Why?

My death had come unexpectedly. True, I was in my late 60s, but I had been healthy—even an endurance athlete. But my time had come.

Now, I stood in a place so wonderfully beautiful that it eclipsed any mountain scene I had ever beheld. In fact, it surpassed anything I could have imagined! And I was overwhelmed with the presence of love, peace, and joy beyond description that permeated this intensely beautiful place.

And yet, my body that I thought had been so strong and virile was now gone and seemed impossibly frail and transient by comparison with what I now felt. I can’t explain it in earthly terms where we’re so bound and limited by the physical, but I now had no tangible body. My soul had been freed from that fragile, confining shell.

How I could now see, hear, smell, taste and feel, I cannot explain. I only know that every sensual perception was clearer, sharper, purer than I’d ever dreamed possible.

Before me I saw a vast sea of souls. Countless faces from every race. What did these bodiless souls look like? How can I describe the unseen to the seeing? But they were there, nonetheless. They too were in the same state as I. But despite the peace and serenity that enveloped them, they all had a simple question on their lips.

In an instant, I looked out over this innumerable multitude of souls and perceived the same voiceless question forming on every mouth, “Why?”

Ever so gradually, their question took on the sound of a faint whisper, “Why?”

Their question was not framed in accusing tones, nor was it merely inquisitive. I would describe it more in terms of pity, a deep concern for others. Their question was genuine and expressed in love, but also in humble inability to grasp, “Why?”

What had begun as a mere whisper, now grew in volume and intensity. Their question was not a shout. But voiced in unison by such a vast multitude, it now drowned out any other sound.

Since my arrival, I had been overwhelmed by the presence of the One who had called me here, the Life-Giver. It was from Him that this palpable feeling of love, joy and peace emanated. It was also to Him that these innumerable souls directed their question, “Why?”

With indescribable love and tenderness, He raised a hand, and all grew silent, eyes fixed on Him, the Life-Giver. We anticipated His response, but He paused poignantly and heaved a great sigh. There was inexpressible sadness in His eyes. Then, He spoke…

“Why? Because they were deceived with a great deception. There was no limit to the deception. At different times and in different cultures it took on various forms. But it was deception all the same.

“Some were truly naïve. They were lied to. Those who were greedy for money, or even reasoned that they were serving mankind, told them that you were only tissue. And while they knew the truth, they persisted in their lie to protect the lie. And they became slaves to their deception.

“In ancient times and in dark corners of the world, some actually thought they were serving Me when they sacrificed you. My heart breaks for them. Had they only known Me, the Life-Giver! Why would they ever think I would demand such a sacrifice? Nothing so gruesome, so evil ever even entered my mind!

“And there were those who were truly evil. They saw themselves as superior to all other races and sought to eradicate what they deemed the ‘lesser’ races. Their actions were cruel and calculated. They showed no mercy.

“Many others would not restrain their passions. Their lack of restraint put them into circumstances that they deemed insurmountable. Your presence here now is testimony to their hopelessness and deception. If only they had trusted Me instead!

“Whole peoples honed and developed their deception in cunning ways, even creating laws to perpetuate their deception. Along with these laws came euphemistic descriptions to desensitize the masses. They used words like ‘rights,’ ‘spacing their children,’ ‘unwanted,’ ‘terminate,’ and ‘choice,’ to soften and cloak the deception and the horrors of reality.

“They dehumanized you by stripping you of your personhood. They took the gift of life and degraded and demeaned it. They have soiled and perverted all that I value and stand for. My heart breaks for what they did to you and it continues to ache for those who continue in their deception.

“And if that weren’t enough, many who sent you here prematurely have suffered inestimable guilt, shame, and pain. In their hopelessness, they live their lives in misery. But their shame is so profound that it has prevented them from speaking up and exposing the deception. So, on it goes.

“If they only knew that I loathe to be their Judge, but long to be their Advocate!

“Some have abandoned the deception, repented from their evil deeds and have turned to Me. They have experienced that My grace, mercy and forgiveness are thorough and without hint of accusation. I’ve washed them clean from the innocent blood they spilt.

“But sadly, those who insist on continuing in their deception, leave Me no alternative. Justice will be served. Despite what they believe, there will be a final judgment and I will hold them accountable for their deeds.”

Finally, with another monumental sigh, the Life-Giver groaned, “If only they would turn to Me, who gave them life that they may live in the Light. But alas, they continue in their deception and have chosen darkness and death instead of light and life.”

“My children, that is why.”

Rob Fischer

Fat Cows

Fat Cows, or
Learning to Hunger and Thirst for God

In Amos 4:1, God calls a group of people “fat cows.” This is a metaphor of course, and God is not referring to their physical appearance, but to their spiritual condition. These were a group of His chosen people, yet they had become complacent and self-absorbed.

One of the great things about God’s Word is that it is as relevant today as it was when it was originally written. Consequently, when it comes to our spiritual condition, many of us fit the description of “fat cows” today.

What are the characteristics of fat cows?

  • They don’t lack for spiritual food (they are fat after all)
  • They lounge around getting ever fatter, content to eat and sleep
  • They congregate with their kind, hanging around with other fat cows
  • They’re confined in a pen (even though they’re confined, they’re unaware of their plight)
  • They feel “safe” in their pen
  • They never experience spiritual adventures with God (that would be too scary)
  • They think they’re satiated, so they never hunger and thirst for God
  • They moo (complain) when agitated
  • They’re unaware, docile, complacent, slow, and cumbersome

It’s easy to fall into the category of “fat cows.” It really doesn’t take any effort on our part—which is why this is such a problem.

In contrast with fat cows, King David wrote the following:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. – Psalm 42:1

David saw himself, not as a fat cow, but as a deer that hungers and thirsts for God. People like David crave an ever-deepening relationship with Christ. They reject the complacent, self-absorbed lifestyle of a fat cow.

What are the characteristics of deer?

  • They’re dependent on God for everything
  • They’re lean, agile, fast, alert, sleek, and powerful
  • They experience adventures in the wild with God every day
  • They recognize their great need for God
  • They too congregate with their kind, hanging out with others who hunger and thirst for God
  • They depend on each other to find food, water, and protection from danger
  • They’re constantly wary of predators

But if you know your Bible, you know that even David slipped into a fat-cow mindset for a time. As a result, he committed adultery, murder, deceit, and brought heartache to his family, his kingdom, and his God.

You see, whether you’re a fat cow or a graceful deer is purely up to you—but you must choose. And once you choose, you must live the life you’ve chosen to live.

How do you become a graceful doe or majestic buck?

First, recognize your great need. You might think, “I prayed the sinner’s prayer. I’m saved.” But do you realize that you need Christ in your life as desperately today as when you put your faith in Him?

Paul urges us, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)

Those of us who have humbled ourselves and saw our sinfulness and absolute need for a Savior should be even more attuned to our great need of Him every day. “Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.” (Psalm 73:25)

Identify with David who thirsted for God and cried out to Him, “But as for me, I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God.” (Psalm 70:5)

Second, embrace God’s design for you. He didn’t design you to be a fat cow. He designed you to be like that graceful deer that pants after Him. Fat cows are content to stay in their pens, eat their fill, and sleep their days away.

When asked to give their testimony, many Christians simply respond with something like, “I asked Jesus to come into my life when I was at camp in junior high.” That’s it—that’s the extent of their testimony.

But what is God doing in your life today? How is He changing you? What adventures have you experienced with Him? The wild deer is fully dependent on its Creator for everything.

“How many are Your works, Lord! In wisdom You made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. All creatures look to You to give them their food… when You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good things.” (Psalm 104:24, 27, 28)

Third, awaken to your environment. What I mean is this: look around you. Are you confined in a pen of complacency where all you do is fill your stomach and take your ease? If so, you’re in fat cow territory. Leave the pen. Get out, stretch your legs. Learn to run with the deer!

The prophet Habakkuk wrote, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.”

Fourth, congregate with your kind. Once you’ve broken out of the pen, look for other deer who hunger and thirst for God. Run with them. Seek their company. Help each other find sustenance in the Lord. Be alert, protect each other and encourage each other.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Fifth, revel in God’s goodness. As a deer, you are now free. You’re totally dependent on God for everything and you daily look to Him and trust Him for everything. Your eyes are now open to all He has and does for you.

You now know what it means to hunger and thirst for Him daily and to have that hunger and thirst fully quenched as you’re refreshed in Him. As a result, you cannot keep quiet about all the good things that you enjoy in Christ and you’re compelled to tell others.

“Come and see what God has done, His awesome deeds for mankind! Let me tell you what He has done for me.” (Psalm 66:5, 16)

There you have it! So, what will it be for you? Will you choose to live the life of a fat cow, or a graceful deer hungering and thirsting for God?

 

©2018 Rob Fischer

Worship – The Highest Expression of Relationship

Worship of God is the highest expression of relationship mankind is capable of. No earthly experience is more euphoric, more intimate and more fulfilling than the act of worshiping God. In worshiping God, we draw attention to and revel in His perfect, holy, awesome Person. In view of His infinite greatness and everlasting love toward us, our only right response is one of humility, brokenness, neediness, overwhelming gratitude, and praise—all expressions of worship.

A mere glimpse of God’s great love for us buckles our knees before Him in profound thanksgiving and praise! Before His glory, we are stripped of all pretense and worthiness. He sees right through us and knows our secret thoughts and passions. We are laid bare—naked and exposed before Him. Yet, God’s infinite love, joy and peace overcome our fear of exposure, and we find safety, acceptance and warm embrace in His presence through His Son, Jesus Christ. In His care we enjoy release and relief from all guilt and shame.

Worship represents that profound interaction that is both unique and fundamental to a relationship between a human being and God. In no other earthly relationships is worship a proper response for people. Worship belongs solely to God.

Our ability to worship God begins for us when He pursues us and we respond to His urgings to reconcile with Him through Christ. When we accept His free gift of forgiveness and reconciliation, He begins to transform us. We now possess a new desire to please Him in all things, to stay close to Him and to be like Him. We begin learning how to relate to and communicate with Him. This happy process will continue all our lives until we go to be with Him.

Rightly understood, worship is not an isolated event, but a lifestyle. When we find both our routine and ultimate satisfactions met in Him, we experience joy beyond compare. Drawing near to Him in worship, we invite Him to expose and purify us from all that is contrary to His nature. In His presence, we cannot remain unchanged! True worship of God will transform us to be more like Christ.

Worship of God in chorus with others pleases and glorifies God. The Psalmist urges, “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.” (Psalm 34:3) And, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (Psalm 95:6) And, “Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs.” (Psalm 100:2) And, “With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng of worshipers I will praise Him.” (Psalm 109:30)

Worshiping the Lord with others is the difference between shooting baskets by oneself and playing basketball on a team. Others’ enjoyment of God increases our enjoyment of Him. Our awe of Him is ratcheted up. The thrill of worshiping our God is contagious and prompts more worship. And because each follower of Christ brings God’s presence with them to worship, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

But many Christians do not experience what we’ve described above. Their relationship with God has become dysfunctional, stale and stagnant. There are a host of reasons for this, all of them lying at our feet, for God does not change. Some who call themselves Christians have never actually entered into a relationship with God at all. Others found the pull of other “gods” too enticing and strong, so they pursue the gods of money, fame, achievement or pleasure. And there are those who think so poorly of themselves and so mistrusting of God that they fail to grasp the genuineness of His love, forgiveness and acceptance.

I said earlier that worship is unique and fundamental to our relationship with God. Yet worship contains relational skills and principles similar to those found in other human relationships. As with any relationship, we must learn and practice these relational skills and principles in order to build a strong, healthy relationship with God.

Then, with Paul, we’ll cry out in unison:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?
For from him and through him and for him are all things. T
o him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-37 NIV)

 

©2018 Rob Fischer

The Power of the Written Word

Where would we be without the written word?

Think for a moment…we wouldn’t know about Plato, Aristotle, or Socrates. Our knowledge of history would be limited to a generation or two at best. Without the written word, we would not enjoy the legacy of documents like the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, or the Bill of Rights.

If it weren’t for the written word, we wouldn’t have the works of Josephus, Shakespeare, Shiller, Goethe, C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens, or any of the other great authors. And there’s so much more to consider. Without the written word, every field of study imaginable (science, medicine, astronomy, gastronomy, etc.) would be in its infancy with each new generation.

Without the written word there would be no Bible, no record of God’s dealings with mankind from ages past. We would have no record of past prophecies or their fulfillment. There would be no commentaries, no books on discipleship, marriage, or any other topic related to life or the Bible.

Without the written word there would be no contracts, no invoices, no accounting. Without the written word there would be no email, no texts, no computers, and no love letters, get-well cards, or cards of congratulations.

Without the written word, we would be a people most impoverished, most dull, and most unfortunate. The written word significantly impacts every facet of life, every relationship, every element and application of communication. I cannot imagine a world without the written word!

God clearly foresaw and directed the invention and spread of the written word. The Bible offers many examples of God’s spoken word, but the power of His written word through His prophets and apostles is indisputable. Numerous times, the Lord instructed His prophets to write specific things down for a testimony to the people and for future generations. (See Exodus 17:14; Numbers 5:23; Joshua 18:4; Ezra 5:10; Isaiah 8:1; Jeremiah 30:2; and the list goes on.)

We get a peek at the power of God’s Word in In Jeremiah 23:29 where we read, “Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” And Hebrews 4:12 declares, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

Merely by speaking the word, God brought the universe into being! The good news of Jesus Christ is called “the word of the Lord.” God’s message through His prophets was also called “the word of the Lord.” And the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preserved through the written word.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a writer. Consider some of the amazing power and influence we wield as crafters of the written word.

  • We use the written word to instruct, imparting knowledge, skills, and information.
  • We inspire and motivate others to improve their lives and situation.
  • We influence people to change their views, their attitudes, and their way of thinking.
  • We comfort and encourage the downhearted and distressed.
  • We entertain and offer joy, laughter and passion.
  • We appeal to the emotions of pity, mercy and generosity.

Through the written word our impact is expanded beyond what would otherwise be possible. Consider the tiny letter of Paul the Apostle to Philemon (consisting of just 500 words) and how many millions (if not billions) have read that letter over a period of 2,000 years! Think about the countless lives that have impacted by that letter!

By means of the written word we magnify the reach of our communication in both scope and duration. So too, when we write a blog, an article, or a book, it’s like sending out thousands of little emissaries with our message. This fact poses both a sobering reminder as well as a bold challenge.

The sobering reminder motivates us to write with integrity and care, in view of the potential scope and timeless reach our writing may enjoy and the lives it may impact. The bold challenge prompts us to keep writing. We’ve got a message to share. We must not squander it. We dare not keep it to ourselves. “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” (Proverbs 3:27 NIV)

Keep writing!

©2017 Rob Fischer