Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday's Faith - The Truth Behind Our Shattered Beliefs ~by Tommy and Angie Prince

Friday's Faith

The Truth Behind Our Shattered Beliefs

~by Tommy and Angie Prince

"In this world you WILL HAVE trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

~John 16:33b

Though God hates death, God even uses death, in ways mysterious to us, to further His Kingdom and bring Himself glory...

We talked in last weeks' posts of the Assumptive Beliefs we unwittingly fell for somewhere in our lifetime, only to have our Spiritual Foundation turned upside down when our baby girl was killed.

Many of today's false prophets tickle peoples' ears with what we want to hear --

"You are protected by God, you will be safe, you will prosper, you will be blessed..."


So you're left reeling, shaking your head, trying to grapple with these Assumptive Beliefs blown wide open.

If the church where you were going taught such "magical thinking," how then can you go back to church? Your experience has been totally opposite to such teachings. So how is the church going to help you now? Their teachings have failed you.

Jesus even prayed for His followers both then, for those with Him, and now, for those of us coming to know Him many generations later ~ He prayed for our protection as He knew He was leaving this earth. (~John 17)

But He also told us that as He was treated, so would we be treated...

(~John 15:18-21)

But this must not set well in the craw of the Tickle-the-Ears preachers...

I don't think I ever in all these many years heard a sermon about what evil horrors fell on each of the beloved Apostles Jesus had hand-chosen to follow Him and serve those He loved...

Let's take a walk through the Land of Suffering in the Valley of the Shadow of Death...

In Luke 12:14, we see the names of all the twelve that Jesus chose to be His disciples. We know what happened to the 12th one who rebelled and betrayed the Living Lord: Judas Iscariot after selling Jesus to the enemies that hated Him and wanted to kill him, had massive regret and chose to kill himself.

What about the other 11 Apostles?

  1. Simon Peter after years of bringing the Gospel to the Jews was challenging the magic of Simon Magus who was favored by Nero. Peter was imprisoned and led a captain of the guards to Christ, along with many others. Peter is scourged, then crucified upside down because he does not feel worthy to die in the same way as did his Lord.
  2. Andrew (who had first introduced his brother Simon Peter to Jesus) was the first real friend to Jesus. He was the one who brought before Jesus the little boy with the loaves and the fish which Jesus blessed, and then they were able to feed 5,000 hungry people. Andrew also introduced the first Greeks to Jesus. Years after Jesus died, was resurrected, and ascended to Heaven, Andrew met his death because he refused to worship a pagan god. According to legend, Andrew's last words were, "Would, Father, that I had time to teach truth to my murderers..."
  3. James, the brother of John was one of the three apostles who was in Jesus' "inner circle" - the three, Peter, James, and John were the three who went with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before the crucifixion where they were asked by Jesus to please pray for Him. Years later, James spread the gospel to Spain. He was the first disciple to suffer martyrdom; upon his death, his body was returned to Spain.
  4. John the Apostle was exiled to the Isle of Patmos where he was banished by Domitian because of his testimony of Jesus Christ, but he used this time to write the book of Revelation which is now the last book of our Bible. He was sentenced to labor in the mines of the island. When he was released from his banishment, he moved back to Ephesus where he died shortly thereafter from natural causes at the age of 100.
  5. Philip had a powerful ministry in Carthage, North Africa. He traveled to Asia Minor where he converted the wife of a Roman governor (a proconsul). So to retaliate, the governor had Philip arrested and then cruelly put to death.
  6. Bartholomew (who was first called Nathanael) was the apostle that first argued with Philip when he told Nathanael he had found the Messiah, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" but then when Philip took him to Jesus, Nathanael proclaimed "...thou art the Son of God; thou art King of Israel" when he first saw Christ. After Pentecost, going by the name of Bartholomew, he traveled with Philip throughout the East -- to Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt, and then Armenia where Bartholomew was beaten and crucified.
  7. Matthew opened the door to the gospel in Persia, Egypt, and Ethiopia but was later killed with a spear in Nadabah, Ethiopia.
  8. Thomas took the gospel to Syria and India. He preached to Parthians, Medes, and Persians. Later Thomas was stabbed to death by Brahman priests in Mylapore, India.
  9. James, the son of Alphaeus preached the gospel in Persia where he was beaten and stoned to death by the Jews at the age of 94.
  10. Simon the Zealot, because of his zealous nature had always believed that Jesus had come to establish a kingdom on earth, and like others, he was sure that Jesus would eventually overthrow the Roman rule. He became loving and gentle through his association with Jesus. He was present at the Last Supper and at Pentecost. Then he was reported to have gone to Babylon and the Black Sea area to share the gospel. He then finished his work in the land known as Great Britain. One tradition says that Simon was martyred in Great Britain, but others claimed that he was martyred along with Judas, the son of James in Persia.
  11. Judas, the son of James (also called Thaddeus) went with Simon the Zealot to Great Britain. They then went to Persia to proclaim Christ where they were torn apart by a Persian mob.
  12. Matthias was the apostle who replaced Judas Iscariot after his death. Matthias preached Christ in Asia Minor and Syria. He was burned to death in Syria.

Other familiar names from Jesus' followers:

James, the half-brother of Jesus was martyred. He was brought before the Sanhedrin and accused of blaspheming the law. He was brought to the pinnacle of the temple, thrown down, and was clubbed and stoned to death.

Barnabus was martyred in Salamis, Cyprus.

Titus died on the island of Crete.

Andrew was crucified in Patras.

Luke was crucified with Andrew in Patras.

Timothy was stoned to death after protesting festivities in honor of the pagan goddess Diana.

John Mark took the gospel to Alexandria, Egypt. While there, he enraged a mob by telling them that the pagan god Serapis was worthless. Mark was dragged by a rope around his neck through the streets by horses and was then imprisoned for the night. The following morning, the same ordeal was repeated until his death.

Paul was converted by a vision of Christ after Jesus had ascended to Heaven, so Paul never personally met Jesus, yet he declared to Timothy, "I KNOW HIM whom I have believed." He brought the gospel to the Jews and wrote and taught to all he could that one could have intimate spiritual intercourse with Christ the Lord. He also richly believed and taught of Jesus' ultimate victory and triumphant reign. Paul met his martyred death by being beheaded.

Perhaps if we had been steeped in this knowledge of what can actually happen to you EVEN, and especially, if you are a follower of our Lord, we would not be so shocked when we are subjected to the horrors of the Vile One, neither by what he does to our loved ones nor by what he might do to us.

Instead, we too often have been steeped in a version of Christ that has been re-sculpted (if not downright mutilated) into a

"Gospel" of "Consumer Benefits":

"Here's what you can get from God!"

We hear the "Tribal Speak" of language that is geared toward our getting "what we want" in life through God's "blessing us" because "God loves us." That message has infiltrated the church of today.

Because of this "Consumer Benefits" approach, there is no language and no explanation for the alternative.

This altered state of the church does not seem to be interested in ministering

  • to the depths of one's soul, or
  • to someone's damaged soul or spirit, or even
  • to one's faulty assumptive beliefs that have been blown to bits by the death of his/her child.

IInstead, it has a preoccupation with the "Consumer Benefits" and "Sin-Management" of one's life. And there are streaks of paganism running throughout these messages and their presentations. There is a message that

"Somehow we need to be d-o-i-n-g something more to please God... What is wrong with me that God didn't do this? I could have done something to alter the course of God's feelings toward me..."


That is why Tommy wrote the earlier post, "THERE IS NO ROOM IN THE INN FOR THE EMOTIONALLY WOUNDED."

Being emotionally wounded doesn't fit with the "Consumer Benefits" approach... unless of course you yield to the promptings of many to "get over" your grief, or at least HIDE YOUR GRIEF so that your pain "doesn't make God look bad," or at least that's the underlying message behind their words.

There is a strong push to "Stop Being Authentic," that we need to present a "Peachy-Keen" front to everyone so that we can be a good testimony to God.

-- What an insult to the Living Lord! --

King David, the psalmist, did not present "Peachy Keen" when he was hurting, and He was deemed by the scriptures as "a man after God's own heart."

Religious institutions are made up of rules and accepted roles and behaviors. Being injured or emotionally damaged is unacceptable to a religious institute.

"Failure" is not tolerated. They have defined the gospel as "God loves you and great things are going to happen to you."

Then there's no narrative for the alternative except the very message that Job's friends gave him (that we now know that God Himself was furious over) when they said,


It's the difference in seeing God as a bunch of rules, roles and behaviors we keep -- which is flat, static, and dead, versus seeing God as alive, Spirit, dynamic, able to meet you in the deepest hell on this earth when you feel like a failure spiritually, and God says,


"There's something wrong with our belief system when life 'happens' and our version of the gospel cuts us off from the Source."

~Dallas Willard

Yes, there's something wrong with our belief system when life "happens" and our version of the gospel cuts us off from the Source--our living, loving God who is there for us through thick and thin--even, and especially, through the deepest, darkest Valley of the Shadow of Death where we have lost our precious child.

Tommy says,

"I'm not mad at God as much as I am mad at WHAT I believed about God. THAT about did me in!"

Stained Glass Picture, thanks to @LillyAnn
From the lecture "Mental Health and Holiness" presented by Dallas Willard to the American Association of Christian Counselors (2003)

Facts about the Apostles of Christ from two books:
The Untold Story of the New Testament Church by Frank Viola (2004)
Jesus and the Twelve (1960)


1 comment:

AprilP said...

Aunt Angie,
That was a powerful message, and one that everyone needs to hear. The question we all want to know is, "Why would a loving, just God allow such suffering in all of our lives...especially the lives of his own beloved children?" Why does God allow some children to be abused and neglected; rape to occur; violence; children and loved ones murdered or taken away too soon--when He could step in and stop it, if He chose to? Then we look to the cross, the Ultimate Suffering. If God sent on purpose His own Son from heaven because of His great love for us, to suffer such agony and pain leading up to and while on the cross, why wouldn't He allow suffering in our lives to keep us close to Him or to promote His kingdom in the way He chooses? After all, He created us all for His purpose. And then of course He has allowed Satan loosed on the earth. I believe HIs main objective is to show exactly what is shown in Job's life...that His children will choose Him, even in the midst of extreme suffering. At least that is what He wants us to do. What we do sometimes is look to the world for our answers and purpose...or within our own hearts. We think the purpose in life is to be happy...but when you look at Jesus' life, He is called "A Man of Sorrows". I agree that a lot of churches have sugarcoated the Christian life in general...or just generalize it ("in this life you will have suffering") without being specific about our true suffering (or, for example, the suffering of the disciples--which I had never heard--one would think that they, of all people, would have been just ushered up into heaven!) that we all are going to experience and have experienced at some point or another. We are instructed in God's Word to share our pain and burdens with each other in order to help and encourage one other, all the while putting our faith and trust in Jesus for our strength and to heal our broken hearts. And He does. I'm sure pastors don't want to scare people off from the Christian faith either, so maybe that's why deep suffering is kind of "skipped over". But whether Christian or not, everyone experiences pain here in this broken, corrupt world. Some day, all of the reasons behind our suffering will come to light. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

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