Burning Out in Search of Your Purpose

May the God of all grace, who is rich in wisdom, and abounding in mercy, be with you in the name of our Lord Jesus-Christ. I wonder how you would describe your Christian life. Has it so far been one of constant fire for the Lord? Or can you distinctly identify periods of drought, sometimes very long ones? Periods where you were – and perhaps still are – simply cold toward spiritual matters. May be even worse. Do you feel like you have simply run out of steam for God?

You can remember the days when you had all the zeal of the world. Perhaps that was at your new birth and the months that followed it. On fire you were to even preach the gospel. Volunteering at your local Church, even proposing new ideas of ministry. But now…

…You are exhausted. You feel like you have been doing everything you can, but now, you are tired, and that zeal is just not there anymore. At best, a routine has settled in, but spiritually and emotionally, you are somewhere else.

You, have burned out.

This burning out, is not like the one Paul is describing, where, precisely because of the Gospel, they were persecuted on every front.

2 Corinthians 1:8We don’t want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, of our affliction that took place in Asia. We were completely overwhelmed—beyond our strength—so that we even despaired of life itself.

No, the burning out I am describing is where your Christian zeal is gone. Your prayer life is all but nonexistent, and your active involvement in Church is a thing of the past.

And even worse…

It seems like it does not really matter whether you find in you the energy to jolt yourself back up. God Himself seems silent. Not a word from Him, not a word of encouragement from Jesus in your head that perhaps says “Yes, go ahead, I am with you, do not give up!”.

What is my mission? What is my ministry? What is my calling? Why can’t I seem to find it? Why am I just not on fire for Him?

These are just some of the questions you have been wrestling with.

You, have burned out.

What is Happening?

I would not pretend to have the comprehensive answer on the matter, nor presume that God would reveal such to me. But one potential big reason could be the mistake we often make of placing the carriage before the horse.

We are focusing on the ministry before focusing on ourselves.

When you look at the words of Jesus, and of His apostles after Him, by in large their focus was on our personal growth, rather than our ministry.

Jesus’ message was full of Do’s and Don’ts for our personal life. He preached so that our very character will change. You can read Matthew 5 to 7 for a good illustration of this. His focus was not for us to engage on a quest to find our “ministry”, but to embark on a life of internal transformation by getting rid of moral traits, habits and behaviors which keep us far from God.

The Apostles’ message echoed their Lord and Master’s. Very little – if anything at all – is found in their writings about how to get creative in the church, how to attract new members, or how to get children engage in Bible school. No, we do not see any of that. But what do we see instead? A call for personal transformation. A call for each of us to look inward, a call to fight old habits and put on new ones.

Galatians 5:19-25Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I am warning you about these things—as I warned you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

Fighting our old nature – the flesh and what it produces – is where our focus should be. The fruit of the Spirit is not described as a series of activities in the Church, or a series of personal ministries, but instead as a list of character traits that are in perfect agreement with the Laws of God.

It is God’s part to give you a ministry, not yours – It is your part to fight your old habits, not His

And so we find ourselves often focusing on something else that God would have us focused on. We want to work for Him, but we are not focusing on purifying ourselves as He commanded. And therefore often we move forward, with our temporary zeal and creative mind, only to run out of steam because the Lord, was never with us to begin with!

2 Timothy 2:21 So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.

It is the Master’s privilege to judge us fit for use. Sure, as we fight our old nature and put on the new one supplied by the Spirit, we will find ourselves “doing” things that could rightfully be described as doing ministry work. But they are not the focus, for they are simply the natural product of the transformation that is taking place inside of us, which should be our focus.

And if God judges that we should spend the rest of our lives here on earth doing nothing else but transforming ourselves, rather than doing any kind of ministry, so be it, for it will all be worth it. For remember, only holy people will see God (Hebrews 12:14).

Matthew 5:8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

May the Lord Jesus live His life in You, through the Holy Spirit, for the glory of the God the Father.

AMEN

I Must Face My Goliath

My brothers and sisters;

Perhaps this title sounds cliché, since the account of David and Goliath – recorded in 1 Samuel 17 – is a classic biblical story in its truest sense: A young man, a shepherd, not even considered worthy to be counted among the men of war, slays a giant that no soldier dared challenging.

When a Goliath presents itself in your life, you have no other option but to face it. And to overcome it, you have one weapon: Your Faith in the Lord Jesus.

Hence, since it is evident that not all challenges we face in life require faith, you will realize that Goliath, as used in this letter, is not merely a major challenge, but instead the opportunity, sometimes orchestrated by God Himself, to demonstrate your faith for His own glory, your own exponential growth of faith, and the work of His Kingdom.

Goliath makes itself known

We learn in 1 Samuel 17 that Goliath presented Himself to Israel every single day for 40 days!

1 Samuel 17:16 Every morning and evening for forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand.

We also learn that from the very first day, Goliath had already informed the Israelites about what they had to do.

1 Samuel 17:8-10“…Choose one of your men and have him come down against me. 9 If he wins in a fight against me and kills me, we will be your servants. But if I win against him and kill him, then you will be our servants and serve us.”

Yet, rather than facing him, the Israelites will put themselves – every single day for 40 days – in formation to engage the Philistines, only to run for their lives whenever Goliath would come.

1 Samuel 17:21-24Israel and the Philistines lined up in battle formation facing each other. …suddenly the champion named Goliath, the Philistine from Gath, came forward from the Philistine battle line and shouted his usual words, which David heard. 24 When all the Israelite men saw Goliath, they retreated from him terrified.

Are you occupying yourselves so as not to face your Goliath?

It should be noted that ultimately, none of the activities that the army of Israel was engaging itself in at that time actually mattered, for they would never have won that battle through them. Goliath was there, and he was the challenge they had to face.

Do you have a Goliath in your life – an opportunity to demonstrate and exponentially grow in faith – which, in fear, you are trying to avoid? Perhaps, just like the army of Israel, you are engaging in activities which, to the casual observer, is a beautiful demonstration of your faith as a Christian. Perhaps you are very active at you Church. Or perhaps you enjoy participating in conversations to defend the scriptures. Or maybe, you use the “I am not good enough” card, as an excuse for your sloppiness, as if it is by their own strength that Jesus’ followers are to face their Goliath.

When Goliath shows up it changes everything. At that point, it must be faced, everything else becoming of little priority.

Jesus, Abraham and many others had to face their Goliath

Abraham had been a God-fearing man for some time. He obeyed God and knew how to properly offer sacrifices to Him. But when his Goliath showed up, everything else became secondary. He had to face it.

Genesis 22:1,2After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. 2 “Take your son,” he said, “your only son Isaac, whom you love, go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”

Jesus did many great things during His ministry. He taught, healed, cast demons out of people and demonstrated the worth of the Kingdom of God. But then the time came when His Goliath came also, and He had to face it: It was His own sacrifice. Everything else became secondary to facing His Goliath. And just like Abraham, Him too did face His Goliath and overcame.

Philippians 2:8he [the Lord Jesus] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death – even to death on a cross.

Jesus could have chosen to avoid His Goliath and continue His ministry, but then the whole plan of man’s redemption would have been in jeopardy. And who knows what would have been the outcome of Abraham refusing to sacrifice Isaac, His son?

Likewise, it is reasonable to believe that there are consequences, perhaps very big ones, when we refuse, often in fear, to face our Goliath. I pray that we, me first, find the strength and courage in Jesus to face our own Goliaths. They are there for a reason, for God’s glory, your own exponential growth of faith, and the work of His Kingdom.

In the name of Jesus. AMEN.

The Foolishness of the Spirit

Dear friends;

Greetings from our God and Father, and from our Lord, Jesus, the Christ. This letter is an updated version of an article I originally posted in July 2013, pertaining to the foolishness of the acts and ways of the Spirit. Yet, it is according to the Spirit of God, that Christians are commanded to be led.

WHAT DOES NATURE TEACH US?

Romans 1:20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…

I was at a zoo not too long ago where I took the picture of the tiger you see here. Thankfully, there was a “very” thick glass separating us. This tiger, like the crocodiles and the many other animals I saw that day has a strength that far exceeds mine. Without the glass separating us, I simply would not stand a chance in a physical combat (if there is even one to begin with). Yet I thought

Men were able to lock this tiger in a cage. Men also caged all the lions, the crocodiles, and even the elephants in that zoo. Some men (and women) did all this so that others can come and look at them“.

Then I thought, “what is it that we, human, have that allows us to dominate all these animals?” A mind of course! We can think, we can reason, they cannot.

Then I thought

“if only he could, I am sure this tiger would give up all its strength in a heartbeat just to get a piece of my mind”.

WHY? BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW STRONG HE IS, HIS POWER CANNOT BE COMPARED TO THE POWER OF MY MIND.

HOW MUCH MORE POWERFUL IS THE MIND COMPARED TO THE BODY?

Well, we can’t really tell because the mind and the body are on completely different scales, the mind being evidently on a far superior one. NO AMOUNT OF BODILY EXERCISE CAN DEVELOP A MIND. EITHER ONE HAS A MIND, OR ONE DOES NOT.

WELL, THINK OF THE SPIRIT! IT MUST AT LEAST THAT MUCH MORE SUPERIOR TO THE MIND

Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

God is Spirit so His ways and thoughts are spiritual. The mind of a man is really what defines him (Proverbs 23:7), so his ways and thoughts are of his mind, his intellect. That is how he reasons. Here in Isaiah, we see that the ways of God, which are Spiritual are far superior to our ways, which are the ways of our mind.

Just like with bodily strength compared to the power of the mind, NO AMOUNT OF MIND EXERCISE WILL EVER DEVELOP A SPIRIT OR ATTAIN TO THE POWER THAT THE SPIRIT AFFORDS.

Now, as we will see with the two examples below, the ways of the spirit can be so different than the ways of the mind that actions that originate from the Spirit may appear downright foolish to the mind. That is how incapable the mind is in trying to understand the spirit.

ACTIONS OF THE SPIRIT

1 Corinthians 2:14But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

Understanding the context of this verse, a natural man is one who does not operate with the Spirit of God. To the best of my understanding, by “natural man”, 1 Corinthians 2:14 refers to anyone who does not have the Spirit. The natural man is one who operates solely from his mind (or worse, his body). God says that such a man “cannot” accept the things of Spirit because they are foolishness to him. He “cannot” even understand them! Wow, what is so special about the Spirit that even the smartest among us cannot understand his things?? It is just the same as the tiger who cannot explain by its brute strength, how he found himself caged by humans.

SPITTING ON DIRT TO HEAL BLINDNESS

John 9:6When He (Jesus) had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing.

1) spitting on the ground, 2) making clay out of it, 3) applying that clay on someone’s eyes who is completely blind, and then 4) sending that person to go wash in some pool is hardly an acceptable recipe for healing blindness. This is an act of the Spirit. And for the mind, this is pure foolishness!

WALKING AND SHOUTING AS A MILITARY STRATEGY

Now the whole record of the battle of Jericho under the leadership of Joshua is a bit long (Joshua 6:1-27). But essentially, God instructs Joshua and his military officers to march around the city of Jericho for six days. And on the seventh day, they were supposed to march around the city seven times, blow the trumpet, and shout. The expected outcome? The wall of Jericho – a fortified city – was supposed to fall down flat! Well, Joshua and his men did it, and the wall did fall flat!

Joshua 6:20…the people shouted with a great shout and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and they took the city.

This strategy continues to puzzle many a military pundit, simply because they are trying to explain by the brute strength of their intellect. But it was an act of the Spirit, not of the mind. And so are, the partying of the sea with Moses, Jesus walking on water, people being healed from Paul’s handkerchief, or Jesus feeding thousands of people starting with five fish and a piece of bread, and many more.

BUT PERHAPS THE MOST PUZZLING WAYS OF THE SPIRIT ARE FOUND WHEN CHRISTIANS ARE MIRACULOUSLY WILLING TO ENDURE BOTH MENTAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSES

2 Corinthians 6:2-10See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

To the rest of the world, suffering to this extent hardly makes any sense. We serve a God we cannot see, get instructions from Him to live selflessly, to suffer so other rejoice, and endure, sometime unto death, having a hope that our mind cannot grasp.

Ephesians 3:20…to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine

The most brilliant mind will still never understand the ways of the Spirit. As Christians, we are told to put on the mind of Christ, that is…to operate on a Spiritual level, not at the level of our mind.

Philippians 2:5…Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus

Then, and only then, can we effectively contribute our share in the great commission of reconciling people to God, of sharing the burden of our brothers and sisters, thereby honoring Christ.

Zechariah 4:6“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts…

It is futile for the tiger to think that he can accomplish with its physical strength what can only be accomplished with the mind. Likewise, it truly is futile for us to think that we can accomplish with the mind those things that can only be accomplished through the Spirit. We need the Spirit of God to accomplish the tasks God has given us. We need the spirit of God and we should dictate our own mind to subject itself to the immensely superior power of it! It is only then that we will see the acts of the Spirit. A mind that is subject to the spirit is a mind that acts upon the directives of the Spirit instead of its own directives. 

We may look very foolish at times to outsiders (Jesus certainly did when he spat on the ground), but Spiritually speaking, we would be moving mountains, raging blows to the Devil’s army, freeing those who are oppressed by it, with the freedom that only Christ can provide.

May His Name be praised. AMEN.

Your Most Prized Possession

Children of the Kingdom:

Peace, mercy and grace in abundance to you, from God, the Creator of the universe, and from Jesus-Christ, whom He sent to save the world. I pray that by His grace and mercy, I may write unto you regarding your most prized possession, the one you must cherish and guard even with your own life: The Words that we have all received from our Lord Jesus-Christ.

Matthew 4:4Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

This passage – certainly familiar to many – speaks in no uncertain terms about the necessity of the Words that God has given us. One does not need to agree with, believe in, or even love the fact that one must eat to stay alive, to make it true. It is simply true because our Creator, God made it true. You must eat to sustain yourself, or else you will die.

By the same token, in Matthew 4:4, Jesus declares that we all must feed on every word that God has pronounced or we will die. The Words that God has pronounced give to our Spiritual self, life, just like natural food gives life to our natural self. It is not a matter of preference or choice my friends. It is a matter of truth and principle. It is what it is.

YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THAT THE WORDS OF JESUS ARE THE MOST PRECIOUS THINGS YOU HAVE

The Words that God has given you are your most prized possession. You must protect those words, you must protect what your Spiritual life depends on, at all cost. For rest assured, that it is the One thing the devil seeks to steal – and is often successful at doing – so that you will starve and die.

John 10:10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

Jesus came to give us the Words whereby we should live, and the thief (i.e. Satan) has no other purpose than to steal those words and attempt to kill and destroy whatever those words have started to produce in us.

When Jesus gave what is known as the parable of the Sower, he later explained that the Sower [Himself] sows the seed [the Word of God], and that in 3 of the 4 possible outcomes, the Word is either stolen by Satan, forgotten or neglected by the recipient, rendering the Seed completely unfruitful [Mark 4:14-19].

THE FIGHT OF THE APOSTLES FOR THE PEOPLE WAS ABOUT PROTECTING THOSE WORDS THEY HAD RECEIVED

One of the ways we can – in this context – summarize the charge Jesus gave to His Apostles was…“give my sheep these Words and charge them not to lose them at any cost, for it is their livelihood”.

JUDE saw how Satan has now gone full force to steal the Words we have received

Jude 3Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

PETER saw it necessary to do everything possible even until His death to make sure that the people will not forget, but fearlessly protect the Words they were given

2 Peter 1:13-15I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

JOHN is very direct…the one who does not keep those words can’t be in God.

1 john 2: 4,5Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.

And just as direct, PAUL says that keeping those Words is directly linked to our Salvation

1 Corinthians 15:1,2Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

My friends. Do not be ignorant or passive about your lifeline…the Words that Jesus received from God and gave to us. There is someone, by means of countless of agents actively seeking to steal as much as those Words as possible from you.

You must be active. You must be vigilant to guard what you have been given. It is your lifeline. And you must feed, and continually feed on those Words you have been given.

It is not a matter of whether you agree (although I hope you do) with it or not. It is not a matter of fairness or injustice either. It is a matter of life and death. Protect, cherish and eat and you will live. Do not be fools.

Today, the Lord can still be found.

In His name, may you receive these words.

AMEN

Forbidden Fruit

Dear Children of the Kingdom;

Oh that the grace of God and His mercy may be upon me at this time, that Christ may act in me mightily, that I may serve as His instrument to instruct you His people, serving you His Word, for the days in which we live are truly evil. But the fools and the uninstructed, not able to discern good from evil, keep moving forward and suffer dearly.

Proverbs 22:3The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

The prudent sees danger and hides himself just as Joseph ran out of his master’s house when the master’s wife was determined to sleep with him.

Genesis 39:6-12Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” 10 And as she spoke to Joseph DAY AFTER DAY, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. 11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house.

Look at Joseph’s primary concern: “There is no greater person in this house after my master than I. He has place everything in my hand, except you his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?

Sinning against God was Joseph’s preoccupation! He recognized everything he had, everything he was free to have…and that was precisely the reason he could not venture into committing such a great sin against God by going after the one thing He was not permitted to touch!

One can see the similarity between this account and Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, to whom God gave absolutely everything that belonged to Him here on Earth, save His tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. But as opposed to Joseph, they DID go after what was forbidden when tempted by Satan, and committed a great sin against God.

YOU TOO, ARE FREE

Much freedom my friend, has been granted to you too, when you were purchased and washed with Jesus blood. You have been made free! For with God, free is how His creatures, us, should be!

Galatians 5:1For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

But to you and me who have been given much freedom, much power, Satan is after the one thing that God has forbidden us to do: To disobey Him.

But sometimes, perhaps blinded by our freedom and power, or yielding to the lies of Satan, we act as fools, not recognizing the danger when we see it, or simply making light of it given who we are in Christ, free. As opposed to Joseph, we may think that because God has blessed us so much, we may afford to be careless here and there. We believe we may afford to disobey and enjoy sin, going after the one thing we have been forbidden. Hence, we do not see the danger for what it is and hide, but instead press on, only ensuring that we will reap the consequences.

Galatians 5:13For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

My friend, you are God’s child,  and you love the Lord. Perhaps you are great at praying with your family, or studying the scriptures, reading devotionals and hearing sermons. Perhaps you are growing in your understanding of the freedom and power given to you.

Continue my friend on this path, and do not let Satan lie to you. Do not either be a fool, but strive to stay away from the one forbidden fruit: Disobedience. Every day, Satan or your own flesh will seek to derail you, just like the master’s wife who kept going after Joseph…DAY…AFTER…DAY! 

But RESIST…RESIST…and you will conquer!

Lord, my Lord, may you be exalted in me, and in my friend, to the glory of your Father, our God in Heaven.

AMEN

The Day of Salvation

My name is Delfit and I used to live in what you would consider your average US city in the middle of the country. My town was not known for anything in particular. We had our schools and businesses, and typically, life was smooth sailing. We had the same issues every other city had. Not everyone got along, and there were certain people and areas you would rather avoid. Nothing out of the extraordinary, a city with good and bad. But then there was also my community. What kind of community we were exactly I am not sure, but we sure loved each other. There might have been a hundred or so of us, young and old, and everything in between. We usually spent a lot of time together.

One day I met this guy. I do not remember his name. Matter of fact, I do not think he ever told me his real name, but I met him at the local Perkins, a favorite breakfast restaurant in town. He looked kind of my age, was usually wearing a hat, blue jeans and would typically leave his jeans shirt opened, revealing a plain white shirt underneath. Really nothing special about him. But he was a very nice guy and we became friends, really good friends. But that was the strangest of friendships, because I do not remember what we would usually talk about. In addition, from the very first time we met, I had always sensed that there was something odd about him. Really odd. I always felt that he was hiding something from me. Well, first, I kind of knew that he was not from town, and I did not know where he was from, or even what he was doing in town.

And the more time we spent together, the more that I felt it. Where was he from? I became fixated with that question. One day I brought him to my group, and introduced him. Everyone was nice toward him, but no one sensed the same thing I was sensing. They treated him well, just like any other person, but no one ever felt the same feeling I had. That was very strange. He was MY friend, but I was the one having a strange feeling about him, not my group. He would not typically come to my group but I would usually seek him out. Over time, as I could not contain that feeling anymore, I started to bring it up, day after day among my friends, to the point they had become annoyed with me, and him especially. Why was I fixated on him anyway, they would ask me? I actually started to think that I may be I was going a little crazy.

Then one day things got even worse. I went to meet him at Perkins as we usually did. But within two minutes of me seating down, I saw what I believe was a mom and two young girls. They seemed to be about 5 or 6 years old, the same age as Elvea, my best friend in my group. I loved Elvea! A sweet little girl, we could easily spend hours together. I am not sure whether I knew her parents because in our community that did not really matter much. Everyone took care of everyone, you know, what you might call a real community in its truest sense. Except for the fact that now I had increasingly become the odd one of the group, the one with the fixation on the strange friend.

Anyway, back to the restaurant.

Within two minutes of me seating down with my friends, I had this overwhelming feeling that I was being watched from some distance. And as I turn, I saw the mom, or at least I think she was the mom, with the two young girls. As the girls look at me with the softest yet most curious look, their mom almost rushed out of the restaurant with them, as if she did not want her girls to keep looking at me or to interact with me. Well, things could I have just ended there, except for the fact of what I felt. This time, although I did not even get the chance to speak with the lady, or to even see who she was, I felt exactly what I had been feeling about my friend from the first day we met. In fact, I cannot explain it but somehow, I knew that they knew each other. I just knew it. But no matter how hard I would push my friend, he just wouldn’t say much. Yet, he would always be there, and it was obvious that he too enjoyed my company as I enjoyed his.

Call me crazy but by now I had formulated my own theory. My friend came from somewhere. I don’t know, somewhere. May be from space I don’t know, but he just wasn’t a normal guy, and meeting that woman with the two girls convinced me even more of that. Them too were from somewhere. Who knows, another planet, space, I don’t know. But I loved them! I really, really love them, yes, even the woman and the two girls I had not even spoken with. I loved these people and I wanted to be with them! Who were they, were did they come from? Could I be with them? These people sure weren’t from my town, or from this country, but now I was convinced, not even from earth. Well, that theory did not go too well with my friends back at the camp. I was officially crazy, and from that point, everyone was just about tired to hear about him.

But then came the day that change our town forever. Some kind of disaster struck our town. It did not really feel like it was of natural cause although it looked like it. The sky was lit in bright orange with the raging fire just on the outskirt of town. The town was now in a permanent darkness, because the dark, thick smoke had completely covered the sun. Then, everything stopped working. Everything was broken, it became very dangerous to venture outside at any time of the day, and there was hardly any water. I remember going into town and those bad guys had made camp right in front of the grocery store. With the orange sky and the smell of smoke feeling the air, it felt like overnight we were in the wild west, but a very scary wild west.

What I did not tell you is that Elvea, myself and the rest of the group we were always meeting in this building, with one story. Actually, two stories. I think the ground floor had a few shops and a parking garage. The second floor, where we usually met, was essentially just a plain big open area. Like an office space before it has been partitioned. We were always there, because that is where we usually met. And I remember that there was one section of the roof that had a few panels missing. No one really cared for that section except that if you took a pick in that hole, it was dark with an impossible number of copper pipes, all intertwined. Although they were made out of copper, they were all dark. I am not sure if they were dirty or if they were simply dark, but there was a lot of them! I mean, there was basically no way anyone could go through them, say, for servicing, so small the gap between them was. And for whatever reason, you just had the feeling that they went on for miles and miles high, deep into the roof. Very strange. In any case, there was something really eerie about that roof section.

Now that room had become our refuge. We did not really know what was coming, but everyone knew something was coming, and everyone knew there was no way out. Everyone was afraid, but no one knew what to do. We were like sitting ducks, waiting for our fate, whatever that fate was. But somehow, somehow as we all looked at each other in the eyes, there was this sense that this was it, we were all going to suffer and die. Everyone, all of us!

Then my Perkins friend showed up. Except for those few times in the very beginning when he came, he never really came to that building, to us. We would just meet at Perkins. But here he was. He came, and held me tightly by the upper hard, as if to secure me. Then all of the sudden we ran me through the open space and he carried me into that opening in the roof. All of the sudden him and I were inside and he did not stop. We kept running vertically, passing among all the pipes. I do not know how we did it, but here we were, running vertically. Actually, I almost felt like we were flying, but we were moving our feet frantically (at least I was), although they barely touched anything, I was tightly attached to him and we were moving fast! Really fast! I think I must have passed out at some point. But here we were. And that feeling I had about how deep that rooftop was turned out to be true. It was deep, really deep, with no end in sight! But like someone who knew exactly where he was going, my friend was just passing through those pipes, in that dark expansive place. No one could go through those pipes. I mean, I remember how there was hardly any space between them, and how eerie it felt. But here we were my friend and I, him carrying me at a frantic speed.

Then I must have lost consciousness because I do not remember how it ended. But eventually it felt like I regained consciousness, lifted my head and opened my eyes. I was in this room, a very bright and white room. The room was not big and there at the other side was my friend, seating on a desk, as if he had just been waiting for me to wake up. I do not know how long I had been unconscious but here he was, and I immediately knew where I was. This was his place, this is where he lived.

This was a different world entirely, inaccessible from my world, from where I came from. I mean, who could fly for miles through that dark roof among those tightly knit pipes? This was his place, on the other side. I stood up and there was this door by the stairs. I went to it, and opened it. And there they were. The two girls. I remember their look. Oh how can I forget what I felt when I saw them at the restaurant? How my heart burnt with love for them. But not only them, the adult woman was there too, and many, many other kids and adults were there with them.

But this time, this time they did not run away, but run toward me, hugged me and I knew that I would be with them forever. The moment had arrived. This had become my home, my home for eternity. But then, in a flash I was back in that building with my friends, back on earth, back in my town! My friend from the other world was also there with me, but no one could see him. Elvea! Where is Elvea, my sweet girl, my sweet friend? Here she came running to me, her sweet voice marred by fears. She knew something was about to happen, and would not let me go. “Where were you? Where were you Delfit? I want to come with you, take me with you?” My heart was broken. I was on my knees, holding her tighly in my arms, her little chest so pressed against mine I could feel her heart beat. I began to cry. “Take me with you Delfit, I want to go with you Delfit. Why can’t I go with you. Take me with you Delfit, I want to come with you. Please do not leave Delfit, please, please, don’t go”. “Elvea…I can’t” tears pouring down my cheeks. I started to cry uncontrollably holding her tighter and tighter against my chest. I knew what I had just happened. I was leaving, and my little Elvea was staying.

Why Does Grace Save Through Faith?

To my brethren who have been called to be saints;

May the Grace, mercy and peace from God, our Father, and from Christ-Jesus our Lord be with you. We live in a time where there seems to be a sudden reawakening of the churches to the unmerited, divine favor of God, otherwise known as Grace.

Grace is everywhere now. Every congregation would like to be known as being in the Grace of God. They rename themselves to reflect it, revise their mission statements to highlight the unmerited, divine favor of God. Grace is like our newfound friend, we cannot get enough of it. Every day it seems, a new song is released to celebrate that Grace of God. A Youth conference here, a concert there, and yet another T-Shirt. Oh that God so loved the world that He gave His Only Son to die for me! It is not about what I have done, or will ever do, but about what He (Jesus) has done. Who can resist Grace? Looking around, it seems that we love it, and cannot get enough of it. Grace seems to have no limit, able to save even the worst of sinners, promising them glory with Jesus, for God knows their name. We have a place in heaven, by God’s side, and that is all thanks to His Grace.

But the very same cornerstone verse that speaks of the saving power of that Grace of God throws in…a wrench…

Ephesians 2:8,9For by Grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

In all its portrayed all-encompassing power and glory, Grace seems to have a seriously limiting factor in its ability to save us…it can only save us through faith. Why? Why didn’t the passage say… “For by Grace you have been saved”, period! No, it says… “For by Grace you have been saved through faith”. It seems clear that unless faith is there, the Grace we have fallen so much in love with simply can’t save us. But why? Why is it so?

The Grace of God saves through Faith because Jesus HAS TO BE Glorified

We understand that the faith in question is faith in Jesus-Christ.

Acts 20:20-22I [Paul] did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

It seems therefore that it is by God’s Own design that His unmerited favor (His Grace) can only be accessed (for salvation) by those who have faith in His Son. The love of the Father for His Son is such that unless one honors His Him (the Son), one cannot experience His saving Grace. Having faith in Jesus is how we honor Him (Acts 4:12). Having faith in Jesus is how we submit to His Lordship (Luke 6:36, James 2:1). Elsewhere (Hebrews 11:6), God also makes it clear that it is impossible to please Him without faith. Unless one honors the Son, one cannot benefit from the saving power of that Grace.

Yet, there is also a very practical aspect to why Grace only saves through faith, and what it means to have faith in Jesus. The answer lies (at least in part) into HOW Grace saves through faith.

Grace saves us through what it teaches

Titus 2:11For the Grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age

The Grace of God does not manifest itself through some kind of feel-good sensation or divinely appointed fragrance that God has poured over the earth. No! The Grace of God manifests itself through a specific message that not only informs us, but also teaches us to renounce our current lifestyle. And when we read Titus 2:11 carefully, we see that what Grace trains us in, is in nothing else than living the very lifestyle that Jesus Himself taught us to live.

Faith in Jesus therefore, in the context of salvation, is believing and accepting the message and training of Grace. One must believe in the message of Grace to be saved by it. In other words, one must believe that he must renounce ungodliness and worldly passions. One must believe that he should live self-controlled, upright and godly lives today! AND one must believe that Grace HAS the ability to train him to become such a person!

Recognizing that by their own effort, they could never be saved, the disciples asked Jesus in despair…

“Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25). How did Jesus respond? “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” What did He mean? Well, if we look at Titus 2 again…He meant that we will have the best teacher to get us there…we will be taught how to be holy, and we should believe in that teaching! And if we do, we will see the results that are otherwise impossible for man to achieve. The question is…do we believe Jesus when He says it? Who can transform us but God Himself? Do we believe that if we follow the training of Grace, it will produce the intended results? This is what it means to believe in Jesus, without which, even Grace can’t save us, for we would not believe its message, let alone follow its training.

My friend. I exhort you to pray, and to pray in earnest. If you feel that you have been missing on this training from Grace, either because of not understanding the scriptures, not being properly taught at your church or whatever other reason, pray…pray my friend! God, your Father, will hear you. He will hear your imperfect, but honest and sincere prayer. And He knows how to give good gifts (Matthew 7:11). He will not ignore such a request.

May the Lord Jesus be glorified in our lives. AMEN.

Once Saved – Always Saved? What does this debate mean for you?

If you consider yourself to be a Christian, then you may have asked yourself the question of whether you can lose your salvation. In fact, this question is among the most debated ones in Christianity. Can a born-again believer lose his salvation?

The objective of this letter is not to share my view on the question. Rather, the objective is to show you how serious this matter truly is, regardless of the conviction you may hold about what the right answer might be. Consider one of the chief passages from the scriptures behind this controversy.

Hebrews 6:1-6 [ESV]Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

IF you believe that a born-again believer cannot lose his salvation, then there is only one conclusion regarding this passage: It cannot be speaking about those who are born-again. It is speaking about those who are not born-again. And conversely, if you believe this passage is speaking about born-again believers, then there is only one conclusion: a born-again believer can indeed lose his salvation.

What is interesting is that depending on the position you are holding on this matter, this passage sends two different, but equally serious warnings to you.

This is the message to you, Christian, whoever you are, if indeed the people in Hebrews 6:1-6 are born-again:

“YOU-CAN-FALL. Do not rest on your laurels, but stand and watch, honor Jesus your King here on earth, or you will be in danger of spending eternity in hell.”

This is the message to you, Christian, whoever you are, if indeed the people in Hebrews 6:1-6 are NOT born-again:

“You, self-professed Christian, DO-NOT-BE-DECEIVED. Do not believe that you are born-again even though 1) you have once been enlightened, AND 2) you have tasted the heavenly gift, AND 3) you have shared in the Holy Spirit, AND 5) you have tasted the goodness of the word of God AND even 6) you have tasted the powers of the age to come.”

My friend, are you grasping the gravity of this passage? Many self-professed Christians have relied on the fact that they once prayed the sinner’s prayer, or onto the fact that they were baptized at their church, or on whatever other experiences they have had or beliefs they hold, to convince themselves that they are born again. Many self-professed Christians have yet to experience just ONE – let alone ALL 6! – evidence(s) listed in Hebrews 6:4-6, and YET they believe to be born again, while this passage confirms that they are not, if indeed once you are saved, you are always saved.

And on the other hand, if indeed one can lose his salvation, then this passage is saying, “How can you, you a born-again, how can you, having experienced ALL THESE THINGS, this manifold grace of God, how in the world can you fall back again into living in the flesh…this is nothing but pure folly and madness, for you are crucifying Jesus, the Son of God AGAIN. It is over for you, you cannot be brought back to repentance, you are doomed and will spend eternity in hell.”

My friends, it is not the intention of this letter to trivialize the ongoing debate on the subject, for the truth of the scriptures, and the truth of the scriptures alone is what we should search for diligently, what we should hold onto dearly, and what we should preach fervently.

Nevertheless, I would like to caution that, as we debate and ponder on this question, we do not lose sight of the more important, and ultimately only truly relevant question that this debate and Hebrews 6 really raise:

AM I BORN AGAIN, AND AM I WALKING? 

This question, is a matter of Life and Death. Oh my people, awake from your sleep! AWAKE! The day is far spent. Do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.

Do you know if you will be granted another day among the living? So what don’t you rise from your spiritual sleep and walk in a manner worthy of the One you call Lord? Stand up and watch, examine yourself whether you are in the faith, and may the Lord Himself reveal in you that which is lacking, for it is better to enter His Kingdom missing one hand, than for your whole being to be cast away from the presence of God. 

May His grace be upon you. Thanks be to God, the Father, and to Jesus the King of all kings.

Amen.

Did Jesus ask for the impossible?

May the peace of the Lord and His great mercy be with you all. In one of his last prayers before His crucifixion, Jesus asked His Father the following:

John 17:20-23 – My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Jesus asked His Father that all who believe in His name may become one…just as He and His Father are one. When you take a honest look at Christianity today, when you look at your church, doesn’t it look like Jesus asked for the impossible?

How are we going to become one? Let alone the same way Jesus and His Father are One?

Jesus said…

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one

The only way to become one is through the “glory” that Jesus gave us. But what is that glory? In the same prayer Jesus said…

John 17:14I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

I submit to you that the glory that Jesus speaks of is the Word (of God).

He said then…

John 17:17 – Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

So the Word of God is the truth!

We will only become One if we know and have the truth. So we see, that if we ever want to become one people in the Lord, it is not about tolerance and acceptance, nor is it about fanaticism and rejection. It is about TRUTH. We have to chase TRUTH…Jesus gave TRUTH to us. We have to embrace TRUTH. We have to dig for it, search it day and night. For TRUTH is the One standard, the One unmovable, the One constant in life. The Word of God is TRUTH. Set your opinions aside (they have no value), set your preferences aside (they have no value), set your doctrine aside (it has no value), set your logic aside (it has no value)…and chase the pure TRUTH of the Word…and, then, only then we will become ONE, just as Jesus and the Father are One.

Blessing to all, and Glory to our Master Jesus and His Father, our God and Father.