Determining to Know Christ and Him Crucified

A couple years ago we had a season in South Korea. Upon our arrival my children immediately noticed that their Grandpa had hung this beautiful transparent poster of Christ crucified upon a glass door. What took place after this was the most remarkable thing to me. In the morning, just upon waking, my children go over to it and without a word just stare for minutes at a time. It was as if they would fall into the great abyss of the crucifixion speechless and in awe. Throughout the day, without explanation they would return and look. Dumbstruck, I would watch on with tears in my eyes and ask for the same intrigue… the same wonder to overtake me that was so consuming to them.

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

-The Apostle Paul

This scripture has been paramount in my life for a little over ten years. I return to it often in order to reset my own system with the system of the apostle. Something of a simultaneous reckoning takes place and I rewire my mind back to this specific purpose to know only Christ and him crucified. In order to do so, I often need to cut some wires that have begun crowding the electrical box of my mind and heart. I yank them out and I throw them away. Then I pray… I pray that this one wire of Christ and Him crucified would again be plugged into the mainframe of my mind and heart and carried out in my own will and emotions. I determine within myself, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that this would be the consuming flood of purpose carrying my life along on its waters until we reach that glorious beach of resurrection. As a fencing champion relinquishing his sword in the midst of the battle I surrender.

When a man determines to do something he is set on the goal until it is accomplished. Paul does not mistakenly use this language here. For him this is exactly what has taken place within him as he testifies, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live…” (Gal. 2:20). We cannot all say that the same is true for us.

The determination we see within the apostle can actually be quite unfamiliar to the daily routine of our lives. And yet this is not something we can just add to our routine – no, it is far more consuming than that, far more detrimental to our pretty little worlds. Quite the opposite, we must die to our routine, and it, and us, must also become crucified with Christ so that the life we live in the flesh we live in the Son of God. It is all consuming and all encompassing and requires our certain crucifixion. It is as if you are standing on the brink of a sinkhole and wondering how deep it is when all you see is black. 

Yet this tunnel is the tunnel with the most glorious light at its end.

The light at the end of that abyss is the hope of becoming lost in Christ alone, while being yet found. There is only Christ, and Him crucified there. As His followers we must all jump in!

In jumping we do not allow this determination to remain a vague spiritualized idea. This determination must pass from idea to form as the clay was transformed into man by the hand of God in the garden. We must allow the breath of His Spirit to breathe into us again and raise us up from the dirt, that we might be pushed down into it again…. and again, just as He was. To know Christ and Him crucified is to allow Him to reciprocate our own crucifixion.

But no one likes to die!

This is certain. Dying is not something that is nostalgic. It happens once and you do not experience it again… unless of course you are the wicked who die a second death, or the apostle who dies every single day. “I die daily.” Paul’s words resound from 1 Corinthians 15, a reverberating echo, having ridden the shockwave through the chapters stemming from where we have started in chapter 2.

For Paul, death was nostalgic.

Every day he relived his death that was bound up inside the body of Christ on the Cross. When his flesh began to live again, then death was nostalgic, as he crucified Paul’s motives to the crossbeam and allowed Christ’s to live. We peer into the coffin of the apostle often as he tells the truth of his state: God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10We are fools for Christ’s sake… we are weak… we are without honor. 11To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; 12and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

Here is death… and yet here is life.

Indeed the funeral dirge is sounding in this genuine list of apostolic accolades. Each title is dressed in black as the spiritual morgue continues filling with true apostles. Before any man can claim to be apostolic, I have to see proof of this resume in his life––not his PhDs or MBAs. The apostle is living as one who is dead and this is equally how he perceives himself and the world perceives him. His life is lived calling out from the coffin of who he was, as he re-buries himself daily allowing the resurrected power of Christ to keep his body of death in the ground while the testimony of Christ walks on before him.

There is an odd requital at work in determining to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified, in that, when you determine to only know only this, you are actually determining to know many other things. Namely, meekness, humility, kindness, servility, mercy – and the list goes on. It is in fact these very things that are pre-filling Messiah and driving Him to so willingly to lay down His life on the cross––to become crucified. If He was not these very things, our Gospel story would be avidly different, most likely having its termination point in a radical zealot Jesus who overthrew the Roman armies, instead of a man crucified by them. When a man then determines to know only Him and His crucifixion, the man is determining to know and become the attributes that gave Jesus the humility to be led as a Lamb to the slaughter. And rest assured, the Lamb will again come as the Lion King (and I don’t mean Sinba).

There is also theology to consider when we determine to know Christ. A commonly used phrase that drives me wild is, “Just Jesus man!” What people typically mean by this is: You don’t need a bunch of theology, Jesus is enough. This is interesting because theology simply means “What man knows about God.” The person who says, “Just Jesus brother!” has a belief system about the Jesus he speaks of, and it is his own theology. Being introduced to Jesus without theology is one thing, and it happens often, but worshipping Jesus in Spirit and truth without theology is not possible. We all have a theology, it’s simply what we think we know about God. It is actually irresponsible to leave vague definition to what we believe about God. It does Him and His Son a disservice. It equally does the person a disservice because they can remain in this odd state of immaturity for years thinking, “Just Jesus man!” However, as a large ship with a small rudder, the right theology directs our ship to Messiah–– Who He is, and what He is going to do, and instructs us to be like Him. 

Jesus is perfect theology, and in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge… (Col. 2:3).

Our New Testament starts with the sentence: The genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, son of Abraham. This is one of the most incredible statements in the entire New Testament and one that strangely often means hardly anything to “Christians.” On a couple occasions, that one verse has been read to orthodox Jews and the response is outrage. Impossible! They shout. Because this phrase is one of the most powerful things the Bible can say about a person. This one verse speaks volumes about the person it is addressing. This great alarm sounds the warning for the reader to return to the 39 books prior and understand what it means to be the Son of David and Abraham. It provokes us to understand Jesus through a theology found in the Old Testament.

To determine to know Christ is undoubtedly determining to know the Scriptures that tell us the most about Him. This Man’s story begins in Genesis, not Matthew, and to understand what Paul means by knowing Christ, we must know the same words Paul knew because the New Testament did not exist was not something Paul read to learn about Jesus, it was what Paul wrote in regards to what the Old Testament had taught Him about Jesus. The glorious abyss of finding Christ in the TaNaKh, is to behold the heirloom of Jesus beauty, the embryo of His person. It is actually very interesting that Matthew doesn’t start his gospel by saying Jesus was the Son of God. His point is being based from the Scriptures of Genesis 12-22, and 2 Samuel 7 which are God’s covenant words regarding the promised one of Genesis 3:15 who will crush the serpents head.

The other process taking place in 1 Cor. 2:2 is that the apostle has also determined to know nothing else. This is a hard one to swallow. I have often knelt in prayer and asked the Lord to help me know nothing else except Christ and Him crucified. Then, within fifteen minutes I am often determining to know something else… usually something worldly like the news or social media. I don’t have the answer for this I blatantly confess! It remains an odd mystery to me that Paul could use such a blanket statement. It gives me hope to know that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness,” (2 Tim. 3:16). Paul was telling the truth because He was writing inspired of God. Therefore I let this resolve, this overwhelming determination, consume me, teach me, reprove me, correct me, and train me in righteousness––I am ok with knowing nothing else.

When I was a boy I was determined to fly jet-fighters. There was a peace that would overtake my childhood mind as I pondered what the earth would look like from up there. I imagined the quiet amidst the roaring engines of that metal bird. I longed to rest in-flight between heaven and earth. This dream, albeit concocted from youthful naivety, was a pillar of determination in my mind. I am now 35 and have never seen the inside of a jet-fighter. You know why? Because determining to fly jet-fighters meant determining to learn many other things for many years. The idea of flying was fantastic and yet I have never flown because I was not determined enough to undergo the many challenges this determination would produce.

Determining to know Christ and Him crucified is similar. It is one thing to read the crucifixion accounts in the Gospels and think I determine to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. It is another thing altogether to relate to Him in His sufferings… to undergo a crucifixion of your own… to actually lay down your life and relate to Him there befuddled of knowledge unrelated to Him. Many times, a meek response can be a level of suffering. Other times suffering can be serving undeserving people or your enemies. At times, suffering can be having your life and actions completely overlooked or disregarded. Rest assured, many of us who choose to determine this will experience these things and more as preparation for the glorious day we meet Him there in the place of enduring physical pain and possibly torture and death as we become like Him in His death…

…and so somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead (Phil 3:10-11).

My dad, who was a pilot, once told me that flying an airplane is like flying an iron dinosaur through the air. “It’s loud and clunky,” he said. “The birds… they are the ones that really fly!” He then talked about “heaven” and with glossed-over eyes would imagine the day he would spread out his own arms and fly. I am long past the age of being able to fly that jet-fighter but I am young in the hope of flying in the resurrection of the righteous! I am connecting new wires that support who Christ is, and still cutting old ones that divert attention to other things. I am resolving that my determination remain steadfastly fixed upon Messiah and Him crucified. As scary as it is, I want to draw near to Him in the fellowship of His sufferings and be conformed to His death. I want to stumble through the darkness of that pit, bleeding, weeping, and following in His footsteps only emerge into that light at the end of the tunnel and hear, “Well done…”

The joy that will be ours on that day will pale in comparison to the sufferings we endured in this life. Take hold of that hope and plow on!

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” -The Apostle Paul


How Deep The Fathers Love (Hessed): Why the Gospel is “First to the Jew” and How Gentiles Should Respond

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Tears Like Glory


(What provoked this blog from within the depths of me, came during a morning of prayer and meditation while listening to the instrumental song above on repeat. It is a close friend of mine’s music and carries the emotional weight of the words in this post within the borders of its musical arrangement. I would love for you to listen to it while you read this post for a more dramatic experience.)

Weeping is not something that can be conjured up. It strikes a person as a bolt of lightning, unpredictable, from a course not of ourselves. Bound up in the endless depths of the human heart is restricted emotion from years of wounding, hurts, pains, and wrongs… and when the dam holding back those floodwaters bursts its torrent is an uncontrollable flood… a deluge of something divine. Tears trace paths down our cheeks like streams through a parched desert devoid of rain for seasons past. Truly, who can explain what it is that makes one cry? Who can declare from where it is conceived? Born in that stored-away place that is rarely seen by many, the fetus of emotion grows and grows until the event that causes its birth. With heaving and groaning the baby is born and the tears on one’s face are like the wet newborn baby that has just entered the world. Is it overly allegorical to observe why we have at times returned to that fetal position in times of weeping?

There is no time or pattern to the rhythm of weeping, and it knows no metronome. It follows no clap, or tapping foot, and albeit random, its heaves produce a song of its own. The wise listen and add to their learning, the discerning get guidance.

The eyes of those who empathize become moist as well, because the chord struck deep within the person upon whom the dam has just broken can oddly cause other dams to break. By relation of experience, and of proximity to the dam, others are suddenly swept away in its forceful waters. As though the one drowning in the beauty of release should not be left alone, another swims down to join them in a sea of their own tears. Behold the power of weeping and the strength of such weakness! Behold the beauty of the broken.

No one knows the bounds or depths of sobbing uncontrollably… the untethered chorus of a crowd in mourning is staggering to behold.

Some cheeks are more desperate to savor those moments than others and like droplets of rain dripping from the leaves of forests in a downpour their tears fall to the ground where the earth desperately drinks them up. Or, they fall into the very hands of God, where they are stored until the day He wipes every single one of them away and replaces them with the oil of joy.

Lest we become overly sentimental towards the idea of simple sentiment, let us progress to the biblical thrust of weeping and the object of our attention––weeping with God. The valuable lesson we learn from the Scriptures regarding the God of Israel is that He is the divine Creator who possesses weeping as an attribute. We should think that when the Alpha and Omega weeps it is due to the most profound of circumstances. His divine heart of unchanging love and sacred refuge bursts and the longsuffering tears of deep emotional pain regarding His creation are expended, an uncontrollable geyser that sinks the arrogance of man into the deep ocean of His humility. Indeed, in Noah’s flood the wicked could have been drowning in the very tears the Godhead was shedding from their heavenly temple. As the warm droplets touched the faces of those under His judgment as they peered wide-eyed towards the heavens, they would’ve recognized His everlasting mercy before they sank down immersed in the waters of His unwavering justice.

When I was small my father would leave the room as soon as he spanked me. I never understood why until I got older and mentioned it once to him. He explained that the pain he had to inflict upon my brother and I was too much for him to bear and he would leave the room only to immediately burst into tears of his own. It was never long before he would enter the room again with wet cheeks and cradle us in his arms, sorry that his love had to manifest as judgment. I distinctly remember my young boy cheeks rubbing against his and pondering their wetness as I sat loved in his lap. In that experience I have beheld one of the most accurate pictures of our heavenly Father and I still marvel today at the revelation it holds. (My prayer for you dad is that as you read this you would be able to finally let your own dam burst and be drowned there in the waters of your heavenly Father’s love.)

To take the liberty of this example and look upon the Scriptures we look in Revelation chapter 15. You don’t have to agree with my theological perspective on this chapter to glean from what I am about to present. The example is simple. In Revelation 15:1;7-8 judgment is taking place and something called the bowls of wrath are about to be poured out. The text reads:

“Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished… Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.”

At the pinnacle of wrath and the precipice of His judgment being unleashed full-force we see God desiring to be alone. I wonder if this is similar to my earthly father’s discipline, in that, He is “leaving the room” to weep His own tears that His great love must now be manifested in judgment. Thus, He makes everyone leave His room as He deeply grieves and travails over the fierceness of His wrath being manifested towards those who hate Him. But, those who love Him will very shortly thereafter be taken into His arms and received forever!

Uniquely, we find in the God-breathed Scriptures a blessing for those who mourn in this life bound to the promise that they will be comforted. We find Paul excavating the principle of mourning, enjoining us to fellowship with those who are currently engulfed in their own tears (Rom. 12:15). Do we find there true relationship? And what if mourning with those who mourn has implicit suggestion concerning those with understanding who will mourn with God––since He is in fact the one weeping!?

The mysterious abyss from which tears arise has hardly been considered in relation to God in the flesh. That is to say, Jesus wept, but because of our own lack of weeping our interpretation of what is happening within Him is most likely misunderstood. I doubt that any one of us has ever sobbed until sweat like great drops of blood pushed from underneath our skin and fell from the pores of our epidermis. Again, our lack of weeping might normally write this off as an odd event––just as something that possesses its own mystique, unable to be described by the faculties of men. But, is that true? Or have we just not wept enough?

Is it possible that Jesus, as the second person of the Godhead had waited since the beginning of time to release those tears from distinct human eyes on the night before His crucifixion? And there, as He heaves and wipes the tears from his face they mix with the atoning blood that is seeping from his skin. His mourning over the sin that has brought about His fateful crucifixion merges with the deep pain of bearing the sin of the world. How often have we seen tears and blood mix? His bound-up effort of longsuffering with humans and His pent-up rage against the sin and wickedness of His creation inverts and is there becoming the cup of wrath and long-suffering which the Father is dumping out upon His Son as Calvary is only a sunrise away.

How is it that the God of Israel has chosen such vulnerability to be one of the most personal manifestations of His nature? We deduce this through simplicity in the equation: When one weeps they are vulnerable, they are weak, they are exposed. No one has ever looked at a person weeping and said “What great strength!” Yet, we have the God of the Bible continually make this odd disposition true in verses like,

“…we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,29so that no man may boast before God (1 Cor. 1:23-29),

and also God’s response to Paul,

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness,” (2 Cor. 12:9).

In these passages we find a direct definition from God concerning strength that is contingent upon manifest weakness. This is entirely opposed to the wisdom of the world! In fact, it is so entirely different than the way the world sees things it is actually confounding their wisdom to behold the beautiful weakness of Christ crucified

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe,” (1 Cor. 1:20-21).

There on the Cross, the story of great weakness prevails triumphantly over the strength of man. Now, to us being saved we behold the power of God! But to those who are perishing––weakness. But, it is not as though one party sees something different than the other, rather it is how the party interprets what they are seeing. For the Christian, he looks upon the weakness of God being flogged, pressed with a crown of thorns, nails thrust through His flesh, and hanging in the air seemingly helpless and he says, “What great strength!” The others behold the same elements and wag their heads saying, “Physician, heal yourself!”  To one it is wisdom, and to the other foolishness. And in this great mystery the Messiah of humankind is being perfected through the weakness and vulnerability of suffering,

“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered,” (Heb. 5:8).

I wish to join in on the grief our Lord shared with the Father that night in the garden of Gethsemane. I want to touch that emotion and have it be real. I want to feel what God feels at this hour of history and let it manifest in warm streams on my face, where the spring’s head is centered in the overflow of God’s heart connecting to my heart, and I want it to run its torrential course out through the tear ducts of my eyes and fall to the earth or into the very Hands of God Himself.

I want that weakness… that vulnerability. I want to weep. I want to cry. May we be led by the Spirit into those uncontrollable times and cultivate a heart that is open to the infinite bounds of weeping with God. It’s ok to cry! Feel the freedom of weeping! Let it all out and see the fruit it might bear in your life with God.

Travail in Beit-El: A Short Story

The air was crisp and the sun was just rising as a golden eye taking a peek at the residents of the hill country of Bethlehem. From my bed, tucked in the window ledge of the small arabic home, I peered out over the rolling micro-mounts of Palestine. I only had a sheet to cover me during those last six hours and I had been a little cold albeit the middle of June. I rubbed my eyes and recounted the dream which I had awoke from, dropped my feet onto the cold marble floor before making my way to the bathroom. Careful not to use the wrong water, I began the monotonous practice of teeth brushing as my eyes stared into through the wall, past the neighboring houses and back into the dream. God was speaking to me and I was all ears.

I was in Bethel, or Beit-El in Hebrew, meaning House of God (It has kept its distinct name since Jacob laid his head on that ancient rock pillow and stared into the very throne room of God atop the heavenly stair). I had slept that night on a true pillow, and I had most definitely not seen into heaven, but I had seen something that awoke my senses. I had seen a person.

I had come to consciousness in the dream overlooking a wall unmistakably aware that I was in Beit-El. I knew that I had been led to the very place where I now stood with a wall in front of me, and I knew that I was to look over the wall. Peering over I saw a host of pedestrians crowding a street. Amidst the hustle and bustle of people-traffic there was a particular individual shining in gold. Not golden clothing, or weirdly sparkling either, he just appeared to be gold. He stuck out like a mole in a freshly mowed lawn and I knew I had to talk to this man. And that’s when I woke up.

Finishing my teeth and looking into the mirror the dream seemed so vivid and real. I was ecstatic to share with the team and soon the other guys began to stir from their own dreams and with excitement my extroverted personality took over. Before long the house was abuzz with fresh anticipation for the day. There was a divine expectation taking form and hope was glistening upon the cerebral heart of the team.

The night before we had had a meeting and picked our partners and discussed where we felt led to go the next day. Months prior in a prayer meeting Bethel had been highlighted on the map to our team. My partner and I both  We were going to do what we call a Matthew 10. Very simply, in Matthew 10 Jesus sends His disciples out into towns and cities of Israel to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.

“These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7“And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give… 11“And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. 12“As you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13“If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. 14“Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15“Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.”

And that’s what we were doing… repeating His instructions in the very land He had roamed with His apostles some two-thousand years ago. This was my first time in Israel… this was my first time to speak to the people of the cevenant… this was the first time I was even attempting to do a Matthew 10. You might call me naiéve and you’d be right. Fortunate for my small thirty year old mind, Jesus has chosen the foolish things to shame the wise (1 Cor. 1:27).

My partner was a several month old friend who was as sharp as a bedouin’s sword, and as blunt as an irishman’s club. I was very glad that he was my partner. The day before he had asked a German man on the bus in Jerusalem, “What do you think it was that led your people to agree to the mass genocide of the Jews?” The German traveler, who had walked from Germany to Jerusalem to find out the answer to this very question, was stunned at the candor of my friend. Despite him basically stumbling off of the bus and running away, their conversation ended ok.

My partner was uniquely excited that I had the dream and soon we were all headed out the door to catch the 8:15 bus to Jerusalem. The bus seemed to be running late as usual, yet soon it crested the hill that comes from Bethlehem and was roaring towards us, its air-brakes hissing. As is the normal procedure we stood at the curb waiting for it to stop as it had done the days prior. But, as he neared it became obvious that he had no intention of normal procedure that day and without a second glance at the six americans standing non-inconspicuously at the only bus stop in sight, he zoomed past with us waving our arms wildly. What in the world?! Why didn’t he stop?  I wondered. My very next thought was I have to get to Bethel! This is ruining everything!

All of us surprised at what had just happened, our team leader made an unforgettable decision. “I’d like to talk to you guys about something anyway,” he said “Let’s all open our Bibles to Deuteronomy 30 while we are waiting.” As we waited, the conversation for the next 30 minutes revolved around the subject of the restoration of Israel and what it looks like when God Himself restores His chosen to their land. Needless to say, as we stood in the Palestinian streets just shy of where the Lord Himself was born, it was easily discernable that what we were seeing in Israel was not that. Before long the next bus came and without a single qualm his bus hissed to a stop to pick up the six americans standing non-inconspicuously at the only bus stop in sight.

The ride into Jerusalem usually takes about forty-five minutes to an hour even though though it is only five miles away. You have to first pass through a checkpoint going from Palestinian territory into Israeli, and then pass through a tunnel burrowed into the main mountain dividing Bethlehem and the city of the great King. I could never help thinking about that fact that Jesus would’ve skirted these hills himself on the back of a donkey––not once, but twice! First, in the womb of his mother, and secondly in the triumphal entry. We descended the final hill making the one hundred-eighty degree turn to join the main traffic heading that direction. And that’s when we saw the gridlocked traffic.

I moaned internally You’ve got to be kidding me! How in the world am I ever going to get to Bethel? The devil is trying to stop me! We soon learned that there was a wreck inside the tunnel leading to Jerusalem which had in turn shut the whole tunnel down until further notice. I was incredibly frustrated inside since this had been the second delay already in our journey towards Bethel. Yet, as the traffic started slowly creeping through the tunnel my partner began talking about the issue of death before resurrection. We opened our bibles in the conversation and began discussing Ezekiel thirty-seven’s valley of dry bones. The conversation was clear in that the the restoration of Israel talked about in thirty-six, was performed by the catalyst of the resurrection in thirty-seven. This all radically connected to our talk earlier that morning regardin Deuteronomy 30. In that conversation my spirits were again lifted and I heard the Holy Spirit clearly say, “I have orchestrated everything perfectly today. Be at rest.” From that moment on I had a different mentality about what was happening and a growing confidence that YHWH was on my side… nothing could make His plan fail, in fact, these two apparent mistakes had been ordained by His very own hand.

When we finally got into Jerusalem and took the overground train to the main bus station it was past eleven o’ clock. My partner and I had such an overwhelming peace from the Lord after I shared with him what the Holy Spirit had spoke that we decided to let the day just play our normally and allow God to lead us. We surrendered the day to God. At that moment we realized we were hungry, so we decided to take a break and casually eat some shwarma before heading towards Bethel. We even took our time, and I think I had a coke which I never do, before checking the bus times. Truly, we felt free in Christ Jesus and confidence in His ability to perform His will.

When we entered the bus station we couldn’t find the ticket counter and so we stopped a young Israeli man wearing army fatigues. He kindly pointed us towards the counter where we bought our tickets. As we went back to get in the correct bus line the same man we had spoken to was there waiting as well. His name was “Hi” which felt welcoming and a boldness rose up in my friend and I to speak to him about Jesus being the Messiah of Israel. We probably had close to a half hour exhilarating conversation with Hi before it was time for his bus to leave. We gave him all that we had leading from the passover to the crucifixion and he was as wide eyed as a wildebeast in a spotlight. My partner was so bold in regards to the crucifixion and talked about how he and his sin had crucified the Messiah of Israel. The conversation went so well that we actually thought we might ought to go somewhere and finish the gospel with him and he could potentially be baptized that very day. However, his bus was about to leave and I felt the Holy Spirit say “I will take it from here.” So, we gave Hi a Hebrew New Testament. His final words to us were, “I have so much time on the base to read, I will read every single word of this book.” He thanked us and got on his bus never to be seen by us again.

With the adrenaline of such success in the gospel, since this was an odd happening indeed within the boundaries of Israel, we got on our bus ready to preach the whole bus to repentance in Christ Jesus. We divided up with my partner taking the back and me sitting in the middle thinking the whole bus would be saved on this journey… (insert record scratching noise). The next ninety minutes danced between clear frustration and faces of just shut up already! as there was a total and complete rejection of the gospel by the people we spoke to. I went ahead and moved to a seat where my partner and I met back up. “How was it?” I asked him. “Horrible,” he said, “The guy just turned his head away from me in the middle of talking and closed his eyes.” My experience was similar and we kind of laughed it off. We were affected, but not deterred. Just then we entered through the checkpoint leading into Bethel. 

Suddenly we were overwhelmingly dumbstruck with reality–– We had never been here before! We had no idea where we were, or where to go in this city. The puzzled look on both of our faces was a very clear “Oh Crap!” moment. We went to the front of the bus to try and ask some questions to the driver.

Earlier that morning when I had shared the dream, our team leader who had been to Bethel before said that he remembered a tall prayer tower and that maybe we should try that location to see if it fit the description with the dream. That was all we had to go on! Now we were trying to explain in English to a Hebrew bus driver what we were looking for. As the bus swerved and jerked we were thrown around a little trying to stand in the front of the bus and communicate our point. The other passengers became curious as to what we were asking about but no one understood what we were saying. Tower is probably not a easily distinguishable word in english. The bus driver then shouted back to the other passengers something in Hebrew as he came to a stop. We were caught off guard when a woman just behind us suddenly began shouting at us in in thick Hebrew accented English, “Here! Here! Get off now! You need to get off right here!” as she frantically pointed outside. Before the bus driver closed the doors we just hopped out not even thinking.

As the bus disappeared in the distance we very quickly realized we were not in the right place. There was a tall building to the left and we thought that this lady must’ve mistakenly thought we were talking about it. Moreover, there was not a single soul anywhere to be seen. It was as if Bethel was a ghost town or we were in a weird sci-fi novel. There was literally not a single soul in sight. But, since the building to our right was tall we decided to just go towards it. We trotted down some stairs that led its direction and then I noticed something. In front of us was a wall. “Hey,” I said to my partner, “That looks like the wall in my dream.” He looked at me with sincere surprise and said, “Well, let’s look over it.” With eager expectation of what was just on the other side of the wall we walked down and peered over (insert second record scratch sound with strong echo reverb). Just over the wall was nothing but an empty alleyway and the only living thing there was a cat digging in a trash can. My heart sank.

I looked at my partner and both of us had no idea what to do next. We were standing at the end of a street lined with newly built jewish homes. There was not a living thing visible and part of me began to wonder if we should preach the gospel to that trash-digging cat! Feeling a little hopeless my friend suggested that we walk down the empty street. Oddly I felt that he was wrong and that we should go the other way, but I just went with it. The sun was beaming now and it must’ve been around one o’clock. Lord, you must have a plan I thought. Here we are, in the middle of a city we’ve never been to. You gave me a dream last night about being here, we found the wall, and the golden person that should have been there has turned into a black cat! Witchcraft is happening!!! 

Just then a car turned onto the street and came towards us. My heart lept! Since we were the only people on the street it seemed an odd game of chicken as we were walking right down the middle. I can imagine what the driver must’ve been thinking. Here are two, very obvious gentiles, lost and out of place, walking down the middle of their street. I’m sure our eyebrows raised and the corners of our lips went up as she came near, and then just as quickly dropped as the car passed us. However, she then turned around and pulled in front of the house directly opposite where we were standing. An orthodox jewish lady got out of the car, of which we knew we were not allowed to speak to, and went up the small stairway that led to their flat. Not a word or glance from her, I got that sinking feeling again.

Suddenly, the door smashed open and a tall dark haired ultra orthodox jew with glasses descended the stairs and opened the car trunk. We stood in awe… he appeared to me to be shining gold. You could tell he was half trying to not overtly figure us out, but was also very interested in what these two men were doing outside his house. After digging around in his trunk he finally looked at us with a certain concern. How conspicuous we must’ve seemed… but his look also contained intrigue. Two white americans standing on his doorstep! “Um… excuse me, do you speak english,” I asked him. “Yes. What are you doing here?” he responded in a distinct Hebrew accent. “Um… we are looking for a prayer tower…” I managed to utter, “we believe Hashem has sent us here” hoping to at least give a credible enough response to keep the conversation going. “Oh, you’re not even near there!!” he said. “It’s about a thirty minute walk that way,” and he pointed down the street the direction we had come. He then tried to explain to us how to walk there which ended in him just saying, “You know what? I’ll just take you. Let me just finish taking these groceries into the house.” (Insert blaring warning sound) “Carry the groceries for him!” the Holy Spirit was shouting inside of me. “Here, let us help you with that,” me and my partner almost said simultaneously. We then followed him up the ten stairs and were welcomed straight into his house.

Walking into his house was like reliving a dream. The first things that caught my attention in the humble jewish home was an entire wall lined with black books in a prestigious wood book shelf. I quickly understood they were all rabbinic writings on the Tanakh. We weren’t inside the home of just any man––this man was exceptionally well read and educated in Judaism. However, it was not intimidating in the slightest, it was exciting. I knew the Holy Spirit had ordained this setting perfectly and now we just needed to let him lead. “Do you want a glass of water?” he said, after telling us his name was Nathaniel. When he said that I knew that we were inside the home of a real person of peace, just like Jesus says in the Gospel of Luke. I don’t even remembering responding and I can’t imagine what I might have looked like to him. Here we were, two gentiles, inside the house of an orthodox jewish scholar in the city of Bethel. And while we were in his house, we were also in the House of God. How ironic.

Nathaniel showed us his bookshelf and commented a little on it. He also showed us the scraped off rectangle near the door and explained to us that every jewish person had this in their homes as a sign that the temple will be rebuilt. I was internally combusting with emotions I had never felt as conversed with him. Finally, he turned to us again and said, “So what exactly are you doing here?” I took advantage of his question and I told him the truth. “Nathaniel, we believe Hashem has sent us here today. We would like to talk with you about the Scriptures. Do you have time to speak with us?” “That’s funny,” he said. “Maybe Hashem has sent you here! I am the only person in all of this area that I know speaks english, and you just happened to come to my house!” With this word I was boiling on the inside with expectation, but what he said next stunned me. “Every morning I go into Jerusalem for work, but this morning I woke up and thought to myself ‘I’m going to take the day off today!’ So, I usually would not be here now, but today I can sit down and talk with you about the Scriptures.”

I think I was about to just burst into tears and didn’t know what to say at this point. He motioned for us to sit down at his table where we had sat the groceries. He said, “Do you have your bibles?” to which we heartily responded, “Yes, of course.” It was odd to me that he even knew we called it the bible, and yet this whole situation was so dumbfounding that I felt like a child playing hide and go seek with my father. He knew where everything was and I was just trying to find Him. The next thing that happened still sticks in my mind as the most amazing thing I have ever heard or witnessed.

Looking directly at us he said, “Would you mind opening your bible to Deuteronomy 30?” I melted in that chair right there. I was as a blob of putty in the hands of God, wanting to shout and scream out loud, “The God of Israel is alive and has ordained everything perfectly!” As I was marveling at the impossibility of him wanting to talk to us about the very passage we had read that morning as we waited for the bus we had missed, it became clear that Nathaniel thought Hashem had sent us to him that he might correct us regarding our beliefs, and possibly be evangelized to judaism.

We talked about this passage in detail and the rich conversation cannot be put into words here. Suffice to say that he did not feel that he had convinced us of Israel’s current restoration, and that he also seemed as if he wasn’t convinced himself as well. My partner in this stage was so precise with his words concerning the restoration of Israel. “Nathaniel,” he said, “Do you really believe that the whole nation has returned the Lord as the passage says here.” Nathiniel reeled from the simple assessment of things. “No,” he said, “Over half of our nation is now secular,” he told us truthfully. But flipping through the pages of his Tanakh he came to his next point.

“But even if the nation isn’t fully turning back to Him… Well, look at Ezekiel 36.” That’s when my jaw literally dropped off of my face… and I looked at my partner who kept asking him superb questions in a very non-threatening way, who mirrored my expression. This was his chapter preceding the resurrection of Israel described in Ezekiel 37 which we had again discussed in the bus while we were waiting for the wreck to be cleared. God had prepared us with perfect words and insight directly from His Scriptures that very morning through the very events which I had thought were hindering our journey.

Our conversation went on for about an hour with his children slowly trickling in from school one by one, all of them with the tassels under their shirts and the slim locks of curled hair framing their faces. This was a quintessential ultra orthodox jewish family–– and gentiles were sitting at their table discussing their Scriptures! The children, although puzzled at who we could be, were not shy and several times they were climbing on their father in frenzied play.

The feeling I was experiencing seemed to be a mixture of total euphoria meddled with a creeping sour stomach. The whole situation was remarkable. Nathaniel was such a likable guy. We were able to talk upfront and honestly to him… however, in the midst of such beautiful, exciting, and exhillirating things,

“the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2“Son of man, speak to the sons of your people and say to them, ‘If I bring a sword upon a land, and the people of the land take one man from among them and make him their watchman, 3and he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows on the trumpet and warns the people, 4then he who hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, and a sword comes and takes him away, his blood will be on his own head,” (Ez. 33:2-4).

I had a distinct sobriety that these feelings were good, and the Lord loved them, but this conversation was meant to go much deeper. The Holy Spirit said that we must Warn this man regarding the coming of Jacob’s Trouble. I was to to sound the alarm as the watchman does in Ezekiel 33. Just as I asked Nathaniel if he was familiar Jeremiah 30 and the topic of Jacob’s Trouble, his wife shouted something in Hebrew from the kitchen area. Suddenly it seemed things became chaotic in the house. The kids were frantic, and his wife was displeased. We realized that they were about to eat, and it is not kosher for them to eat with gentiles, so Nathaniel told us that we needed to go. No! We are losing our chance here… I thought …we can’t leave! But, there was nothing I could do. He stood up to grab his keys, keeping his promise to take us to the tower. I looked at the grocery bags sitting on the table next to me, slipped something under them unseen, and we walked out the door.

As we descended those ten steps the Holy Spirit spoke the clearest phrase to me, “You have four minutes, preach Christ Crucified unashamedly!” We got into his compact car with me riding in the front. The ride was an acute four minutes, and I went for the jugular. “Nathaniel, we are Christians and we believe that Yeshua is the true Messiah of Israel.” And the mention of Jesus’ name he cursed his name with the hebrew acronym of ‘let his name forever be accursed.'” I didn’t skip a beat but vulnerably shared my testimony with him, “I believe this because when I was twelve years ago Yeshua appeared to me and I saw Him hanging on the Cross, and I was also hanging on the cross with Him. He showed me who He is and I know that the Scriptures also confirm that He is the true Messiah of Israel.” At this Nathaniel stopped. “Only prophets have experiences like that,” he said. “Hashem only gives things like this to prophets.” I now wish I could’ve taken advantage of him saying that but in the moment I didn’t realize how significant what he was saying was. In effect, he confessed with his own mouth that Hashem had spoken to me a gentile.

I tried to get through to Christ Crucified and that the passover had prophesied of atonement and that people were saved through the sacrifice of a blameless lamb. In the four minutes I must’ve been talking as fast as a bullet train. He finally interrupted me as we pulled up to the prayer tower, “You said you would tell me of this Jacob’s Trouble.” A bomb went off inside of me in that very instant and I blurted out, “Nathaniel… Jacob’s Trouble isn’t a story or fairytale, it is near, it is on the horizon!”

When I said these words I erupted in uncontrollable weeping, half-screaming and groaning right there in the front seat of his car. It was something I have never experienced, and the only word I can use to describe it being travail, I was literally making noises as a woman in labor with my head in my lap. Internally the Lord was thundering a phrase over and over, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings…” As I drowned there in my own tears I could hear Nathaniel asking my friend, “What is happening? What is wrong with him?” My partner responded simply, “I think he’s crying. Maybe God is moving on him.”

What was happening to me was so intense that I wanted it to stop so that he wouldn’t feel so embarrassed. I now regret this and wish that I could’ve just stayed there with the Lord weeping and weeping for hours. Here it only lasted for a couple minutes before I looked up and directly into Nathaniel’s deer in the headlight eyes blurted out what was roaring in my mind. “Nathaniel, Hashem has longed to gather you as a hen gathers her chicks, but you are a stubborn and obstinate people!”

I had not intended to say this at all and it is the only time in my life that I can really say I think the Holy Spirit took control of my tongue in that moment.

Nathaniel looked at me in total disbelief. I had just quoted to him a line from Ezekiel 2:4 that I was not previously familiar with. “I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ Isaiah also uses this same language once, saying, “For I know how stubborn and obstinate you are. Your necks are as unbending as iron. Your heads are as hard as bronze.” The look in Nathaniel’s eyes told me that he was familiar with the passages I was quoting, and he was keenly aware that they were not presenting his people in a positive light.

This is why the Holy Spirit is able to perform tasks far beyond our imagination. If I was jewish and a gentile was in the front seat of my car telling me that, I would’ve probably punched him! But something amazing happened in that moment… something that only God could’ve done. Nathaniel’s heart softened.

The only way that I can describe what happened next is that it was like a veil that covered Nathaniel’s eyes was drawn back. He was puzzled. There is a gentile in his car that has had experiences that only God gives to prophets. The gentile just erupted into an uncontrollable weeping and groaning. The gentile just quoted to him scripture from the prophets. The gentile is prophesying that judgment is coming to Israel.

It is my belief that Nathaniel knew he was witnessing the Ruach Ha Kodesh upon a gentile and he didn’t understand how this was possible.

For about five minutes God opened a window of mercy for me to go from the passover to the Cross, talking about how Hashem had hidden the crucifixion of the Messiah in His wisdom. I said things that could’ve never come from my own mind, and used analogies that I had never thought of, and it seemed to possibly be going into his heart. He just looked at me with mouth partly agape at this stage and let me talk through the whole thing. And then something happened that still brings me to tears. As the last act of a play closes, the curtain was slowly drawn back over his eyes. He looked at me and said, “I want you to get out of my car now… I have to leave.” We gave one last stab wanting to leave him with something tangible. We told him that he would see three things in the future. One, a man who was not the Messiah would bring peace in Jerusalem between arab and jew. Two, the third temple would be built in Jerusalem. Three, this false Messiah would stand up in the temple declaring himself to be YHWH. We told him that when he saw these things happening to flee from Israel. He looked at us with such great confidence and said, “I am a settler here. I will never leave.”

I stumbled out of his car feeling heavier than I ever had in my life. I felt like my blood was syrup and my bones iron. I wanted to collapse on the ground and just cry. His car pulled away from us and we just watched as he left. Suddenly, his car made a loop and came back our direction. “What in the world?!” I thought. He pulled up next us and I thought that this was it, he was going to give his life to Jesus. “When you leave…” he said, and proceeded to give us directions to how to take the bus. Without giving us a chance to respond he pulled away again.

My partner and I went up on that prayer tower and I fell to my knees. I did not know what had just happened and every ounce of energy was zapped from my entire being. I just closed my eyes. The prayers I prayed over those next few minutes were those of the desperate sort. We just sat there together wondering what to do, looking into the distance at Ramallah set upon the hill. I knew I had just experienced what God said to Isaiah,

“He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; Keep on looking, but do not understand.’ Render the hearts of this people insensitive, Their ears dull, And their eyes dim, Otherwise they might see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their hearts, And return and be healed.”

I knew that I had just witnessed the curses spoken of in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26. I knew that Nathaniel had been given over to this condition by God Himself, and that it was a judgment against His precious, unfaithful, firstborn people. I was overwhelmed with the grief Paul speaks of in Romans 9. At that very moment I also felt that I could’ve wished myself cut off from Christ for the sake of Nathaniel.

As my friend and I finally prepared to make the journey back to Jerusalem I told him something that he didn’t know. It was the only thing that kept a glimmer of hope in my mind and what still keeps a light at the end of the Nathaniel tunnel in my heart. “You know… when we were sitting in Nathaniel’s house?” I said. “Remember how the grocery bags were sitting on the table?…” he nodded. “…just before we left I slipped a Hebrew Gospel of John underneath them.”

That day ended the way it had began. With everything planned so precisely by the Lord–– from the missed bus, to the blocked tunnel, to meeting Hi in the bus line, to the woman screaming for us to get off the bus, to the particular moment we stood in front of Nathaniel’s house and he walked down the stairs, to the Holy Spirit coming upon me unaware––everything could not have been more perfectly ordained. As I told my friend about leaving the book on his table I heard the Holy Spirit say what He had said earlier with Hi. He said, “I will take it from here…”  and there was not a bone in my body that distrusted Him.

Ever since that day when I think about Nathaniel an indescribable peace washes over me. I remember the events of that day and I marvel. I literally came to tears at several points just recalling this story! I stand in awe that God used us that day to do something miraculous. I have a story that literally reads like the book of Acts and no one can take it away from me. I experienced the Bible, the covenant, and the Holy Spirit alive that day as I looked into the eyes of the Holy People and saw their blindness staring backI understood that if gentiles would understand their place in the story God is willing to go to great lengths to lead you to His people that you might give testimony of Christ and Him crucified. You may be despised in their eyes. They may curse the name of Jesus. But you my friend will be partaking in the storyline of the everlasting gospel, and you might just be provoking His people to jealousy. Let it be. Amen.

The End.

I wrote this so that you the reader would be encouraged that the story of the Bible is true. God is on the move and Jesus is truly coming soon. Have faith! Take heart! And as Daniel says, remember, the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do great exploits. Lets have faith for things like this and be available for the Holy Spirit to use us.

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The view of the settlements from the tower in Beit-El

The Idolatry of Sex and a Lifestyle of Praise


A form is there before you and you gaze upon it. Though your knees may not bow your heart does internally. You want it… and you want it to want you. Yet, it may not even be just that you want it, there is something deeper happening… something stronger than just a desire or want. You may have written it off just as, “humans are sexual creatures”, and that modern psychological form of deception is the puppet string causing your eyes to bob up and down upon different bodies throughout the day. Then, you go home, go into your room, close the door, and defile yourself with the unsatisfied fulfillment of selfish intimacy.

The secret place has become defiled and shameful. I know this firsthand…

Jesus says, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. Yet, there is no reward for this other kind of secret place. The Father is indeed watching… and weeping. There, your act is worship to an unseen demon… a creature that hates you and wants to murder you despite your awareness of its presence. The place in your mind where you are supposed to “love the Lord Your God with all of” has been tyrannically ruled by lizards of lust for decades– their constant flicking tongues hitting the cerebral with a bombardment of sexualized emotion.

We live in a culture that is perpetually “turned on”–– driven to find release.
But, can we actually be released from it? I wasn’t sure until the last couple years.

You give in again and again and you don’t know why. You feel trapped in your mind. You have bowed before the idol of sex so many times to your own shame and you just want it to stop. You feel defeated, guilty, and ashamed of yourself. You feel a fake because you can’t speak to someone about the Lord while this hides just behind your eyes. But the truth is that you do love the Lord! This is why you feel so ashamed. You want to please Him, but you’re caught in failure. Can we transition to loving the Lord more than this lust and overcome it? Can we live whole-heartedly and self-controlled before Him and resist these horrific temptations?

Can we actually love the Lord God of Israel with all of our mind?



My first sexual experience was with a woman in her thirties when I was six. I still remember the “funny feeling” in my stomach and being very uncomfortable as she asked me to come into the dark room dressed in an open robe with only lingerie on. To worsen the situation, a pornographic vampire movie was playing on the TV in her dark room…  Then I black out and only come to as I leave the room feeling sick to my stomach. My mind still doesn’t know whether this is one or multiple experiences merged into one. It was during those young years I was also exposed to hardcore pornography for the first time. It was in a large meeting in the auditorium of my elementary school in the second or third grade… the crinkled up piece of magazine paper being secretly passed from small innocent hands to another was engrained upon my mind as the unforgettable snapshot. I didn’t want to see it, but I wanted to see it. When I was nine or ten my cousins introduced me to their father’s Playboy and Hustler collection that led to an insatiable addiction even though we didn’t know what we were doing. We were so young we only said that we got “that funny feeling in our stomachs.” Around that same time a male teacher at my elementary school began putting his hands on my body after school hours. My brother had the same teacher and experienced the same things and we would only come to know this many years later… Within those same years my cousin forced me to watch him masturbate, making it the only condition by which he would allow me to play video games in his room. I still remember hating it, and yet him saying over and over “LOOK! WATCH!” I was instructed in evil that day, and I followed suit soon thereafter. All these things led me to have an addiction to pornography in my young teens that provided the context to be molested by a male neighbor in exchange for pornography as a teenager, to have my first consensual sexual encounter with a woman when I was sixteen, and to fully lose my virginity by age 19. It was all downhill from there – an unquenchable slide towards immorality and disregard of my own purity as well as others’.

Many can empathize with this story. It is a very sad and grieving empathy we share…

Many, if not darn near all of us, were taught sex outside the covenant of marriage. Those illicit encounters, that I am so sorry we have experienced, undoubtedly created our “worldview” and perspective of sex. Such small minds and innocent bodies should never have had to endure the torture of others’ negligent promiscuity; and yet those very others most likely endured the same abuses themselves by their own perpetrators in a perpetuation of this gross cycle. Who is to be blamed with so many variables in play and with the detrimental effects of sin snowballing upon the children of this age? The Lord will surely judge on the day of His appearing. I know that the Father has wept many tears for the children that have fallen victim to such events – and this means He has wept over what happened to you.

Can the cycle be broken?


Our wounds are very real, and I was recently awakened to the reality of just how deep these things can affect a person especially later in their adult life. As the childhood mind forms, the pathways it is taught to think in become highways by which information travels into the mind and is interpreted. Many of these paths were defiled for many of us as children which taught us to think sexually therefore – even about the things that are innocent and pure. But friends, there is hope! I will address victory, but we first must handle the other side of the coin.


Our minds being given to sex is not purely because of wounding. Although it started there, we must also admit the truth––we have surrendered to our wounds and allowed our minds to wave that white flag instead of fighting the good fight. We have allowed our wounding to become the scapegoat for sex being our idol.

The sin of idolatry is rarely equated to sex today. We look on every corner of our western worlds and there is sex, and yet somehow we are removed from the idea that it might be an idol. Instead we call it a “struggle.” To put all of the blame on wounds is to not admit the truth of our love of sex. This is a reality that must be addressed by believers.

We love sex. But can we love the Lord our God above it?

If on the corners of western streets there were enormous golden idols with many arms covered in snakes and a Christian were seen on that corner bowing down before the golden creature, and later say in his accountability group, “I was struggling with idolatry today,” who would scoff? That man would be rebuked! Yet, we passively distinguish. This is the clever reality of billboards, magazines, tv, and movies––although it is that same type of foul false-god receiving attention and worship, it has learned to disguise itself well and mask its agenda. This idol has learned to charade itself as another thing altogether…


Idolatry is so easy to label in nations like Nepal and India because of its blatancy. It still happens there in the flagrant fashion of bowing down before golden statues. This form of idolatry manifests mainly in external form. Not so in the west. On the contrary, idolatry has become a predominantly internal practice. Indeed, with both forms the heart is what is engaging in the idolatry, but I am primarily speaking of the practice. With Nepal, there is a daily practice of going to the temple and touching, kissing, and bowing down before physical idols. With the West, there is a daily practice of opening up magazines, watching movies, checking out people as we check our social media, and then touching ourselves. Within all of those spheres there is a driving relentless agenda of sexualized content which in turn turns the heart, and moreover keeps the heart constantly swamped with erotic material even if you’re not looking for it.

Does the mind bow to the image? 


Is this idolatry?


This is not loving the Lord with all of our mind. But can it be overcome?

Yes! But we must be sober minded!

Think about ancient cultures. Sex is often a part of the rituals contained within the programs of idolatry. The false gods have always had sex within their scheme of worship because they themselves are un-pure, and defiled––apostate from what is holy. Behind the false gods however are very real creatures, demons, who hate humanity and exist for the purpose of deceiving us. They long for the worship that belongs to Jesus…

Have you ever considered the pagan god statues of greco-roman culture? They are typified as naked and sexualized, and yet powerful and secure. Surely that has some odd effect on the psychology of humans. Sex and power is embodied in the pagan gentile gods because they are actually unholy and powerless demons. This is the paradox.

Temple prostitutes are a character we’re familiar with from the Bible. Sex and idolatry went together throughout the bible, likewise in this modern era. The forces of darkness understood long ago that sex was an integral part of idolatry and it has been incorporated into their worship for millennia.

We must open our eyes to the truth of what’s happening!

The same idolatry is in fact still happening today. When sex has been equated and related to idolatry of all sorts for history past, then it should inform us of something deeper than a struggle taking place today. We must have this foundational understanding of the roots of idolatry and its application to sex if we are to ever see it for what it is and overcome the temptation to bow down to its idol. We must see it as turning away from the Lord God of Israel and worshiping another god.

It is idolatry.

In stark contrast to the pagan gods of the nations, YHWH––the God of Israel––has always maintained a standard of beautiful and undefiled purity. God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (1 Jn. 1:5). He commanded that no form of Him ever be made because he knew what was in men’s hearts. I think He foreknew that men would inevitably portray Him the way the Greeks and Romans did their gods. The Greeks and Romans are case and point of what man believed the “gods” were doing––partaking in drunken orgies! The God of Israel wanted no such gross portrayal of Himself. He has kept Himself and His form more pure than the god-concoction man could have thought of. Even today, His main expression is seen not in a powerful deity seated on a throne with naked women surrounding Him and lightning bolts being thrown from His hand–– but in the glory of a weak man hanging upon a Cross!

Oh the depths of the wisdom of the knowledge of God!

The wisdom of man is there confounded and the glory of YHWH is magnified. This is the God that we worship. This is the God we long to be faithful to! There on that crossbeam is

“…Christ, in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col. 2

YHWH’s biblical worldview presents the context of sex as a life giving act that affirms and validates the covenant between a man and a woman every time that it takes place. In that holy act, the man and the woman are one flesh, testifying of their vow and the day that they left their father and mother, joined themselves to each other and forsook any chance in the future of doing that act with another person. In this light, the act of sex within covenantal marriage is worship unto the Creator who thought of this and created it for the purpose of purity. It is in fact the only act that humans partake in which is directly creational–– a life is made by the act and a person is born. It is remarkable that something that is so exploited today as filth in the industry of pornography, is actually so filled with light and truth within the marriage bed!

I see your point, but why is the struggle so deep?

Recently it all just seemed so simple to me. Wounds and idolatry––

We are broken, and sex is worshiped…

Adultery is the anti-climactic end of the idolatry of sex. After having worshiped this filthy idol for so many years it is the fatal outcome and the very reason why so many succumb to its trap.

Upon the first act of adultery the biggest deception of having believed that it would be fulfilling becomes plain. I doubt that any man thinks to himself just moments after the first act of infidelity, “This was worth it!” At that very moment the woman who has carried his seed in her womb for nine months enduring the pain of childbirth multiple times out of love for him–– the very woman who has endured the in-laws and attempted to overcome the hurdles out of love them for years, the same woman that has spent endless hours of working through problems and coming to resolution with him, the only woman who has fallen asleep next to him in bed for many years is not there in the bed with him––she is at home alone with their children! The adultress, with whom he just defiled himself, has endured nothing for him except her own driving lust and brokenness that produced this horrible outcome. His true lover, His own flesh, the one who bears the vows of their wedding day in her heart and on her ring finger lies helplessly alone at home with their kids wondering why he had to work late again. She will almost certainly, very soon hear the crushing words of, “There’s someone else.” What a tearful, grievous outcome, and yet is one that is now commonplace.

The weighty implications and perspective of such a scenario when viewed outside the “hot perspective” of those within the deception of adultery is staggering. Adultery is the most paradoxical conclusion a person in the covenant of marriage can make. What great betrayal it is that takes place in total contradiction to the covenant between the husband and the wife!

In reality, separated from the gross fantasy the adulterer has now lived out, he is simply worshipping the idol of self-indulgent sex. He is actually worshipping himself even though he might not ever be conscious of it. It is controlling him and driving him. It is possessing him and usurping worship that belongs to Jesus, and praise that belongs to his wife, his flesh, his covenant. Oh what a great devastating lie this one has believed. It is no wonder the God if Israel has such strong regard toward this sin.

All of the men reading this now will secretly attest to this truth: our hearts are incredibly adulterous. It is only by the grace of the Holy Spirit, and an unrelenting cry before the throne of God to keep us pure that we do not commit adultery. I know this because I am a man, and I’ve walked in total transparency with a lot of men. I’ve also grown up in a church where a fair percentage of the men therein committed adultery in some way or another. I praise God that I have an earthly father who has remained faithful to my mother for these 41 years and never given in to this horrific sin––keep up the good fight dad!

The bombardment will soon find its end!

The Lifestyle of Praise

By the time I reached my thirties, the abusive events of my childhood had taken a detrimental toll on my mind. I did not feel that I could love the Lord with all of my mind many days, because my mind interpreted simple everyday events and interactions as sexual. A mere compliment from a woman could filter through the sexualized pathway created in my six year old mind and turn into something it was not. A simple smile or introduction could lead my mind to immediate improper thoughts. It seemed adultery was creeping closer and closer to me and I feared being the man that would let his wife and family and most of all, the Lord Jesus, down.

This is about as raw and transparent as it gets.

I would hear about other people’s struggles and it never seemed to be at nearly the same level of intensity as mine. I wasn’t intending to peg myself as unique, but the battle that I experienced was very different from others’ I knew. There were times when I would have demonic dreams, intensely pornographic and defiling, for weeks on end––waking up gasping for air and wondering how to escape the trial. I would fight the desire of lust, and keep my eyes on the Cross as much as I knew how. I would cry out to the Lord, I would remain in prayer and the Scriptures, and yet about every six months I would finally come to a place of feeling overwhelmed and give in to pornography. Even though I had previously been free of pornography for a 5 year period, this took place for the last 3-4 years. With this as the reality, loving brothers encouraged me to step down from leadership for a while and seek healing. This is when this blog was put on hold.

Making myself idiotically vulnerable did not come without a cost. I made it my devastating goal to tell all the details to other brothers of every sin I would commit. This transparent sharing of struggle with other brothers seems to often be the first step that is neglected by other Christians I know who have fallen into adultery.

Whether deeply wounded, or giving into the worship of sex, we, brothers, cannot afford to hide our sin!

I am convinced that the Lord Jesus carried me through the hardest of trials because of His great mercy, and because I was willing to embarrass myself over and over before other brothers with the truth of my darkest sins. If you are in that place of hiding in your sin, HUMBLE YOURSELF AND COME INTO THE LIGHT. Boldly I would like to ask you to come out and tell someone what’s happening before it’s too late and you really mess up. This pre-strike mentality does something in the Spirit that certainly thwarts the enemy. If you keep hiding he will prevail over you and it is only a matter of time. This isn’t pessimism, this is honesty based on 35 years of personal experience and observation.

When it all peaked for me, our family was still overseas as missionaries in Nepal. There was a lot of deliberation with my leadership over what was happening. The demonic dreams got to a place where I was overwhelmed, very discouraged, and tired of enduring such horrible nights. I would fast and pray, and remain in the Scriptures, but it would not cease. By the grace of God, our mission in Nepal was in a place where it was time to turn things over to the indigenous leaders we had discipled. It was their turn to run with the torch. Even the guys we discipled knew my weakness and walked with me through it. How could I hide it from them? This also led the way in vulnerability being part of the gospel witness in showing our need for the Cross.

In November of 2016 I officially posted the message that has been on my blog static page since. I wanted this open confession to be the help others might need to break free. I wanted my tiny candle of light to pierce the great darkness of this world wide web with a brutal confession of weakness that I might boast in Christ alone. I also wanted to be completely transparent with those who have read this blog and received encouragement from it, or help in the Scriptures. It needed to be known that the man writing these things was broken, and that He wanted to give himself to this time of consecration so that with purity he could be a faithful witness for the future. I didn’t want to be a fake.

Although I do believe that I will be partially broken until the resurrection of Christ, and that my mind will not be fully sanctified until it is completely changed on the day of His appearing, I can tell you that this time has taught me many things and matured me in the faith in many ways. Having undergone 12 weeks of counseling sessions, prayer, and deliverance the first couple months of this year, there were many things that were “gotten to the bottom of.” I steadily emerged to a new place in my mind where I felt space to “love the Lord.” A new strength arose in my spirit that loved the Lord deeper and more fiercely than the lust of the flesh and its temptations. For the first time in many years I felt strength to overcome the sin of lust.

It has now been over two years since I have given into pornography! I have resolved to never return to its vomit.

The Lord’s work is not finished, and yet I am finding new strength to love with Him with all of my heart. The despair and embarrassment that I and my family underwent as we submitted to the consequences of my sin has born fruit that I would never take back. Submitting to the discipline of the last two years was well worth it.


This is likely where many will stop reading. Oh how sad and detached we are from this beautiful Man! This is the only place to find freedom and hope so please keep reading!

Yes, there is a living Man who has never worshiped the idol of sex! Oh, how often we forget this! Jesus walked this earth for 30 odd years and never bowed his knee, mind, or heart to lust! The great Conqueror of wounds, sex and idolatry we worship! We often do not remember that this Man was killed because of our idolatry though He was infinitely pure, and then He rose from the dead, passed through the heavens and is seated at the right hand of God as our Great High Priest living to make intercession for us! If this reality were not true then the climax of this post would have been set upon that horrible hopelessness of us “just doing better in our own strength.” Yet, because of the sureness of this reality we can lift our eyes to the hope of glory and find the reason for choosing willful sanctification and worship no matter the cost.

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). 

This biblical reality is stunning. The Man Christ Jesus never bowed his knee or his heart to idolatry of any sort, and yet He became those nasty things on our behalf, so that we are no longer in ourselves, but we are IN HIM––trapped in the glorious bosom of His righteousness, pure children of God destined to inherit glory and a kingdom with Him forever. The Father looks at us and sees His Son’s blood and righteousness, and He smiles with acceptance at our union to His Son.

This reality empowers us to abstain from sin as worship of Him.

What a testimony He has, and what authority Jesus’ prayers have before His Father to guard us, protect us, and deliver us from the temptations of the evil one. His vascular arms, pumping the very blood that was poured out on Calvary will carry us through to the day of His appearing!

We have very clear evidence of the strength of Jesus prayers in Luke 22:31-32. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

Oh the power of the prayers of God the Son! As satan prepares the wheat sifter, Jesus is there before the father crying out that Peter would stand firm. On the hem of those prayers Jesus knows the outcome because Jesus prayers get answered! There is no one with more authority to pray for you then our High Priest, For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hb. 4:15).

It must’ve affected Peter deeply to hear the cock crow and know that the Son of Man had been on His knees for him. But the power of Jesus prayer is revealed not in Peter succumbing to the pressure of denial, but in the restoration that takes place as Jesus restores him. The power of Jesus prayers led the traitor to become the leader who was crucified upside down. We also, upon the failure of our sin, must remember that His prayers have prayed beyond the sin that just consumed us and will carry us through to the end. Take heart!

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

This passage is immensely powerful. We fix our eyes upon Jesus so that we do not grow weary in striving against this idol of sex that so easily entangles us in our culture. He is the author of our faith because He walked it out perfectly, and will complete it in us!

In this cultural inundation of idolatry we do not lose heart because Jesus didn’t. Even in failures amounting seventy times seven, and in the grief and shame and remorse of our sexual deviances, we continue to try to lay aside every encumbrance. We do this by His Holy Spirit which He has given us to forsake the idols of our lives, the lust of the flesh, to turn away from her sexualized corners and fix our eyes upon Jesus! We must keep trying to cast down that idol of sex by the power of His Holy Spirit, and walk in His Spirit for you will not carry out the desire of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). We must be willing to crucify those desires because those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires knowing that the Bible is clear that the sexually immoral will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:10).

Our desire to enter the kingdom of God must be stronger than our other desires so that we might overcome the lust of the flesh.

Beloved friends, let us take up that Cross together, giving Jesus a fragrant life of praise instead! Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship (Rom. 12:1). Let us worship Him by continuing to sacrifice those evil inclinations to His Cross and letting praise ascend in their place. That Jesus may receive in our life the reward of His suffering, let us press on towards the day that His and our joy are fulfilled together in the consummation of the ages when His kingdom comes and every idol is abolished and our heart is renewed in the New Covenant of His Holy Spirit dwelling in us in fullness. That is the end-game, let us not forget!

We will be fully delivered! Our mind will be fully pure! Our heart will once again be fully innocent!

We can make it with our eyes fixed upon Him! So, let us un-fix our eyes from anything that would hinder the glory He deserves.

Can we do it?


He is worth it.

Even so, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!


Seeing Clearly in the Haze of Theology


Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the seemingly endless differences in theology. The different vantage points of interpretation can be likened to that of a thousand birds swarming around our brittle little towers of opinion. In ceaseless cycles of flight, their constantly flapping wings stir up endless, mounting gray clouds that eclipse what might have only moments before been discernible truth. The clarity we had is suddenly gone. It was faith, now it is obscured by the veil draped by men. And there, with your face only inches from that veil your eyes go blurry and you feel defenseless against the separation that lies between you and understanding.

Like a starfish on a beach that has just been crashed upon by the wave, we are washed out into the depths of men’s perspectives on the Bible, and there many of us sit, burdened by the weight of the water above us… desperate to understand the sun that is glinting through the waters above. How deep is it? How far away is that sun? A thousand fish have told you different answers. It’s hard to stay alive in such conditions. From the seafloor we either drown in the waters or try to emerge from their depths gasping for the air of truth.

The birds are the words of men that crow and caw in mockery at the words of God being literal. The clouds are those men’s ideas that settle around us, and, while at first their appearance was so delicate and fluffy, we find that their bitter end is rain and cold. The theological waters have darn near become impassable because we don’t know the “original languages.” Ourselves, the tiny starfish, feel vulnerable to the weight of the waters, and sit on the seafloor trying to determine our next move. In fact, we are terrified to move. We just want to love the sun, who is Jesus, and we desire to feel His warmth… but the murky words of men keep us sunk, weighted down, holding our breath for the next wave of doctrine to roll over us. But, who will emerge and breathe in the clean air of the Gospel? Can you know the true Gospel as Paul did?

We are starving to understand what is true. Why does this great sea of theology seem so vast? Why does the Bible mean so many different things to so many different people? Why does each one of those people think their view is right? Like a ten-cheese soup in a caldron many just become a mixture of theologies, but do they ever arrive at the truth? What is truth? How do we find its anchor?

For many, the faith of their youth has become a wrinkled, pessimistic old man. Whether they weathered the sufferings of life poorly, or were stricken by too many “church people,” the end has become a fateful belief in nothing more than being good and the God of science. For others, they believe in the Bible and have kept the faith from their youth. Faith to them is a future hope of being delivered from the wrinkly nature of their deceptive hearts that are permeated with desire for sin. Their hope is fixed to a Man that will change their saggy bodies from mortal to immortal.

A few days ago I sat down with a Pastor much older than me who was also certainly more humble than me. Proficient in the Scriptures, there was nothing I brought up that he wasn’t already familiar with. This situation does not happen often because many people, yes even pastors, are oddly unfamiliar with their Bible. However, when this does happen the outcome is typically the same. The person I am speaking with will say, “Well, that’s just one way to interpret it, and I interpret that differently.” They will then expound upon the books that have told them differently and how they arrived at their conclusion. This makes me want to shout in their faces, “I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU’VE READ!” (I told you he was more humble than me…)

Why do I want to shout this?

It’s actually not because of arrogance, it’s because of deep emotional pain I feel over how simple God has made the Gospel, and how the theologies of men have distorted its simplicity.

Paul believed that anyone who preached another Gospel other than the one he preached was to be accursed (Gal 1:8;9). He also believed that men would be judged based his gospel (Rom. 2:16). Paul clearly says that he was given the gospel from Jesus Himself in Galatians 1, and in Romans 16 he says that he has been given understanding of the mystery that was hidden from ages past. Paul says there is one faith in Ephesians 4:4, and in Jude we are exhorted firmly to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all handed down (v3). Paul believed that he understood what this good news was. He longed for us to grasp it as well:

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” (Col. 1:9).

Paul, our father in the faith, prayed earnestly that we would understand.

When Jesus was resurrected from the dead He spent 40 days teaching His disciples the Gospel that He wanted them to teach and preach (Acts 1:3). It was a 40-day intensive seminar with the resurrected King of Glory concerning the things of the Kingdom of God. Oh how often we miss the security of such Scriptures! Jesus Himself instructed those men personally, and the instructions and words He told them, they repeat all through the book of Acts. Be filled with the words of those sermons friends! Eat every word and savor them! Peer deep into the Scriptures they speak of and behold the future events they describe. It is the Gospel in its purest form as told from the mouth of the person of the Godhead, recycled by the men He purposely entrusted.

Acts 3: 18“But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”

The point is that these men do not get it wrong! Paul’s confidence in stating that God will judge all men based upon the gospel he preaches is not arrogant––it is confidence by the Holy Spirit and Holy Scriptures, a holy boldness that he has been given perfect understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that will save men’s souls if they respond, or send them to a lake of fire if they do not. I long to have this same confidence. But, I have not ascended to the third heaven and heard the Gospel directly from Jesus’ mouth as Paul did. You probably haven’t either. So, for those of us who haven’t had that experience we have a very simple responsibility––do the things the apostles did, say the things the apostles said, and believe the things the apostles believed. However, the common problem is that there are so many people doing things the apostles did not do, saying things the apostles did not say, and believing things the apostles did not believe, all the while teaching and believing they are!

Now, here is where people’s minds go, “Well, who made you the judge afacelesswitness?!” And again they may stem the confrontational nature of truth and move on instead of respond.

I recently had a dream that my family and I were inside of a house during a tornado. The gripping fear that wrapped around the muscles in my body as though I were in the fist of a giant was some of the most tangible fear I have ever experienced in a dream. I grabbed my family’s hands knowing that I could not protect them and we stood in a circle. Our house began lifting off the ground and spinning. Then, from the depths of my being I began screaming the only thing that made sense, “WE HAVE TO CALL ON THE NAME OF JESUS!” I repeated this anthem from the top of my lungs until the storm moved over, setting our house down gently.

I share this because it is my theological position. I am screaming out loud and calling on the name of Jesus to see through the haze of men. I am plunging the depths of His Scriptures to find understanding and praying every time that the Holy Spirit would open my eyes to see truth clearly. I am asking the question of what is biblically consistent––giving Jesus the most glory? Through many hours of weeping over the texts and humbling myself before them, I have tarried, that they might affect me deeply and cause me to die to myself and live for Christ alone. I am swimming down beneath the ship of the apostles and trying to examine every detail of what anchors it, so that I might be found a faithful witness. Tuning my ear to Jesus’ words I am searching out the things He must’ve said to the disciples on the road to Emmaus.

We, like Pilate, must turn to the Lord and say “What is truth?” hopefully to receive the long quiet stare of Christ’s fiery eyes… signifying that the answer is within Him alone. We are sanctified by His true words as He prays to the Father in John 17:17, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” Receiving His words as truth is what sanctifies the people of God. Not allegorizing His words, nor symbolizing His words, nor transforming His words into the words of men.

A literal interpretation of the Bible is the anchor of the apostles and the key to understanding their doctrine and interpretation of the Scriptures. Men bring the haze, not God. We must peer through their theological fog and rejoice at the light of truth!

The argument over literal versus allegorical interpretation is fallacy! God’s word is truth. It is not ‘symbolic truth.’ Either He will do what He said literally or you don’t know what God will do––including save you from your sins! Because, how do you know if that also is allegorical or not!? How can you ever arrive at a conclusion or have a balanced filter of what is literal or allegorical? You cannot. It all becomes subjective reasoning. It’s as simple as that.

For many of us the journey has been long and contrary on the sea of truth and we have finally let down our anchors where the lighthouse of the Gospel came into sight. Our ships tattered and beaten––the once crisp sails now wind-blown like shredded ribbons licking the wind from the end of an old flag––we behold the glory of truth and finally rest in the peace of the Bible being literal from start to finish. Keep sailing your ships onward friends until you also find that peace amidst the torrential waters of modern theology! Do not ride their modern tides! Do not be swayed by new winds of doctrines, or “new perspectives”. No matter how fierce the storm, or how conflicting the waves, sail the waters with confidence and boldness that you may indeed arrive at the shore of eternal life to hear Jesus announce “You believed Me!” We joyously collapse into His arms on that day and breathe in resurrection. Even so, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!

The Making of a Faceless Person

Leaders on Vacation

“But whatever things were a gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish (lit. crap) so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own, derived from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11

Truly this is a passage that we should linger on until it moves us deeply to action.

This incredible passage of Scripture is a sort of magnum opus from our Father Paul, a member of the great cloud of witnesses before the Father in heaven. In these rich verses Paul describes the process of losing his face. Paul describes the face he once had, and then declares that this fleshly face known to many has become unknown and forgotten, intentionally drowned under by the tidal face of Christ. Paul’s life had completely vanished into Christ Jesus where he had purposely lost everything to gain nothing but Christ alone. What an immensely beautiful thing! Certainly we all long for this same reality. Paul’s face, the face that had been chiseled so delicately into Pharisee, circumcision, and zealous law-perfection had been swallowed whole into the endless bright and shining abyss of the face of Christ. We must also fall facefirst into this grand chasm in order that we might gain Christ and attain to the resurrection from the dead!

Many years ago this became a paramount passage in my life, although I am still seeking to see it realized as truth within me. This hurts my heart, and this post is a plea to ask you to allow it to hurt yours also.

I grew up in a Christian home, with Christian parents, and went to a church that actually represented authentic Christianity to me. The people were broken. The people were sinners, saved by grace! There was transparency and truth represented from the pulpit and even public confession of sins on multiple occasions. I grew up knowing that this was the way of the Cross––totally opposed to the idea that we could deliver ourselves through our own righteousness!

I worked in the youth group after High School serving as a sort of associate youth pastor in this church as well as a worship equipper for a few years. I loved leading youth because self-righteousness was rarely an issue. However, during that time I began to emphasize before others a sort of spiritual face. I distinctly remember boasting that my quite-time in the morning was two hours, when most peoples was one. I took pride in this, and noticed that it surprised people in the way I wanted it to. I received their surprise and praise gladly. My face began to be recognized as intense. 

This same boasting was evident in my life when I left the Lord for a few years and went headfirst into as much sin as I could handle. I boasted of the amount I could drink. I boasted in the women I manipulated. I boasted in musical talent. I boasted that God had called my name, and although I was in sin now, I would one day turn back to Him. This was yet another face of boasting and receiving praise from men.

When I did return to the Lord I went headfirst into one of the most intense large-scale ministries in America. Again, I began to slowly let me face be articulated by works. I was known as the “guy who fasts,” and even a “well of wisdom” to which I gladly bowed in thanks on my stage of glory. My spiritual intensity was now at the zenith of its sacrilege. The vanity in my heart was so hidden under the disguise of false humility that no one noticed. But even my humility was a sham–– a facade of what was truly inside. Even I was deceived, unaware of my own disgusting sin.

At times I would sit in the front of the room where we all gathered together to pray with my eyes closed. In my mind, I would dream of the day when God would finally confirm my spiritual purity and zeal by having me levitate off the ground in front of everyone, stamping His approval of my spiritual life in the eyes of everyone. It’s ok, I know you’ve never thought such things. But I, you see, was the chief of sinners without any knowledge of it. Oddly, the deception grew to new levels.

During this time I tried to climb the ladder within the ministry, trying to make my face slowly become more recognized, while maintaining it’s appearance of humility. I did well. I am a decently good looking guy, with an overly extroverted personality and natural leadership gifting. I have a likable charisma. With these things in place, it’s fairly easy to climb the ladder in a ministry. Have you ever seen an ugly person without charisma leading large-scale ministries? I didn’t think so. This is wickedness and opposed to the truth of the Cross. I was so locked in the deception of the love of self that I just kept trying to climb higher and higher… the spiritual rungs becoming the praise of men I continually sought.

Every time however that the door would seem ready to open for my big promotion God would do crazy things that would shut the door in my face and force me to go lower and lower. At one time, when there was opportunity for promotion the Lord actually made me leave the ministry for a season only to return with no status whatsoever. During that season God began to break me down and reveal my depravity. He began to reveal my need for the Cross. I cried at the realization and repented for my self-righteousness. As soon as the season was over though, I returned to the ministry and got right back on the ladder. The mystery of my depravity runs deep.

After five years of this spiritual zeal resulting in burn-out and spiritual fatigue in season after season, I began to wonder what was off. No matter what I did, how much I gave, how many fasting’s I accomplished––I didn’t feel pleasing to God! I also didn’t feel pleased with myself because I always lived under the accusation “you could have given more.” This is what was championed from the pulpit, and it was what I believed. I came to a desperate point. I was internally frustrated. I didn’t understand. I was finally broken.

And there… the most amazing thing happened… even now it brings tears to my eyes!





I “Beheld the Man.”

Although the Lord had continually interrupted my seasons trying to drive me to the Cross, I always “returned the favor” by trying to give Him more spiritual zeal. Whenever He showed me a little bit of His face I wanted to show Him that mine was just as beautiful as His through my works. I tried to go harder for God. I failed. Finally! When I beheld Jesus face on the Cross and the liberating understanding that He was the only means by which the Father accepted me JUST AS I AM, I slowly began to be set free. I slowly began to lose that face I had tried so hard to make.

Spiritual zeal and self-righteousness is like religious plastic surgery. You have the power to make your face look however you want it to. You can look a certain way, and it costs a lot for that to happen, but in the end your face is stiff instead of soft and a false representation of what you actually look like. You smile, but your cheeks don’t really move. You wonder why others don’t think you’re smiling when you’re trying so darn hard to look happy.

The beauty of the Cross is that we all stand there crushed beneath the beautiful force of relinquishing any and all forms of self-deliverance! We “behold the Man” God, there––naked, despised, dirty, and rejected. We realize that this is the true state of every mans heart and that Jesus became our horrid reality for all to see. Thus, we come out of the darkness and confess the depraved state of our own hearts entering into the glorious light of His freedom beaming from the Cross.

This is the foundation for the exhortation hereafter. When we come to a passage like Philippians 3, we need to first confront the face that we each have sculpted from our own works of self-righteousness. If we first do this, then the Bible can do its work.

We should first understand that what Paul is saying in Phil. 3 does not objectively apply to each one of us simply because we identify ourselves as “Christians.” Indeed, what Paul is saying here is overtly subjective in its context pertaining to the truth about himself. This verse is true about Paul, and for it to be true about us there is a lot of dying to be done. If I am honest, as this passage confronts me time and time again, the reality of its truth is still in very small seed-form in my life.

Let us seek to crystallize what losing one’s face is in Scripture. In Philippians 2 Paul begins his thesis of reputation and what becoming faceless was in his own mind. To paraphrase and add a little helpful context, he says: If you are a Christian, become like Jesus. He had the reputation of Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and yet He lived on the earth without His creation recognizing Him by this reputation. Most of His life was lived in the quiet city of Nazareth where He grew up as a child obeying His parents. He walked down Nazareth’s streets and stood in its public square and no one ever fell down to worship Him. There was not a whisper from Him of His NAME or the truth of His power. Jesus did not fight to be seen by His true identity, or to be given the worship and credit He deserved, but instead He let those accolades lay neglected and silent in the throne room of His Father where the angels still were day and night proclaiming them aloud. He became known as Servant on the earth He created, and even His title of Healer and Prophet were refuted by the onlookers at Calvary–”Physician heal yourself!” and “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself!” Instead of feeling the need to reprove their contemptuous voices He laid down His life to death on the Cross, silent before His accusers. The sign above Him would speak loud enough of the validity of His true identity although He never declared it with His own mouth: The King of the Jews. This was what Paul saw in Jesus’ face.

There is helpful perspective in understanding the loss of ones face by defining what keeping one’s face is. In the first several verses of Philippians 3 we see Paul announce the golden medals that once hung from his neck, the honors that he thought would deliver him into eternal life by means of his own righteousness. He gives his qualifications: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. Paul is giving what was beheld in the eyes of the world as achievements. He carefully explains the details of his face and how it was recognized. He believed that who he had made himself to be had accredited him righteousness. In hindsight he calls this confidence in the flesh. 

“Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD,” (Jer. 17:5).

So, we see that losing one’s face is tied to two things. The first is losing your reputation and praise in the eyes of man for the sake of gaining Christ’s reputation. The second is refuting the idea that any reputation you now have (within your own eyes or the eyes of others) contributes in any way shape or form to you inheriting eternal life––your self-deliverance must be laid wholesale upon the delivering shoulders of the Savior.

You are probably thinking, as I once did, “Glad that’s not me!” Paul once thought that also… and then a Man standing in blinding light knocked him off of his high horse. The blindness that came upon his eyes would allow him the three days needed to see into himself and mine those horrible caves of self-righteousness in his heart. When his eyes opened again I suppose he might have looked into the mirror and wept desperately at the horrid image of his own face. It would be vividly apparent to him that he looked nothing like the man he saw on the Damascus Road. He would come away from the experience Paul, as Saul was executed daily.

“I die Daily.” ––Paul 1 Corinthains 15:

Proverbs 16:2 is one of those verses we don’t allow to stick vibrantly at the front of our minds, but we should: All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, but the Lord weighs the motives. That stingsEverything Paul thought he was doing for God was clean and righteous in his own sight, but he was actually only doing everything for himself and for the praise of men. He would not have inherited eternal life based on the biblical formula because Paul’s strength was from, for and of himself. However, it is in that blinding incident that Paul is made to see––just as the blind man in John 9. Jesus’ words to the Pharisees there (and by relation to Paul) ring out – “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” (v. 41).

The confrontational nature of Scripture is that it confronts. You and me, the most wicked of sinners, are therein confronted–– standing face-to-face with perfect truth and its piercing gaze into our hearts––forced to either look away or respond. Those who respond inherit eternal life. Those who do not might believe they will inherit eternal life, but the Scripture cannot bear witness for them as for the former. As we read above in Jeremiah 17–– trusting in your own strength is actually a heart that is turned away from the Lord. This is the end-game of a deceitful heart that never allows the light of Scripture to pierce too deeply. In those deep dark chambers lie the most wicked of monsterous ambitions which glory in everything other than the Cross. Unless we allow those chambers to be exposed by the light of Christ the teeth of that beast will gnaws away at our soul. As Christians we must therefore allow the Scripture, moreover welcome it, to trouble, torment and distress us that we might be converted to living its words instead of merely reading them so as to enter the kingdom of light on that day. James reminds us that this is the goal:

But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. James 1:22-25

Maybe there is a helpful picture here emphasizing our discussion. In Paul’s case, there is a purposed erasing of one’s face and reputation post the horse knock-off experience. On that day, rest assured that righteousness as he had never seen in himself or any other Pharisee questioned him from the divine radiance. From then on Paul held everything up to the reflection of purity he beheld looking up from the ground that day so that it truly shone light on how disgusting his fleshly ambition towards righteousness was. He was confronted by Jesus’ illuminating glory to believe the Scripture and to turn away from that mirror remembering his ugly face must be lost in the beauty he saw within the blinding light of Christ. For us, Christ’s face is shown in vivid beauty in the pages of Scripture, so we become those pages in daily practical life to glorify His work on the Cross. This wonderful albeit slow progression will not fail to consume your fleshly ambition if you allow it. It did so with Paul. On the contrary, another man looks into the mirror of Scripture and thinks his face is pretty good looking. He then turns away and believes that what he saw needed no improvement and lives on as he likes never conforming himself to Scripture because he believes he is already what he reads. I fear that this is the dreadful state of many of us and confess that I too am often found turning around forgetful of my heinous appearance.

Now let’s drive the point home.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20

Here, yet again, Paul makes a decisive statement about himself that does not simply translate to every believer. You might perceive this as odd, but let me explain. Often times this verse is used as a general statement about Christians. However, do we not see many people bear the name “Christian” whose lives are very clearly not crucified with Christ? There is no need to name names here, we should instead insert our own. Paul’s radical statement “I no longer live,” is actually true about him because this is the Bible without flaw or error. I cannot say the same for myself. Here I am once again confronted with the question: Have I yet been crucified with Christ? In the agonizing of my own heart I often see the truth. No, no I haven’t been. Too much of Stephen is still alive. But God I want to be! … Please help me Father to further lay down this life of mine to find Christ!

In the wake of Jesus’ Cross, forsaking all human ambition, zeal and self righteousness as the means to deliver us into eternal life is the goal of Christianity. In doing so we also despise the praise of man for we know what men see in us is held up to the infallible light of Christ. It is He that presents us faultless before the Father, it is we that hang our heads low as Mephibosheth and cry “What did you ever want with a dead dog like me?!” There was no confusion in the son of Jonathan’s mind––he couldn’t even carry himself into the presence of King David! As he would have laid on that floor and thought the King would surely kill him, the king’s merciful reception of him to his table would have erased Mephibosheth’s face of shame forever. From then on he would be known as son of David’s household, and member of the King’s table. His once identity of cripple was forever removed in the palace of King David when Mephibosheth had not even taken a step in his own strength to get there nor his lame reputation done anything to gain him entrance (couldn’t resist the pun).

The strength of the flesh is seen in the preservation of a face. Man’s ambition to do things for God instead of die to himself and be found in God are starkly opposed to each other in Scripture. Paul’s hatred for such gross sin is where such an intense symphony of pure words pour off the page of Philippians 3. Let us not only listen, but become one of the instrumentalists playing this magnum opus with our friend Paul the chief apostle to many and the chief of sinners to himself.

May Philippians 3 plague you as deeply as it has plagued me. Let it torment and distress you. Take a month and meditate on this chapter to see if there is any of your face remaining in your confidence before God. What are you recognized and known for? Take that and hold it up to the light of Christ and let it be consumed there in shimmering glory. Everything that remains that is you, take the hammer and nails and drive it into the wood of His Cross. You may find that you come away blind, whereas before, you were one who could see.