Joseph Herrin (07–08-09)
I would like to comment somewhat further on the events I wrote of yesterday. I shared some experiences that occurred over the 4th of July week-end involving broken boats, inoperable jet skis, failed air conditioners and the like. It is important that we be sensitive to every detail the Father sets before us. We should heed His every whisper, not requiring that He shout at us.
I have developed a habit of looking and listening for every message the Father might speak. I do not say that I perceive them all, for I too wrestle with dullness and insensitivity. Yet I can say that I am much more alert to the voice of the Spirit as He speaks through a myriad of ways than I once was. For example, I looked at my trip odometer on my van this morning and it read 345.6. I then arrived at the library to write today’s post and I observed that the date is 7-8-09. Do I think there is significance in this? Absolutely! Yet, understanding of what is being signified often takes careful consideration and patient meditation before the Father, looking to Him to guide me.
So it is with events such as those I spoke of yesterday. Yahweh truly orders our steps, and I know that every event of my life holds purpose. As I pondered the things I observed I thought of how Yahweh does truly order these things. Lake Sinclair exceeds 14,700 acres in size. It is a very large lake and I was camped along one small spot on the lake. The chances of a jet ski foundering and being towed ashore less than 20 feet from where I was sitting are indeed slim. To then observe another boat being towed past me within ten minutes of the jet ski being towed away, also strikes me as a rare occurrence. Certainly, these events could have occurred elsewhere, or at a time when I was not looking, but they did not.
As Randy Simmons and I observed the man’s struggles with the jet ski, he told me about the air conditioner going out at his grandfather’s house. Being a holiday week-end, and a rare occasion when guests were invited over, some of those gathered looked forward to playing the card game rook. When the air conditioner failed, they put a box fan in the window to blow air across them. Randy took the fan from his room, and brought it to those playing cards. He had used this fan for three years without fail, but when he plugged it into the outlet to cool those gathered to play cards, this fan also failed.
The same week-end, my daughter went to Lake Blackshear with a group from her church. They too encountered obstacles. The boat the family she was with had brought to the lake would not run. Two other people were ticketed for causing a wake with their boat in areas posted as no-wake zones. One person backed their vehicle into another person’s car.
My daughter had reason to ponder these things, for there was a time some months back that two people from her church both received tickets at the same place on the same morning. God used this event to speak profoundly, and a very clear message came forth from the event.
As I consider all of these events there is a common theme running through them. All of the people were involved in some form of entertainment, some idle activity designed to pass the time while providing fun. The people who were participants in all of these events, as far as I know, were all Christians. Those I do not know, I would not be surprised to find are also Christians.
Let me insert here the following word of explanation. I am not criticizing, condemning, or finding fault with any of those involved in these actions. There have been times in my life when I gave myself to an excess of vain amusements. I have done all of the things mentioned, other than riding a jet ski, and I am sure I would have done that too had I the opportunity.
Up until 1999, when I was employed as a computer professional, had a good income, and was living the typical life of the American Christian, my life was marked by a devotion to entertainments. Since 1999 this aspect of my life has changed drastically, but not completely. I still participate in some forms of entertainment, though to a far lesser degree.
I also want to declare that I am not suggesting that all forms of entertainment are inherently evil. We are to be led of the Spirit of Christ in all things. I can imagine occasions when God would direct a father to go out in the yard and play with his children, or take his family to the lake, or even to sit down around a table and play a game with them.
Without question, however, the people of God have given themselves too much to these things. Indeed, the entire direction of a great many Christians’ lives is focused upon passing the time in entertainment. This preoccupation with vain things has crept up upon the people of God. It has been subtle and persistent in its increase until there are few who can testify in truth that passing the time in some pleasurable pursuit has not become the chief characteristic of their life.
I think if each believer were to keep a diary of their daily activities for a month, they would be absolutely shocked at how much of their lives are given to pleasure and entertainment.
It is perhaps necessary here to define what pleasure is. Pleasure is anything done to please self. We can either live for our own pleasure, or we can live for the pleasure of another. We are called to live for the pleasure of God, this being the example of Christ.
"For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own pleasure (Greek thelema), but the pleasure of Him who sent Me.”
The apostle Paul declared that the last days of the church would be characterized by men and women giving themselves to a love of selfish pleasure, rather than a love of God.
II Timothy 3:1-4
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money... lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.
As many times as I heard this Scripture cited in all of my years attending church services, I never once heard any man or woman stand up and confess, “That describes my life.” It is not likely that many reading this will make a similar confession. Yet where are all those men and women that Paul describes? He is speaking about this hour, and he is speaking of those in the church.
The apostle Paul declares that the overriding mark of all men in the last days will be this focus upon pleasing self. There was a time in my life when I could have stood up and said that these words of the apostle Paul described me. If the evidence used to judge our lives is our actions, what would be the verdict of your life today?
How are we to judge such things? Over and over in the book of Revelation, as Christ addresses the churches, He declares, “I know your deeds...” He does not say, “I know your heart,” or “I know your intentions.” Christ will judge us by our deeds.
I know this is a very difficult matter to convince anyone of, for it is ever our tendency to judge ourselves by what we are persuaded is our heart’s motive. We often believe that we truly love God, yet our actions reveal that we love self much more. If our actions reveal a life devoted to personal pleasure, comfort, and entertainment, will not God judge us to be lovers of pleasure more than lovers of Himself?
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Can you define the difference between sowing to the flesh and sowing to the Spirit? Can you distinguish the difference in your own life? If you are sitting in front of the television being entertained many hours a day, are you sowing to the Spirit or to the flesh? If you are focused upon sports, or music, or movies, hunting and fishing, novels and magazines and newspapers, games, cars, houses and furnishings, or any other thing that appeals to your flesh and soul, are you sowing to the flesh, or to the Spirit?
Yahshua described the last days just prior to His return in the following manner:
"And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man: they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”
How much time do we spend in pursuit of something good and pleasurable to eat? I was so given to this one area for most of my life that I greatly declined in physical health. I was not concerned for what God would have me put in my body. I wanted something pleasing to my fleshly appetites.
How much do we devote to finding a happy and fulfilling relationship with a life mate? This too can be a selfish pursuit, and it is summed up in the words “they were marrying, they were being given in marriage.” How much time is spent on our next acquisition, the latest toy, gadget, auto or home enhancement, some new clothing item, or entertainment? How much time have Christians spent in building their dream home? The character of the days when Christ returns will show the people of God to be focused upon these very things.
In 1999 when I heeded the call of Christ to follow Him wherever He would lead me, and to accept whatever He chose for my family and me, I had been living for many years as the people described above. I had a nice home and a big yard. I had vehicles and furnishings and many possessions. I had gadgets, stereos, televisions, VCRs. I did not see these things as excessive, for every other Christian I knew lived similarly. Yet, is this not the point of Christ’s words? His own people would be living this way in the day He returned. They would be doing precisely as the people did in the days of Noah and Lot.
Beginning in 1999 my life took a great turn. I let go of my house and kept only one vehicle. I gave up furnishings and all the material accumulation of the years of fatness. My family and I then entered into a much simpler life. Doing the will of God became my great focus. Doing His pleasure (thelema) was the overriding rule in all life decisions.
This immediately brought me into conflict with other Christians. I was driven from among them, castigated as an evildoer. Will not all experience the same who walk similarly? How can a Christian stand with Christ in all things and be accepted by the world and a worldly church? If you are comfortable in your relationships with the worldly, is it not possible that you are living just as they?
In considering this writing today I was reminded of John Bunyan’s description of Vanity Fair in the book Pilgrim’s Progress. I will quote a part of the chapter describing Christian and Faithful’s entry into the town of Vanity Fair. Please consider carefully what is shared.
Then I saw in my dream, that when they were got out of the wilderness, they presently saw a town before them, and the name of that town is Vanity; and at the town there is a fair kept, called Vanity Fair: it is kept all the year long. It bears the name of Vanity Fair because the town where it is kept is lighter than vanity; and, also because all that is there sold, or that comes there, is vanity. As is the saying of the wise, "all that comes is vanity."
This fair is no new-erected business, but a thing of ancient standing; I will show you the original of it.
Almost five thousand years agone, there were pilgrims walking to the Celestial City, as these two honest persons are: and Beelzebub, Apollyon, and Legion, with their companions, perceiving by the path that the pilgrims made, that their way to the city lay through this town of Vanity, they contrived here to set up a fair; a fair wherein, should be sold all sorts of vanity, and that it should last all the year long: therefore at this fair are all such merchandise sold, as houses, lands, trades, places, honours, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts, as whores, bawds, wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not...
Does this not describe what Satan has set before all those Christians who would travel to Zion? He has made it necessary that all must pass through a world of vanities. They are beset with temptations to begin to buy and trade and participate in vain pursuits in the same way that the people of Noah’s and Lot’s day were ensnared.
Some Christians resist these enticements when their love for Christ is fresh and their zeal is fervent. They see them for the distractions that they are. They know that these entertainments and worldly pursuits are robbers of the time and devotion that are requisite with a pure devotion to Christ. America has been chief among the nations when it comes to the vain things that beset all who dwell there. It is not surprising then to find that Christians in America have given themselves to every form of entertainment and vain activity more than all others. Indeed, whole churches are devoted to providing “Christian vanities” to their people that they might live for selfish pleasure without guilt. John Bunyan continues:
Now, as I said, the way to the Celestial City lies just through this town where this lusty fair is kept; and he that will go to the city, and yet not go through this town, must needs go out of the world. [1 Cor. 5:10] The Prince of princes himself, when here, went through this town to his own country, and that upon a fair day too; yea, and as I think, it was Beelzebub, the chief lord of this fair, that invited him to buy of his vanities; yea, would have made him lord of the fair, would he but have done him reverence as he went through the town. Yea, because he was such a person of honour, Beelzebub had him from street to street, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a little time, that he might, if possible, allure the Blessed One to cheapen and buy some of his vanities; but he had no mind to the merchandise, and therefore left the town, without laying out so much as one farthing upon these vanities. This fair, therefore, is an ancient thing, of long standing, and a very great fair.
Does not Satan today tempt the people of God with the same temptations that Christ faced? The majority of Christians, rather than passing through Vanity Fair, refusing to be enticed with its offerings, have grown comfortable there. They have hewn them out a section of the town where the more debased forms of entertainment are hidden out of sight, but the spirit of the town yet prevails. There is a prevailing emphasis upon pursuits that are pleasing to self. The aim is to spend one’s days in comfort and ease until one can pass from this world to the next.
It is so very easy to get caught up in this life of selfish living. When one observes the rigorous life of Christ, the trials that accrue to all true disciples (“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted” II Timothy 3:12) cause many to be persuaded that a life of vanity is a better way. This vain manner of living is proclaimed in a great many churches today. It is exhibited by those who sit in the pews and stand in the pulpits. Preachers and parishioners alike spend their days with a focus upon self, seeking to find happiness in endless amusements and activities.
I Timothy 5:6
Whereas she who lives in pleasure and self-gratification [giving herself up to luxury and self-indulgence] is dead even while she [still] lives.
People of God, let me tell you what I have discovered concerning the enticement of Vanity Fair. The only defense against the temptations of this world is to wholeheartedly give oneself to the Lord, determining to live daily for His pleasure, no matter what He may ask of us.
I know that such surrender terrifies the natural man. What might God ask of us if we give Him complete charge of our lives? Perhaps He will strip us of all of our comforts, our nice homes and furnishings, our easy chair and television set. Perhaps He will lead us to empty our bank accounts, giving our money to the poor, and then call us to come and follow Him. Perhaps He will lead us to live in such a way that all around us ridicule, scorn and despise us, call us deluded, and charge us with heresy.
Do you think it is for no reason that ALL who would live righteously in Christ WILL suffer persecution? It is not merely because they say they love Christ. There are millions today who say such things, but they are not persecuted. It is when they begin to live for the pleasure of God alone, scorning the passing pleasures of this world, that they find the world and a worldly church can no longer abide them.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God, than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin; considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
People of God, the passing pleasures of sin are not the heinous things Christians identify them with. The passing pleasures of sin are none other than living for selfish pleasure when we are called to live for the pleasure of God the Father. The passing pleasures of sin can be sitting at home being entertained when God has prepared other things for you. The passing pleasures of sin can be spending your days in outdoor activities, sports, boating, fishing, etc., when God has a work prepared for you. The passing pleasures of sin can be participating in every event your church has planned to entertain Christians whose appetite for amusement is insatiable.
The voice of the Spirit of Christ is sounding forth in this hour, “Come out of her My people, lest you participate in her sins and partake of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4). Come out of this place of mixture. Come out of the harlot who has been espoused to Christ, but has pursued many other loves. Come out of the confusion of a Babylonian church system that lulls the people of God into complacency through its universal lukewarmness.
If the church you attend is not absolutely committed to living for the pleasure of God, no matter the cost, then how can it influence you toward anything other than compromise? If the church, its leaders and members, are living in Vanity Fair, enjoying the passing pleasures of this world, satisfied with endless activity that seeks to entertain, then how can they influence you toward anything other than the same mindset?
Very soon now, we will see a great judgment fall upon the house of God. It will no longer be possible to halt between two opinions. All true saints will be forced to choose between complete commitment to God, or the absolute embrace of the world. Even now, Christ is ready to vomit the entire lukewarm mass of Christianity out of His mouth. He would that they be either hot, or cold, and the days ahead will force them to choose.
Is there something holding you back from a total commitment to Christ? Do you yet believe that such an extreme, radical, entire surrender to the will and pleasure of God can be avoided? Do you think it can be postponed further? The Spirit is testifying, “DELAY WILL PROVE COSTLY!”
There is great grace available to all who will come out of Vanity Fair today. You will be met with the disapproval of the world and a worldly church, but you will have the approval of Yahweh. Do not be deceived! If you are seeking to have the approval of the world and God you will surely be led to compromise.
You adulterers and adulteresses, know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
I despair at times in bringing such a message to the people of God. My mind cries out, “Lord, who will hear? Who will respond by changing the direction of their life from one of selfish comfort, ease and pleasure to one focused upon obeying every leading of Your Spirit?”
I do not share this message to condemn anyone. I too wrestle with the same enemies in this flesh. We all need the same grace and mercy. I share this message because I know that Yahweh will very soon bring His people to choose. His methods will be severe for His people have grown dull of hearing and slow to respond. I would spare them from such loss and pain as can be avoided.
May the people of God hear and heed the voice of the Holy Spirit.
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