"An Inside Perspective"

March 2011


My Dear Family in Christ,

Ever precious greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Carlos and I are both guitar players. Perhaps we are a little rhythmically challenged, yet nonetheless, we delight to make a “joyful noise unto the Lord.” (Ps. 98:4-5)

Carlos is guitar one for the Spanish choir, as am I for the English choir. During the course of our service to the Lord we came to befriend a brother in Christ named Miguel. He was really more of Carlos’ friend than mine, but since he was always hanging around, I too developed a relationship with him. Miguel was a gang member and struggled with renouncing it publicly because of his concern for what people would think. Christians are often initially viewed as weak in prison. Later on, people learn through observation that we are really the strongest of all men. By the Holy Spirit, as did Jesus in the flesh, we walk with strength and power under control. Miguel was growing in grace, but was yet unsurrendered in some areas.

Carlos is also a quiet leader in the Spanish community. He is looked up to by most of the men therein including Miguel. Carlos is also fluently bi-lingual and teaches full time as his paid job in prison. I often lovingly joke with him saying, “I created you,” meaning, as he knows, that I have poured all that I am into him for almost fourteen years. I love him with all my heart and could not be more proud of him. We both know clearly, though, that He is the Lord’s product and none other.

I like to sit back and observe how Carlos interacts with the various men the Lord places in his life. I see him exercising the same disciplines of hard love that I myself used to teach him. The bee never flies far from his honey. ?

Carlos has dealt thus with Miguel on various occasions. Miguel would be up to his regular spiritual shenanigans, sin of some flavor, and Carlos would challenge him. It is written, “Turn ye again now everyone from his evil way...” (Jer. 25:5) Miguel’s pride would not allow him to turn by admitting and repenting of his sinful practices. Therefore, Carlos would then give him “the law” as he affectionately calls it, stopping all fellowship with Miguel until he repented. It used to drive Miguel crazy, and at times, it would go on for months.

Pride can be a massive stronghold in the hearts of men. Was it not the underpinnings of the first sin ever committed, and that was in Heaven! Pride often masquerades as humility but is easily exposed by the simple commands of the Lord. Pride will also quickly bow the head, but never the heart. It is written, “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Prov. 16:18)

Finally it was Miguel’s time to go home. He and Carlos spent much quality time together during his last months here. Miguel and his family were very excited about his release. His mother was especially ecstatic and even had a job lined up for him. Miguel was going home --- or so he thought. The day finally came and his mom was waiting outside. He left the prison, but much to everyone’s dismay, he was snatched up by immigration and carted away for deportation. Sadly, the air left the balloon. Miguel had thought he was going home but the Lord sent him elsewhere!

It is written, “Not everyone that saith unto Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven ... Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied ... and cast out devils ... and in Thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then will I profess unto them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you that work iniquity.’” (Mt. 7:21-22)

Mark well, beloved, that these people confessed to be Christians. They sincerely thought they were believers doing the works of the Lord! They imagined they were sharing the Word, casting out devils and doing wonderful works. They were sincerely wrong. Notice the Lord was not looking for works, He was looking for relationship from which said works should flow. What Jesus taught and clarified is that apart from relationship, all works are iniquity. We learn then that our works must be the outflow of a healthy heavenly relationship. They are by no means salvific. These people were totally self-deceived. They truly thought they were going one place, but all the while, the Lord was sending them elsewhere! Alarming, is it not?

Observe similarly the church of Laodicea in Revelation. We see the Lord rebuking their self-deception. They too saw themselves one way and the Lord another. They thought they were “rich, increased in goods and in need of nothing.” (Rev. 3:17a) That was their opinion of themselves. The Lord brought painful clarity when he sternly corrected them and said, “you do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Rev. 3:17b) The Lord’s Word always brings instant clarity. It is written, “Thy Word is truth...” (Jn. 17:17)

Beloved, do not miss this. We are challenged, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith...” (2 Cor. 13:5) Do you imagine you are going “home” to Heaven when you die? Do you think your works are all good? Examine yourself, beloved, lest when you think you are going home to Heaven you really get snatched up by the angels and . . .