Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Grain of Wheat

"Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies it remains alone,
but if it dies it bears much fruit"(Jn.12:24).                                

     Beyond the superficial ebb and flow of life, there exists a deeper reality. Everyone knows it but no one wants to deal with it. Everyone wants to "play games" pretending everything is just fine while deep inside they pine away in depression, regret and fear.  The content before you is my attempt to dig into the depths of this reality in light of God's profound but very practical answer.
I was just a typical phony. In college I had a tough guy image but on the inside I was quite alone in my sadness. Like everyone I used booze and drugs to escape the inner misery. Then, a season of deep searching rewarded me with things I never knew existed. I was a mere grain of wheat, all alone, and quite useless.  I remember the place and time I read this one verse that was as reading a book of the most profound revelation. This verse is John 12: 24-25. At first it scared me but as I soon began to discover, there was nothing to fear. 

Traversing the Stairs

The following things are not pleasant but necessary to recognize the absolute depravity of our humanity.  I deal with things like everyone else, I do not live in a cave or a monastary, but I have discovered the key to learn these things is to understand them in the context of being born again and walking in the Holy Spirit.
When I was a child I was afraid of going in our cold and dark basement. I would run as fast as I could to get something my mom would ask for. The ghosts might get me. A huge sigh of relief greeted me at the top of the stairs as I entered the light of our kitchen.
It is my hope that by “traversing” the stairs of reality, between the dark truths of our sin, and the hope in God’s grace and redemption, you will find the understanding that King David describes in Psalm 51. He says “my sin is ever before me” (Ps.51:6). 

It’s amazing how different the basement was when all the lights were turned on....

This is not a warm and fuzzy writing to make you “feel good about yourself”. It is not trying to teach you how to influence people and win friends. Such books can be found at any local religious or secular bookstore. My purpose is to help someone find real answers to the devastating struggles that hide deep within each of us.
You must get beyond something no one is willing to mention let alone deal with; SIN! It is something within our DNA that no one can understand. 
We’ve all heard preachers rant and rave about sin while quoting Scripture verses. The pride and greed that radiate from them expose their own blindness to the very thing they condemn.
 For some twenty years I was taught that the only answer to sin is forgiveness. The only other alternative, offered by the religious systems, seemed to be a kind of moral self-righteous idealism and hypocrisy. Just pretend that you are a “good” person. There are levels and categories of sinners. If you never killed anyone then you are better than those that did, etc.
Thus I remained a slave to sin like all men. This book answers the practical issues of sin and how to access the power over it. The revelation Paul lays out in his letters, concerning the Law verses faith in Christ, explains exactly how one can walk in the marvelous revelation of the resurrection. Sin has come from the past and destroys God’s intended purpose for each man. 
The only hope is to put forth the required to effort understand         God’s Word.

My purpose is to write, not with lofty and theological terminology but with ‘childlike’ simplicity deriving all things from the Holy Scriptures. The requirement is not a secret knowledge but rather THE WILL to understand. As you read you will find yourself, at times, being irritated. You will think I am attacking you. I am not. I am attacking the nature of sin within you.  I am trying to help you to “see” the monster of sin and make the separation necessary to have discernment between soul and spirit (Heb.4:12). I have the awkward task, similar to poking in the darkness in order to expose the tiger hiding. (It is worth to take the time to research the Scriptures in parentheses to gain a deeper light into these issues).
Here then is the test. Many people only want information bent to their own desires. Will you attack the messenger or deal with the message? The response to the gospel is not with the one who delivers the message but with the free will of the one who receives it and chooses how to respond(Matt.13:1ff).
 As you read, stop and ask the Holy Spirit for “light” to understand and implement these things. 
When I use the term “people” it will be most helpful to you to consider this term as referring to you specifically and not some strangers “out there”. Humility is a secret power to unlock the “mystery of lawlessness” (SIN) and the Mystery of Christ (2Thes. 2/ Col. 1: 27, 2:2/ Eph. 1:9, 3:3, 9/ Mk. 4:11/ Mt.13:11 /6:4, 6,18)For once you replace your pride with deep relationship, "Wala!" you eliminate the problem and receive the capacity to live in joy. Jesus warned that these things are “hidden” from the proud and revealed only to mere babes (Matt.11:25).
Like any medical procedure, the cure is totally dependent on the consistency of application by the patient.

Chapter 1
Events in history serve as windows of insight into the real essence of human nature in all of us. People are aghast over the depravity of men as seen in the arena of crime and war. People love sensational headlines about outrageous behavior. They quickly judge while condemning anyone who judges them. People say “How could they do such a thing? It is not in my personality to do such a thing”. People jump at any chance to feel better than others.
I majored in Psychology in college and was taken in by the psycho-babel that compartmentalizes a person by a fixed analysis of their actions. The “Dr. Phil’s” of this world define an individual by analyzing thoughts and behavior. Once a person participates in “abnormal” behavior he or she becomes a classified personality. According to God’s Word this is absurd! 
There are no alien beings walking the earth. We are all of the same human nature. The key to finding answers is to understand the difference between the personality and the humanity of an individual. We develop our personality. We inherit our humanity. Sin is not in our personality. It is not something unique to an individual. Sin is in our humanity. We are born into the nature of sin from Adam and Eve. This is why, by taking on our humanity, Jesus could bear all sin once and for all. Sin is in our DNA. Our personality has nothing to do with it. So before we venture to the dark basement of human nature it is extremely important to realize CHRIST OFFERS THE ANSWER!
People who have gone through a divorce or devastating experience have seen something within themselves that they never knew was there.  Sin is surely a “Pandora’s Box”. Some spend the rest of their life trying to figure themselves out; to recover some sense of sanity and composure from what they have seen. They are caught up in the sin of their humanity while thinking there is something wrong with their personality.  This is Satan’s plan!

The behavior seen, on both sides of any war, is behavior latent in the fallen soul of all of humanity. When the first American soldiers began to invade Germany they were stunned to see thousands of corpses stacked like piles of wood. When they arrived in the camps and opened the doors of the barracks they found people literally drowning in their own excrement. Many of them would throw up, weep or become enraged to discover the atrocities of these death camps.
Their minds just could not conceive of how highly intelligent and educated German men could produce such heinous “creativity” so as to; build fake shower rooms that had pipes flowing with deadly gas instead of cleansing water, create a very developed art world using human skin and bones to make household decorations or use starvation to train killer dogs for  a sport where young children were chased and torn to shreds.
I clearly remember when I visited the death camp memorial in Israel reading the sign above the door as you leave. It stated that it would be a terrible mistake to think that such horrendous acts were relegated to a fixed time in the past when in reality such potential remained in each man. Wow!
It doesn’t require spiritual revelation to recognize these things I write but rather sincere honesty. The most disturbing consideration of all this behavior is that it was not done in a spontaneous reaction or impulsive moment. These events continued over years! They required intense planning, the involvement of a tremendous work force, equipment and expensive investment. There is no place to say “It was just an accident”.
Hitler and the German SS did not come from the planet Mars. They were born from the seed of Adam, like you and I. One account of this war describes the scene in the Dachau concentration camp when the allies burst through the gates and freed Jewish prisoners.
 An American officer recounted how when these Jews discovered that they were now the ones in control, and the guards, who had been torturing them for years, were not their prisoners, and standing only a few feet away ,  seized upon them and tore them to pieces with their bare hands. The American officer said he couldn’t figure out how the guards ended up being killed in such a grotesque manner being that the Jews had no weapons just their bare hands. The very behavior which was labeled an atrocity was now being exemplified by the Jews towards the Germans. The victims became the predators and the predators became the victims. The nationality was different but the nature the same.
I recently caught the middle of a news clip on a TV where a certain family was dancing around in a somewhat giddy king of mood and shouting with joy. I wondered if they had just won the lottery. Then I heard who they had just received the verdict of the electric chair for a man that killed their father!
They were terribly concerned that the man would only get a life in prison. Their delight to watch a man being burned alive, from the inside out, was not some impulsive reaction. They spent much thought, time and energy pleading with the judge for the electric chair. The real issue here is not that this person “deserves justice” because what happens if soon afterwards he is found to be the wrong man?! Thus such desires only expose the blinded and demented nature of hatred and evil in all men. The claim for “justice” is nothing more than the guise and license for vengeance.
 It is faith in Christ that assures true justice can only come about from His hand.
I have seen the look of many Vietnam veterans who had their souls devastated at an early age by beholding the phenomenon of “the mystery of evil” (2Thess.2:7). They never intended to see what they saw but they could do nothing about it. It doesn’t take many days on the battled lines of war to be overwhelmed by the utter insanity of being in circumstances that force something out of you that you never knew was inside of you.

Chapter 2
The presumption that there is a clear differentiation between good and evil is slowly understood to be a total farce. Imagine a young seventeen year old boy whose favorite past-time, up until a few years earlier, was riding his new bike. He is now entrenched in a Cambodian swamp land, as part of a vicious attack on a suspected enemy village. Suddenly, out of desperation, he is forced to use his knife to slit the throat of a man. He then sees the children of this father of a family standing a few feet away screaming and crying. “What have I done?!” He is forced to face not only the insanity of his mission but the insanity of his own evil nature within.
Jesus cried “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do…” (Luke.23:34). I worked with a man who was drinking a fifth of vodka every night trying to drown the memories since he just returned from Vietnam. 
Human nature is like a doubled-edged sword. When it is fully unleashed against others it is then, at that same time, destroying the psyche of the one who wields it. When your sinful nature drives you to do what you have never done, it destroys every image of who you thought you were. You are left to resolve your identity all alone. You think that no one else would do what you have done but everyone could do worse than what you did.
It is at this very point where Satan tells you to blame God for allowing you into this mess or for allowing the world to be in such a mess. You think that surely God could never forgive you because you KNEW it was terrible. Yet it is our responsibility to discover that the predicaments of this world are a direct result of it belonging to Satan not God (1 Jn.5:19). It is the sin within your humanity that was unleashed. Your hope lies in the fact that God has already documented the despicable state of men in this world long before we were ever born (Is.59:1ff). Despite this, God’s profound mercy offers complete healing and redemption for one who humbles himself and believes Christ.
I saw an original film of captured German SS officers. The looks on the face of these particular guards was utterly amazing. It was not a look of defiance or fear. They were looking at each other like someone who had just been awakened from a very, very deep and bizarre dream. They were stunned. It was not a defensive or denying manner. It was like they REALLY COULD NOT BELIEVE what they had been doing all those years.
They were so deep-rooted in a conspiracy they were convinced it was reality! It is the same look as seen on some serial killers who have been yanked out of their binge of depravity and, over a period of time, are forced to, once again, align their minds with a civil and moral atmosphere. This grabbling for sanity is like falling in a black bottomless hole. There is no place of reality. The self-image you have grown up with is suddenly shattered and you are left with nothing but the devastating awareness of you evil. The experience of the German guards, the Vietnam vets or the serial killer is no different from your experience of doing or saying something you never imagined you were capable of.
It is the shock of seeing the monster within. It is the “mystery” of lawlessness (ibid). You may exemplify a far less barbaric version of hatred, torture and murder but the cesspool of human nature is the same source for all your sin. Depending on the circumstances you incur in life will determine the degree of depravity you manifest.
You do not comprehend the full potential of your wickedness because natural pride is SO POWERFUL it repudiates any real consideration of potential for or affiliation with such acts of evil. This is why you must go to the ‘basement’. Self-righteousness is your reaction against anything that is worse than what you have done. You can not imagine doing vile things…unless…you are willing to traverse the stairs of reality!
If you were totally isolated in an atmosphere where fear and intimidation threatened you very existence, and your single hope of survival was conformity, only then would you see what is really inside of you. If you were trained from birth, by the majority, and offered power, popularity and reward in exchange for your conformity you would be; indeed, you have been, proven to be no different than any one else.
The German youth did not have a mental framework “If I can just hold out from participating in this evil for six years, then the war will be over”. They saw there future existence totally dependent on, and determined by, their present actions. They were caught up in the moments of time.
It is very easy to sit back and analyze and rationalize things in a mental framework were everything is hypothetical. Without any risk to your self-image, you can comfortably insist on some quality of goodness.
You may go to your church on Sunday. You do nice things for others. You may know the Bible. But at some time, some where, the Holy Spirit has shown you a depraved wickedness that has the same potential as the worst serial killer. So there is no place for self-righteousness. Jesus says “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy” (Mt.5:7). I don’t rely on my experience to know my potential for evil. I know my sinfulness because the Ten Commandments show it to me.  I CAN not be good no matter how I try. I must believe in God’s provision of Christ for my sin. The subtle, and lingering, inclinations, and instincts, of my conscience, and nature bear witness of my evil.
I am a desperate and wicked sinner capable of horrendous atrocities. This is not my personality. It is my humanity. I must bring the sin hidden within my humanity out into the open of God’s light. It is my only hope for freedom from madness (Jn.8:32ff). I had to declare war on this enemy. I had to give it to the cross of Christ so that it could be crucified with Him (Gal.2:20).  Otherwise it would have destroyed my life. Through the knowledge of God’s Word I am now “set apart” from the black hole of insanity. I do not try to understand or explain it. I simply believe. I have since discovered a totally new “resurrection nature” (1 Cor.15:45). I am able to face the “serpent” of sin because of faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Ps.51:3/ Jn.3:14/ Num.21:9).

A terrible event in Tucson, Arizona brought nationwide attention to mental illness. Lest anyone think this was a problem with one isolated individual CBS NEWS reported that 80,000 people in this one city suffer from it. That is one third of the population! There are various levels of mental illness and our intention is to allow for the fact that some most assuredly have complex origins in need of complex answers. However for the great majority the answer is within reach. Do you really think all these people were born with genetic disease of mental illness?
I wonder how long I got before
I turn into a human icicle?
For the majority it can start by some intense level of stress from a job or marriage. Mental “illness” is simply the breakdown of one’s mental capability to cope with life situations in a reasonable manner. It is developed over time. The fact is ALL MEN have some degree of mental illness. God says the heart of mankind is “desperately sick” (Jer.17:9). People say“ Oh everything is fine” when in reality their life is a nightmare. Their past was a disaster and they are about to ruin their future. Yet they cannot find the help they need because pride won’t let them find the solution of humility.  
If a person subjects himself to freezing cold temperatures without proper clothing it is most likely this person will get sick. Likewise, mental illness will occur, at some level, when a person refuses to humbly deal with the reality of their situation.
This world esteems the pride of man. This mentality is called SIN. It is deeply engrained in us from birth. God did not create a human being with the capacity to deal with PRIDE thus chaos is the norm of an unrepentant life. When Adam and Eve sinned they corrupted mankind with the demonic enigma of SIN. The Bible records all the devastating consequences of man trying to deal with SIN over generations of time.