Where Was Jesus?

Death of Lazarus

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. (John 11:21)

How many times have I looked to Jesus or to other Christians and essentially said the same thing, “If only you had done your part, this or that would not have happened to me in my life!”?

Martha’s heart-wrenching statement was not likely an indictment against Jesus for not being there, but a painful lament for the consequences she felt at that time for his absence at such a critical time. She knew Jesus was a busy man, and even though they had a close, personal relationship with him, she could not expect him to drop everything just for them. He was, after all, the Messiah, and had other important matters to attend to. Sometimes I feel that way too, especially when I was the one who caused the mess I’m in at that time.

A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”

But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for the next two days. Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”

But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”

Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.” 11 Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”

12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.

14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.” (John 11:1-14)

Where was Jesus when Lazarus was struggling and dying? Surely, this was a most important time for him to be there with his close friend.

Jesus was with his friend at that time, just not physically. Though still on earth, he was aware of Lazarus’ situation and thinking about him. He knew his condition. He knew he was going to die. He knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead. Man’s timing and God’s timing were just not the same.

God’s Timetable

Certainly, that is true in our lives today as well – we want God to move in our timetable, and oh yes, also do things the way we want while he’s at it. But God accomplishes his will in his timing, and we need to trust him and his goodness and allow him to be God.

Martha, however, did not know all we do as she watched her brother die with Jesus close enough to save him, but who did not get there in the time frame she had hoped. It’s easier for us to look back and see God’s plan and feel confidence, knowing the outcome. It’s quite another thing to be where Martha was, waiting on the Lord to answer her prayers, yet not seeing the results she desired.

Where Was My Help?

Right now, in my struggle against my sexual addiction and its impact on my spiritual life and our marriage, I not only beg for God’s forgiveness and his grace to change me in the present, but I look for reasons why and how I ever got that way. I also ask, “Where were you, Jesus?”, and “Where were you, my Christian brothers, when I needed someone to slap me across the face and bring me to my senses?”

Regardless of the answers to those two questions, the facts are that my sinful choices and pride and selfishness put me there and I have no one to blame but myself.

Where Were My Brothers?

As far as where my brothers were, perhaps many of them were struggling like I was with sin and pride and idolatry, and so, like me, were no-shows when someone was needed:

if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. (Galatians 6:1)

Or perhaps they didn’t know where I was spiritually. Or they didn’t know what to do, so they did nothing – a lame excuse I heard from the leadership team last year at my last church.

Many successful recovery programs rely on other brothers to be there for you when you need help. Many of these guys are or were in the same boat as you, so they’re not necessarily first team picks, yet they are often more willing to stand by you and help you through a recovery process than those who have clean finger nails and no record, especially within the church walls. They will do it because someone did it for them, and they know the nightmare of recovery and the need not only for God at a deeper level than just Sunday mornings, but also the need for brothers to walk beside you and help you.

A huge help I had was my wife, but I didn’t listen to her and blamed her and played mind games with her. Perhaps I would have done that with others as well.

I Knew Better

I was not lacking in spiritual knowledge, nor was I unaware of the sinfulness of my lifestyle. I just wanted to do what I wanted, and I was able to hide it from most folks and play mind games to keep my wife quiet. I even lied to myself over and over, minimizing my own sins to the point I felt I was doing well spiritually.

No, I cannot blame my brothers for not being there, nor anyone else for my choices, especially not my wife, who paid the most for my sins, other than Jesus. But I do wish another man would have helped me stop over the course of three decades, five states, a dozen cities, and countless churches, denominations, and men’s groups. You just didn’t talk about it. The past decade a few have stepped up, but we still find almost nobody wants to talk about this or get too involved. We are a dirty little secret in the church, but one way larger than most suspect.

Where Was Jesus?

The greater question, however, is, “Where was Jesus?” We might expect him to be more willing to save a godly friend like Lazarus from death, or even to raise him from the dead, but what about those of us who, like the prodigal, put ourselves where we are and deserve the consequences? Would he even give us another thought? Most of us would not.

Another thought? Jesus died for those sins I committed – every one of them he saw and he paid for and chose to die for me – the selfish, prideful, ungrateful slob who was warned not to go that direction by Jesus many times. He died for my sins, made a way for me to be right with God by his own suffering, gave me freedom to choose, warned me not to choose sin, sent his word, and his messengers, and my wife, and his Holy Spirit, and circumstances, and a thousand other ways he was there, even thinking about me while he was on the throne beside is father in heaven.

Where was Jesus? He was everywhere! Open your eyes, Rick! Open your eyes, brothers! We can’t comprehend the love he has for us.

Not only that, but the one who literally raised Lazarus from the dead can do in my life and yours beyond our comprehension to restore us to life and peace with God, including recovery from addictions. As Martha said in verse 22:

But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.” (John 11:22)

Jesus is Always There

Jesus can do in our lives what we cannot do, cannot even want to do apart from his Spirit. He will do it his way, in God’s timetable, and for our good. He is not surprised by anything, nor limited by any person nor circumstance. He can remove a king in an instant, and he can change a heart by faith that has been in the gutter for decades.

He never gives up. He never stops loving us. And, even if we do not see him or feel him at this moment, he is with us and for us and working his salvation in the lives of his children who put their faith in him, repent of their sins, and are figuratively raised from their old, dead life to a new life in him. That’s where he is.

Where are you? Where am I? Do we have eyes to see and ears to hear? If not, let’s ask him for them today!

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The Ungodly List

The Ungodly

The Godly

The ungodly safeguard themselves against the truth by telling lies, and by putting on the flesh to defeat the truth. The godly safeguard themselves against the lies by telling the truth, and by using the armor of God to defeat those lies.
The ungodly, who are falsely pious and prideful, are jealous of the godly and of their relationship with Jesus Christ, and of their love for him, their worship of him, and of their obedience to him as their ONLY Lord. The godly are jealous for those believers in Christ, who are living in wickedness, idolatry and immorality. They are jealous for them with a godly jealousy, and with a desire to see them walk in holiness and to worship Jesus Christ as their ONLY Lord.
The ungodly tolerate (appease, accept, allow for, and indulge) evil. The godly oppose, disallow and expose evil for what it is.
The ungodly test the godly with lies, deceptions, manipulations, tricks, schemes, the twisting of truth, and with their false testimonies (slander) in order to try to trip them up, or to get them to give up and back down. The godly test the behavior of the ungodly against the Word of God, the character of God, and the truth, in order to expose the lies and lead the ungodly to repentance and to faith (or renewed faith) in Jesus Christ.
The ungodly use judgment to condemn and to destroy others. The godly use judgment to reveal truth and to save souls.
The ungodly use “bad language,” i.e. wicked, corrupt and immoral speech in order to harm and to do damage to others. The godly use “bad language,” i.e. strong, tough and exacting speech, at times, to strongly enforce the magnitude and the severity of the evil in which the ungodly have indulged themselves.
The ungodly serve themselves and put forth a false image in order to win the approval of other humans. The godly serve the Lord Jesus, and reflect his image, in order to please the Lord, and for His praise, glory and honor.
The ungodly lie about (slander) the godly in order to make themselves look good and to make the godly look bad, in order to gain sympathy and support for themselves and to get others to reject and oppose the godly. The godly tell the truth about the ungodly in order to help them see themselves for who they are (to open blinded eyes) so that they can actually be good (righteous) through genuine faith (or renewed faith) in Jesus Christ, which involves repentance and obedience, and in order to help others to not fall into the same traps of the devil which the ungodly have fallen into.
The ungodly are cunning, deceitful, devious, and underhanded who trick, use and manipulate others, and who play mind games, to their own advantage. The godly are honest, transparent, straightforward and trustworthy, who help others to salvation, healing, and freedom, for their good.

The above chart was borrowed from my wife’s post A Pile of Manure.

I see so much of myself and my current addictive tactics spelled out in the “Ungodly” column, and the “Godly” column is equally a good picture of how my wife has tried to help me to try to break free from them and to walk with the Lord. How I thank God for her, and desire to move in reality, rather just in my mind, to the right column.

I have posted this and the “Pride List” to be reminders to myself and possibly others of where we end up when we start down the road to addiction. Not only is the addiction (sex, alcohol, drugs, etc.) much stronger than we ever imagined, but the baggage that goes along with it is WMD destructive to the lives around us, most especially to our spouse and children.

My Father

My father is so amazing! The longer I know him, the more I begin to see his love and his wisdom.

My father doesn’t just dote on us kids. Certainly, he does plenty of that, but the depth of his love for all of us, plus his wisdom that is far above any human wisdom, won’t allow him to spoil us, nor to abandon us. Instead, he Continue reading

Right Soiled

Over the years, I’ve spent many hours in gatherings where the Word of God was being taught. Sometimes, I was even the one attempting to teach it to others. I’ve heard and taught all kinds of other teachings and human wisdom in those meetings, but when changed to teaching God’s Word, God’s truths were going out to the hearers like seed being sown on a field, regardless of how receptive they were to it. Continue reading

Chap 11: Leap for Joy?

God is not surprised by our trials nor our sins. He is able to use lives fully submitted to him regardless of our pasts. Yes, it may not be what we expected, but God has allowed our lives to go where they have (he did not cause us to sin) and he can redeem what seems beyond hope! Please read this excellent blog called “Leap for Joy”!

Walking Wounded

I Married My Dad

Chapter Eleven

Leap for Joy?

January 20, 2018

Let’s have a show of hands. How many of us, when we go through tough trials, immediately count it all joy? How many of us delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and in difficulties? How many of us, when people hate us, when they exclude us and insult us and reject our names as evil, because of Jesus Christ, rejoice in that day and leap for joy?

And, yet, this is what we are told in scripture that we must do, and it is modeled for us, too, in the Bible (See: Jas. 1:2; 2 Co. 12:10; Lu. 6:22-24; Job 1:21).

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may…

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Chap 8: Resting in Him

This perspective of how my wife felt when I did not address my sexual addiction decisively is a good picture of what it’s like for the spouses of sex addicts – it is reblogged from her book, “I Married My Dad”.

Walking Wounded

I Married My Dad

Chapter Eight

Resting in Him

January 17, 2018

Have you ever fallen and skinned your knee? Did it get bloody and did it sting, too? What did you do about it? You probably washed it with soapy water, and rinsed it with clear water, and then patted it dry, and then stopped the bleeding by holding a cloth on it for a minute or two. And then you probably put some type of antibiotic ointment on it and then covered it with a bandage, and then you waited for it to heal.

But, while you were waiting for it to heal, you probably were really careful to not reinjure it, and you most likely gave it extra special care, as well. But, the healing still took time, and during that time you had to keep it clean and covered, too.

Now, let me ask you another…

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Put-Ons

Throughout the New Testament, followers of Christ are instructed to put off certain actions or attitudes and to put on others. Those actions or attitudes we are to put off are from our old sinful nature, from our flesh and its way of doing things. Those we are to put on are from our new spiritual nature, by the Holy Spirit within us, done by faith in, and obedience to God, and by his power, not ours. Continue reading

What’s New?

Background

I’ve been trusting Jesus Christ as both my savior and lord for a week now. Most of my life I thought I was a good Christian, but my lifestyle proclaimed a different story. I’ve written a good amount on my past life, which was steeped in sexual addiction and sinful habits, but some folks have been asking what is new in my life. This is what I’ve noticed so far. Continue reading