Everlasting God by Chris Tomlin
I have been seeing on FaceBook a lot of opposition to the idea of the US taking in refugees from Syria. I even questioned why we should, given America’s rejection of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. I have since realized why we should.
American Perceptions and Objections
Muslims are adherents to an anti-Christian religion. They seek to forcibly convert all to Islam. Also, they seek to remove Western culture and put in their Sharia culture.
Radical adherents to Islam use terror to achieve their goals. This is the nature of terrorists. They have not restraint about harming themselves and others. In fact, they use harmless women and children, hospitals, and such as shields and covers. Like trojan malware, they seek to infiltrate and destroy. We need to keep them all out for reasons of national security.
It doesn’t help that the President is promoting America as a haven for these refugees. My automatic response is that if he wants it, it’s undoubtedly bad for US. I find I need to question this knee-jerk reaction.
Liberals encourage sanctuary but for wrong reasons. They cite the ancestry of Steve Jobs, a thoroughly Americanized descendent of Syrians. The liberals say we need to distinguish between “good” Muslims and the radical terrorists. They don’t acknowledge Islam’s harmful standards of behaviors.
Instead, I believe we Americans need to hold out welcoming arms for reasons of faith in and obedience to God.
Showing Faith through Obedience
“Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” (Ps 127:1b)
The plane crashes on September 11, 2001, were not a failure of the government to protect US from terrorist attacks. They were a harbinger of things to come, a warning to America to return to God. (See The Harbinger and The Mystery of the Shemitah)
Yes, Syrian terrorists, infiltrated among so many refugees, could do damage in the US and spread fear. It is as Jesus said about certain Galileans. “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
How do we show our repentence? How do we exercise obedience? Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-45)
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis said,
- We don’t have to like our enemies or their behaviors.
- We don’t have to trust our enemies.
- We don’t have to refrain from punishing their criminal activities.
- We do have to do good to them as we would do good to ourselves.
As the verses above show, God makes no distinction in this life.
However, the King does make distinctions on Judgment Day. Jesus identifies Himself with those who are poor and needy. “As much as you did it to the least of these…” (Matthew 25:31-46)
King Jesus is able to protect those who obey His commands in faith. Those who endure dangers, damage, or death are either under His judgment for disobedience or are called to suffer for the sake of His kingdom. (Romans 8:28-29)
Do you trust God enough to allow Syrian refugees into your city, your neighborhood, your home?
Could you give room and board to even potential terrorists without fear?
How can you now support those who would help these people in need?
© 2015. John-Paul DeWalt
I shook my head vigorously to clear away confusion. Wha’ happen’?
I looked around. Through the cracked front windshield I saw the front of my car pressed against the trunk of a large tree, the hood crumpled. Daylight showed between the door beside me and the car body.
I raised a shaky hand to my forehead and felt a bump. The soreness wasn’t too painful. I passed a hand over other parts of my body and felt no other bruises.
Urgent knocking on the door window drew my attention to a frantic-looking man. “Are you OK? Do you need me to call an ambulance?”
I shook my head more slowly and unhooked my seatbelt. “No, thanks. I’m good.”
It’s interesting how “I’m good” has come to mean “I’m unhurt”, “I’m satisfied with the situation”, “Things are copasetic”. This has changed from the time when being good meant having good character, doing good behavior. Jesus himself said no one was good except God alone. (Mark 10:17-18)
Certainly, only God is good in Himself. And He did make all of Creation and call it “good”. He did create Humanity and call them “very good”. (Genesis 1:31)
However, rebellion against His will corrupted all of Creation and none of it is good without His redeeming it. This is especially true of Humanity. We are really good at rebelling against God and corrupting the good things He has given us.
As a result, life in this world is hard. The book of Lamentations details how hard things got for Jerusalem when the Babylonians put it under seige and they refused to surrender to God’s judgment.
Yet, in the middle of the book are some of my favorite words from God. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:19-23) //
Listen to what John Piper said about Life Is Hard. God Is Good.
No, people are not good, despite all the hype about someone being a “good man” or a “godly woman”. We deserve only the agony and death of the Cross. (More on that later.) God alone is good but He has redeemed us out of our rebellion, our bondage to evil and death. And He has turned around the lives of so many people and shown through them His goodness.
Are you good? Do you really believe that is good enough for God?
(Coming soon: The only thing we all deserve is the Cross.)
Most people don’t feel heroic but I believe every person is the hero of his or her own life story. I believe the Master Storyteller uses the age-old mythic story structure of the Hero’s Journey in the Wilderness experiences of our lives.
The Hero’s Journey has given structure to stories for millennia. It is also used extensively in Hollywood: Wizard of Oz, Titanic, Romancing the Stone, to name a few.
I have come to see that the Wilderness experiences God puts His followers through are a type of the hero’s journey. He wants to prepare us to march in triumph to and through the Promised Land of His reign in our lives.
Each of us has a need to change.
- Some bondage to shrug off
- Some fatal flaw to overcome
- Some psychic wound to have healed.
God also has an Elixir of Faith He wants each of us to obtain then share with the world around us.
The trials of the Wilderness/Hero’s Journey are meant to bring about
- learning to trust in God’s provision and plan
- obtaining toughness of body, mind, and spirit
- death of self-will by overcoming temptations
- commitment to God’s will and
- hearing instructions for God’s work ahead.
Then we are to return to the world with the Elixir of Faith and proceed with the Missionary’s Journey.
(Coming soon: The Wilderness Experience as a type of Hero’s Journey.)
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:7-11)
Have you struggled through a dry place? Have you faced down temptations and committed yourself to follow only God’s will? Have you been healed of the hurts of the past? I’d love to read stories of how God carried you through your hero’s journey.
What does a person face when headed for a wilderness experience? What will he or she encounter in the Desert? What, after all, is its purpose?
Most wilderness adventurers have come from some exciting, life-changing events.
- Israel had just marched out of hundreds of years of slavery in Egypt and escaped the Egyptian chariots by walking through the parted Sea of Reeds. Exodus 14 They were supposed to settle down as a nation under Yahweh’s rule, live His Law, and spread it to other nations.
- Jesus had just been baptized and had heard the voice of his Father say, “This is my son, whom I love.” He was to travel about the country, preaching the nearness of God’s reign.
- Elijah had spent three years hiding from the king then triumphed over the priests of Ba’al on Mt. Carmel. Yet, he fled before Jezebel’s threat on his life. He was told to anoint Hazael to be king over Aram, Jehu son of Nimshi king over to be Israel, and Elisha son of Shaphat to be prophet in his place.
Each of these went into the Wilderness south of Israel, if not to Mt. Sinai. Each of them endured
- hunger (fasting or lack of supply)
- thirst (At least, Israel needed water from the Rock.)
- wild animals (dangerous?)
Yahweh wanted from Israel trust in His provision (food, water, protection) and got complaining and calls to return to bondage.
The Father wanted from Jesus
- trust in His provision (“Come on, feed yourself and make bread.”)
- trust and obedience to His plans (“Show your power and throw yourself from the Temple.”)
- trust in His ways to accomplish goals (“I can make the whole world yours if you do it my way.”)
Yahweh wanted from Elijah a listening ear to hear the still, small voice instead of
- a thundering judgment (prophetic roar against King Ahab)
- a mighty wind of destruction (drought in Israel)
- a cleansing fire (sacrifice at Carmel).
I believe God the Father has these goals when sending a person into the Wilderness:
- to teach that person utter dependence on Him for provision
- to bring the person to utter surrender of self-will and utter obedience to God’s will
- to instruct the person how to march in triumph and accomplish His work in the Promised Land and
- to toughen that person’s body, mind, and will for the battles coming in the Promised Land.
The glad tidings are that Emmanuel; God is with us through all hardships and wilderness experiences. His love and His reign in us make for a much better life than without them.
(Coming soon: Hero’s Journey explained)
What wilderness experiences have you had? How did you know God was providing? What instructions were you given for marching in triumph through His Promised Land? Are you following them?
Music to read by:
My Elevator Pitch
Every person is the hero of his or her own life story. At a time of God’s choosing, that person is called to leave his or her familiar world, go on a hero’s journey to the Promised Land, and seek out the particular Elixir of Faith God would give to the world through him or her. My blog offers teaching and encouragement on the stages of the Hero’s Journey and on various aspects of the Promised Land of God’s reign.
My Need to Build a Platform
I am an author. I have an active imagination and a desire to create stories and teachings to offer to the people of my world.
Michael Hyatt and others say that to sell anything these days (books, ideas, products), a person must elevate himself above the crowd and gain a spotlight. Michael wrote the book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. He says a person must offer her ideas and her products on social media: Twitter, FaceBook, a blog, a website.
It occurred to me to couple the concept of the Hero’s Journey with the need for every person to go through a Wilderness Experience up to the Promised Land of God’s reign. This blog is my attempt to offer my world what I have learned about these ideas.
As explained by Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler, the Hero’s Journey is a mythic structure used for millennia by storytellers. It is used widely in Hollywood movies. I use it in most of my novels, especially Joshua and Caleb: Journey to the Promise Land. In that biblical novel, several characters have heroes’ journeys.
The Hero is the main character of any story. That person is not necessarily heroic; he may be an anti-hero but he is the person making the journey.
The Journey is a quest to find and obtain for her struggling community or tribe an elixir, some commodity or truth the tribe needs to improve its conditions. The quest involves:
traveling to a special world
learning how to survive in that world
overcoming attacks and deceptions from the Shadow
building and managing a team of helpers
overcoming the Shadow’s forces to lay hands on the elixir
causing, witnessing, or experiencing death in some way
experiencing resurrection to a new, changed life and self
fleeing with the elixir
and returning to the tribe.
An essential part of the journey is the Hero overcoming some fatal flaw and returning home changed.
The Promised Land is the state of being in a person’s life in which he fully trusts the love and provision of Father God and – even in times of crisis – rests in that love. As the writer of Hebrews said, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. (Heb 4:9-10)”
Hero’s Journey to the Promised Land
God calls every person to join Him in a quest into the Promised Land. He wants every one to obtain an Elixir of Faith and return to his or her community to share that elixir with the world. Or he may send the person on a Missionary’s Journey to take the elixir to the people of other tribes.
The heroine must overcome the Shadow in herself, in the world, and in enemy forces to lay hold of God’s truth. This truth will set her free and also set free the people in her world.
The Hero must experience death to himself in order to be resurrected in Jesus and changed into His likeness.
God casts aside all who refuse to enter into that Hero’s Journey. (Hebrews 3:7-4:11) However, He leads in triumph all who surrender to His reign. (Cor 2:14)
Are you on a Hero’s Journey? Are you marching in triumph under God’s reign? What Elixir of Faith has He given you for your world?
Music to read by: Just the Beginning
How are God’s people doing? With all the evil we read about in the news and strange teachings being offered on the Internet, it is not surprising that many are discouraged as they plod through life.
Hi! My name is John Paul DeWalt and I am a writer, an author of novels and short stories. And I am renewing my blog! I am so excited about the good news of God’s reign on the Earth and about the ideas I believe He has given me to share with anyone who will read these posts!
It can be discouraging – even disheartening – to the followers of Jesus the Messiah that the Kingdom of God seems to be retreating before the onslaught of evil in today’s world. In our personal lives, we face
so many temptations of human nature
so many losses as we stumble through life
so much opposition to the work we try to do
even attacks against ourselves.
Why continue to serve the Lord? Why keep up the fight against temptations? Why endure the opposition and attacks?
I believe that God the Father wants His people to March in Triumph through the Promised Land of His reign over all the world. I believe the Author of our lives is writing the Book of History and wants to put each of us, His followers, through a Hero’s Journey in the Wilderness then a Missionary’s Journey in the world. I believe there is a Sabbath rest for each of us as we slog through life, fight against temptation and loss and opposition, and endure – as the Word says – to the end.
It is my intention through this blog to teach readers
about the Hero’s Journey and Missionary’s Journey
about marching in triumph with Messiah
and about the Promised Land of God’s reign in the hearts of every one of us.