The Lord Jesus died for individuals. By this He attributed infinite worth to each person. You are the crown of creation.
All individuals are thus qualified to accept His grace. His grace is undeserved favor. He is willing to grant to every individual complete, absolute, total undeserved favor. One cannot work for it. One cannot earn it. One cannot purchase it. It is a gift, an extreme gift of the greatest kind.
It did not come cheap. It cost the Lord Jesus EVERYTHING. He gave all He had and everything He is. He gave His entire heart. He put heaven on the line to come here and rescue us. But again, He did not do this as though He were rescuing a group. He is not in love with a group. He is in love with individuals. That He loves all individuals the same does not lessen His absolute love for all.
GOD IS LOVE
The only person who could possess and express such love is the Creator Himself. There have been many arguments on this subject by people who claim that a loving, benevolent God would never allow for the existence of so much hate and evil as exists on this planet and that if He was all that loving He would at least put an end to it. However, those who bring this argument rarely or never identify the real cause of the hate and evil they claim God is responsible for. He is only responsible for giving human beings the ability and freedom to make their own choices. Some choose to manifest such hate and evil.
He obviously does not desire such nor does He sanction it. He certainly allows it, though, but only because individual freedom is impossible otherwise. People must be allowed to choose whether they will engage in love or hate. They must be granted the ability to do good or evil. Otherwise they have no freedom. This would portend that God has no respect for them. In contrast, some religious “leaders” will certainly exhibit great disrespect for individuals in that they will do their utmost to curtail their freedom so as to get the results they desire and in so doing create religious automatons with bound minds and bound hearts. They might as well put everyone in jail especially those who might do something wrong even before they do it. These people are irresponsible.
THE RESPONSIBLE PARTY
The Lord Jesus, on the other hand, is certainly responsible for his Creation. It is why He has created something much better than anything mankind has devised and it is actually something He created in the very beginning that mankind deviated from. Thus, the culprit is not God and never has been God. The culprit is mankind. Mankind is the entity responsible for the creation of hate and evil. And mankind is not a faceless mass but is composed of individuals. Each individual is consequently responsible for his or her own sin.
Some individuals feel remorse. Some individuals have a conscience in good working order and know when they do wrong and also want to remedy it. They wish it had never happened. They wish they had never performed the sinful deed whatever it may be and whatever weight it may carry. The Lord has made a provision for this. We call it repentance. We call it making a confession of the sin. It must be confessed. It must be acknowledged. It must be seen as sin. If so, it can be absolved. If we confess our sins to the Lord with the proper motive and a contrite heart and seek to do our best to end such an activity He will not only remove it from the record but do His part to help us overcome. This takes active participation. The inception of this participation is strictly between the Lord and the individual.
The long history of the world’s various governments, in general terms, obviously denotes no such respect or love for individual rights but only the privilege of those few who compose the upper class. It is the same in both the secular and religious realms. The vast majority has always existed far below the small minority which wrested power. In the Lord’s Kingdom, however, there are no classes. There is only the Lord and everybody else. All are equal before Him. He shows no partiality. In His Kingdom the individual is afforded the most respect and each individual qualifies.
As some, though very few, governments progressed, the people associated therewith understood that governments which govern best are those which govern least. This gave rise to individual liberty and individual rights which such newly formed governments were created to protect. This form of government, however, demands individual responsibility and maturity which also demands the necessary level of sacrifice for others, starting at the family level, and such must always be absolutely non-coercive. This form is closest to that of the Lord’s Kingdom in that people must be free to grow and develop.
As for those tyrants, haters of mankind and supporters thereof who reject this truth, of which hell will largely be populated, their eternal judgment will be based on their lack of love for the Lord Jesus and for individuals. Conversely, the people who will eventually make heaven their eternal home are those who possess and demonstrate the same love for the Lord and for others that He demonstrated for each of us. We are not saved by this since salvation is by His grace alone, but this love is a byproduct of salvation. For those who insist that human beings are not capable of such love they have a failed argument. It is only an excuse on their part since they do not possess such love. Because they do not have it or care to express it if they did, they do not see how anyone else can. We have examples of this love in the multitude of individuals loving other individuals and often to the ultimate degree.
Every day somewhere in the world there are people sacrificing their lives in some way for another. Some of them sacrifice in the greatest way. This is the greatest love. The Lord sees their sacrifice and records it. Those who love in such a way are not doing it for the record, to be noticed, or for some fake religious reason. They are doing it because they have love in their hearts for others even though they may not personally know them. How many risk their lives for another person in need that they had only just met?
We often see this in disasters and accidents. For example, we saw a lot of this activity in the hurricane-spawned floods last year in the Houston, Texas area. Everyone was helping everyone it seemed. There was a massive amount of volunteer activity. Many contributed monetarily. Some gave great amounts of money that went toward not only saving lives in the moment but helping people get back on their feet after their lives had essentially been destroyed. Many people lost everything. But many people were also helped to make a new start.
THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION
That’s what happens when we give our lives to the Lord Jesus. He saves us from the destructive and alienating power of personal sin. His salvation requires a new birth. We make a brand new start! We become reconciled to Him. Old things pass away. We accept and receive His great love for us as seemingly mere individuals lost in a sea of humanity. But He knows our names. He knows our hearts. He knows each of us individually. Because of this, we are not to be characterized as “mere.” He died for you. He died for each of us. But He also rose again. This means that each of us, as individuals, can also rise again. That was the entire point of His life and resurrection.
We can demonstrate this in the here and now. Like so many of the flood victims who were loved and assisted toward a brand new life after losing everything, so can each of us begin anew knowing we have a heavenly Father who loves us with the greatest love. His love is eternally self-renewing in that it overcomes everything that runs down or has run down. Since He is the Creator, He can overcome the natural tendency of deviation, dissolution, decay, and destruction from and of His perfect original creation of which each individual person is the greatest part.
The Lord Jesus saves us one at a time. It is the only way He can eliminate hate and evil. We must cooperate with Him to eliminate any hate, evil, and sin in our own hearts. It starts with each of us. We are individuals. And each one of us means more to the Lord than His own life.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new!” [Revelation 21:3-5] 
© 2018 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.” [John 10:11-13]
THE PETER PRINCIPLE
According to Laurence J. Peter in his best-selling book, The Peter Principle, “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”
This management principle has proven to be absolutely true. It explains everything. It illustrates why we have so many incompetent people in the upper levels of power. It contrasts the real world of cause and effect, risk and reward, and survival of the fittest with the fake world of herds without predators.
Two hunters deep in the woods are suddenly surprised by a very angry bear. They both take off running for their lives, the bear right behind them. One hunter yells to the other, “Do you think we can outrun him?” The other hunter says, “I don’t need to outrun him. I only need to outrun you.”
This is the real world. It is why God created predators. Predators are the eliminators of incompetence in the natural world. Unless you stay sharp and at the top of your game the bear will get you.
This is why incompetent people don’t survive long in real world applications. Many meet a quick end. There is simply no place for ongoing laziness, lack of ability, foolishness, stupidity, and bad decisions. The natural world teaches this. Incompetence is never rewarded or allowed. Natural selection means survival of only the fittest.
In fake world situations, however, the opposite takes place. Rules are written to protect incompetence. Instead of rightfully being killed and eaten by angry bears, incompetent people not only survive, they thrive. Their bad behavior is rewarded. Everybody gets a trophy.
THE BACKYARD WARRIORS PRINCIPLE
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. [1 Corinthians 9:24]
I remember when I was about eleven years old I had a birthday party at my house. We lived in a well-kept suburban working class neighborhood. As part of the birthday fun I set up an intricate obstacle course in the backyard. You had to run around the perimeter of the yard as fast as you could under and through this and over and around that—just a bunch of stuff I found laying around that I transformed into world class athletic equipment. Not bad for a kid. It was pretty cool. I had an old army tarp tied to the chain-link fence at a 45 degree angle that you had to crawl under. There was stuff to jump over, like a strategically located metal trash can. Things like that. You had to run the course while being timed. Whoever completed the course correctly and the fastest was the winner. We probably had some small prize.
The rules were the same for everyone. I invited a bunch of friends over from school and the neighborhood. But someone also invited my young cousin, who was probably about seven or eight. If that wasn’t bad enough I also had an older sister hanging around who was sixteen or so at the time. She had an inordinate desire to lend what amounted to overwhelming assistance to those such as my young cousin who she thought were in great need, as a way to even the playing field. I had a different perspective. I have always been competitive. My concerns about her ruining the competition were soon realized.
Some of us had already run the course. We gave it everything we had. When a kid was out there running around he was completely on his own. It was sink or swim. Figure it out. Don’t miss anything. Show respect for the process. Everybody else was watching making sure he did it right.
Then it was my little cousin’s turn. And what does my older sister do? She starts running the course with him! He appeared to have no clue what to do but probably would have done okay if allowed to run by himself. I still have this mental picture of her leaning over slightly and running off with him with her arm on his shoulder guiding him around. He quickly yielded to her lead. She then decided he only needed to run less than half the layout! And here they come, cutting right through my well constructed obstacle course across the middle of the yard making a total mockery of the game! She’s still right there with her arm on his shoulder, leaning over, telling him what to do while running him back to the start.
We did not appreciate this. Neither I nor my friends said anything. It was an era when kids showed more respect. She meant well. But what a joke. She almost ruined the whole day with that pathetic display.
This is exactly how incompetence thrives.
THE JEREMIAH JOHNSON PRINCIPLE
Again, in the real world only the strongest and wisest survive. America was founded by such people. So was Texas. The few incompetent people out on the frontier were soon dead if they didn’t manage to get back to civilization post haste.
I am reminded of Robert Redford’s character in the movie Jeremiah Johnson, set in the mid 1800s. There was an early scene when he was way up in the frozen Rocky Mountains trying to catch fish by hand in an icy stream. He was soon in the water. There he was in the deep snow and ice splashing around doing his best to catch a fish to stay alive. The scene then switched to an Indian on horseback silently watching. Later in the movie when the same Indian recognized him in a different setting, he told another, “He fishes poorly.”
But Jeremiah Johnson survived and then thrived. He figured out how to stay alive in a killer environment. Though he met friends, nobody held his hand. He overcame all obstacles, including some personal losses that ripped his heart apart. That movie was about the real world and survival.
It is quite the contrast to our present world. Since that time America has largely become a vast, neurotic, socialist nanny state ruled over by bureaucratic incompetents and enablers with selfish agendas in which everybody, regardless of any achievement, gets a little trophy. Many would never be in their positions of authority without some big sister brotherhood opening doors, scripting their work, showing them the way, and refusing to let them stand on their own. It is the complete opposite of survival of the fittest. Because of the ridiculous policy of allowing incompetent idiots to become our “experts” America is going down fast.
Now, before you think I’m stumping for a certain presidential candidate, I’m not. I’ve been saying this for decades. (That dude stole my thunder.) I have watched this contrary agenda develop over several decades. Of course, many people know what’s going on but almost everybody feels powerless to do anything about it. When some charismatic person comes along who says all the right things and claims to have the answers he gains an immediate following.
But it rarely or never works. It’s always just words. Those that actually gain power never follow through. The only thing that does work in such cases is following the lead of someone who actually knows what to do and has a proven track record. Such good guys, however, are currently very few and far between, and are becoming extinct. The bad guys have taken over. The paradigm shift of rewarding evil and eliminating the good is almost complete. It’s why Biblical prophecy says the world would succeed in blowing itself up without the Lord’s end-time intervention. Corrupt doofuses in places of authority are the sole cause.
THE LORD JESUS PRINCIPLE
There is only one Leader who can fix this mess. The reason America is cratering is due only to the rejecting of His leadership. There is no possible way to remove the preserving agent without falling into gross corruption. The more He has been rejected over the last several decades the worse things have become. Though few acknowledge Him, He is the one who holds everything together.
Also, though the Lord Jesus is the best Father, He never spoils His children. Though He is our Shepherd, He is never the enabler of stupidity, laziness, or incompetence. He only rewards those who give it their all. Whoever will do things His way must be absolutely dedicated and must also be in it for the long haul. One will discover that following His lead allows one to grow stronger and wiser, and possess greater ability to overcome and thrive. He prepares us to be the best. His discipleship methods always work. He is a maker of champions.
THE UNREAL CHRISTIANITY PRINCIPLE
The reason the Peter Principle has become a burgeoning reality is because the people in power have rejected the Lord’s proper authority and correct management principles. They have replaced them with bulky, unresponsive, impersonal hierarchies and shallow methodologies that reward morons and punish the strong, independent, honest, and righteous.
GUESS WHAT? THE EXACT THING HAS HAPPENED WITHIN TRADITIONAL AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY.
Pious pinheads and parading shysters have taken over the outward institutional format and are now the tenured cloth men. We know the majority of these guys have no clue how to right our wayward course or have any desire to, largely because they’re the ones who caused it. They’re invested in it. It serves them very well. These sold-out fakers only exist because foolish people keep throwing money in their coffers, which only enables them and their incompetence. Every time the Lord tries to correct them their supporters reward them. These power-tripping Christian “experts” eventually cold shoulder any real Christians in their vicinity, refuse to support them, and badmouth them, in the sinister effort to eliminate those who would rightfully take their job.
But this has always been true. Thus, all real Christians must first learn to survive in this fallen world, then learn to fight, overcome, and thrive within it, AND THEN TAKE OVER. It’s how the Lord does things. It’s exactly how He did it. When He was crucified He looked like the greatest loser that ever lived. Three days later He became the greatest winner of all time. If we would be successful we must follow His lead, trust Him, and do things His way.
This is why the Lord Jesus never coddles His children. He has no use for perpetual babies and whiners. He never hands out participant trophies. He requires us to run the race well without constant enabling. He calls us to follow Him even through the worst spiritual environments that will test us to the nth degree.
THE PAUL PRINCIPLE
For correct spiritual perspective with respect to real discipleship, consider the fact that the apostle Paul once found himself dead under a pile of rocks. He suffered this fate doing exactly what he was called to do. The Lord Jesus did nothing to stop the brutal attack against him—He let Paul get stoned by a bunch of Jewish religious idiots.
But He did bless him with a preview of heaven:
I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows—was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. [2Corinthians 12:2-4]
That’s pretty cool. And He did bring him back to earth. And He did give Paul supportive friends after he was dragged out of Lystra for dead who stood around him when he suddenly got up:
But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead. But while the disciples stood around him, he got up and entered the city. [Acts 14:19-20]
Therefore, it is not that we don’t need help and support from time to time. We obviously should help one another. But such help is usually designed to get us on track or back on track. Both of these should be very few and far between events after our initial discipleship training. After that it’s a matter of running the race well without being hindered or enabled, both of which restrict our mission.
If the Lord has given you honest and competent authority figures at present, be thankful. We need the wisdom of those who have gone before us who have gained the Lord’s wisdom. But in order to be the spiritual success the Lord needs you to be, you must work at becoming a spiritual adult.
For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity… [Hebrews 5:13-6:1] 
Live the adventure.
Climb the Rockies.
But watch out for rocks.
© 2016 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. [1Peter 1:20-21]
Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” [John 2:19]
Non-believers often ask about proof. They must be reminded of living by faith. They don’t want to live by faith. They would rather live according to that tiny fraction of the light spectrum they can relate to with mere human senses.
I remind them that the vast majority of all that exists cannot be perceived with the five senses. It is beyond what they see, hear, touch, taste, or smell. Scientists have proven this over and over. Yet, every time some new discovery is made the people thereof get all arrogant and full of themselves even though they must quickly admit they still have no clue about the majority that exists beyond the senses.
They know it’s out there. Regarding the composition of the Universe, they know Dark Energy exists. They know Dark Matter exists. Dark Energy makes up 68% of the Universe. Dark Matter comprises 27% of the Universe.
That leaves 5%. This 5% is what can be perceived with the five senses.
“The rest—everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter—adds up to less than 5% of the Universe. Come to think of it, maybe it shouldn’t be called “normal” matter at all, since it is such a small fraction of the Universe.” 
THE GREATEST SCIENTISTS AND MENTAL GENIUSES ON THE PLANET STILL DO NOT HAVE A CLUE WHAT DARK ENERGY IS OR WHAT DARK MATTER IS, BUT ONLY THAT IT EXISTS. THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT MAKES UP 95% OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE.
They know it exists because of the way it affects what they know does exist.
Yet, most of these people refuse to even speculate upon the possibility of the existence of the spiritual world.
Millions of people know prayer works. They have personal proof. Many people have even kept records. I have seen the Lord Jesus answer my prayers so many times and sometimes in the most spectacular fashion. If any unbelieving egghead wants to challenge me on this he or she will get an earful.
Yet, I understand that people living outside the kingdom of God have no clue. It is impossible for them to understand. They can either be smart about it and admit this or they can be not so smart about it and believe the only things that exist are those things picked up by the senses.
At least the science boys and girls are intelligent enough to admit they know there is stuff out there even though they don’t know what it is.
Much of this scientific knowledge is very recent. If you want to gain some understanding in this field you can go to NASA for a brief introduction here: Dark Energy, Dark Matter .
The point of this article and the previous one is to reveal the fact that we all need salvation or will lose our souls. It is to illustrate that salvation is only possible through the Lord Jesus. It is to illustrate that a few, in the Lord’s own words, will actually accept the fact that they are sinners in need of salvation and will accept the Lord’s great sacrifice on their behalf and will in turn LIVE and then LIVE FOR ALL ETERNITY.
These articles also reveal, however, that the vast majority of humanity will reject the only cure for the sin disease and lose their souls. Their existence will be limited to this earth and a short time after physical death while awaiting trial, and will thus fall short of eternal life. They will never gain eternal life because they decided to live only according to what they can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. Anything beyond the five senses and the 5% they reject as that which does not exist.
They will discover their error too late to do anything about it.
LIVING IN THE SPIRIT
Those who believe in, follow, and obey the Lord Jesus—His real followers, not including all the fakers—are not left with purely blind faith and no proof. As I said, I have seen the Lord Jesus do incredible, amazing, miraculous things over the years. I know He is very real, and I know everything He said is true because it all works. There are things we cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell but we know for a certainty that they exist, just as we know Dark Energy and Dark Matter exist.
The Lord Jesus, however, has decided to speak in parabolic form in order to hide truth from non-believers who refuse to exercise any faith. Truth is a vibrant and very special commodity and must not be wasted on those who have no respect for it. As a result, one must work very hard to discover truth. One must do much research and study. One must receive revelation. ONE MUST PRAY A LOT AND SPEND MUCH TIME ALONE WITH THE LORD. The hidden things of God are hidden for a reason.
The gaining of truth and salvation because of that truth does not come easy and never has. It is obvious then, that real salvation only comes to those who put everything on the line and dedicate their entire lives to the Lord Jesus and the pursuit of achieving real discipleship.
The majority of people never do this. The majority of “Christians” never do this. They do work hard and some work very hard at other pursuits. They do seek to have good lives. The problem is that they dedicate themselves to merely temporary things that will never be translated into eternity. They dedicate themselves to believing false theories and narratives. In essence, they dedicate themselves to running with the crowd. Even if they believe there are things out there they do not understand they never try to gain any understanding. They plant their feet firmly in the here and now.
FOREKNOWN BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD
Each of us has existed in the mind of God from before the foundation of the world. But the Lord has granted a free will. Most choose wrongly. The few who choose correctly enter into a secret kingdom that no one else knows about (or cares about). The Lord Jesus revealed this.
It exists exactly as does Dark Energy and Dark Matter. It is real. Just because the majority rejects it does not mean it does not exist. It only means they are wrong to reject it. It means they have no faith or love for the truth.
THE RESURRECTION IS THE PROOF
The Lord Jesus arose from the dead. For those not fully clear on the concept—those who cannot see spiritual things so well—it was God or God the Father who did the resurrecting. While this is certainly true and scriptural, it is also just as true and scriptural that the Lord Jesus resurrected Himself. He even said He would before He did. It was one of the main points brought up against Him at His trial. Those people were such spiritual idiots they didn’t understand He was not talking about Herod’s Temple. The ignorance of some people certainly boggles the mind.
But these people were not ignorant so much as they were spiritually blind. They were great religionists and knew the Bible extremely well. But they had no clue whatsoever of spiritual things and thus judged everything by what they could see, hear, touch, taste, or smell.
They did not know the Lord Jesus was YHWH. They did not know that the very God they professed had arrived among them as one of them. They murdered their own God, the only God, the ONE GOD.
Of course, because there IS a secret kingdom and there IS a hidden spiritual world, they actually only murdered the human body of God—HIS TEMPLE. That is precisely why the Lord Jesus stated:
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
The resurrection is the proof. It is also the proof for every individual real Christian when he or she is resurrected to new eternal life.
But for every real Christian, there is also a pre-proof. The pre-proof is a real born again experience that comprises all the basic elements of the final resurrection. One’s born again experience prior to physical death is the proof that everything the Lord said is true.
The Lord Jesus raised me from spiritual death several years ago. I have since discovered through much prayer, research, study, work, trials, tough times, VERY tough times, and many, many revelations that He is very, very real, that there is a secret kingdom, and that there is a whole lot of stuff going on beyond the five senses. That which one can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell is a mere fraction of what actually exists.
Regarding the entire Universe, as stated previously, 95% of it is completely unknown. We know it’s there, however, but we don’t know what it is.
It is the same regarding the spiritual world. It could very well be that 95% of our realm on Planet Earth is comprised of the spiritual and only 5% makes up the sensory.
Remember, the Lord could see the spiritual world as well as the sensory world. He revealed it through His life, teachings, and ministry.
As proof, there are untold millions of examples of answered prayer, born again experiences, miracles, healings, and other proven works that prove it exists. Real Christians know this. They have accepted the atoning death of the Sacrifice Lamb on their behalf. They know that just as He raised Himself from the dead He will raise them from the dead, especially since He has already raised them from the dead spiritually.
Millions of real Christians worldwide are proof by their own new birth that much exists beyond the surface. They exist in what is essentially seed form awaiting their new creation in eternity. The time will come when each will bloom forth, completing a great resurrection that began with a single seed brought forth by the Sacrifice Lamb.
Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. [1Peter 1:22-23] 
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 NASA: Dark Energy, Dark Matter. Last Updated: June 5, 2015 http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy/
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
Today, March 20, 2015, is the actual New Years Day.
It’s the first day of spring and begins the season of new life.
It is also a day filled with celestial signs pointing directly to current world events and the American spiritual climate.
Unlike the frozen spiritual tundra of the great white north where snow continues on Friday (see Tuesday’s post), and where Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and Charles Finney have long since been effectively rousted from their graves and kicked out of town, there are actually places in America where the Lord Jesus is honored and obeyed.
Regarding the former reference, John WyCliffe (c.1324-1384), the Morning Star of the Reformation and the man who first translated the Bible into English, suffered much persecution in his life but also in death. This may be difficult to fathom but hatred for this man’s work by the Roman Catholic Church was so intense that forty years after his death, his remains were exhumed from his grave, crushed, burned, and scattered in the River Swift.
Has not the same happened to the work and reputations of the men mentioned above? And of course, to the Lord Jesus Himself?
A NEW SEASON
Regarding today, the day is otherwise known as the vernal equinox. On this day the planet levels out in its tilt as it does twice each year—it is the time when the most direct rays of the sun fall on the equator. In March, it signals the end of winter darkness and the beginning of the shift toward ever more direct sunlight for the Northern Hemisphere.
Spring officially arrives at 5:45pm Central Daylight Time on Friday.
But this is only the beginning of the beginning.
There are many other celestial events taking place. Their simultaneous occurrences make this an extremely rare day and portend major change on the cyclical front.
A NEW LUNAR CYCLE
In addition to the first day of spring, March 20th is also the day of a new moon—the beginning of a new lunar cycle. The new month officially began at 4:36am CDT early Friday morning. It is relatively rare to have a new moon on the same day as the beginning of spring.
Yet, we’re only getting started. These events also signal the beginning of yet another cycle, one which corresponds to dovetailing the sun and moon into a workable calendar:
235 lunar cycles (months of 29.53 days) fit almost exactly into 19 solar cycles (years). This period of 19 years is what some ancient cultures, including the Hebrews, used in their lunar-solar calendars, which incorporate:
(1) 7 years of 13 months (intercalary years) for a total of 91 months, and
(2) 12 years of 12 months totaling 144 months.
These combine for a total of 235 months in an overall 19-year calendar which links the movements of the moon with the movements of the sun. Here’s the math:
365.24220 (days in a solar cycle) x 19 years = 6939.60180 days
29.53059 (days in a lunar cycle) x 235 months = 6939.68865 days
(This is a mere difference of 2 hours, 5 minutes and 4 seconds over the 19 years. Pretty close.)
But wait! There’s more!
FIRST DAY OF THE HEBREW MONTH OF NISAN
Friday, March 20th is also the first day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar! This is an extremely important day and has great significance in both Hebrew history and in the life of the Lord Jesus.
Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.” [Exodus 12:1-2] 
Nisan 1 is the first day of the first month of the festival, or ecclesiastical year. Most of the springtime Biblical feasts occur during this month. It was the exact day the tabernacle in the wilderness was first erected. It was also the month when our Lord died and rose from the dead.
[Please see the links following this article regarding the month of Nisan for much more detailed information on the prophetic events of this season.]
A NEW SUPERMOON
Along with these preceding events, the new moon beginning on Friday morning is also a supermoon, meaning that the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit and must also be either full or new (in this case new and thus completely dark). (When a supermoon is full it appears approximately 15% brighter.)
But wait! There is still more!
A NEW TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE
On this same day, March 20, 2015, a total solar eclipse took place as the new supermoon passed directly between the Earth and the Sun, blocking out the Sun’s light. The eclipse began about 3am CDT.
The full eclipse was mostly visible in the northern Atlantic and far northern Europe. It ended over the North Pole. Scotland experienced about a 95% darkening of the Sun, Germany 82%, and Italy about 50%. A partial eclipse was seen in Europe, North Africa, north-central Asia, and the Middle East. The eclipse was not visible in America, however.
How rare is it when a total solar eclipse happens on the first day of spring? It’s relatively very rare, in that the last one to occur happened in the year 1662. That’s 353 years ago. However, there will be other spring equinox-total solar eclipses in the near future, the next one in 19 years and two more, strangely enough, at 19-year intervals in 2034, 2053, and 2072. These are repeating 19-year cyclical events normally happening in sets of four or five.
As it happens, we had a 353-year period from 1662-2015. This will be followed by three 19-year periods in succession, 2015-2034, 2034-2053, and 2053-2072 which also correspond to the 19-year celestial lunar-solar calendars.
FIVE CONCURRENT CELESTIAL SIGNS
The supermoon occurring at the same time as a total solar eclipse is more of a rarity than the spring equinox-total solar eclipse happening concurrently. That all three happen on the same day is exceptionally rare. And when the other events happen as well, with all their individual spiritual portents, this is a rare time indeed and very much worth paying full attention to and praying about, especially regarding the Great Awakening.
Wow. Almost done.
SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE—WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Regarding the number 19, it is the 8th prime number, and 8 is the Biblical number of resurrection and regeneration, and a new beginning. This is a great number, and a highly spiritual number with regard to spiritual awakenings. Keep in mind that the Lord’s resurrection could only happen after His death, and that spiritual awakenings only happen after much repentance, which is representative of death.
Great Awakenings are always associated with persecution as well.
The number 19, however, rather than the joy of number 8, is a different story. It is associated with rebellion and judgment, as well as spiritual trials and suffering. According to noted Bible scholar E.W. Bullinger, it is a number connected with Eve and Job. Putting these two numbers together at this time when so many rare celestial and spiritual events are occurring only furthers the proof that we are sailing into uncharted seas.
NOW WATCH THIS: Early Friday morning in the pre-dawn darkness, the moon became new, meaning that it was completely blacked out from receiving the light of the Sun.
It then passed in front of the Sun from our viewpoint here on Earth, completely blacking out the light of the Sun.
Associated with these two black-out events will be the last waning hours of the season of winter, a season noted for cold and darkness. Death arrives for the winter of 2014-15 at 5:45pm CDT on Friday evening.
Then, a second later, just as a new morning follows the end of night, the resurrection life of a new season will spring forth! At that point the darkness of the solar eclipse will be history. The moon will start gaining more light on its way to becoming full.
A new Day will dawn, and with it we will cast off the cobwebs and deadness of a long winter’s sleep.
The same will happen in the spiritual world, known very well by our real Christian forebears of the first century, and also by those courageous men mentioned above.
Regardless of cold hearts and unreal brethren, the Awakening advances.
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
 Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The world was dark and cold. Defeat had become a matter of lifestyle, of accepting a great wrong against one’s hopes and dreams with no way to overcome the pain.
And it was certainly pain, the kind of deep pain stored in the depths of one’s heart that it seems can never be excised no matter how hard one may try.
There were “leaders” who had come along who claimed they had answers but their efforts never went anywhere, even though a few had gained relatively large followings. Yet, no matter what particular hope had come down the road and into the hearts of the defeated, though briefly, the light shined for merely a moment and was gone.
It was as if the whole world was against each person, and that each person had no way to strike back effectively. The great pain carried by most was the pain of a defeat so strong and overwhelming that they must simply surrender to it and find a way to make life work.
It is one of the most difficult things to deal with and make sense of, and in all probability the most difficult. People were created to overcome, to stand tall, to fight and win, to work hard and get things done, to put their heart into alleviating a problem, and to let nothing stand in the way of their freedom and success.
Yet, the nation was broken. It had long ago been taken over by a brutal regime that had little or no compassion, and certainly no concern for the individuals who lives were essentially destroyed and enslaved. People kept working hard—they had to—but they were only working to stay alive. Survival was the big dream, or actually, it was the attempt to stay mentally tough against so much misfortune and no hope for the future. This “survival” was the manner in which one was forced to attempt a win, the way a starving man may grab at crumbs in hopes that he may find a piece of bread, and then, just maybe, something more.
But it was the seeking of something more substantial that caused the greatest depression among people. If they could only just give up and accept a less than good life, a less than average life, or even a mere subsistence level life, then maybe that pain would go away. Maybe if they just gave up on dreams that kept stirring their hearts but never, ever came close to reality, then, and only then, could they maybe smile a weak smile and somehow be content with their lot.
It was not to be, of course. No one can live like that for very long without finding alternatives to bleak reality that somehow make reality possible to stomach. It had all been going on for so many years and decades. People could actually no longer remember any actual good times but they still had the misty sagas that old people told on occasion, when long ago, their people lived in victory and strength.
In a way, such stories, real or imagined, kept a spark alive but only a few really thought it could ever grow into anything more than that. So many people had tried for so long to overcome it all…
Their houses had been broken into and ransacked. They were forced to vacate not only their homes and fields that they had worked so hard at building, but whole towns. Communities were destroyed. Industry was destroyed. The means to build it all back was completely removed. These evil despicable hell-bound demons in human form had decided that total destruction was the answer, and in their zeal to eliminate those good people they falsely characterized as evil, they had become evil incarnate.
Their sweeping victories, however, gave them the aura of somehow being on the winning side, and that their grossly evil behavior was somehow justified even by God Himself. It was as if God had turned from His righteousness and honor, and sided with the devil, and that any unfortunate ones who fought the invaders would be crushed by God because the good people were characterized as being the devil.
Why would God do this? Why would He side with evil? Why wouldn’t He help these poor destroyed people? Was their sin so great and the obvious sins of these invaders so unacknowledged that the entire cosmos had gotten turned upside down?
As their lives, hopes, and dreams were destroyed, they remembered their Scriptures, the sayings of their holy book. They remembered the words that seemed to fit so clearly—
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight! [Isaiah 5:20-21]
The confidence level of the invaders had grown exponentially the more they destroyed the land and its people. As the proverbial sharks smelling blood and swimming swiftly to the kill and engaging in a free-for-all bloodbath, so did these so called liberators fall into the most heinous of crimes. Looking past their own sins and thinking themselves as holy with justified and God-breathed righteous anger, and even as agents of proper judgment, they raped and pillaged and burned and murdered, and they exulted in it, they enjoyed it, it was a tremendous opportunity to release their evil passions like hardened, reprobate, insane criminals escaped from the worst penitentiaries.
How could agents of supposed good engage in such incredibly sinful acts? And why do monuments built for their leaders exist to this day—statues and bronzes beholding their evil glory?
As the majority of those in the Lord’s day who judged Him falsely of evil and agreed with His death sentence and torture, so do so many still to this day claim the side of righteousness while engaging in or fully supporting the most evil of deeds. They refuse to acknowledge the gross violations of the Lord’s teachings. It is a justification of the worst forms of hate and all that stems from it.
It must be understood that the thundering hooves supporting these invasions never stop. They continue on in subjugating others, and others still, and overcome the innocent, and rob them, and destroy them, and justify it all.
But the day will come when their juggernaut will come face to face with a higher power, the very power they had previously claimed was on their side, and they will at last meet their match, and so much more.
In their current state, the subdued cannot imagine anything to change it, for evil has gained such a stronghold over them, and they are so small and outnumbered, and apparently defeated. But they remember what always follows, what comes next, what the prophets said about the righteous and faithful people, and it is then that the tiny spark in their deepest heart glows brighter:
Evil is always stopped. It is only a matter of time. The temporary never survives against the eternal. Dishonesty, lies, deceptive agendas, fake historical accounts, and false narratives never defeat Truth in the long term. And the evil ones who ride high in their day and get away with so much will all eventually pay the price. Their time will come to an end. Their earthly kingdoms, like all previous earthly kingdoms and empires, and all their sordid gains will fail and come to nothing, and can never be translated into eternity.
The real kingdom, though—the eternal kingdom of the Lord Jesus, inhabited by those who love Him and obey Him and are called by His Name—it will continue now and throughout eternity. And regardless of the pain and the many losses the Lord’s people have suffered upon this planet, their fate is good and bright—they will live forever in their eternal home.
And one more thing: Those places and regions of the earth where the devil has historically wreaked the worst havoc are often the same places from which the Lord later brings forth the greatest Great Awakenings…
“THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.” [Matthew 4:16] 
© 2015 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.
The conclusion of this 3-part article contains the answer many have been seeking. Times are rough for a lot of Christians the world over, and have been getting more difficult in places where things used to be better.
…That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [Philippians 3:10-14] 
I have been watching videos about underground Chinese Christians. One of the prevailing themes among their lives is the ongoing dedication they must pursue with so little apparent reward or accomplishment. They keep pressing on through each day, year after year, though things rarely get any easier or more comfortable. They often wonder why they have to suffer so much. The Lord keeps telling them the same thing He told the apostle Paul:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” [2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV]
The NASV says: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
What is this power, this strength, this dunamis? And why does it only kick in when we are weak? Is it not the very same power the Lord Himself used to live a perfect life?
And what is this grace, this charis? It must be something tangible, like a spiritual IV packed with nutrients, and not simply God’s favor alone.
A real Christian must be able to live off this power and grace when all else is unavailable. Did not the Lord of all Creation live a life of apparent outward weakness in order to be very powerful in the spirit? And did He not continually demonstrate this power? It is obvious then, that a person who is to be a real Christian must have this grace and power, this charis and dunamis. And he or she must be able to receive it by making themselves weak in the flesh and in the ways of this world.
It is simply a fact that spiritual giants will appear as the opposite to non-spiritual people.
This “weakness” and the requisite strength that comes because of it is what we lack. And we lack it due to simple laziness and a bowing to human nature. Most “Christians” are as fleshly as the day is long and therefore weak in the spirit. They learn to be weak in the spirit and that it is perfectly okay to be weak in the spirit often because their fake leaders are weak in the spirit.
After a while an entire culture starts calving off like a massive landslide because the ones charged with being salt and light and holding things together became derelict in their duty.
Like a great baseball player who stays out night after night drinking and fornicating and bringing much less than his “A” game to the field for his team and fans until the team suffers and he breaks down in a heap and retires early.
Meanwhile, there was another baseball player of the same era who kept doing his duty every year and every game. He was somewhat off the radar, and no one realized how great his accomplishments were to the same degree. He was Mr. Consistent. Not a lot of flash, but he brought it every day. Rarely stopping due to injury, he continued bringing the best for his team and racked up the stats until he eventually broke an impossible record the other guy was supposed to break and should have but never came close.
People who know baseball know who these players are, and many more just like them. The dedicated player also had a very rough row to hoe during his playing days and suffered many slights and insults but continued to soldier on. He was somewhat invisible for many years. The other guy was the darling of the media, characterized as a great hero, and got away with everything. Though he was a carousing drunk all the dads wanted their sons to be like him, but not so much the other guy.
The Lord was like this. He would bring it regardless. It didn’t matter if anyone noticed, if it appeared as though He was accomplishing nothing, or if the whole blasted filthy rotten world and everyone in it hated Him without a cause. He was going to do His duty come hell or high water. He would complete His mission. You could not stop Him. He was a million percent dedicated. Regardless of whatever the circumstances may be, He would do and did do everything that was required. He pressed on like no one had ever pressed on and taught His disciples how to do likewise.
And He strengthens us to do likewise. Therefore we are without excuse.
Go spend twenty years in a Chinese prison for doing nothing wrong but everything right and then tell me how challenging your life is, especially when all God ever says is “My grace is sufficient, My grace is sufficient…” Will they get out of jail tomorrow? Or next year? Or ever? They had and have no idea. They are tortured and forced to endure the worst insults to body and mind but somehow maintain the ability to go on. And they do it with a big bright smile and tears of joy streaming down their face!
What IS this grace anyway? And how does it fuel a person to do the impossible?
One of the hardest things about being a real Christian is being continually dedicated against the tide with no sign of any kind of change for the better. You’re out on the ocean every day with nothing but a water and sky horizon and nothing ever changes, it seems. You feel completely alone though you know the Lord is somehow there with you. You feel like you’ve been cast aside and the only One that can help won’t help.
In China, a few thousand dedicated believers felt exactly that way but pressed on anyway. One day they looked up from their spiritual drudgery and noticed their numbers had increased a little—to many tens of thousands. The tens of thousands continued to press on against the wind with no change to their very difficult lives or apparent change to the culture around them. Then one day they looked up and the tens of thousands had become millions. In a Communist country! Where real Christianity is outlawed! Where the worst forms of abuse were thrown their way!
Still, they continue pressing on, pushing against evil in the way the Lord taught us. They press hard against a very powerful force the way one pushes a car down the road with the tires almost flat. This evil force is like a giant unseen mass of pressure suspended from the heavens to the ground that continually resists the Light and those in which the Light dwells. Yet, these unrelenting Chinese believers continue with marathon worship, unceasing prayer, forty day fasts, and incessant witnessing and evangelizing. They meet in secret house churches or wherever they can knowing they could be killed and tortured for it.
And while the real Christians in China were growing from a few thousand to what is estimated at the moment to be close to one hundred million, most American Christians have become the opposite—a bunch of spiritually weak, lazy prima donnas and ultra-fleshly fakers watching their entire country go screwy and ultra-sinful without much concern about it or any plans to change it.
China will become a Christian nation in a few years while America is going in full reverse and the majority of Christians here remain willfully clueless.
It started a few decades ago with a few thousand…
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. (Part 3 of 3)
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. [1 Corinthians 15:12-17]
Unreal Christians make a mockery of real Christianity. They bring shame on real Christians everywhere. They refuse to acknowledge what is required. Their offshoot brands of Christianity are not for major leaguers, not by a long shot. Their “churches” are instead the haunts of adult T-ballers. Grown people acting like a bunch of five year-olds.
They can’t catch, they can’t throw, they can’t hit, and they can’t field. They can’t do squat. They won’t do squat.
They refuse. Put ‘em out there on the spiritual frontier in some foreign country where Christianity is banned and spat upon and see what happens. See how they stand the test where real Christians know they must stay in top condition and pray, fast, worship, study, and witness all the time as if their life and the lives of so many others depend on it, and such fake Christians will last about a second before they either get wiped out or become just another diabolical Judas.
I don’t know how things are now, but when I was a mere lad of six in the first grade I had a big test the next day and forgot to study. I attended one of those schools where we all wore uniforms and the teachers wore black. And they meant business. I suddenly remembered as I was walking to school that I was going to get grilled that morning and quickly came down with the worst stomach ache ever known to any kid anywhere. I doubled over holding my gut. Of course, I was in no physical pain. My thespian skills were all for effect. I knew my mother was watching. I turned around acting all sick though I was perfectly fine and chugged back home, all the while doubled over and groaning as if I was gut shot. I knew the teacher and the whole class would humiliate me because I was not prepared. I thought it better to take a chance on my mother’s hoped-for compassion. She didn’t really believe me but did not force the issue, thankfully.
Why is it that most Christians no longer have the proper attitude? Why do they not obey the clear teachings of the Lord? Why are they not dedicated? Don’t they know their soul is on the line? Do they know there will be a Judgment? Why do they think they can be disobedient or halfhearted and get by? Don’t they know they cannot be effective for God and be a good servant for others if they fail to do what is required?
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. [Romans 12:1-3]
Enough of this country club garbage. Enough of this elitist, narcissistic, arrogant, clannish, and high-minded Christianity. Enough of this ridiculous man-made clergy-laity divide. The way up is down. The Lord Jesus clearly taught and demonstrated servanthood and humility, and that one must either follow His example or take a hike.
And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” [Luke 9:23-26] 
Which brings me to the point of this article. This is the season in which we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. He was physically dead. He rose from the dead. He lived a perfect life. He never committed a single sin. He honored the Torah to the nth degree. He lived the most dedicated and disciplined life of any human being for all time. No one else has come within a universe of His perfection.
But it was not easy. It was very difficult. It was difficult even on a daily and hourly basis. No single man has ever pressed on and walked out a life beset with so much pain and personal denial, with so much fortitude, ardor, and spiritual backbone. He was always focused, always strong, always on His game, and always working extremely hard doing everything that was required. He often walked alone among humans with little or no help from others. He was as dedicated as dedicated can be, and He set the perfect example for all of us.
So we can sit around and be lazy and unproductive and a sorry example to the world? I don’t think so. Christians who realize they are called to the same dedication as the Lord are those who get with His program. They leave all other wimpified programs. They stop messing around with programs that don’t work and never will. They are forever seeking out the high ground, and higher ground. By getting down on their face, serving God and others, and putting forth the proper discipline, they’re climbing the Rockies, desiring that rarefied spiritual air attained only by the mighty few. They don’t want to be an adult playing around like a little kid, something most Christians have become proficient at.
They want to be in the major leagues. They want to do what is required.
They pursue the prize of the upward call.
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. (Part 2 of 3)
“Pressing On.” Melbourne Mass Gospel Choir:
There is a spiritual reality among Christians not often talked about or understood that is just as vital and all-important as any other.
It is not popular.
As in the case of physical persecution, this reality is often placed on a very high shelf, kept in a rarely used cabinet, or even locked away out of sight.
Christians would rather not acknowledge its existence. And since most Christians have never seen much of a need for it and have gotten by without it, they would much rather keep it as far away from themselves as possible.
The majority of those who refer to themselves as Christians are not even aware of it. Those that are aware often treat it is a non-entity or something to be shunned, and feel very uncomfortable whenever it may come up in a conversation or teaching session.
Of course, there are many realities regarding real Christianity that nominal “believers” want no part of, and will argue against their necessity no matter how many Scriptures reveal their presence, point directly to them, and speak of their absolute need toward a successful and fruitful walk with the Lord.
For example, fasting is no fun, but it works. Nothing can replace it. The Lord taught it, practiced it, and proved its effectiveness. But most Christians never fast. And most Christians will fight anyone who says they have to.
I used to be part of a large congregation that taught and practiced fasting and prayer to a relatively high degree. We had to fast at least one day a week. We went on two-day fasts every quarter or so. Everyone was expected to participate and most did. We were taught to pray at least an hour every day. We had corporate prayer meetings that all were expected to attend. It was part of the culture. If you didn’t participate you were not doing your duty as a believer and member. We had all night prayer meetings. The church building and grounds were a center of spiritual activity and there was always something going on almost every day of the week. It was a hang out. A great place. Most members accepted and adopted this kind of prayer and fasting with no reservations, because: (1) It was clearly Scriptural, (2) It was very effective, (3) It was part of the culture, and (4) It was taught and mandated by the pastor.
After a while, though, it became apparent that fewer members were complying. Some stopped because they had never disciplined themselves for such or made it part of their lives and spiritual lifestyles for the long haul. They were doing it because the group did it and they feared the pastor or being a deviant from the norm.
It is the same reason so many people go to church or honor their leadership, denomination, or denominational beliefs and dictates. They are not so much into it as much as they are being put upon to do it. It is not really in their hearts to serve God necessarily, but more of a cultural thing. They feel good going to church. It gives them a lift of some kind. Their life throughout the rest of the week does not really reflect anything spiritual, however. They are certainly not fulltime, dedicated followers of the Lord, but feel they are doing enough to get by and that is all they really want.
Once any form of persecution comes they quit. They get very angry when convicted. They don’t like it when their casual “walk” is exposed or their Biblical ignorance is revealed. When this happens, though, such people should be thankful for the apparent warnings. Because if real persecution ever broke out they would get destroyed.
I like sports. I’ve played a lot of different sports. I know what it’s like to play alright and am also fully aware of the embarrassment of playing lousy. Sports will humble a person, regardless of how good one may be. You have good games and not so good games.
The major leagues in any sport contain the cream of the crop, the best of the best, and virtual all-star teams of the greatest talent in the world. Yet there are times when these great talents look like idiots on the field or court and one wonders how they can be so boneheaded. The reality is that the action is so fast and the players so good and so much is at stake that the player who fails to bring his “A” game can look like an idiot pretty quick. A man should never step out on a football field during live action, for example, without being 100% focused and ready or he will get creamed and end up looking like a fool. It is hard enough as it is for the fully dedicated. Get just the least bit lax and someone out there will very quickly reveal your weakness and send you into next week.
It always amazes me that out of millions of baseball players in this country, many of them very talented and dedicated, less than 800 are on a major league team at any given time. Some very, very good players have never made it to the show. How is this possible? How can someone so good be not good enough? Because there are others who are even better.
It is said the hardest thing to do in all of sports is consistently and successfully hit a baseball. Most people can’t even see a baseball going 95 miles an hour from only 60 and a half feet away. Anyone who has ever stood in a batter’s box to face live pitching at that speed will confirm this. It takes an adjustment. Those that do it all the time do a very amazing thing. If they don’t work very, very hard and stay on their game they’re gone.
But Christians? Well, most are taught that heaven is automatic. That God requires very little. That you can get away with anything. That such super dedication and discipleship shown by world-class athletes is completely unnecessary and even ridiculous. “No one can live like that!,” the false Christians exclaim.
Hence, most of these so-called “Christians” and their dead, dull, boring, wimpy churches have set their own standard, a stupid standard, a rebellious standard, a very weak standard, and a standard in which sin and spiritual laziness is quite welcome. There is no salt in these places and very little light. They are composed of all those who would never make the cut on a good team or probably any team. They are no different than anyone else in any particular society and are a mere reflection of the world and not the kingdom of God. The devil is not the least bit afraid or respectful of them. And while they may look good now, there’s a hot place waiting.
Meanwhile, real followers of the Lord the world over, in places like China and many Muslim countries, are currently lining up as those characterized in the following:
Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. [Hebrews 11:35-38] 
© 2013 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved. (Part 1 of 3)
Though the Lord has always provided a place for me to stay, I have been essentially homeless for seven years. I put my house on the market seven years ago this month and began living out of a suitcase.
I’m still living out of a suitcase.
My house sold three and a half months later. I only got two legitimate offers. The Lord told me what the final selling price would be at least a month before.
About that time, things were looking so bleak my realtor called to advise me it would probably be best to take it off the market. This was devastating news, especially since he was such an upbeat and optimistic guy. It was really bad news among an entire shipload of bad news. My life had by that time come completely apart but I kept manning the helm and being responsible. My heart was destroyed. I really don’t know how in the world I ever got through it all.
When I received that phone call from my realtor I was out of town, pretty far away, and was making inquiries into a new job and a whole new life. It just so happened I was in the office of the friend of a friend at the end of the day, just visiting. There were four of us. After exiting to take the call I went back into the room and told the others. This was a crisis point. It was one of those things where you either got it right and won a spiritual victory or lost it all. Everything was on the line.
The good news is these were godly men who knew how to pray. One of them had been on his deathbed in the hospital several years before with a very bad heart condition. He should have died but through the powerful prayers and faith of saints God healed his heart and raised him up. This man was always smiling. He wanted me to feel his grip and it was very strong. He was without doubt a living testimony to God’s greatness and love.
I asked him to lead a prayer. Four men stood in a circle in that office holding hands. Eyes were closed. We began to pray. In the midst of the prayer a miracle happened. I suddenly had 100% faith. My whole former life was quickly coming undone but I suddenly had the faith that my house would sell. I had been very positive about the process before but this was different.
God told me in no uncertain terms that the house would sell.
I must reiterate the fact that the house had to sell, and sell quickly, or nothing else would have worked. Bad news was stacked up against me like backed-up cars on a freeway.
After the prayer I quickly called my realtor and told him we were going full speed ahead and to keep working the deal. Exactly one month later on the exact day of the month I closed on the house at the exact price the Lord had told me about before. The selling price was not my asking price and there were counter offers, but everything got done just the way the Lord told me it would. Not only that, but it went right down to the wire. The closer we got to what would be the closing date the more it appeared that the house would never sell. The pressure increased dramatically. Everything hinged on the sale. But I had complete and total peace in my heart regardless of the negative circumstances because I knew what God had said. I kept telling others that it would be okay, that the house would sell, and that it would all work out.
This was not blind faith. It was pure faith. After that prayer with three godly men the Lord told me what would happen and I was merely acting on what He said. I had to keep the faith, of course. And I had to maintain the course. And I did.
It was an extremely difficult time. Everything was hitting me at once. Suffering seemed to be far too light of a word.
This brings me to the point of this article. There are times we have to embrace suffering no matter how counter-intuitive it may appear to be. On a related front, psychologists talk of “going back into the wound” (as painful and apparently stupid that sounds), or healing can never take place. It’s like going through powerful white water rapids in a wimpy canoe with no surface guarantee of coming out alive on the other side.
It is like going into the belly of the beast.
The counter-intuitive nature of spiritual suffering most often causes us to reject it and stay clear of its embrace. But the Word of God clearly states:
For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many. [2 Corinthians 1:5-11] 
Sometimes the pain is so great it does indeed appear unbearable. Sometimes we reach a point, like the apostle Paul, in which we despair of life itself. Sometimes the suffering is such that we consider life no longer worth living. But just as the sun goes down and brings on many hours of darkness, the sun will rise again. The long dark night will be over. The Comforter will come.
The Lord rose again.
We will rise again.
© 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.