The Will to Live

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Testimony: by West Miller

 

God’s Word tells us the He has put eternity in all of our hearts.  We know internally that ‘something’ has both been around forever and lasts forever.  We can’t quite put our finger on it because it’s above our understanding, like so many things are concerning the God we worship.  

Suicide seems to be on the rise these days.  Primarily young men and women losing their will to go on living for reasons only they can define. My younger brother John used to tell me jokingly (though not really that funny) that I’ve had experiences that others, for lesser reasons, have taken their lives over.  I suppose that was meant to make me feel better about my circumstances.  Granted, I have indeed had circumstances that were difficult to get over, to say the least.  My poor brother ended up taking his life in 2008.  My other younger brother is no where to be found.  

 All three of us grew up in the military and we are all also military veterans.  I was drafted right out of Oceanside High four months after graduating.  The Vietnam War was hot and heavy at the time.  After getting my notice I ran down and joined the Navy and chose my rate before going in as a Hospital Corpsman (f I were to go to Vietnam it would be in that capacity.)  It turned out that I ended up staying stateside, more of a second responder than a first responder in the combat zone.  At the time the Philadelphia Naval Hospital had turned into the largest orthopedic hospital on the planet due to all the wounded men—primarily with one, two, or all limbs missing—that advancing technology was able to save.  In WWII and Korea these same men would not have made it.  This is when I really got a glimpse of one’s ‘will to live’.  These individuals were my age, and yes, many were losing the will to carry-on.  I wrestled with this from the age of 18 to 21.  I did not know the Lord as of yet and so very much struggled with how to encourage my peers to want to live on when they could not see much of a life in front of them.  I understood their perspective and also myself related somewhat to their mindset.

It IS an absolute miracle that our Lord and Savior has instilled in us this will to live. But, I believe with all my heart that, unless we discover and adhere to the calling of the Holy Spirit, recognizing that ONLY in Christ Jesus is there life, that the will to live can fail us.  I discovered this truth after I did my time in the Navy, still very lost and confused and questioning if there was a life worth living or pursuing.  Well the answer was given for me when I did surrender my life over to Christ.  Even though there were some backsliding years, I have never lost that ‘will to live’ thing since then.  God created us for a reason.  I believe that reason is to live and fellowship and worship Him.  

Today I live with multiple health issues, very serious ones, which, for most walking through this life without the Lord, would be a death sentence. And yet, as it stands, despite those issues, I have a reason to live; I have a strong ‘will to live’ and I thank God for that.  I have, and you have, an eternity that we can look forward to despite whatever life hands us in the interim.  Hallelujah!  We have no reason for our souls to be downcast.  The ‘world’ would say that I have every reason to be depressed enough to not want to live.  And yet I have every reason, in this temporary place – TO LIVE!  MAY GOD BLESS – LIVE FOR JESUS!  SPREAD THE GOOD NEWS!

 

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;  that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths."

Proverbs 14:27 "The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death."

Proverbs 18:14 "The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, But who can bear a broken spirit?"

John 11:25-26 "Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 "Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Jesus our King-Priest

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By: Matthew Carver

 

Psalm 110

V1 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!….

V4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

 

Often when we have a prior commitment to not like another person or a group of people, we take great effort to avoid taking a good solid look at any evidence that would change our opinion.  The result is a caricature of that person, a straw man, a shadow of what the person is really like.  This caricature exists until the unexpected moment when they or a representative of that group bursts our bubble and does something outside our preconcieved critical box.  We are then forced to admit that we only had a single faceted perspective of that person.  And so one country dehumanizes another during war time, only to discover later that they might relate a lot with those people, or every politician is judged as a sell-out until we discover one making principled decisions.  And in just the same way the world looks at Jesus and, not wanting to take a good solid look, caricatures him into one extreme or another.  They say “he is too soft and gentle and wishy washy with love.”  Or “he is too exclusive and extreme, hateful and even dangerous.” 

 

Without doubt the most striking aspect of the passages cited above is that, in taking an unbiased look at Jesus, it presents him as the perfect combination of polar opposites—King and Priest.  This means he will always be bursting our bubble, and doing something surprising to us.  Neither kingliness or priestliness as characteristics appeal immediately to the modern mind, not understanding in our society either Kings or priests.  However, to the one who captures the true feelings that would be appropriate toward these two titles, Jesus becomes the perfect combination of equal opposites, and therefore the only adequate object of our worship. 

So what does this mean for us?  How can we best approach our King Priest in his multifaceted goodness?  Consider some of the applications below: 

 

Are you tempted to do evil?  Then you need a righteous King to lead you into righteousness.    

Have you done evil?  Then you need a priest to present a sacrifice that causes your conscience to be purified. 

 

Are you currently rebellious?  You need a King to submit to. 

Are you suffering and needy?  You need a priest to satisfy your need. 

 

Are you uplifted in you heart? You need a King great enough to humble your pride. 

Are you depressed in your heart?  You need a Priest low enough to lift you to joy. 

 

Are you facing some battles? Let your King give you power. 

Are you weakened from battles? Let your priest refresh you. 

 

Does the love of God seem weak, soft, or boring? God must become King to you so that you can worship him in majesty. 

Does the greatness of God seem condemning, dark, and distant?  God must become Priest to you so that you can draw near with confidence of acceptance. 

 

Are you in need of correction?  Your King has sufficient power to do that for you. 

Will he destroy you in correction? No for your priest intercedes for you with his blood. 

 

Have you been wronged?  Your King will judge, but your priest stands forgiving you so that you can forgive.

 

Do you struggle to have hope that the world can be redeemed and made right?  As King he can and as priest he is willing. 

 

Our society doesn’t understand either the King or the priest.  Those of the world think they’re the kings and so therefore think they don’t need a priest.  But they are left uninspired, un-lead, unloved, and with guilt on their conscience.  We have our God who is for us all that we need him to be, and He is revealed in Christ: our King-Priest.

5 Minutes in Heaven

 

Article by Bobby Narcy

“Five minutes inside eternity…I believe everyone of us will have wished that we’d have sacrificed more, prayed more, loved more, sweated more, grieved more, wept more!”

- Leonard Ravenhill

Can you imagine entering into the glorious throne and seeing the seraphim, cherubim, angels, the elders and an innumerable host worshipping The Almighty in all his holy awesomeness…and to think He has a plan that involves me. Wow, how I bear witness to the Ravenhill’s conviction in me. How many times has Holy God wanted to glorify His Son and Himself using my life to this date. But, I was to consumed with my selfish ambitions and flesh. My devotion to “other things” is the underlying reason. Oh to know the times, oh so many times I did my own thing, and yet those same character traits are still present in my life. Do I not sacrifice, love, sweat, grieve, weep and yes even pray to get my will done? Is it not because my devotion lies elsewhere than for the King of kings and Lord of lords? Oh, that I will wish less then, and cry out and ask more now

I was reminded of Revelation 21:4 (The whole vision of this chapter is incredibly awesome and mind boggling to imagine), “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away...”

I believe that the majority of my tears on that day will be due to my lack of surrender to what God wanted to do in all circumstances in my life. The chapter that precedes the one cited above is very sobering.  A great white throne judgement where men will be judged according to their works! Whoever’s name is not found in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire! They will be tortured forever with the devil the beast and the false prophet!  Is my purpose now to allow God to use me to compel the lost to come and be reconciled? Will I not ask now to sacrifice, love, sweat, grieve, weep and pray more? I must say I am relieved for the ultimate outcome of our common salvation and that my tears will be wiped away. However, do I dare try to escape His revelation here—to not yield to the sanctifying work He died and rose to do in me? For the glory of the Father and His great name sake! 

Galatians 2:20 comes alive to me here, “I have been crucified with Christ; 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 for me.”

I praise God we have today to surrender, sacrifice, pray, love, sweat, grieve and weep more! To abide with our Lord and to seek to do His will.

Lord, please forgive me for being so self-willed and self-seeking and not heavenly minded. I do repent and I want to present myself to You a living sacrifice. Father not my will, but your will be done. Revive me for Your name sake and not mine. Live Your life in me my King!

One in Him!

NEVER HAS THERE BEEN A TIME

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Article by: West Miller

NEVER has there been a time in history where the call to the follower of Jesus Christ been more urgent.

NEVER in the history of the Christian Church Body of Believers has there been a time of a needing to SEPARATE & QUIT touching that which God has deemed unclean. (What's unclean cannot be clearly known unless one is well equipped and versed in God's Word).

NEVER has there been a time when the importance and pertinence of 'knowing' God's Word been so eminent.

We are, AT THAT TIME NOW. How many more messages on the lukewarm Church do we need to hear before we take a hard look into the mirror and closely examine our own lives with a fine-tooth comb, and, along with the miraculous help of the Holy Spirit to point some difficult truths out? What is it that 'we' are waiting for? But more appropriately, what is it that 'I' am waiting for. The evidence surrounds us (me). The news and events of 'The World' overwhelmingly floods our homes and our very lives. We see it. We feel it. Even at times, we dive in and become a part of it.

My question (prayer) to God is, "What do You want me to do Lord?" "What is Your will for me?" "What is it that I need to disassociate with Lord that revival can begin in my own lukewarm comfort"? (Here I am! Send me!(?)

Finally, "What do I have or need to do to allow You to put Your fire in me to 'stir' me up?"

Psalm 1
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but arelike the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.  For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Isaiah 6:8 

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
 
2 Corinthians 6:17
Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.”

Revelation 3:16
So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.

 

He Leads Us in His Rest

 

 

And he said to them, "Where is your faith?"  Luke 8:25

We must learn never to make any excuse for ourselves that gives us a justification to panic.  Jesus relentlessly demanded faith at all times from his disciples.  The beautiful conclusion that can be deduced from this truth is that, with Christ, there really never is a true reason not to have a faith that manifests itself practically in not panicking.  “But we are in the face of death!” So were the disciples, and Jesus still rebuked them and asked “where is your faith?”  “But we are professional fishermen and we know storms, and there was no getting out of this one.”  That’s right as far as it is reasoned without Jesus, but with Jesus present the rebuke still comes to us just as strongly.  And if there is always a reason to have faith in any circumstance, the implication is that there is always a reason to rest, like Jesus, amidst any storm. 

We must always comfort ourselves, not with possible outcomes to our circumstances, but with the attitude that Jesus himself takes toward our circumstances.  If our reasoning goes toward our desired outcome, and our heart gets set on it, immediately our panicky mind will work its way back toward the “how” that will lead to that outcome.  Our thoughts will therefore be on the oars, or the sail, or blaming those around us for not doing their job.  Ultimately we will set ourselves right up against Jesus, humanistically making our worry the measure of the situation, rebuking Him for not being worried enough!  “Master, we are perishing…” as if Jesus didn’t care, or didn’t know.  The strength to rest in the midst of storms comes not from playing out certain outcomes, but from measuring the situation according to the fact of Jesus resting.  That he is resting means there must be no true reason to be afraid. 

Jesus disciples even knew the outcome — “let us go across to the other side of the lake,”  and yet still panicked.  Jesus might want you to make it through a particular trial, he might will for your marriage to be restored or your family member to be at peace with you, but even that knowledge is not enough to sustain the human heart from panic while the marriage falls apart or while the tension is occurring at that family party.  The rest comes from looking to Jesus in his rest NOW.  Jesus, asleep on the boat, was sending his disciples a message—“This is my attitude toward all that you are afraid of, therefore it ought to be yours too.”  Jesus was not just sleeping, he was leading them in rest. 

What might Jesus have wanted them to actually do?  What would a faith-filled response have looked like to which Jesus might have congratulated them, “well done, you have shown much faith?”  It would sound very spiritual to say, “lay down with Jesus in the boat.”  But I think that a very impractical and improbable answer.  What would he have wanted?  For them to wake him up right away, at first sign of trouble, and ask him to give them his rest before they do anything.  A mature Christian is not one who rows and rows with his own strength until finally the trouble seems unconquerable, but rather one who wakes up Jesus at the first sign of trouble.  So often we are rowing in storms thinking that we are heroic victims paying the price to really help God when in fact we are only victims of our pride for waiting so long to wake Jesus up!  Wake him up with faith!  Cry out with confidence!  Beat your chest in humility!  Shake yourself from the dust of faithlessness!  If there is any fear may it be fear to face any trouble on our own.  Call upon him in a day of trouble and he will answer you and you will glorify him. 

 Now put yourself into Jesus’ place.  In his rest he bore criticism—The disciples essentially rebuked him for his rest.  For the man of faith who leads others in faith there will always be those critics trying to shake you from your slumber. “They are threatening to close the church down if we preach such and such a message, wake up and do something!”  If we respond with panic, panic will spread like a forest fire.  Once in a tense moment, after trying to work through a difficult situation, I was driving my car nervously drumming my fingers.  My wife has learned that this is what I do when I am internally panicking.  After 5 minutes or so of silent drumming she reached over and grabbed my hands and stopped me—and it struck me.  Perhaps those whom I am leading are panicking because I am panicking.  I still have not learned to lead in rest like Christ because I am still internally trying to wake Christ up that he may join me in my panic.  Perhaps I need Jesus’ rebuke, “where is your faith.”  May the Lord close down our churches, shut down our businesses, and kill us off before we are shaken out of the conviction to measure every situation according to Jesus’ rest. 

More Communion

 

When I first came to Calvary Chapel Living Hope, I was perplexed concerning how often they took communion.  I wasn’t against it, I am a Christian after all.  I think it was more that I couldn’t keep up, it seemed overbearing, perhaps, or made things seem somber unnecessarily. 

On top of that it seems that every time we took it somebody was suppose to share a word on communion.  I remember reflecting on this “how can somebody share a different communion message everyday, there aren’t that many passages in the Bible that talk about communion?”  I would say, “communion is just another thing in Christianity, just like prophecy, or spiritual gifts, or baptism.  Why this overbalance?  Grace was just one topic among many, it didn’t have a priority.”  I was constantly asking why, in our conversation at church, we couldn’t get past talking about Jesus’ death and on to better subject matter.  I was missing the only subject that matters.   

All of these thoughts were evidences that the cross represented something peripheral in my Christianity. 

It might be asked, then, what was indeed central to me in my Christianity?  The answer I have now settled on, with humble regret, is that it was myself.  I had been lured into that deceitful snare that history had told me about again and again of using religion for my own ends.  I had learned a lot about Christianity, but I had not in my heart approached the central point of Christianity: death to self, life in Christ.  The cross needed to become central so that God himself could become the end.  Not only did I need to be taught, but my whole paradigm of “do that which was most expedient” needed to be torn down.

For this God used the relentlessness of communion. 

There are many lessons that have lead me to advocate for more communion, below are three:

1) First our physical life is intrinsically tied to our spiritual life. 

Since we are bodies as well as souls, what we do with our bodies brings into (or out of) focus certain spiritual realities.

Why do we get on our knees when we pray?  Why do we lift our hands when we praise? Why come together when we eat?  Why do we find quiet peaceful places when our souls are disturbed? 

It’s not just that the physical act responds to the state of the soul.  It is also that we begin to do the physical act precisely because we are desiring a certain state of the soul.  It might be that feel humbled in a time of prayer and get on my knees, but it might also be that I can’t seem to humble my soul enough in a time of prayer and therefore I get on my knees. 

Those physical commands that Jesus did give are intended not to be simply a response to the reality in our hearts, but to awaken our hearts to reality.  Communion is one of the stokers for the fire of the heart—the cross is the fire.

Everything inside us and outside us tells us not to glorify a crucified Christ, therefore we must take communion more often.    

“God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it." -C.S. Lewis.   “Mere Christianity.”

 

2) The cross is both a receiving and a becoming, the benefits are for us, and a work is done to us. 

Therefore we eat and drink communion, because in eating and drinking we both receive and become what we eat. 

I have been confused throughout the years as I have taken communion.  At moments sitting with the elements the cross seems to be a wonderful gift of friendship.  It speaks of forgiveness and God’s offering of himself to be fellowshipped with.  Of course I would take opportunity to be reconciled to God!  When I take counsel with him, when he establishes my heart, when I find myself casting my sins upon him and knowing that sweet taste of freedom again and again—all of these are worthy of communion reflection.   

This is all illustrated in communion for in the acts of eating and drinking I am fed, I receive. 

However, there are other moments in which the over-abundant gift is shadowed by an inner question, “hey bro, what are you signing yourself up for?”  The Bible comes at me with phrases like daggers threatening my soul, “crucified with Christ…” and “baptized into his death?”  Well in answer to that question, I’m not sure I did know, but I’m sure thinking about it now.  Why?  Because I’m eating it and drinking it in communion! 

Because whatever I eat I do not only receive, I become. 

The great truth of the cross is that in my receiving the life of Christ, he will make sure to conform me to his death.  He will not leave one ounce of corruption left to dominate my soul. The dish cannot be cleaned out, the residue is too sticky, it must be re-fabricated completely.  The hardest and most wonderful truth that communion teaches us is that in our death with Christ, there, right there, is the life.  The receiving comes with the becoming. 

My pride might keep me from receiving the gift of the cross, my fear might keep me from becoming conformed to the cross, but I take communion as much as I can, and God levels them both to ground zero and makes me into new creation. 

 

3) Communion brings us to the table of fellowship. 

It is “eating” after all, and since ancient days eating has been used as an excuse for people to sit together in fellowship.  In fact Christ gave us communion at a feast of fellowship. 

The question, therefore, must be asked concerning why Christ would see the need to remind us with a physical act of communion to fellowship with him.  Wouldn’t we already want it?  Shouldn’t it be easily deduced as a beneficial thing?  Wouldn’t we think that the invitation to come and enjoy some time with a friend would be often taken advantage of?  Why should we have to be reminded that the point of this whole thing is “to know him.” 

Unfortunately the track record of religious humanity tells us a different story.  From priests to the people, from popes to laymen, from mega church pastors to country church members, from high church to low church to high, and from paganism to pantheism, and from California to China, humanity does not desire God for God’s sake, humanity desires to use God for his own sake.  “You seek the scriptures for in them you think you have life, but these are they which speak of me, and yet you will not come to me that you might have life.” 

What does communion teach us in the midst of this?  Come to God to enjoy God at a table of fellowship.  The idol depresses us and the idol exalts us, but at the table of joyful fellowship with the Lord, we forget us, because we are enamored with Him for his own sake.  We need Him as often as we can have Him, therefore we take communion “as often as we drink it, in remembrance of Him.”

JESUS: “The trouble is that you have been thinking of the quiet time, of Bible study and prayer, as a means for your own spiritual growth. This is true, but you have forgotten that this time means something to me also. Remember, I love you. At a great cost I have redeemed you. I value your fellowship. Just to have you look up into my face warms my heart. Don’t neglect this hour, if only for my sake. Whether or not you want to be with me, remember I want to be with you. I really love you." - Robert Boyd Munger from “My Heart—Christ’s Home”

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