If Jesus Arose from the Dead, Why Didn’t He Stick Around?

Why would Jesus have to go away and send the Comforter, also called the Holy Ghost?
Why could He not stay on earth and daily “prove” that He was the resurrected Christ or Messiah (Anointed One) sent from God to redeem the world from sin?
Could He not hold news conferences to show that He was alive from the dead?
Could He not show His wounds in His hands, feet and side in a continual world tour?  Although He would have a lot of ground to cover!

Consider in history when God DID show up in unmistakable experiences.  He revealed Himself through Moses and Aaron in spectacular fashion to both Pharoah and the Egyptians as well as the Israelite community living in the land of Goshen in northern Egypt.  He led them for 40 years in the wilderness of Sinai (they were not wandering; they followed a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night).  (See Exodus 13:17-22; and chapters 1416.)

And look how often they grumbled against Moses and God who had delivered them!  So much so that an entire generation was forced to die in the desert before their children could inherit the Land of Promise.  Apparently even God’s obvious Presence was not enough to discourage sin in the camp!

In Craig Keener’s book, Miracles Today, he perceptively asks “How much evidence does it take to convince someone [a miracle occurred]?… If I am adamant that miracles are impossible, in principle I might reject any amount of evidence. If I already trust God, I will thank God for even the smallest details of life… God doesn’t do miracles for our entertainment.”

Likely a true anecdote, in the story of Poor Lazarus and The Rich Man (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man is in anguish having gone to hell while Lazarus is comforted at Abraham’s side (a ‘pre-Heaven,’ so to speak).  The rich man begged Abraham to allow Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water to cool his tongue.  When Abraham said this was impossible, the rich man asked if Lazarus could go back from the righteous dead and warn his five brothers, so they could avoid winding up where the rich man was.

“But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (verses 29-31)

On another occasion (Matthew 12:38-40), Jesus was asked for a “sign” to prove His divine credentials.  “But He answered them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”  I.e., He was announcing that He would rise from the dead!  This was a frequent claim of Jesus, so clear that His opponents even asked for the sealing of His tomb to prevent a fraudulent claim that He had done so.  (Matthew 27:62-66)

These were people who knew Jesus could heal the blind, restore shriveled arms, open deaf ears and even raise the dead (John 11:38-53)!  Yet, their hearts would not believe, no matter what evidence they saw.  Think logically, and how do you kill someone who can raise the dead!?  Yet that is what they proposed to do.  In John 12:8-11, they even plotted to murder Lazarus because he had been raised from the dead!!  Couldn’t any of them spell “irony” in Hebrew?  How do you kill someone if Someone else can just raise him from the dead!?

“Faith” in the Bible is more than just mental assent.  In the Complete Jewish Bible, the words both from the Hebrew and Greek are most often translated as “trust.”

A little boy was asked to define “faith,” and he said “It’s believing something you know just ain’t true.” 😁  But obviously, that is not the case in the Bible.  Faith is trust; it is accepting the evidence with an open mind and relying on God to do what only He can do – save lost people from hell and give us eternal life.

Let’s suppose for a minute that Jesus DID stay here on earth in His resurrected body.

  1. First, how would He prove that He was really 2000+ years old?  Maybe the history books, all obviously written with His approval, are like claims of Roman Emporers being gods.
  2. Second, how would He prove to ME that He had really died.  If I only live 70-90 years, how do I know that He is not just longer-lived and will not die after me?
  3. Third, how do I know the wounds in His hands, feet and side were not inflicted just before I was born?

In order for ME to believe that He could come back from the dead, I WOULD HAVE TO SEE HIM DIE ALL OVER AGAIN! … unless I trust Him and His followers.  And if I do not trust them, why would I trust Him even if He arose from the dead in MY presence again?

Abraham’s words ring true: “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”  We know this is true because He arose from the dead, and the Pharisees of His time still tried to quash the rumor that He was alive.  Yet they could not produce a body nor show where He was laid, because He IS RISEN!

Jesus knows what is in our hearts, and how we resist the truth as the unbelievers of the first century did.  So He sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to woo us, to persuade us, to open our blind eyes and allow us to see the Evidence That Demands a Verdict.  Jesus promised Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  (John 20:29)

Who will you believe today?  Jesus?  His disciples who died rather than admit to a lie?  Or the Pharisees who said, “They stole the body,” but could produce no proof?  (Matthew 28:11-15)

The Only “Proof” of the Resurrection

For those who do not remember “Watergate,” this is the name of an office building complex, The Watergate Office Buildings and Hotel in Washington, D.C., where the Democratic National Convention housed its headquarters in 1972.  A break-in, most likely authorized by then President Nixon, set the stage for most of the distrust of government currently rampant, resulted in the only resignation of a sitting president of the US and brings me to “The Only ‘Proof’ of the Resurrection” of Jesus.  The metonym Watergate came to encompass any associated activities surrounding the scandal.  The use of the suffix “-gate” after an identifying term has since become synonymous with political or public scandal, including irangate, travelgate, Reagangate and slapgate just to name a few.

One of Nixon’s “henchmen,” Charles Colson, sometimes called “Nixon’s hatchet man,” was one of the “Watergate Seven,” chief architects of the crimes associated to Watergate and its subsequent cover-up.  He was also one of 48 convictions that served prison time as a consequence and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior while in prison, penning Born Again from this experience.

Mr. Colson, as he began to minister to others in the US prison system, said regarding his conversion, “I know the Resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me.  How?  Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead; then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it.  Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned or put in prison.  They would not have endured that if it weren’t true.  Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world – and we couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks.  You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years?  Absolutely impossible.”  Born Again by Charles Colson.

Following is a brief overview of how each of the twelve original apostles died as well as other martyrs of the first century.  May this remind us that our sufferings in the US (so far) are minor to compare to the intense persecution and cold cruelty faced by the apostles and disciples during their time for the sake Jesus.  Our troubles are also significantly less than many Christ-followers in other nations where simply owning or reading a Bible can result in arrest and death.  Many Chinese Christ-followers do not expect to live 70-80 years, anticipating that perhaps they will be able to lead some of their prison guards to the Lord after they are arrested and before they die for their faith!

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:25-26)
“If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20)

Why do we feel sleepy in prayer, but stay awake through a three-hour movie?  Why are we so bored when we read the Bible, but find it easy to read novels?  Why is it so easy to ignore a Tweet about God, yet forward the latest Kardashian news?  Why is it so easy to praise a celebrity, but so difficult to engage with our Creator?

Next week, I will discuss why Jesus left earth and did not stay to show off His crucifixion wounds to curiosity-seekers to prove His Resurrection.

_____________________________
Besides the original twelve, this list includes Matthias (elected to replace Judas, the Betrayer), Stephen, the first to die for his faith in Jesus, the apostle Paul (“as one born out of due time”-1 Corinthians 15:8), Mark, the author of The Gospel of Mark, Luke, the author of The Gospel of Luke and The Acts of the Apostles, and James, the brother of Jesus.  These are recorded in Foxes’ Book of Martyrs (except for Judas Iscariot, recorded in Matthew 25 and Acts 1).

  1. Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus):  He hanged himself in suicide over the guilt of having betrayed “innocent blood.”
  2. Peter: Under Nero’s persecution, he was crucified upside-down (~A.D. 64-68).  He requested the inverted crucifixion because he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
  3. Andrew the brother of Peter: He was crucified on an X-shaped cross in Patras, Greece, hence the name “St. Andrew’s Cross.”  After being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords rather than nails, to prolong his agony.  His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, Andrew saluted it in these words, “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.”  He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
  4. James the son of Zebedee: As a strong leader of the church, James was beheaded at Jerusalem in A.D. 44 by Herod Agrippa (see Acts 12:2).  The Roman officer who guarded James was amazed at James’ calm as he defended his faith at his trial.  Later, as the officer walked beside James to the place of execution, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James and was also beheaded as a Christian.
  5. John the son of Zebedee: Facing martyrdom, he was boiled in huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome.  However, he was miraculously delivered from death.  John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison Isle of Patmos.  The apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as the pastor of Edessa in modern Turkey.  He died as an old man (~A.D. 100-105), the only apostle to die peacefully.
  6. Phillip: In Hieropolis, Turkey, he was scourged, imprisoned and eventually crucified in A.D. 54.
  7. Bartholomew: Also known as Nathaniel, he was a missionary to Asia (modern Turkey). Bartholomew was martyred for his preaching in Armenia where he was flayed to death with knives.
  8. Matthew: He suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia for preaching about Jesus; killed by a sword in A.D. 60.
  9. Thomas: He was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish another church in the subcontinent (~A.D. 70).
  10. James the son of Alphaeus: He was crucified in Lower Egypt and then sawed in pieces in A.D. 62.
  11. Simon the Zealot: He was crucified in Britain in A.D. 74 for preaching “foreign gods.”
  12. Judas, also called Thaddeus: He was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
  13. Matthias: The apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, he was stoned and then beheaded.
  14. Stephen, a deacon of Acts 6: The first martyr was stoned to death, recorded in Acts 7:54-60.
  15. Paul: He was tortured and then beheaded by Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67.  Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment, which allowed him to write many of his letters to the churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire.  These epistles, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, form a large portion of the New Testament.
  16. Mark the author of The Gospel of Mark: He was dragged by horses through the streets of Alexandria, Egypt until he was dead.
  17. Luke: He was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
  18. James the brother of Jesus: As the respected leader of the church in Jerusalem, he was thrown over a hundred feet down from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.  When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies stoned and beat James to death with a fuller’s club, crushing his skull until his brains spilled out.

“There have been times of late when I have had to hold on to one text with all my might: ‘It is required in stewards that a man may be found faithful.’ Praise God, it does not say ‘successful’.”  Amy Wilson-Carmichael, Things as they Are (1 Corinthians 4:2)

Two Destinations – An Almost Wordless Wednesday

“For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. But the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”  Jesus

I Doubt; Therefore I May Be?

Apologies to René Descartes (ri-nay’ day’-kahrt), the famous French philosopher who wisely realized, “I think; therefore I am.”

2022-07-23 The CosmosVery little in this life is certain.  How long has the earth (or universe) been in existence?  Did life originate from accidental cosmic forces zapping a primordial goo or did an Intelligence far beyond human understanding create life?  When is a conceived baby alive?  How much longer before the coastlines are all underwater or the earth fries?  If CO2 is what feeds plants, why is it bad for the environment?  Does Joe Biden really believe that the best word to describe America is ‘Asufutimaehaehfutbw’? 😁

As young people go to college this fall, more than half of those who attended churches as teens will leave church out of their schedules when they sign up for classes.  According to a Lifeway study, 66% stopped going to church during their college years.

While this may not reflect specifically the number who lose faith in God, it is concerning, because most of those never return to church.  How does a young person maintain faith without a supportive community?  For that matter, how does anyone of any age do that!?

How do they address the doubts raised by sharp and intelligent professors who unabashedly disavow faith and suspect anyone who believes in God to be an idiot?  When confronted with “science” that refutes the Bible or raises questions about some of its record, how can they respond?  What can strengthen them to continue to trust in Jesus when most of their peers are more interested in “hook-up culture” or “hookah” parties?

There are many stories in the Bible that are quite unbelievable . . . from a humanist perspective.  Moses’ command to the Israelites to move forward when the Red Sea was blocking their way presents just one of many stories modernists dismiss as “myths” to tell moral lessons.  Floating axe-heads . . . really?   Three men go into a furnace and come out unscathed without even the smell of smoke on their clothes!?

The New Testament is no different at presenting miracles that defy human understanding.  From turning water into wine to making the lame walk to raising dead people, Jesus and His disciples did the impossible . . . if you believe the records.

But other spiritual leaders also had claims of miraculous events from Guatama Buddha’s instant walking after birth and leaving lotus flowers where ever he stepped to Joseph Smith’s revelation from the angel, Moroni, in a cave to give us the Book of Mormon.  And along the way, Zoroaster planted the massive Cypress of Kashmir he had brought from Paradise to honor a king who believed in his words.  And then Mohammad split the moon in two and could speak with animals before his alleged ascension after an overnight hike of 914 miles (1471 km) from Mecca to Jerusalem.

So what is a “believer” to believe?

Let me encourage the young person heading to college (or anyone, for that matter) to examine the historicity of any of the claims of miraculous phenomena and how the world was affected by them.  A clear and thorough investigation will raise significant questions on the “miracles” of other religions.  Either the historical record is very spotty and very ancient, or the miracles were attested long after their claimants assert they occurred.  And be sure to consider the effect on the world’s societies as you examine these claims.

2022-07-23 The Ring of TruthWhen you begin to research the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, like tuning a crystal glass, there is a distinctive “ring of truth” to the narratives that myths lack.  Add that Jesus’ immediate followers would not deny His resurrection to the point of death, even though most of them died at the hands of persecutors determined to snuff out this nascent faith.  More so, calculate that the effect of Christianity on the world has produced the most and best advances in every area of society from science to philosophy to social structures to democracy.

Doubts are a natural part of faith.  Even some of Jesus’ own followers, at His ascension recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, had doubts.  Realize doubts are not the same as disbelief!  Doubts come in any intelligent mind searching for truth before all the facts are disclosed.  Disbelief is the choice to refuse the evidence.

When you have doubts about your faith in Jesus or the Bible, come back to the Cross and the Empty Tomb!  There is no fact of history more validated and demonstrated than the truth that Jesus arose from the dead.  And if this is true (and it IS!) we can rest assured that what He taught about His Second Coming is true as well.

So when you are off to college (or at any age or stage of your life), when you doubt, return to the Cross and the Resurrection.  There you will find assurance that you have not followed “cleverly devised myths” when you put your faith in Jesus, “and we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

Who Will Take My Place? – The John Chau Story

June 29 is the Day of the Christian Martyr.  More than 4000 Christ-followers are killed every year (11 every day), not because they cause trouble, but simply because they claim Jesus as their Lord.  We who live in luxury and comfort need to be aware that the freedom we now have to share the gospel could disappear overnight.  Are we ready? … But that is a question for another blog.
John Chau was part of my blog on December 03, 2018.  Here is the “the rest of the story” as told by the editors of The Voice of the Martyrs.  For the sake of my shorter blogs, this is an abbreviated account.  The full original article is available HERE.  And well worth reading!

Who Will Take My Place? – The John Chau Story

2022-06-18 John Chau Title Pic

A LIFE OF PREPARATION
John spent almost a decade preparing to take the gospel to the Sentinelese, one of the last uncontacted people groups. His journey began in 2008, the year he turned 17, when he became what he described as “an apprentice to Jesus.”

2022-06-18 North Sentinel MapAfter taking his first missions trip the following year, he began to pray about spending his life serving as a missionary. “I know that God used that time to mark my life,” he later said. In his prayers, John asked God where He wanted him to go, echoing Isaiah’s affirmation – “Here am I! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

Soon after making that prayerful commitment, John found information online about the Sentinelese people, who live on an isolated island and have never heard the gospel. He sensed that God was calling him to go to North Sentinel Island to share God’s love with them.

“Once I said yes to Jesus,” he said in a video for a church that sponsored his work, “I was committed. I was all in.”

Every decision John made for the next nine years was in preparation for going to North Sentinel Island, living among the Sentinelese and sharing the gospel with them. “He had conditioned his body, his mind, his spirit,” said a former representative from the student missions office at Oral Roberts University (ORU), the school John attended in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “He was one of the most prepared men I’ve ever met.”

Since little is known about the Sentinelese language, he took a linguistics course through a branch of Wycliffe Bible Translators hoping it would help him communicate with the islanders. In addition, he undertook medical training and became certified as a wilderness EMT (emergency medical technician) so he could provide the Sentinelese with basic health care, knowing their immune systems would be vulnerable to imported Western viruses, and he underwent laser eye surgery so he wouldn’t have to worry about keeping his contacts clean.

2022-06-18 North Sentinel PictureJohn was so focused on preparing to serve on the island – an arial view of North Sentinel hung on his dorm-room wall – that he needed a reminder to keep serving in the here and now. An outreach leader at ORU challenged John not to wait, but to start immediately serving and reaching out in the name of Jesus. And John took the challenge to heart.

Because of his love for soccer, John became involved with a ministry that ran a soccer program for immigrants from Myanmar. He was not the most high-profile leader, standing in the spotlight or preaching a sermon, but his love for people and his bedrock faith began to shine through.  “Coach Chau” became a friend, mentor and coach, taking every opportunity to point young men to Christ.

When John reached out to the ministry, All Nations, which had overseen one of his college mission trips, a member of the executive leadership, Pam Arland, took notice that John’s email was the second mention of the Sentinelese people she had seen in a week. And prior to that, she had never even heard of them. Was God at work to reach this unreached island, she wondered.

Pam invited a coworker to sit in on a call with John and help determine whether he was the right person for such a dangerous mission trip.  “John is actually one of the most well prepared and intentional missionaries I have ever met,” said Mary Ho, executive leader of All Nations in a VOM radio interview (VOMRadio.net/JohnChau). “He would call us and say, ‘How do I prepare myself to know more about cultural anthropology?’ We would say, ‘OK, here are 10 [or] 20 books on the subject.’ He would say, ‘Oh, I have read half of them.’ Literally two weeks later he would be like, ‘I have finished reading them. What’s next?’”

A SOLO MISSION
In 2015, John took the first of four scouting trips to the Andaman Islands, a union territory of India located so far east in the Bay of Bengal that it’s much closer to Bangkok than Bangalore.  As he flew out of Port Blair, capital of the Andaman and the Nicobar Islands, John gazed out at the blue ocean below and saw an island come into view that he recognized immediately: It was the same island he had stared at on his dorm-room wall all through college.

“A sense of clarity and peace came upon me,” John said later, “A sense of knowing that I’m going to be going there one day. I took that as confirmation. I’ve only had that sense of clarity and deep sense of knowing a few other times in my life, and each time I can say it was definitely God that was speaking to me.”

John had a natural inclination toward planning, and it was now in full flower. He planned what to take with him, sorting and re-sorting his gear, then deciding how much would fit in the cases he planned to cache on the island before he met the islanders. He wrote plans for the first day, for his early goals and even a contingency plan in case things didn’t go well.

Plan A was to make contact with the islanders and live among them for as long as it took to learn the language and culture. Then he would tell them about the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. John knew it would take years and maybe decades. His meticulous planning also included a Plan B, the possibility that tribes would not welcome him and might even kill him, just as they had two fishermen who drifted ashore on North Sentinel in 2006.

John was at peace either way. He had committed his life to seeing the Sentinelese people worship Jesus Christ as their Savior. Either he would live on the island as a guest and a light for Christ, or he would give his life on the island and enter eternity. Like Paul, he knew that “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

“ADVENTURE BRO”
In case the world did hear John’s name, he had done his best to protect Christian friends in the islands and make sure any publicity would not hinder further efforts to reach the Sentinelese with the gospel. His Instagram feed is filled with adventure images from far off places. He blogged about traveling the world, climbing, kayaking and diving with great white sharks. If John’s name became known, anyone searching the images and blogspots would simply think he was an “adventure bro” who stepped too far off the beaten path and paid with his life.

After John’s death, a friend posted some thoughts that John had shared before the trip. “Death is inevitable,” John had said. “I can die in a car crash, [from] snakebite, [from] cancers. There are many ways we can die. I’m going to the islands this November and I don’t know what is going to happen, but I’m ready. I’m ready to lay my down life down for the gospel.”

In August 2018, the Indian government removed the requirement – in place since 1963 – that foreigners visiting 29 of the Andaman and Nicobar islands first apply for and receive a Restricted Area Permit. Media reports listed islands that no longer required a permit to visit – including North Sentinel Island. The change was designed to promote tourism, but also eliminated one obstacle to John’s mission.

FINAL PREP AND FIRST CONTACT
As the time approached for John’s trip to the island, Mary Ho received a four word e-mail from another member of the All Nations executive team: “Mary, are you sure?” Her response was equally to the point, from Romans 10:14: “How are they to hear without someone preaching?”

On the afternoon of November 14, before boarding a fishing boat and heading toward the island, John wrote this prayer in his journal: “Thank you, Father, for using me, for shaping me and molding me to be your ambassador. … Holy Spirit, please open the hearts of the tribe to receive me and by receiving me, to receive You. May Your kingdom, Your rule and reign come now to North Sentinel Island. My life is in Your hands, O father, so into Your hands I commit my spirit.”

The next morning he kayaked along the shore, hoping to show his good intentions by delivering fish and other gifts to the Islanders. “My name is John,” he called out. “I love you and Jesus loves you.”

2022-06-18 John at the Island

The first islanders to appear carried their bows with unstrung arrows. Later, when they strung arrows in their bows, John paddled out of range and back to the boat. He approached again that afternoon, delivering more gifts and getting close to an islander before a young Sentinelese launched an arrow that lodged firmly in the waterproof Bible he was carrying.

The tip of the arrow stopped on a page that ended with the first two verses of Isaiah 65: “I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me; I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am’ to a nation that was not called by My name. I spread out My hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices.”

On that second contact attempt, John got out of the kayak, hoping to appear less threatening. But when the islanders, one with a bamboo knife, got between him and the kayak, he had to leave it behind – with his US passport inside – and swam back to the boat. After that eventful day, he poured out his heart in the pages of his journal, which the fishermen later delivered to Christian friends.

2022-06-18 Journal Entry 1

Later that evening, John added another entry.

2022-06-18 Journal Entry 2

According to his notes, John planned for the fishermen to drop him ashore the next morning. John hoped he would seem less threatening without the boat waiting offshore. And he also hoped to protect the fisherman: “If it goes badly on foot, the fisherman won’t have to bear witness to my death,” he wrote. John closed most of his journal entries as well as letters to friends and family with the Latin phrase Solo Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone).

ON THE BEACH
On November 16, 2018, John went ashore on North Sentinel Island for the last time. When the fisherman returned the next day, according to the police report, they saw “a dead person being buried at the shore which from the silhouette of the body, clothing and circumstances appear to be the body of John Allen Chau.”

Following his death, a storm of vitriol was unleashed on John, his family, All Nations and, at times, anyone who would dare to think of sharing the gospel with another human being. The fisherman who took John to the island were arrested, as were other Christians who had spoken with John in the Andaman islands. Their trial began in November 2021.

The story of John the adventure bro quickly turned to John the misguided missionary, the colonizer, the thoughtless disease spreader. The mocking memes on social media and criticism in a variety of media came in waves. Some comedians even used the story of John’s murder in their acts.

More concerning was the criticism from Christians who attacked John’s [mis]perceived lack of preparation and insensitivity to the culture. Some even questioned whether the Great Commission might be outdated in 2018; perhaps they posed, it does not apply to tribes that have no contact with the outside world.

NOT THE END OF THE STORY
“I believe the measure of success in the Kingdom of God is obedience,” John said a few months before his death. “I want my life to reflect obedience to Christ and to live in obedience to him. I think that Jesus is worth it. He’s worth everything.”

John followed in the footsteps of faithful Christians throughout history, beginning with the martyrdom of all but one of the original 12 apostles. In the 1800s, only one in four missionaries survived his first term in the Congo (see From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya by Ruth Tucker). In 1866, Robert Thomas died on a riverbank outside Pyongyang while trying to take the gospel to Korea. Five men were speared to death in 1956 while trying to share the love of Christ with the “Auca” (now called the Huaorani) tribesmen. A willingness to “die trying” has always been a requirement for taking the gospel to places it’s never been heard.

The end of John’s life on earth should not be viewed as the end of the whole story; we know how that story ends. In one of John’s last journal entries, he wrote “The eternal lives of this tribe are at hand. And I can’t wait to see them around the throne of God worshiping in their own language as Revelation 7:9–10 states. Every tribe, every people, every language, worshiping King Jesus together.” John longed for the day when he would introduce his Sentinelese brothers and sisters to other members of the body of Christ.

Perhaps in eternity, we will see John standing among the Sentinelese gathered around the throne, crying out in a loud voice with them, “Salvation belongs to our God!” Those who knew John well on earth will expect a toothy grin on his face, a twinkle in his eye and a thumb raised in his trademark “It’s all good” gesture.

2022-06-18 John Chau Thumbs Up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNksqCzMKkk&t=206s

https://www.persecution.com/martyr/?_source_code=WEBI19E2

https://www.persecution.com/free-magazine/

Swimmers in the Sky

IMG_5720

Angels from the Throne in Glory
Come to earth to tell a story
Of One who came to testify
We can live even when we die.

The realms of Heaven and earth collide
Leaving us with no place to hide.
All is clear to Him on the Throne,
He sees both worlds; they are both His own.

But with love He looks on what He has formed
And bids us each to be reborn;
To accept His life coming from On High
And join the swimmers in the sky.

(Thanx to Ariela for challenging me to write a poem on the Swimmers in the Sky.)

Before the Resurrection

“As many were astonished at you, his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind.”  Isaiah 52:14

2022-04-16 Jesus On The Cross

Resurrection Sunday came, but not before THIS happened.  Is it any wonder that as a man, Jesus was so strained in the Garden of Gethsemene, that being in agony He prayed more earnestly; His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:43-44)  Hematidrosis is a rare medical condition in which one oozes or “sweats” blood from the skin even thought there is no cut or injury.  Though usually not fatal of itself, it has most often occurred in people as they died or in prisoners facing execution.  He knew what was about to happen.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=125baeLbGvU

Not just the physical torture He was about to endure, but He knew the spiritual battle that we will never see – the acceptance of sin for which He was not guilty, sin that was none of His doing; all the pride, greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, envy, and sloth that you and I have committed; all the hatred, lies, murder, abuse and wickedness that men and women have perpetrated since the beginning of the earth until its end!  He was looking forward to bearing ALL that in a matter of hours.

2022-04-16 Jesus In The TombAnd should we expect God will deliver us from all troubles?  Yet, “God did not keep bad things from happening to God Himself and there is no darkness into which He has not descended.  He knows the texture and taste of everything [we] most fear.”  (Tish Harrison Warren, Prayer in the Night)

Western Christians have become so soft and comfortable that the idea of suffering for Christ seems completely foreign.  Anticipating Sunday’s Resurrection, we glide through the pleasant days before with nothing to mark us but a little ash on our foreheads. 

So many “prosperity gospel” preachers have pounded out verses like Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope,” that we have come to believe any time we have a problem, we can just go to Jesus and He will fix it in a matter of minutes.  They ignore the context of Jeremiah’s encouragement that was in a letter to EXILES“To the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.”  Note, to the surviving elders!  Many had died; many more were taken into captivity in chains or herded like cattle between soldiers on horses.

Yes, it is a nice plan, but the prophet warned it would be 70 years❗, an average person’s lifetime, before God would start working out His plans for their welfare.  And so Jeremiah warned, Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in My name; I did not send them, declares the LORD.”

Friend, if you want an easy life; if you want to avoid controversy; if you want to skate along with the culture, do not become a follower of Jesus!  If you are looking for prosperity and the “wonderful plan for your life” that some gospel peddlers offer, just take up their pitch and rest easy.  Go with the flow when government orders you to do something; obey every rule and do not make trouble.   Remember that the Nazis loved to quote the Bible in Romans 13:1, Let every person be subject to the governing authorities.”   But they avoided Peter’s assertion in Acts 5:29, “We must obey God rather than men.”  And after beating the apostles, they let them go.

Stay with me here: the apostles did not go back to their little prayer group or life-affirming friends and say, “Oh, it was so terrible!  Those guys were so mean to us.  Please pray that Jesus will protect us from them and we will never encounter that again!”  On the contrary, they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name.”  Then they kept on boldly teaching in the religious government’s headquarters (their Temple) and from house to house.

Are you willing to suffer loss for the sake of following our Lord?  Are you willing to be ostracized as a narrow-minded, anti-science freak?  Are you willing to “Count it all joy,… when you meet trials of various kinds?” (James 1:2) Have you read the Bible, the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”  This “cross” is not some illness or natural difficulty you may encounter.  “There is something frustrating that occurs on earth, namely, that there are righteous people to whom things happen as if they were doing wicked deeds; and, again, there are wicked people to whom things happen as if they were doing righteous deeds.” (Ecclesiastes 8:14 CJB)

The cross to which Jesus calls us is a choice to obey Him against what your family will call “common sense.”  Your friends will wag their heads and say, “Well, they went off the deep end!”  Even some religious advisers will warn you not to get too radical.  But for many of us, to follow Jesus will mean just that – a radical commitment to a God who was willing to suffer to redeem us.

Oh, and there is a reward, but we may not see it in this life!  Do not be so hasty for Sunday morning that you miss what happens before the Resurrection.  Are you willing to believe in a God who is willing to die for you?  Are you willing to die for a God who will save you?

The Two Greatest Fears

2022-03-26 Killware BewareIt seems like a terrifying time to be alive.  Fear and depression stats are off the charts as government officials warn to leave masks alone for health-care workers, then warn that if you do not wear a mask, you are committing a crime against your community.  Then you don’t need a mask anymore, then you must wear one.  And don’t even get me started on the politicization of gene therapy that has been misnamed “vaccines.”  When Michael Crichton wrote The State of Fear, I wonder how fully he realized how accurate he was.
Fear controls.  Fear restricts.  Fear dominates.  Fear enslaves.  Fear manipulates.
Laura Dodsworth, a British photo-journalist used a similar title for one of her books, A State of Fear and spoke to Epoch Times about it on American Thought Leaders.

2022-03-26 Angels Can Be ScaryCuriously, the most common first words out of angels’ mouths when they showed up in the Bible were, “Fear not.”  Unlike the nice little girls in a church Christmas pageant, they must be pretty scary when they materialize!

Scripture teaches there are two great fears every person has, and the first and foremost is fear of death.  There is a mystery in Hamlet’s “undiscovered country” that makes us willing to suffer all kinds of burdens because we do not know what lies beyond since no one has come back to tell us . . . except Jesus 😉.  And for those who have accepted His salvation, we can say with Paul, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54-56)

Yet, even knowing what will happen AFTER I die does not completely remove the fear of this final baptism into the unknown.  Of course, there are matters of pain, disease, or injury that are frightening, but when you read of martyrs who gave up their lives rather than renounce faith in Jesus, one cannot help but be moved by the lack of fear!  Yet that hesitant fear remains.

It reminds me of my first time on a three-meter diving board.  I had fallen from higher limbs out of trees onto leafy ground.  The gym teacher had effectively taught me how to swim and I had even been in the “deep end” when swimming lengths of the pool.  The week before, everyone in the class had jumped or dived off the low board.  But as I climbed the 10 foot ladder to the platform my knees trembled and I was scared.  One after another, classmates before me walked up (in what seemed to me overconfidence or bravado) and just casually walked to the boundary of common sense and suddenly they were GONE!

The splash that followed 1.42 seconds later did not give me any more confidence.  I was going to leap to my death!!  But I knew the line behind me would want me to get over the brink as quickly as possible so they could jump, so steeling my spirit and mind against the despondence of my doom, I also walked up and off the edge!  The comfort of feeling the water enclose around me removed all my fear.  So I expect it will be something like this when I “cross the Jordan.”  Like the old hymn sang, “I won’t have to cross Jordan alone.”

But most of the people in the world do not have this comfort.  For them, the fear of death is paramount in their minds.  Everything they do (with the exception of adrenaline junkies) is to try to stay alive.  And even adrenaline junkies take precautions and plan their escapades in expectation that they will survive.  R.J. Corman reportedly offered $1,000,000 to his doctors for every year he lived after a cancer diagnosis in 2001.  Many octogenarians and older still look for organ transplants and medical ‘miracles’ that will keep them alive “just little longer.”  Without Jesus, death is the most fearsome adversary mankind faces.  Even though everyone will die at some point, many often go to extremes to put off this inevitable contest with an opponent who is destined to win.  Some even freeze their bodies in hopes that before frostbite sets in someone will come up with a cure for whatever is killing them!

The second greatest fear most people experience is, “What will the neighbors think!?”  Okay, maybe not neighbors, but someone else.  Fear of what other people think runs a very close second to the fear of death.  Some people even risk death to avoid being thought foolish or vain or somehow less than what they wish they were.  We joke in Kentucky, Bubba’s most common last words are, “Hey, ever-body, watch THIIIS!”

2022-03-26 Nokia Cell PhoneI recall when Nokia cell phones first came out, a man entering an elevator continued talking about his financial wizardry as we ascended 15 stories in the building.  What he did not notice was the light on the face of his phone had gone out, indicating he had lost the connection in the lift! 🙄  But rather than admit to us strangers that he was not as savvy as wanted us to think, he kept up the charade.

Jesus warned specifically not to fear what people may think of you.  “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves,… have no fear of them,… do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.(Matthew 10:16-28)  However, some authorities in Israel did not get the memo: “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.” (John 12:42-43)  Sooo sad.

For the Christ-follower, this is an ongoing battle with the flesh, to be humble and obedient and not worry about what people think.  Some of us struggle with this more than others, but we are on the right path when we say with the author of Hebrews, So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6)

In Jesus discourse the night before His crucifixion He told His disciples, and by them tells us, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:27)

“Oh, the worst of all tragedies is not to die young, but to live until seventy-five and yet not ever truly to have lived.”   Martin Luther King, Jr. who was assassinated at age 39

Guest Blog by Thompson Lengels

Personal Meditation on Death and Dying
by ThompsonLengels / March 19, 2022
(with minor edits for spelling, syntax and references)

Fear of Death

Satan has a season when he loves to prick the saint’s conscience — their dying day!  Alas, he comes with all those failing spots to which the saint has succumbed! (Psalm 90:7-8)

When he comes, we may as well say to him:  It is true, Satan. I have failed often, more so, broken asunder to despair and despondency.  But also, listen.  Christ accepted me in my wicked state; died for me while a whore, a swearer, a guiler, an idolater, adulterer, a fornicator, and all the filthy exercises about which you think.  I say Christ died for me in all this mud of sin (Romans 5:8).  All that is good in me is but by His unmerited grace, undeserved mercy.

Death, to a Christian, is a doorway to glory.  To live in Christ is to keep in step with Christ.  So also, he that would die well must never put off the inevitability of death — he must live as a dying man.  The Christian’s death is the ending of his troubling sins, an entrance to a land where sin and sorrow are no more.  We must look at death as a thing we must meet, and look upon ourselves as a thing with which we must part.

It is never too soon to make friendship with death.  We never get what we think we want because God always gives us what we need.  One day our need will be death.

SkullDeath is gain; freedom from doubt and unbelief.  In Heaven our faith will be turned into sight.  Here the best are liable to doubt about their personal piety, and often experience many an anxious hour in reference to this point.  In Heaven doubt will be known no more.

Death is the grave of all temptations.  A Christian’s death delivers them from the second death.  Put another way, a Christian dies natural to live eternal.  In Heaven there are no graves, but eternal grace.

After our death, we will be met by our believing loved ones who went ahead of us to be with Christ.  O beloved Christian, why fear death?  It is natural to fear death, but we may meet it with faith in Christ.

Time PassingWhen death knocks at your door, don’t murmur and grumble about it.  Rejoice, you are going Home at last!  Does the prisoner, long confined in a dungeon, dread the hour which is to open his prison, and permit him to return to his family and friends?  Does the man in a foreign land, long an exile, dread the hour when he shall embark on the ocean [or the sky] to be conveyed to where he may embrace the friends of his youth?  Does the sick man dread the hour which restores him to health; the afflicted, the hour of comfort?  The wanderer at night, the cheering light of returning day?

And why, then, should the Christian dread the hour which will restore him to immortal vigor?  Which shall remove all his sorrows?  Which shall introduce him to everlasting day?  Smile at death when your time draws nigh.

Death is an awful reality to men who have made this world their only home and the things of this world their only possessions.  Do not waste any unnecessary time below here.  Let us live as diligent laborers in a field full of harvest, harvesting men to Christ Jesus.

Live as men who appreciate the world, but let us live like men who are more in love with the world to come, the world of Christ Jesus.  To die and be with Christ is the final pilgrimage of the wounded saint.  The saint finally meets with Eternal Rest and Blessed Felicity.

The door of death is inscribed thus: “Prepare to meet your God!”  Christ is best!

Death is sleep. “The girl is not dead but sleeping.” (Luke 8:52)  The natural man is tempted to laugh.  You’re wise and know how to apply.  Death will very soon reveal the children of God and the devil.

We must have our heart and mind in Heaven if we are to look at death with courage in Christ.  “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).  So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

Beware of head-knowledge in the face of death!  It will not comfort you.  How is your heart and way of life instructed by your accumulated knowledge on the things of God?  Do you know God, or things about God?  That’s the question!  Be honest with yourself!

I’ve observed humble men die well.  Improve life by dying daily to self and enrich the soul by being alive in Christ.  I am homesick for Heaven.

You’re not too young to die.  Make peace with God.  This old fellow knows his time is nigh.  Here today, gone tomorrow.  Make no permanent nest in this world.  Death is a golden carriage that lifts the soul to a golden city, a celestial city.  Fellow mortal, cease playing Immortal.

Cemetery at GettysburgThe whole world is a big cemetery of dead men walking.  Those that resolve to repent tomorrow intend to be wicked today.  A delay of repentance breastfeeds and strengthens our sin — and the wages of sin is death!  (Romans 6:23)

The conversion of the thief at the cross is not a canon that all of us are guaranteed conversion to Christ at our death-bed.

We read in the Holy Scriptures of men who were called at their infancy such as Jeremiah, Samuel and John the Baptist.  Some were chosen in their prime age of youth like the four Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Daniel.  Others were called in their advanced adulthood such as the disciples, John, James, Peter, and Andrew.  Other were called while carrying out their business of the day as Matthew, the tax-collector and Luke, the physician.  Others were called while in their sin-business as the forgiven harlot and the woman at Jacob’s well.  Others while gazing at a fig tree or climbing a sycamore as Nathanael and Zacchaeus.  Still others were called in their old age as Joseph of Arimathea and the Jewish scholar, Nicodemus.  And last of all, at their death-bed — the thief at the cross!

Dead TreeThere’s no such thing as purgatory and indulgences.  When you die, you are dead!  And all must die!  If not now, tomorrow.  If not tomorrow, the next day.  If not the next day, then, the following day.  If not the following day, … then the next!

We can only sing, “Death has lost its sting,” (Hosea 13:14; 1 Corinthians 15:55) if we truly understand what the cross of Christ accomplished for us.

Rest In Peace

Death laughs at bags of gold.  Death is a level ground where the rich and poor; proud and humble; high and low; prince and peasant, all lay and become wholesome meal for the worm. (Job 21:23-26)  A man’s life, however great it was, is always summarized by this little word — Death!

Jesus Christ not only died.  He conquered death by death itself!  Christ stung death to death!
He is our resurrection!

One Minute Past Midnight

2021-12-31 One Minute Until MidnightThere is something sobering about getting a couple phone call messages, texts and emails from your favorite doctor concerned with your latest lab results, especially on December 30, so close to the year’s end.  Sobering, but not frightening, as it may be for those who do not have hope in Jesus.  I know where I am going and I know the One who knows the way. (John 14:1-4)

All six of my strokes since 1999 have been ischemic (clot) strokes, meaning my body likes to throw coagulated blood at my brain.  But getting a lab result that suddenly and without warning shows one’s ‘blood-thinning’ medication makes you at significant risk of a hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke is cause for concern.  No changes in diet, no alterations in activities, no travels to strange lands (like Norway 😉), no deviations in sleep nor major stresses; so why the drastic change in medical results that two weeks ago were fine?

Suddenly my mortality faces me like an impressive off-season Halloween costume, trying to scare me by telling me I could have died this week if a significant blow had struck me, or I had fallen with just a simple trip on the sidewalk.  But the Spectre does not alarm me; death has lost its victory; the grave has lost its sting because my life is hidden in Jesus, the Christ, and nothing will happen to me that my loving Lord does not allow for my good, even it the event is to take me Home. (1 Corinthians 15:50-57)

So as 2021 comes to its finale, I consider the New Year’s Resolution I made in 1969 at 18 years old and have faithfully kept every New Year: “Resolved, I will never make another New Year’s Resolution!”

This is not to suggest that we should not look back at the fading year and evaluate what we could or should have done differently.  Nor does it mean that we should not plan some improvements and developments in the approaching New Year.  However, as noted on , most resolutions do not make it to January 31!  And none of us has any guarantee of tomorrow, much less the whole year ahead.  Whether one runs like James Fixx or manages one’s food with self-control like Ang, there are no warranties we can claim any more than righteous Job.

Thus, I encourage you at this changing of the days to consider your life: its value, its impact on others, its final destination.  And walk in fear of The God Who Is, one who loves you more than we can grasp in this life, and who has revealed Himself most clearly in the God-Man, Jesus. (Hebrews 1:1-3)

Then you will not fear when the clock turns to midnight, just because one minute after midnight you could find yourself in His arms and in His kingdom in Heaven.

2021-12-31 One Minute Past Midnight

Happy New Year to all who are reading this, and with all my heart I hope to meet you someday around the Throne of God to praise Him together.

yours and His,
c.a.

___________________________________________________

A Prayer of Moses, the man of God; Psalm 90

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
    from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You return man to dust and say, “Return, O children of Adam!”
For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past,
    or as a watch in the night.
5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
    like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.
7 For we are brought to an end by your anger; by your wrath we are dismayed.
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 For all our days pass away under your wrath; we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
    that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!