Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Saturday, February 25, 2012

'Without Holiness, No One will see the Lord'

I am in the process of reading 'the Pursuit of Holiness' by Jerry far, so good. The need to strive for holy living is non-existent in the visible church, mainly because most are saved because they say they are and there is nothing else that needs to be considered. How horribly wrong is this mentality.
There was a reality cop show on and one of the folks on this show was a woman, arrested for being drunk and disorderly; guess what this woman said? 'I am a Christian'. Another man was dealing in fraudulent ways from a business he ran out of his home; again, guess what he claimed? 'I am a Christian'. Yes, Christians do sin, as the Bible clearly states. However, God deals with His own as needed, as Jerry Bridges states on page 29 of his book..."In fact, biblical evidence indicates that God may judge the sins of His saints more severely than those of the world. David was a man after God's own heart {Acts 13:22}, yet, after his sin with Uriah he was told 'now therefore the sword will never depart from your house' {2 Samuel 12:10}. Moses, for one act of unbelief, was excluded from the land of Canaan despite many years of faithful service. Jonah, for his disobedience, was cast into a horrible prison in the stomach of a giant fish for three days and nights, that he might learn not to run from the command of God".

So what is a good definition of holiness? Here is Paul Washer’s definition of holiness, ~ “Holiness is to be separated unto God, to be immersed in God, to be passionate about God, to be wild about God, to think about God, to be God besought, to be consumed by God.” How do we live a holy life? Again, I turn to Jerry Bridges from his book 'The Pursuit of Holiness', {page 15} "to live a holy life, then, is to live a life in conformity to the moral precepts of the Bible and in contrast to the sinful ways of the world. It is to live a life characterized by the putting off of your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, and putting on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness".

The desire for holy living seems to be sorely lacking in our day; it isn't preached on much in the pulpits because we certainly do not want to offend anyone. Every aspect of our lives should reflect holiness; our thoughts, our speech, our actions and emotions, how we spend our time and money, the desires of our hearts. Holiness is not something those who are dead in sin can comprehend, holiness is wrought by God. The born again child of God should not be engaged in wickedness, deceit, immoral behavior, or sin of any kind; holiness is the opposite of all that wickedness is. There should be a continual strive for holiness in our lives, until we leave this world.
Holiness is a distinguishing mark of God's own, 'but ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light' {1 Peter 2:9}. Peter calls God's people 'peculiar', meaning 'acquire, buy, purchased possession, acquisition': we are a purchased possession belonging to God. A price has been paid, and it was costly; we have been purchased by Christ's death, burial and resurrection to be holy people set apart by God; different from the rest of mankind, belonging to a God whose main attribute is holiness, from which all other attributes flow.

We do have a responsibility to strive for holiness as God continues to sanctify His own; we cannot expect God to mold and shape us without us disciplining ourselves towards holiness. From J. C. Ryle, "it is wise to proclaim in so bald, naked and unqualified way as many do, that the holiness of converted people is by faith only, and not at all by personal exertion? Is it according to the proportion of God's Word? I doubt it. That faith in Christ is the root of all holiness, no well instructed Christian will ever think of denying. But surely the Scriptures teach us that in following holiness the true Christian needs personal exertion and work as well as faith"- from J. C. Ryle's 'Holiness'
Sin is continually crouching at our door and desires to have us, however, with power from the Almighty One and the wisdom of His word, we will overcome through Christ, through whom we can do all things. The more we understand God's holiness and His purity, that He is set apart, high above His creation...the more we comprehend the holiness of God the more we will detest sin and be fearful of offending our Holy God.

It is interesting to note the three reasons Jerry Bridges gives why holiness is not sought after by today's professing Christians...
1. "our attitude toward sin is more self-centered than God-centered. We are more concerned about our own victory over sin than we are about the fact that our sin grieves the heart of God. God wants us to walk in obedience, not victory.
2. Our second problem is that we have misunderstood living by faith to mean that no effort at holiness is required on our part.
3. Our third problem is that we do not take sin seriously. It is compromise on the little issues that lead to greater downfalls. Are we willing to call sin 'sin' not because it is big or little, but because God's law forbids it? We cannot categorize sin if we are to live a life of holiness. God will not let us get away with that kind of attitude". {from -pages 16-19, chapter one, 'The Pursuit of Holiness'}

If our hearts have been regenerated by God, there should indeed be a desire for holiness; if you lack this desire, examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. Read 1st John and compare your life/heart/motives/emotions to what is taught there. Most of what passes as 'Christianity' in America today is anything but; preaching is weak, watered down and ineffective; God's word is used sparingly in favor of funny stories or motivational speeches. There is a famine of truth in the land, but take heart, God will not take His hand off His chosen ones. Strive for holiness and to bring Him glory...nothing else matters.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Is Whitney Houston in heaven?

*this post is not passing judgment on Whitney Houston, God is her judge. This post will examine her life and compare her life to Scripture*

Over 100,000 people die everyday, most without Christ.  More often than not, those left behind insist their departed loved one is now in heaven, regardless of how they lived their lives while on earth. A most recent example is the death of singing 'icon' Whitney Houston.  So many are insisting this woman is now in heaven, regardless of her bondage to drugs for years and her love of the limelight. In Ms. Houston's case, this assurance is solidified because she grew up in a church, sang in the choir, and often mentioned Jesus. Her funeral was filled with praises for her earthly accomplishments, her inspiration on other female singers that either are trying to make it big or have made it, and her acting accomplishments. There is no doubt this woman was gifted by God with a voice like no other, but, what did she do with the gift God gave her? Did she use it solely to glorify God? It would seem she did not.

When the world praises someone, it is because that person belonged to the world {John 15:19a}. Yet, we find the Apostle John warning us not to love the world, or the things of the world {1st John 2:15}. Christ Himself warns us in Luke 14:33 we must forsake all we have to be His disciple; that does not mean we give up everything we own, it means Christ must be first and we must be willing to leave all behind, if called to do so, for His sake. The Lord Jesus also warns the world will hate His followers {John 15:19}, the world would be glad to rid the earth of all who truly belong to Him; they certainly would not praise or admire a true slave of Christ. Those who God saves have been called out of the world, they no longer live to please the desires of the flesh; their lives are marked by living in a way that is contrary to those dead in sin. Seeking wealth, recognition and material possessions are not characteristic of a follower of Jesus Christ. It seems Whitney had a love/hate relationship with her fame and what it cost her; according to her mother - 'Mrs Houston also recalls how her daughter dreamed at turning her back on fame, and her larger-than-life career.'I later learned that Nippy seriously considered walking away from it all after Krissi was born. One time, she was looking out a window and she said, "You know, I never asked for this madness. I couldn't have imagined it."'
She told McNeil: 'All she wanted to be was a normal person'
. - from the daily mail  How sad.

Whitney Houston claimed to have a desire to sing, but if that is all she wanted, why didn't she walk away from the demands of the entertainment industry and the fans who idolized her? Why charge for people to see you perform if you simply wanted to share your gift with them? Only God knows her true motives.  My guess is the fame, notoriety, money, awards, perks and desire to be on top were too much to walk away from.To her credit, in a People article dated May 19, 1986, Whitney said this, ""I'm not wild about people looking at me as a role model," Whitney says. "What I do have is a talent I got from God. I'm me. That's all."

It is no secret this woman battled addiction, she died as a result of chronic cocaine use, which led to her  alleged accidental drowning. I have heard it said addiction is a disease. This is man's way of dealing with and labeling what the Bible calls 'sin'. Man says 'go to rehab', the Bible says 'repent'. Whitney went to rehab and came out still in bondage to drugs. All sin is a bondage, all who sin are enslaved to it {John 8:34}. This is why addicts cannot go through a man-made program and be set free; more often than not, they trade one addiction for another {some actually are freed by God, but they never give Him the credit}. How terribly sad is it that both Whitney and her mother attended church and yet, they both appeared to be clueless to sins' bondage. Apparently, they never heard a sermon on sin, its bondage, its destruction, or how to overcome sin...Jesus Christ.

When God regenerates a dead sinner, it is His power that frees them from sin's bondage. If Whitney were truly born again {John 3:3}, she would not have continued abusing drugs and alcohol, for the Lord Jesus Christ who lives within every believer would have empowered her over sin {John 8:36}.  Also, if she were a child of God, He would not have left her in her bondage for nearly 3 decades. God deals with His children when they sin, He does not let a born again believer stay in habitual sin.
Drunkenness is a sin, the Bible warns a drunkard will not enter into the kingdom of heaven {1st Corinthians 6:9-10}. What about drug addiction, whether legal or illegal?
"But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."- Revelation 21:8. I have hi-lighted sorcerers because that is where we find out what happens to addicts who willfully continue in their addiction. Sorcerer is from the Greek word pharmakeus {which is where we get our word 'pharmacy'} and means 'a drug, that is, spell giving potion; a druggist (“pharmacist”) or poisoner, that is, (by extension) a magician: - sorcerer'. Those God re-births do not continue in their sins, they do not abuse drugs and alcohol because Christ has set them free from this bondage. Their desire now is to serve Him and bring Him glory. Ms. Houston was still in bondage to her addiction, sadly her claim to love Jesus was not heartfelt, "if you love me you will keep my commandments" {John 14:15}.

What about the desire for fame, wealth, recognition and all that goes with that? What does the Bible say about this and what are we to be content with? "But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment" - 1Timothy 6:6. "if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content" - 1 Timothy 6:8 Living a godly life and being content with what God provides, food and covering, are all we need. What happens when our sinful hearts say that isn't enough and we desire glamor, glitter, the praise of men, the finest this life has to offer? "But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction." - 1 timothy 6:9 This verse sums it all up, when we desire the pleasures of this world, we plunge ourselves into ruin and destruction; isn't that the end result of fame and fortune and doesn't it lead to looking for a way of escape from the entertainment industry and the demands of the world through alcohol and drugs? It is a destructive and deadly pattern we have seen over and over again with devastating and lasting results. This is from Thomas Watson, "The bee may suck a little honey from the leaf, but put it in a barrel of honey and it dies. Christians must stave of the world so that it does not get into their heart (Psalm 62:10). Water is useful to the ship and helps it to sail better to the haven, but let the water get into the ship, if it is not pumped out, it drowns the ship. So riches are useful and convenient for our passage. We sail more comfortably with them through the troubles of this world; but if the water gets into the ship, if love of riches gets into the heart, then we are drowned by them (1 Timothy 6:9). - from 'the Puritan Pulpit'

God does not delight in the death of the wicked ""For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord GOD. "Therefore, repent and live." - Ezekiel 18:32 There must be a forsaking of sin if one claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ - ""The Lord knows those who are His," and, "Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness." - 2nd Timothy 2:19. If you carefully examine Whitney's life, you see a habitual pattern of sin and rebellion.

 I also think it is worth noting this quote from MSN's evolution of a diva concerning Whitney, "Though nearly everything that can be said about Houston's spectacular and prolonged fall from grace has been said, it's worth noting that for her entire career, Whitney Houston's public face was forever turned toward innocence, purity of purpose and gospel music, while a very different story roiled beneath the surface. Perhaps the power of the diva image is such that since her death people have clung more to Houston's myth than to her more complicated reality."

Those who habitually sin, committing the sames sins day in and day out prove they do not know Christ and that He has not regenerated them. They simply give lip service, "Then the Lord said, "Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me" - Isaiah 29:13. You can claim Jesus loves you, but if you are living in habitual sin, your claim is merely empty words. The love of sin is in your heart, there is no evidence of a renewing of the mind {Romans 12:2}.  From his book, 'The Gospel According to Jesus', John MacArthur states "the contemporary church has the idea that salvation is only the granting of eternal life, not necessarily the liberation of a sinner from the bondage of his iniquity. We tell people that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives, but that is only half the truth. God also hates sin and will punish unrepentant sinners with eternal torment. No gospel presentation is complete if it avoids or conceals those facts. Any message that fails to define and confront the severity of personal sin is a deficient gospel. And any 'salvation' that does not alter a lifestyle of sin and transform the heart of the sinner is not the salvation God's word speaks of." If you profess Christ and yet continue on in rebellious sin without repenting, you have not been regenerated by God, you are still in bondage to sin. This is why mere verbal professions are meaningless if not proven by a changed life, a life free from sin's bondage and striving now for holiness; not in order to be saved, for salvation rests in the finished work of Christ. In obedience the born again believer will forsake sin and strive for holiness for the glory of God.

What about the Bible verses Whitney Houston quoted or her insistence that she is a child of God? Even Satan quotes Scripture, that does not mean Satan is a follower of Christ, nor does it mean anyone who can quote Scripture is a follower of Jesus Christ. Examine the fruit of the life of someone who claims to be in Christ and, if you have the gift of discernment, you will be able to tell if what they claim is true. This does not mean you condemn them to hell, their sins will condemn them to hell, according to the Scriptures.
This video gives us insight into her 'spiritual journey', which is not biblical at all.

Getting back to the title of this post, is Whitney Houston in heaven? If you examine her life and compare it to God's word, it would appear she is not. We do not know what happened those final moments of her life, only God knows. We do know that she was under the influence of cocaine, so she was not in her right mind. It would seem she died as she lived, without Christ. Yes, it is possible He could have saved her before her life ended. In reality, her life was riddled with sin; addiction, materialism, idolatry, immoral behavior, the desire for riches and fame...none of which are characteristic of the new birth. Whitney Houston used her voice for her own selfish desires and ended up self-destructing as a result. This is a tragedy, it is also a lesson for those who have ears to hear. Her reward was all she accomplished in this life "Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things" - Luke 16:25: commentary from Barnes on this verse zeroes in on the word 'remember' -"This is a cutting word in this place. One of the chief torments of hell will be the “remembrance” of what was enjoyed and of what was done in this world. Nor will it be any mitigation of the suffering to spend an “eternity” where there will be nothing else to do, day or night, but to “remember” what “was” done, and what “might have been,” if the life had been right." Let me add the unending torment and agony the Christ rejecting sinner will endure because of unbelief and willful disobedience. Lazarus the beggar received evil things in this life and now is comforted forever, while the rich man is in torment, again, we turn to Barnes commentary on the phrase 'but now'..."But the comforts of the rich man are now gone forever, and the joys of Lazarus have just commenced. “One” is to be comforted, and “the other” to be tormented, to all eternity. How much better, therefore, is poverty, with the friendship of God, than riches, with all that the world can bestow! And how foolish to seek our chief pleasures only in this life!" Whitney Houston has already received her reward, and it was not lasting. It is gone, just like her life. Others will still feed off her 'fame' and many will desire to be like her, considering her life a success based on her achievements, awards, and talent. It seems when Whitney first got started, her mother had serious concerns about this very thing when she told this to People magazine, " Even now, Cissy frets about the psychic G forces exerted by sudden fame: "There's so much mess out there—drugs and all that kind of business," she says. "But Whitney is very levelheaded, and I hope and pray...." {People magazine May 19, 1986 edition, vol. 25, no. 20}

Few will actually consider her self-destruction and the reason for it; as in her eulogy, her sins will not be addressed, nor will the end result of the desires for fame and fortune be considered. How many more have to die before the entertainment industry 'gets it'? Sadly, they do not care because of their dead-in-sin state; they will find the next great talent and feed off that talent until it self-destructs...and the pattern goes on and on and on. Whitney's image on stage was a figment of Clive Davis' imagination, he made her into something that wasn't really real when she was on stage and contributed to her destruction by exposing her to the demands of the entertainment industry. He made tons of money off this woman and will continue to 'feed off' those who have a God-given talent to sing. This does not mean he forced Whitney to do drugs, her inability to cope with the demands and pressures of living in the limelight and having her every move exposed to all the world were too much for her to handle.

Such a beautiful voice thrown away for the fleeting pleasures of this life; how she could have brought God glory if only she'd used her voice to sing praises to Him and Him alone instead of desiring to be a diva in the world of pop culture entertainment. Whitney Houston loved the world; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, and the world chewed her up and spit her out. Now the world will latch on to a new 'idol', 'diva', 'icon'; she will be replaced and forgotten just as quickly as she rose to stardom- here  and here a re prime examples - . Her voice is now forever silenced, her time is through and her fate is sealed. My hope is that God did save her in those final moments.



I feel the need to add this to my post ---

There are reports that a tabloid mag has published photos of Whitney in her casket, which is the lowest of lows. Some of the comments concerning this are just as disturbing, comments like 'she looks so peaceful', she looks as beautiful in death as in life' etc.

Even in death, we deny the ugliness and finality of it. When my own mother died, she looked wonderful the day of her viewing. BUT, the night she died was a different story. I know this is a touchy subject and I mean no disrespect to my own mom, whom I love dearly and miss more than words can say.

When the soul leaves the body, the body becomes this hard mass of clay-like substance, cold to the touch. Funeral directors work wonders when they work on the deceased, maybe they do too good a job.

The body starts to decompose almost immediately, what takes place on that cold slab in the mortuary to get the deceased to look good is really hard to stomach, I will not go there.
What people need to understand is that the body is now lifeless, the person is not at rest just because they look good in a coffin; for those who are in Hades, it is quite the opposite picture. They are terrified, so much so that it would make the hair on the back of our necks stand on end if we could get a glimpse of the horrors they face...hardly resting in peace. There is no peace for the wicked, neither in this life nor in death. We need not glamorize death or gloss over its ugliness; let us speak of its horrors and warn others ' lest they also come into this place of torment' - Luke 16:28