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Category Archives: Sanctification

The Relationship

Man and woman outdoors clasping hands, close-up

Connect. For the love of God, connect.

There is a person I know whom God has put on my heart, an unbeliever so far from Christ it seems impossible she could be saved.

But all things are possible for Him.

This person speaks out often against religion and is committed to atheism. I’ve been praying and waiting for the right moment to speak, for speaking at the wrong moment can spell disaster.

Recently, this person said something and the Spirit said, “Speak. Speak now.”

The person said, “Religion is destroying the world. People are ruined by it and they don’t need it or any other silly superstitions.”

I said, “So you have no beliefs at all beyond the natural? For you it’s just survival of the fittest? Your immediate needs and that’s it?”

“No,” the person replied, “I do believe in karma, that people end up getting what they deserve.”

“So? That’s a religion. There’s no “god” or whatever, but you believe in something more. Something beyond the natural, because science says that’s bunk. There’s just what’s in front of you.”

“Well, I’d call it a belief system. It’s not a religion.” the person explained.

“Oh, then we may have different definitions of religion then. Sounds like your definition is like rules and rituals and so forth.” I said.

“That’s right.” the person clarified.

“In that case I’m not religious either and I agree with you as well. What I am a part of is about a relationship. I believe there is a Being who transcends everything and Who created everything. I believe the most important thing in a person’s life is to have a relationship with this Person.”

“Oh,” the person said, “Well that’s different, that’s good then.”

For all the miles this person has to go before they are even close to responding to the Gospel, we moved an inch today. But I praise God, because due to our human nature, that person shouldn’t have moved at all.

But that’s not why I am posting this. I am posting this because as I drove home something hit me.

I am religious. I observe rules and rituals. I have not been pursuing God as a relationship.

A fire that had long lay dormant within me kindled, and I began to weep. I pray every day, but how long had it been since I was so enraptured with His presence that I had to be torn away from it? I read the Bible almost every day, but how long had it been since I opened my Bible with eagerness the way a wife embraces her husband after he has been on a long journey?

Too long.

Takeaways:

  1. Engage the Lost. You will learn as much from bouncing what you believe off them as anything else. We Christians are far too good at patting each other on the back.
  2. Forget your problems. God actually commands this of us. We should focus on our relationship with Him. All good works will flow from that relationship. We don’t do good to know God, we do good because we know Him.
  3. Check your affections. How much affection do you have for Christ? This is something we should check on a daily basis as we should with our spouses.
  4. Relationships are of highest importance. God first, and others second, but for the love of our Lord, connect. I feel like I’ve kept everyone, including God, at a distance. Do not do this. God is all about relationships. That is what matters.
 
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Posted by on August 19, 2015 in Sanctification

 

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Not Safe, but Good

I grow tired of people who believe in a milksop God and a milksop Jesus. God is dynamic and powerful and dangerous and loving and deadly and mysterious and violent and playful and serious and funny (yes, funny).

God reveals Himself to us in His Word. He pulls no punches. The Bible is R-rated. He makes people alive, and He kills people. He raises up nations and leaders and champions, and He tears down civilizations and drives leaders to madness and allows champions to fall into ruin.

Along the way God makes no apologies for His actions and makes few explanations. He demands obedience and unyielding fealty to His name.

For this reason, many doubt His claim to love us and His goodness. Perhaps there would be cause for this if not for this:

“For a good man someone might dare to die. But while we were yet sinners, He died for us.”

This immeasurably powerful, all knowing, all consuming God who demands perfection, does not tolerate uncleanness and hates sin with a perfect hatred. This God put aside His rights and came to live among us in the flesh. He provided the perfect life Himself that we failed to provide. He died the death He declared we should die for us.

“So in this way God loved the world. He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

And He defines just what that is.

“This is eternal life. That they know you intimately, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

He wants us. He wants us to be with Him such that He died to bring us close to Him. There can be no greater love, indeed He says:

“Mortal man knows no greater love than this. That he lay down his life for his friends.”

He calls me friend. I am God’s friend.

So when my God does something I do not understand, even when He takes life or chooses to allow life to pass away from someone. Even if He slays me, still will I trust in Him.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
– The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

 

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Seven Years

So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
– Genesis 29:20

100_0775Sunday marks the seventh anniversary of my marriage to Gena Renee Cohoon. Words cannot truly express how grateful I am for my wife, nor how undeserving I truly am of her love.

Genesis 29:20 holds a special meaning to me because I meditated long upon it when I decided to pursue Gena back in 2008.

At one point in my pursuit of Gena, there was a very real possibility that she would go where I could not follow her. The decision lay before me, “If she goes, do you wait the two years for her to come back or give up?”

Though ultimately she did not go, my decision was to wait for her. I knew there could be no other by that point. I would marry Gena or no one else. So I would wait however long it took. If that meant she never came back, then I’d never marry. If it meant she came back when she was 50, then we’d start our life together then.

I’d wait however long it took, just like Gilbert Blythe. If you don’t know who that is, shame on you. Go read these.

For all my noble affections, however, I did not understand then that marriage is all about waiting. Rather it is about patience and endurance. The choice to wait or give up is one ever before me. Over the seven years we’ve been married there have been many trials for us. Sometimes they were trials from outside the marriage we weathered together and sometimes they were trials between us within the marriage we had to weather with the Lord praying for the heart of the other to change.

I’ve learned this about marriage in seven years, if anything. When you say the wedding vows, you aren’t saying you’ll get it right, because you won’t.

You’re saying you won’t give up.

Never, ever, ever give up.

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2015 in Sanctification

 

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Mother’s Day 2008

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Click to hear a love song. 😉

In May of 2008, Gena Renee Suggs and I were engaged to be married. Despite the fact we were not yet married and she was not yet a mom, I knew God willing one day she would be and one day she’d make a great mom. Seven years and two children later, she has not disappointed me. To recognize that, here’s the letter I wrote all those years ago,

What sort of man would give flowers to his betrothed on Mother’s Day? What sort of man would do this for a woman who is not yet a mother? It would take a man devoid of reason, filled with an unending love and passion for his betrothed. It would take a man who knew God would grant her the gift of motherhood someday. It would take a man who knew with all his heart his betrothed would be the best mother on earth. Yes, it would take a man with tremendous trust and faith in both his God and his betrothed to do such a thing.

And what sort of woman would merit such a gift at such a time in her life? It would have to be a woman who had already proven herself to be a caring, compassionate individual, a woman with true godliness and motherly instincts. A woman who is truly a “mother” to many people, a wise counselor, and a compassionate friend. Yes, it would take a very special woman indeed to receive flowers on Mother’s Day when she herself was not yet a mother, a very special woman indeed.

It would take a man as crazy as me, and a woman as wonderful as you.
All my love,
Jason

You’re still the one baby. Happy Mother’s Day, and I love you.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2015 in History, Sanctification

 

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Hotel Rooms, Contentment, Stewardship

Landmark-Hotel-Room-BangkokMany years ago I went to a Men’s Conference in Georgia. While there, I had the privilege to stay in a very nice hotel room. The hotel we had booked was overbooked and we were bumped up to an Executive Suite, the kind reserved for traveling businessmen. It had a massive bed, a desk, a couch, a plasma TV, the works.

As I entered the room, it occurred to me that this was all laid out for me. I could sit on the couch, sleep on the bed, watch the TV, use the shower, everything was at my disposal. I also at the same time realized that I owned none of it. Not. One. Thing. It all belonged to the hotel, and when my stay was done, I had to give it all back. Not only this, but I’d have to give an account for all I’d used. If the TV was broken, for example, I’d be held responsible for that.

A verse from the Bible suddenly came back to me,

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Philippians 4:12

While they didn’t have hotel rooms in Paul’s day per se, I think I finally uncovered that night what the secret was. The secret to being content with a lot of things or not many things at all. The secret also to being a good steward. Here it is:

Nothing belongs to me. I own nothing.

The secret, for me, was to treat everything like the hotel room. God lets me stay in a nice house full of nice things. I get to sit on the couch, watch the TV, use the computer, and sleep in the bed. But I don’t own any of it. It all goes back to Him sooner or later, and I’ll have to give an account for what I did with His stuff.

It goes beyond mere possessions though. My wife is His creation. I get to spend this time with her, and to live with her as her spouse, but she does not belong to me. Sooner or later I must give her back to Him, and I’ll be held accountable for how I treated her. The same goes with my kids. And the toughest of all?

The same goes for myself, too. I don’t own this body, it’s His creation. I was even bought with a price. I don’t have rights over my own body, so I need to treat it with great respect and take care of it. Not for myself, but for its owner, that is God.

Something to think about.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Sanctification

 

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Johnathan Dunn

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J. Dunn wasn’t great at sowing fields, but he was great at sowing the Word in the hearts of his boys.

What difference can one man make?

Johnathan Dunn is my great great grandfather. He was the father of Blanche Dunn, the mother of Acton Cohoon, the father of Barry Cohoon, my father.

If you ask around the family what J. Dunn (as he was known) did the response would be, “It depends. He tried everything, he did not succeed at anything.” He tried his hand at business, at labor, at farming, and probably a bunch of other occupations if what I’ve heard is to be believed. He never really made it at any of those things, “but” they’ll say, “he made enough to feed his family.” His family by the way consisted of four girls and four boys. All the girls were born first, then all the boys.

Something else about J. Dunn that has to be true was that he was fun. All of his kids were crack-ups, some of the most playful and fun people I’ve ever met (even in their 80s and 90s). That family was close. They loved each other with an unyielding loving-kindness. If you asked them what they lacked living under J. Dunn’s roller-coaster career of nothing they’d answer, “nothing.”

J. Dunn wasn’t a missionary and he never pastored a church. He was, however, deeply in love with Jesus Christ.

When he and the boys went out to plow or plant, J. Dunn would do a row, then sit them down and read to them from the Word. The Word was read often in that household and was the reference for life itself.

When the youngest son, Joesph, was born, the older daughters resented him. They had taken care of three boys already and knew one more baby boy meant only more work for them. J. Dunn took them aside and told them, “This boy is a gift from God, and you won’t resent him so. Just for this, I’m going to name him Joesph after the son of Jacob whom all his brothers also hated. His name will always remind you of this day.” What is amazing is that no one ever told “Uncle Joe” this about his namesake until his 90th birthday.

So J. Dunn was never successful at a wordly career, and he was never big in the church either. He didn’t take his family to Russia as missionaries and he didn’t pastor or anything like that. All he did was raise a godly family.

All four of his sons became preachers of the Gospel and preached all their lives (many of which got pretty close to 100). God only knows how many He saved under their preaching.

Many of the daughters (at least Blanche, if not all of them) went on to become godly wives and raise godly children, and I too am a product of this faithfulness.

Men, what if your mission was simply to love your wife and raise a godly family? What if you were destined by God to never be a big hit in the world, or even the church? What if the handful of folks at home were your only ministry?

They are your ministry, no matter if you are big in the world, or even big in the church. Whatever you do, they are the most important ministry in your life, even if its the only one you have. Being a good husband and father, a godly husband and father, is the most important thing you will ever do.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Sanctification

 

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My Friend in the Dungeon

dungeonIn days of plenty He has upheld and sustained me.

In hours of fortune He is there to prosper me.

I praise Him for the good days, the rays of sunshine on my face.

But it is not these days for which my praise knows no end.

There are days of darkness, times of deep shadow that stretch into night unending.

My time in the dungeon. The dungeon of my mind.

No escape from myself. No relief from the pain.

Tormented from within, fears without. I am rotting inside.

Then I cry to Him, “Abba, Father!”

And He comes to me in my dungeon, where no friend can visit and no loved one can bring succor.

He stays and comforts me in my time in the dark. He watches over me and cares for me.

He catches my tears. He cares deeply for my sorrows.

When the time is right, He speaks a word and the doors swing open. He leads me outside into the sunshine.

I breathe the free air, and I remember my Savior. His name is Yahweh. His name is Jesus. He is my King.

He is my Friend.

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2014 in Sanctification

 

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