Suicide Isn’t Painless by Richard J Grund

In 1970 a satirical black comedy was released in theaters called M*A*S*H. This Robert Altman directed film, based on a Richard Hooker novel, was a hit for 20th Century Fox. The film inspired the popular and critically acclaimed television series, by the same name, which ran from 1972 to 1983. The theme song for both the movie and the television series was called “Suicide is Painless”. There is a scene in the movie where the soldiers stage a fake suicide for a depressed doctor. The director, Robert Altman, had two stipulations for the composing of a song for a scene in the movie – it had to be called “Suicide Is Painless”; second, it had to be the “stupidest song ever written”. [1] It went on to become a hit and has been covered by many other artists since then. I remember hearing it in the movie and the TV series. The lyrics were on the surface satirical and, like many others, I would laugh at the fake suicide in the movie that was thwarted by a nocturnal visit from a sexy nurse. It would only be many years later that I would be appalled at the topic, the approach and the lyrics.

Through early morning fog I see
Visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me
I realize and I can see…
[REFRAIN]:
That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please.

I try to find a way to make
All our little joys relate
Without that ever-present hate
But now I know that it’s too late, and…
[REFRAIN]
The game of life is hard to play
I’m gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I’ll someday lay
So this is all I have to say.
[REFRAIN]
The only way to win is cheat
And lay it down before I’m beat
And to another give my seat
For that’s the only painless feat.
[REFRAIN]
The sword of time will pierce our skins
It doesn’t hurt when it begins
But as it works its way on in
The pain grows stronger…watch it grin, but…
[REFRAIN]
A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
Is it to be or not to be
And I replied ‘oh why ask me?’
[REFRAIN]
‘Cause suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please.

…and you can do the same thing if you please.

Songwriters: MANDEL, JOHNNY / ALTMAN, MICHAEL B

Suicide Is Painless lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. [2]

While cleverly written and most definitely the stupidest song of all time it is also incredibly wrong.

The original inspiration for this commentary and blog was that a middle school and high school classmate of my son committed suicide recently. Somehow he had traveled so far down a darkened path that instead of looking for the Light he decided that his only solution to his personal problems was suicide. A 26-year-old life, a father of three, was ended based on the flawed logic that despondent, irrational thinking and demonic influence inspire. He wasn’t the first victim and he won’t be the last. In fact, I believe in the dark days to come many will lose sight of reality and choose this option of “checking out”. Society and the media glamorize suicide so much so that we are seeing our youth succumb to its dark allure on a regular basis.

That appeal has now been energized by the sad death of comedian and actor Robin Williams. When someone so recognized and well liked falls prey to the lie of suicide the wave of its influence spreads throughout society. In our zeal not to rush to judgment or be critical we fail to respond to the tragedy truthfully as what it is – a permanent solution to a temporary problem. As the story regarding Robin’s death become clearer the one that is already clear to me is that somehow he felt so alone and so broken that his wife, children, friends or loved ones were not enough to keep him here. Once whatever the trigger was that set out off the ticking time bomb in his mind and soul he sought out the only answer seemingly left to him for relief. Now, we are left with unanswered questions that no one wants to ask – why wasn’t the love of his wife, children and friends enough. Questions that will haunt them for a very long time as they are rocked back and forth in the wake of his decision.

I’ve experienced suicide peripherally in my life through the experiences of others but came face to face with it three times since I got saved. Shortly after moving to Tallahassee, Florida and being put in charge of the deliverance ministry at the church I had a number of people who contemplated suicide and were led by the love of the Lord, The Word and sincere professional counseling out of the darkness and into the Light. However, three people who I’ve either ministered to or known personally did not make it. Let me say that at no time did any of them exhibit or state that they wanted to end their life. More than 100 Americans commit suicide every day. It’s the tenth leading cause of death overall; third among 15 to 24-year-olds and fourth among 25 to 44-year-olds. “Many people who commit suicide do so without letting on they are thinking about it or planning it,” says Dr. Michael Miller, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. [3]

The ones I’ve had the misfortune to have my experiences fit this description. On closer examination there were telltale hints that were missed but for the most part everyone was caught off guard by their decision to end their life. Two people who came to us for help at the church didn’t come to us for suicidal intentions. They wanted help for either depression or an inability to control their thoughts – two instigators that if left unchecked can lead toward suicide. Drugs and counseling were not working and they wanted to know if there was something spiritual about their problem. One was a young woman who was overwhelmed by loneliness and rejection. Her rejection began in the womb with a cold, unaffectionate mother and her life followed a pattern that was both natural and supernatural. As is the case with women like this, men preyed on the need for attention and affection. She told us of the failed relationships and even of being raped.

Trying to minister to her was difficult as she was so closed off from interaction and so guarded that getting through her walls wasn’t easy. While she was tired of being alone she was also afraid of letting anyone get close to her. There was no breaking down the wall she had built so well. In talking to her she finally admitted that suicidal thoughts had plagued her since childhood. We referred her to a professional counselor affiliated with the church but I kept showering her in the love of the Lord and encouraged her every time I saw her. While I understand the place of professional counseling in the world I also understand that professional counselors cannot help if the problem has a supernatural component to it. She had a two-sided problem that needed both sides addressed. Slowly, she began to come out of her shell and began to smile more. There was a light in her eyes again and she seemed happier. Whenever I saw her at church services or Bible Studies I went out of my way to either sit with her or seek her out. I could see how she appreciated my efforts on her behalf. What I did not see was that it also accentuated the fact that no one else did it. And, this was what the enemy got a hold of in her mind. It twisted my concern and compassion into a recrimination against the rest of the church for ignoring her. Half full became half empty with no hope of increase.

One Wednesday night after a Bible Study she went home and committed suicide by overdosing on prescription drugs. She didn’t call anybody or reach out for help because, according to her note, she didn’t want to be talked out of it. She mentioned me in her note to thank me for caring and trying but that the loneliness was too great. She had believed the demonic lie that her only answer was to take her life. I was devastated when informed of her death the next morning. The fact was she felt so alone that her only desire was to be with The Lord no matter what it took to get there. I had no time to mourn or take a step back that day as we had another person in need of help. So, I sucked it up, buried the burning questions away and pressed on for the sake of someone else in need.

A meeting had been scheduled with a former Pastor and close friend of the church’s Pastor for that Friday morning. He was no longer in ministry due to an adulterous affair. His inability to control his lust, or his liquor, cost him his pastorate and his job as a local High School football coach. His marriage was still in place but severely strained by his moral failures. The guilt of his pastoral and marital failure led to a drinking problem where finding him drunk or incoherent in a local bar was not unusual. It was this very public bondage that finally pushed him to ask for help. He was going to AA, seeing a counselor and doing all the right things but his marriage was still floundering. He had agreed to come meet and pray with us with the hopes of being healed in his innermost being. He knew there were things beyond his control holding him in bondage and he wanted to be free. The prayer time with him was truly powerful. He confessed his sins to us, repented and cried out to the Lord to be restored in ministry and marriage. And, the Lord heard him.

When his wife came to pick him up he was literally a new man. A whole and radiant one had replaced the broken sallow man who showed up that day. His face literally glowed and his posture strong. Instead of being excited, as we thought she would be, we saw a hardness come over her face. She did not appreciate it when I questioned her on this response. Instead, she began the familiar accusations and recriminations of his past failures. Her words stung him deeply. As the venomous words left her mouth we watched the wind leave his sails and his shoulders sink. He would tell me later, when I called him to see how he was doing, that her attacks intensified when they got home. I could hear in his voice he was beginning to falter and prayed with him. He promised to call me in the morning. That was the last time I would speak to him.

On Saturday morning I tried to follow-up again and called to check on him. There was no answer each time I tried throughout the day. I always went to the church on Saturday night to pray for the Sunday service. I figured I would find get my answers then. I remember walking into the Pastor’s office as I did every Saturday night to report for duty. Instead of the usual cheerful greeting I saw an ashen look on his face. I was expecting him to tell me that his friend had fallen off the wagon and gotten drunk again. I expected him to tell me where he was so that I could go get him. Silence hung in the air and time stood still as I waited for him to speak. Instead, what he told me literally dropped me to my knees.

The struggles between the man and his wife following our session were worse than he had let on. While he wanted to rekindle their marriage, and was sincerely affectionate toward her, she only wanted to punish him for what he had done in the past. Her anger and unforgiveness was greater than her desire to see him, and their marriage, restored. His note revealed that the verbal abuse he endured that night culminated in her declaring that she had already made up her mind. It didn’t matter what happened at the deliverance session she didn’t want to be married to him anymore. This crushed his spirit and he fled their home. He went to a liquor store first, then checked into a nearby hotel and began to drink.

Somewhere during the night the booze filled haze of pain, rejection and accusations ringing in his ears inspired him to hang himself in the hotel closet. The next morning when he missed the checkout time, the manager went to his room and discovered the body. He called 911 and EMTs rushed to the scene. Sadly, one of the EMTs who had to cut down his dangling corpse was a former football player this man had coached. In cutting down his former coach, mentor and someone he looked up to the young man was devastated. The ripple effect of suicide was spreading. When someone tries to end their pain through suicide they only exponentially cause pain to all the family, friends and associates who will be shattered by it. Suicide is a pebble thrown into a pond that engulfs everyone in its wake. That young emergency technician immediately broke down and had to take a leave of absence from the job. He never did return to that job.

As my Pastor finished telling me this sad story about his long time friend taking his own life, I’d like to tell you I handled myself well. But, with this event on top of the young woman just a few days prior, I simply lost it. Looking back on this now as a mature Believer and experienced minister I failed miserably in his own moment of personal pain. What came out of was a bellow of rage, anger and confusion. Rage at the demonic powers who had inspired it; anger at us for falling to see the signs or sense their deep need; and confusion as to how their faith, and ours, had failed them. No excuse or explanations could mute my pain and outrage. I wanted to know what good were the spiritual gifts we talked of if two people so closer to us could take their lives and we didn’t see it coming. I know that the counseling professionals will tell you of how easy it is to miss the signs but it does not mitigate the pain. My heart was broken that in a large Charismatic church we were so caught up in their own lives, or in the business of church, that the admonition to love our neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31) had gone so horribly wrong. From that point on it became clear to me that it was the norm for people come to church anonymously and leave the same way. Pews are filled with faceless invisible people who never find the feeling of family or fellowship they seek.

I stormed out of his office to my prayer spot on the back of the property and began to rail at Heaven. I did not care who heard me. I was in spiritual turmoil and needed answers. I don’t remember what I said that night but sense there were many questions that began with “how” or “why”. In my limited understanding of His grace, mercy and providence I immediately assumed that these two people were lost to the punishment of Hell for taking their own life. At that time it seemed so black and white when in fact it’s a little more complicated than that. It would be many years later before the lesson that began that night would be concluded. There were still more lessons to learn in this classroom called “life”. There were still lessons in the School of the Spirit that I needed to learn.

In May of 2010 I was thrust back into the student’s chair when a close friend of mine, tormented by pain and confusion, put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. I had known him since 1980 in NYC. We met when I was working at a health club and he was a member. From the first time he strode up the stairs on to the gym floor we hit it off and became fast lifelong friends. We were both pursuing an acting a career but he was further along than I was. He had come to NYC from Alabama and was working on one of the soap operas. He then went to Atlanta on a short-lived Turner Broadcasting soap, which then led him off to Los Angeles where he landed a TV pilot. Even though we didn’t see each other much we stayed in touch by phone. When I visited him in Los Angeles during one TV pilot season it was as if we had never been apart.

We both got saved and dedicated our lives to the Lord in 1988. When my infant son came down with an adult form of spinal meningitis, he was the first person I called for prayer. He and a close friend of his hit their knees immediately and began to intercede. He stood by me in prayer until my son made a miraculous recovery from this illness. I know that I know that he was saved and loved the Lord. We would speak for hours on the phone about the Lord and comparing what we were studying. When The Passion of The Christ movie came out he sent me a picture book of the film as a way to thank me for being there for him over the years. Inside the book he inscribed “He did this for us”. He could never talk about the movie and the Crucifixion scenes without choking up. There is no doubt his heart belonged to the Lord. It was his mind that was the problem.

After leaving Hollywood to get away from its fleshly and demonic influence he began a spiral downhill of failed relationships, jobs and loneliness. I’ve always wondered if the powers of darkness had targeted him for being so proactive in the warfare for my son when the spinal meningitis failed to destroy him. It appeared that his life began to splinter after that moment. When the guilt from a one-night stand with the seductive daughter of a friend sent him on an alcohol fueled bender he wound up in jail overnight. This very public moral failure forced him to go home with this tail between his legs to endure the criticism and berating of “well meaning” loved ones. No amount of comfort, counsel or grace filled words could alleviate his guilt. He came from a successful family with high Southern standards and the reminders of his failure to meet them were breaking him down.

Once he got home, he slowly overcame these failures and we were once again planning to get together and work on the projects we had discussed over the years. After more starts and stops in his life and more personal failure his mind began to unravel. He refused the offer of a plane ticket and an open-ended stay with my family and I. All efforts to fly up to see him and spend time with him were rejected. The condemnation of the enemy was weighting him down. Depression, that even he knew was demonic, began to overwhelm him. He began to retreat into isolation that became mournfully complete when his only life companion, his beloved dog, passed away. As he told me, for the first time in his life he felt completely and utterly alone.

I can only speculate what sent him down that final path to destruction. I had noticed his thinking was becoming erratic in our marathon phone calls. The pain from a broken back received while performing in a Wild West Show had gotten so bad prescription drugs did little to help. Even with the pain shots into his spine to numb the nerves taking their toll on him, he was still as exuberant about the Lord as he had always been. At least that is what he wanted me to think. However, his reading and research was taking him down a dangerous gnostic path away from the Truth. With his body failing him and his heart full of pain his mind took over the lead. Pain pills began to mix with alcohol to keep the spinal torment under control. His mind, something he had prided himself in as a University PhD, had become his worst enemy. And, when a brain tumor, and the subsequent operation, took that from him he lost his way completely.

I should have seen it in our talks. He was a larger than life strong, strapping cowboy type of man who you would never think would fall. I knew he was hurting but never thought he would plummet as he did. He’s always dusted himself off and kept going in the past. When he stopped answering or returning my calls I got concerned. In one of the last times we spoke he confessed that the only way he could sound coherent after the brain surgery was by being overly medicated, inebriated or both. The guilt and shame were overwhelming him. He was embarrassed by his failures and no amount of encouragement or prayer could break him out of it. As I told him how much he was loved by me, others and especially the Lord his voice would lighten and I would hear my old friend again, if only for a moment. When someone enters the darkness seeking solace it will seem the right choice at first. However, all they will find in that darkness will be more torment and inhabitants of that dark kingdom set on destroying them. Shadows creep and darkness grows in that world. They would envelope to destroy him. And, destroy they did.

I had not heard from him in weeks. Usually he would eventually call me back and we would always pray together. The last conversation we ever had seemed encouraging. He sounded more hopeful and excited about life. That’s why I was surprised when he wasn’t calling me back. I was concerned and left numerous voice mails begging him to call me. One day in May of 2011 I saw a phone call from a number that did not recognize. I let it go to voice mail so that I could screen the call. The voice mail was from his brother asking me to call him. My stomach sank. I knew something was horribly wrong. When his brother answered my call he confirmed my worst fears. Mental illness complicated by alcohol, prescription drugs and, in my opinion, demonic influence tricked my friend into thinking suicide was the only answer he had left. All alone, depressed and mired in despair he stepped outside the basement apartment he rented from a friend into the darkness of night to enter into the blackness of death. He was found the next morning lying on the ground with half of his face missing. Remembering my tall, handsome friend the inconceivable visual stunned me. I thanked his brother for letting me know. Hung up my cell phone. And, wept bitterly.

No, suicide isn’t painless. You can’t take it or leave it if you please. It’s a permanent decision that never stops causing pain to those who are left behind. It’s a tidal wave of ripples that never stop and never make sense. As I’ve been working on this piece the pain from his loss, as well as the others I’ve shared, have caused me to have to stop and take breaks. The tears still flow and the heart still aches. I miss my friend. So much so, it took me until just recently to reluctantly remove his phone number from my list of favorites. I wonder if there was more I could have done. From heartfelt prayer I believe that he is with the Lord. He was not in his right mind. If had been he never would have done what he did. He never would have given up or allowed those voices to convince him that death was the answer. But, knowing him, I knew how badly he wanted to be with the Lord, free from the pain and anguish. I also know that he never would have wanted to disappoint the Lord either. In that split second the finger pulled the trigger on that gun and the bullet exploded from the casing I wonder if time slowed down for him long enough to regret his choice?

I read a news story of a 19-year-old man who listened to the voices in his head to throw himself off of the Golden Gate Bridge on September 25, 2000. [4] In it he says, “I walked toward the traffic railing. As if nothing else mattered, I ran, channeling an Olympic hurdler, striding light, fast and determined. I used my arms to catapult myself over the rail. I did not get on the ledge to be talked down. I jumped quickly, without recourse, falling headfirst, fast and hard into the wind and empty space below me. I reached back for the rail. It wasn’t there. In the midst of my free fall, I said to myself these words, words I thought no one would ever hear me repeat: “What have I done? I don’t want to die. God, please save me!” [5] Even though he fell 220 feet at 75 mph he was one of the few who survived the plunge. He states that others who survived the jump immediately regretted their decision too once it was taken.

Did my friend? Were my friend’s first words to the Lord when he saw him “I’m sorry”? Did he even know what he was doing when he pulled that trigger? All of these questions still plaque me. Someday I know I will have those answers. For now, my faith in His love, grace and mercy are enough. I’ve reached a place where when I relive his story or think about my son’s former classmate that there is too much that we do not understand to simply coldly judge someone who takes his or her own life. When someone so seemingly on top of the world like Robin Williams reveals to us the depth of his despair and darkness we are shocked. More shocking is when we learn that celebrities are human and feel lonely at times.

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.” – Robin Williams, World’s Greatest Dad

Fame is not the blessing everyone believes it to be. Sometimes it’s a fatal virus that eats away at your soul until nothing is left. At that moment of complete misery and emptiness people make decisions that we cannot understand. No, I have to hope in a God who lives outside of time. He knows all the facts and He is the One who will judge them. He is all knowing and has all the pertinent details. All I know is that His Grace is still amazing. I know that I must love those who need love and care about those who need my concern and compassion even if they don’t want it. I have to do my part so that they don’t feel alone or unloved. I must tell them about a God and His Son, Jesus, who love them in a way no one else can. And, who knows, maybe that love with encourage them to not lose hope.

 Romans 8:31-39 (NLT) Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

As I close this out, the one thing I hope we learn from Robin Williams and others that choose suicide as an answer is that it is not an answer to anything. It creates more questions, does more harm and to romanticize it or legitimize it is wrong. We must not say that suicide is okay. It’s not okay that they felt so alone. It’s not okay that their choice has now hurt so many others. It’s not okay that they are gone forever. Suicide isn’t freedom. It’s an exchange that takes the burden from their life and puts it on the ones that loved them. We must not allow others to be inspired to make this choice. I sincerely hope we are encouraged to care more and to look past the façade they present us and take the time to look into their eyes. If we did we would see the truth. What is the truth? We were made to love and be loved first by our Creator and then by others. When that does not happen the effects are always devastating.

No, suicide isn’t painless. It’s painful and forever.

 

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_Is_Painless

[2]http://www.lyricsfreak.com/j/johnny+mandel/suicide+is+painless_20801409.html

[3] http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/suicide-often-not-preceded-by-warnings-201209245331

[4] http://nypost.com/2013/06/30/he-jumped-off-the-golden-gate-bridge-and-lived/

[5] Ibid

A Physicians view of The Crucifixion

I spent my formative Born Again years under my mentor and spiritual father Pastor Robert A. Shelley.  I listened when he spoke and took notes when he taught or preached.  He always gave us a banquet to feed from and I always ate as much as I could.  One of the things he did was to give a vivid, detailed decryption of the Crucifixion that always brought me to tears and still does.  The thought of what was suffered for me on The Cross by Him breaks my heart.

Here is a physicians description of what the Lord suffered that day from a medical perspective.

Read it.

Consider it.

Respond to it….either in tears, as I did, or by claiming the work done on The Cross for your own salvation.  He did it so that you would reconciled to your Heavenly Father.

Jesus_On_Cross

Crucifixion

A medical explanation of what Jesus endured on the day He died By Dr. C. Truman Davis*

A Physician Analyzes the Crucifixion. From New Wine Magazine, April 1982. Originally published in Arizona Medicine, March 1965, Arizona Medical Association.

Several years ago I became interested in the physical aspects of the passion, or suffering, of Jesus Christ when I read an account of the crucifixion in Jim Bishop’s book, The Day Christ Died. I suddenly realized that I had taken the crucifixion more or less for granted all these years – that I had grown callous to its horror by a too-easy familiarity with the grim details. It finally occurred to me that, as a physician, I did not even know the actual immediate cause of Christ’s death. The gospel writers do not help much on this point. Since crucifixion and scourging were so common during their lifetimes, they undoubtedly considered a detailed description superfluous. For that reason we have only the concise words of the evangelists: “Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to them to be crucified … and they crucified Him.”

Despite the gospel accounts silence on the details of Christ’s crucifixion, many have looked into this subject in the past. In my personal study of the event from a medical viewpoint, I am indebted especially to Dr. Pierre Barbet, a French surgeon who did exhaustive historical and experimental research and wrote extensively on the topic.

An attempt to examine the infinite psychic and spiritual suffering of the Incarnate God in atonement for the sins of fallen man is beyond the scope of this article. However, the physiological and anatomical aspects of our Lord’s passion we can examine in some detail. What did the body of Jesus of Nazareth actually endure during those hours of torture?

Gethsemane

The physical passion of Christ began in Gethsemane. Of the many aspects of His initial suffering, the one which is of particular physiological interest is the bloody sweat. Interestingly enough, the physician, St. Luke, is the only evangelist to mention this occurrence. He says, “And being in an agony, he prayed the longer. And his sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44 KJV).

Every attempt imaginable has been used by modern scholars to explain away the phenomenon of bloody sweat, apparently under the mistaken impression that it simply does not occur. A great deal of effort could be saved by consulting the medical literature. Though very rare, the phenomenon of hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional stress, tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat. This process alone could have produced marked weakness and possible shock.

Although Jesus’ betrayal and arrest are important portions of the passion story, the next event in the account which is significant from a medical perspective is His trial before the Sanhedrin and Caiaphas, the High Priest. Here the first physical trauma was inflicted. A soldier struck Jesus across the face for remaining silent when questioned by Caiaphas. The palace guards then blindfolded Him, mockingly taunted Him to identify them as each passed by, spat on Him, and struck Him in the face.

Before Pilate

In the early morning, battered and bruised, dehydrated, and worn out from a sleepless night, Jesus was taken across Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the Fortress Antonia, the seat of government of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. We are familiar with Pilate’s action in attempting to shift responsibility to Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Judea. Jesus apparently suffered no physical mistreatment at the hands of Herod and was returned to Pilate. It was then, in response to the outcry of the mob, that Pilate ordered Barabbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.

Preparations for Jesus’ scourging were carried out at Caesar’s orders. The prisoner was stripped of His clothing and His hands tied to a post above His head. The Roman legionnaire stepped forward with the flagrum, or flagellum, in his hand. This was a short whip consisting of several heavy, leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the ends of each. The heavy whip was brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back, and legs. At first the weighted thongs cut through the skin only. Then, as the blows continued, they cut deeper into the subcutaneous tissues, producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin and finally spurting arterial bleeding from vessels in the underlying muscles.

The small balls of lead first produced large deep bruises that were broken open by subsequent blows. Finally, the skin of the back was hanging in long ribbons, and the entire area was an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. When it was determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner was near death, the beating was finally stopped.

Mockery

The half-fainting Jesus was then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet with his own blood. The Roman soldiers saw a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be a king. They threw a robe across His shoulders and placed a stick in His hand for a scepter. They still needed a crown to make their travesty complete. Small flexible branches covered with long thorns, commonly used for kindling fires in the charcoal braziers in the courtyard, were plaited into the shape of a crude crown. The crown was pressed into his scalp and again there was copious bleeding as the thorns pierced the very vascular tissue. After mocking Him and striking Him across the face, the soldiers took the stick from His hand and struck Him across the head, driving the thorns deeper into His scalp. Finally, they tired of their sadistic sport and tore the robe from His back. The robe had already become adherent to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds, and its removal, just as in the careless removal of a surgical bandage, caused excruciating pain. The wounds again began to bleed.

Golgotha

In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans apparently returned His garments. The heavy patibulum of the cross was tied across His shoulders. The procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves, and the execution detail of Roman soldiers headed by a centurion began its slow journey along the route which we know today as the Via Dolorosa.

In spite of Jesus’ efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam, together with the shock produced by copious loss of blood, was too much. He stumbled and fell. The rough wood of the beam gouged into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulders. He tried to rise, but human muscles had been pushed beyond their endurance. The centurion, anxious to proceed with the crucifixion, selected a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross. Jesus followed, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock. The 650-yard journey from the Fortress Antonia to Golgotha was finally completed. The prisoner was again stripped of His clothing except for a loin cloth which was allowed the Jews.

The crucifixion began. Jesus was offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic, pain-reliving mixture. He refused the drink. Simon was ordered to place the patibulum on the ground, and Jesus was quickly thrown backward, with His shoulders against the wood. The legionnaire felt for the depression at the front of the wrist. He drove a heavy, square wrought-iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood. Quickly, he moved to the other side and repeated the action, being careful not to pull the arms too tightly, but to allow some flexion and movement. The patibulum was then lifted into place at the top of the stipes, and the titulus reading “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” was nailed into place.

The left foot was pressed backward against the right foot. With both feet extended, toes down, a nail was driven through the arch of each, leaving the knees moderately flexed. The victim was now crucified.

On the Cross

As Jesus slowly sagged down with more weight on the nails in the wrists, excruciating, fiery pain shot along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. The nails in the wrists were putting pressure on the median nerve, large nerve trunks which traverse the mid-wrist and hand. As He pushed himself upward to avoid this stretching torment, He placed His full weight on the nail through His feet. Again there was searing agony as the nail tore through the nerves between the metatarsal bones of this feet.

At this point, another phenomenon occurred. As the arms fatigued, great waves of cramps swept over the muscles, knotting them in deep relentless, throbbing pain. With these cramps came the inability to push Himself upward. Hanging by the arm, the pectoral muscles, the large muscles of the chest, were paralyzed and the intercostal muscles, the small muscles between the ribs, were unable to act. Air could be drawn into the lungs, but could not be exhaled. Jesus fought to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath. Finally, the carbon dioxide level increased in the lungs and in the blood stream, and the cramps partially subsided.

The Last Words

Spasmodically, He was able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in life-giving oxygen. It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sentences that are recorded.

The first – looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice6 for His seamless garment: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.”

The second – to the penitent thief: “Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise.”

The third – looking down at Mary His mother, He said: “Woman, behold your son.” Then turning to the terrified, grief-stricken adolescent John , the beloved apostle, He said: “Behold your mother.”

The fourth cry is from the beginning of Psalm 22: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

He suffered hours of limitless pain, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation, and searing pain as tissue was torn from His lacerated back from His movement up and down against the rough timbers of the cross. Then another agony began: a deep crushing pain in the chest as the pericardium, the sac surrounding the heart, slowly filled with serum and began to compress the heart.

The prophecy in Psalm 22:14 was being fulfilled: “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”

The end was rapidly approaching. The loss of tissue fluids had reached a critical level; the compressed heart was struggling to pump heavy, thick, sluggish blood to the tissues, and the tortured lungs were making a frantic effort to inhale small gulps of air. The markedly dehydrated tissues sent their flood of stimuli to the brain. Jesus gasped His fifth cry: “I thirst.” Again we read in the prophetic psalm: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd; my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou has brought me into the dust of death” (Psalm 22:15 KJV).

A sponge soaked in posca, the cheap, sour wine that was the staple drink of the Roman legionnaires, was lifted to Jesus’ lips. His body was now in extremis, and He could feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues. This realization brought forth His sixth word, possibly little more than a tortured whisper: “It is finished.” His mission of atonement had been completed. Finally, He could allow His body to die. With one last surge of strength, He once again pressed His torn feet against the nail, straightened His legs, took a deeper breath, and uttered His seventh and last cry: “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.”

Death

The common method of ending a crucifixion was by crurifracture, the breaking of the bones of the leg. This prevented the victim from pushing himself upward; the tension could not be relieved from the muscles of the chest, and rapid suffocation occurred. The legs of the two thieves were broken, but when the soldiers approached Jesus, they saw that this was unnecessary.

Apparently, to make doubly sure of death, the legionnaire drove his lance between the ribs, upward through the pericardium and into the heart. John 19:34 states, “And immediately there came out blood and water.” Thus there was an escape of watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart and the blood of the interior of the heart. This is rather conclusive post-mortem evidence that Jesus died, not the usual crucifixion death by suffocation, but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluid in the pericardium.

Resurrection

In these events, we have seen a glimpse of the epitome of evil that man can exhibit toward his fellow man and toward God. This is an ugly sight and is likely to leave us despondent and depressed.

But the crucifixion was not the end of the story. How grateful we can be that we have a sequel: a glimpse of the infinite mercy of God toward man–the gift of atonement, the miracle of the resurrection, and the expectation of Easter morning.

*Dr. C. Truman Davis is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. He is a practicing ophthalmologist, a pastor, and author of a book about medicine and the Bible.

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Romans 10:9-13 (NKJV)

that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 

13 For“whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Richard J Grund Author, The Supernatural Battle http://supernaturalresponse.net/the-supernatural-battle.html Director & Team Leader http://supernaturalresponse.net Host of The Porch & Reflections in the Dark http://blogtalkradio.com/firefall-talk-radio

New Year New Choices

540_293_resize_20130701_3b9dc09f8218f9325f956558fe990f4c_jpgThis is the time of year people are making New Year’s resolutions hoping that they will keep them but knowing that they probably won’t.

Sadly, this is a ritual many go through year after year and the outcome is always the same – failure.

Let’s make this year different.

Make is a new year of new choices for your life.

The word resolution means: 1. Process of resolving 2. Decision 3. Determination

Where are you in the process of the decision that will take determination to achieve?

Now, to the deeper question.

Where are you spiritually and what new choices do you need to make in this New Year?

Patient: Doctor doctor.  It hurts when I do this!

Doctor: Don’t do it!

In 25 plus years of ministry I have met countless people who want the pain or torment to go away but do not want to change the decisions that led to the pain and torment.

Many Believers in Jesus of Nazareth as Lord and Savior see Him and His grace as a license to sin.  They know He will forgive them so they keep doing what they did before and getting the same outcome.  Yes, He loves you just as you are but He also loves you too much to let you stay that way.

The Holy Spirit is given to inspire, encourage and convict us of sin.  He walks with us to show us the way and to remind of The Word.  When we willfully sin we wander away from Him and His guidance.  Eventually, if it goes on long enough, we are lost in the darkness and shadows of this world where the wolves dwell.  It is then that the Shepherd seeks us out and leads us home.  Correction regarding our choices is a part of His love and done with His grace.

woman-caught-in-adulteryThe woman caught in adultery in John 8 was offered love, grace and no condemnation.  But, she was also offered a directive –  “go and sin no more”.  In other words, stop doing what you are doing or make better choices.  The Lord finalizes this directive with His closing statement in verse 12 – “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

If we are claim to follow Him our lives must show it.  If we are walking in darkness it means we are no longer in the Light.  And, that means we are no longer following Him.

It’s a New Year I pray that you will make New Choices that will keep in out of the darkness and into His Light.

Firefall Talk Radio – New Year New Choices

Richard J Grund
Director, Solomon’s Porch.
Director & Team Leader, SRT the Supernatural Response Team

Traveling Light Show

From The Porch, Perpetual Pentecost Pt 4, last night on Firefall Talk Radio:

John 8:12(NKJV) 12Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

As we are in a very dark and wicked world, what are we to do (Phil. 2:15)?

Philippians 2:14-15(NKJV) 14Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

We are like the moon whose light is not its own, but is reflected from a bright sun.

2 Corinthians 4:2-4(NKJV) 2But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

Walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully.

1 Corinthians 12:7 (NKJV) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:

Manifestation- Greek: phanerosis (GSN-<G5321>), making visible. Used here and in 1Cor. 12:7 where it speaks of the use of the spiritual gifts.

The gifts of the Sprit are the means God has chosen to make the truth of the Gospel visible to the world.

Paul confirmed and made visible his preaching by a demonstration of it in signs, wonders, different miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit.  In other words, he was a traveling Light show where ever he went.  And, because of that he went to the darkest places on purpose.

Hebrews 2:3-4 (NKJV) 3  how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, 4  God also bearing witness both with signs and wonders, with various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to His own will?

The Lord’s command to the Apostle Paul is to us –
Acts 26:18(NKJV) 18to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’ (emphasis added)

Ephesians 5:8 (NKJV) 8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light. (emphasis added)

Romans 13:11-14(NKJV) 11And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
12The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.
13Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.   14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. (emphasis added)

How do we do that?

Being Born Again and Filled with the Spirit.

We must visit The Cross, The Empty Tomb, The Upper Room.

And then we become a traveling Light show by walking as children of The Light!

Shine, shine, shine!

Sizzling or smoldering

When it comes to our walk as Believers in Yeshua/Jesus we are either on fire (sizzling) or the fire is going out (smoldering).  There is no in between.

We are either passionately in love with Him or we are passive toward Him and in love with the world.

When we are passionately in love with Him we care about others, love others and want to help others.  Love is His essence and it invades our very being and makes us like Him.

John 15:5-12 (NKJV)
5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.
10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

When we are in love with the world we are self-centered and selfish because the sway of the world is to lean to the dark side – the kingdom of darkness.  This leads to the coldness and lawless we see in the world today.

Matthew 24:12 (NKJV) 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

Lawlessness (sin) has led to an epidemic of coldness and callousness toward all living creatures except ourself.

Television commercials make you want more even if you can’t afford it.  Mainstream media glorifies selfish achievements that highlight an area of sin or rebellion.  Movies and TV shows make it appealing to be in outright rebellion against the rules and righteousness of a Living God.

These are the people sitting in the pews of so called churches today.  If there ever was a fire, it has gone out.  They are a smoldering ashen mess who cannot “go into all the world” as the Great Commission of Mark 16:15 commanded.  They are already in the world and have become of the world.

So, the question now remains – are you sizzling or smoldering?  Are you combustible enough to be set aflame?

Firefall Talk Radio – The Porch – Are You Combustible?

Putting Your Head in the Lion’s Mouth

In the days of the traveling circus there would usually be a lion tamer who had trained lions and other large dangerous animals.  We still see them today in the remaining circus attractions and even in Las Vegas shows.  A standard trick would be for the trainer to have one lion open his mouth and he or she would actually put their head into the lion’s mouth to show how well-trained the animal was.  Since then, “putting your head in the lion’s mouth” means knowingly and willfully doing something dangerous.

Recently I received a text message from someone attending a Youth Service where the worship leader was leading the group in a song stating that “Satan was vanquished and powerless”.

My immediate thought was as to how dangerous a mindset that was.

For years in traditional church I can remember the songs about Satan being “under my feet” and watching people stomp & jump up and down as if they were crushing a bug.  Not only was it a silly sight to behold it was an endangering error being perpetrated on the masses.

Yes, Satan and the other fallen angels were defeated on Calvary.  A bloodied wooden Cross was their undoing.  However, even though they are defeated they have not submitted.  Until the Lord Returns for the final showdown they are roaring lions roaming about looking to devour someone.

8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8, New King James Version)

The words “roaring” and “devour” clearly indicate action and threat.

The warning to be sober and vigilant clearly indicates that this threat is prevalent and ongoing.  And, this was written AFTER the Crucifixion and Resurrection from someone with experiential knowledge.

Oh, I can hear it already from the naysayers and critics – “I’ve not been given a spirit of fear….blah blah blah….”  Yeah, I get that and I believe that.  But you haven’t been given a spirit of carelessness and recklessness either!  If you are carelessly reckless it’s by your own doing or by the bad teaching you’ve heard over the years.

It’s my belief that the reason “teachers” take the position that Satan, his angels and their demons are no threat to you is because they do not want to be responsible for the warfare that comes from taking a stand against them.  They are hirelings who run away or ignore the threat at the sign of the wolves and not shepherds who run toward the wolves to protect the flock.  (Just my opinion from 22-years of watching people play church)

Satan, his angels, the other fallen Watchers and their demonic offspring are supernatural beings looking to destroy anything made in the image of the One who created them and defeated them.

They are the ultimate terrorists although formally defeated still inflicting casualties and destruction as long as they exist.

Do not foolishly put your head in the lion’s mouth in a spiritual arrogance that sets you and your loved ones up for disaster.  If you attend a church where they teach and embrace this philosophy you may want to stop eating their regurgitated Word and start feeding on it for yourself.

The key to victory isn’t arrogance and it’s definitely not ignorance.

It’s vigilance.

Understand that you are in a 24/7 war with the adversaries of Heaven.

 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— (Ephesians 6:12-18, New King James Version)

And that Victory starts at the Cross, takes you to an Empty Tomb and empowers you from and Upper Room.

It then comes from personally knowing the One you serve and what is expected of you in His service.

 4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:

      “ God resists the proud,
      But gives grace to the humble.”

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:4-10, New King James Version)

Humility, submission and commitment to Him and Him alone is what empowers you in this fallen world.  The enemy knows that someone who does that is hidden under His wings and under His covering.

Remember this and the next time you hear someone leading you in a song about stomping the devil listen closely.  You will hear the rumble from this throat as he waits patiently in the bushes for the weakest or the oldest of the flock to get separated from the rest in their dangerous carelessness to “devour” them.

By the way, the word devour means to literally tear to pieces.

Do you think Peter was trying to tell us something?

Or, you can keep doing what you are doing.

Let me know how that works our for you!

In the Power of His Name,
Richard J Grund
Director, Solomon’s Porch

Celebrating the Resurrection of Messiah

Today, Sunday April 24, 2011, people are getting dressed in new outfits to go to church.  For some its their second command appearance (Christmas being the other) if they want to keep their membership in the C&E Christian Club.

I remember doing this day as a child and for many years in “traditional” church services.  Churches will drag the cross out of storage, dust it off, prop it up on stage and get ready for the day.  Special events and music produtions are planned and performed.  There will be baskets of candy for the children, chocolate bunny rabbits, and colored eggs to look for and so many activities to do that have little to nothing to do with the Resurrection from the dead of Jesus of Nazareth that day in Jerusalem 32-33 A.D.

There are plenty of other teachers, scholars, web sites and You Tube videos to explain the pagan origins of Easter for me to go into that here.  Search them out.  Research the topic and then you decided what to do as the Spirit leads.

No, I have another bone to pick today with this day.

The early Book of Acts church and the church for almost 300 years never celebrated an “Easter Sunday”.  It was another anti-Semetic result of the Council of Nicea to absorb the pagan Sun worship into Christianity as a way to attract more pagans.  This “seek friendly” approach to religion was mean to absorb nonbelievers into the church.  And, it was a way to further distance the church from any connection to the Jewish feast of Passover and water down the Gospel.  In my opinion, NOTHING good came from the Council of Nicea and Constantine’s inteference with the church.  I know that there are some, especially Roman Catholic believers, who disagree with me.  From someone steeped in Roman Catholicism (elementary, high school and university) for 32 years of my life its an argument you cannot win.  As the old Carman song would say…”I’ve Been Delivered”!

No, I will leave that for another day, another rant.

What bothers me about this commercialized, trivialized day the world calls Ishtar…I mean Easter is that we were never called to, inspired to or taught to in The Word of God to celebrate this day….JUST ONCE A YEAR.  It’s supposed to be a part of our everyday walk, worship and inspiration.  We were called to take communion every time we got together with other Believers and acknowledged His death and resurrection from the dead.

19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
(Luke 22:19, New King James Version)
46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47, New King James Version)

If He’s not raised from the dead then we have faith in just another religion.  By acknowledging it every day we partake of His death and resurrection and all that goes with it.   The intimacy and emotional investment that it will give you will change your walk and therefore change your life.  And, the daily affirmation of the Resurrected Life gives us hope at a time when hope is in little supply.

If you want to keep chasing bunny rabbits and making colored eggs in honor of the pagan fertility rites that inspired them, that’s up to you.

However, if you want a real, personal relationship with Yeshua/Jesus as Lord and Savior then try the daily approach.  Get some unleavened bread (Matzoh) from your local grocery store, some grape juice and everytime you get together with other Believers (even just family) take communion and remember what He did for you.

As with everything else the Lord God did for us – its your choice.

Shalom & Blessings,
Richard J Grund
Director, Solomon’s Porch