A Cheerful Misery

Grief

Grief

Things have been really hard in my life lately. Really hard. When God starts changing someone, it seems like everything hits him at once. At least that is how it happens in my life. Everything in my life gets turned upside down and inside out, beaten to pieces, and the chaff burned to smoke and dust. It is hard, brutally hard, but oh so worth it.

Do you hear that? It is worth it.

Everything is worth drawing closer to God, learning to hear His glorious voice in every moment of every day, seeing your old, evil self being destroyed, that causes you so much trouble and heartache.

It. Is. Worth. It.

Even if God shreds up my life and throws away every goal and desire I have and sends me in the utterly opposite direction, tearing me from everything I hold dear but Him, if through it He brings me to something better, it will be worth it.

But that isn’t what I came here to say, though it came out and it is true, every word of it. I wanted to tell you about something that I learned in one of the blackest of my recent black days.

I was struggling with my depression, for I was very depressed. I was in misery over myself, and I still am. I hated myself, and not just the me in the past (hate isn’t strong enough of a word for him, honestly), I hated the me in the present. I hated the wasteful, despicable, pathetic, lazy, wicked, addicted, helpless, useless, evil, vulgar, arrogant, selfish, empty, hypocritical self.

And I was worried that I shouldn’t be that way. People kept on telling me that we should be cheerful, and fight against depression, and not forget this and that motivating spiritual fact. But this spiritual fact remained: I was a wretch, and I knew it; I failed God regularly, and I knew it; I acted hypocritically and despicably, and I knew it.

So sitting there, angry and frustrated with myself, praying to God, reading my Bible, I went again to the Beattitudes, one of my favorite passages of Scripture. Meditating on it, I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before.

Matthew 5:3-11 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

These are, as I have always learned and taught, steps. Each one follows the one preceding it. Each one is the foundation of the one following it. It is a sequence, a pathway to life. I knew this.

But I didn’t know this:

You can know if you are stepping properly, if your actions lead you along the path.

Simple, yet profound. And very helpful.

How do you know the difference between depression and poorness in spirit? Are you being drawn and and led and driven to mourning?

How do you know if your mourning is repentance, and not selfishness? Are you being drawn and led and driven to meekness?

How do you know your meekness is humility and not slavery? Are you being drawn and led and driven towards a deep and insatiable desire for righteousness?

This was how I discovered that my misery was a godsend, and an answer to prayer. And I was grateful for it. And I pray it never ends.

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Go Kill Yourself

I really hate myself.

I really do. I do stuff that is just plain evil. I seek after the wrong things. I do things that are utterly unpleasing to God. I am so far from God’s desire for me that it isn’t even funny. Every time I try to do right I don’t make it. It seems like everything I do is a waste a lot of the time because I simply am not doing it for God but for myself.

Bleach. Why don’t I just kill myself? I mean, that is what the Bible says, right? Paul said he ‘dies daily’ and that we are ‘dead to sin.’ The Bible also says that the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things, so why bother keeping it? Why not just go to heaven and cash in on that great and glorious body that doesn’t sin?

Yes, I do feel like that sometimes. I honestly do. Quite a bit actually.

But it is wrong. And you know it is wrong.

God loves us unconditionally, and He has a plan for us on this planet, even while we struggle daily with sin. That is clearly stated many times in the Bible, and we need to turn to those Scriptures when we feel down about our sin. We need to realize God’s glory in our lives.

But I think there is a fundamental misunderstanding underneath that attitude that is not commonly addressed as wrong, and which, I think, is actually commonly taught and promoted by godly pastors and teachers.

That is sad. And I want to address it here if possible.

The Bible talks extensively about the Old Man. It also talks about the New Man. It talks about our Flesh. It talks about the Holy Spirit. It talks about a lot of things. But how are these particular things connected?

Romans 6:6-7 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with [him,] that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not.

So that is pretty clear, right? Our flesh is bad, really bad, and it needs to be as good as dead to us. Really dead. Seriously dead. As dead as we can make it. That means that anything that pleases our flesh ought to be completely cut out of our lives and treated as an abomination to God, right?

I mean, that is what the Bible says over in Romans 8:13 that “if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” And then if you throw in 1 John 2:16 (“For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”) it becomes even more obvious. Our fleshly bodies are absolutely horrendous things, incapable of doing anything good or liking good things.

Actually not that simple.

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

Oh.

God wants… our fleshly bodies to be alive? And not only that, but somehow they are supposed to be holy and acceptable unto God! It almost sounds like we are talking about two different fleshes here.

That is because we are. We are talking about the Old Man and the New Man. Or, as we could also put it, the Old Flesh and the New Flesh.

To see this we are going to take a little trip through some parallel passages in Scripture.

Romans 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

We have seen that one already, but I want you to focus on the key phrases highlighted in bold, and keep them in your mind as we go on.

Ephesians 4:22-25 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;

24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Okay, I want you to notice the parallels between the mentions of renewing of your mind, and between the connection implied thereby between the Living Sacrifice and the New Man. And now we can continue this series with:

Colossians 3:8-12 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

10 And have put on the new [man,] which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

There is an obvious equivalence between the New Man and the Living Sacrifice, especially when you stack these passages up. And in connection with that is an equally obvious fact that the Old Man and the Flesh is the same thing.

So what does that mean?

It means that our flesh doesn’t have to be bad. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Think about it: God made us with bodies. He invented pleasure. He invented our flesh. He made its desires to be the way they are.

But He made them for a particular purpose: to be a Living Sacrifice. He designed us to live in submission to His Holy Spirit (which is the power that makes us able to obey His Word and become like His Son), so that the flesh does not serve itself only, but rather, Him.

A Living Sacrifice. We trade allegiances, and that makes our flesh into a New Man.

And suddenly passages like 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 make more sense:

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost [which is] in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

God wants our flesh to become like the flesh of Christ: wholly submitted to Him. So what does that mean for us, today? It means that we don’t just kill the Old Man, our flesh: we need to resurrect our flesh as the New Man by the power of Christ.

Romans 6:4-5 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:

We can stop being miserable with our Old Flesh, and start living in victory with our New Flesh. Our ‘fleshly’ appetites are not our enemies… when submitted to Christ and His glory.

So, does that make sense? How do you see this affecting your daily walk?

Validation, an Awesome Movie

If you haven’t noticed, I love movies. Period. Even movies that are from worldviews that are absolutely opposed to mine. I just like movies.

But this one I love.

I absolutely think it is one of the best short films I have watched, and I think you are absolutely missing out if you don’t sit down and watch it sometime. It is only about 15 minutes.

It teaches beautiful and important lessons in a beautiful and striking way.

So without further ado…

Validation.

Love it doncha? 😀

What do you think? How has this inspired you to live your life differently?

And you are awesome if you comment. Seriously. You are. Most people wouldn’t take the time to do it. Most people just drop a ‘thanks’ or something like that. Even those people are awesome. But you guys who comment on my posts with great thoughts (that often times put my writing to shame)…

You.

Are.

Awesome.

😀

Crippled and Blind, yet in a Marching Band

Greetings,

This young man has no eyes, and cannot walk, yet his God-given musical talent is tremendous.

No Legs, No Arms, Big Faith

Greetings,

Nick Vujicic is an amazing example of faith and strength, from whom we can all learn.

Sit Down Comedy

Greetings,

This is the first in a series of similar videos that I found entertaining as well as inspiring: enjoy!

Merry Christmas!

Greetings and Felicitations,

Many times the mere mention of a person’s name will elicit a joyful response in his heart. Many times a simple Thank You, or a You Are Welcome, will do the same. Many times a little gift given unasked will lighten a person’s day.

There have been times where a person has given his life for another’s, but that sacrifice is not received with joy, but with apathy. This is tragic, but it is true.

Over two thousand years ago, a great gift was made. It was a greater gift than even the gift of life itself, which had been given around four thousand years earlier. God came in human form to walk among us. He taught us many things and gave us hope.

Yet although this gift was great, it was only the prelude to the greatest gift of all. Christ, the Son of God, gave His life to us. Sacrificing Himself for our sakes, He hung on a cross in our place. Yet, all too often, we neglect to even thank Him.

I pray that this Christmas season you will think on what we are remembering and celebrating: the coming of Christ, God’s gift, and also Christ’s subsequent gift to us: His life, for our liberty.

May God bless and keep you on this festive day for His glory!

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

P.S. This is a copy of the Christmas email that I sent out. If you missed it, you should have commented or dropped me a line so that I have your email address. 🙂