I watched a video of an old Japanese folktale where a man feels corrupted by the world around him and void of peace so he goes to a temple to pray for cleansing. Eventually he returns home and tries to avoid people so he doesn’t become defiled by the world’s… sin? No. Evil? No. But by the world’s pain. In doing so he becomes stressed and worried each day. Eventually he is made to help a woman carry firewood to a hospital and is told to help feed the sick, eventually he becomes so fulfilled in his serving of others that he discovers the peace he was seeking to begin with.
This is not a Christian story, however, it has a point we can take as Christians. Some of us work so hard to be ‘holy’ ‘God like’ ‘sinless’ in a way that makes it so we avoid people because they might corrupt us. That is a true fear and I do not belittle it. It is easy to fall to the sins of this fallen world, however if we close our eyes to the broken, to the needy, to those in pain what are?
We can work so hard to be holier than thou that we miss being the least of these.
Jesus didn’t become the sin or the sinner but He reached to them. He reached out to the pained, the needy, the broken and helped them and loved them. We need to remember that that how we should be. We get so caught up being angry with the sin that we forget to love the sinner, ‘of whom I am the worst’ says Paul.
We are the least of these so let us not forget to show Jesus to the others who are also the least of these with us.
So, here comes Halloween, and thus here comes red popcorn, hot chocolate and the Z movies. Out of all of the different monsters I feel zombies are the most terrifying, not because they are scary – actually they are kind of dumb- but because the zombies are the ones that were originally human. Generally it’s a disease that creates them, right? But in truth they are just people who are sick.
As you walk through the world these days and look around at other people how many are sick? How many are dying? How many are already zombies? Don’t give up yet, I have a point and it’s not ridiculous. There are so many people around us, people we meet in real life, people we meet online, people we never meet at all, and most of them don’t know Jesus and that is sad. Without Christ we are dead people walking, the truly scary thing is that a lot of people who are the walking dead think they have Christ, but knowing Jesus is more than a prayer before bed and Church on Sunday, it’s a sacrificial way of living. You have to sacrifice your time of pleasure to spend time praying, which is something we should find joy in but it can feel like a task at times, but we need to do it even on those hard days. You have to sacrifice carnal desires -no, I don’t mean donuts- I mean things that are sins but seem like so much fun when you see others doing them, better to not do those things and keep your relationship with Christ. Wait. Did she just say keep your relationship with Christ? Does that mean we can lose our relationship with Christ? That’s a topic that lots of people ask about and struggle with the answer to, yes you can lose your Jesus if you are not putting effort into that relationship with Jesus. Here’s the great part about that, even if you don’t spend time with God, even if you continue sinning and just assume that God will forgive you so it doesn’t matter what you do, even if you break God’s heart and make him cry, Jesus will never leave you. You say but that doesn’t make sense because you just said that we can lose our relationship with God, yes we can lose our relationship, but we can never lose God’s love. God will always pick you up when you fall whether you just sinned against him in a drastic and vile way, or you just finished a 2-hour prayer time and I feel you couldn’t be Holier, if you fall and ask God to help you he will always be right there for you. It’s so easy to become one of the sick. This world works so hard to infect us all, and we are surrounded by zombies, but God will never give up on us and he holds the Cure to this disease. So no matter where you are on your Walk of Life, when you’re ready to say “Jesus I Need You, come into my life, forgive me of my sins, please draw me into your power and bring me back to life,” know that he is right there listening to you, answering you, and healing you.
You know how when you are hiking you generally either bring a walking stick or you pick one up on the road as you go? If you did not bring one with you, at what time in your journey do you generally pick up a stick to use? When the journey starts getting hard, right? When you feel like you need something to support you and to help you carry on, that’s usually when you bend down and pick up a sturdy stick to help you along the way. I know you all know where I’m going with this. God has become too much like our walking stick, we usually tend to leave him behind, and then when the journey starts getting hard return to him again and ask him to help us. Then when the journey becomes easy again we drop him and continue on by ourselves. Why do we do this? I suppose because God and walking sticks have one more thing in common, when the road is easy the’re a lot of work to carry. When the path is flat and you’re not really using the stick anymore and you’re more just carrying it with you it becomes tiresome doesn’t it? So we give up and we drop it, then we hit a rugged part of the road and we go back and get our stick again to help us along the rough part, then it becomes easy again and the stick becomes something we’re just carrying so we put it down again. Praying everyday reading your Bible, even going to church once a week can seem like a lot of work at times, when things are hard we run to these things because they draw us closer to God and God is helping us over the hard times, but then when times become easy and we find ourselves having to do these things we feel like they’re too much work and we don’t want to. But God isn’t a Genie in a Bottle, he’s not there to grant wishes and then to just disappear, God is our father he wants a relationship with us he wants us there with him all the time, so even on the times where you feel like you just don’t feel like going to church, or like you read the Bible so often that you’re just tired of it now, keep going, keep attending Services keep reading your Bible keep praying because these things are drawing you closer to the father. Serving God can be a lot of work at times but it will always be worth it, he will always be worth it. So don’t put him down when the road gets easy and pick him up when the road gets hard cling to him at all times instead and trust him as he Journeys with you.
What are you afraid of?
Recently I went on a tour of an abandoned sanatorium consisting of five buildings. The old site is one of my favorites and I was excited to get to finally go inside. My cousin and I were the only people there and the guide left us to tour the other four buildings on our own and only stayed with us through the first one, which of course everyone says is haunted. Several times the woman stopped and asked us if we were troubled by spirits, because we are about to enter areas that were known to have heavy Spirit activity. My cousin and I informed her that we were Christians so they didn’t bother us, she kind of rolled her eyes at that. She let us go up into a super condemned area of the building, and challenged us to see if we would go all the way to the end of the ‘Haunted Hall,’ my cousin and I looked at each other and grinned of course we would go to the haunted floor with the haunted hall, sounds like fun. We joked with each other a little bit about the ghosts, went to the end of the hall, we’re slightly terrified at the thought of falling through the floorboards, and then returned totally fine. The scariest part was when we got back home and I showed the photos to my father, who has worked in construction for a lot of years, he informed us that the ankle-deep fluffy stuff we were walking through was falling asbestos from the ceiling. As we toured around more there was one-room known for its activity, where people had left a bowl of garlic that had apparently been there for several years. All of this made me think, what are you really afraid of? Isn’t it vampires that garlic keeps away? As Christians we know that evil spirits do exist, and by no means should we take them lightly, but we also need to remember that God gave us Authority in these situations. I don’t know if ghosts actually bother hunting people, I know that coming from a family of pastors that my grandparents and my parents have seen evil spirits be driven out of people, and I am very sure that if there were evil spirits around us they didn’t bother us solely because we are Christians and they knew to avoid placew Jesus is present. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to rebuke any ghosts in the name of Jesus. The fact of the matter is that people give over to these beliefs and then they let these beliefs control them. People say would you stay in a haunted building for $100,000? And I’m like, absolutely, because as Christians there is no reason for us to fear ghosts or spirits. To be honest, with how run-down parts of the buildings were, and the fact that we very easily could have run into some kind of large animal, I did get a little jumpy on that thought, especially when we found a random staircase hidden under another staircase that led down into a basement that had seemingly been untouched for a very long time, because even the owner had admitted to not going into those buildings in several years. But my point was, it’s fun to let yourself be afraid in a silly way, where you’re joking about things that go bump in the night; however we shouldn’t give too much thought or power to these things, because you don’t want to let any opening where the devil could poke through. If I’m being fully truthful there are a lot of children’s ghost stories that when you read them as a Christian you can tell that these aren’t ghosts, or something silly to laugh at but that these are encounters with evil spirits that are real and you should not give that room in your life, and certainly should not let your children be giving room to such things in their minds, which are easily influenced. If you’re wondering why we decided to explore an abandoned sanatorium when we have no interest or fear of ghosts, we did it because the old buildings have an incredible history that lends to our province, and that history makes the building’s interesting. The thing I love the most is that youth for Christ had taken these buildings over at one time, and though Ghost Hunters had broken in and graffitied things on the walls to make it seem like the building was cursed, there were still banners up with scripture verses, there were still Bibles and devotionals in the rooms, pieces of the love of Christ fill those buildings, so I doubt they’re haunted, because what ghost wants to deal with all of that😉
Today I want to discuss fear. Why? Because today I was afraid. What I hate is that I had just listened to an amazing sermon on being happy and still my fear took me over. What happened next, I was condescending and rude to the person I was afraid for. I was not at risk of anything but they were and I care about them a lot, so I reacted to my fear for them and have felt sick about it all day. I needed to trust that Jesus had it covered, but instead I rose up and was unkind while trying to protect the person I care about. Love shows itself in many different forms, aggression and anger sometimes being those forms, which actually doesn’t make a lot of sense. When you are afraid you react, and that reaction can cause bad things to occur. What are causes of fear?
We know that God has things covered and yet fear grabs us and destroys our rational thinking. Some say of you fear you aren’t a true Christian because it means you don’t trust God. I disagree. Fear can hit us even when we are trusting God because we are still human, yes we should take our fear to God but we should also know that He isn’t angry at us for being afraid. David criticized his own soul for it’s fear and told it to have courage in God, but the fear was still there. Fear is not a sin, how we respond to that fear can be. But God understands, He isn’t angry that you are afraid, He simply wants you to give your fear to Him and to trust Him.
One person does not define you.
Five people don’t define you.
People don’t define you, God does.
Jesus defines who you are, He directs who you are.
Look at your life through the eyes of the man on the cross, the man walking out of the tomb, God sitting on His throne. If He was willing to die for you, the you who you are right now, then what person has earned the right to try and judge you? If God loves you enough to give up everything for you, then isn’t that enough to show you your value? Because you do have value! You right now reading this, God wants you to know that you have value and are valued by Him.
People don’t define you, God does.
Jesus is the God of somehow.
Somehow the disease vanished, somehow the pain is gone, somehow they got the job, somehow they survived it, somehow it was all okay.
Jesus is the God of the amazing and unexplainable, the things that happen that don’t make sense- the impossible. When the doctor says, “I don’t know how, but the colitis is gone” -that’s God. When the police say, “there is no reason they should have survived that accident” -that’s God. When the addict says, “I don’t know how but I managed to turn away from my addiction”- that’s God.
God is the God of the unexplained.
He doesn’t prevent suffering all the time, sometimes He let’s us go through something that we need Him to help us through or rescue us from so that we acknowledge His wonders. You may say, “what about when God doesn’t heal or rescue?” That is a painful but fair question, sometimes God’s miracle is simply being sustained through suffering or trial. I know that for some that isn’t good enough, but when you have God the burden is lifted. That doesn’t mean that it is gone, that means that it is raised so that you can keep walking. Someday, somehow God will end the pain, and when He does you will probably say, “somehow, I’m still okay.”
Somehow she kept her faith.
Somehow she persevered.
Somehow she held on to Jesus so tight that she feared at times her hands would give up, but she kept on and saw her redemption.
I know many of you are in the pain moments right now and I would like to take a minute to pray for your somehow moment.
Dear Jesus we ask in your name that you will touch every person who is in pain right now oh, that you will touch them and heal them from there pain and suffering whether it is physical and emotional, psychological, whether it is an outside suffering that is plaguing them or an internal suffering. In their families or in their bodies or in their daily lives. Jesus whatever the painful is help please we ask, and give these people who you love their somehow moments, their moment of ‘somehow I made it through’, ‘somehow I was delivered’, ‘somehow it’s all okay’ because somehow you always manage to work things out for our good even if we can’t see it from where we stand now, we ask these things in your name of Jesus, Amen.
I once heard it said, that the reason we give so much up in our lives for other people is because they are what we leave behind when we are gone, through them our lives continue. It sounds a little strange until you think about it. When I mention a ‘but God’ moment, it’s my poppa speaking through me, when I struggle and find myself putting scripture in my shoes so all day I am standing on the word of God, that’s my nana. Those who are gone leave their legacy in us, and if they hadn’t taken the time and effort to teach me, serve me and be with me I might not have the strength that their words gave me. Nana is gone to Heaven but she still lives and guides and teaches through all the people she put effort into. We live in a ‘serve yourself first and then you will have the strength to serve others’ theory in this world, even evangelist speakers have said this once in awhile, and not that serving yourself is wrong, but if the only one you serve is yourself then that is wrong. Jesus didn’t say ‘love yourself, that is the greatest commandment,’ He said ‘love the Lord your God, and your neighbour as yourself.’ If all we ever do is serve us we miss out on the true Joy of serving others and through serving others serving God. Our joy comes from fellowship with Christ, you cannot serve yourself only and have fellowship with others. This sounds really discouraging I know, but I’m not saying drop everything and give up all your time for others, I mean we should actively aim and strive to be servants. If you want to spend a day sitting on the couch watching TV that’s fine, but if while sitting on that couch somebody calls you in need and you refuse to go because you’re busy taking care of yourself isn’t that wrong? As in all things there’s a balance, you can’t only serve others because you’ll hit burnout, but you can’t only serve yourself because that’s not how Christians Act. It always comes back to the old adage, what would Jesus do? Would he say no cuz he was too busy taking care of himself? Or would He go to help those in need? I guess that’s a dumb question, considering the answer is so obvious.
There are times when my Faith makes me feel like I could walk out to Jesus on the waves without a doubt, and there are times when my fear makes me not want to even get into the boat. We are all afraid in part of going deeper into God. We like to have control of our lives just like we like to have control of the TV remote, when we go deeper into God we start giving up control. Stormie Omartan said ‘we let God into one room of our hearts and tell Him to stay there, but soon He starts knocking on the door to another part of our hearts, then another, then another until He fills our whole hearts. We hate losing control so we shove God in a corner and say we are Christians because we have Jesus, but that’s not what God wants, in fact that behavior is probably to blame for so many people claiming to be Christians but not acting like it. You can’t act like Jesus until He holds your whole heart. We have to trust God and be guided by our Faith so that we can fall so deep in God that we see nothing but Him.
In one my favorite novels the MC ends up with a new baby brother; what I love is the part where it says that he suddenly felt a manly need to protect this small form. That is what a dad is. He was the cool kid with the motorcycle and thick wavy hair who married the shy pretty pastor’s daughter, suddenly there is a small form that comes into their lives and he changes from the cool kid to the big bear, the protector, teacher, friend. A manly need to protect comes over him. Don’t miss that word manly. There is nothing weak about being a good father, it’s the opposite, it takes a great strength to be a good dad. God is our Father. God-all powerful being, is our Father. Father is a word synonymous with strength. God gives us dads to provide for and protect us. When a baby is born the man changes from self sufficient island to nurturing care taker, his need to see his child safe, to see them grow, to cry when they hurt to hold them strongly when they’re scared, is all a show of his strength as a person, to become more than himself, to become what they need him to be, that’s a father.