Mr. Shadow

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

January 2, 2022

It is pretty well known that pets have assisted and comforted man for a long time. What happens when they need our help? Some are cast off, abandoned, or brought to a shelter. Some shelters only hold on to the animal for so many days before euthanizing them. In today’s throw away culture I expect euthanizing unwanted pets, animals, and humans to become more prevalent. Someone said “Rescue Dog does not mean damaged… It means they have been let down by humans” That may not be 100 percent accurate, however it does reflect the throw away culture.

How does the throw away culture bear a true witness to real love? If you deny our one Creator God; love would just be a word which some like to use.

Love is a verb, an action word. Love is not that tingling feeling based in lust.

Researchers are finding that pets truly have the power to heal their owners, especially the elderly. The most serious disease for older people is not cancer or heart disease, but loneliness. (1)

When Mr. Shadow entered our home over fifteen years ago this cat could jump six foot high fences at a single bound. He was a playful, loyal, loving gentle soul. If he didn’t trust a person or two at the door he would sit or lay down between me and the person at the door. When needed he growled like a Sheppard, which none dare challenge.

Some months ago things started to change for Mr. Shadow. The first of the two signs I remember is his lack of interest in his favorite treat and he began to walk back and forth. (2)  He got to the point where he had trouble walking or doing other common tasks. He received all the assistance he needed to eat and accomplish other common tasks right to the end. At sixteen and a half years he passed away in my arms on December 6, 2021. I am glad he was not alone.

His furry friend (Mittens) of about fifteen years misses him as well. I tell her we’ll just have to wait until we get to Heaven to see him again.

“Scripture does not conclusively tell us whether our pets will make it to Heaven. However, the Bible does provide us with some significant clues regarding whether or not animals will inhabit the new heaven and the new earth.

First, animals populated the Garden of Eden. Thus, there is a precedent for believing that animals will populate Eden Restored as well. Animals are among God’s most creative creations. Thus, it would seem incredible that he would banish such wonders in Heaven.

Furthermore, while we cannot say for certain that the pets we enjoy today will be “resurrected” in eternity; I am not willing to preclude the possibility. Some of the keenest thinkers from C. S. Lewis to Peter Kreeft are not only convinced that animals in general but those pets in particular will be restored in the resurrection. If God resurrected our pets, it would be in total keeping with his overwhelming grace and goodness.

Finally, the Scriptures from first to last suggest that animals have souls. Both Moses in Genesis and John in Revelation communicate that the Creator endowed animals with souls. In the original languages of Genesis 1:20 and Revelation 8:9, nephesh and psyche respectively refer to the essence of life or soul. Not until Descartes and Hobbes and the Enlightenment did people think otherwise about animals. However, because the soul of an animal is qualitatively different from the soul of a human there is reasonable doubt that it can survive the death of its body. One thing is certain: Scripture provides us with sufficient precedence for believing that animals will inhabit the new heaven and new earth. In the words of Isaiah: “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).” (3)

“God has a special reason and place for each of His created beings. Animals, too, have a purpose in God’s creation. Man, as the highest order of creation, has been given dominion over the animal kingdom (Genesis 1:26-28).

We believe that animals were intended for man’s enjoyment and use. The Bible itself does not indicate that there is life after death for animals. It may be that God’s purpose for animals is fulfilled on this earth. However, if animals would make us happier in heaven, surely there will be a place for them there.” (4)

Mr. Shadow exhibited and received unconditional love. Unconditional love is what our Creator God has for each of us. Individuals are free to accept God’s unconditional love or reject it.  

Mr. Shadow was a joy and brought us a lot of happiness.

Happiness is rooted in circumstance. Happiness doesn’t bring joy, and joy isn’t the byproduct of happiness. Joy is an attitude of the heart.  Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and when we find joy it will be with comfort and wrapped in peace. It’s an attitude of the heart and spirit, often synonymous with but not limited to following Christ Jesus and pursuing a Christian life.

Our Creator God who can make the stones cry out and made a donkey speak certainly can use Mr. Shadow or others like him to evangelize God’s love to the world,

The world needs more Mr. Shadows to overcome the God deniers.

References

(1) https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2010/03/13/helped-by-your-pet/

(2)https://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/neurological/c_ct_cognitive_dysfunction_syndrome

(3) https://www.equip.org/bible_answers/will-there-be-animals-in-heaven/

(4) https://billygraham.org/answer/will-there-be-animals-in-heaven/

Related:

Some related scriptures of animals in heaven:  Genesis 1:24, Genesis 1:25, Psalms 24:1, Psalms 145:21, Proverbs 12:10, Ecclesiastes 3:1, Ecclesiastes 3:21, Isaiah 11:6-9, Isaiah 65:25, Matthew 10:29, Luke 3:6, Acts 3:19-21, Romans 8:19-22, 1 Corinthians 2:9, Revelation 5:13, Revelation 19:11, Revelation 19:14

https://preacher01704.wordpress.com/2022/01/06/mr-shadow/


Proverbs 12:10 (NKJV)
10  A righteous man regards the life of his animal, But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

AUDIO Gamblers At The Cross

by Rev Bill Woods

On Monday, April 12, 2021, both chambers of the Arizona Legislature passed bills that would legalize sports betting in Arizona.

–           On Thursday, April 15, Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill to allow sports betting to become legal in Arizona.

–           During the event, Ducey also signed a new gambling compact agreement with the Tribal Nations which the governor and the tribes called a historic agreement.

The Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals, and Coyotes will all have licenses to operate on-site sports betting at their arenas.

–   The Phoenix Open and NASCAR will also have sports betting available at tribal casinos.

We’re not talking about $10’s of millions.  We’re talking about $100’s of millions according to State Representative, Jeff Weninger, of Chandler District 17.

Arizona joins 25 other states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico in legalizing sports wagering.

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed state lawmakers to decide whether or not it would be legal in their specific states.

The Federal Government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs still need to sign off on the bill, but it’s thought that’s just a formality.

–  The whole process could take as little as 90 days.

The Phoenix Suns announced Thursday, they have partnered with the sports betting app, FanDuel, which will have a luxury sportsbook retail location inside the Suns arena.

Legalizing sports betting will forever change the sports and entertainment landscape in Arizona and, I feel, opens a Pandora’s Box for crime and all kinds of corruption.

– We already have big problems with the Cartel.  This will just open other avenues for them to operate.

Today the State of Arizona and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are pleased with their decision to open sports gambling State-wide.-  It’s going to bring so much more revenue to their coffers! 

–  I think the day will come when they’ll question if that was such a great decision.

Speaking of gambling caused my mind to race back to the biggest gamble to have ever happened in history.

– The gambling that was done at Golgotha over 2000 years ago.

I realize Easter is over and most pastors have moved on to other topics, but I want to explore this topic of the Crucifixion at least one more time before I move on to other things.

The Crucifixion is the darkest moment in the history of the world.

 – This was the day that man nailed God to an old rugged cross.

God sent His Son to save Adam’s descendants from the penalty of sin — man rejected God’s Son and murdered Him on a Cross!

Crucifixion was grizzly enough with all the shame, pain, bloodshed, and terror involved, but man was turning his back on God’s Love!

It’s strange in the gravity of such a gruesome situation that anyone could be so calloused and unfeeling as to sit and gamble at the foot of the Cross.

  – But that’s exactly what happened! — Matthew 27:35–Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”

What a horrible commentary on society!

 – So hardened that there’s little compassion left…………..

   – These men gambled as if nothing else mattered — however, they weren’t the only gamblers at the Cross!

Look through the crowd—many were engrossed in this morbid scene — people with much at stake in this bloody drama of terror.

1.  THE JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADERS WERE TAKING A GAMBLE THAT DAY.

Annas, Caiaphas — all the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin — they hated Jesus!

– He was destroying their comfortable religious system that served them so well!

The Pharisees and Sadducees had never gotten along.

    – They disputed religion, politics, theology — every issue.

The main difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees was their differing opinions on the supernatural aspects of religion.

    – The Pharisees believed in the supernatural–angels, demons, heaven, hell, the after-life and so on–while the Sadducees did not.  That’s why they were SO-SAD-U-SEE.

      – There was no love-loss between the two factions.

      – Now, they were suddenly united in their common hatred of Jesus! — He had to go!

It’s odd how common hatred can bring former enemies together.

– There were two old ladies in Grand Coulee who couldn’t stand each other and were always at each other’s throat.

– One day they discovered that neither of them could stand me and somehow this common hatred of the young preacher brought them together………..

–  Islam has a teaching: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend!.”

The brains of the “Let’s Murder Jesus Movement” were the priests — they found allies in the Pharisees who eagerly threw their influence with those who wanted to crucify Jesus.

The Pharisees lit the fire under the mob’s emotions causing them to boil forth with the cry, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”

The Pharisees hurled arguments at Jesus while the mob howled for His destruction.

    – There was a herd-mentality.

      – People weren’t interested in right or wrong.

        – People ran on raw emotion with no thought or facts to back their actions.

THEY DIDN’T NEED REASON! — They were controlled by emotions which blazed into fury.

We see it today!

    – People following the herd — not caring what’s right or wrong, just caught up in what everybody else is doing.

    – The “protests,” actually riots, that are being staged over “police brutality.”

Coca Cola used to have the slogan, “Ten million people can’t be wrong!”

– They are if they’re on the wrong path!—the majority of the world’s population’s going to Hell!

Matthew 7:13-14–“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

14  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

The Jewish leaders didn’t want Jesus upsetting their system and gambled they could get rid of Him so they could continue their worship of self and selfish ambition.

People gamble today.

    – They know they need Jesus, but their plans seem more important right now!

      – If they can silence Jesus He won’t bother them so much.

The Jews gambled they could reject and destroy Jesus, but the Jewish Leaders lost their gamble and the stakes were high!

Everyone who gambles on pushing Jesus away and remaining selfish and sinful will lose.

    – The stakes are just as high today. — Mark 8:36–For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 

2.  PILATE HAD A LOT AT STAKE TOO.  HE GAMBLED THAT HE WAS IN CONTROL.

    – Funny!  Things were more crucial than he’d first thought.

      – Jesus didn’t seem like someone who’d work the crowd into this frenzy.

He seemed quiet, not at all a trouble maker.

He had no money — He was homeless.

    – His followers were fishermen, tax collectors — very simple men.

      – They didn’t seem a threat to anybody — especially Rome.

Why were the Jewish Leaders so bent on killing Jesus?

    – He felt Jesus’ calmness.

      – He heard the mob outside — they were about to riot!

He knew Jesus was innocent.

    – He’d tried to avoid the issue by sending Jesus to Herod — Herod sent Him back!

Pilate’s wife had dreamed about Jesus and sent word to him to have nothing to do with this man!

Pilate compromised and had Jesus flogged — hoping to satisfy the blood lust of the mob — that wasn’t enough! — The mob demanded crucifixion!

Finally, because he didn’t know what to do — and he feared the crowd — Pilate sent for a basin of water.

    – Matthew 27:24–When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”

The Jews answered — Matthew 27:25–And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

In one bold stroke they called the wrath of vengeance down on themselves and their children.

That was the cry which wrote the bloody history of the Jews through the centuries.

    – That cry stained the Jewish path through hundreds of years with blood.

      – Destruction of Jerusalem. A.D.  70

        – Spanish Inquisition.  1478-1834  (up to 130,000 people were tortured and executed.)

         – Nazi Germany.  1933-1945 (6 million perished)

The Jews have paid dearly as the result of that horrible cry for Christ’s Blood.

    – I’m not anti-Semitic, but I see these people got what they asked for.

      – Parents and grandparents need to be careful for their children’s sake………

Pilate thought he’d side-stepped Christ.

    – Pilate couldn’t side-step Jesus

      – NEITHER CAN YOU………………………….

3.  JUDAS PLAYED A GAMBLE!

   – Judas had been with Jesus from the beginning of His public ministry — 3 years!

      – He had plans and aspirations about who Jesus was and what Jesus could do for him.

        – Judas had gotten greedy and critical.

    – Judas wasn’t serving God — he was serving self.

      – Like people today who whine, “The Church isn’t meeting my needs.”

        – That’s not the Church’s goal — we’re to meet God’s needs………….

          – Judas could’ve met Christ’s needs by being faithful and obedient.

    – Judas never grasped the truth that “God’s ways are best ways.”

      – He betrayed innocent Blood.

        – Couldn’t stand the guilt and hung himself.

        – Judas gambled and lost—“Be sure your sins will find you out!”

4.  MEN ON THE OTHER CROSSES.

2 other men were dying beside Christ on crosses that day — Luke 23:39-43–Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”

40  But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?

41  And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”

42  Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

43  And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Jesus invited both to join His Kingdom.

      – One thief gambled that Jesus was who He said He was and accepted the invitation.

      – That was the best decision of his life…………

      – Like most dying men this thief prayed.

       – He reached the place where even in his unbelief he called for redemption from the curse of hanging on the cross.

The other thief railed and cursed at Jesus echoing the mocking mob.

    – Like men in tragedies of sea, storms, avalanches or other sudden accidents, he called for  help which could only come from God.

      – But look at his prayer—selfish, packed with doubt — Luke 23:39–Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ,  save Yourself and us.”

        – No repentance, no godly sorrow, no sign of change of attitude.

    – He filled his voice with the railing accusations of the mockeries being hurled at Jesus.

     – God doesn’t listen to prayers like that.

     – He wasn’t sincere about turning to God—just desperate to get relief………….

    – His voice dripped with doubt as he prayed, “If Thou be!”

     – He heard the crowd and gambled they were right — this dying man couldn’t help him.

        – So close! — But he gambled with the majority and missed the “sure thing.”

    – He should’ve listened to the man on the other cross—he’d be in Paradise with Jesus instead of eternally damned in Hell.

5.  THERE WERE OTHER GAMBLERS THERE TOO:

    – John and Mary

      – They chanced being arrested — it might have meant their lives.

        – They loved Jesus too much to dessert Him.

          – They were willing to stand and be counted for Christ — US TODAY?

    – Peter was afraid to take a chance.

      – He hid (broken hearted) — Peter lost out — Christ later forgave him.

6.  IT MIGHT SURPRISE YOU, BUT THE BIGGEST GAMBLER WAS JESUS!

    – He gave up everything with no guarantee anyone would respond.

      – He left Heaven!

    – He became a man — John 3:16–For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The only convert He knew for certain would be in Paradise was the thief who accepted His invitation.

He suffered, bled and died — not knowing if anybody would pay attention.

    – We’re free-moral agents — He had no guarantee we’d respond.

Jesus died on that old rugged cross because He loved you and me — when we were unlovely!

    – We were lost and on our way to Hell!

He had to offer us a chance at Heaven — forgiveness—Sonship — Eternal Life.

GOD RISKED IT ALL BECAUSE HE LOVES YOU!

– WILL YOU LET THAT LOVE GO UNNOTICED?

Are you like those calloused soldiers—gambling at the foot of the Cross while the most important event in history was taking place?

Maybe you’re one of those people who know you need the Lord, but you want to wait for a more convenient time to accept Him.

YOU ARE GAMBLING YOUR SOUL, HOPING YOU DON’T DIE AND GO TO HELL BEFORE YOU GET RIGHT WITH GOD.

THERE’S A SAYING THAT SAYS, “THOSE WHO WAIT UNTIL THE 11TH HOUR TO REPENT USUALLY DIE AT 10:30!”

WILL CHRIST HAVE GAMBLED IN VAIN FOR YOUR SOUL?


PODCAST GAMBLERS AT THE CROSS

https://www.buzzsprout.com/824359/8353106


4 things to avoid getting near to in everyday life

January 12, 2021Author: Nehemiah Zion

What’s near you? Or who and what are you near to? As children of God we know we are to grow in intimacy with God. All who love God are near to Him. What is near to you?

Here are 4 things that are near to us we need to be careful of;

Sin

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. (Genesis 4:7)

Sin is near the door. Besetting sins (Hebrews 12:1) need to be overcome. Secret sins need to be overcome. It is sins nature to find us out (Numbers 32:23). Mobile phone tech has brought sin closer than we could have imagined. It is essential to curb it’s use.

Death

Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. (Psalms 107:17,18)

There are two kinds of death; those who die in Christ and those who don’t. Who will die in Christ? Those who are born again, born of water and born of Spirit. What happens when you die in Christ? You rest from all your labour (Revelation 14:13)

Trouble

The morning is come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains. (Ezekiel 7:7)

What to do when trouble is near? Believe in God’s word and keep your peace (John 14:1,27). You trouble trouble, don’t let trouble trouble you. 

The Day of the Lord

For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.(Obadiah 15)

There are two kinds of believers in church – One who will be left behind in the day of the Lord, and at the same time, another who will fly away with Jesus on the day of Christ (Philippians 1:10).

In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, everything will be changed forever. Let’s wait upon Jesus (Hebrews 9:28), our sweet love. Maranatha, praise God and amen!

Who Crucified Christ?

Gordon Robertson – President and CEO, CBN

One of the profound questions coming out of the movie The Passion of the Christ is who crucified Jesus? Who is responsible for it? How did this happen in time? The Bible is very clear about who crucified Jesus. You find it in the tremendous prophecy of Isaiah in the 53rd chapter.

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted (Isaiah 53:4)

Where our natural side wants to start blaming others things — Do we want to blame the Romans or do we want to blame the Jews who lived at that time?– even Isaiah says we esteemed Him stricken and we think He was smitten by God.

But the real message is in Isaiah 53:5:

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

There is not a limitation here. If you are a sinner, you belong in that group of “our,” every one of us.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).

When you look to the question who crucified Jesus? Well, I did. Every one of my sins cried out, ‘Crucify Him!’ Without Jesus, there is no forgiveness. There is no hope for me. With Him, there is. But I have got to recognize and I have to own that every one of my sins is responsible for the Crucifixion. I can’t lay the blame on Pilate. I can’t lay the blame on the Sanhedrin. I have got to own it. That’s what it is all about when we come to the Cross is acknowledgment that it is our sin that put Jesus there. It was His love that drove Him to do that. He didn’t have to do it. He could have escaped it. He could have said, ‘I am not going to do this. I am not going to sacrifice Myself.’ His love compelled Him; my sins made Him. It is me who is responsible.

So when we look at this controversial verse that Mel Gibson has agreed to take out of the film because of complaints from modern-day Jews, — and if I were a modern-day Jew, I wouldn’t trust Christians, either — it is for the historical fact that whenever passion plays were performed in Europe, there was, following those performances, extreme violence against the Jewish community and this was responsible for anti-Semitism that then spread throughout Europe and led to the Holocaust in Germany. But, I think as Christians, we need to look at this verse and realize it is not limited to the Jews of the day because it says all the people.

And all the people answered and said, ‘His blood be on us and on our children’ (Matt. 27:25).

I think it is a mistake to view that as a blood curse. It is actually the source of blessing because it is echoing back to the Passover Lamb, where the blood was over the lentil and on the doorpost, and because of the blood, the Angel of Death passed over that dwelling. It is the same today; because of the blood of Jesus, God does not see my sin. And so I want to join in and say, ‘His blood be on me and on my children.’ Without that blood covering, there is no forgiveness of sin. That’s what John the Baptist proclaimed when He first saw Jesus: ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Also, as Christians, we need to realize that because every sin cries out, ‘Crucify!’ we need to keep the Cross in remembrance. That’s the whole purpose of Communion. ‘This is My body which was broken for you.’ We don’t want to add to that burden.

That’s why Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments’ (John 14:15). Don’t walk around saying I have a license to sin. I get to do whatever I want because I am forgiven. No, if you love Jesus, keep His commandments. Don’t walk in sin. And His commandment is this: ‘This is my commandment that you love one another.’

Why don’t you make this year your year where you recognize what was done for you on the Cross? It’s available to anyone. All you have to do is acknowledge that it was your sin that put the Son of God there and let His blood cover you. Then you have forgiveness. But it is more than that. It is I will then covenant to walk in accordance with my loving Jesus. He first loved me. I am going to love Him. Because I love Him, I am going to obey His commandments. If I love Jesus, I need to obey His commandments. Let that be your pledge.

https://www1.cbn.com/questions/who-crucified-christ

5 Portraits of a Real Disciple (Luke 14:25-35)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr. Book of Luke

Jesus was getting closer and closer to the cross. People who wanted to see a miracle or get a free meal from Him were mobbing Him. The crowd following Jesus knew who He was, but they would soon be gone. The crowd was about to become much smaller because Jesus started setting forth the cost of discipleship and it’s not a popular message. It requires total commitment. Today, the majority of people who express an interest in Jesus represent the crowd–they are not committed to Jesus and do not experience a deep level of intimacy with Him. In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus provided five vivid images and used each one to teach a lesson about discipleship:

1. A Family: Love Jesus Supremely

The first image Jesus used was a family. Are you surprised Jesus said to be a disciple you must hate your family? I read about a pastor who entitled his sermon, “How to hate your wife.” You may be asking yourself, “Doesn’t Jesus talk elsewhere about loving everyone, including our enemies?” Yes, but the Greek word for “hate” means something totally different than our English word for “hate.” In Greek the word “hate” means to prefer above. Jesus often used figures of speech to give His words a greater impact. He used metaphors, similes, and parables. And here, He simply employed hyperbole. Hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration to emphasize a point. My wife uses hyperbole all the time when she says something like, “I’ve told you a million times to put the seat down.” I know it really isn’t a million times, so don’t get upset because Jesus used hyperbole.

To be a real disciple, we must love Jesus more than we love anyone else–even family members. Our love for Jesus should be so powerful that in comparison, it seems as if we hate everyone else. It is also true that sometimes our love for Jesus will alienate us from others, even our family. If you truly follow the Lord, you won’t have to look for people to ridicule you and oppose you, they will find you–and they may be your family members. Jesus said, “All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved… Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:22, 37). Friend, when God calls you, you will have to make some difficult decisions, and sometimes your family will not jump up and down and rejoice over your choices. That’s the first portrait of a real disciple.

2. A Cross: Live Like a Dead Person

The second image Jesus used was a cross. A real disciple is someone who carries his cross. Many Christians are confused about what it means to carry a cross. I’ve had someone say to me, “I have migraine headaches, but I guess it’s just the cross I must bear.” Or I had someone take off his shoe one time and show me his ugly big toe. He said, “I have an in-grown toenail, but I guess it’s just the cross I must bear.” I always wanted to say, “Why don’t you have that nasty thing worked on by a doctor?” The cross is NOT a headache or an ingrown toenail.

The true message of the cross is death. In Jesus’ time the cross was a horrible, agonizing, and tortuous mode of execution. It was the electric chair, lethal injection, and noose of His day. In the time of Jesus, when you saw someone carrying a cross, it meant only one thing–they were as good as dead. Jesus’ audience was well aware of what it meant to carry a cross. When the Romans led a criminal to his execution site, he was forced to carry the cross on which he would die. This showed his submission to Rome and warned observers they had better submit too. Jesus spoke this teaching to get the crowd thinking about their enthusiasm for Him. He encouraged those who were superficial either to go deeper or to turn back. Following Christ means total submission to Him–perhaps even to the point of death.

But today, the image of the cross has lost its horror. How many of you are either wearing a cross or have a cross on your Bible? How nice. The cross has become benign–a piece of harmless jewelry. What if stores began to sell miniature models of an electric chair or made a little syringe of poison and started offering it as jewelry to wear? Can you imagine someone walking up to you saying, “I love your electric chair hanging from your neck, where did you get it?” Or “I love your lethal injection syringe, where did you get it?”

Paul understood what it meant to carry a cross. Here are two dynamite verses from the book of Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20) and “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). That means there is nothing the world has to offer that interests you–it’s as if the world is dead to you and you are dead to the world. For a disciple carrying a cross, the world can’t offer a thing he wants. In many ways, a dead man is set free. You and I won’t be truly liberated until we understand what it is to be crucified with Christ. That’s the second portrait of a real disciple.

3. A Tower: Consider the Value of a Good Finish

The third image Jesus used was a tower. Jesus presented the image of a man who plans on building a tower. Before he begins the construction, he must “count the cost” to see if he has enough resources to finish the job. When a builder doesn’t count the cost or estimates it inaccurately, his building may be left half completed. Jesus is talking about the cost of commitment.

Will your Christian life be only half built and then abandoned because you did not count the cost of total commitment to Jesus? What are those costs? Christians may face loss of social status or wealth. They may have to give up control over their money, their time, and their career. They may be hated, separated from their family, and even put to death. Following Christ does not mean a trouble-free life. We must carefully count the cost of becoming Christ’s disciples, so we will know what we are getting into and won’t be tempted later to turn back.

Actually, it may be better to think in terms of the value instead of the cost. A good finish as a disciple is the key. A lot of backslidden Christians may go to heaven when they die, but they won’t be finishing well. Jesus spoke about the man “who was not able to finish” (v. 29). Jesus says everyone will look at the uncompleted project and ridicule the one who didn’t finish it. I’m haunted by those words–I don’t want to become a spiritual dropout.

The older I get the more I realize there can never be any “coasting” in the Christian life. There is no such thing as spiritual retirement. The pages of the Bible are littered with great men and women who didn’t finish well. Noah and his family were saved from the flood, but poor Noah ended as a drunken man who got naked. Solomon was the wisest man in all of history, but he didn’t finish well–his many wives turned his heart away from God.

Are you going to finish well? I know some folks who used to be faithful servants, real disciples, but they have dropped out. Oh, they still attend church sometimes and I suppose they’ll go to heaven when they die, but unless something changes they aren’t going to finish strong.

The good news is none of us are finished yet. It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past, we can still finish well. The finish line is still ahead. Are you sitting down on the track? Are you going to barely drag yourself across the finish line? Or are you going to summon God’s strength, so you can sprint across the finish line? It doesn’t matter how well you start if you fail to finish. A real disciple finishes strong.

4. A War: Surrender to the Stronger King

In the fourth image Jesus used, He described two kings. One was outnumbered, so he wisely approached the stronger king and made peace before the battle ever began. You and I are one of the kings and God is the other. Guess which one we are? Because we can never win against God, we must surrender to Him. In Jesus’ time, a surrendering king could be made into a slave of the opposing king, so it required great humility to bow down and ask for terms of peace. It takes humility to surrender to Jesus. You cannot be a disciple unless you are willing to give up control of your life to Him. And that’s hard to do. None of us wants to give up.

I once read about a lifeguard on a beach who saw a drowning man. He walked into the surf but didn’t go out to rescue him. People gathered on the beach and yelled and screamed at the lifeguard to go out and rescue the drowning man. The lifeguard waded a little deeper, and kept his eye on the drowning man, but the yells and screams of the onlookers didn’t motivate him to swim out. Just when it seemed the man was going down for the last time the lifeguard swam out with strong strokes, and grabbed the man and brought him back to shore. After some spitting and coughing the man was conscious. But rather than hailing him as a hero the onlookers were angry at the lifeguard and said, “You coward! You saw he was drowning. Why didn’t you go out sooner?”

The lifeguard patiently explained, “You can see that he is much bigger and stronger than I am.” If I had gone out sooner, he was thrashing and kicked so violently that he would have probably drowned both of us. As long as he was trying to save himself, I couldn’t save him. But when he got tired and gave up, then I knew I could save him.”

That’s a great lesson about salvation. As long as you think you are strong enough to save yourself, you won’t surrender to Jesus. It’s only when you give up and realize you are hopelessly lost that Jesus can come and rescue you. Have you ever come to a place in your life where you have surrendered everything you have and everything you are to Jesus? Real discipleship is coming to Jesus and saying, “Jesus, I give up control of my life to You.”

One of the reasons the book of Psalms speaks of lifting your hands in praise is because the lifting of hands has always been a gesture of surrender. Even today the police will say, “Put your hands up!” Have you surrendered to Jesus? I didn’t ask you if you were a Christian. For me, I have found I need to surrender to Jesus often. Maybe you need to do what I do.

5. Salt: Stay Pure to Preserve Goodness

The fifth image Jesus used was salt. Salt was very valuable during Jesus’ time. Roman soldiers were paid with salt rations. The greatest value of salt was in its use as a preservative. Since they didn’t have any way to refrigerate meat, salt would be applied to fresh meat to prevent the meat from rotting. The salt created a chemical reaction that slowed down the process of decay and preserved the goodness of the meat. That’s why Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13).

The problem Jesus identified is that some people have lost their saltiness. We live in a nation suffering from moral decay at an alarming rate. Our society is getting more rotten by the day. Sadly, many believers live such impure lives that they have lost their sense of saltiness in a rotting world. When we allow impure thoughts and impure behavior to become mixed in our personality, we lose our saltiness. Many Christians blend into the world and avoid the cost of standing up for Christ. But Jesus said if Christians lose their distinctive saltiness, they become worthless. Just as salt flavors and preserves food, we are to preserve the good in the world. Being “salty” is not easy, but if we fail in this function, we fail to represent Christ to the world. How salty are you?

We should be dangerous disciples in this world, but too many believers are harmless to the devil’s work. Too many Christians are like the dog a friend of mine told me about. One day, he walked into an old country store and saw a sign just inside that read: “DANGER! BEWARE OF DOG!” My friend looked around cautiously, but all he saw was an old hound curled up on the floor, sound asleep. He said to the owner, “That dog doesn’t look dangerous to me.” The owner said, “Well, folks kept tripping over him, so that’s why I put up the sign.”

Are you a real disciple? Do you love Jesus more than anyone else, even your family? Are you a dead man walking, carrying your cross? Are you committed to finishing strong for Jesus? Are you constantly surrendering everything you have to Him? Are you willing to stay pure, so you can be salt in a rotting world? Jesus is looking for a few good men and women: the humble, the pure, the dead, the committed. Will you decide today to move from being a casual bystander in the crowd and make being a fully devoted follower of Jesus your goal?

https://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/5-portraits-of-a-real-disciple-3/

5 Portraits of a Real Disciple (Luke 14:25-35)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

Jesus was getting closer and closer to the cross. People who wanted to see a miracle or get a free meal from Him were mobbing Him. The crowd following Jesus knew who He was, but they would soon be gone. The crowd was about to become much smaller because Jesus started setting forth the cost of discipleship and it’s not a popular message. It requires total commitment. Today, the majority of people who express an interest in Jesus represent the crowd–they are not committed to Jesus and do not experience a deep level of intimacy with Him. In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus provided five vivid images and used each one to teach a lesson about discipleship:

1. A Family: Love Jesus Supremely

The first image Jesus used was a family. Are you surprised Jesus said to be a disciple you must hate your family? I read about a pastor who entitled his sermon, “How to hate your wife.” You may be asking yourself, “Doesn’t Jesus talk elsewhere about loving everyone, including our enemies?” Yes, but the Greek word for “hate” means something totally different than our English word for “hate.” In Greek the word “hate” means to prefer above. Jesus often used figures of speech to give His words a greater impact. He used metaphors, similes, and parables. And here, He simply employed hyperbole. Hyperbole is an intentional exaggeration to emphasize a point. My wife uses hyperbole all the time when she says something like, “I’ve told you a million times to put the seat down.” I know it really isn’t a million times, so don’t get upset because Jesus used hyperbole.

To be a real disciple, we must love Jesus more than we love anyone else–even family members. Our love for Jesus should be so powerful that in comparison, it seems as if we hate everyone else. It is also true that sometimes our love for Jesus will alienate us from others, even our family. If you truly follow the Lord, you won’t have to look for people to ridicule you and oppose you, they will find you–and they may be your family members. Jesus said, “All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved… Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:22, 37). Friend, when God calls you, you will have to make some difficult decisions, and sometimes your family will not jump up and down and rejoice over your choices. That’s the first portrait of a real disciple.

2. A Cross: Live Like a Dead Person

The second image Jesus used was a cross. A real disciple is someone who carries his cross. Many Christians are confused about what it means to carry a cross. I’ve had someone say to me, “I have migraine headaches, but I guess it’s just the cross I must bear.” Or I had someone take off his shoe one time and show me his ugly big toe. He said, “I have an in-grown toenail, but I guess it’s just the cross I must bear.” I always wanted to say, “Why don’t you have that nasty thing worked on by a doctor?” The cross is NOT a headache or an ingrown toenail.

The true message of the cross is death. In Jesus’ time the cross was a horrible, agonizing, and tortuous mode of execution. It was the electric chair, lethal injection, and noose of His day. In the time of Jesus, when you saw someone carrying a cross, it meant only one thing–they were as good as dead. Jesus’ audience was well aware of what it meant to carry a cross. When the Romans led a criminal to his execution site, he was forced to carry the cross on which he would die. This showed his submission to Rome and warned observers they had better submit too. Jesus spoke this teaching to get the crowd thinking about their enthusiasm for Him. He encouraged those who were superficial either to go deeper or to turn back. Following Christ means total submission to Him–perhaps even to the point of death.

But today, the image of the cross has lost its horror. How many of you are either wearing a cross or have a cross on your Bible? How nice. The cross has become benign–a piece of harmless jewelry. What if stores began to sell miniature models of an electric chair or made a little syringe of poison and started offering it as jewelry to wear? Can you imagine someone walking up to you saying, “I love your electric chair hanging from your neck, where did you get it?” Or “I love your lethal injection syringe, where did you get it?”

Paul understood what it meant to carry a cross. Here are two dynamite verses from the book of Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…” (Galatians 2:20) and “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24). That means there is nothing the world has to offer that interests you–it’s as if the world is dead to you and you are dead to the world. For a disciple carrying a cross, the world can’t offer a thing he wants. In many ways, a dead man is set free. You and I won’t be truly liberated until we understand what it is to be crucified with Christ. That’s the second portrait of a real disciple.

3. A Tower: Consider the Value of a Good Finish

The third image Jesus used was a tower. Jesus presented the image of a man who plans on building a tower. Before he begins the construction, he must “count the cost” to see if he has enough resources to finish the job. When a builder doesn’t count the cost or estimates it inaccurately, his building may be left half completed. Jesus is talking about the cost of commitment.

Will your Christian life be only half built and then abandoned because you did not count the cost of total commitment to Jesus? What are those costs? Christians may face loss of social status or wealth. They may have to give up control over their money, their time, and their career. They may be hated, separated from their family, and even put to death. Following Christ does not mean a trouble-free life. We must carefully count the cost of becoming Christ’s disciples, so we will know what we are getting into and won’t be tempted later to turn back.

Actually, it may be better to think in terms of the value instead of the cost. A good finish as a disciple is the key. A lot of backslidden Christians may go to heaven when they die, but they won’t be finishing well. Jesus spoke about the man “who was not able to finish” (v. 29). Jesus says everyone will look at the uncompleted project and ridicule the one who didn’t finish it. I’m haunted by those words–I don’t want to become a spiritual dropout.

The older I get the more I realize there can never be any “coasting” in the Christian life. There is no such thing as spiritual retirement. The pages of the Bible are littered with great men and women who didn’t finish well. Noah and his family were saved from the flood, but poor Noah ended as a drunken man who got naked. Solomon was the wisest man in all of history, but he didn’t finish well–his many wives turned his heart away from God.

Are you going to finish well? I know some folks who used to be faithful servants, real disciples, but they have dropped out. Oh, they still attend church sometimes and I suppose they’ll go to heaven when they die, but unless something changes they aren’t going to finish strong.

The good news is none of us are finished yet. It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past, we can still finish well. The finish line is still ahead. Are you sitting down on the track? Are you going to barely drag yourself across the finish line? Or are you going to summon God’s strength, so you can sprint across the finish line? It doesn’t matter how well you start if you fail to finish. A real disciple finishes strong.

4. A War: Surrender to the Stronger King

In the fourth image Jesus used, He described two kings. One was outnumbered, so he wisely approached the stronger king and made peace before the battle ever began. You and I are one of the kings and God is the other. Guess which one we are? Because we can never win against God, we must surrender to Him. In Jesus’ time, a surrendering king could be made into a slave of the opposing king, so it required great humility to bow down and ask for terms of peace. It takes humility to surrender to Jesus. You cannot be a disciple unless you are willing to give up control of your life to Him. And that’s hard to do. None of us wants to give up.

I once read about a lifeguard on a beach who saw a drowning man. He walked into the surf but didn’t go out to rescue him. People gathered on the beach and yelled and screamed at the lifeguard to go out and rescue the drowning man. The lifeguard waded a little deeper, and kept his eye on the drowning man, but the yells and screams of the onlookers didn’t motivate him to swim out. Just when it seemed the man was going down for the last time the lifeguard swam out with strong strokes, and grabbed the man and brought him back to shore. After some spitting and coughing the man was conscious. But rather than hailing him as a hero the onlookers were angry at the lifeguard and said, “You coward! You saw he was drowning. Why didn’t you go out sooner?”

The lifeguard patiently explained, “You can see that he is much bigger and stronger than I am.” If I had gone out sooner, he was thrashing and kicked so violently that he would have probably drowned both of us. As long as he was trying to save himself, I couldn’t save him. But when he got tired and gave up, then I knew I could save him.”

That’s a great lesson about salvation. As long as you think you are strong enough to save yourself, you won’t surrender to Jesus. It’s only when you give up and realize you are hopelessly lost that Jesus can come and rescue you. Have you ever come to a place in your life where you have surrendered everything you have and everything you are to Jesus? Real discipleship is coming to Jesus and saying, “Jesus, I give up control of my life to You.”

One of the reasons the book of Psalms speaks of lifting your hands in praise is because the lifting of hands has always been a gesture of surrender. Even today the police will say, “Put your hands up!” Have you surrendered to Jesus? I didn’t ask you if you were a Christian. For me, I have found I need to surrender to Jesus often. Maybe you need to do what I do.

5. Salt: Stay Pure to Preserve Goodness

The fifth image Jesus used was salt. Salt was very valuable during Jesus’ time. Roman soldiers were paid with salt rations. The greatest value of salt was in its use as a preservative. Since they didn’t have any way to refrigerate meat, salt would be applied to fresh meat to prevent the meat from rotting. The salt created a chemical reaction that slowed down the process of decay and preserved the goodness of the meat. That’s why Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13).

The problem Jesus identified is that some people have lost their saltiness. We live in a nation suffering from moral decay at an alarming rate. Our society is getting more rotten by the day. Sadly, many believers live such impure lives that they have lost their sense of saltiness in a rotting world. When we allow impure thoughts and impure behavior to become mixed in our personality, we lose our saltiness. Many Christians blend into the world and avoid the cost of standing up for Christ. But Jesus said if Christians lose their distinctive saltiness, they become worthless. Just as salt flavors and preserves food, we are to preserve the good in the world. Being “salty” is not easy, but if we fail in this function, we fail to represent Christ to the world. How salty are you?

We should be dangerous disciples in this world, but too many believers are harmless to the devil’s work. Too many Christians are like the dog a friend of mine told me about. One day, he walked into an old country store and saw a sign just inside that read: “DANGER! BEWARE OF DOG!” My friend looked around cautiously, but all he saw was an old hound curled up on the floor, sound asleep. He said to the owner, “That dog doesn’t look dangerous to me.” The owner said, “Well, folks kept tripping over him, so that’s why I put up the sign.”

Are you a real disciple? Do you love Jesus more than anyone else, even your family? Are you a dead man walking, carrying your cross? Are you committed to finishing strong for Jesus? Are you constantly surrendering everything you have to Him? Are you willing to stay pure, so you can be salt in a rotting world? Jesus is looking for a few good men and women: the humble, the pure, the dead, the committed. Will you decide today to move from being a casual bystander in the crowd and make being a fully devoted follower of Jesus your goal?

https://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/5-portraits-of-a-real-disciple-3/

Life and Death

Eva Green

After chatting with a colleague about the state of our humanity and sexuality and lack of roles and ownership of life, I continue to be impressed with the stronghold that gangs, mafioso, cults and community groups have within their cultures..  For our generic culture in the west we are, as described on t-shirts; ‘comfortably numb’ and ‘walking dead’… There is no sense of urgency or life or abundance, only a continuation of yesterday..

The ‘stronghold’ groups have a sense of living, of being on the edge of life and death, and an understanding that they may have to pay with their life for their lifestyle.  (And also true, if they desire to leave the stronghold.)  They seem to have an understanding of roles, of urgency, of fighting for what they believe, of no compromise.  They have an identity that is beyond their own individual lives.

God has created us all to live for more.  He has set eternity in our hearts.  To be part of something bigger than ourselves.

In our western culture of independence, comfort and taking care of ‘number 1’ we are confused and weak.  We have misplaced the order of God, man, animal and creation, and now have a twisted view of order depending on what our beliefs are.  Some people would fight for animals over humans, and most of us put man (ourselves) over God as priority.

God has placed an order in creation.  Man to rule over animals and land, and to take care and be responsible.  In His church He has placed an order of Himself being head.  In the family, He has placed the man to lead.  This is not to rule over and be abusive, but to be accountable to God Himself of how he leads in love (as Christ loves His church).

We have incredibly talented people giving their lives to use their talents (which is how God intended), but unless it’s done for God it is done in vain: the devastation of a life lived fully but with nothing left standing.  Life without legacy.

Jesus says in Revelation 3.20 that He is knocking on the door and calling us, and whoever opens it to Him, He will come in and eat with them.

In my own life, I so often put Him on snooze.  I have no urgency.  He can wait….

Jesus tells us that He has come to give us life in fullness and abundance.  He promises us a FULL LIFE and not one that just continues on from yesterday, but that EACH DAY has it’s own problems but that He has supplies to cover us, in every area- practical (manna), emotional (strength), and spiritual (mercy and grace).  He is for living life fully and free; we have the whole world to use but don’t own anything.

My prayer is that we have the urgency to live for God and search out for all the fullness that He has for us and our worlds, and that we have tight and secure families and communities that show God among us with freedom.

https://pondermentslife.wordpress.com/2019/07/08/life-and-death/

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