Thursday, December 31, 2009
You see, we are not the only ones who suffer this fate. He knows exactly what it feels like. He's been there first - before us. Maybe that's why He's decided to share His feelings with us (give us a taste of PAS) so that we can see what He feels like - maybe that way we can understand Him better...
The "Good News" here then folks, is that He has a plan to solve the problem. The same problem which our courts have created. The same problem our politicians are afraid to address. The same problem which causes you to cry yourself to sleep at night....
"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers."
Kinda makes ya wish He'd hurry up, eh?
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I have to admit though – all this talk about faith in God, really wasn’t making me feel all that much better about what had happened to my family.
I guess when you come right down to it, I just couldn’t bring myself to believe that God would allow this to happen. I simply had to believe that this whole legal fiasco had to really anger Him. And just for the record: I still believe that. In fact, I think there are allot of problems on this planet that really make Him mad. But I was still focused on my own pain, and my own anger, and I kept demanding to know what He was going to do about it.
That’s when it hit me: He is going to do something about it! He does have a plan to fix the whole mess. My kids will get to finally learn the truth about what happened to our relationship.
Now I have to admit folks, it took me a long time to wrap my mind around this. Years, in fact. Guess you could say I’m kindofa slow learner. But in my defense, I think it’s perfectly natural to expect faster results whenever we face a debilitating problem.
The problem was that I had never fully come to understand the significance of His promise of Resurrection. My faith had always been more-or-less based on the here-and-now. I really expected that if I was a “good” person, and kept on doing the “right” things, like going to church, reading my Bible, even paying my tithe (well, almost a tithe) that I could expect God to come to my defense.
I really thought that He woulda stuck up for me when my ex divorced me, and by now I should at least be able to visit my kids. The hard part for me was learning that He wanted me to have more than just a “here-and-now” kinda faith.
That’s when I finally began to realize how important the Resurrection really is.
When that Day finally arrives, I will see my kids again, they will learn the truth about me, and they will finally want reconciliation! Yeah – they’ll want it – no matter how much they say they don’t want it now. And d'ya know what the best part is? I won’t have to try to convince anybody of my innocence. (OK- so you'all know, at least those of you who have actually had to face PAS, I'm the last person on earth that my kids are gonna believe, when it comes to explaining my own innocence.) But on Resurrection Day – I won’t have to explain myself. The records will be read, and the truth will be made known! That’s already been taken care of! (check out Malachi 3:16...)
I'm finally starting to understand why Paul made such a big deal about having "hope" in the Resurrection.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I prayed about this for two reasons: First, becasue of the loss of my relationship with my children, and second because I was so frustrated by the loss of control over my own life. I thought surely a gracious and loving Heavenly Father would understand how I felt. After all, He would want me to have a healthy relationship with my children – wouldn’t He? Shouldn’t He be able to intervene and help me correct the situation which the courts, and my ex, had created?
I was shocked by His answer: “Most of my kids have PAS too.” I had to sit back and think about that idea for a while, before I began to realize just how true it really was. Very, very few of His children ever bother to stay in touch with Him, or tell Him how much they love Him, and appreciate all the wonderful things He has done to bless them.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
“When I passed by you again and saw you, behold, . . . I made my vow to you and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Lord God, and you became mine.”
“The Lord disciplines the one He loves.”
"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed."
"For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen."
Deut. 8:2; Ezek. 16:8; Heb. 12:6; 1 Pet. 4:12, 13; 2 Cor. 4:17, 18
Monday, September 7, 2009
WOW - now, if that's not the favorite verse of a PAS victim, I can't think of one that feels better. I've spent many years in that territory. The truth is, I still go back there more often than I should. Eventually I learned that, while it was comforting to suck on my pacifier, it was not leading me anywhere. And God definitely had other plans for me. (of course, I don't really recall Him asking my opinion.... )
Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions. Ecclesiastes 7:10
Thursday, September 3, 2009
“…Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12, 13).
Most likely you did what you had to do. You moved in the will of God, honestly following your heart, willing to give of yourself. Love was your motivation. You did not abort the will of God, someone else did. If that were not true, you would not be the one who is hurting so. You are hurt because you tried to be honest.
You can’t understand why things blew up in your face, when God seemed to be leading all along. Your heart asks, “Why did God allow me to get into this in the first place if he knew it would never work out right?” Even Judas was called by the Lord; he was destined to be a man of God. He was handpicked by the Savior and was used of God. But Judas aborted God’s plan and broke the heart of Jesus! What started out as a plan of God ended in disaster because Judas chose to go his own way.
Lay off all your guilt trips. Stop condemning yourself. Stop trying to figure out what you did wrong. It is what you are thinking right now that really counts with God. You did not make a mistake; more than likely, you simply gave too much. Like Paul, you have to say, “The more I loved, the less I was loved” (see 2 Corinthians 12:15).
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Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I used to believe that my relationship with Jesus would bring me success in this life. I used to feel as though He had blessed me with answers to my prayers. I trusted Him to always protect me from harm. Then suddenly, one day all of that changed. When tragedy struck, it seemed like He was quiet. The harder I struggled to regain my status, the more clear it became that He was opposing me. I cried out to Him, but I could not feel His answer. At least not the answer I wanted.
"For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me." Psalm 38:2
"The arrows of the Almighty are in me, my spirit drinks in their poison; God's terrors are marshaled against me." Job 6:4
But He had not left me. He was very patient, despite my anger. He was beginning to lead me to a place I did not want to go. When I searched through the Scriptures however, I began to discover many of the saints had walked this path before me. I began to realize how shallow my faith had been.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
When Jesus was washing Peter’s feet, He told him “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet, his whole body is already clean.” I take this to mean that while the totality of our sins are already forgiven by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we are still called to live our lives in daily repentance for the errors and transgressions which we make on a daily basis. (Today, we would probably say “washing our hands” rather than feet – which was more common then.) I truly believe that our sins are forgiven, once and for all time, by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. However, I still continue to struggle with daily little sins in my life, as we all do. Even Paul struggled with daily temptations and failures, which is why he wrote Romans 7.
So, getting back to the goat analogy, I believe that Jesus is our Passover Lamb – the one and only sacrifice which is required to bring us out of our bondage to sin. However, we still need to live a life of daily repentance, as you have clearly stated in several of your letters, that you already do. This is why I am convinced that your soul is well guarded and waiting for the Day of His Return!
But in the case of us who have been chosen as “goats”, there’s even more waiting for us. Paul wrote to the Philippians in 1:29 “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him.” And he didn’t just say this about other people, but he also said pretty much the same thing about himself. “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” Colossians 1:24 So the question becomes: “Why?” or better yet: “Why me?” - Why have you and I been chosen to suffer more than others?
If this were simply a matter of being punished for my own sins, it might be easier for me to understand, but it would be wrong. That would mean that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross wasn’t good enough for me. Here Paul is showing us a reason that is completely different – this isn’t about paying for our own sins – this is about paying for the sins of others! Think about it Randy, if everyone who was involved in your trial had actually done the right thing, and if the trial had proceeded truthfully, then you wouldn’t be paying the price that you’re paying now. (Our own sins, the sins which you and I have already confessed, were paid for by Jesus, and we live a life of daily repentance, eg washing of our hands and feet, so that we don’t need to be “re-bathed” in the Passover blood which Jesus poured out on His cross.) Your penalty now isn’t about paying for your own sins – it’s about the sins of others. Which is exactly what Paul is saying in Philippians and Colossians: Paul is saying that there is a completely different reason for our suffering.
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.” Philippians 3:20-21. Basically, what Paul is saying here (and I could go on to list hundreds of other passages which are very similar) that Jesus has taken control over our lives, and is in the process of transforming us into something altogether different from what we are now – and this has absolutely nothing to do with the things we have done – or the things were are able to do now. This is all made possible “by the exertion of His power”.
“For those God had in mind, he also predestined, to be transformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:29. By choosing us to be his “goats”, God is making us more like Jesus! The thing is Randy, we didn’t do anything to become chosen – God chose us! Just like the goats in Leviticus were chosen by lot. I remember you saying in one of your first letters that you felt like you could always sense the presence of the Lord in your life, ever since the time when you were in your Grandmother’s apartment. I believe that God has been watching over you all of these years – because He has chosen you for something even bigger than you can imagine. But why did He choose you to be different from everyone else who believes in Jesus?
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17. I’ve written that verse to you before, because I believe it is one of the most overlooked verses in the Bible. Most people don’t see the word “if” in that verse. (That little “if” makes a huge difference to what that verse is really saying!) The “goats” have been chosen without doing anything to deserve it. The only thing He asks of us is to hold onto Him in faith – to trust Him in the face of challenges and tribulations which most everyone else could not survive through. “Hold fast to what you have, in order that no one may take away your crown” Revelation 3:11 and “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21
You see, the “goats” have been chosen to share in the repetitive sacrifice, unlike the Passover in which Jesus died once and for all who believe; the repetitive sacrifice was still a requirement of the Old Covenant. And as Paul says, there are still perfections which are lacking in the body of Christ, that is the Church, today. And so, the symbology comes from the repetitive sacrifice, which is our opportunity to share in His sufferings: false convictions, being cast out by our own people and paying for the sins of others.
Now to be honest, this is not what I wanted to choose for my life – and I’m sure you feel the same way! But we didn’t get to choose! Of course, we could refuse to believe, and that would take us out of the promise – but it wouldn’t relieve our suffering. We gain nothing if we turn our backs on Him now. The cold hard facts are that you and I (actually you more than I) are suffering whether we want to or not, and the only question which remains is “what do we believe is the reason why?”
I’ve got to straighten out one last point though, before I wrap this up. Just in case you begin to think that I’m worshiping a God who likes to inflict pain and suffering on hapless individuals without any regard for the ruin that it causes in their life. That’s not my belief at all! In fact, I need to show you just a couple of more verses, so that you can understand the difference between the “goats” and some of the other folks who believe in Jesus.
Just “getting into heaven” is not what this is all about – even though that’s what allot of Christians believe. And I suspect that some of them may actually be right – they may actually be allowed to enter into heaven – but in a very different way than you will. “For many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.” There are in fact, very different places and positions waiting for each of us in heaven.
Paul writes “The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.” 1 Corinthians 15:41–42. The meaning of this is that some believers will shine more brightly than others, even though they are all stars in the sky – but not all stars are created equal. Again, Paul says: “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21. The meaning here is that the House of God is a complete house, with all essential elements that you would find in any house – some things however, have more significance than others.
Jesus said several times throughout the Gospels “The first will be last, and the last will be first.” This is a fact which most of the “Comfortable Christians” in the suburbs continue to overlook. Do you remember what Jesus said to James and John when they asked Him if they could be seated next to Him when He returned to establish His Kingdom? He asked them if they could drink from His cup! This is the same cup which He could not refuse, even though He wanted to, in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.”
Jesus didn’t want to suffer anymore than you or I do, but what made Him different is that He was willing to suffer, even though He didn’t deserve it. He didn’t have any sin in His life. That’s what made Him the perfect Passover Lamb. You and I on the other hand, were chosen by lot as goats. We are imperfect – but still chosen to share in His cup, His false conviction, His rejection by His own people, and in His suffering – “in order that we may also share in His glory”, when He comes, if we hold to our faith.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The second goat “the scapegoat” was also chosen randomly and the priest also placed the sins of the people (all of Israel) on the head of the second goat! Here’s the thing that surprised me: The priest used both the goats for the same purpose – to pay for the sins of the people. The second goat, then became a living sacrifice - just like Paul would later tell us to become: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1. I gotta admit though – this is not what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to spend my life with my kids, having fun, and teaching Sunday School, and living a nice quite “respectable” Christian life. But there nothing “respectable” about being told by your church that you can’t teach Sunday School because your ex-wife accused you of child abuse!
Now, the second goat was obviously impure – that’s why he was a goat, and not a lamb. But he didn’t actually do anything to be selected as the scapegoat. He was simply chosen by lot – which means that God picked him! “For those God had in mind, he also pre-selected, to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Romans 8:29. Now the funny thing Randy, is that I know I didn’t do the crime I was accused of – even though I was guilty of other crimes. And I believe you didn’t do the crime you were convicted of, even though you have admitted, and repented of other sins in your life. You and I are just like the goats: impure, but not guilty of the crimes which were placed on our heads. But here’s the really bizarre part: Jesus was the pure lamb, who made the deadly sacrifice to take away our sins, and yet we’re still chosen by God to pay a penalty for sins which we didn’t commit! He shall send the second goat away into “the desert” in the care of a warden appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place.
Now here’s the part that I don’t think the church-going Christians in the comfortable suburbs will ever understand. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17. That’s why there were two goats chosen – we are similar in that symbology to Christ. He was the killed sacrifice, but we are the living sacrifice, sent to the solitary place. His sacrifice was fatal, ours is merely painful. I know that your life has been much more painful than mine, and so it’s not fair to compare myself with what you have been forced to suffer. But the Lord showed me my own broken heart for my children, so that I could see this, and I hope that I am able to explain it the way that He is teaching me to understand it.
There is one more thing that I think He is asking me to tell you. And this is even harder for me to explain. Colossians 1:24 “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” This is the part that I have a hard time understanding. Paul is saying here that there was something which was still lacking in regards to Christ’s suffering! Now, I know that Jesus’ sacrifice was complete and sufficient to pay for all of our sins – but Paul still says there is something else that remains to be done! There is an element of the sacrifice (of the suffering, if you prefer that definition, since we’re still living sacrifices) which Paul says was yet to be accomplished “for the sake of his body, which is the church.”
Paul was even so brazen as to suggest that he, Paul, would then “fill up in my body” that which was still lacking! In other words, Paul was saying that Jesus’ work on the cross was still continuing in Paul’s life, through Paul’s own suffering!
And here’s the thing that He wanted me to tell you: Paul didn’t get the job finished either. If there was something that was still lacking in the body of Christ – which is the church… If there was something that was still lacking in Paul’s day, then there is still something lacking in our times too!
Paul also said: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20. And he said this, so that you and I would learn what it means to have the Spirit of Jesus alive within our own lives – so that we could continue on today, just in the same way that Paul did in his days - - - to “fill up in our bodies” that part of the sacrifice and suffering which is still lacking in the church.