Joseph Herrin (04-24-2012)
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven - a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal...
On April 15th I headed to Jekyll Island to meet with a family there to enjoy some fellowship and to share with them about spiritual matters. It had been about 3 weeks since I broke my left leg (again). The bus has a very heavy clutch in it which made driving difficult, even with a protective boot on. I asked George to drive. George has been staying with me the past few months. He formerly has worked as a truck driver and a bus driver. Yahweh plans all things perfectly and had a provision for a driver for the bus when I was unable to drive.
Marc Liebermann, His Daughter Adrielle, and I
(Click on any image to view larger)
I spent 8 days on Jekyll Island, and rode my bicycle around the island every day I was able. There were two days that my back was bothering me so I stayed off the bike to rest it. All other days I did the 18 mile circuit of the island, often going out for additional rides during the day. My top distance this past week was 37 miles in a single day. By the end of the week I was feeling stronger and my left leg was much improved.
Adrielle, George and Marc on the Bike Trail
Marc’s wife Honesty, his younger daughter Salome, and Honesty’s mother Dalene were also with us on the island. Dalene commented one night about the loneliness encountered as one walks the path Yahweh has appointed to them. I have found this to be true of my experience and that of others who are following Christ down the afflicted path that leads to life. Yahshua said “few there be that find” the path to life (Matthew 7:14). There is an abundance of company on the broad path that the soul chooses for itself. This is why ministers such as Joel Osteen who preach a message of “Your Best Life Now” are able to attract tens of thousands of members to their churches and sell books by the millions. The gospel of ease, comfort and prosperity attracts legions of followers, but the end of that path is not life. Multitudes will realize too late that they chose good and pleasant things for themselves in this life, forfeiting the inheritance of those who take up their cross to follow Christ.
And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say, "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.”
The family I met with has known much suffering and heartache, and the trials continue. The path is lonely. Most Christians cannot relate to the sufferings of the disciples of Christ (present day or past). The church tends to avoid those who weep, who suffer, and whose lives are not manifesting ease and prosperity. Those following in the steps of Christ are ostracized by their own brothers and sisters in Christ. This makes it all the more precious when Yahweh does grant us times of fellowship with other disciples of His Son. Such experiences are like encountering an oasis during a long desert journey. I found the time on Jekyll Island refreshing. It has been a long time since I have been blessed to be a part of the life of another family, to hear the children laugh, and see the family interact with one another in a spirit of love, honor and caring.
The time also proved healing to my body. Another week saw much improvement in my broken leg. Heading back to middle Georgia I was able to drive the bus myself without pain, or discomfort.
The Father has often used my visits to Jekyll Island as a time to speak to me, giving me revelation and understanding of that which He is doing in my life and among a remnant of His people. This visit was no different. I have much to share and, as the title of this post indicates, it relates to the subject of healing.
I have written recently about the chastening of the Father I have experienced in the area of ruling over the appetites of the flesh. The Adamic nature goes “on its belly.” It is a slave to the desires and passions of the flesh. I was born a slave to the flesh, but Christ came to set the captives free. It is righteous and just that He should chasten us when we continue to walk as slaves to the flesh when we have been called to freedom. Our heavenly Father desires sons who walk as spiritual beings, ruling over the flesh, not enslaved to the flesh’s desires.
The gospel today has been altered to accommodate the flesh and its desires. The cross that disciples are called to bear has been removed from the preaching of the church. The message delivered by Christ and His apostles has been replaced with a message of self-indulgence, of selfish pursuit. Ministers proclaim a message that advocates sating the fallen nature of Adam, not withholding from self anything the soul desires. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life all find a comfortable place among the churches of today. The apostle Paul said this would be the character of the church in the last days (II Timothy 3:1-7). He said that Christ would not return until the apostasy, a great falling away from the truth, occurred first.
Yahweh is seeking perfected sons. He is actively at work to lead a firstfruits group unto maturity that they might be conformed to the image of Christ.
Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.
Christ perfectly ruled over the desires of His flesh. This was revealed at His first temptation in the wilderness when He was tempted by Satan to turn the stones to bread after He had been fasting for forty days and was hungry. Yahshua refused for He had no command from the Father to satisfy his fleshly desires in this way. It was more important to Him to do the Father’s will than to satisfy the loud clamoring of His flesh.
I have been far from perfect in this area. I have been slow to attain conformity to Christ. Rather than buffeting my body and keeping it under subjection to the Spirit within, I have often given myself over to a fulfillment of the desires of the flesh. This has led the Father to discipline me, for He desires that I share His holiness. At one point I carried nearly 285 pounds on my 5' 9" frame. I was a walking example of the fleshly Christian. I lacked conformity to Christ.
Over the years the Father has dealt with me as a son. He has chastened me to draw my attention to this area in which I had been walking as a flesh man rather than as a spiritual man. I became diabetic in 1998 and was thereby prompted to lose 50 pounds. Ten years later I had a heart attack and lost another 50 pounds. Still, I had not reached that goal Yahweh had given me of staying under 165 pounds. I got down to 165 twice in the past couple years only to put 20-30 pounds back on.
To some, this seems like a small thing. It seems extreme that God would be concerned with a son being overweight, or eating the wrong foods, or too much food. There are so many other things that appear of much greater weight (pardon the pun). Is it not enough to be giving, to be kind, to walk in truth, to seek to perform the ministry with integrity, to live a moral life? To walk as Christ walked we cannot compromise with the flesh. If we are to be holy as He is holy we must rule over every passion and desire of the flesh.
It is not as if the Father had not spoken to me regarding this area of my life. I have known for years what constituted obedience and disobedience. I knew the will of the Father for my life. The Spirit of Christ in me desired to obey, but the flesh waged war against the spirit. I failed to exercise my spirit man by rising up and ruling over the flesh. Contrary to the will of God, my flesh was rising up and taking ascendancy over the spirit. I was not walking in obedience to the promptings of the Spirit of Yahweh.
If we are teaching a child to obey, it really does not matter what the subject of the obedience is. Perhaps we are telling a son or daughter to put their clothes in the laundry hamper rather than throwing them on the floor. In one sense, this is a minor issue. The world will not come to an end if dirty clothes are on the floor. However, very large issues are at hand as we test whether the child will obey in even a small thing, or whether they will manifest a spirit of rebellion and self-will.
If the child is disciplined, then the matter is brought to weigh more on their mind. Now when they have dirty clothes they will think about their being a cost to their disobedience. Suppose, however, their laziness, or an intractable spirit, or some other motive, leads them to continue to cast their clothes on the floor. They are falling short of obedience. They are manifesting dishonor to the parent. They are revealing that their own comfort, or desire, bears a higher priority than honoring and obeying the parent.
The parent may have to bring further discipline. This may induce the child to correct themself for a season, but then that old, lazy Adamic spirit kicks in again. They begin to obey intermittently. At times they will put the dirty clothes in the hamper, and other times they will reason to themselves that they are too tired, and it is really not harming anyone to throw them on the floor. Will the parent be satisfied? Not if they want to see their child arrive at maturity and become a morally responsible person.
This is the heart of our Father. He desires sons who are lacking in nothing. He wants sons who are as committed to obedience as Christ.
Yahshua said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.”
“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
In the area of eating I have been self-indulgent. I have often chosen my will over the will of the Father. Because my Father does not want me to forfeit any good thing that is planned for overcoming sons, He has scourged me at times to elicit greater effort from my spirit man. He wants me to exercise the spirit and rule over the flesh.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
Whether we obey the voice of the Spirit is a major issue in the eyes of Yahweh. No matter what He asks us to do, He is looking intently to see if we will obey. Ruling over my appetite for food is not as much an issue related to my physical health as it is to my spiritual health. Yahweh has prepared an inheritance, thrones and dominion, for sons and daughters who have overcome sin, Satan and the world. Yahweh will not be satisfied for any to fall short of attaining to a mature conformity to the image of Christ.
Yahweh has so designed our bodies and the creation that we might be encouraged to learn obedience. It is not the will of Yahweh that we be ruled by our appetites (I am speaking of all fleshly appetites here, not just food.)
For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly (appetite), and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
If I choose to eat sweet, sugary, fatty, or high flavor but highly refined foods that are unhealthy, my body is designed to bear forth negative consequences for this indulgence. Garbage in, garbage out. The body will compensate for a time, but by prolonged abuse, putting into the body that which is toxic, or destructive, or barren of nutritional value, the body will begin to manifest distress. Rather than being lean and energetic, the body will put on fat and become lethargic. The joints will suffer from carrying increased weight. The heart will suffer as the arteries become clogged with plaque. Breathing will become more labored. Thinking will become clouded. Perhaps diabetes will develop, or some other health issues.
These things are Yahweh’s method of getting our attention. Living to sate the flesh is contrary to the will of God. He has therefore designed things so that when we give ourselves over to fleshly desires that our bodies break down. It is not coincidental that sexual promiscuity leads to venereal disease, or that drug abuse leads to mental and physical problems, or smoking causes lung cancer and emphysema. The negative consequences of an indulgent lifestyle are designed to stimulate us to make changes. Yahweh wants His sons and daughters to rise up in the spirit and exercise mastery over the flesh with all of its passions and desires.
The Adamic nature is very stubborn. The flesh is not ruled over easily. Christ stated:
“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”
One application of these words is that the kingdom of God, which Christ said is “within you,” will only be established by great effort and warfare. Even as the Israelites had to wage war to take possession of the land of Canaan, we too must wage war to transform our bodies into a kingdom of peace and righteousness. The flesh is not going to submit meekly. This is why Paul spoke of crucifying it, putting it to death, and in another place of beating his body into subjection. Many of us are spiritually acting like the 98 pound weakling. We are easily bullied by the flesh when we should be fighting back. Christ has promised the victory to those who do so with persistence.
I have been burdened in my spirit at the absence of victory in eating right and having my weight under control. My conscience has troubled me. I have lacked that peace and confidence that comes when one knows they have fully, and with good effort, performed the will of God. There have been seasons when I have stirred myself up and walked in victory, choosing to be led of the Spirit rather than the flesh. During these seasons I have had an extraordinary peace. I want to abide in that place of peace at all times. I have often prayed that Yahweh might bring me to that place of victory where my conscience does not condemn me in anything. This too is the will of the Father, but it is a rare experience in this hour of sensual living in which the church has departed from the truth of the disciple’s calling.
Hear, you deaf! And look, you blind, that you may see. Who is blind but My servant, or so deaf as My messenger whom I send? Who is so blind as he that is at peace with Me, or so blind as the servant of Yahweh? You have seen many things, but you do not observe them; Your ears are open, but none hears.
It is bad to be slow to obey and have to be instructed by repeated blows, yet I am thankful that the Father has persevered with me. He has been merciful. Although I have had physical afflictions, and even now my body is suffering due to my not obeying fully in the area of obeying the leading of the Spirit in my eating, I thank God for His discipline. I want to be a pleasing son. I want to end this life as an overcomer, knowing that I conquered every enemy in the land of my flesh, that I did not make a peace treaty with any giant, or idolatrous entity that stood against Yahweh. Although Yahweh has stricken me, He has shown me grace.
The tragic state of the church reveals that many are not even hearing the voice of the Spirit. They have become inured to the voice of conviction. I am often reminded of those Christians in Corinth whom Paul wrote to. He told them that some were sick, and others slept (had died) due to sin in their midst. Why was it necessary for the apostle to point out to them the reason for these things? They had grown callous in their sensuality and their spiritual perception was dulled. Even after Paul pointed out the connection between sin and sickness, and even death, I am certain that there were those among them who continued to suffer without ever recognizing the chastening hand of God in their lives.
O Yahweh, do not rebuke me in Your anger, nor chasten me in Your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Yahweh, for I am pining away; Heal me, O Yahweh, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O Yahweh - how long?
At a recent dental appointment the dentist spoke of my blood pressure being higher than it should be. I have developed a nagging cough that is related to heart disease. Yet God has revealed to me that I need not die prematurely of heart disease if I will walk in obedience going forward. The medical profession often gives people no hope of reversing heart disease. They do not address the root of the issue (diet and lifestyle). They treat symptoms only. The patient therefore does not make life changing alterations that could restore bodily health. Instead, they continue to abuse their bodies with lifeless and harmful foods and their condition deteriorates.
Yahweh led me to a book last year titled Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, JR. M.D.. The book gives great hope to those who are willing to make radical alterations to their diets. It is revealing that the first group of twenty patients that Dr. Esselstyn was able to convince to adopt his dietary regimen were absolutely desperate. They had received every possible medical intervention including heart bypasses, stents, angioplasties, and loads of medication. Their physicians told them there was nothing further that modern medicine could do for them. They received a death sentence and could only await the day of their demise which appeared close at hand.
These men and women were so desperate that they were willing to adopt what were to them radical dietary changes. As Christians we should not be so resistant to adopting new habits and behaviors at the leading of the Great Physician. Yet, Christians are often less self-controlled than those in the world. Perhaps it is so much false preaching that you can live any way you want and still receive a glorious reward in heaven that has contributed to this intransigence among Christians.
To Dr. Esselstyn’s patients it may have appeared that life was greatly diminished by not being able to eat whatever the flesh desired. However, even a diminished life looked better than no life at all. Some who embraced these changes to their diet were living in constant pain, and in fear of dying. Some couldn’t even walk across a room without severe pain. Dr. Esselstyn writes:
Almost all of those who came to me, who had been told there was little hope, today - twenty years later - are alive, their arterial diseases receded.
The testimonies and examples in this book are truly encouraging. There is hope presented from a medical standpoint that immediate and lasting changes in diet and lifestyle can create an environment for the body to heal itself and to reverse the effects of heart disease. Lest some should accuse me of leading people to the arm of the flesh to be healed, my defense is that Dr. Esselstyn is merely saying the same thing the Spirit has been telling me for most of my adult life. “Cut out the fats and sugars. Eat a diet primarily of whole foods, of grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables.” The Spirit has been whispering these things to me for decades. At times He has spoken loudly to arrest my attention.
Even now the Spirit is saying that victory is within my grasp. It will require effort. It will take discipline of this body, ruling over my appetites. A return to good physical health (and spiritual growth) will require that I consciously make changes, rather than “winging it.” The Spirit has already been speaking to me, instructing me in what to do. As I obey my spirit man will be exercised and Christ within me will increase as the Adamic man decreases. It is interesting to see in this particular area of ruling over the flesh that the decrease of the Adamic man is visible. It is not always the case.
Many are being convicted of the Spirit to make changes in their lives that are just as important in the eyes of God, yet are less easily discerned by others. Some have been living for their appetites, though their bodies have not revealed it in excess weight. Perhaps they are addicted to cigarettes, or watching television, or spending too much time on the Internet, or visiting the wrong websites. They may be sating the flesh by shopping continuously for the things of this world that their soul craves; clothing, household ornaments, gadgets, or games. Some give into the flesh by reading unwholesome books, listening to worldly music, and the list goes on and on.
Do not permit yourself to put off obedience by reasoning that the things the Spirit is convicting you in are small, and are really inconsequential. When we stand before Christ to give an account, these things will not appear small at all. They will define who we are. We will either be declared overcomers, or the overcome.
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 will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Will we be given white robes of righteousness, or will the Master ask us how we came to be at the wedding feast without a wedding garment?
So he said to him, 'Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?' And he was speechless. Then the king said to the servants, 'Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' For many are called, but few are chosen."
When I returned from Jekyll Island, my e-mail revealed that Yahweh has been active in the lives of others to stir them up at this time. Some are experiencing serious bodily illness caused by diet and lifestyle. Others have been led to think about what that day will hold for them when they stand before the Lord. One brother, Kevin O’Connell shared with me the following.
I had a bad few minutes last Friday night. As I lay in bed praying prior to sleep, I was overcome with remorse and guilt for falling so short of the mark. My past vile sins came to mind, along with my current failures. I was despondent - sure there was no way I could be an overcomer. I wasn't even sure for a few minutes how God could love me. I had the thought that maybe I should just "give up" on the "God stuff" and try to enjoy life, knowing that I was too stained to be saved. Then it came to me that satan was whispering in my ear, playing on my guilt to knock me off course. I rebuked him and my fears were relieved.
The first thing I read the next morning was from Tim Tebow's autobiography, “Through My Eyes” and I wept in thanksgiving as I read it. Tim recounted the national championship game the Gators won in the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma in 2008. Then, he wrote:
“After the final touchdown I walked over to Coach Meyer. He pulled off his headset, opened up his arms, gave me a great big hug, and said, "Atta boy. Great job. You finished. I love you." It was a great feeling to hear him say that, after filling all the roles he had in my life as a coach, a friend, and a father figure.
As great as that was, how much greater will it feel when we get to heaven [not exactly, Tim, but that's okay! - Kevin’s note] and Jesus takes off his headset, opens up His arms, gives us a big hug and says, "Atta boy. Great job. You finished. I love you." I talk to kids about that all the time - finishing strong. It's great for football. You have to finish in football; you have to learn to finish in the weight room, through the line, finishing a sprint; everything gets hard. Finish. Eventually some people are going to stop, some people are going to quit, and some people are going to start going slower, but the people who can finish and finish at the same pace or stronger than when they started, those are the ones who are going to succeed, those are the ones who are going to be great. Those are the ones who are going to have an impact in this world and on the lives of others around them. How much more so in life to finish strong. For yourself. For the world. For others. For the God who created you.”
Tim's words brought to mind the line that was repeated several times in the movie Courageous. Reflecting on his role as a father, Alex, the lead character said, “I don’t feel like I started well, I want to finish well.”
What Kevin shared speaks profoundly. We live in an hour when many must be purged, purified and refined. The flesh must be crucified. The Spirit man must be exercised. Perhaps you are experiencing the chastening hand of God in your body, or in your mind. Yahweh has not given up on you. He is chastening you. He wants you to finish strong. If you obey then there is a possibility that the thing which is now serving as a goad in your life to urge you to exercise your spirit man will be removed. Health can be restored. Situations can be overturned. Yahweh’s goal is mature sons and daughters, not vengeance.
Let us ask God to heal us in both body and spirit.
Heal me, O Yahweh, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, for You are my praise.
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