Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

This is in reponse to more “God Questions.”  If you are seeking answers, forward your questions. Let’s find the answers together.

Did Judas go to hell because he committed suicide?

Also, do you go to hell if you commit suicide?

 Matthew 27:3–5 (NIV) 3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. 4 “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.” “What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.” 5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

Ephesians 2:8–9 (NIV) 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

First, it is important for us to recognize how it is possible for any of us to escape eternal separation from God (hell) and that is by faith. We did nothing to earn our salvation therefore we can do nothing to lose it. How are we condemned? We all sin because we are sinners, I am not a sinner because I sin. A sinner is who I am and I am condemned on those grounds. I am saved because of who God is, not because of who I am.

So the question might be, was Judas saved by faith?

John 6:64 (NIV) 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.

The answer is clearly no. And I think it is worthy to note here that Judas was not a mere pawn in God’s plan. All that he did, he did willingly. Even Judas recognized his own guilt. The word used here for remorse in Mt. 27:3 indicates a change of mind, not a change of heart. It is an intellectual remorse not spiritual repentance.

You and I cannot see Judas’ heart, but we can judge his fruit. Did Judas’ fruit demonstrate a saving faith?

John 12:4–6 (NIV) 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

Judas’ character as revealed by the scriptures showed him to be miserly and a thief void of compassion clear up until his betrayal of Christ. So it is that Judas died a condemned man because he did not believe Christ, not because he violated the sixth commandment.

Does a person go to hell because they commit suicide?

Suicide does not damn a man although murder, even committing one’s own murder, is still a sin even if it can be forgiven. We are condemned because that is who we are without Christ.

The next question that might follow is: Can someone be a believer and still commit suicide?

To that I would answer with a question, “Are you as a believer without sin?” People commit acts of sin throughout their entire lives, even believers. And people commit suicide for many reasons, including chemical imbalances in the brain.

1 John 1:8–10 (NIV) 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

The Christian faith is unique in that it is not a works based righteousness that saves a man from the condemnation of hell. We are saved apart from our deeds, thereafter our deeds reveal our faith. James 2:24 (NIV) “24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” We are justified before men by our deeds because how we live betrays what we truly believe.

As believers we are secure in our salvation because of the way God saves us.

Ephesians 1:13–14 (NIV) 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Romans 8:37–39 (NIV) 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In conclusion, if one goes to hell it is because they died apart from Christ, not because of their deeds. Suicide can no more cancel the seal of the Holy Spirit or the finished work on the cross than lying, gossiping or sexual immorality. But if we are living like we do not believe God exists or like we do not fear God, then we would be wise to examine our selves to determine if we are in the faith.

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV) 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV) 5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?

This is a response to a “God Question” from a friend. I hope you are blessed as we examine scripture together.

#2) Does anyone know the scripture reference that says “God does not bring a desire to your heart that he will not fulfill”

This is a teaching that has emerged from Psalm 20:4 “May he give you the desire of our heart and make all your plans succeed.” An honest look at the context reveals that the promise you quoted is not supported by the text. The text does not say anything about God creating desires in someone heart. We must be very careful not to spiritualize the text such that we apply a meaning that was never intended lest we embrace a false teaching and miss the intended blessing.

This Psalm is a prayer for Israel’s king when he is called to defend himself and the nation in battle. And insomuch as David is a typecast for Christ we are justified in extending the application of the meaning to the church and the triumph of our Savior over his enemies. Setting the stage for this text we see that the king has been called into battle, that a prayer or song is composed to be presented at a sanctuary service on his behalf. After sacrifices were offered and accepted by God, the Levites (singers) and the congregation would join in the prayer of supplication for the king before he left for battle.

In applying this text to the church, it is the duty of all believers to gather together and intercede for the interests of Kingdom. We all experience distress and appeal to the power of our loving Father to protect us, rescue us and help us overcome the enemy whomever or whatever that may be. A final note, a man’s desires reveal his character. If a man loves the Lord, then his desires will reveal it. Righteous desires are always in agreement with God’s will as revealed in His Word, so we can be confident that when we contend for the faith, success is inevitable.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14

The errant teaching occurs when we make man the center of scripture; for instance, some teach that if I have a desire, because I am a Christian and I claim that “God gave me this desire”, God will make it happen. We all have evil and righteous desires, believers included. Am I to assume that because I claim the blood of Christ that God can be manipulated to achieve my will?! Of course not! God does not serve us, it is the other way around! Secondly, how do you know that God gave you that desire? Our faith is not based on arbitrary indulgences; we have an objective standard by which we can determine truth. The degree to which we know God and surrender to His will as revealed in Scripture, is the degree to which we will experience victory in our lives.

 I have been alone with my thoughts more than I care to be. This reminds me of a scene in The Mirror Has Two Faces where Lauren Bacall (playing Barbara Streisand’s mother) after a sleepless night comments to her middle aged daughter, “It’s awful to leave a woman my age alone with her thoughts.” The inference to age aside, I am realizing that when left alone I seem to default to fault-finding introspection.

I have more time on my hands recently since I am between Seminary courses right now. I love my classes, although I no longer enjoy the camaraderie of my peers now that we moved half-way across the country from my school…again. Southern Evangelical Seminary is my third college to attend because we have moved so much due to my husband’s career. I have 110 hours toward a business degree and am about 11 courses short of completing my Biblical Studies degree. Studying as an external student is isolating, almost as much, I remember, as being a stay-at-home mother of four preschoolers.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I LOVE learning! I have over 600 books on my computer (many are reference books), but I could read a book every day for 200 years and still never satisfy my insatiable appetite for knowledge. Makes me sound smart and perhaps in some circles I am, but the more I learn, the more pitifully inadequate I become.

I say all this to culminate with this confession; I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Sounds juvenile and pathetic, I know. And I am quite embarrassed at the acknowledgment of said fact; however, this undeniable observation is the elephant in the warehouse of my thoughts. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years now, and, by God’s grace, I do not have to work. This I recognize as a beautiful blessing, as I am unhindered to fully invest in my family. But still, a small part of me wants to do more—to be more. And that small part is getting louder with every day that passes.

Is this the equivalent of my husband’s mid-life crises? I hope not, because we don’t have enough room for all of Jim’s accumulated toys in the garage for me to add to the stash. I do sense an emerging desire to DO something rather than HAVE something. Everywhere we have lived, God has placed successful Christian writers and speakers in my life and many have encouraged me to pursue the same occupation. I have considered this many times, but (and here is the darkest thought that keeps occupying my mind)… I am NOBODY. I fully believe that I have nothing of value that would be of any help to anyone.

But maybe that is not an ominous thought after all…

Maybe it is essential for a simple clay pot to realize it is a simple clay pot. Apart from Christ I am nobody and can do nothing of eternal value, and perhaps that is the most proficient knowledge of all. To be content as a clay pot is liberating, to be satisfied as a clay pot is condemning. So I shall feast my mind’s eye on this: Let every breath glorify my Savior even if my service never seems to reach beyond the four walls of our home.

I foolishly believed that enduring a plethora of humiliations at Walmart at the less than stellar behavior of my children, that I have emerged a humble woman. But, no, I could still be accused of secretly desiring glory for myself. While there may be some substance to that accusation, I really just want the approval of my Father. I just want to please Him and I think we all make the mistake of confusing the praises of the world as the praises of the Father.

God can be glorified whether I am scrubbing toilets, teaching a precept to my son at the dinner table, reigning on the Best Seller list, or speaking before an audience of thousands. Loving the Lord faithfully should consume my thoughts and my actions even when no one is watching. I may never enjoy the praises of the world, and I can be content with that. I would much prefer the praises of my Father.  My purpose is not to draw attention to myself, but to draw the attention of others to Christ. Perhaps one day something eternally exquisite will arise from the confines of this simple earthen vessel. When that day comes, to God be the glory!

 

Over the course of my walk with Christ, He has allowed me the privilege to serve Him in many avenues. My favorite would be discipling and ministering to His people and reaching out to unbelievers. But sometimes I get tired. I am not superhuman, I am not callus. I have suffered in life and in doing so have acquired an ability to share the pain of others.  Compassion can only be learned through suffering. And there is a lot of suffering out there.

As you know, the financial outlook for our country is bleak at best and has resonated through every household. Mine is not exempt. Four out of twelve couples from one of our neighborhood Bible study groups have lost employment since Christmas. The injustice of bailouts padding the pockets of fat bureaucrats and their fat friends is enough to make me want to just pack up and leave . . . and go . . . somewhere. As if there is anywhere on earth not plagued with injustice.

I get frustrated. And at the same time I know that I need to remain focused for those who depend on me.

I was reading Luke 9 this morning. Jesus had sent his apostles out on their first solo mission, spreading the gospel and healing the sick. The apostles returned to Jesus and reported their experiences, and Jesus listened. Then He took them aside to be alone with Him. They traveled across a lake to Bethsaida (house of fish or house of provision), the home town of Philip, Andrew and Peter. When they arrived at the other shore there was a crowd of people waiting for them.

Luke 9:10-11

“When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, 11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.”

Mark 6:30-34 

“The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” 32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.”

Serving others is great. Listening, counseling, evangelizing, all these things are worthwhile and we should do them with joy. But don’t neglect time alone with the One who sent you. You have the power to serve and the authority to serve because He equiped you and authorized you. Sometimes it is necessary to disengage from service for a season, unplug and rest. It is not a sin to say no to busy-ness, in order to say yes to His invitation.

Is He inviting you to come with Him to a quiet place and rest? Don’t hesitate. Drop what you’re doing and climb in that boat with Jesus. Let Him minister to you. There will be plenty of work waiting for you on the other shore.

Heb. 4:16

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”

 

Jonolan is a self described Pagan who serves the war and death godess Morigu and the hunter god Cerrnunos. This interview is posted with his permission. Comments are welcome here and you can also find his blog at http://blog.jonolan.net/

Nancy (10:16 AM):  Hello, jonolan! Do you have time to chat this morning?

Nancy (10:27 AM):  Some other time.

jonolan (10:37 AM):  OK

Nancy (10:48 AM):  Are you available now?

jonolan (10:48 AM):  yes

Nancy (10:49 AM):  Super! I am intrigued how you got into grief counseling. I am interested in counseling as well.

jonolan (10:50 AM):  It was a strange and uplanned vocation on my part

Nancy (10:50 AM):  Did you receive any training?

jonolan (10:51 AM):  Some, later after I’d been doing it for a while

jonolan (10:51 AM):  It’s a fairly new form of counseling – insofar as any standards are concerned.

Nancy (10:52 AM):  How does grif counseling fit with your view of your life’s purpose as a warrior for your gods?

jonolan (10:54 AM):  It fit well – especially after the 1st time I was part of the detail that handed a flag to a young widow in trade for her husband, who’d been my close friend

Nancy (10:55 AM):  Hmm, I had suspected that you served in the military. That must have been very hard for you. Where did you find comfort at that time?

jonolan (10:57 AM):  I found comfort in my faith and it gave me the strength to lend comfort to the others. You see, we don’t have Pagan chaplains in the military, so I served as an unofficial one

Nancy (10:57 AM):  I see. How did you choose your gods? What criteria did you use?

jonolan (10:59 AM):  It’s more like they chose me. I wasn’t really looking for them. It’s hard to explain other than just a knowing and a feeling – like when many Christians read or hear scripture

Nancy (10:59 AM):  OK, why do you suppose they chose you?

jonolan (11:01 AM):  I think it is because I am a useful tool for them. My nature is that of a fighter and defender, though there’s always the strain of choosing which fight and how to prosecute it in a way that achieve the greatest good while doing least harm

Nancy (11:02 AM):  You mentioned that your faith gave you comfort, what do you have faith in?

jonolan (11:04 AM):  That what we see as death is only the death of the flesh and we – in some form – will continue, that a life given up in service is not a wasted one

Nancy (11:04 AM):  What makes your service valued?

jonolan (11:05 AM):  I don’t quite understand what you’re asking, sorry

Nancy (11:06 AM):  If your life has value because you can serve a god, what value has someone without that ability?

Nancy (11:07 AM):  I suppose another way to ask is, what determines your value?

jonolan (11:09 AM):  Ahhh – I feel a person’s value in the end will be determined by what the strove to accomplish, why they did so, and how well they strove to do so (as opposed to wheter or not they were empirically successful)

Nancy (11:09 AM):  If you were chosen by your gods because of your value, what happens when you are no longer of use to them?

jonolan (11:10 AM):  Hopefully, I will be allowed to “retire” as it were and rest in peace (pun not intended)

Nancy (11:10 AM):  Who or what determines your value?

Nancy (11:11 AM):  Is there some universal standard by which we are all measured?

jonolan (11:11 AM):  The Gods will render their judgment of me on this life when it ends.

Nancy (11:12 AM):  and what standard do they use? You must have some idea of what you should be striving for.

jonolan (11:13 AM):  I would say that there there is a universal standard, but I would also say that it is probably both so prosaic and so profound that we mortals won’t fully understand it during our lives.

jonolan (11:14 AM):  I believe the standard is – at least somewhat – how well you served Good in your heart in the fashion that you were made to do so. By that I mean how well you tried to do so.

Nancy (11:14 AM):  How do you determine what is good?

jonolan (11:17 AM):  For me it’s simple – possibly too simple – that which serves to help the human soul grow and thrive.

Nancy (11:18 AM):  And are you the one who determines what that is? In otherwords, is good relative?

jonolan (11:21 AM):  No, I’m not the one who determines that – but I am, as are we all, the one who must at times interprate what is Good vs. Evil. Is that relative? I’m not truly sure.

Nancy (11:24 AM):  Within the Christian worldview, we can know what good is because an objective universal standard exists by which to measure. Yes, that standard is infinite and finite minds fail to fully comprehend it. But that infinite good put on our limitations in the person of Jesus to reveal Himself to us. I can know what evil is because I know the standard of good. You are wise to say you do not determine what is good. What happens to you if your gods judge you unfavorably?

jonolan (11:27 AM):  That would involve torment – much like the Christian’s Hell – before eventual rebirth to try it again. Or – in the most drastic case the destruction of my soul and therefor oblivion.

Nancy (11:28 AM):  So do you live day to day without any security of your destiny?

jonolan (11:29 AM):  Yes. Don’t you? Jesus may love all, but even a loving parent must sometimes inflict harsh punishment…

jonolan (11:34 AM):  <- – BRB

Nancy (11:36 AM):  Christians are secure in their destiny because eternal life is a gift independent of my character or deeds. Salvation from eternal separation from God (hell) is entirely dependent upon the character of God and his love. If I do nothing to earn salvation, I can do nothing to lose it. My deeds and my character are evidence of His presence in my life, but His presence in my life is not dependent upon my deeds or my character. God compares himself to a parent often especially in the matter of discipline. Scripture agrees with you.“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Heb 12:5- 6

Nancy (11:37 AM):  How do your gods disciple or guide you in this life? Through your feelings?

Nancy (11:40 AM):  From what I understand of pagan practices you have no “scriptures” but you design your own worship practices. How can you know that your behavior honors your gods?

jonolan (11:42 AM):  In this life I am punished by myself for my failings and by what I feel is the more mechanical process of recriprocity. Good begets Good and Evil begets Evil – not Karma exactly, but word will serve well enough

jonolan (11:43 AM):  As for guidance, yes I’m guided by my feelings – especially after prayer

jonolan (11:44 AM):  And your right – we have few iff any scriptures left to us. Even our oral traditions were most abolished under ROme .

Nancy (11:44 AM):  What do you think you did to deserve losing your friend?

Nancy (11:45 AM):  Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good people. How do you establish a connection?

jonolan (11:46 AM):  From a religious standpoint, nothing. When we are called to fight, some must die. That is a sacrifice that must be made and I don’t believe it’s meant as punishment.

jonolan (11:46 AM):  That was to the 2nd to the last question, BTW

jonolan (11:48 AM):  How do I establish a connection? Unles it’s something happening to me or someone I’m responsible for, I try not to make the connection. To do so, implies more knowledge or judgment than I have.

Nancy (11:49 AM):  What is death to you?

jonolan (11:50 AM):  Some odd combination of: going on leave, getting a performance review, and waking up from a dream.

Nancy (11:51 AM):  How do you know that you can have eternal life?

jonolan (11:52 AM):  That has been promised and is part of the traditions that we managed to hold on to.

jonolan (11:53 AM):  Call it faith if you will.

Nancy (11:54 AM):  How do your gods relate to what you are going through? How do they know suffering?

jonolan (11:56 AM):  I think my Gods relate to my suffering, such as it is, in the manner that parent reacts to their child going through a difficult but necessary time in life.

Nancy (11:59 AM):  That parent has experienced suffering himself so he can empathize as one who bears that pain with the child. But it seems that you are a pawn for your gods and they cannot empathize with you or comfort you as a parent would a child. I say this as an observant from what you have told me of your gods, not to be demeaning. How do your gods comfort you?

jonolan (12:04 PM):  I have been remiss in explanation then. My Gods have set me in harm’s way because they must. It is more of a parent sending their child off too war – or school – than a tyrant spending a pawn. I serve them true, but it is out of love; they are stern but not unloving. How do they offer me comfort though? They guide me to people and places that show me that what is happening has meaning and purpose.

jonolan (12:05 PM):  It doesn’t take much really. Sometimes just seeing families playing the parks and knowing that they have no clue about many of things I’ve een and done is enough.

Nancy (12:06 PM):  Do you see yourself as privvy to special revelation? How did you come to this revelation?

jonolan (12:08 PM):  No, I don’t see myself as privy to special revelation. Anyone can see the same things; they just have to look.

Nancy (12:09 PM):  What happens to all the people who do not see what you see?

jonolan (12:09 PM):  How do you mean?

Nancy (12:11 PM):  What happens to all the people who do not have your revelation or your understanding of reality? How are they judged by your gods?

jonolan (12:12 PM):  They do not serve my Gods; they will be judged by their own Gods and held to Their standards.

Nancy (12:13 PM):  How are people matched with gods?

Nancy (12:13 PM):  Are you saying they are judged according to the gods they choose? what if they do not choose a god?

jonolan (12:13 PM):  I really don’t know and it’s a question I ask myself fairly often.

jonolan (12:15 PM):  I’m saying that their Gods will judge them according to Their standards. I’m frankly unsure of what happens to those without Gods.

jonolan (12:15 PM):  I’ve got to go for about 20 minutes

jonolan (12:15 PM):  sorry

Nancy (12:16 PM):  That’s fine it’s been lovely talking with you this morning. Have a beautiful day, jonolan!