Tag Archives: death

Spiritual attack

I suppose Good Friday isn’t a time to be whining, good things are happening, the Lord has been blessing us. But it’s hard to break this feeling of being under both spiritual attack and spiritual oppression.
In my heart I know that is a good thing, if you are truly being effective for the Kingdom, you certainly put a target on your back, you are going to attract Satan’s attention. In that sense I say bring it, if I’m going to be the one to suffer the slings and arrows, if I am taking the hits for Jesus, He tells us that we should rejoice, that it is commendable: “ESV Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
People who are just going through the motions, trying to stay “safe”, not stepping out for Jesus or His church, they aren’t a threat to Satan, so he’s not going to cause them grief. Wouldn’t the strategy be more to keep people kind of fat and happy and isolated? You just stay there and go by the numbers and nothing happens to you, I’m just interested in the guy who is trying to bring the Kingdom of Christ into my world. This is Satan’s world, those who are Christians are in the world, but not of the world. Seems that for those who actually step out, they draw the fire, while everyone else hides behind their barricades.
Jesus certainly stepped out, Jesus certainly confronts the world and no matter how attacked I feel, I know that Jesus is going to be there to support me and to keep me going. Jesus promised us: “And behold, I am with you always even to the end of the age.” (Matt 28: 20) In the meantime I certainly covet your prayers, I continue to pray that I stay strong and faithful, trusting that if I am drawing Satan’s fire, then Jesus must be using me effectively and I’m staying out of His way as best I can. But pray that this oppressiveness will be turned from feeling as if I’m being pushed down and give me strength to rise up and push back hard in the strength of Jesus Christ. We remember the death and sacrifice of Jesus today, His paying for our sins on that cross. Good Friday is the second most important day on the Christian calendar. On this day, Jesus made full payment for our sins, lifted what separates us from the Father. Sunday, He rises from the dead, our sins have been paid for and now we are restored to eternal life in Christ, the life that the Father had always intended for us in our resurrection. This is a great time for family, but set some of that time to worship together, today and Sunday. In His peace.

U.S. suicide rates rise sharply article by Tara Parker-Pope New York Times May 2, 2013 as quoted in Leadership Journal Summer 2013

This article really hit home with me because what of suicide means to me as a Christian and especially in terms of the fact that the group most affected, is becoming most likely to commit suicide are men in their 50s, like me.

So what’s the difference? Clearly as a Christian, as a pastor, I see suicide as the final act of those who are hopeless, who see nothing else left to live for and so chose to stop.

Why men in their 50’s? Parker-Pope points out factors such as economic, availability of prescription painkillers. That might accelerate the process, but, in my opinion, that’s not the core issue. As a Christian my faith is in the promises of our Lord Jesus Christ, my hope is in Him only, not in the economy, my expectations, what other people think etc. She does go on to point out that “…it hinted that deeper issues like failed expectations and a loss of hope might be a root cause.” She quotes “Dr Julie Philips, a researcher from Rutgers: ‘The boomers had great expectations for what their life would look like, but … It hasn’t turned out that way.'” She goes on to say that future generations will be facing the same situation.

I can certainly speak as being part of that demographic and can relate. Twenty five years ago I finally finished my business degree working for Motorola and there was no doubt in my mind that I was finally on my way to at least being a CFO for, at least, a mid-cap company. If you had told me that I would be a Lutheran pastor in York, Pa., I would probably have suggested that they might cut out smoking, drinking whatever was messing with their mind.

Middle aged men today have become all about their job, achievements, their house, their car, well you get it. That’s it, their total investment is in how they amass money/ things. I hear it constantly from men “oh yeah, I don’t need church, blah, blah,” and they will spout some inane nonsense about how they know it all, don’t need none of that, again blah, blah. The more they talk, the more obvious they don’t know what they’re talking about. But hey I will concede that the church has gone out of it’s way to make itself less relevant to men. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s all about the job, making money etc.

In addition to not needing church, don’t need government, because they’re all crooks, doesn’t make a difference, again blah, blah. Men aren’t getting educations because it doesn’t make a difference, the only thing that makes a difference is how much money, the quality of their possessions. Men in their 50’s are statistically supposed to be at the peak of their earning, on their way to having a nice easy retirement etc, etc. The reality is that most are finding that is not going to be the case, that they haven’t achieved what they thought they were supposed to and everything that they’ve pinned their hope on is simply not going to happen. Their hope is gone, the supposed promise of the American Dream is simply not going to happen.

Let’s cut to the chase, yes of course each of us is responsible for running our life, but we need to realize that it’s not about what we ultimately do, it’s what God guides us to do. I had a certain set of expectations, but I was clearly led by God to be where I am now and there’s no doubt in my mind that there’s much more to come. It may be where I’m at, or something entirely new, but when I look back on my life I have no doubt as to who was guiding it. I’m not saying that I’m somehow “chosen” I’m not saying that I’m any kind of special case at all. I am saying that if more people, not just men, trusted in what God was doing and quit trying to live by their own expectations, they would find life to be a more of an adventure, a lot more fulfilling, more authentic and in the end? Maybe not the big bank account, big house etc. But knowing that they have lived according to God’s will, they’ve lived the life that God guided them in and in terms of living their true life, in the resurrection, they will be blessed and yes, the building treasure in heaven that Jesus makes many references to.

Space and inclination don’t permit me to get into a discussion of suicide, but it’s God who gives us life and it’s His decision what happens and when He decides to call us home, suicide is never the solution in any respect. Pride, anger, disappointment are not acceptable, but in a society where we have this idea that it’s all about us and we can do what we want, when we want, well God is simply not going to bless that.

It’s way past time for us all to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and trust in the hope and promises of the Bible, God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We are responsible for the conduct of our life, but that responsibility is realized when we trust in what God is doing in our life and not our own desires and expectations.