way, don’t just tell them about it. Go, and Make America GOOD Again! Then, and only then, will America be great.

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Stardust

A few months after the Woodstock Music Festival, in 1969, the group, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, introduced their latest song, written by Joni Mitchell, “Woodstock,” in which we hear the refrain, “We Are Stardust.” The interesting thing about their musical collaboration is that, indeed we are wonderfully made of stardust. According to the Bible we were made from the dust of the earth, which, we have learned since, comes from the stars.

Though none of those four men, or Joni Mitchell, would willingly confess that there even is a God, let alone One that created the earth and everything in it, they seem to have somehow had innate knowledge that Adam, and thus his descendants were, in the words of Genesis, “formed… of the dust of the ground.” Joni’s lyrics even reflect an heartfelt desire to return to the peace and fellowship of the Biblical Garden of Eden.

“We are stardust, we are golden

And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

Then can I walk beside you,”

I believe that, in her subconscious mind “you,” should have been capitalized, “You,” meaning God. If it truly expressed her subconscious desires, the line should read, “Only then can I walk beside You.”

I could cite dozens, or perhaps hundreds of other examples of the artistic mind inadvertently testifying to God’s Truth. The movie, “The Matrix,” comes to mind. It seems to me that the artistic mind is more attuned, more sensitive to spiritual knowledge and the realm of spiritual influence than the rest of us are, and women more so than men. As a writer and artist, I have often testified that the stories I create, or take credit for creating, in fact, often seem to write themselves. The plot, the characters and the very words themselves often seem to come to my pen, as it were, from the ether. That experience has caused me to wonder why, what is the connection?

Scientifically speaking, artistic thought, that is, creative thought and abstract thinking are right-brain activities. As such, I postulate an hypothesis that the right brain is our door to the spiritual world. Now, don’t get all uppity. I’m not saying that creative people are more spiritual than the rest of us, but they are. My advice to any artist, or any sensitive, creative person is, don’t open that door without the Blood of Christ being present on the doorposts. The door that is our right brain is not only a portal to God, but it is also a portal to dark, demonic, spiritual forces that oppose Him.

Anyone who has spiritual eyes can see, in our present culture, the artistic mind tends to deny God, or truly, more often, to defy Him. This innate, though often denied, knowledge of God, in itself is a testimony to the reality of God’s existence and, along with Him, the existence of a spiritual realm that has a powerful influence and Dominion over our lives. The Apostle Paul says in Romans, one, “they are without excuse, for though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Those are frightening words to a believer, as they ought to be to anyone who hears and understands what God is saying to us through the Apostle Paul. He is here, repeating a warning He uttered first to Moses, as recorded in Exodus. God spoke then of His ability and intention to darken Pharaoh’s heart, that is, to seal Pharaoh’s fate in the darkness he, Pharaoh, had himself chosen. That darkness is the denial and rejection of the knowledge of God. In Romans One, God says, through Paul’s pen, that, in the final days of mankind He will turn all who reject or deny Him over to a depraved mind. The scripture puts it this way, “Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they (will) do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity.” (Romans 1:28-29)

Have you looked around lately at the world of creative arts? Have you seen the spreading darkness in film, in what is laughingly called literature today? In music and most other forms of entertainment? In sports, in magazines and other media? I believe that music, being the “language of the soul,” is most strongly influenced. You can hear the evil influence of Satan in the rhythm and chords, in the lyrics and in the imagery that is evoked in live performance; it is blatant. Joni Mitchell’s passive refrain, “We are stardust,” has been replaced by Mick Jagger’s “Sympathy For The Devil.

In a balanced world, art imitates life. That’s not a perfect world, mind you. It’s a long way from perfect. It’s still a fallen world where, if you look closely, you will see, as in a dark mirror, that we are flying upside down, but at least we are able to distinguish light from darkness and we can acknowledge God, even if we don’t worship Him. The trouble with the world today is that life is imitating art. When you reach that point in a culture you can be assured that art has become fashion and fashion is an influence that has the power to enslave people. Whatever is fashionable is what drives human desire and that desire is born of covetousness. Oswald Chambers correctly identified covetousness as the hub of all other sin.

The influence of fashion in our world can be seen all around us today. We have altogether become cultural zombies, blind to truth and reality, like the people lined up along the road to see, yet not seeing, their naked king in the parable of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” No one seems to be who they really are today, but everyone is trying to be the image of someone else whom they have been influenced to admire; whose image, whose false persona, in fact, they covet. The result is that, as we travel along the road of life today, we find very few whom we could identify as Joni Mitchell’s harmless “child of God.”

Instead, what you often find is a person hiding behind a persona of evil, one who pretends to be “bad-ass,” like so many who are in fashion today, pursuing an ideal of sinful covetousness. We have become like one who has lost sight of who they really are, in order  to acquire something they’ve been told will serve them so much more, like the Emperor’s new clothes. In her lyric, Joni Mitchell says, “And I don’t know who I am.”

How true it has become in the age in which we live. People today are confused about who they are and even what they are, about gender. The fog of depravity is so thick that some, though faced with the clear, physical evidence of their gender, deny it, insisting, vehemently, that they are the opposite. Flying upside-down in a world that Jesus said would one day call “evil good, and good evil.” So it has come,  this depravity, a sign to us of the age in which we are living, the age of Aquarius, an age of predictable darkness, in opposition to what the Fifth Dimension promised.

In spite of how much the fallen world denies, rejects and reviles God, their creator, they cannot help themselves from being used by Him to deliver his message of Truth and love. A message that, His will is that, none should be lost, but “…all should be saved.” The question to you today is, is it too late? Has God already withdrawn His grace and sent us the depravity we deserve? Has He already darkened the hearts of those who refuse to believe? I pray not, as Abraham negotiated with God for Sodom.

There is a Way for every person to be saved from the coming wrath, a wrath prophesied in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It can be found in the Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, a gospel of repentance and the acceptance of a gift from God; that is, the blood of His own Son, shed for you, an atonement and a remission for your sins, a gift that will remove the blindness and depravity so that you can see the Truth. The offer stands, but don’t delay, time is certainly running out.

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Keeping The Main Thing, The Main Thing

29% of the world’s population have not heard, nor do they have opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in their own language. Christ’s return hinges on the church’s completion of its mission to… “Go, and make disciples of all nations,” but, as the church today is modeled to “preach to the choir,” so is the distribution of resources for missions. Completing the Great Commission is not going to require more resources, it’s going to require better distribution and, most important, more dedication, that is, a heart for sacrifice.

As we observe Veterans’ day today, celebrating the secular sacrifices men and women make to defend our country against the physical forces who would destroy our freedom, the church should be aware of the need to defend the world from the spiritual forces of evil intent that surround us. The key to winning a spiritual war is the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we win that war, physical wars will come to an end.

Let’s begin today by celebrating, in a big way, the men and women who sacrifice their time, their resources, their family’s comfort and security, and, indeed, at times, their very lives, in order to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to people who have no other opportunity to hear it.

In the church’s sincere commitment to Christ’s command, I look forward to the joyful day when Sunday morning attendance is down because, in the words of Pastor David Uth, “The church has left the building,” and it’s busy doing the work of Christ outside its fortress walls, in the surrounding community and beyond, spreading the Word of His Gospel to those who have not heard and didn’t know. Such work IS worship, and worship in Spirit and in Truth, as God has always desired of His people. Winning the war is the church’s sole responsibility. Only then will Isaiah’s prophesy in chapter 11:1-5 come to be:

 

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;

from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—

the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and of might,

the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—

and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”

 

“He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,

or decide by what he hears with his ears;

but with righteousness he will judge the needy,

with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.

He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;

with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

Righteousness will be his belt

and faithfulness the sash around his waist.”

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Familiarity Breeds Contempt

I recently watched a video on YouTube that resurrected an issue that has troubled me for a very long time. It’s an issue of concern that I have brought up many times among my Bible study groups, one I have given up to much prayer. The video helped to crystallize my thoughts on the matter, so I share it with you today.

Isaiah 11:1-3

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.”

Nothing is hidden from God, not past, or present, or future. Two thousand years ago he inspired the Apostle Paul to write about future generations in his letter to the church in Rome. He said of men that they would become filled with all “unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness, gossip, backbiting, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, and unmerciful.”

 

The knowledge of this scripture prompts me to ask the question, how do you see God? Some see Him as being only angry and wrathful, while others see him as being all loving grace and forgiving mercy. How you see God is often more about your relationship with Him than it is about who God is. God is more complex than any of us can possibly know, and how you see God is more often a result of how God sees you.

When God looks into your heart does He see one who is like His own son, or does He see someone else’s selfish, rebellious, poorly behaved brat? One who shuns Him, showing only contempt and disrespect. What God sees in your heart will most often determine His response, and thus, determine how you, in turn, see God. How would you respond to one like you, if you were God? How did your own father respond to such behavior? Was your father even present? Many aren’t today. Unfortunately, for way too many children, especially our sons, the fact of an absentee father is a way of life.

The Bible informs us in Proverbs 1: 7, that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,” but what is meant by “fear?” I have heard it preached from more than one pulpit that the scripture doesn’t mean fear, as we understand it, it means respect. Really? Certainly respect is a component of fear, but I don’t believe it is more. No, when I read about the kings of Canaan in Joshua 5:1, that “their hearts melted,” I think that their fear went far beyond respect.

My father was a strict disciplinarian, whether the situation called for it or not. As a child, I loved my father and, at times, he was loving and affectionate in return, but when my brother, or I got out of line he could be quite severe. You must believe, that, at such times, I truly feared my father, and when the lesson was over, it was mostly fear that continued. That fear caused me to learn where the boundaries were and to become aware of the subtle changes in his response to me that indicated I was drawing too close to one of those boundaries. There was a look, a hint of coming wrath that he gave as a warning. I still remember that look, I taught it to my own children, but the look is not nearly as important as knowing the boundaries. The look is only a way of arriving at the knowledge by the use of fear, because, like it or not, fear is our greatest teacher and motivator. If Satan knows this, why don’t you?

Perhaps, you have become too familiar with Him. Perhaps, out of a lack of proper fear, you are not listening. It could be that you, along with the church as a whole, are not hearing His still, small voice. Perhaps you are unaware of the subtle changes in His response to your behaviors because you have wandered too far to hear Him calling you back. How will you see Him when He speaks with authority, or takes action to get your attention? No matter our experience with an earthly father, we have a Father in Heaven and we should show Him respect with an appropriate measure of fear, a fear that exceeds our familiarity and contempt. I tell you today that we have wandered far and our Father has grown impatient with anger. The only proper response for the church is to fall on our faces before Him and pray for His mercy, to repent and come to a proper fear of the Lord our God.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7  “Fear the Lord your God, serve him only…” Deut. 6:13

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Compared to What?

Is the truth important today? Is the truth important when it comes to government, business, science, education, the press, morality, or history? Two thousand years ago Pontius Pilate stood before the Living God and asked, “What is truth?” His question was rhetorical. In his intellectual pride, he believed he already knew the answer. You see, Pilate believed, as so many people today, that the truth is a relative thing. In fact, in the Bible, Pilate is representative of those who see the truth as something that can be shaped and molded depending on one’s point of view. Pilate believed that “truth”, was not really important when measured against outcome. In fact, like  many who followed in the stream of history, and many in the present, he believed that everything we suppose to be truth should be shaped to accommodate a desired outcome, a philosophy that has become ubiquitous in government, in business, in science, in education, in the press, and in our own daily lives.
But Jesus said, “I am the truth… If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then will you know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  John 8:32
Conversely, as Jesus is the source of all truth, there is also a source for all lies and that source is a fallen angel now called Satan. Jesus describes him as “…the father of lies,” in John 8:44

If the truth will set you free, then what about lies? Does Jesus, the Living God, imply that lies will enslave you? What does your own experience tell you about it? Have you ever been caught in a web of deceit? Have you ever felt that you were living in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes? You don’t even have to be the one who lies. When our courts interpret law, or our legislators create law, based on lies we are all caught in their web. We are all of us enslaved by other people’s lies. The Bible tells us in 1 Peter, 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” So, I ask again, is the truth important? And, if it is, then, what really is truth?

The truth is not a relative concept, a philosophical view, or a scientific theory. The truth is, quite simply, what actually happened. It’s not some individual’s observation, or emotional opinion. It’s not speculative theory based on sparse evidence, or a preferred outcome.  The truth is absolute. It is what actually happened and, no matter how faded it may be by historical distance, it cannot be changed. It is an anchor in time, immovable, unalterable and secure.

So, how can we know the truth? Where can it be found? If you are a seeker of truth, and I hope that you are, then finding the truth may seem a daunting task. For some, it seems  impossible, but in reality, the truth is very near you. It is in your heart and in your mind because God has planted it there like an instinct.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse… ” Romans 1:18 – 20

In the end, the truth will become what we choose to believe about it. The question is, will you choose to believe what actually happened, or will you choose to believe some distortion intended to shape an outcome? This choosing becomes vital, because what you don’t know can hurt you. What you believe about the truth, about history, and about eternity will most certainly determine your future, because the choices you make today and every day have consequences in eternity. Do you believe this? Do you believe in eternity?  As hard as it may be to understand, we are destined for eternal life.

One thing I think we can all agree on is that there must have been a beginning. I see time as a bubble within the sea of eternity; a distortion of the ambient surrounding fluid. The bubble is not moving through eternity, but we are moving through the bubble. By its very nature, time and the bubble, let’s call it “space,” have finite dimensions. The forces of entropy surrounding the bubble are wearing away its outer wall until one day the bubble will collapse and time will exist no more. The space it once occupied will be filled by the surrounding eternal “waters.” That collapse of time will cause an almost imperceptible, ripple, virtually unnoticed in the all-encompassing, eternal vastness, and then everything will return to what was normal before time existed, with one exception. The ambient condition will be light instead of darkness. Such is the nature of our existence.

But there was a beginning and in the final analysis it is the only place where the truth can be found. In the end, what you believe about the beginning will determine your future. The key to understanding the Revelation of St. John is found in the Book of Genesis, and what you believe about the beginning will shape the way you see the world. It will shape the way you live, the choices you will make, and the daily attitude of your heart. It will, in effect, shape the way that you see the truth. Knowing the truth becomes very simple when one returns to the source of  “what actually happened.”

Knowing the truth is actually simple, because there are really only two possibilities. One either chooses to believe that this bubble of time and all that has grown out of it is the result of a great cosmic accident, an inexplicable “big bang,” the progeny of a fluke, or one chooses to believe that it was created by design, the result of an intelligent plan. They cannot both be true, but only one, or the other. To know the truth, you must choose which to believe. Accident, or Design? Fluke, or Plan? Speculative reality, or what actually happened? Only you can decide this and so I ask you, “What is truth?”
If you choose to believe that life, reality, the universe that surrounds you, and all that is in it is the result of an accident of chemistry and coincidental kinetic energy, then I must wonder why you bother going on each day? I only pose the question because, logically speaking, there would be no other purpose to your life beyond that of the most useless parasite. You would exist only to reproduce and die. That would mean that Shakespeare’s Hamlet had it right in act 5, scene 5, when he said: “Tomorrow and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools their way to dusty death. Out! Out brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.
But don’t stop with Shakespeare, because to believe in an accidental existence has many more ramifications. For example, there would be no God, which means that there is no spiritual component to life, only the physical, biochemical / electro-chemical sparking of synapses driving the human organism as it does an ant. If life is an accident then it has no value and if life has no value then there is no morality. Without morality anything goes, including killing anyone for any purpose, even children, even the unborn, killing in order to suit our own purposes; to “shape an outcome,” as it were. I testify correctly to you that both human history and the daily news are filled with the “outcome” of accidental thinking, thinking developed by accidental people who live in an accidental world of their own making; because they have chosen to believe in a lie.

But it doesn’t end there. In order to believe in a Godless, “Cosmic Accident”, you must also choose to believe in an impossible, continuing series of accidents that completely defy all mathematical probability. Even the scientists who promote the “Cosmic Accident” know that, scientifically speaking, their theory defies all statistical evidence and is mathematically and provably impossible. The mathematical odds of human life developing in such a way are (one in ten to the 164th power), a number too enormous for the human mind to truly comprehend, a number that actually exceeds the number of atoms in the entire known universe.  The refusal of elitist scientists to confess this truth to the public after convincing them that “Darwinian Evolution” is the reality, is an act of depravity, and their choice to believe in such foolishness is religion, not science.
More likely, however, is the fact that, just as politics is more about wealth and power than it is about social ideals, science is more about politics than it is about truth. Science is a business, like any other and, in an accidental world, where there is no morality, we do whatever it takes to acquire wealth, power and social status; we can “shape the truth” to fit a desirable outcome.
On the other hand, choosing “Intelligent Design” seems more logical and certainly opens a few more doors for our existence. For one, it allows the possibility that there might be more to life than just struggling through to sustain ourselves in order to produce the next generation. We might actually be more than insects,  live off of life’s refuse, suffer violence in order to reproduce, only to die in order to feed the next generation in an endless cycle of birth and death. Intelligent Design allows that there may be purpose to our lives beyond survival of the fittest. Purpose equals value, and value demands morality.  According to Intelligent Design there must be an intelligent source, a God, a creator. Thus there is a spiritual component to our existence, a link to the eternal and, in that eternity lies the hope for something beyond this life including the knowledge that we are not alone on a planet that is spinning out of control within an accidental machine bent on its own destruction. But, which is true? How can you know which to choose? Is the Emperor wearing spectacular new clothes, or is he really as naked as he appears?

You begin by trusting your instincts rather than what you’ve been told by people who have an outcome to shape. When I was a child I remember seeing Mary Martin play the role of Peter Pan in the Broadway play of the same name. I was mostly unimpressed by the idea of a woman playing the role of every little boy’s hero, but one scene stands out in my mind. It was a scene where Tinkerbell, the tiny fairy, was injured by Wendy’s unbelief. We, the spellbound audience, were told that “only we could save her” and that “if we didn’t do so she would die!” We were asked to clap our hands if we believed in fairies and wanted Tinkerbell to live. I remember that with tears in my eyes, armed only with a “child’s faith”, I began to clap. I clapped hard and long, to the point of pain. I would have clapped until my arms fell off, if that’s what it took to save Tinkerbell. What was required for the story to succeed was, “faith.”
Most of us today are just hanging on, just trying to maintain ourselves from pay check to pay check; if indeed there even is a paycheck. We act as if we have no future, no hope. Les McCann expressed the frustration of such a life in his song, “Compared to What?” In it he cries in refrain, that he’s just “trying to make it real, compared to what?” He asks a question that is important to all of us, so I pass the question on to you. “What is real and, to what should I compare it?”
When it comes to the truth there has to be a standard. We live in a world that is filled with standards, poor as most of them may be. There are standards that we use for every kind of activity, every day. A standard of behavior can be represented in law, or in a stated purpose. A standard of quality can be contained in a specification. But what is the standard for truth? Well, the truth lies in what actually happened, whether it is documented or not. What actually happened in the beginning? Was it an accident, or was it design? The Bible says, in its very first verse, “In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth.” You must decide for yourself if this is true, only you can. I’ll clap for you. I’ll clap long and hard. Just remember that eternity is out there waiting, decide soon, you won’t live forever, …or will you?

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Hykeractive (CW7)

In my view, Caleb Cauley is a young man who has a future in writing and perhaps much more.

via Hykeractive (CW7)

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You Must Be Born Again

Oh to be a fly on the wall that night. Well, maybe not a fly, that would be creepy, but wouldn’t you have loved to have been there? Wouldn’t you have loved to see the look on Nicodemus’ face when Jesus said to him, “You must be born again.” It’s as if the message came from outer space. The Lord’s words were so sudden and so surprising, I am willing to bet that Nicodemus blinked.
He’d come to Jesus in the night, afraid to be seen with Him. Nicodemus was a respected Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin. He’d come to this clandestine meeting representing a small minority of that board of elders who thought Jesus just might really be the Messiah his followers claimed Him to be. He, Nicodemus and those he represented, wanted to know more.

When the formalities were completed and the two sat together alone, ready to get down to brass tacks, Nicodemus began to explain his position and that of his constituency, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher from God…”

It was as if Jesus interrupted him and said, ”“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
I’m sure it took a moment for Nicodemus to respond. He must have been confused, as many are today when we use that same phrase. On the surface, the statement seems to have nothing at all to do with the conversation Nicodemus had planned to have. In fact, to most people, the statement is ridiculous and non-sensical, but Jesus, in His infinite wisdom, has simply cut to the chase of Nicodemus’ inquiry.

As the Son of the Living God, Jesus knows the heart of every man, including Nicodemus’, and He clearly understands the disconnect between the way of the Pharisees and the Way of the Father. You see, Nicodemus’ problem, the problem with Phariseeism, and with any religion of law, is its focus on the flesh and on the world of the flesh. In spite of the testimony of the Torah, in spite of the sacred ritual of the Temple, and even though a religion of law may acknowledge the Supernatural Living God, even assenting to His rule, it fails to recognize that a relationship with Him can only exist “in Spirit and in Truth.”

In his ignorance, Nicodemus is completely baffled by the Truth that Jesus shared with him that night. In his confusion he reverts to thinking in the flesh, the only mode of thought he really knows. He is left wondering, “How can this be?” In His response, Jesus confuses him further by comparing the spirit filled life to the wind, but Nicodemus’ failure to understand lies in his own worldly heart and mind. For him and for all practitioners of religious law, the Kingdom of God is invisible, nothing more than a conceptual ideology.

God has been trying from the beginning to relate to all mankind that an eternal future exists beyond this world, for all who will trust Him by faith. Through the witness of Abraham He teaches us that faith is the medium of exchange. The exercise of faith takes us beyond the temporal world of the flesh into a Kingdom that lies, invisible, beyond our concept of time and space; beyond the apparent laws of physics that rule the visible universe and the world of the flesh.

Faith garners trust and trust flows out of a bond of mutual love and respect. God has been imploring us from the beginning to ignore the calls of an opposition that inhabits the world of the flesh, and, instead, to trust Him by faith. It’s a choice that every person is free to make and those who make the choice, even though no physical evidence exists to support it, are the ones who will be born again. They are the ones who will see the Kingdom of God. They, and only they, are the ones who will spend eternity with Him in a garden paradise.

All religion is an exercise in what you, or I, can do for God, or worse, what sacrifice we are willing to make for some lesser god. But the Living God has no need of my works. All religion is of the flesh, and so, it is temporal and corrupt. Faith, however, is about trusting God for what He has already done. Faith is about worshiping that which, for now, is invisible, it’s about believing, in spite of opposition, that when Jesus said, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” John 14:2 – 4
Though it seems foolish and impossible to the religious, secular, or intellectual mind, the only Way to His paradise is by faith. As Jesus told Nicodemus, I tell you, “You must be born again.”

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What’s Needed is Mo-Faith

In Exodus 7:9, the scripture reads, 9“When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ (in Hebrew, mopheth, pronounced, mo-faith), then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and (when you do,) it will become a snake.”

This is but one of the 125 miracles recorded in the Bible, one among the thousands upon thousands without record. John tells us in the last verse of his gospel, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

In that time, in Judea and Samaria and even beyond, He was famous for the many miracles he performed, and He has become famous throughout the world because of them. If we count each birth and each of the stars, there will be as many as the grains of sand, billions upon billions, perhaps even trillions of miracles.

So, what is the nature of these miracles and why don’t we see them today, as the people did then? In John 14:12, Jesus told His disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Jesus was speaking of the miracles He’d performed during his ministry on Earth, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons, feeding thousands from a boy’s lunch basket, turning water into wine, to name only a few. To the people following Him then, these things were magical wonders. We call them “miracles.”

In the early church, the Apostles continued the tradition of miracles, casting out demons, healing the sick and even raising the dead. Magi of the time jealously tried to mimic the miracles of Christ in the same way that Pharaoh’s magicians worked so desperately to reproduce the miracles of Moses. Some of them, such as Simon, called Majus, even tried to buy the secrets of these miracles, as if they were nothing more than magic tricks. So what’s happened in the church? Why is it that most of the miracles we see are hokum or psycho-religious mumbo-jumbo performed by so-called “faith healers” who are nothing more than con-artists, like the magi, Simon Majus?

I don’t know about you, but I have little use for responsive readings in church. They seem only useful to parishioners, encouraging them to feel spiritual for an hour, once a week, but they do little to develop disciples. These rituals do not originate from the heart, where God looks to measure our commitment. They are, instead, autonomous repetitions, as unrelated to the Spirit of God as the chanting of a modern magician. I guess that’s my point. That the church, in large part, has become unrelated to the Holy Spirit, even when we think we are being spiritual.

Have you ever prayed your heart out in fervent, tearful supplication, only to have a loved one die. That experience will deliver a blow to your faith. It might even give rise to anger against God. It might lead to a period of wandering in the wilderness and yet, we pray, “Thy will be done…” or is that acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty also only  ritual repetition? You see, there has become, within Christianity, a huge disconnect between God’s will on Earth, and our own. In many cases, perhaps even most, we have lost sight of who is the servant and who is being served. But, because God’s will is often not our will, we have lost something more precious. We have lost our faith, our ability to believe that “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Mark 9:23. In those verses from Mark’s gospel, beginning in 14, we find a story about faith and Christ’s disciples. They are unable to cast out a demon who has possessed a young boy. The symptoms of his possession seem to indicate epilepsy and therein lies the challenge before the church today. Will you believe even if God’s will in the matter doesn’t meet your expectations? Even if the elders fail? Or will you return to Egypt where at least you were fed and felt safe. (ref. Numbers 14:3-4)

In the Bible, Egypt is a metaphor for the pursuit of forbidden knowledge. That’s a problem in the church today, the pursuit of knowledge rather than faith. In fact, it has been mankind’s problem from the beginning. The pursuit of knowledge is original sin. To depend on knowledge rather than God is the evidence of a lack of faith. Discipleship is not about knowing the scriptures, it’s about believing them. It’s about growing a relationship with God, trusting Him and depending on Him rather than what we know. Knowing the scriptures will not cast out the demon. If you want to cast out the demon, you must believe in order to make it so, as illustrated in Matthew 9:28, 29.

The church today has lost its faith to science and rationalism, as pointed out by Albert Barnes in his lecture on miracles, from “Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity in the Nineteenth Century.” We, the church, The Body of Christ, must strive to TRUST in God. What’s needed is not more knowledge, it’s Mo-Faith, mopheth. The church needs a miracle that can only come by fervent, believing prayer. As the boy’s father cried out to Jesus in Mark 9:24, help us Father to overcome our unbelief.

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And There Was War In Heaven

Who among you, who publicly confesses faith in Christ, has not been challenged by the plaintiff question, “If your God is so loving, why would he let this happen?” (“This” being the latest, or perhaps historic earthbound suffering.)

It seems to me there is enormous misunderstanding among both believers and non-believers regarding the nature of suffering in the world, and the nature of God’s will and purpose in that suffering; so much misunderstanding in fact, that the question itself requires serious examination. First, in the case of the non-believer, the question is more rhetoric, an accusation against God that is best answered with the question, “Indeed, why?”

The Bible tells us that Jesus was also challenged, in the same way, but He answered them not. Instead, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. ” (Isaiah 53:7)

As it is for the Teacher, so it will be for the disciple. In such cases it is better to pray for that person than to give answer, because the question is not a question at all, but a premise for debate, a challenge to God’s sovereignty and authority in the world. Their rhetoric is intended to sow the seed of doubt in the same way as did the serpent in the garden. In its very nature, the question, asked in this way, becomes an illustration of the problem. It is the heart of rebellion against God, the very heart of sin and not deserving of the knowledge or the mystery of His grace and mercy.

Sometimes, however, the question is truly a plaintiff cry, that is, a wounded heart crying out to God seeking answer, seeking understanding. In this case the best answer is simply the gospel of God’s love for the individual. Not a defense of His authority, or sovereignty, but an outpouring of His love and compassion through the believer, His ambassador on Earth. As God points out in Job 5:18, “For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole.”

It is important to note that God accepts responsibility for Job’s suffering. Such is the nature of a great king, the seal of sovereignty, accepting that “the buck stops here.” God has never been shy to announce His involvement in human suffering. He clearly accepts responsibility for the Great Flood, for the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, even for the destruction of the cities of His people in Israel and Judah and their exile. Through Amos God says, in 3:6, “If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?”

This reality may be shocking to some, but God has a purpose in human suffering, just as He had a purpose in the suffering of Christ Jesus, His own son, whom He sent to die on a cruel cross, saying through Him, In John 10:17-18 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

In these words of Jesus, can be found the key to our misconception of suffering and death. You see, as much as you may not like to hear it, God does not place the same value on our temporal lives as we do. As Jesus points out to us, He has the power to lay down life and to pick it up again. He proves it over and over, from creation to Ezekiel’s valley of the dry bones, and from Jonah’s rescue to Lazarus,  of whom Jesus said, In John 11:14-15 “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe…””

I repeat the words of our savior, “that you may believe.” You see, what is most important to God is your faith, not your life; not that life is not precious to God; it is, and He has plenty to say about that, but your life here, on temporal Earth, is not as precious to Him as His purpose for it. So the proper question to be asked is not, “Why would God allow this suffering,” but, “What is God’s purpose in this suffering?”

Believers suffer too, and, like Job, they cry out to God wanting to understand the reason for it. The answer today is the same as it was for Job, in his day. That answer lies, veiled, in the opening scripture of Job’s story, that Satan, a fallen angel, leader of a rebellion against God, is free within God’s permissive will, to challenge your faith, by bringing suffering upon the faithful. What we, the faithful, fail to understand and what we fail to teach, or even speak of in our churches, is the fact that we are the subjects of a war, an invisible war that surrounds us every day; a war in which we are forced to choose one side or another.

“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Rev. 12:7-9)

I think there are few Christians who realize that this war broke out in Heaven long before John wrote his book of Revelation. The war in Heaven was established in the beginning, at Genesis. It is not a future event, it is a continuing event that began, perhaps, even before Adam was created. That’s why, in my novel, “The Oubliet,” I have the demon, Azazel, declare that,  “Elohim created the eternal heavens first, and, unlike you and your kind, I am of the Spoken Ones.”

Bob Dylan seemed to understand the truth of the invisible war, even before he was saved, when he wrote the song, “You’re Going to Serve Somebody”, but the principle is better established by God Himself in Joshua 24:15. We who believe are free each day, in peace or suffering, to choose between God, or Satan, between goodness, or evil, between darkness, or light. The Gray Empire in which the world tries to live, the shadow-lands between darkness and light, hiding from our true purpose, hiding from our Creator, like Adam in the Garden. The true mythology is believing that you can hide your junk from God with a fig leaf.

Unfortunately, our fallen nature makes us more likely to properly respond to God when we suffer, than we would in times of comfort, so sometimes God allows us to suffer in order to draw us to His side. At other times, as noted in Job, chapter one, we suffer because of an attack on our righteousness. In such a case, however, our suffering is limited by God’s decree. Sometimes our suffering is part of a pruning process, a way for God to use us to produce more and better fruit for Him, but most often our suffering is our own, the coincidental result of a fallen world and a war we refuse to acknowledge.

For those of us who believe, and recognize the spiritual battle that permeates our lives here, on Earth, the refrain, “onward Christian soldier, marching as to war,” actually means something beyond the words of an old hymn. Paul reminds us of this purpose for our lives in his letter to the Ephesians, when he says, in 6:14-18 “Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”

This is our draft notice and marching orders, our declaration of war. As with any war there will be suffering, especially for the “innocent”, those who are lost and confused, those who think that the Gray Empire actually exists. They will be caught up in the battle when their mythical  Matrix collapses around them, unprepared and unaware of the truth.

In the end, as difficult as it may be to accept, God allows us to suffer when we deserve to suffer, or when our suffering can turn us to Him, or when our suffering can prepare us to serve Him. The patterns of suffering in the Bible clearly demonstrate that when God’s people are living according to His will, that is His moral and specific will, suffering in their world is greatly reduced by His outflowing mercy. The opposite is true when the situation is reversed. So what is God’s purpose in suffering? It is to put an end to the rebellion that has torn His Kingdom apart and, through sin, brought suffering to the world He created. More importantly, however, is God’s will in all of this. His will clearly demonstrates that His love is the driving motivation behind all of His actions, from creation to the fact that He sustains us each day, from breath to breath. His perfect will is that, when the rebellion of The Gray Empire finally collapses, all people should be saved and none should be lost at the end. He says so in His word, 1Tim. 2:3-6, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.”

Therefore take joy in all your suffering, for in it lies the perfect will of God, and remember:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.”

(2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

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