"They shall fear the Lord and His Goodness in the latter days." ~ Hosea
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I used to fast from food at least one day every week, and sometimes three to four days per week. I used to get down on my knees and pray for several hours everyday. I used to hit the streets and witness to strangers at every opportunity. It was my favorite kind of recreation. I lived this way for a couple of years. Ask my friends from back in those days and they will confirm what I am saying. I’ve led hundreds and hundreds of people in the “Sinner’s Prayer” in nearly every place imaginable; in all sorts of vehicles, including planes, trains, buses and taxi cabs, in the woods, on the beach, in restaurants, in bathrooms, at gas stations, in laundromats, grocery stores, back alleys, boardwalks, church buildings, parking lots, along the side of freeways, in the post office, at the bookstore, at the bank, in court, in jail, in bars, at athletic events, in class rooms, in hospitals, at the park, on street corners, huddled in cardboard boxes, next to dumpsters, in the hot tub, at the pool, in multimillion dollar estates and in the filthiest squalor imaginable on the very, very, VERY wrong side of town.
I used to go to worship services several times per week. I used to live in a church. Not figuratively – actually. I lived and worked on the church property for several years. I preached, taught, evangelized, counseled, and ministered, day after day, month after month, for years. The same men and women I witnessed to on the streets often became the ones I ministered to everyday. They would leave the nightmare I’d found them in and they would come into the rehab homes for training and discipleship. I’ve helped so many people kick heroin I couldn’t even begin to tell you all their names, but if I stop and think for a moment, I can almost remember all their faces. I’ve cleaned up the feces, urine and vomit of strangers I just lifted out of the gutter on Skid Row. I’ve kicked away rats and roaches from people as they lay dying in their own filth in a dark alley. I’ve dealt with their scabies, infections; their rotting bodies. I’ve seen people on the very edge of death suddenly COME ALIVE in the glory of His presence. Darkened eyes explode with hope and joy. Countless bodies and souls radically healed and delivered in a flashing instant at the quiet mention of His Name.
I’ve nursed people back to health, taught them how to pray, taught some how to read, shown people there is a different way and a better way for them to live. I saw some of them go back out into the streets and I don’t know what became of them. Sometimes a wife or girlfriend or husband or mom or dad would show up at the office door, devastated, wailing and crushed like you never want to see anybody. Their loved one…my friend….had been found dead in a gas station bathroom with a needle in their body. Their loved one…my friend…had gotten drunk and killed themselves in a car accident. Their loved one…my friend…had taken their own life because they…well, because they did.
And the pools of spreading blood on the sidewalks of the inner city, that smell of gunpowder mixing with fried tacos in East Los Angeles, those shaved bald heads and baggy Ben Davis khakis. The culture of death and swagger. My corner, my street, mi barrio. Or the beach? The ski resorts? All those dudes, too. Everybody needs Jesus. Everybody wants love. Everybody, even the worst of the worst, and I know this because I was one, is looking for relief. For a way to get better. To get well. To be happy. Some folks will do anything, pay any price, go anywhere. That was me; I was one of those desperate,”I’ll do whatever it takes,” kind of souls. I still am…only today I’ve narrowed the search to the things I see happening in His eyes, stripped off the entangling junk, ditched the superfluous religion, and continue to forsake as many dead ways as I’m made aware of.
The most shocking thing I’ve ever faced in my life thus far, was the realization, after almost two decades of being a “Christian,” that the teachings I had accepted as GOSPEL were not true at all. They were actually a bunch of lies woven together by combining human reasoning, man’s traditions, and out of context Bible verses.
Even though this dawning realization was horrifying in some ways, it was also EXHILARATING! Reading the Bible through the lens of the finished work of the Cross is like reading it for the first time. Portions of Scripture which once seemed self contradictory or mysterious beyond understanding, have become wonderfully simple to understand and enjoy; full of life, hope and victory.
The true Gospel is the most intensely good news anybody will ever hear in all of eternity.
If you are a professing Christian who is sick and tired of repeating the same old sins over and over again and you just want to be FREE — if you are a person who has never encountered the living Person of Jesus Christ — if you are someone who really just wants to know the TRUTH about your purpose for BEING, no matter what it costs….then I can tell you EXACTLY what to do:
Ask God to show you if He is real. Ask Him to show you who He really is. Ask Him to show you who you really are. And then take Him at His word~
The hardest truths I’ve encountered in Scripture — and refused to turn away from in offense — are the ones which have produced the most dynamic transformation in my life~
When someone who has been a Christian for a long time…and has always been well respected by their fellow religionists as a “very spiritual person,” and maybe even considered to be “squeaky clean” by their peers — is called onto the carpet by the Spirit of Truth and soundly rebuked for the rebellion, disobedience and deception they have invited into their life — they often have a VERY hard time humbling themselves in repentance, and they usually make enemies out of the bold messenger or messengers God has mercifully sent into their life. In my experience, NOBODY makes themselves out to be a victim more quickly and passionately than the ones under the oppression of Dead Religion~
If you’re not free, you don’t know Jesus. When God first spoke this to me a few years ago, I was completely freaked out. I had to search it out in Scripture to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind. You know what I found out? I was being given the opportunity to lose my mind — and exchange it for His. I took that opportunity…and the sin habits and mental/emotional oppressions which had tormented me for most of my life evaporated like light smoke in a high wind~
When someone brags to me about how dedicated they are to God, how much they study the Bible, pray, seek His will, etc….and in the same breath they tell me they, “can’t stop sinning because of their wicked flesh,” I can’t help but wonder which God they are dedicated to, which Bible they are studying, who they are praying to, and whose will they are seeking~
You cannot be tempted with something you no longer want. Seeing things the way our Father sees them causes our desires to change and conform to His own. For instance, for many, many years I was bound by sexual sin. Pornography virtually ruled over my existence, shaping my perspective, affecting my emotions, and directing my thoughts and behaviors.
When God opened my eyes to see that the use of pornography was actually demon worship, I was faced with a decision; continue to worship demons OR give my worship to the Lord Jesus. It seemed like an absolute impossibility. I had tried to get free from that addiction countless times but I would always return to it. Sometimes, the enemy would assault me as I slept, injecting my dreams with perversion and lust. I would wake up feeling dirty, violated and defeated.
Consultations with psychiatrists, counselors, and psychologists proved fruitless. Those meetings just served to further convince me of the hopelessness of the addiction which plagued me. MANY of the pastors and doctors I spoke with over the years were also in bondage to sexual sin, and I saw that my transparency and desperation to be free was a catalyst for some of these men to finally acknowledge that their methods of coping with the addiction were ultimately ineffective.
Behavior modification is not the solution. Twelve Step programs are not the solution. Medication is not the solution. Accountability groups are not the solution. No combination of these things is the solution, either, although some people will experience brief relief through their implementation. The only lasting solution – the ONLY lifelong cure, is the restoration of God’s original, divinely intended identity for each individual.
God does not create addicts; the liar and accuser shapes false identities for people and bullies and manipulates them into agreeing with his assessment of them. Deep soul wounds are inflicted upon people by other people who are under the influence of demons, and it is through these wounds that the devil’s lies gain entrance and take hold in one’s life.
Jesus has come to DESTROY the works of the devil. Not to soften or mitigate the enemy’s lies, but to UTTERLY destroy every power of darkness. God’s opinion of you through the Cross of His own Son is that you are PERFECTLY FREE FROM EVERY CONTAMINATION OF SOUL AND SPIRIT wrought by the liar. As you agree with this eternal TRUTH you will discover what I have discovered; you will see that you are not an addict. You are not a captive of sin. You are not a defeated and bound prisoner of darkness.
You are a perfectly BLAMELESS, SPOTLESS and HOLY child of the King of glory! You are the righteousness of God in Christ! You are a BRAND NEW CREATION destined for GOOD WORKS from before the foundations of this world. You are FREE. You belong to God and you have been seated with Christ in heavenly places, far above every wicked spiritual ruler. You have the authority of God Himself over EVERY expression of sin and darkness.
The imaginations, thoughts, emotions, desires and vision of the Father are part of your EARTHLY inheritance in Christ, and you access them by choosing to agree with the Truth in moment by moment intimacy with God.
If you are a Christian, and feelings of being, “completely discouraged, worn out and beaten down by life’s circumstances,” are a normal part of your daily reality, you have not yet even BEGUN to understand who God is, what He has accomplished on your behalf, or who He has created you to be in Christ. Get understanding. It is more precious than silver and gold~
God’s desire is that you will so fill your vision with His goodness that you can see nothing else — and through Christ He has made perfect provision for the absolute fulfillment of His desire~
Looking through the lens of His goodness = everything we see falls into right perspective~
Not too long ago, we thought, spoke and believed just as that old man.. I fully identified with the broken person everybody in my life was used to seeing as ME! I was addicted—to just about everything. I was proud, hateful, vengeful, bitter, unforgiving, depressed, greedy, selfishly ambitious, dishonest, manipulative, fearful, and violent.
And I KNEW all of those things were wrong. I KNEW I shouldn’t be acting those ways. I believed I couldn’t stop being that person because I believed that person was still me, still IN me…I believed I still had that “old nature” residing in me, and that unless I went to church every chance I got, fasted a ton, dutifully prayed and read my Bible everyday and sacrificially served folks in my life, I would not be able to “control that old man” very well. I also believed that even if I did all that stuff I was taught to do, I would still blow it everyday, in one way or another.
The idea was that by doing all that religious stuff, I would be proving that I was doing my best to try to obey God, and He would reward me by protecting me from having to deal with so much temptation….or something like that…LOL. WHAT A CROCK OF POOP!
Once I learned what SCRIPTURE teaches, which is that, among other things, we blood bought children of the King NO LONGER HAVE A SINFUL NATURE — I was set radically free. That thing I always wanted to be true, the thing I would sometimes argue for but had no understanding of, the thing I had experienced brief tastes of…FREEDOM FROM SIN…was actually MINE because of the Cross. It wasn’t a fantasy. It wasn’t a delusion. It was REAL. I was RIGHT to be fed up with “repenting” from the same sins day after day!!! God was more fed up than I was, trust me…and when I had finally GIVEN UP on my understanding of Christianity — when I had finally FORSAKEN the religious teachings of my youth — when I had finally AGREED to AGREE ONLY WITH GOD’S ASSESSMENT OF ME THROUGH THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB…my WHOLE life was POWERFULLY transformed from the inside out.
The addict Me was gone. The sin-broken Me was gone. My friends and family were bewildered and I scarcely knew what to tell them, except,”I am finally SAVED! Saved from SIN! Saved from the rule of darkness!” And then I would try to answer the flood of offended questions that poured my way…hahaha. I’m still doing it. Many of them are still very offended with me, but a small handful have come out of the darkness, too…and we feast together in the Light…and I can see others stirring, making moves to leap into His grace as well. I’m so grateful for everything He has done and for everything I see Him doing, day in and day out. May they all come out, Father. May they all come home to true love, in the name of the Lord Jesus~