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Ouch!!!; or, “Is There a Doctor, in the House?”

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“Did you know that it’s true, that for me and for you the world is a ghetto?” So in 1972, said the group appropriately named “War.” Closer to present, we are told “It’s a jungle out there, disorder and confusion everywhere… Better pay attention or this world we love so much might just kill you.” That’s from the theme song of “MONK,” the TV series debuting in 2002 about the loveable, OCD “defective detective.”  And from the world of blues, pop, and Rock and Roll, take your pick. There’s a million and one songs all decrying relationships gone bad, saying in essence, “You done me wrong! Now, life ain’t worth the living.”  So, it’s unanimous. Everybody with a heart in this world, knows what it’s like for that heart to be broken. Nobody makes it out of this world without a heartful of wounds, bumps, bruises, and scars.

 

By Joseph Diop

Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop

 

This is perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of Christian faith and existence. God, our heavenly father, through crushing trials, tribulations, and afflictons, actually works out the greatest blessings to be found in this life. How can that be?, you say. Well, because it opens the way for the eternal love of Christ, who died for our sins, to gain access to the hearts of others in this world, through us. He first ministers his love for us in the midst of our heartaches, then he ministers that love through our hearts to others. Love in, love out, makes for a much better world. Love begets love begets love – God’s winning formula.

 

In this world, our Lord Jesus did not have a good experience. Like so many poets, lyricists, and commoners like me and you have all well observed, life can deal us some knockout punches – some of which feel like they’ve knocked the life clean out of us. Listen, and take fully to heart, what the word foretold of Christ’s experience in this world.

 

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted [for his own faults].

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him…

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted…

14 As many were astonished at thee; his [appearance] was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men [i.e., his body was so mangled]… (Isaiah 52:14)

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? For he was cut off out of the land of the living…   Isaiah 53:3-8, brackets mine

 

Yes, Jesus got a raw deal in this world. Life was not at all fair to him. People did him wrong in the here and now. He was tried by Govenor and Judge Pilate, questioned by him, then officially aquitted of all charges and even publicly pronounced “Not Guilty.” But then, for the sake of political expediency, He was put to death anyway. Who ever heard of such a thing?  The last the world saw of him, he was being executed like a common criminal, horribly tortured, and spitefully taunted while hanging from a cross. Then, he died following a loud and anguished cry from his cross. And thus, he did not make it out of this world without the scars to show what he suffered. Scripture records,

 

“And one shall say unto him, ‘What are these wounds in thine hands?’ Then he shall answer, ‘Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.’”  Zechariah 13:6

 

Have you ever been wounded by your friends? When the people that you love and that are supposed to love you deal you a hurt or betrayal, they strike you where no other can strike you –  in the very core of your heart.  Those are the ones that go most deeply. Those are the wounds that are felt as the sharpest pain. I think it is most telling that the word leaves us a clue to the real nature of Christ’s suffering. It says,

 

“[God] shall make his SOUL an offering for sin.” Isaiah 53:10

 

It says, Christ’s “SOUL” was the real offering. In the Bible, “soul” is more closely identified with the heart than with the flesh. His body suffered, yes. But, more to the point, it was his heart which endured the premiere suffering. Rejection, spite, hatefulness, treachery, disloyalty, verbal and emotional abuse, betrayal: these all were what Jesus experienced during his brief sojourn through this life. And, we come to find out that even in his resurrection body and in heaven, where only love, and joy, peace and understanding abide, these have all been memorialized in his body. Again, the scripture records in John 20,

 

20 And when [Jesus] had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

 

Scars do not form on a corpse, but on a living human being. Likewise, when God is in our hearts, our wounds in life only make way for the resurrection power and presence of God to form an eternal scar in its place, thus exposing the life of the God whose presence has now taken over within us. That holy and internal scar over our hearts is nothing short of the glory of the indwelling God, welling up from within to combat the damaging effects of this world. A body that does not form such scars has no life, and no power to offer others. If you are to be a maximum blessing to others, you must have some scars and STRIPES on display in your life to offer the hope of God to others. The abiding presence of the scars only memorialize the holy and boundless love existing behind them. The scripture said of Christ, “With his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).  Every good Christian soldier ought to be worth his STRIPES.  “S.T.R.I.P.E.S” really are:

 

S piritual, T estimonies, R eporting, I ndividual, P ainful, E xperiences, &  S uffering

 

So, take the time and the mind to understand this: the resurrection power to heal and recover us of all our heart wounds in life, is really nothing less than the abiding, living presence of the eternal God within us. Scripture says,  “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  He responds to all injurious and painful experiences in our life, by proportionately increasing the fullness of our knowledge of his love for us. And that abiding love in us, is what attracts and helps with the healing processes of others, as well. As the word records in Romans 5:3-5 (brackets mine),

 

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;

And patience, experience; and experience, hope:

And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad [that is, administered throughout abundantly] in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

 

Finally, the scripture asks the searching question, “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8:22).  The old negro spiritual jubilantly responds: “There is a balm in Gilead, to make the wounded whole. There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.”  Yes, there is a doctor in the house – the Chief Physician, Dr. Jesus.  And, there He administers a balm abundantly – the love of God our Father. That loves gives us wholeness, soundness, comfort, clarity, peace, perspective, and a generalized feeling of wellbeing. If there seems to be a problem with the healing, then we have either one of two problems. Either we have not allowed for enough time, or we have not applied the right mind. But you may be sure, there is a doctor in the house.

 

Perhaps, your heart too has been battered and bruised in this world. I would be surprized if you say that it hasn’t taken some hard knocks. Well, if it has, or even if you just want to have the doctor in residence and on call, then I have just the words you need. Please pray the following suggested prayer.

 

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

For more inspiration, go to:  www.facebook.com/newjudah2  .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 3. My REVELATION Visitation: The MAN-O-MANifestation

Manifestation

Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Diop

This is the tell-all. Well, at least, I am about to lay on the table a short version of my tribulations in Dallas, Texas, which I underwent to arrive at this point in my spiritual journey. All subsequent to a holy visitation which I received in 1991, and ordained by God, this is my first-hand account. Truly I have seen the glory of God. And like the apostle Paul, I’ve got the stripes to prove it. Many will doubt, but if you have a faithful heart, you too will see by all this that God is indeed God, and He is always faithful.

To pick up where I left off in the last episode of my story, here is the intermission:

“Little did I know that in a few short years, I was going to have that fateful showdown with the devil play out in real life, on the plain of actual flesh-and-blood events, with the whole world looking on. And, that meeting would comprise my Job-like trial. Then, I would draw the dreaded card which reads, ‘Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass ‘Go.’ Do not collect $200.00.’”

Before I proceed, I want to affirm what the Lord and his apostles teach about tribulation, lest some novice think I had done something wrong to go through such troubles. Beginners always assume that. But, Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation…” (John 16:33). Apostle Paul said, “And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope…” (Rom 5:3-4). Apostle James said, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (Jas 1:2-4). Apostle Peter said, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1Peter 4:12-13).

 

It is unanimous then: tribulation is just a natural and integral part of the Christian experience. And, as my long-time pastor used to say, “If you live long enough, trouble will come.” And, man, did mine ever come! It was not as a result of any supposed terrible or hidden sin, as many of my friends had supposed. In my case, there had been false reports circulating about marital infidelity. All those were lies of the devil – just grist for the rumor mill. Because of the false report that had been told to them, those who knew me believed that I was being chastened for sin. But, no such thing had happened, in my case. But, I did have common sin to say grace over. As the scripture says, “Thou hast set our iniquities before thee; our secret sins in the light of thy countenance” (Psalm 90:8). God was looking at the hidden faults OF MY HEART — things that I myself did not even know about at the time — and that was enough for him. God was pruning me down to the bone — to the very core of my being. And, tribulation was his tool.

 

Dallas was my crucible – a place where I could go through all my necessary trials, away from my family and support system. I had moved there in 1988 on command of the Lord. I had a few short years to get established there then, Wham! First, was a string of encounters with the police. They were initially just domestic calls – squabbles in my household. I was even usually the primary caller. But, I was a slow learner. I had to end up being arrested a few times before I caught on. In those days, the police would not help you, if you were the man. When they got to your house, if you were the male there, it was you who were in trouble. So, I ended up with a few misdemeanors on my record, all from the misguided notion that if there was something going wrong in my house that wasn’t godly, the DPD would help me straighten it out. Boy, was I wrong! And, they would usually charge me with misdemeanor assault. Never mind that they knew full well that I had not actually assaulted anyone.

At the same time, I began what was to be a cycle of episodes of homelessness. This was mainly because my wife and i had a dispute, and she’d ask me to leave, and i had no money at the time, and no where else to go. I remember the first time, when I did have a little money.  I had called the police, because we had a certain house guest, who had violated a cardinal rule of my house. When the police came, my wife sided with the guest. So, I had to go. I said, “Wait a minute. I pay the rent here. This person is a non-compliant guest. And, I have to leave?” Yep. So, I had to spend that night in a hotel. I was lucky that night. A few years later, I would be unemployed with no money. Then, I would have to spend the night out under the stars, or in a homeless shelter. I was in the back of a squad car in handcuffs one time early in those years, before I asked the crucial question to the officers. “This is not right,” I said. “Whenever I call you guys for help, you always arrest me.” The officer confessed, “Well, Mr. Diop, it may not be right. But, the judge has ruled that whenever we answer a domestic call, someone needs to leave to keep the situation from escalating. So, since the man is the strongest, the judge said, take him.” Like I said, I was a slow learner. I needed to have it spelled out to me like that.

 

During my episodes of homelessness, I both learned and personally experienced another great hidden truth. God sovereignly weaves our life’s missions and spiritual growth experiences seamlessly and quietly into the fabric of our personal lives, such that without the ability to see your life through God’s own eyes, the average onlooker does not have a clue as to what God is doing in your life. That’s why Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance” (John 7:240). That’s the mistake Job’s friends made. I was right there in my own skin, hearing the voice of God, and trying diligently to follow his every command. And, many was the time I had to ask myself with a perplexed mind and heavy heart, “What’s really goin’ on here?” My longest leg of homelessness lasted two full years. During that time I literally checked into every homeless shelter in the Dallas/ Fort Worth area. But, I was not just down on my luck. These were actually God-ordained missions. I had work to do among the persons experiencing homelessness: teaching, preaching, encouraging, helping, praying, witnessing, communing with them, going through hardship with them, and executing intermittent strategic prayer initiatives.

 

Before every episode, God would give me a title to that mission, an appropriate scripture passage, a Biblical paradigm, a theme song, and a mission payout. For example, one mission was called “White Siege.” The mission song was “Cat’s in the Cradle,” by Harry Chapin. One mission was called “Philadelphia Freedom,” and its theme song was the one by the same name by Elton John. One mission had as its scriptural prophetic paradigm, “Fire on the Mountains.” Looking casually at my life in Dallas, the popular conclusion might be, “What a train wreck!” And, if you held that opinion, you would be woefully wrong. The Lord had given me a specialty in what the Holy Spirit called the “U3 Ministries,” for: Urban, Underground, and Undercover Missions. At one point, I joined a church in the heart of downtown Dallas, and became a consultant and worker in their ministry to the homeless. I had learned the heart, hopes, and needs of the homeless very well. I had experienced their burdens and heartaches first-hand. Right before God told me to move back to Birmingham after 28 years, He told me I had earned my PhD, for: Perseverance, Help, and Deliverance.

 

From 1991 to 2008, in all, I was involved in about 20 or so encounters with the police, in none of which was I guilty of having committed a crime. Well, at least, nothing that was a crime on God’s books. My only crime was being a man trying to maintain standards of righteousness and true holiness in my house. Find that hard to believe? Well, let me tell you about the big one – the closest thing to a truly justified arrest. In December of 1991, I experienced a bout with mental illness. You may recall, that’s when I had this great, divine and fiery visitation. I had to take off work six full months on mental disability leave. When I returned to work, I found that the psychiatric drugs I was taking really interfered with my ability to fulfill my duties. So, I got off the medication so I could focus. Everything seemed to go just fine for six full months.

 

Then, I had what the doctors described as a massive bi-polar attack with psychotic features. The tragedy in this was, I was at home caring for my two small daughters at the time. One was two and a half years, and one, April Yadah, was only 11 weeks old. I was giving a bath to April when it struck. To make a long and sad story short, when I came to my right mind, I noticed that my little girl was having trouble breathing. So, I hurriedly called 911. She was taken to emergency. A couple days later, I was arrested on a charge of felony Injury to a Child. I was facing thirty-five years to life in prison. My bond was a quarter of a million dollars. My face and the sad story was plastered all over the evening news. I was eventually acquitted of those charges with a verdict of Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity, and placed on an involuntary commitment to a State Mental Hospital for treatment, therapy, and evaluation. But, my odyssey was to last almost six years, in which time I was repeatedly shuttled back and forth between the state hospitals and the county jail. In this, my civil rights were repeatedly violated. I was no longer a suspect nor convict, but only a patient. Yet they issued bogus bench warrants and hauled me back to jail every time I had a doctor’s appointment with a court appointed forensic mental health expert. Who ever heard of having to go to jail, just because you have a doctor’s appointment?

Needless to say, this whole thing was a very devastating and trying experience for me and my family. A few days after the beginning of the incident and my arrest, April passed away. She expired in the hospital in my wife’s arms. My wife and family buried April. I could not attend the funeral, being in jail. For a while, I could not believe this was happening to me. I asked the proverbial “Why?” a thousand times. It was a total Twilight Zone experience. In jail, I cried for a whole week. After the seventh day, the Lord spoke to me, and changed my spirit of mourning to a sober attentiveness. He had some serious work for me to do, witnessing and ministering to my fellow inmates. And, this would be my preoccupation for the next number of years, until my release.

 

I was very busy for the Lord. I started my first church in the County Jail as an inmate. Every soul that came into my tank had the claims of Christ’s gospel presented to them. At one point, 20 out of the 24 men in my tank belonged to my church. It was glorious. We had worship service six days a week. Every evening after chow we had the floor rocking with the glad songs of praise. I was their live-in pastor and spiritual mentor. I had a vibrant jail ministry, and it was an “inside job.” Those men could not have possibly shown me any more honor than if I had stepped into the tank as a visitor wearing a clergy collar and minister’s garb. But, there I stood among them wearing the common white, jail jumpsuit just like them with big, bold, black lettering on the back, which read “Dallas County Jail.” But, that did not stop God’s anointing in my life. And, men were steadily being saved, redeemed, built up, and delivered. My hospital experiences involved a lot of leading Bible studies and disciple-making also. So, the sum of my time in Dallas is this:

 

I am a living witness that God is God, and that He is God all by himself. It is God who stands behind all the scenes of life: commanding, controlling, orchestrating, resolving, and directing ALL things for his glory and for our good. I have seen, like the old saints used to say, that He will be “a doctor in a sickroom, and a lawyer in a courtroom,” and “He WILL make your enemies your footstool.”

 

This was my personal and customized version of “great tribulation.” The scripture says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you, and you will glorify me” (Psalm 50:15). But, you need to call upon the Lord BEFORE any such troubles come, because the scripture also says,

 

23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. 24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no one regarded… 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; 28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me. Proverbs 1:23-24, 26, 28

 

If you know that now is a good time for you to call on the Lord, if you see the signs of the times, heralding the coming of the end, then please pray the following prayer:

 

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 1. My Revelation Visitation; or, Out of the Fire!!!

Copyright © 2015 by Joseph Diop

 
Absolutely mind-rending!!! I would have to spend a little time in the mental hospital after this. The Lord said, “It’s going to take you about five (5) months to get back to normal.” That’s what God said to me following a divine visitation that I experienced in December of 1991. And, after you read this brief account of that visitation, you’ll understand why. Before now, I have never shared this experience with anyone other than my immediate family members. But, the Lord said to me, “Now is the time!!!”

I awakened to consciousness and self-awareness in a very dark place, like waking out of sleep in the middle of the night, in a room with no windows. I was alone. I was aware of being surrounded by heat. The heat was pervasive, but it did not make me feel uncomfortable. Then, in front of me, at a distance, light began slowly to emerge. It first appeared as a brilliant, narrow, horizontal strip, spanning my field of vision. It began to expand, downwards and upwards. As the lighted area increased, I could see the heat in it. It was being manifest as dancing waves, like sunshine rising from hot pavement, making the light appear to be fluid. The light also had a kind of thickness to it, which reminded me of the concept of plasma that I learned about in college physics — pure electromagnetic energy, like white lightning.

Then, I looked. And suddenly, I saw across the threshold of the darkness into the light, a person. It was the Lord Jesus Christ. He was standing upon a luminous orb of this plasma. His feet were resting firmly on it. The radius of the orb was about one-third of His height. And, He appeared to be the size of a normal man.

We fixed eyes on each other.  Turning His head, He directed my attention over and away to see the wonder of what He had just created. It was the pristine planet earth — oceans blue and beautiful — spinning in place, and suspended in a sea of the darkness of space. As I beheld, I realized that somehow I was in orbit far above the planet, watching it rotating beneath me. It was spinning in my direction, in a counter-clockwise fashion. I saw all the oceans and land masses. I recognized all the continents in their places. It was so beautiful.

I just watched the breathtaking sight for a minute or two, before realizing that I had started feeling intense heat. Only then, did I discover that I was in orbit without any vehicle to carry and cover me. I was enclosed in nothing but my body of flesh, gliding on the wings of the Holy Spirit. I was now feeling the friction of the earth’s atmosphere. And boy, was the heat ever getting to me !  So, I cried out to the Lord, “The heat!  I can’t stand it! I can’t stand it any more!!”

Suddenly, I was transported from flight, and found myself back in my room, lying on my back on my bed. At that instant, I realized that I had been in a visitation with the Lord God of creation, and had seen a vision of the Most High. It was a waking visitation, not a mere dream. And, for a reason unexplained, I lifted up my voice to the Lord then and said, “But, I still want to see Jesus !”  Instantly, I was beamed back into my orbit above the earth, and saw it spinning again towards me. This second time, there was an additional feature to my vision. One by one, I saw the famous, historical, covenant sons of God.

First, I saw Adam emerge from the left, from the darkness of space, descending to the earth, and landing in his time and place in history. Next, I saw Noah. He descended to his time and place in history. Then, I saw Abraham. After him, I saw Moses, then David, then John the Baptist, then Jesus. After Jesus, I also saw the apostle Peter. Each man in turn had emerged from the darkness of space, and landed in his own time and place in history. I was a bit puzzled, though. I had expressly asked to see Jesus, but I was also shown, apparently without any differentiation, the seven other Biblical personalities, as well.

Again, I started feeling the heat. It got so hot, that I complained once again, “It’s too hot! I can’t stand it !!” Once again, I found myself instantly back in my flesh-and-blood body in my bedroom. I felt seriously dazed and disoriented by the experience. Though I was back now in my body, I was experientially in some kind of twilight zone — as it were, floating between two worlds. In this place, somehow, somewhere along the way, I felt that I had been abandoned by God — forsaken. I felt absolutely friendless. Looking out through the sliding-glass door across the room, all I could see was nameless faces of people sneering at me. They peered in at me with disdain. I was being utterly ostracized, humiliated, and rejected. They held me in contempt. I felt like dung. My Bible was lying next to me on the bed. I took it in hand, and tossed it toward the foot of the bed, hoping that it landed on the floor. Then, I said, “That Bible got me in this mess!”

As I lay there, I could feel the after-effects of the great heat. I felt the very fluids inside my head boiling. I could see and smell the gases from that boiling coming out of my nostrils. I could tell that my state of mind and emotions also had been negatively affected, inasmuch as my normal self-expression was exaggerated. I felt slightly off — call it “manic.” I wondered how long this would last. Then, the Lord spoke to me and said, “It’s going to take about five months for you to get back to normal.”

After subsequent consideration, I realized that the dark place in which I originally awakened was the mouth of God Almighty. I had been allowed to be a witness to the beginning — the very Genesis 1:1 beginning — when God first opened His mouth and spoke the world into existence. The luminous, heat-filled plasma that I had seen was the Word of God. The orb underneath Jesus’ feet also was the Word, out of which He created the universe, including planet earth. The intense heat was God’s very person. The scriptures tell us, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Deut 4:24; Heb 12:29). Thus, my visitation with Him involved the experience of that sweltering, hot environment. The heat that I experienced in the atmosphere above the earth bespeaks the trial, tribulation, and persecution that we must experience in the world as we grow in the Lord and sojourn through this life. The word tells us, “Through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). And, “All who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2Tim 3:12). The anointed men of God I had seen were the pillars and axes upon which the very dispensations of history and divine purpose had been established.

There is much more to be expounded from this visitation, which will perhaps be unfolded later. Sufficient for now, is what is contained in this first rendition of that account.

Are you ready for the Lord’s coming?  The Bible says, “For our God is a consuming fire”  (Heb 12:29; Deut 4:24, 9:3). Every single soul must pass through the fire. Will you be refined and saved, or will you be burned and lost???  (Heb 12:18-29). Now is the time for you to make sure. It only takes a humble heart’s prayer to make that eternal difference, my friend. So, if you want to be ready, then take a moment to pray the following, simple suggested prayer.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

5-4-21-2016

The Good News for Dummies, Like Me

Copyright © 2015 by Joe Diop

I’m just your average Joe, a man of no remarkable intelligence. For the past 39 years, I have been a “Good News” professional, ordained and trained to represent God. But, only after what He taught me in the last two years, did I really fully start to “get it.” And, that revolutionized my whole understanding. Today, I want to share that with you.

Because it took me so long to begin to fully understand what I had so zealously tried to make others see, I think of myself as a big dummy. After all, I did get my college degree in my field, go on to pursue my readiness at the graduate level, and served in various pastoral capacities and ministry positions over the course of my career, thus far. Still at times, I felt like “the blind leading the blind.” There was always something about the very faith that I preached and expounded on all my adult life that eluded me. Now, I would call a person with a track record like mine a “dummy.” Wouldn’t you?

Once. Twice. Three times a Fool.

The word “dummy” does not appear in the Bible. But, its companion term, “fool,” certainly does. The word ‘fool’ appears 66 times in the King James Version of the Bible. I was born in Foolsville, USA. I am the crowned Prince of Fools — a Knucklehead of knuckleheads. My wife likes to say, “There is not a nut too hard for God to crack.” You can either be cracked into submission, or you’ll be crushed to smithereens (Matt 31:44; Luke 21:18). Listen. This is important. I am letting you ride along with me for a little ways on my “epic journey of enlightenment.” So, buckle in and take notes.

The Bible outlines three classes or degrees of fools. A fool is anyone who is slow to grasp truth. There’s the “simple fool.” He is a sincere, down-to-earth, and uncomplicated person. But, he is not very aware or observant, and doesn’t learn very quickly. He stumbles every day over information and revelation in his environment, without ever taking notice. He’s got the mentality of the average child. Broadly, that’s the way God sees the average adult human being. So, every last one of us — the whole lot of humanity — would immediately fall into this category. I often ask myself the fateful question, “What kind of fool am I?” And, I like to think of myself as this kind of fool.

This is the first order, but the third class of fool. One of my mother’s favorite verses is the one that says, in paraphrase, “The way is so plain that even a fool shall not err therein” (Isaiah 35:8). Isn’t it good to know that God is so merciful and kind as to graciously craft His “Good News” so that even us fools could have hope?

The next class of fool is the “silly fool.” He may happen to get ahold of some truth every now and then, but his tendency is to not appreciate the value of it. He makes light of it. To him, the sinful, the secular, and the sacred alike are all material for a stand-up comic routine. So, real enlightening, substantive, life-changing truth does him little good. He lumps it all right there together with the old mass of background chatter, glib expressions, and useless clichés that he’s used to. He’s like a bucket that can’t hold water for very long, because it’s got a hole in the bottom of it. This category would cover most lukewarm, double-minded, or lackadaisical Christians — the ones Jesus described as “sown among thorns” (Mark 4:18,19). This is the second order and second class of fools.

Now, the last kind of fool is the most dreaded. That’s the stubborn, the scornful, the stupid, self-destructive, set-in-his-ways, sho’-nuff sho’-nuff fool. He’s highly reactionary against all truth, and wants no part of it. All he wants to do is have his own way, and get all the credit for every single thought, word, or deed that proceeds from his life. To him, God is nothing but a spoiler. He and he alone must chart his own course, regardless of any disastrous consequences. His motto is: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!!”

Jesus was describing this class when he talked about those “sown on stony ground” and those “by the wayside” (Mark 4:4,5). The character Nabal in the book of 1Samuel, who angered King David, is a perfect example of this kind of fool (1 Samuel 25:2-38). His is the third order of fools. But anyone in this order is rightfully called a “First Class Fool.” All fools beware of him. For him, there is little hope.

Now, in relating my revelation, to soften the blow, I have herein substituted the term “dummy” for “fool.” You would be surprised just how often the New Testament describes the whole lot of us as fools. Jesus even addressed his own dear disciples as fools. For example, in Luke 24:25 it says, “Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” Later, to all those having difficulty grasping the concept and reality of the resurrection of the body, Paul the apostle said, “Thou fool, that which you sow is not quickened (i.e., brought to life), except it die” (1 Corinthians 15:36). So now, join the club — the fool’s club; or rather, let’s call it the “Big Dummy Club.”

Enlighten Me, Please

When you’re dealing with dummies, you have to break everything down to their most simple components. Otherwise, we dummies easily get lost along the way. That’s why God introduced the “Precept Method” of learning and teaching. “Precepts” are rudimentary elements of information. They are atoms in the universe of knowledge. They constitute the building blocks of truth. Precepts are to truth what phonics is to reading. If you don’t know phonics, then you can’t sound out words. And, if you can’t sound out words, you have absolutely no chance of reading any line of sentence. That’s why God said to take the phonics approach to studying His word. He declares,

For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.   Isaiah 28:10

This is “back to basics,” where God’s word is concerned. You have to take the time to make sure that you clearly understand the individual meanings of the terms used (precepts), and you can begin with the most fundamental concepts first, in order to build your understanding. You have to take first things first. The precept method goes: first, term definitions (precepts), then expanded concepts (lines), then whole divisions of doctrine. This way, eventually, sheds light upon “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27 ASV). What you end up with then is the “rightly divided word of truth” (2Timothy 2:15). You even have to clearly define the most elementary terms involved, if you want to understand “first principles.” And for a dummy, like me, this is no easy task. It is a slow, plodding, grinding, exacting, meticulous process. You can’t rush it. Don’t be impatient if it takes a while for you to “get” the word of truth. Be encouraged. After all, it took decades for the Lord to get it through my thick skull. If you do try to hurry and gloss over some things, then you face big penalties later on. For, the word also says,

And as the HASTY fruit… the crown of pride, the drunkards… shall be trodden under feet… But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and FALL BACKWARD, and be BROKEN, and SNARED, and TAKEN [that is, caught up in judgment].  (Isaiah 28:4,3,13; brackets mine)

So, an individual who does not patiently study the word according to God’s precept method, is apt to meet with personal spiritual disaster on down the road. Where the word is concerned, slow and easy is the way. I think the words of a Christian poet captured it best, in a poem based on Proverbs 25:2, called Enlightenment.

It is the glory of our Maker

To conceal many things,

But the honor of the sainthood

Is to search them out as kings.

Precept upon precept

Line upon line

Precept upon precept

Gives light to the mind.

The only thing you’ll ever need

Is the first thing you received.

And the last thing you will understand

Is the first thing you believed.

So, precept upon precept

Line upon line

Precept upon precept

Brings sight to the blind.

As the author of this poem points out, in the Christian faith it really is true: It’s not what you know, but WHO you know. “The only thing you’ll ever need is the first thing you received,” he says. And, Jesus IS the first thing you receive in this faith. All else you really need to know is self-evident to everyone who is a warm-blooded individual with a fleshly head on their shoulders. And, that is: “I am a sinner, and therefore I need a savior.”

Car and Driver

Fortunately, for all of us dummies, you don’t need to understand the more complex matters of the Christian faith. You don’t need a seminary degree. You don’t need to know how to read the Bible in its original languages. You don’t need years of training in hermeneutics or homiletics. In fact, you don’t even need to know how to read at all; because, faith comes by hearing, NOT by reading (Romans 10:17).

In this way, the Christian faith is like driving an expensive foreign car; say, a Maserati, a Ferrari, or a Lamborghini. These cars require specially trained mechanics to maintain them and work on them. But, if you own one, you don’t need to know the first thing about auto mechanics before you can drive it. You don’t need to know anything about a carburetor, or a drive train, or a gas combustion engine, or a differential, or even simply where the oil goes in under the hood. All you need is to get a driver’s license, turn the car on, and then it will take you wherever you want to go. So is the Christian faith. God himself makes it work. All you have to do is invite Christ into your life, and you’re on your way. It’s as simple and easy as that.

Turn on the Light

Now, out of my 39 years of service to God (and 59 being in the world), I did not learn what I needed to know in order to make it all come together, until just the last two years. What I learned these last two years was all about human nature and human nothingness. These two concepts (which I expound on in my previous blogs, “The Man in the Mirror: Spiritual Anthropology for Dummies,” and “Best and Worst: The Whole World in His Hands)” formed the linchpin that brought everything else together. When I understood these two concepts, then all the other doctrine started cascading into place. Bible mysteries started unfolding before me, dovetailing one another and dropping into place like falling dominoes. You see, mankind’s biggest, most persistent, and truly insurmountable problem is really our very human nature. Human nature accounts for all our sin and depravity, across the board. I hadn’t realized that when the New Testament talked about ambiguous and mystical concepts like “the flesh” and “the old man,” all it was referring to was “human nature,” fallen human nature to be exact. But, is there any other kind? And in my 59 years, I have had a chance to become most thoroughly familiar with human nature — yours, mine, and everybody’s.

So, my “Eureka!” moment came when I realized that Christ dealt with our human nature through the agency of the cross. The cross ‘excised’ (a medical term, meaning “to cut out”) our human nature when Jesus died on the cross. The Bible, using that old familiar term, “circumcised,” says Christ “circumcised us from the sinful flesh” (that is, from our human nature; Col 2:11). The translation that comes closest to this understanding is the New International Version, when it says, “Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ.”

You see, there is a spiritual reality and a dimension of truth out there, far beyond what the natural senses can discern. This is the spiritual reality of what God has done unto us in Christ. And, whether we can comprehend it or not, this is still the reigning order of things with God. This is the real real. And, I began to see how these two things (our old, fallen human nature and our new, divine nature) could co-exist in the temporal realm, yet be totally separate and distinct in the spiritual and eternal realm before God. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that there are some things that you cannot possibly understand, until you are “born again” (John 3:1-12).

That’s why the word says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new” (2Cor 5:17). That doesn’t mean that it is impossible for us to commit a sin, but it does mean that for as long as God deems our faith true and genuine, and keeps our soul embedded in Christ Jesus, then the misdeeds of our human nature do not factor into the equation of our relationship with Him. All the rest — the hypocrisy of so-called Christians, the apparent inconsistencies of their lifestyles, the seeming contradictions of the Bible and its many versions — is just fat, and fluff, shadows and phantasms, and smoke-and-mirrors. Forever after that, no matter how the world sees us, God sees us as “holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Col 1.22 NKJV).

All the other drama from the sins, wrongdoing, and missteps that occur in our lives are just a part of the mysterious storyline that God has written for us. It’s just a chapter in the narrative and script prepared by “The Author and Finisher of our faith (Heb 12:2).” You see, the souls of God’s “elect” (those He has chosen “before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4); the predestined souls) are eternally secure. But, don’t get smug and cocky about that. For, the million dollar question is, “Are you indeed ‘elect’ or not?” Was your name “written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21:27) before the world began? Were you included in that fortunate number before Genesis 1:1, when God first spoke the world into existence? This is something that I go into more detail about in my previous blog, “Best and Worst: The Whole World in His Hands.” So when you sin capriciously, you are only playing Russian roulette with your soul!! That’s why Jesus said “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter there and WILL NOT BE ABLE” (Luke 13:24 ). Or, do you want to get all the way to the gate of judgment, and unexpectedly hear those shocking and tragic words from Jesus’ mouth, “Depart from me, I never knew you, you evildoer?” (Matt 7:23). So, this is something that no man or woman cannot afford to take for granted.

Nevertheless, all of the sin in an elect, born-again Christian’s life is completely trivial, moot, irrelevant, and inconsequential, where his soul’s destiny is concerned. It’s all like “water under the bridge.” He is bound for heaven, though his disobedience may land him there ahead of schedule. The scripture does say, “For all our days are passed away in thy wrath; we spend our years as a tale that is told” (Psalm 90:9). So, when we foolishly sin (as dummies often do; you see, knuckleheads will be knuckleheads) and still make it into heaven, that indeed is a tale that glorifies the mercy, goodness, and sovereign grace of God. But, if you think you can use this information in advance in order to run a game on the Most High God, you are badly mistaken. Think again. We will address this scenario further before we conclude.

We don’t have to die before we can know God someday. We can and do enjoy the presence of our Heavenly Father right here and right now. The cross nails our human nature and all its evil by-products squarely to the crossbeams of time, so that Christ’s resurrection can establish us in a vital, ongoing, intimate, and personal relationship with the Father of eternity, even now in the present. The scripture says, Christ was “delivered [to the cross] for our offenses, and raised again for our justification” (Rom 4:25, brackets mine). “Justification,” rightly understood, is precisely “the fact of having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ,” right now.

So you see, the cross and the resurrection together are the two sides of the same coin of salvation. Through the cross, God rids us of our biggest problem — sinful human nature. And through the resurrection, He avails and imparts to us the Spirit of the living God and Christ, right now. That’s God’s mighty and miraculous fix for what ails us. That’s God’s mercy. That’s God’s grace. That’s God’s forgiveness. That’s God’s life. That’s God’s righteousness. That’s something that no other religion can provide for you.  And, that is God’s TRUTH.

Now there, you have in a nutshell and a quick moment, that which constitutes, for the most part, the most complex and hard to understand aspects of the Christian faith. That’s what took me 59 years of living and study of God’s word to be able to articulate with understanding. That’s what I’m handing over to you now, in only the time that it takes to read this article.

Get Out the Switch

But wait. The plot thickens. Comprehending that is not really your biggest obstacle to enjoying a relationship with God. No!! Your greatest disconnect comes from the fact that the vast majority of you don’t really want to know Him, in the first place. That’s the real problem. And, all your efforts spiritually are just part of a slick game you are playing with God. This reminds me of a game I tried to run on my mom, when I was about 6 or 7 years old.

I’d be sitting in front of the TV, watching whatever. And, at times my mother would call me, presumably to do something or other. She’d call and call, but I wouldn’t flinch. I kept right on watching whatever I was watching. I didn’t want to be disturbed, you see. One day, my mother had had enough. Not knowing whether or not I really had problems with my hearing, she marched me right down to the audiologist (that is, the “ear doctor”) for an examination. When the ear doctor took me back to the test booth to conduct the hearing test, he said, “If you hear the beep of a tone, raise your hand. Even if you THINK you hear a tone, but are not sure, raise your hand anyway. Well, that exam was a piece of cake. It was like a game to me. So, being but a youth, and being truly clueless to the ramifications, at the sound of every beep, I raised my hand. I raised my hand, and raised my hand, and raised my hand like a fool, until the test was over. Then came the verdict.  And the condemnation was pronounced. The ear doctor came out and said, “Mom, get out the switch! That boy can hear a pin drop in the middle of the ocean!!”  Well then, the jig was up. My cover was blown to smithereens. From then on, I either had to acknowledge my mother’s voice, or suffer the consequences.

All Pooped Out

Let me give you another example of game playing from the chronicles of my personal experience. Our family has an aged female cat, named Shaar (pronounced ‘Share’). We’ve had her since she was a scruffy ball of fur and gristle, straight from her mother’s womb. Somewhere along the way, she got the idea that it was alright to use the litter box and leave her poop uncovered. We have had other cats. So, we realize that God gave domestic cats a marvelous instinct for decorum and house protocol. They know instinctively the purpose of a litter box, and know to cover up their poop when they’re done. But, Shaar has always left hers right there on the surface of the litter, stinking to high heaven, as if to say, “Now see.  I left it in plain view, so you can remove it right away. And, be quick about it!!”

If she had covered it up, according to the common cat practice, then we might have taken our sweet time scooping it out. Miss Shaar is too prissy to allow her delicate and immaculate paws to trample a second time over areas already soiled. Needless to say, that is a despised habit of hers. And, as if that were not transgression enough, she went even further.

Later on in life, she developed a much worse and more harmful habit — urinating on the rugs, carpets, and even the hardwood floors. I personally cleaned up behind that cat so much, that I literally developed arthritis in my elbows. The constant smell of cat urine can actually make a person very sick. And, at times it did, as I had to take my wife to the emergency room a number of times for having a reaction to that odor of ammonia that the build-up of cat pee was producing. That did it for me. If not for my wife interceding for a little more patience and understanding on my part, Shaar would have been a goner.

Then, late one night came the “tell.” I happened to be standing right in the hallway in plain view of the litter boxes, when Shaar went in to take a poop. I watched carefully as she did her business and came back out, as usual leaving her poop right on the surface. Then, something remarkable happened. When Shaar came out, she looked right up at me staring at her. Then, she turn around, went halfway back inside the litter box, and with her front paws, shoveled dirt (cat litter) backwards on top of her poop, covering it completely up. Then she backed out and looked right up into my eyes, as if to say, “There now; satisfied?” Then, she turned and pranced on down the stairs. It was then, I knew. “Shaar’s got all the sense in the world. She knows it’s wrong to leave her poop uncovered. She’s been playing a game with us, playing us for a fool this whole time!!” And, she felt she was getting away with it. But, where ultimately does that kind of troublesome, filthy behavior get her. Where would it get her with you? — but a one-way trip to animal control.

Too Cool to Fool

So does the average man play games with God. But, you cannot fool Him. He sees all your heart. He knows where you live. And, before you know it, you’ll be flat “busted out.”  The scripture says, “Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For, a person will reap what he sows.”  Galatians 6:7, New English Translation.   And,

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.  Hebrews 4:12-13

Folks, for all our dummyhood, we all know what is right. God shows and repeatedly tells us what we ought to do. But, like I did as a child, and like Shaar also did, we play dumb. But, know assuredly, there will come a day of reckoning. Even before that, our games will have disastrous consequences to our state of being. The scripture tells us,

“…because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” Romans 1:21-23

The Beast Within

So, as a consequence of these things, modern man has steadily devolved into a beastly species of being. The modern brand of idolatry was described ever so perfectly by the antagonist and villain Han (pronounced Hahn) in the 1973 action movie by the great martial artist Bruce Lee, called, “Enter the Dragon.” Han said, “Gentlemen… we are unique in that we create ourselves. We forge our[selves] in the crucible of our [own] will.”

Paul, the apostle and prophet of the New Testament, described the progression and appearance of idolatry in these final, apocalyptic times in his own inimitable way, with these words.

“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”   2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 NKJV

That is the status of modern idolatry. It has progressed, or rather devolved, to the state where we actually act and think of ourselves as being our own supreme being. We see ourselves as the wholly self-made, self-determining, self-affirming, self-sufficient, self-congratulatory, and finally the self-rewarding creators of ourselves. Thereby, we develop beastly character. As the scripture says, “A man who is in honor, yet does not understand, is like the beasts that perish” (Psalm 49:20).

In passing, let me make one point of Biblical interpretation very clear. The term “man of sin” does not refer to a single individual, as is so often erroneous portrayed in popular prophecy teaching. The term actually refers to man generically, and describes the status of typical human nature in the time of the end. We have grown and outgrown the old images, and statues, and animals, and totem poles. Now, we only think of our own selves as worthy of worship and adoration. Witness, the great proliferation of the phenomenon called “selfies” in the social media of our day. And, as a friend of mine likes to say, “Nuff said.”

Hands Down

I like to think of trying to fool God, as sitting down with Him to a game of high-stakes poker. It’s a fool’s game, my friend. Any and everyone who attempts this, is truly a dummy of the highest order. It’s a dangerous game. It’s a losing proposition. Think about it. The deck is stacked against you. God is really holding all the cards. He sees every card in your hand, even before they are dealt. You cannot bluff Him. He has, so to speak, peeped your “hole card,” and all your other cards, for that matter.

It’s time to put all your cards on the table and “play it straight.” Playing it straight really means that you fold, repent, and beg for forgiveness. Admit to God that you are “flat busted.” You don’t have what it takes. You’ve got a lot more to lose here than your shirt. You stand to lose your very soul forever. This scenario is particularly catastrophic to those who appear to be presently living a lovely, Christian life, but you are not elect. Your wonderful salvation will prove to be nothing more than “fool’s gold” in the end. You especially should be careful to obey this word, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). And, like the apostle Peter exhorted, you should certainly “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2Pet 1:10).

Furthermore, you could never raise the stakes to match God’s resources. He owns the world and everything in it. And, He owns you, to boot. In the end, all your lies and excuses will come tumbling down like a proverbial “house of cards.” And, when God calls your bluff (and eventually He will), He will call your soul out of this world. And, if you’re betting that won’t happen, then I ask you. How many players ever made it out of this world alive? At that time, the entire world all together will find out that you “ain’t holdin’ nothin.’” God will then look you straight in the eyes and ask you, “Why then, did you not obey the gospel?” And then, in the immortal words of my wife’s sainted grandmother, Ethel, “It will be hell to tell the captain!!!”

That’s a fool’s game, my friend. Here’s hoping you don’t even have the guts to try it. “Knock on wood.” (Get it?? A dummy’s head is wood. Ahhh!! Anyway…)  So, let’s hope and pray that you are only a dummy of the first order, like me.

Now, think about that.

Aren’t you tired of playing games with God? You do hear His voice, you know. When God speaks, nothing in this world can drown Him out. He speaks straight to the heart, and He speaks clearly. The scripture says, “Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb 4:7).  And it says, ”He that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6).  I urge you now to acknowledge God’s voice, focusing on the “reward” of eternal life that He promises.  And, if you are ready and willing to respond, please pray the following suggested prayer.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from all my sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

7.10.24.15  1850hrs CT

Do You Hear What I Hear? The Grand Finale

Copyright © 2013 by Joseph Diop

We’ve come down to the number one, single-most, consequential factor in hearing the voice of God. Are you ready for this?

The single-most, consequential factor in hearing the voice of God is this: You have to WANT to hear it. You have to be WILLING to hear it. You must exercise your FREE WILL, and CHOOSE to hear from the Lord.

That’s it. Listen to this diagnosis by the Lord Jesus Christ, found in Matthew 13:15 (NKJV):

For the hearts of this people have grown dull.  Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed, LEST THEY SHOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I shouldheal them.’

Jesus was aware that not everyone listened with their ears open to the him. He knew that most of the people in the crowd were radical draft dodgers, as far as the call of God was concerned. So, that’s why over and over and over again, Jesus punctuated his sermons with these telling words, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” No less than eight (8) times in the gospels, Jesus uses this expression. And an equal number of times, eight (8), Jesus uses it in the Book of Revelation.  He uses it once after each of his messages to the seven churches, and once again in the very middle of Revelation 13, where he describes that very dreadful and terrifying entity called, the Beast, who causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads (Revelation 13:16).

The point is that you have to have a heart for God to even care about what he has to say. The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. An unwilling heart IS a deaf ear. It’s not that we don’t hear from God, but we won’t hear from God. (Won’t, as in, are not willing to).  Actually, that’s not technically accurate. To tell the truth, God does speak to us all the time, and we certainly DO hear his voice.   God is Almighty. When he wants be heard, no one can stop him. And even though we may not be willing to acknowledge him, we certainly do hear him.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.   (Hebrews 4:12, NKJV)

There is no hiding place from the word of God. He knows where you live. He ferrets out your thoughts. He pinpoints your motives. There’s no place in your human soul where you may take refuge from the mighty voice of God, when he wants to talk to you. The succeeding verse to that verse above says,

And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.   (Hebrews 4:13,NKJV)

This reminds me a true story from my youth. When I was just a young boy, I’d be sitting in front of the TV, watching whatever. And, at times my mother would call me, presumably to do something or other. She’d call and call, but I wouldn’t flinch. I keep right on watching whatever I was watching. I didn’t want to be disturbed. One day, my mother had had enough. Not knowing whether or not I really had problems with my ears, she marched me right down to the audiologist (that is, the “ear doctor”) for an examination. When the ear doctor took me back to the test booth to conduct the ear test, he said, “If you hear the beep of a tone, raise your hand. Even if you THINK you hear a tone, but are not sure, raise your hand. Well, that exam was a piece of cake. It was like a game to me. So, being but a youth, and being truly clueless to the ramifications, at the sound of every beep, I raised my hand. I raised my hand, and raised my hand, and raised my hand like a fool, until the test was over. Then came the verdict.  And the condemnation was pronounced. The ear doctor came out and said, “Mom, get out the switch. That boy can hear a pin drop in the middle of the ocean.”  Well, the jig was up. My cover was blown to smithereens. From then on, I either had to acknowledge my mother’s voice, or suffer the consequences.

So it is with many of you. But, God is calling you, one last time. And, you’re either going to have to acknowledge him, or suffer the consequences.


Today, we are going to let the echoing voices of the prophets of old give that timeless invitation to discipleship.

(Moses):  I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both you and your seed may live.   (Deuteromony 30:19).

(Joshua): But if you don’t want to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Even if you choose the gods your ancestors served on the other side of the [ocean] or the gods of [the world’s ungodly people] in whose land you live…  Joshua  24:15  (GOD”S WORD Translation, brackets mine)

(Elijah):  Then Elijah talked to them. “How long are you going to waver between two opinions?” he asked the people. “If the Lord is God, follow him!   But if [the god of material security] is God, then follow him!”  (1Kings 18:21, The Living Bible, brackets mine)


(Isaiah):  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land. But, if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.    (Isaiah 1:19-20)

Finally, we are going to give the last word to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ.

(Jesus): Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man HEARS my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and dine with him and, he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

The fate of your soul is now in your hands. You have heard the call given from generations past to generations present. What is your answer? Stop. Think long and hard before you move away from this page without giving the appropriate response! There will never be an hour more filled with the grace of God than this moment. This day, God is calling for FINAL answers. Today, God is like the host of that popular game show, “Who wants to be a millionaire?” After the contestants finish mulling over all the alternative answers and selects one, then the host says, “IS THAT YOUR FINAL ANSWER?” Then, the contestants must finally take a stand on one choice forever. They must make up their mind. To let the buzzer sound without giving a response would be unthinkable. To let time pass, while doting endlessly over the choices, without making up their minds, would be ludicrous and humiliating. They don’t have all day. The clock is ticking. You don’t have all day. The clock is ticking. You only get one choice. You must make up your mind once and for all.  If you say, “I’ll wait, and make my decision tomorrow,” then God says, “I’ll take that as a ‘NO !!!’”  The scripture says,

In an acceptable time have I heard you.  And, in a day of salvation have I helped you. Behold, NOW is the accepted time. Behold, NOW is the day of salvation. (2Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 49:8)

Behold.  Behold!  BEHOLD!   This is your hour — as that great evangelist Billy Graham would say — your “Hour of Decision.”

The scripture says,”He that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).  I urge you now to acknowledge the voice of God. And if you are ready and willing to respond, pray the suggested prayer.

Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open my heart and life now and receive you as Savior and Lord. Come in and take control of my life. Give me your Holy Spirit. Come and make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.

 

Did you pray that prayer? Then, on the solid-rock foundation of simple child-like faith, I now pronounce you a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. Mark this date on your calendar. It’s the first day of your eternal life. Congratulations! And welcome to the family.

 

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

If you are already a Christian, but are in need of repentance and rededication, then pray this prayer,

Lord Jesus, please forgive me not serving you the way that I should. I open up my heart now, and give you full access and control. Have your way, Lord. Cleanse me from my all sin and idolatry. Fill me with your Holy Spirit again. Renew me, Lord. Make me the kind of person and servant I ought to be. Amen.

For 24-hour prayer and for help finding a church, call 1-888-731-1000

Truth & Dare: What’s that ‘About?’

Today, I started to do a follow-up on my appraisal of the condition of church today, from my blog,  “A Fulcrum for Refreshing;” hereafter, called “The Assessment” (published on January 14th).  And I will do that, I promise, just not today. Today, I felt led to lay out before you my blog’s guidelines for commenting on any subject. These are my rules of engagement in the blogosphere; a kind of setting forth of my faith and practice of viewing things. It explains how I come by my points of view, a “What We Believe” statement, of sorts. Hereafter you won’t have to ever ask, “Where’s this guy coming from?” After reading this, you should never have to ask, “Where did THAT idea come from?” I want to be fair and honest here, and lay ALL my cards on the table. These are my rules of blogging, and my expectations for my readers and followers — believers and non-believers alike.

First, I assert that this blog has been commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ. In plain language, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit TOLD me to start this blog. As far as humanly possible then, I will strive to represent God’s point of view faithfully. Secondly, I believe in the Holy Bible, as the only objective source of truth; the only OBJECTIVE source, I say. That’s different from saying, “It is the only source of truth period.” And where necessary and appropriate, I will reference the scriptures (that is, cite chapter and verse)  for my reading public, so that you may objectively evaluate the truth and validity of my points of view.

We are, however, not quite as rigid as some of our conservative Christian brothers. The Bible is not our only source of truth, because we believe in the living, eternal God, who speaks to the hearts of individual people, and who reveals his glory progressively. It’s not that the Bible is not the sole and sufficient guide for human living. It certainly is. But man’s understanding and man’s faculties could never stand the whole load and weight of God’s glory being revealed all at once. (See the Apostle John’s experience, and the prophet Daniel’s, for examples. Revelation 1:12-17; Daniel 10:7-15). So, man’s capacity for accepting the fullness of the knowledge of God, is therefore growing. And it is growing to the point that one day, the Bible says, “the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Does not the scripture exhort us to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?” (2 Peter 3:18)  And, does it not tell us that we have been given the 5-fold band of teachers, 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ” (Eph 4:13-15).

Some of my conservative brothers would say, “Revelation ended with the apostles. The Bible has a front and back cover now.”  But I say, “That’s absurd.” If by revelation (what was eventually set in writing as the holy scriptures) you mean, the God-breathed, Spirit uttered, and sovereign words of God, then consider.  Does not the Bible say this? “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (John 21:25). So we have a God who likes to act on behalf of man so very mutitudinously, John the Apostle said that the whole world could not contain all the books to give an account. And, if his historical acts were so many, then his eternal words are even more so. Does it not say, How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.” (Psalms 139:17-18)  So, God not only likes to work on our behalf, but according to Psalms 139:17-18, he likes talking to the heart of man even more, comparing his words thereto to be “more in number than the sand.” And of the sand, the Bible says, it is literally “innumerable” (Heb 11:12). Innumerable means absolutely more than can be counted. It means too many to affix a numerical value to.

Now take that figure, innumerable, (we’ll call that “R,” for innumerable) and multiply it by, what? Multiply it by about 7+ billion souls alive today. That’s quite an astronomical figure. And even if we take into account that previous generations were less populous than ours, you still get the picture that this is astronomical. You may say,” But most of those were unbelievers. God doesn’t speak to unbelievers.”  But I say, God indeed speaks even to unbelievers. Even If his only words to them are,” I am God. Jesus is my son. I love you. Jesus died for you.  Therefore, repent. Believe. And be saved.” Now, I can hardly imagine that any Evangelical Christians would doubt that God from time to time does speak those words directly to the heart of the unbeliever. And hey, God’s words ARE God’s word.

Now again, take that astronomical figure we got from above (R7,000,000,000), and multiply that by the number of generations of mankind that have lived these past 2,000 since Christ. Let’s see. Counting a generation, as the Bible does, as forty years, then we come up with about 50 generations. Right? So, now we multiply 50 times (x) the innumerable words of God. That’s R7,000,000,000 x 50. That’s innumerable times 7,000,000,000 times 50. Wow! That number somewhere along the way approaches infinity. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that the product of that multiplication is a few more words than the Bible contains between Genesis and Revelation. As a matter of fact, one online resource puts the number of words in the King James Authorized version as 783,137. §   That’s not even close!!!

My contention then is simply this: without putting artificial limits on God’s word, let’s test and prove all things by the words of scripture. If a view point lines up with scripture, then we know it’s sound. If it doesn’t, then we have solid grounds to reject it. But by all means, don’t dispute it if you’ve not thoroughly checked it out. Like the scripture says, He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.” (Prov 18:13)

So, what am I saying? My viewpoints are genuinely from a Christian worldview, but not all of them are the norm. Not all of them are the traditional byline.  God does often talk to me in my heart. The Bible call this RHEMA (Rom 10:7), and imparts thoughts to my mind that He Himself has inspired. And to the best of my ability, being human, I plan to represent those ideas to the world in this forum. And, my invitation to all people is that you simply listen with and open heart and mind. If you be a noble-minded believer, do like the citizens of Berea did, after they heard the apostle Paul. They “received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). And if you are presently not a believer, but are on a genuine and zealous search for truth, then simply ply my words to everything else you know to be true and honest. I promise always to strive to true and honest. Truth has a way of proving and confirming itself; that is, to all who really love the truth.

Do my viewpoints come from God? Do they really represent TRUTH? Here’s my DARE.  I don’t care.   Search the scriptures.  Search your heart.    Then, YOU  be the judge.

 § To see this number and other interesting facts of the Bible, go to: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110605132525AAEi5wS

(Hereafter, the bulk of this post will appear in the ‘About’ section of this blog site.)

Preview: Upcoming attractions !! 

My next blog will be entitled,Do you hear what I hear?”  It will be a discussion about Rhema, God’s Word to the individual human heart; absolute truth invested directly in living vessels — into common, flesh and blood carriers like you and me. Don’t miss it!

Eyes Wide Shut


Yesterday in my introduction, I gave seven sever problems in the church; problems which were causing its growth and development to be dwarfed. Instead of being this radiant tower of grace and virtue, transforming our culture and times, the church has become more like a functionally-challenged runt. Those problems were: gross materialism, traditionalism, paganism, commercialism, political correctness, a general spiritual malaise, and an epic spiritual identity crisis.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no idle complainer or useless wrangler. I’m in the trenches every day, trying to turn this situation around. Why? Because, I love the household of God.  Like that old hymn used to say: “I love thy kingdom, Lord, the house of thine abode, the church our blest Redeemer saved with his own precious blood.”  I’d literally give my life for her. But, hold on, Jesus already did that!  So, all I’m trying to do is to ply my gifts and mind as opportunity avails itself, to help turn things around — to get this ol’ “Ship of Zion” shipshape again. You with me, mate?

Starting with the fact that she’s got an epic identity crisis, I want to tackle these seven maladies she has, one at a time. Yep, let’s start with last things first. This is a gi-normous problem!  It can’t be overstated. Like a comely old lady with Alzheimer’s, she doesn’t know who she is. This is what my very first blog post was all about. Let me stop here and say, if you haven’t read that post, You Talkin’ to Me?, then stop here and do so. Because without that information, everything else I want to say, will be pretty much a wash. It will be trying to decider a cryptic text without the code, trying to unlike a safe without the combination, or trying to open a locked door without a key.

The Bible itself is like a coded book. It can be read and enjoyed by the average believer on many levels. It has gotten many a novice traveler safely to Jordan’s shores. But this is a new age with new challenges. This is the most hopelessly confused generation there ever was or could be. We are like a generation whose eyes are wide shut. And we don’t even realize we are stumbling in the daylight as if it was midnight. And without the knowledge imparted by my first blog, the scales won’t begin to come off your eyes. And the cultural blindness, which is on the eyes of the church, can’t be lifted. So hopefully, to save both me and you a little frustration, I’ll let you take the time to read that. Then, I’ll be back.

You can find the title, You Talkin’ to Me?, under my disctinctive catergory, “Christian Dynamics,”  from the Reader home page, WordPress.com. Or, move your cursor over the blog title, Truth & Dare, click on it, and afterwards  scroll down. Or, simply click on the following link: https://newjudah.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/you-talkin-to-me/