Friday, January 13, 2012

A Cruel Silence

Heaven Now
I have always had this incredible peace about God’s merciful sovereignty. 
Most of my life, I have not worried about my salvation or that of my family’s. Sure, for a year or two in Adventist elementary school when we studied last-day prophecies and the teachers read terrorizing fiction, I would be afraid that one day I would break under the torture of bamboo shoots thrust up my fingernails as my little sisters and brother were sliced into pieces before my pried-open eyes to get me to renounce the Sabbath and go to church on Sunday...and then I would be eternally obliterated. You know, the average Adventist fears. But my parents always downplayed SDA prophecy and told me not to worry about it. So I trusted them and didn’t. 
For the vast majority of my life, I have believed God is incredibly good and powerful and has the world in the palm of His hand. Shoot, I even think God is going to be really merciful towards atheists. I am simply not worried about heaven and whose going to spend eternity in hell. The thought doesn’t enter my spiritual radar system.

My heart is for the here and now (Of course I want everyone saved, so don't take that wrong). In a sense (I am not referring to a personal doctrine but wondering...) but in a general sense, I think heaven and hell are going on at this moment. The seeds of heaven and hell, anyway. 
When a person is full of joy in the Lord and their life is at peace, I figure they are already inside heaven. They have “made it” and I am not worried about what happens to them after they die. I don’t have this need to make someone think like I do doctrinally, believe the way I do in specific theology. I trust God will bring them along the path to where they need to be--including me!
Now, I am utterly convicted, convinced and on fire that the Catholic Church is the kingdom on earth and I am passionate about sharing the beauties of Christ I find within her. But I do not think if you reject Catholicism, Protestantism, Christianity or even God that you are necessarily going to hell.

Absolutely, Christ has commissioned us to go and spread the gospel. And I believe that if we have faith in Him, God is going to save us. But I also think God has mysterious ways of saving that He alone knows and its none of our business. He is sovereign. We have a job to do in spreading the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven and that is that. God saves and He alone saves and if He gives someone salvation outside of the system He gave us, we are not to question it but rejoice! After all, if billions of aborted babies couldn’t have a personal faith that saves, I doubt they are all going to an eternal hell. God has His ways of saving through Christ Jesus that He doesn’t explain to me and I am so happy He does! For it gives me great hope, for what seems in my eyes, hopeless. 
Catholicism teaches us that we can always have hope. Always. 
Back onto my point that I am having a hard time getting to: 
A Cruel Silence
The truth--the truth--is important, not just because of an eternal home in some nebulous future, but for us--right here, right now. Truth sets us free from sin. We Christians seem to have it all backwards. Christians today are afraid of speaking truth because of this whole idea of being nice and tolerant. Making people feel bad seems to be the ultimate sin in our society. That is the very opposite of what is real. 
The truth is what actually makes our lives worth living. It is lies that oppress us and enslave us. People are miserable because they have fallen for lies. We are certainly not being nice by keeping quiet. That fear of being judged “mean”  or “bigoted” is a bullying spirit of the ultimate slave master--our greatest enemy--Satan. He is attempting to swallow us up in misery. His strategy is to seduce us, addict us to sin, exploit, tyrannize and dominate us. Satan’s plan is to reduce us to beggars, make our souls disappear into the cosmic nothingness and convince us nothing has meaning. 
Christ, on the other hand, wants to bring us to the point where we are towering saints and princes of the universe. His desire is that we are perfect, like His Father in heaven is perfect--where we have the capacity to endure beauties beyond our imagination. Where we can fly into the sun and not be burned. Our immortal bodies, shed of their restrictive sin, will bi-locate, hover, time-travel, raise the dead--right now. Saints have done this and more! The cartoon superheroes are shadows of what God has placed deep within our psyches, the craving to be saints! 
The lie is that we can’t get there in this life or that we can get to a facade of it by wielding the power of money, or in fame or influence. We falsely believe in an immortality brought on by being successful on human terms. God has something vastly better. 
The truth is being kept from us so that in this life we can begin the eternal hell, living a miserable damnation of confusion, chasing ephemeral pleasures, searching for heaven within the doorless, windowless prison of hell itself.

I continue to speak against lies because they darken our path and eventually blind us. The Father of Lies reduces us to beggars, and makes us love our filth, cling to that which is slaughtering us and defend with screeching shrieks that which is eradicating our very existence. 
The Father of Lies has convinced a world of Christians that life is not worth fighting for and has brainwashed us into an assembly-line, zombie existence of silently waiting for death. Don’t look, don’t see for it is too painful, too ugly. So we put our calloused hearts on auto-pilot, watch the inflight movie and hope heaven comes soon. 
Satan has so cruelly beaten us with his lies that we have, as a Christian culture submitted to his loathing of true authority, consented to Satan’s despising of God’s rituals and rites that keep us focused on Christ and unify us.  Our enemy has glutted our churches with untrustworthy leaders so that we will hated religion itself. He has puffed us up with an arrogant and false self-righteousness that lustfully craves the rights and freedoms to sin!
And God help anyone who dares to voice that our Christian appetite for sin is evil. 
So, we play nice and stand firm on the false premise that as a Christian we must fight for the rights of others to kill their souls in sin. Or equally bad, we say nothing-- trying to make sure people like us. 
Make no mistake--Lies demand a cruel silence.
Truth cuts us free from the bondage of sin, awakens us and makes us sensitive, painfully sensitive to wickedness. There is this strange and mysterious, harmonious contradiction of Truth that overwhelms us with joy and can, at the same time, sear our hearts with the tragedy of sin. Our capacity to experience life expands till we think we cannot bear either the ecstasy of God living with us, within us in our current human flesh nor bear the sorrow we see. Yet miraculously, we as behold the Lamb of God in humble obedience, He gives us the grace to press on from glory to glory! And we taste the goodness of the Kingdom. We become like Him!
My soul’s desire is that we all can experience heaven now, today, this minute. But it cannot be reached when our lives have accepted hell and sin and lies. 
Joining the Battle for Truth
Though the war for the Kingdom has been won with Christ, the battle for your eternal home and your earthly joy is fiercely waging as you make daily decisions about what you will read, what you will watch, what you will think, what you will say and do. 
There is no passive Christianity, no conscientious objection status in this, all Christians, every single one within the body of Christ has been drafted into this battle of living as saints today so that you will influence the souls of your neighbor. The demonic excuse, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” are words from the abyss that are sucking precious souls into her bosom of fifth. Pornography, fornication, adultery, sodomy... The list is endless to the seductive, vulgar entertaining comedy-of-abominations that intimidate us into silence.

It is a great and glorious act of mercy when someone loves you so much they are willing to reach out and sear you with truth. 
It is a great and glorious act of mercy when you love someone so much that you are willing to reach out and sear your brother in Christ with truth. 

Christians will tell me to lighten up, but when you don’t courageously confront the sins you protect, that are polluting your own soul, you will be too cowardly to condemn the wickedness of our culture. 
So you will allow your light to dim. You will become so small in your thoughts, so self-deceived that you will brush off the responsibility of love as if it were dandruff on your shoulder. 
There are those who do want to get involved in the battle against the culture of death, and they don’t know what to do. So they get involved with a political candidate (which I am completely for, mind you--get politically involved for the sake of our country!) But in the end, political victory will only stem the tide. It cannot do what a country of Christians can do as individual saints--which is save our youth from a life of pride, self-centeredness, immaturity, disobedience, confusion, isolation, loneliness, divorce and misery. 
Battle Gear
We must become saints. Saints who have conquered sin, not for the salvation of our own souls, but to give a reality to Christ--right now. To bring the power of Christ to a nation that is hungering for truth and authenticity. 
Love others enough to become a saint for them. 
Cast away your own selfishness and desires, place your rights at the foot of the Cross and be Christ to the world so that they can feel His love, His concern, His nearness. 
You will not receive love in return, you will receive pain. But some of those Roman soldiers who scourged Christ, some of those who screamed out the loudest “crucify Him!” were the very ones who fell to their knees at the feet of the Apostles and would later stand, head held high, while a colosseum of scoffers giddily watched them being torn to bits for their faith.

And some of those watching the martyrs in the colosseum would themselves be crushed by the weight of the cross and later join them in facing down death for their Lord. This is the story of the early church. Saints overcoming in the face of terrible slaughter, so that others will find the strength to overcome. 
This is not about a work-based salvation, this is about love. Loving others enough to boldly proclaim the truth, to be truth, to live truth so that others will look at the strength of our love and have the audacity to repent and be saved--to live as someone saved
Fighting sin in our lives is not about a self-centered fear of hell, but to save others from the doom of today, the agony of the results of their sins they commit, the wrong choices they make that ruin the gift of life God has given them as they walk this earth! 
Our silence is a crime against our children, blinding them, enslaving them to make the same mistakes and lead the ruinous lives we see all around us. And if you don’t see the sin in the insidious little lies we tell and hear daily, the arrogant flouting of wickedness, the collapse of our culture, then may God have mercy on your soul. You have closed your heart to the cries of God’s creatures.
Many will agree with my assessment, many of you disagree but almost all will read this and then click back to your jobs and your life with an impenetrable apathy, the church of Laodicea, and will draw back into a victimhood mentality and lament about how evil the world is getting. 
But I know there are those of you already in the epic battle doing amazing things for God and pressing onward to perfection out of love for your neighbor. Your prayers will avail much and the heavens will open one day, clearing away the rubbish of lies and you will receive endless blessing from those who your fight for the right gave them the courage to choose a better life here. Your courage to face down the tsunami of lies, though it left you alone, battered and bleeding, was watched by at least one pair of innocent, little eyes--who stood against temptation and made the right choice and saved him or herself from being enslaved by sin-- because they saw God in you.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


You have finally arrived in Heaven, having lived a life of total obedience and commitment to Christ. You run up with rapturous joy to who you recognize as St. Peter standing outside the pearly gates. He is luminous and has an ethereal gaze of love on his face. 

“You, my dear, may of course enter into the Kingdom, for you loved the Lord with all your heart, soul and strength and you loved your neighbor as yourself.” St. Peter glances past your name on the book of life he is holding and his face grows grim. He hesitates and then informs you. 

“I do have something to ask of you,” he purses his lips. “If I were to inform you that your beloved daughter’s name is not on this list...” He stopped and then continued, “We do have a substitution option available. Would you be willing to give up your place in heaven for your daughter and take her place in.... well...?” St. Peter didn’t continue. 

“Oh of course, of course! Oh please let my daughter take my place.” You respond anxiously, even though you are deeply disappointed at not being able to see Christ face to face. You never even think twice about what you will suffer for your daughter. 

“Actually, I am going to have to ask you another question.” St. Peter tapped his pencil against the tablet he was carrying. 

“There was a man that lived about a thousand years ago in China and never heard of Christ. He actually was a really good guy and he’s been kept out of heaven for quite a while. If God were to ask you a special favor, and maybe...” the saint faltered for a moment. “If you could give him your place, would you be willing to do that?” 

Is this some kind of charity test to get into heaven?” You think. Surely God would not ask this of you, but to say “no” would seem so selfish, so unchristian. So your face turns grave and you whisper, “I guess” with a gulp. “Really? No heaven?” You can’t believe what you are hearing. This was supposed to be an auto ticket because of your faith. You didn’t prepare yourself for this substitution thing. 

Evidently that still wasn’t the end of the questioning, and St. Peter looks you straight in the eye and whispers. “Dearest, there is a man who was a serial killer of children and a pedophile. He is, in the eyes of the Host of Heaven, one of the most despicable people who ever lived. Would you give your place in heaven to him?”

   You are confused. What kind of question is that? For a moment you silently stare into St. Peter's face trying to figure out if he is tricking you. You are unable to answer. And the saint doesn't retract the question. He awaits... patiently.. for your reply.

No, no, no, no, no,” you think in despair as your heart breaks. God could not possibly be asking this of you. This just isn’t how it works. This goes against all your basic beliefs about justice and mercy and God Himself. Why would God even ask such a dreadful, horrible thing of you? You had faith, just like you were supposed to. You played by God’s own rules and even were a very good person while on earth. Oh God, Oh God, you panic, this couldn’t be a real question, could it? 

You are unable to answer yes, and you sink to the feet of Peter sobbing with inconsolable wretchedness. You beat your breast and you cry out in immortal agony.  You cannot fathom why God, a God of mercy and love would ask this of you and then, confused, you answer the only words available to your lips. An answer of mysterious faith. 

“Not my will, but thine.” You are breathless and weak.

At that moment, you are taken back to the garden of Gethsemane and you feel the sweat of blood trickling down your face, the suffering blows of each of Jesus’ heartbeat against your chest. A torment unendurable to earthly flesh tears though your spirit. You experience a tiny taste of the bewilderment and abandonment of Christ as He is asked to take on the sins of the world by His Father. 

You suddenly realize that if you had said, “yes” to St. Peter’s question of allowing a sinful maniac into heaven, you would have answered incorrectly--as well as if you had said “no.” For if God had asked us to take this man’s place, we should be willing.
Neither yes nor no would not have been an answer of love, for love demands both justice and mercy. You spoke the same words of Christ when He was asked this of God. 

Not my will, but thine.” The perfect answer.

It was a true answer born of faith. Faith in God, when all human possibilities are dark and unfathomable. 
Then all is opened to you, you see with new eyes. We are not God and cannot grasp the end from the beginning as He can. The ultimate faith is a faith born of total surrender when all our control and understanding is darkened. When there is no answer but to give it all to Him--a surrender of our will and sacrifice of self to Him.

The blessed saint grabs you in his arms and lifts you gently from your faint and revives you. You see the door opened and bright light, golden and warm beckons you inside.  A deep penetrating voice, lovely and strong calls:

“Enter into the eternal paradise. Your faith has saved you.”