Devotional #4 (GOD, Poet)

God loves Israel. He loves her for an early devotion.

“Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, thus said the LORD; I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown. Israel was holiness to the LORD, and the first fruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come on them, said the LORD.” (Jeremiah 2:2,3)

He loves her for early righteousness.

“How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.” (Isaiah 1:21)

He loves her in a unique way, as a peculiar people.

“You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2)

And He loves Israel for her origination, known to Him from everlasting, but first manifest in the Patriarchs.

“When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree.” (Hosea 9:10)

How transparently personal is God’s passion here! Our God avows His love like a suitor, placing His heart in Israel’s hands. He cannot have all His big dreams if she does not say yes, and He will not have peace without her approval. What will God do, what great act of heroism, or grand gesture will He make, to resolve His crisis?

This is exciting poetry, and grand in conception. In that personal light even the least lyrical elements of the Hebrew Bible: the genealogies, and enumeration of parts of the tabernacle, the numbering of the troops, the order in which the tribes of Israel must travel, are all very personal because they are the constitution of the Lord’s people, the foundation blocks of the family of Jesus, who branches out to save the entire world (which He loves equally as much.) Much of the Hebrew Bible names what is essential to the making of the people.

In singing of God’s relationship with Israel, (and the flock is one Israel), He works in the sacred microcosm, even to a stone beneath Jacob’s head, up to that greatest macrocosm: the salvation of the world through the death of the Son of God.

Often it is that chief poet of a people who has a special claim to the deep spirit of the country. For example, Homer, Virgil, and Walt Whitman, sing the true epic of their people. Yet in scripture, the Author of Life, has spoken in a way so powerful that He actually creates a people. From stone to hearts of flesh, and hovering over a darkness without discernment, He fashions brothers and sisters conforming to His own image. As in Genesis, His word possesses an originating power, and a sustaining and blessing power.

That Living Word which issued eternally from the bosom of the Father, has spoken by His prophets in order to adopt us as His children. What do we need to know most, but this Living Word, God Himself, for knowing Him is eternal life? (John 17:3)

At His feet we will all be taught of God, even as Mary Magdalene, who chose for herself such a fine part.

Street Evangelism Report #1

I thank God for the powerful way He is working to shower us with love and reach out to all souls, bringing them the Word of repentance and eternal life. His passion is for that lost soul wandering in darkness, because the 99 are already secure. And He is calling us in an abundance of gentleness, saying, “the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37 NKJ)

As you read this report I would love if you could lend prayers to the vulnerable and the slave of sin, and to the backslider, and all who need His practical rescue from vice, and His redemption for eternal life. Please if you read through to the end, please pray mightily and in faith, for all His power and love and mercy to be shed in our communities and around the world.

Last Monday, though it’s not a very busy party night, I went to Downtown Dallas, to a bar district called Deep Ellum, to feel things out before going down to fully do street witness. A homeless man told me there have been “gangs” of preachers there on microphones, who set up every weekend. And a young woman told me that there are opposing camps, with the preachers being opposed by another group who set out to shout them down with an anti-religious message. So I was very curious about this and looked forward to talking with these preachers.

I ordered some tracts which received by mail, and got rolls of quarters, to bring one with me every time I go out, because it is good to have something to share with people in need. I also ordered free “Living Water” books of the Gospel of John, though I still haven’t received those.

After praying and surrendering to the Lord to walk with dedication in His will even no matter what I faced, I set out Saturday night by public transit. As soon as I got to the train station I saw a young man and as we began talking the Lord really moved to save his life and show him practical love. It turned out he was homeless and laboring with a meth and heroin addiction and was at the end of his rope. As he told me about his inability to live, even cope as well as other addicts, I told him about how my own desperate darkness in addiction and what the Lord did for me, and how He rescued me from every desire and craving. He cried and was willing to talk and get things off his chest.

He talked about how he had tried Christ and it hadn’t stuck and we paid attention to this, and it turned out he had doubts about the Lord and didn’t fully trust the Word. Justin and I talked a long time and he said he was going to take the bus to the area around where I live because I told him it was a very safe neighborhood. In the end, we prayed Christ’s power over his drug addiction, bringing His power to bear on that devil, because he and I can either use drugs, or have the opportunity to do anything else of value God has for us, but we can’t do both.

Justin told me he is going to re-engage with the Bible, keep praying and seeking the Truth of the Lord, and we both recognized that the Ethiopian eunuch could get baptized right away provided he believe with his whole heart. Justin got up and left with a restored spirit, joy on his face, and we told each other we would hopefully see each other soon in our neighborhood.

I was amazed that God had already even before beginning, started to do everything I had hoped for. I had never had that much success in evangelism on any occasion.

On the train platform I started to hand out tracts, telling people that Jesus loves them and to be blessed. One young man told me he felt I had been sent to him because I handed out a tract that said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” and he said he needed rest. (Matthew 11:28 NKJ) I started to share the word with him, seeing he was really suffering.

Then immediately, a young man who was also black, began speaking over me, denying Jesus’ gentleness and tenderness and saying that was a lie of the white man. And said something to the effect of Jesus being a gangster and violent, who whipped the people in the Temple, and he kept inciting this man against Christianity as a white man’s lie, and the man was listening to him and agreeing with him.

I answered that the Bible wasn’t written by white people, but Middle Easterners, and that I could agree that Jesus is a Man of War, who would kill many people who lived in rebellion when He returns. And that gave them pause and I tried to go on about His kindness and love, but the man cut me off with hostility, and then the train arrived, as the man refused to continue to engage.

And on the train I felt the power of God and I felt the force of the enemy also. I moved seats and when I did, another man I had offered a tract to cursed me and told me not to sit at all near him, and he cursed Christ and Christianity as homosexual and threatened to beat me right on the train. I knew he meant what he said and a bit saddened, took the course of action to leave him be and move farther on. And I sat down in the part of the train where the young man was who had minutes ago talked about Jesus the gangster.

He was up pacing the train and filled with anger. I felt a prompting to say some kind word of blessing to him, but it didn’t seem the right time and just sat there. He began arguing with his girlfriend and it reached the point of both of them shouting in rage at each other as he paced by me. Then the man who thought Christ was gay told the man who thought Christ was a gangster that he thought I was scum, and they agreed and the shirtless man pacing the train said I was following him. He came up and stood over me, so I looked at him and calmly told him I wasn’t mad at him. For a second he smiled at me in what seemed like love. And his argument with his girlfriend got worse.

I realized that if he began hitting her, though I might wish to be avoidant, it would be my duty to step in and get beaten on the train, as they had threatened. The threat and spirit of Satan stopped just short of that, and I got off the train safely downtown. Praise God.

Deep Ellum was jam packed with I guess thousands of people. I handed out tracts and told people that Jesus loved them and blessed them in God. Most of the people I actually had conversations with were homeless.

As I ran out of tracts early, I thought about changing my plans and taking the last train home, instead of staying out till the morning trains. By God’s design I missed the last train, and that was the best part.

As I walked through the quiet business district of downtown, I met a homeless man who asked me for a coffee, and as we talked he told me about all his struggles as a homeless person, and how he felt like the Invisible Man from the novel. I asked him questions and we talked about the injustice and difficulty of his situation, and how he coped.

He was an older man who is a college graduate, who had moved to Dallas for a job soon lost because of COVID. That whole day he spent cleaning porta potties and he gets no rest because he has to stand in line before dawn and hustle all day on foot, working and often unable to find a place to lay his head. He told me people literally step over him because he is homeless and is especially dismissed because he is black.

It is literally illegal for him to be given food or sleep in a park. [Edit: The city in fact changed the law and now allows food handouts.]

When he told me his parents are teachers and still alive, I cheered up and asked him why he doesn’t just take a greyhound home and live with them. So he told me it was a big issue, and he told me he was gay, and that his Christian parents were ashamed of him, and that he hadn’t even been able to tell them he was homeless. Soon he revealed that He was in the Lord, and regularly prayed and still has faith. I praised God for this with joy, and the whole conversation changed.

For an hour we walked back and forth, avoiding the sprinkling rain, and the loud classical music meant to keep loiterers from standing by the convenience store. He let me know honestly that he still gets with men sometimes, and I let him know about Christ’s clear instruction through Paul that this is a deal breaker for entering the Kingdom of God. I also told him that I as a single man am in much the same situation and have no right to sleep with any woman, lest I also, not repenting, lose my salvation.

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral [fornicators], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9,10 ESV)

We talked about how that verse refers to men engaging in the behavior of homosexual sodomy. He did not deny the word, but affirmed it, and accepted it as God’s truth, and that it was sin. He also talked about the temptations he faced, and the problems caused for him by homosexual churches who say the plain meaning of scriptures is something else. And we talked about the real sacrifice of forsaking the meaning and beauty of being romantically and physically involved with people. He told me he felt sexual temptation, and I encouraged him with the fact that even assuming that is sin, God’s whole emphasis is on drawing the line at the behavior, and that God says, “and such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV)

I affirmed this man because like Jesus who refused to sin despite suffering all the pain and wrath of God, but remained true to His infinite goodness, and kindness, he too refused the counsel of those who told him his sin was beautiful. I told him that by loving Jesus, and loving the Truth, to the extent that he affirmed the whole Word, and took his stand on the Bible to be saved, he had overcome the world. And I told him about how God worked to save me from my sexual sin as I agreed with Him to surrender my members as instruments of righteousness. I also told him it was just as Paul said, and that he was unleavened, and that he just needed to walk it out.

It is impossible for me to express the dearness and relief and inspiration we felt when we were talking and arriving at our freedom and destination. It was almost like being in Heaven, speaking with a brother there about the power and glory and goodness of God, who we both admitted was the only man who could work righteousness and rescue and strength in us. But there reached a point when he saw through all his dilemma and affirmed with joy that he knew now he was going to make it through all this, his homelessness, and his temptation to homosexual behavior, and he really had a whole new Spirit right before my eyes. Praise God! He told me he was going to call his father.

As we departed I gave him my email address and we agreed we would talk soon. Please pray for him.

Many times the most receptive people to God’s word not only are poor, but even the homeless, who know Jesus, and love prayer.

It was 3 AM, I walked back into Deep Ellum and spent the rest of the night until the trains picked up again studying at a cafe. I thank God with joy for the love of God He shows by everything He is doing for us because I know He is working in love and mercy.

Street Evangelism: Calling

Can we love God and bury Jesus down inside of us? How, when He has risen, and reigns, and labors in ministry?

Shall we hide the One we love, who also has rescued us? “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” (Proverbs 27:5 ESV)

And can this God who made us His own – to worship Him – be content hidden inside of His children? No, for He is a consuming fire. Therefore may He bring a fire in our bones that cannot be shut up! (Jeremiah 20:9)

That is a fire in us, do not quench the Spirit! “[For] no one, after lighting a lamp, covers it with a basket or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a lampstand so that those who come in may see the light.” (Luke 8:16 CSB)

Let us consider His call a command to mobilize our whole body. Paul said, “brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1 CSB)

Most of my Christian life (born again 2005) has been barren of the fruits of love and ministry that really make a difference for the Kingdom. I’ve stayed in prayer, continued in the study of the Word, but showed only occasional and grudging efforts to serve. My highest hopes were mostly confined to writing poetry, though I also had a dream to start a Christian publishing house.

This past winter (2021) I finished a 4 and a half year effort to assemble a commentary on Psalms. Whereas I had planned to return to work, get a car, and save up money to start a Christian publishing company, God said no to all these plans.

Instead, I started to study Hebrew methodically, attend church regularly, and the LORD began to move. He brought me the Spirit. He brought me a sense of life, beauty, and cheer. He gave me an attitude of gratitude.

One day in April, God called me out of sexual indulgence. When I said yes to Him, He filled me with a clean and powerful Spirit. That day, He conquered my pronounced habit of looking at women to lust after them. I am so excited to live as a trustworthy brother to all my sisters.

This Presence I had never known to last more than a brief time of prayer, but now it stayed on me for about a month. Since I am nothing, I cling to Him who lives in me, and He sustains me and will.

I praise God because He was not content with these mighty works, but saving me from lust, He also saved me from gluttony and sloth (by transforming my appetite and energy levels). Thank you, God!

20 years ago, a sudden, extreme revelation of the wickedness of the world reversed my trusting disposition with the force of an axe hitting my mind. This dark vision, which I call Negativa, punished me with a blindness toward all the deeply good people around us. It also brought me to demonize many, denying their humanity.

The Holy Spirit has now reversed this curse, and I see myself surrounded by people God is working in with joy and power. I humble myself before this great moving sea of His servants, including the angels above, who all participate together to advance the Kingdom of the Son of His Love. The labor of the harvest is something we join in on together, even though it is the 11th hour.

The Spirit has finally helped me to see that God has an answer to the evil of the world, in saving many and in reigning over us all in Truth. This change in my heart is the plundering and spoiling of the Negativa, so that to a little understanding of the darkness, He has added that healthy recognition most of us have of the humanity and goodness in so many.

So when God called me to street witness I followed Him. He has sent me out with tracts and copies of the Gospel of John, to Deep Ellum, (a large bar district in Dallas), and to our downtown, especially the homeless. I’ve also been partnering up with a homeless ministry, Our Calling, and engaging in outreach with some brothers from church.

Revival is already happening, a rushing wind in Africa, a fire in China, and more recently in India, the Muslim world, and even among His own Jewish People. He is doing this work in a revelation of power and mercy, in visions, miracles, and faith.

I believe God will bring revival here in Dallas, and throughout this poor country, and it is already under way. All revival must be bathed in prayer, and it is by bearing a Cross in prayer, to the point of shedding tears, that God hastens, attending to this country, and all countries. May the Lord Jesus be glorified and magnified, by bringing us to repentance, and revealing Himself to our stony hearts, so that we worship Him in awe and love.

Devotional #3

By what means did the Lord Jesus become our sin, and thus become our healing righteousness? Why did God not simply die? How did He become our propitiation so that we are healed by His stripes?

Surely He had to taste death; this was symbolized by the vinegar and gall they gave Him. But drinking of the cup of the Lord’s wrath, the cup Jesus drank from, submitting to His Father’s will, was much more than this. For one, it was the whole process of His forsaking and crucifixion.

The part of His death I want to focus on is that Jesus died as the Son of God. That was the claim He made which brought the condemnation of the Sanhedrin. It was as our Holy One, but contested, that the Messiah died. In other words, the Savior dies as the revealed mystery, naked yet cloaked to unbelievers, in order that He is forsaken as the living Hope.

Jesus must be our sin, must be forsaken, in order that He can become our righteousness when we accept Him. It is the rejection of Christ, and His meek submission to the ensuing wrath, that makes Him our Savior. Until we give our lives to the Lord we are His murderers, right along with the Sanhedrin. We either reject or accept the testimony of His Father – that Jesus is the Son of God.

In Jesus’ march to the Cross, in His slow climb to conquer Satan and death, His star of Truth became more clear. First the Sanhedrin reviled His claim to be God’s Son. But because the Cross asks the question, “Is He the One?” Jesus is able to accept in His death all our sin. If He was killed for murder or theft, He is perhaps not the risen Savior, though He is still our perfect God.

But as it is Pilate brings Him out and says, “Behold the man!” And on the Cross we know He nailed our offenses up and gave His blood as against the wrath they deserved according to His noble placard there, “King of the Jews”.

As written in 2 Peter 1:16, “we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” Every detail of His death is perfect and meaningful. Just as the slain lamb was the only One worthy to open the seven seals in the book of Revelation, so the perfect Man, whose life is infinite and divine, is the only man worthy of paying for all the sin of the world. His death is potential salvation but it is also potentially a witness against us and that is because He showed us on that Cross perfect love. Jesus does this as the Son of God, the charge against Him and at the same time, His redeeming glory.

Jesus in dying for that preeminent place takes the preeminent place because He is not a liar. As Colossians 1:17 says, “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” Glory be to God who is lifted up before us in His glory and whom we can know and exalt for His rescue, His glory, and His virtue!

Devotional #2

Jesus dying gruesomely on the cross is the meaning of God’s heartbreak, His feeling for the loss of His children. What died was eternal, perfect, and divine. After all, Jesus is infinite and divine Life, and Love, Truth, Joy, Peace, Power, Wisdom. Truth died! Love died! Wisdom died! If any of Him had remained alive He could not have ransomed us because the death of God was given in exchange for the lives of men.

How is that a trade that God would accept as meaningful? Because it is a conditional proposition granted to all men – that we are saved if we accept – if we accept the nature of God’s holy redeeming feelings and nature which were pre-existent. In other words it is the same terms that there had been, the same eternal terms which are the only ones there can be for sinners, and we are all sinners: that we must repent.

Jesus’ death is (the image of) the eternal heartbreak of God over losing His children. He will not spare His own Son, but slay Him, slay His Son, to demonstrate to us the depth of His concern for us. His Son is sacred to Him and so is His love for us. Our sin and estrangement had eaten God up and He didn’t want to lose all of us. Our loving God, from the beginning, sought reconciliation with the sons of Adam and hovered over us as a mother hen, but we would not.

That bloody face lifted up, where Truth died, is the pain God shows us on account of how we are astray from Him. Have you ever lost someone or been separated and been in love, and it doesn’t mean a thing, until they are back in your arms? You have to hold them! To repent and have faith in Jesus is to have God, not just know God exists.

Let me probe you where the Doctor is probing you. Is your heart hard and stony today? Do you fear God? – and by all rights you should. Do you convict yourself if you try to live in luxury while countless sick and poor languish? All God is saying is repent! Repent! Repent! This is my image, my face, my embodiment! I slay my child to show you that you are my children. Because I could only love my children this much – that it kills. Be my children and you will be adopted and always be my children. But if you look at my face and it means nothing to you, and you cannot see my glory, if you are too dead to see even dead glory, or if you hate me – may it never be – then you know nothing of my being and my soul. You don’t know who your Creator is and why He delights in righteousness and why His expectations are just – nor do you realize how merciful the Savior my dear sweet Son is. And those who reject me eternally in my love- my love gift- my love sacrifice- are lost and are not found and go to Hell.

I used to think Christianity was totally foolish. But it’s not. It’s the Truth. Jesus lived a perfect life. Read about it in the New Testament. This is my testimony meant for your well being not stumbling.

Devotional #1

Why did Jesus cry out from the Cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” or, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus’ whole life was dedicated to faith in His Father. At the age of 12, He said, when His parents finally found Him at the Temple, “did you not know I had to be about my Father’s business?” He knew where God was leading Him, to a death which astonished the world, whenever it is understood, but about which the Lord said, “how distressed I am until it is accomplished.” Yet He did not turn back and He did not doubt.

On the contrary, He says in John not long before the Cross, “now My soul is troubled. What should I say–Father, save Me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour.” And when Peter takes violent action to defend the Lord in the garden, Jesus rebukes Him, saying, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” But only hours later, with breath bought by great pain, He calls out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

Did Jesus lose faith? Did something go wrong? No, absolutely not. Rather, it is because the Father too is heartbroken that the Cross is effective. Just as David’s heart was broken over his son Absalom, and Jacob’s heart was broken over Joseph – neither of them wanted to go on – so the Father’s heart broke over the death of His Son. Jacob, did not expect to ever see his son again. Perhaps in the depths of His soul – perhaps – perhaps the death of someone, when you really accept they die, when it is someone as dear to you as yourself, the soul does not persevere in hope, but it is the End. And He had to accept He was dying and dead because the Lord plunged the knife into the Lord’s heart though He did not make Abraham do this.

He did forsake Jesus, but He did it so that you and I might live. As Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, He did not want to drink the cup, but the Lord God chose to sacrifice Him. As Isaiah 53: 10,11 say,

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.

This was the Lord’s way. Jesus held fast, saying sweetly and with longing, “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” though He was slipping into death. Scripture was on His lips, and the redemption of the world in righteous Love was truly in His heart and body, and that was when they gave Him vinegar to drink and He said, “it is finished,” and died.

But as God says in Psalm 30:5, “for His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Because Jesus broke the Lord’s heart when He said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me,” therefore God repented of it and said to His Son who had been cast into the depths, I would that He were back, I wish He were alive. Be forgiven though you bore all the sins; because you bore all the sins you will have a portion with the great. In this Jesus was our propitiation, because He was pitiable and innocent to His Father when he bore our sins. Therefore He is resurrected, the author and finisher of the faith, and we can be saved through Him. Remember that David longed to bring back even Absalom when he had killed Amnon his brother.