Tag Archives: Death

4 Observations from Piles of Trash

The smell of decay and death that flooded these homes slowly begins to fade. As the rivers have returned to the confinement of their banks and people have begun the marathon labor of restoring their homes, the remains of death line the roads. Putrid heaps of near toxic, mold-covered trash block the view of once beautifully simple homes.

FullSizeRender (2)Like many in my community, I have been working hard to help people remove waste from their home. Tearing out sheetrock, flooring, destroyed treasure, appliances, etc… It has been a grueling process. I had just completed yet another session of spraying someone else’s home with mold remediation when I was overcome by the view of the street. The devastation is so great that you can smell the decay from inside the car. I was paralyzed as the realization struck me: this is not trash on the side of the road, this is lives and history wiped out in a moment. Those carpets and walls are years spent with children and family. Those piles of trash are someone’s hopes buried inside a tomb of river water. As I struggle to understand and process such tremendous devastation I have been struck by a few observations:

  1. The value of life is not in “things.”

These heaps of destroyed dreams offer an image of life that cannot be easily dismissed. We invest our lives and money in material goods, building homes and putting our monetary resources into “things” that can be easily stripped from us in a moment.  It’s important to note, that the value is not actually in the “things.” The value of this life is not something that can be so easily destroyed. These things only have value because they represent experiences, moments, memories, and relationships. Those things cannot be stripped from you. Cling to those intangible realities of life.

  1. Restoration/ Redemption is painful

When tearing someone’s life apart in order to restore, the old must be torn (literally) from the framework of the home, in order to clean and redeem the home. Life is no different. Our lives are flooded with death and decay because of sin. Born into a world of death, we have only one hope. Jesus offers that hope. When we recognize our sin, admit that we have rejected life, and trust in Him to redeem our souls; then He works in our hearts and redeems. There is much work to be done in the life of a redeemed sinner. The old must be torn away. This process is hard and sometimes painful. It is painful because it is removing a part of who you are. Indeed, it is tearing down what you once thought wonderful, in favor of a potential of who you could be. But having a home that is livable is worth it. Redemption is worth it.

  1. You need help.

Many people where I live did not have insurance. More do not have true community. It has been beautiful to watch as the church community in my area has dropped the pretense and labored to serve the community. Churches in my town have lists of homes that are being worked through. As people have called, the church has answered! When disaster hits, we need each other. When the rivers rise and destroy, we need help. Often overlooked, this simple truth is a key tenant of Christianity. The Christian life is best lived in community together. We need brothers and sisters to help us identify what is waste and what is not. We need the help of Christian community to carry out demolition and drag piles of waste to the curb. We need each other.

  1. To be restored, your home will have to be gutted first.

The work of restoration begins when the house has been fully gutted and all the inner workings of the house have been completely exposed. So it is with life. In order for restoration and redemption to take place, transparency is necessary. You must be willing to be laid bare before the world. Our inner life must be completely stripped and the Spirit of God given rule over the reconstruction work of the soul.

Though I weep for those who have lost everything and yet I know there is hope. I know restoration of homes can and will bring life from death. The process is long and hard. Many will suffer depression and despair as their labor and life have been razed to the ground. Yet, as time progresses and the people of God serve and love their neighbors, life will be brought from death. Homes will be restored, memories will remain, and life will begin anew. This is the hope. Life springs up out of death. Redemption from the flood.

Philippians 3:7-11 pt. 2; Brief Thoughts

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.[i]

Death is the ultimate equalizer. Humanity is united in mortality. However, death does not have to reign over life. Death does not have to be final. Thus, Paul explains the resurrection of believers. There are two senses in which believers experience resurrection from the dead. Obviously and most apparent is physical-bodily resurrection at the second coming of Christ. The second and less obvious, albeit more tangibly apparent at present, is spiritual resurrection from a state of spiritual death at the moment of faith. (Warning: what follows makes Christians sound crazy… unless it’s true. Which it is.)

When a believer entrusts their soul to the work of Jesus Christ, they are granted the promise of eternal life. This life is not merely an ethereal existence in some other dimension. Rather, it is an actual physical existence in a physical, tangible, world. This world, to be precise. You see, Christians, like Christ, will be raised from the dead to live eternally in a re-created state. The earth as we know it will be re-created and the divide between Heaven and Earth will be stripped away (c.f. Revelation 20-21). In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul explains that believers will be resurrected the same way Jesus was. They will be given new bodies and will be granted life eternal in the New Heaven and the New Earth.[ii]

Another facet of resurrection is what occurs within the soul of a believer. Ephesians chapter 2 explains that non-believers are “dead in the trespasses and sins in which [all people] once walked…” (Ephesians 2:1-2). Romans 6:5-11 explains that the Christian’s old nature died with Christ and that Christians have been resurrected to a new life. Galatians 5:24 explains that those who believe “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Gal. 5:24 ESV). Christians have been rescued from sin’s dominion and have been set free to live a new life in Christ (c.f. Romans 6). This new life is guided by the Spirit and is empowered through a new nature that has been given to the believer (c.f. Colossians 3 and Romans 8).

Consider the power of resurrection. It is not merely a shift in understanding or confidence. Resurrection is an actual change of condition. The dead man has been made alive and the dead man will be raised. Victory over the death of the Spirit has been granted and victory over the death of the Body will be as well. This great power has overcome sin and has given Christians the ability to live a holy lifestyle in the face of a world fraught with temptation and death.

Part of attaining and fully realizing the resurrection is suffering. Many believers, while truly possessing salvific faith, are lacking in understanding of the full realization of the resurrected life. Many see suffering as something to be avoided and scorned in life. Yet, the Biblical witness seems to venerate suffering as a part of the deep and abiding joy that Christians engage in and enjoy.[iii] Suffering makes Christians more like Christ, and in becoming more like Him, Christians find deeper soul satisfaction and happiness.

Immortal happiness is the single greatest condition to aspire to. Almost everyone attempts to become somehow immortal. Beit through literature, historical achievement, or long lasting legacy, every person strives for immortality in their own way. Everyone longs to overcome death. Only in Christ Jesus is victory over death possible. Only by trusting in His work on the cross and entrusting ones soul to His care can death be thwarted! So pursue Christ with all that you are. Chase Him down and cling to Him for resurrection. Labor to know Him and to find life in Him. In doing so, you will find life where there was once only death.

[i] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Php 3:3–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[ii] To refer to the state of Heaven and Earth at the end of Revelation as “New” is a bit miss-leading. They are really in a renewed state. When Jesus says in Revelation 21:6, “it is done,” it should really be translated, “it is born!” The concept that God is communicating through 21:6 is one of re-creation. The end of Revelation is merely the beginning of God’s creative efforts. For a more full examination of Heaven I recommend Randy Alcorn’s book, “Heaven.”

[iii] For a more full discussion of these ideas, check out Ravenhill’s work, “Why Revival Tarries,” Richard Wormbrand’s “Tortured For Christ,” and Watchmen Nee’s “the Normal Christian Life.”

#Endit

enditA few facts to start with: Human trafficking and slavery are real and active.  Houston, TX is one of the largest hubs for it.  We must war against this.  The war starts with us.  Drawing a red X on your hand is not enough.

The past several months there has been a fantastic effort to educate people about slavery in the world (sex trafficking in particular).  People have drawn a red X on their hand to symbolize their solidarity and commitment to stamp out human trafficking and slavery.  As I have read about this horrific trade and educated my own heart, I’ve noticed a common denominator rise to the surface.

Every article on slavery and human trafficking I’ve read (amounting to about 20 different articles in the last 6 months) has drawn a direct correlation between human trafficking and the pornographic industry.  It has quickly become evident that the pornographic industry serves as a catalyst and co-agent of slavery.  Various studies and investigations have provided vast amounts of evidence that pornographic industries are inhuman, not to mention immoral, pro-violence, and are bastions for slavery!  Beyond these, there are obvious horrible realities inherent in this abominable practice: the objectification of women, the deterioration of sensuality, the general decline of masculinity, the abasement of beauty, and numerous other side products of this blight on our society.

We want to # endit.  So I have a challenge to all my brothers and sisters: stop engaging in pornography in private!  Vote against slavery with your practices!  It’s bad for you, so stop!  You cannot practice in private the very thing you detest in public.  If you are looking at pornography on any level, you are encouraging slavery and in many cases financing the industrial complex of human trafficking.

When we profess that we want to end slavery and then proceed to delight ourselves in the fruits of such a wicked and inhuman industry, we give open approval of that which is inhuman.  Think about that; we give approval of things that are “in-human.”  This activity is less than human!  It is not simply immoral but is corrosive to our humanity.  Once a man or woman has engaged in watching pornography, they have forfeited some humanity by violating a basic human contract that we share between all of society.  In allowing ourselves this hidden vice, we say to our fellow humans that they are simply agents to satisfy our wickedness.  We thereby make humanity less valuable and we distort the fabric of what makes us human.  In devaluing human life, we will destroy humanity.

When we profess that we want to end slavery and then proceed to delight ourselves in the fruits of such a corruption of social behavior, we corrode the fabric and strength of our society.  History and missiological studies have shown that the devaluing of women and sex destroys the health and fabric of society.  What I mean is this: you can judge the strength of a society by how highly it values women.  When societies value women and give women opportunity and treat women as equal, the society flourishes.  When a society treats women as property or objectifies women, refuses to allow opportunity, and treats women as inferior, the society dies.  In such an environment, disease-rates soar, education plummets, political structures crumble, and life expectancy is ridiculously low. 

When we profess that we want to end slavery and then we proceed to delight ourselves in the fruits of such a wicked and horrifying practice, we give tacit approval to that which is evil.  Romans 12:9 says “hate what is evil!”  This is a direct command in Scripture.  We are to develop hatred towards what is evil and yet many not only indulge in pornography but, in their actions, approve and excuse such reprehensible slavery.  Further, Jesus seems to say that one who engages in pornography (an act clearly connected with slavery and objectification) would be guilty of enslaving the woman/man.  In His explanation of the Law in Matthew 5-7 He states that, “everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  So, if you watch the enslavement of a woman with lust in your heart, you are committing slavery!

So if you want to #endit, start with yourself.  You cannot #endit and persist in engaging in it!  You cannot profess to free slaves in the light and enslave them in the dark.

To make this easy I purpose three things: 1. Stop looking at porn and stop encouraging slavery.  There is a direct correlation.  2. Pray that God would give you a hatred of the things He hates. 3. Educate yourself on the truth of slavery in the world today. This is how we start to #endit.

Human trafficking is real, Houston is one of the largest hubs of it, and you can do something about it!  To learn more about the movement to help end slavery you can go to

http://aramintafreedom.org/

http://enditmovement.com/ 

https://www.freetheslaves.net/

http://ijm.org/

For help overcoming pornography you can visit here :

https://newlife.com/emb/

http://www.covenanteyes.com/