This morning while preparing to make our morning smoothies, my wife couldn’t get the bag of frozen fruit open. I told her to use her thumb to break the seal and it would open.
Immediately my warped sense of humor inspired me to blurted out, “And, that is never a phrase to use around prophecy teachers. It triggers them.”
At first it was meant as a wise crack but the more I thought about it the more it became a serious thought.
In today’s digital society everyone who has an idea, thought, theory or simple mental short circuit can post it online, build a following and make money.
Everyone is either a “prophecy teacher” or a “watchman on the wall”. Because of that we not only get a wide range of teachings but an equally wide range of overreaction to any world event.
1 Corinthians 13:11-12 (NLT) 11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
All that we know now is partial and incomplete. He will fill in all the blanks in the twinkling of an eye. At that moment we will realize how off we were in trying to discern His actions.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Hold loosely to what you think you know as “revelation” and make it line up with The Word. Don’t manipulate The Word to match your “revelation”.
It won’t work.
He made sure of that.
Be careful to preface any insight or revelation with the fact that it is a belief or a theory but may not be a fact. Oh, and the “thus says the Lord” thing went out of style in the 1600’s. In case no one told you, He doesn’t speak in King James english.
There is no doubt that the days ahead will be tumultuous but in the midst of it all we can live a life of the peace that surpasses understanding because we belong to Him.
Study, prepare and pray. We are told to do that.
Then, trust Him and let God be God. We are told to do that too.
Who knows, He may surprise you with a rainbow when you were expecting a storm.
And, He may shock you with lightning when you, or someone you follow, “prophesied” sunshine.
Oh, and for the fun of it sometime, run into a conference room full of prophecy students listening with baited breath for the next recycled teaching or new revelation and shout…”the seal is broken”.
Just don’t stand in the door way.
Richard J Grund
This blog has been inspired by the especially religious thinking being promulgated by many known religious leaders that in Election 2016 no matter who wins, or who you vote for God is still Sovereign and still in control. I would bet that many people heard this ear tickling message from the pulpit recently.
Yes, ear tickling message. It does not line up with the totality of The Word of God.
That’s like saying no matter what happens on Tuesday fire will be hot and water will be wet.
It’s an immutable unchangeable fact.
God is sovereign at all times. That is a fact.
SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD The biblical teaching that God is the source of all creation and that all things come from and depend upon God. Sovereignty means that God is in all and over all. (Holman Bible Dictionary)
Psalm 24:1 (NKJV) 1 The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein.
God’s rule extends to all people, even those who do not acknowledge His power.
Psalm 33:14 (NKJV) 14 From the place of His dwelling He looks On all the inhabitants of the earth;
God created everything in an orderly and stable manner.
Psalm 89:11 (NKJV) 11 The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them.
Psalm 102:25 (NKJV) 25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
Psalm 104:5 (NKJV) 5 You who laid the foundations of the earth, So that it should not be moved forever,
Genesis 1:1 Names of God Bible (NOG) 1 In the beginning Elohim created heaven and earth.
Created” in verse 1 is from the Hebrew bara’ (<H1254>), to bring into being.
bara’ (HSN-<H1254>) is reserved for the introduction of the three spheres of existence: the world of matter; the natural life of all living creatures; and spiritual life represented by man.
Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV) 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
Deuteronomy 4:39 (NKJV) 39 Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.
He established it all and then gave us FREE WILL.
He intervenes in the lives of His children but He interferes with the works of the enemy.
He will never interfere with our free will.
And, those choices made with our free will are our responsibility.
He’s under no obligation to fix our mess or clean it up.
Genesis 2:7-9 (NKJV) 7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. 8 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:15-17 (NKJV) 15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Don’t eat of the fruit of this tree….CHOOSE NOT TO DO THIS. IF YOU DO THERE IS A PRICE; OUTCOME.
CAUSE AND EFFECT.
Genesis 3:9-13 (NKJV) 9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” 13 And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
Adam’s answer was to blame God for the woman He gave him.
Eve blames the serpent for being deceived.
Blame infers a choice was made based on other influences.
Job 31:33 (NKJV) 33 If I have covered my transgressions as Adam, By hiding my iniquity in my bosom,
Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV) 13 He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.
Adam wasn’t deceived (1Tim. 2:12-15). Adam implied blame on God also, because if God hadn’t given him Eve he wouldn’t have sinned. Blaming others is a trait of the natural man. Eve gave it to Adam and Adam accepted.
It is natural for both women and men to blame others. Eve acknowledged eating, but claimed she was not to blame. She was “beguiled” by the serpent. The devil made her do it.
Sin entered because of Adam not Eve. He could have said no. He was there. He could have run the serpent off but he didn’t. His desire to please his wife was greater than his desire to please God. And…God did not interfere with his choice.
Romans 5:12 (NKJV) 12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned–
The price was the curse of sin and death not just on Adam but on all things. The curse was not only on man, but also on animals, the ground, and all that it produces. That’s why all of creation groans for His Return.
Romans 8:19-23 (NKJV) 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.
Revelation 21:4 (NKJV) 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
Revelation 22:3 (NKJV) 3 And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.
Even so, until then, God INTERVENES:
Genesis 3:22-24 (NKJV) 22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”– 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
The fact that the tree of life remained, even though guarded by angels and a flaming sword, was our ray of hope. Is it not possible that because He but did not uproot it but simply kept us from it meant that one day its fruit may be eaten again? Indeed, one day we will see it again.
Revelation 22:2 (NKJV) 2 In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.
Adam and Eve were no longer welcome in God’s presence, but they had the hope that someday Paradise would be regained.
The way to the tree of Life is the narrow road that brings us to Salvation in the Lord.
CHOICE because God INTERVENED.
God’s sovereignty, His authority over creation, is grounded in God’s essential moral nature. God is to be obeyed not simply because He is mighty but because He is righteous.
God judges His creation on the basis of His profound moral character compared to theirs. And, since we cannot compare we must accept the substitute righteous of the Lord on our behalf.
Let’s get something clear. No matter what the ear ticklers, watered down teachings and social media memes say, Divine sovereignty does not mean that everything which occurs in the world is God’s will. God has created a world in which freedom is a real possibility BY CHOICE. If we choose His perfect will for our lives, we find freedom. Seek out His permissive will and we find trouble.
His permissive will provides for human freedom and the universal laws of nature. This freedom means that sovereignty must always be distinguished from “fate” or “destiny,” the belief that everything which occurs in the world has been predetermined, scheduled in advance, by God.
Adam and Eve tried to lay the blame on God for their choices but neither fate, destiny or the pagan concept of karma played a part in what they did.
That view, carried to extremes, makes human beings pawns or puppets of a mechanical universe in which all choices are made in advance and where freedom is not possible. Freedom is always possible.
The Gospel suggests that human beings find genuine freedom, not in doing everything they wish, but in submitting themselves to the sovereign will of God, the rule and reign of God in their individual and collective lives.
The sovereignty of God is applied by the Fruit of the Spirt and our self-control along with God’s limitations in order that we might also choose freedom in Him.
We see this concept of intervention and not interference in the life of Abraham as well with the brith of Ishmael (Genesis 16). Abraham and Sarah did not want to wait anymore for the promise to be fulfilled so they went ahead on their own to get it down with Hagar the Egyptian handmaiden when Abraham was 85.
Abraham was 75 years old when the promise was made. Fifteen years later, when Abraham was 90, God renewed his promise. Ten years later, at age 100, Abraham and Sarah finally had their son. That’s a total of twenty-five years before “the fullness of time. And, because they couldn’t wait the problem of Ishmael and his descendants haunts Israel (and the world) to this day. Hagar’s son would become the father of a great but wild and hostile nation living in the Arabian Desert as perennial enemies of Israel.
Living by faith requires perseverance.
This concept of intervention and not interference plays out in the times in captivity for Israel in Babylon, Assyria and Egypt.
Israel’s problem was not that the Lord wasn’t doing right by them but that they were persistently doing what was wrong to God. And, they were consistently punished for bad leadership that defied God. They deserved God’s judgment.
Kings Of Israel
Kings Of Judah
|1. Jeroboam 1 (22 yrs)||1. Rehoboam (17 yrs)|
|2. Nadab (2 yrs)||2. Abijam (3 yrs)|
|3. Baasha (24 yrs)||3. Asa (41 yrs)*|
|4. Elah (2 yrs)||4. Jehoshaphat (25 yrs)*|
|5. Zimri (7 days)||5. Jehoram (8 yrs)|
|6. Omri (12 yrs)||6. Ahaziah (1 yr)|
|7. Ahab (22 yrs)||7. Athaliah (Queen) (6 yrs)|
|8. Ahaziah (2 yrs)||8. Joash (40 yrs)*|
|9. Jehoram (Joram)(12 yrs)||9. Amaziah (29 yrs)*|
|10. Jehu (28 yrs)||10. Azariah (Uzziah)(52 yrs)*|
|11. Jehoahaz (17 yrs)||11. Jotham (16 yrs)*|
|12. Jehoash (16 yrs)||12. Ahaz (16 yrs)|
|13. Jeroboam 2 (41 yrs)||13. Hezekiah (29 yrs)*|
|14. Zachariah (6 mos)||14. Manasseh (55 yrs)|
|15. Shallum (1 mo)||15. Amon (2 yrs)|
|16. Menahem (10 yrs)||16. Josiah (31 yrs)*|
|17. Pekhiah (2 yrs)||17. Jehoahaz (3 mos)|
|18. Pekah (20 yrs)||18. Jehoiakim (11 yrs)|
|19. Hoshea (9 yrs)||19. Jehoiachin (3 mos)|
|20. Zedekiah (11 yrs)|
The Bible says ALL of the kings of Israel were evil ( 229 yrs). Among the kings of Judah, 12 were evil and 8 were good (Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Azariah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah). (414 yrs total. 263 good yrs. One period of 137 yrs of good kings).
Exile = to be captive.
Babylonian exile = 70 years.
Egypt = 215 years of bondage.
Assyrian captivity = 200 years.
Did God interfere with their rebellion that allowed them to be taken captive?
No, He did not. And, He won’t now.
He DID NOT INTERFERE but He DID INTERVENE.
Galatians 6:7 (NKJV) Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
Remember this when you vote tomorrow and in the days ahead for America. We, like Israel, will reap what we have sown.
His Sovereignty will not change whether you vote or not or whomever you vote for.
Our lives, however, will.
Choices have consequences.
And, the outcome (cursed or blessed) will be our fault.
Richard J Grund
Last night was Halloween and the sun has come up on a new day.
Some will ask, “what do you mean, what now? It’s over. Time to enjoy the 50% off sales on candy and on to the next holiday.”
As someone who came out of a lifelong bondage to the occult and participated in occult practices, I can tell that is not how the powers of darkness see it.
The denizens of the darkness understand the concept of contractual agreements better than most lawyers do. They should. They follow one of the greatest legal minds of all time, the devil. The Adversary, sometimes known as Satan, knows God’s laws better than you do. He knows how the things of the spirit work and will use that knowledge to his advantage. (more)
New blog posted on The Beacon’s Glare where we talk about the supernatural and paranormal. https://thebeaconsglare.com/2016/11/01/after-halloween/
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”.  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…
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…
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.
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.
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…
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?’
‘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. 
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. 
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.  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!”  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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
Romans 10:9-13 (NKJV)
9 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.”
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.
The 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.Solomon’s Porch. Director & Team Leader, SRT the Supernatural Response Team