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Curtain Call

Hamlet Cast17231The picture you see here is of a curtain call. The curtain call is the moment at the end of a play when all the actors come out from behind the curtain to take a final bow. I chose this particular curtain call as an object lesson, because this curtain call is from the play Hamlet. Why is that significant?

Because just a moment ago, nearly all of these people were dead.

For those familiar with William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet, the story ends with a climatic duel that ends up causing the deaths of just about every single character. The very last scene see Hamlet’s friend bursting on the scene to find a castle hall full of the dead. The story ends, everyone dies.

But lo! The curtain call! Everyone is alive again! It turns out this play was just a work of imagination, just a brief lesson in miniature, and everyone is actually OK. Death was not the end for these people.

But real life does not work that way. Or does it? What does the bard say?

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII and Macbeth Act V, Scene V

Even the bard agrees, life is a play. The only thing I would disagree with is that last bit. The tale we are a part of is significant.

The Creator God is our Playwright. He gives us all a part to play and a job to do. A man, as the Bard says, might play many parts in his life. Everyone has entrances and exits onto the stage. The entrance is birth. The exit is death.

And yet, death is not the end. There is the Curtain Call. We call it the Resurrection.

It will be a day when all who belong to Christ who have mourned the dead and felt the sting of its loss will awake to find it was all just a play and that the deaths they suffered did not last. Everyone who was dead is alive once again!

The beloved elder cut down in Act I holds hands with the young man who died in the battle of Act V. Abraham, Paul, William Wilberforce, and Billy Graham will all take a bow and toss their crowns at the feet of the Great Playwright upon the glassy sea.

Then there will be the Cast Party called the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, and nothing waiting but endless paradise.

Play your part well. The curtain soon falls.

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Posted by on November 9, 2015 in Soteriology

 

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Demons, Men, or Whatever

20070810p2_01A few nights ago I fell asleep on the couch in my office. When I awoke, I could not move. A sense of dread came over me. I felt invisible hands tighten around my throat and I could not breathe. A voice in my head whispered, “I hate you. I have always hated you. I’ve tried to kill you so many times. Tonight’s the night. Tonight you die.

“Now a few friends of mine would immediately leap to “It was a demon! You were under attack!” But of course I know better. First of all, I’m pretty much a strict cessationist and I don’t mind who knows that. Second of all, I’ve dealt with sleep paralysis most of my life and I can easily recognize it when it happens now.

Despite that, when the invisible hands tightened around my throat and the malign voice whispered deadly threats, I prayed silently but seriously that God my Father intervene and save me.

And He did. No sooner had I finished the prayer than did the hands release me, the voice was silenced, and I drifted back to sleep again. God heard my cry and rescued me from my peril, of that I have no doubt. It’s what He does. Rescue people.

Now my certain friends become puzzled. “If you do not believe in ongoing demonic possession or oppression or sign gifts, and were sure it was just sleep paralysis, why then did you pray?”

To answer this, I quote one of my all time favorite hymns, Master the Tempest is Raging:

Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will.

The stage of the hymn is set when the disciples are out at sea in a storm while Jesus is sleeping. They awaken Him, begging that He calm the storm and save them. Many scholars have debated whether the storm was just a storm or whether it was really sent by “the prince of the air,” that is the Devil.

To the hymn writer, though, the source of the storm is irrelevant. What matters is that no matter what it’s source, it cannot destroy the Creator and it must obey His will.

So was I attacked by a demon a few nights ago? I seriously doubt it. Was I in danger? Possibly, we really don’t know a lot about sleep paralysis. Much of it is in a person’s head, but there are physiological responses to the stimuli and it is possible that an episode of sleep paralysis could trigger a secondary health episode of far greater consequence.

But rest assured, demons, men, or whatever it was, my God can handle it.

And that’s why I prayed.

 
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Posted by on October 1, 2015 in Theology

 

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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

IMG_20150228_125359818

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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A Tent In The Desert

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The Promised Land is the Lord Himself.

A tent in the desert with my God

Is better than riches or gold.

A tent in the desert with my God

Is better than pleasures untold.

And if to gain a greener land

A place of comfort to lay

I must leave my Lord behind

In the desert with God I’ll stay.

– Inspired by Exodus 33

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2015 in Theology

 

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