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Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path. (Psalm 119:105)

Do Not Ignore Dreams: God May Be Giving You A Warning (Part I)

Do Not Ignore Dreams: God May Be Giving You A Warning

Cynthia J. Jimenez-Ramos, D.Min.

 

“For God speaks time and again, but a person may not notice it. In a dream, a vision in the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber on their beds, He uncovers their ears at that time and terrifies them with warnings…” (Job 33:14-16)

 

The subject of dreams stirs up controversy in many Christian denominations. Does God speak through dreams? Does God still speak through dreams? Is having dreams from God covered under the doctrine of Cessationism? These questions will be answered differently by different people. Those who adhere to Cessationism will say that supernatural guidance ceased with the completion of the Canon of Scripture. Those who adhere to the doctrine of Continuationism will assert that the same Holy Spirit that spoke to the prophets and the apostles is still working in our midst, talking to us, and guiding us in supernatural ways.

 

Something that some Continuationists get wrong is that they think that each and every dream is something that came from God. And this is not true. Our minds can play all kind of tricks to us, especially our subconscious mind during our sleep. I have seen many claiming that God spoke to them through dreams to later find out that God never spoke. Then, how do we know when a dream is from God? The answer to that question is in the Bible and the first thing we must acknowledge is that a dream from God is a message from God, it is a direct form of communication that God employs to give us a message. The verse from Job above equates a dream with God speaking. This will give us the guidelines to evaluate whether a message is from God or not. Let us examine the Bible:

 

1. God’s dreams come to pass. Deuteronomy 18: 21-22 says:

“You may say to yourself, ‘How can we recognize a message the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the Lord’s name, and the message does not come true or is not fulfilled, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously.”

 

The measure to know whether God spoke or not is simple: completion. When a message comes from God it will come true, it will be fulfilled. I have an example of this in my life. A few years ago I was in the process of getting to know someone. This person presented to me as a very devout, godly, God-fearing Christian. A few weeks after meeting this person and seeing this person cry and lift up hands in worship and prayer at Church I had a rather disturbing dream.

 

It was a simple dream: I was seeing the person standing at a considerable distance by himself. At first it was nothing special, but suddenly I start seeing big, black rats coming out of his clothes, from under his pants and shirt…it was like he had all those rats hiding underneath his clothes. Not to say I woke up totally disgusted and wondering why I had such a strange dream. I did not think it was from God…actually, I even thought it was a trick from the devil! How could I have such a dream when this person was such an amazing Christian?

 

God knows best, and he can see what we can’t with our natural eyes. After some time I discovered that this person had a terrible double life, a life that was very far from the God this person claimed to serve and love with his whole heart. That dream came to pass. I eventually got to know what was inside, what was hidden, and there is no better symbol than rats to illustrate all the things I discovered. And this, leads me to the second way to know whether a dream comes from God or not.

 

2. God’s dreams tend to be extremely symbolic. Joseph’s story is the best example for this.

 

Then Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the field. Suddenly my sheaf stood up, and your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” “Are you really going to reign over us?” his brothers asked him. “Are you really going to rule us?” So they hated him even more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream and told it to his brothers. “Look,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun, moon, and 11 stars were bowing down to me.” He told his father and brothers, but his father rebuked him. “What kind of dream is this that you have had?” he said. “Are your mother and brothers and I going to come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.

 

God’s dreams usually require interpretation. In Joseph’s dreams, God used sheaves of grain and celestial bodies to exemplify what was going to happen. Understanding these dreams require open hearts and minds that are connected with God. This is why, later on we see God giving Pharaoh symbolic dreams and the only one who could understand those dreams was Joseph (see Genesis 40).

 

In my dream, I saw black rats coming out a friend’s clothes. A quick search over the internet will tell us that rats are known for spreading disease, are famous for destroying everything they find, like to surround themselves with their own feces, surround themselves with dirt, eat whatever they can find no matter how rotten it is, and are extremely secretive. Associating a person with all of these things could not be more symbolic.

 

Not only these  facts about the animal are symbolic, searching the term “rat” on a dictionary gives a lot of valuable information as well. According to The Free Dictionary, a rat is: a despicable person, one who betrays those around him, a person who deserts his friends in times of trouble, a deceiver, a treacherous person, a person who breaks promises, an untrustworthy person. God was indeed warning me through the symbol of the rat what was really behind the facade. And this leads me to the next point.

 

3. God’s dreams tend to be about warnings. Job 33:14-16 says:

“For God speaks time and again, but a person may not notice it. In a dream, a vision in the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they slumber on their beds, He uncovers their ears at that time and terrifies them with warnings…”

 

God’s dreams are not always pleasant. As the loving Father He is, God will tell His children when they are approaching impeding danger. For example, God sent an angel to warn Joseph about Herod’s intention of killing Jesus. Matthew 2:13 says:

 

“After they were gone, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him.”

 

Prophet Daniel and his dream of the four beasts recorded in Daniel 7 is another clear example of how God warns his people about what is to come…and these warnings are not pleasant. Daniel 7:15 records the prophet’s reaction to God’s dream, he said:

 

“As for me, Daniel, my spirit was deeply distressed within me, and the visions in my mind terrified me.”

 

This is how I felt when I had the dream I am talking about in this article. I was deeply distressed and disgusted by the vision of dozens of rats jumping out of my friend’s clothes. But because I bought the lie that God’s dreams are always pleasant and make you feel good, I ignored it. And I deeply regret ignoring such an important and evident message I was receiving from above. Measuring the message by how good it makes you feel is a dangerous trap that Satan has set for us in these last days. Let us be aware, God warns, and sometimes these warnings are terrifying.

 

To be continued…

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Proverbs 22:3, a Lake Full of Crocodiles and Neuroscience

By: Cynthia Jimenez, D.Min.

It was a beautiful afternoon at Lake Louisa State Park. I was enjoying a beautiful day with a God sent woman who happens to also be a Theology professor and her family. Ever since God used her to give me an astonishing accurate word from the Lord – without having seen me once in her life –  she embraced me as if I was her daughter. We decided to go out with our families because the day was beautiful and we just wanted to enjoy the outdoors. We went to Lake Louisa. And then something very bad happened.

We were at the lake dock, admiring nature, and her husband saw a huge crocodile swimming right beneath us. We were safe though, but I got scared. I, then, noticed that there was a big sign that said that there were crocodiles 10-15 feet long in this lake. A warning sign read: BEWARE OF CROCODILES-NO SWIMMING. There were at least 10 other people fishing and hanging out at the dock; they were all aware of the fact that big gators were present.

However, in an act of foolishness a dad had the brilliant idea of canoeing at the lake. Not only he wanted to go canoeing, he pushed his two teenage daughters to go with him, even though they did not want to because of obvious reasons – there were humongous crocodiles in there! But for some reason that I do not fully understand –  that could go from utter stupidity to the need of an adrenaline rush sociopaths seek to feel alive – the dad insisted, and made her daughters join him in a supposedly fun adventure.

Those of us who know the ocean, tend to recognize when the conditions are favorable to go into the water. Leaving aside the fact that this body of water was infested with crocodiles (which to a prudent person would be enough to rule out its appeal to go into it), it was very windy; and strong winds and a small canoe in a crocodile infested lake is definitely not a good combination. Let’s add to that that there was no supervision at all, no park rangers, nothing…my friends and I were amazed to see how this dad made his daughters go canoeing. Their faces showed one thing: terror. We overheard the conversation and the dad was telling his daughters “Nothing will happen, we will just go, and spend a few minutes in the water and we will come back safely, you will have fun!”

Something I’ve learned about this culture is that we worship fun and adventures. People will go for anything as long as they feel they are doing something adventurous and fun. People will classify everything as being “fun” or “not fun”. I’ve seen that Americans really crave being entertained and really crave going on adventures that will make them look “cool” no matter how foolish these things are. This dad was having the time of his life while his daughters were terrified, and rightly so. The wind was so strong that it was bringing the canoe back to the shore. It was like God Himself was preventing them from going into the waters. We commented: “He’s not getting that he should not do this.” He insisted until they could paddle and go about 100 feet from the shore.

I went to check on a little guy who was on his bike and fell to the ground, and no one saw. While I was checking on the little man I heard screams, everybody was screaming desperately. I headed back to the dock and saw the mother of the two girls with her hands on her head crying; when I looked into the water I saw the canoe…just the canoe…upside down. The wind had turned the canoe upside down and all fell into the water…at this moment we learned that the girls did not know how to swim; just the dad knew how to. But the situation was getting really tense when after a few seconds none would get out of the water. We were afraid some crocodile had found them and dragged them to the bottom of the lake. I must admit, these were the longest 15 seconds of my entire life. All of a sudden we hear the girls crying, and screaming saying “oh my God we’re going to die!!!”

They were far from the shore, they were right in the middle of the lake and no one would go swimming to where they were. Also, no one was going to be fool enough to swim in a lake full of crocodiles. My friend and I did what we could do best: PRAY. I did not want to see them getting eaten by crocodiles so I walked away from the dock and prayed God would make the gators go away from them. I prayed, and prayed like I’ve never have before asking God to tame the crocodiles like He did when Daniel was at the lion’s den. My friend prayed asking God to make the wind blow so they would be brought to the shore safely. Others called 911 – which never arrived to the site.

The screams and the cry of the girls were piercing my heart, and a Bible verse came to my heart: “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3) Thankfully, God answered our prayers and the wind blew so strong and in such a perfect direction that the three arrived safely to the shore after around 10 to 15 horrible minutes. However, I felt God was teaching us a lesson. If we know there is danger in something, why would we go for it and do it? In this Proverb God is instructing us first to be alert or see the danger for what it is. And second, this proverb instructs us to hide or flee the dangerous situation. Third, it lets us know that we will suffer consequences for engaging in dangerous situations.

Just like the dad in this story, the tempter will put pressure on us to expose ourselves to things that we should not, many times promising fun and excitement. And the consequences might not be as immediate and tangible as in this Lake Louisa story, but they will come. Actually, from a neurological point of view, every time we engage in a dangerous situation we are wiring our brains to be adrenaline stimulated or wired for risk, which is something that brings a whole plethora of problematic and antisocial behaviors. The more we see danger and don’t hide ourselves from it just like the Bible tells us to do, the more we contribute to the decline of our prefrontal cortex volume, which is the region of the brain associated with inhibiting risky behavior. Simply put, the more you practice risky behavior, the more your “civilized” brain will become dysfunctional.

This puts us in a perilous predicament because we, as Christians, are commanded to be “sober and vigilant” (1 Peter 5:8). The Greek word for sober is “nafo” which in its original use means “Heedful of circumstances and potential consequences”. The Greek word for vigilant is “gregoreo” which means “to be awake, to take heed in order to avoid a sudden calamity”. It is clear that God wants us to live our lives thinking about the possible consequences of our actions. But if we ignore and disobey God’s command to avoid risks and to avoid putting ourselves in dangerous situations, we are setting ourselves up for failure. By doing this, we are training our brains to disobey. And we know that all disobedience is sin “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” (James 4:17)

Neuroscience confirms the Bible. It confirms that they are “simple” the ones who see danger and go on with it. A study from Harvard University found out that participants who were more inclined to act impulsively or to seek thrills had a thinner cortex which means that they have less gray matter around the brain regions involved in decision making and self-control. Researchers have said that this also means that these individuals are more inclined to addictive behaviors (alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, etc.).

Gray matter, matters…especially when in front of a sign that reads: BEWARE OF CROCODILES…or… BEWARE OF FORNICATION: MIGHT CAUSE STDS (1 Corinthians 6:18), or BEWARE OF THE SEDUCTRESS: DO NOT GO NEAR HER (Proverbs 5:8), FLEE YOUTHFUL LUSTS (2 Timothy 2:22), or BEWARE OF AMBITION (Luke 22:26), BEWARE OF TRUSTING MEN (Psalm 146:3), BEWARE OF YOURSELF (Proverbs 14:12), BEWARE OF FALSE DOCTRINE (Ephesians 5:1-6), BEWARE OF ANYTHING THAT MIGHT TAKE GOD’S PLACE IN YOUR HEART (1 John 5:21), BEWARE OF LOVING THE WORLD AND THE THINGS IN THE WORLD (1 John 2:15-16), BEWARE OF EVIL COMPANY (1 Corinthians 15:33), BEWARE OF WANTING THE APPROVAL OF MEN (Galatians 1:10)…

Note: For a full list of Warning Signs, read the Bible…

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2730661/

http://www.livescience.com/54310-are-you-impulsive-maybe-your-brain-is-to-blame.html

My Encounter With A Palm Reader

By: Cynthia Jimenez, D.Min.

“Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:31)

It was December 2014, a few days before my “big day”. I was buying decorations for the wedding at Dollar Tree. It was a dark day, not just because it was cloudy, but because of all the drama surrounding that life changing event. My mom was with me; we were heading to the cashier. And out of nowhere a woman that I could identify as a Palo Mayombe priestess started staring at me. Because I am from the Caribbean, I know what these people really do and who their real master is. Palo Mayombe is an occult religion based on satanic rituals, animal (some say even human) sacrifices, channeling spirits, etc.

She would not take her eyes off me and I was getting uncomfortable already. I tried to ignore her as I waited in line. Suddenly she said: “Excuse me ma’am, I have something important to tell you.” I did not reply, I just looked at her. “I see a lot of negative energy surrounding you and it comes from people, a small group of women who really wish you will. They want to see you fail and they are confabulating against you. There is so much envy, evil against you. I’ve rarely seen someone as hated as you are.” With a cold unimpressed tone, I replied: “You are not telling me anything God Almighty did not reveal already.” She was uncomfortable with my reply as with it I let her know I was not impressed by her ability to see what was going on with me in the spiritual realm. And she said: “But I can help you with this, give me your hand and I will read it for you.”

At that moment, I remembered God’s Word: “Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:31) I also remembered that weeks prior to this event I had been reading a book written by an ex-Satanist turned evangelist, John Ramirez. In his book, Out of the Devil’s Cauldron, he explained that witches, warlocks, and all those who practice witchcraft are constantly looking for people who are facing difficult times, who are under heavy spiritual attacks, or people who are off guard; they offer their “help” which is their way of opening the door for satanic influence over that person’s life. For example, someone goes to a Tarot reader to know what will happen in the future. The Tarot reader will tell that person whatever he wants, then, because the person disobeyed God and stepped in into diabolic territory, evil spirits have been given a right to oppress that person and even to make those things foretold by the reader happen. Then, the person will go back for help and, suddenly, little by little, that person yoked him/herself to Satan.

So, all this came to my mind in a matter of seconds, and the woman insisted: “Give me your hand.” While trying to grab it against my will. I asked her not to touch me and told her that instead of consulting my hand, I consult the One who created it. And she left. My brief encounter with the palm reader left me with so many lessons…lessons that I didn’t put too much thought into until now. The first lesson is that Satan is indeed the “god of this age” as 2 Corinthians 4:4 states. In Ephesians 2:2 Satan is called the “prince of the power of the air”, In John 12:31 he is said to be the “ruler of this world”. But, what do all these things mean? This means that, though limited, Satan has power, knowledge, and authority to carry out acts to defeat those who put their trust in God. That is why Ephesians 6:12 says: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” From this verse we get that Satan’s work is to fight the church. That’s what being the “ruler of this world”, the “prince of the power of the air”, and “god of this age” means.

The second lesson I learned from this episode in my life is that Satan uses whoever is willing and available to him in order to harm and make God’s children stumble. How does one make him/herself available to Satan to carry out his will? Ephesians 2:2 has the answer: “You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.” Satan governs those who live in sin and in disobedience to God. There are no gray areas here. The Bible is plain and simple about this subject. Jesus said: “Anyone who isn’t with me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” (Matthew 12:30). Easy peasy, people are either for Jesus or against Jesus; which at the same time means, they are with Satan or against Satan. There is no neutrality here. No one is spiritually neutral. The Bible does not provide for this. So, in this scenario it was easy for me to identify this woman as evil. She was a witch, which is strictly forbidden in the Bible. However, sometimes, people’s spiritual condition is not as easily identifiable, or so we think. In truth, it is not that difficult to discern the “good” from the “holy”. 1 Samuel 15:23 says: “Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So, because you have rejected the command of the Lord, he has rejected you…”Someone who rejects the commands of the Lord, someone who picks and choose what to follow and what no to follow, or someone who is bitter against God’s ways, is fertile soil for Satan, and it can be expected that he will use that person whenever he wants. 1 Samuel 15:23 equals such a person to a witch.

1 John 3:8 says: “when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning.”, 1 John 3:10 adds: “So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.” Another rule of thumb that these verses provide to know whether a person is godly or not is their relationship and feelings towards other believers, especially those who adhere strictly to God’s Word. One thing I’ve noticed is that true believers tend to recognize and love each other immediately. I’ve had the blessing to experience this type of Agape love recently, and I must say that it is the best kind of love anyone could ever experience. However, I also know about others who plainly despise and abhor biblical Christians. This is a big red flag no one should ignore.

This leads me to my next lesson learned, which, probably is the most difficult to grasp. The devil is the father of lies (John 10:10) and as such, he is the master of deception. 2 Corinthians 11:14-15 say: “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” The palm reader at Dollar Tree seemed to be concerned and preoccupied with the traps my enemies were setting up for me. She presented herself as an agent of justice; someone who would make the wrong planned against me right. And someone naïve enough and not educated in the Word of God could have seen this as a sign that this woman was not evil, that she was good. One could go further and say: “well, if those people who want to harm me are on the side of darkness and this lady is exposing it, then she must be in the light, because she’s bringing it to the light. After all, a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand!”. Well, this is where it gets tricky and dangerous. And this is where deception kicks in.

Satan can and has the power to create an illusion. After all, that’s all he has been doing ever since the Garden of Eden. He might create the scenario in which one thinks that the witch is helping against the forces of evil, when in fact, the witch is just recruiting the person into the demonic realm. But in the end, everybody is under the influence of the same master. The only difference is the team. This is clearly seen in the world of witchcraft and more specifically in the White vs Dark Magic discussion. It’s not uncommon to see advertisements of “paleros” in the Caribbean that read: “We practice white magic” or “we don’t do evil”. According to them, their goal is to “break spells”, “bring love”, “heal”, “increase clarity”, etc. Sounds good? Yes, it does. However, it is not. When a person goes to these people, he/she is binding him/herself to the forces of evil. And though it seems contradictory, Satan might appear to attack himself through some people in order to hook them up and bring them to his side.

The problem is that when people insist on rebelling against God, when people insist on rejecting God’s counsel and enjoying their sin, God Himself will make them believe all sort of lies as a punishment. In the end, this deceptive spirit operating among us, is the spirit of the Antichrist. 2 Thessalonians 2 says:

This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. 10 He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. 11 So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. 12 Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.

In my vulnerable moment, when this woman came to me offering me a solution for the attacks I was facing, I could have said: “You know what, let’s do this. Tell me what to do because God is kind of slow administering justice here. Take my hand and do your thing and let’s give these people a taste of their own medicine. Let’s revert this thing. I want to have the upper hand; it’s the fair thing to do.” But, that would have been disobedience to God and that would have meant that I was rebelliously taking God out of the equation, and blocking His justice, which is perfect. And that was the last lesson I learned from my encounter with the palm reader: Satan will always offer a counterfeit solution for every legitimate need we have; it is our duty to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

Beware of the Charming Womanizer

By: Cynthia Jimenez, D.Min.

I went to the wedding of a woman who was deeply in love with the man her husband made her believe she was marrying. When she married her prince charming she believed that she was marrying a great man of God, a man of integrity. The guy in question came to her and her family saying that after eight months of prayer and fasting, God had told him that this lady was his wife, the one God had chosen for him. According to this guy, he had  always been a great Christian, a worship leader at the chapel, went to Africa on a mission’s trip. In a conversation, this guy told his soon to be wife that for him, sex was such a sinful activity that it was even difficult for him to think about being sexual with her. Because of this, she was totally thrilled about him. Sadly, she believed every single word this guy said and married him.

In their wedding, during the toast, the groom’s best friend started talking about his friend’s womanizing activities. He was described as a “real womanizer”. The bride was shocked, and her face revealed terrible fear. I viewed a video of the wedding and I noticed that the groom was saying “no, that’s not true” to his bride while shaking his head, trying to reassure her that he was not the man this guy was talking about. Right after the infamous toast, the Best Man came to the stage for a second “toast” and said that all those things “may or may not be true” to save his friend’s face in front of his new wife and her family. But the damage was already done: the bride was in panic mode, her family felt deceived and betrayed by the groom…but the show had to go on and the party continued as if nothing happened while my friend disappeared to cry unconsolably hidden in the bathroom.

A few months into the marriage the wife discovered that her husband not only was a womanizer, he also engaged in high risk sexual behaviors. She found emails in which he was soliciting sex from prostitutes who advertised their “services” on a classified advertisements website. He would go as far as to send selfies showing off his erection to these women while telling them that he would do to them in bed whatever they wanted. She also found emails in which he requested services of nude house cleaners…it was total perversion and depravity. She also found a few journals in which her husband described in detail his sexual encounters with friends, strangers, girlfriends, etc. for the past 8 years. This way, she found out that during the 8 months he said he spent praying and fasting for an opportunity with her, he was actually sleeping around with strangers and women he barely knew. In those 8 months of “prayer and fasting” she found out he had more than 4 sexual partners, a few of them women he met the same night and never saw again.

Very conveniently, when the woman confronted her husband with all these things, he tried to brush the issue off…she was made to believe that these activities were not a big deal, that it’s what men (even Christian men) do; the husband went as far as to blame the wife for “not asking whether he was involved in these practices or not”…my friend was so naïve and so trusting that she believed that the husband was what he represented himself to be: a strong God fearing Christian of integrity to whom God had spoken about their marriage. She took him as face value…big mistake. Her husband’s deviant sexual activities traumatized her. She could not accept that the great man of God he made her believe she was marrying was a man who would risk his health and freedom (some of the things he did are crimes) just to get a few minutes of pleasure. As she started educating herself about the practices  she discovered her husband was involved in, she learned that these are not normal, definitely not healthy, and are a strong indicators of something deeper and much more disturbing.

  1. Involvement in activities such as: sexting, one night stands, sex with strangers, solicitation of sexual favors through social media platforms, prostitution, etc. are signs of Psychopathic Personality Disorder. According to Dr. Robert Hare, Emeritus Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia “A variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time…” are activities that Psychopaths get involved in.
  2. Uncontrollable urges to satisfy oneself sexually is a common manic symptom of people with bipolar disorder. Not only that, according to Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist, this is a sign of what he calls “impulsivity”, a symptom of Psychopathic Personality Disorder that he describes as “…lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences…”. One of the most serious consequences of careless sex is STDs. So, as one Psychiatrist said: “A person who is in his/her right mind will think about STDs and will keep the possibility of getting one as low as possible, a sick person – a sociopath/psychopath, however, will go for instant gratification without thinking and/or caring about the possible consequences.”
  3. According to Clinical Psychologist Scott Wetzler, “womanizing” is a sign of passive aggression. No matter how harmless Hollywood and our American culture say womanizing is, this is neither Biblically nor scientifically true. According to Wetzler, sex triggers fears of intimacy and dependency on passive aggressive men. He says: “…the womanizing passive aggressive man is obsessed with newness, not love. For him, each conquest holds out renewed hope for building up his sense of self – the affirmation that he’s a man that women desire…the promiscuous passive-aggressive is mindlessly so. The womanizer is interested only in arousal – his relationships are primarily physical and demeaning to his partner. Any woman who says yes to him is devalued; she is there for the sport and nothing else. Commitment is not a word that comes easily to his mind…if he’s able to go beyond sex and actually make an effort to have a relationship, it will be a struggle for him to stay involved.”
  4. According to criminal psychologist Robert Hare, “A lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.” is a sign of Psychopathy.
  5. According to behavioral science, there is an inextricable interrelation between a person’s beliefs and their behavior. A man who uses women to get sexual pleasure to then discard them (behavior) is a man who views women as objects (belief). If the man in this story had really believed that women are equal human beings created in the image of God, worthy of respect and honor, he would never have engaged in gross promiscuity, using and discarding women at will.
  6. Rationalization and minimization of sexually deviant behaviors are two of the most unquestionable characteristics of sexual predators/sex offenders.

Christian ladies and Christian guys, watch out for these signs in a person before you commit to date them. There are too many wolves in sheep’s clothing out there. Jesus said: “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.” (Matthew 7:21) “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality.” (1 Thessalonians 4:3) You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-17)

 

A Letter To My Future Daughter In Law (Part II)

  • I will talk to my son about Joseph’s victory over sexual sin and I will instruct him to run away, to remove himself, from any situation that could possibly lead to sexual sin: “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
  • I will teach my son to keep immoral women as far from him as possible: “For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; But in the end she is bitter as wormwood, Sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of hell. Therefore, hear me now, my children, and do not depart from the words of my mouth. Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house.” (Proverbs 5:3-8)
  • I will make sure my son understands that being the provider/breadwinner of the household is God’s given role for him: “…the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made.” (Genesis 3:18-19)
  • I will teach my son that it is a terrible sin not to provide for your needs: “…if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” (1 Timothy 5:8)
  • It will be one of my most important tasks to teach my son that the only way to see God is by confessing Jesus as Lord and walking in obedience to God: “Jesus said: Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
  • My son will learn that, for a true Christian, holiness is not a suggestion it is a commandment: “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) “as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
  • Grace is not license to sin, he will hear that a lot: “…ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4)
  • I will teach my son that he must love others, and especially you – his wife, as Christ loved us: “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” (John 13:34)
  • I will teach your future husband that he’s commanded to love you the exact same way Jesus loved the Church, that is, by giving up his life for the well being of the Church: “For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)
  • I will make sure that he understands that if he loves you, he will be willing to sacrifice for you, otherwise, it is not Biblical love: “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (1 John 3:16)
  • I will teach him that his God-given authority and leadership in the home means that God has called him to be a servant, not a dictator: “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave.” (Matthew 20:25-27)
  • My son will learn that there is no such thing as a hidden sin, that everything he does will be exposed and judged: “God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14) “For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.” (Luke 8:17)
  • I will teach him that there are no “small sins” in the eyes of God: “a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.” (Ecclesiastes 10:1) “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” (James 4:17)
  • I will make sure he understands that greediness is idolatry and that idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of God: “Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.” (Colossians 3:5) “Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
  • I will teach him to value and honor the role God gave women as homemakers: “older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God.” (Titus 2:4-5)
  • My son will know that it is his responsibility to protect the unity of your marriage, and that he must turn away from people who cause division in your home: “If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. For people like that have turned away from the truth… ” (Titus 3:10)
  • My son will understand that where there is love, there is correction: “the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:11-12) “God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Hebrews 12:10-11)
  • I will teach my son that singleness is not a period to date as many women as he can, but a period to secure undistracted devotion to Jesus: I want you to be free from the concerns of this life. An unmarried man can spend his time doing the Lord’s work and thinking how to please him.” (1 Corinthians 7:32)
  • I will let my son know that it is ok to cry: “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35)
  • I will teach my son that real love is demonstrated with actions, not just with words: “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:18)

To be continued…

A Letter To My Future Daughter In Law (Part I)

By: Cynthia Jimenez, D.Min.

Dear Future Daughter in Law,

I am writing to let you know what I plan to teach my son, your future husband. I give you my word that I will do my best to raise a God honoring man; this is how I intend to do it:

  • First, I will make sure that he sees that mom and dad love each other deeply and put marriage above everybody and everything else. This is in accordance with God’s design for marriage which is based in perfect unity and oneness: “…a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” (Mark 10:8)
  • I promise to teach him that a true man of God is he whose words and actions match: “Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No”. (2 Corinthians 1:18-19)
  • It will be one of my biggest tasks to teach him that marriage is so important that God created it so we could reflect on earth the relationship between Christ and the Church: “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.” (Ephesians 5:31-32)
  • I will make sure he understands that women are, by God’s design, delicate and fragile; therefore, he must handle each and every woman he has contact with with care and respect, whether she wants this or not: “Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters.” (1 Timothy 5:2)
  • I will let him know from a young age that our bodies belong to God and that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, therefore, it is our Christian duty to keep our bodies undefiled by sin: “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
  • I will make sure he understands that he was created to glorify God, not himself: “…everyone who is called by My Name, whom I created for My glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:7) “…all things have been created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16)
  • He will learn that everything he does, must be done in such a way that will bring glory to God: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  • I will teach him that everything he has and will have comes from God: “What do you have that God hasn’t given you?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)
  • I will make sure he understands that a woman’s worth is not in her appearance but in her devotion to God: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)
  • I will teach him that the saying “follow your heart” is dangerous and worthy of being despised and ignored. He will learn not to follow his heart but God’s will: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
  • I will teach him that sexual purity begins in the heart and in the eyes; therefore, from a young age, I will teach him to avert his eyes when faced with sensuality: “I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28) “I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?” (Job 31:1)
  • One of the most important lessons I will teach him is that, contrary to popular belief, lust is not harmless and it leads to hell: “If my heart has been seduced by a woman, or if I have lusted for my neighbor’s wife, then let my wife serve another man; let other men sleep with her. For lust is a shameful sin, a crime that should be punished. It is a fire that burns all the way to hell.” (Job 31:9-12) “…if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:29)
  • One of the most important lessons I will give my son, your future husband, is that he must seek the approval of God, not of men: “I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10)
  • I will teach my son to refuse to be influenced by those who do not seek God: “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.” (Psalm 1:1)
  • I will encourage my son to have close friendships with other believers and people whose hearts are pure: “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) “Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

To be continued…

What a Pharisee Really Is

By: Cynthia Jimenez, D.Min.

Modern Christianity is all about “grace”. In American Christianity it is not “cool” to preach holiness, righteousness, and God’s judgement on those who disobey. Because of this, Pastor Leonard Ravenhill said: “If you want to be popular, preach happiness. If you want to be unpopular, preach holiness.” It seems that most – not all of course – preachers are more concerned with having the favor and acceptance of people than with having the approval of God.

We want to be so empathetic with sinners that we go as far as to classify as Pharisees those who honestly strive to obey God and follow his commands. Those who feel conviction of sin and act according to that conviction usually call others to do the same: this calling to holiness is defined by Modern Christianity as “judgement”. Those who do it are called “judgmental”.

So, the premise of this blog entry is that, according to cultural Christianity, those who try to walk as Jesus walked (1 John 2:6), and those who do not continue living a sinful life (1 John 3:6) are viewed by mainstream Christians as Pharisees, which is extremely disturbing for a number of reasons.

First, in our attempt to get sinners’ sympathy we are downplaying the power and the consequences of sin. And, as Pastor Tim Dilena said in one of his sermons, when we downplay sin, we downplay the cross. We are reaching a point in which Jesus’ sacrifice has become just the fulfillment of a prophecy, nothing more.

However, the cruelty and the severity of Jesus’ sacrifice shows us how terrible sin is. If sin is as harmless as most modern Christians say, then why would God send Jesus to die a terrible death on a cross to save us from its power? Christians are undermining the very foundation of Christianity with their loose view of sin.

Second, talking about people having a loose view of sin, I must refer to the real Pharisees. Pharisees were religious people…who indulged in sin in secret while confessing belief in God and worshipping in public. To those who preach the Jesus-was-not-judgemental message, Matthew 23 will be a big surprise. In verse 5 Jesus says that “everything they (the Pharisees) do is for show”.

That’s one of the most important things we must bear in mind about Pharisees: they craved people’s approval and admiration, to them that was enough; they did not have to be righteous, they just had to seem righteous. In this same line of thought, let’s examine verse 15 where Jesus says: “…you (Pharisees) cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!” (NLT)

According to Jesus Himself in John 8:44, a child of hell is he who wants to do Satan’s will. Satan’s will is the opposite to God’s. What’s God’s will? The Bible explicitly tells us: “God’s will is for you to be holy…” (1 Thessalonians 4:3, NLT) So, evidently, the Pharisees were not holy even though they seemed to be.

Actually, in verses 25-26 (Matthew 23) Jesus says: “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.” (NLT)

These charges against them tell us that the Pharisees were not righteous people, their only concern was looking good, respectable, and holy in front of others. Their concern with righteousness was not genuine. In his commentary on Matthew 23, Matthew Henry says:

We find not Christ, in all his preaching, so severe upon any sort of people as upon these scribes and Pharisees; for the truth is, nothing is more directly opposite to the spirit of the gospel than the temper and practice of that generation of men, who were made up of pride, worldliness, and tyranny, under a cloak and pretence of religion; yet these were the idols and darlings of the people…(The Pharisees) were too proud to stoop to his meanness, too formal to be reconciled to his plainness; they did not like a religion which insisted so much on humility, self-denial, contempt of the world, and spiritual worship. Repentance was the door of admission into this kingdom, and nothing could be more disagreeable to the Pharisees, who justified and admired themselves, than to repent, that is, to accuse and abase and abhor themselves… They made religion and the form of godliness a cloak and stalking-horse to their covetous practices and desires…

This commentary reminds me of David Platt’s book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from The American Dream. In this book he says: “We are settling for a Christianity that revolves around catering to ourselves when the central message of Christianity is actually about abandoning ourselves.” The Pharisees of Jesus’ time did not want to abandon themselves, they wanted religion to revolve around their own (supposed) greatness. The real Pharisees of our times are those who refuse to abandon their desires in order to be filled with God’s desires.

An increasing majority of Christians use religion as a way to get the American Dream of wealth, success, and fame. They want to look so good that they’ve twisted religion to their own image. Like David Platt said, modern day Christianity revolves around fulfilling our dreams and getting what we want, which in most cases is to impress people or to be popular and being able to fulfill every imaginable fleshy/worldly desire we refuse to abandon. This is what real Pharisaic teaching is all about according to Matthew 23.

Pharisees in Jesus time used religion to accomplish what they wanted. That’s very different from the popular definition of a Pharisee, in which we call Pharisees all those who are concerned about knowing God’s commandments and obeying them. In this chapter, Jesus was not disgusted by Pharisee’s knowledge of the Scriptures, and not even their teaching! Check what He says to people in Matthew 23:3 concerning the Pharisees: “…practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.” (NLT)

Let’s be clear: Jesus said they had the right teaching; Jesus was not against what they taught, He was against what they did in their private lives. See Jesus’ charge against them in verses 27-28: “…you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (NLT)

In these two verses Jesus is saying that these people are full of hidden sin: “hypocrisy” for they teach something they are not willing to obey themselves, “lawlessness” and “impurity” mean that they are full of sin. Is that, then, what we have in mind when we accuse someone of being a Pharisee? No. In my 23 years of Christian experience, people call Pharisees those who teach and call people to a life of obedience and holiness without considering whether they practice what they teach or not. In the worst case scenario, I have known about people who call Pharisees all those who actually bear good fruits and live quiet and holy lives as we all should if we are really in the process of sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:11).

In this culture, if you quote Scriptures and honestly call others to immerse in the Word of God in order to obey it, you will be labeled a Pharisee. However, many times I’ve seen that those who despise righteous living are the same ones who hold leadership positions in their Churches. Who are the Pharisees? I will tell you that from a careful Biblical perspective, a Pharisee is the person who appears religious but is not holy.

For example, an elder or a teacher who, in front of the congregation is respectable, a religious man, but in secret he gets drunk and/or treats his wife harshly. Or what about the Youth Leader who teaches the Gospel but secretly enjoys porn at home…A Pharisee is the person who uses church leadership or even service positions to feed his/her ego and need for approval. A Pharisee is the guy who leads worship Sunday morning but the day before had sex with a random girl he met in a bar, but just because no one caught him in the act, he thinks he’s right with God.

Pharisees are those who pick and choose those verses of the Bible that they like the most and disregard those that do not fit the image they have created in their minds about Jesus. A Pharisee does not want to put obedience into action; religion is purely theoretical to them. For a Pharisee, self-denial and the abandoning of his personal ambitions is foolishness because for him, God is a means to an end, not the end itself.

They Got Out of Egypt, But Egypt Did Not Come Out of Their Hearts

By: Cynthia Jimenez, D.Min.

The book of Numbers is not a very popular book among Christians. In general, the Old Testament is often ignored even though New Testament Scriptures command us to read and learn from the stories in the Old Testament.

God has been bringing to my attention Numbers 11 lately. There is so much we can learn from this story. God’s hatred towards complaint is the main idea in these verses. However, there are multiple lessons in this story.

Towards a Biblical Definition of the Heart

The one I will address in this article will focus on the heart. In order to do this well, let us define what “heart” means. The Hebrew word for “heart” is “leb” and, contrary to our common conception of “heart”, this word not only denotes the muscle that pumps blood from the veins into the arteries; it’s mostly used to refer to the inner man, the will, motives, and thoughts.

From Scriptures, we can successfully define the heart. Proverbs 23:7 says: “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Therefore we can, without a shadow of a doubt, say that when Scripture talks about the heart it refers to who we really are; it refers to our identity.

Jesus’ View

Jesus said: “…out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.” (Matthew 15:19-20)

This is the reason why Jesus equates the sin of the heart with the action. A close examination of Matthew 5, shows us that Jesus’ definition of adultery and murder go beyond committing the sin; it expands to the desires and the intentions of people.

Talking about murder, Jesus said: “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone without a cause, you are subject to judgment!” (Matthew 5:21-22)

Following Jesus’ words on this delicate matter, the apostle John said: “Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them.” (1 John 3:15)

Why Does the Heart Matter?

Proverbs 4:23 says: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Life and death, eternal salvation or eternal damnation depend on what flows out of our hearts. Just like the above verses say, sinful actions come out of sinful hearts/thoughts, and, according to Jesus these are the ones that defile men.

Proverbs 4:23 is astonishing straightforward about how our heart/thoughts/identity/intentions/will affect our lives. Simply put, what we do show the status of our hearts. And, there is only one reliable way to evaluate ourselves in this matter: comparing our thought life and actions to the thoughts and actions we are supposed to have as Christians.

The Heart is Deceitful

Jeremiah 17:9 states: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.” Contrary to popular, cultural belief, per this verse we get that people are wicked by nature and inclined towards evil. Not only that, we are also prone to be deceived by our own hearts and the hearts/thoughts/intentions of others.

This is where the story in Numbers 11 is helpful. Let us carefully examine the situation: the Hebrews spent 400 years as slaves in Egypt. They finally got out of Egypt through God’s miraculous and supernatural intervention. They are on their way to the Promise Land, walking as free people for the first time in centuries, yet, they complain about their current situation.

Where is the deceit? At first sight we see a supposedly free nation walking in obedience and following the directions that God Almighty gives them, however, let us examine their words:

…the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted.” (Numbers 11:4-5)

The Mouth Speaks What the Heart is Full Of

From their words we learn that even though the Hebrews were out of Egypt, Egypt was not out of their hearts/minds/thoughts. These people were seeing the hand of God daily through His manna provision, they saw the Red Sea miracle, they saw the plagues, they saw how the angel of death passed over them without harming any of them and yet, on their way to the Promised Land, they started daydreaming about the stuff they had when they were slaves.

They fooled themselves believing they were the people of God, when in reality, in their hearts, they were the people of Egypt. They were preferring the false peace and security they had as slaves in Egypt, over God’s deliverance and His process of purification; a process that would benefit only themselves. In this process God was shaping their character so they would possess and fully enjoy the Promised Land.

But their hearts were not in agreement with God even when their outward actions seemed to align with God’s will. And this is why the Holy Spirit, through the prophet Jeremiah said that the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, for how many times have we thought that we love God just because we are following His instructions but deep inside we are actually longing to have the things Egypt (the sinful lifestyle in Christian era) has to offer?

Through their complaint, and through the company they kept, the Hebrews showed what they truly had in their hearts. Jesus said: “…the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” (Luke 6:45) The hearts of the Hebrews were full of Egypt, and this is what came out of them. Their words, like Jesus said, condemned them (Matthew 12:37). And the fate of those who complained was dark. The story ends when God, infuriated by their attitude, sends a plague to all the complainers; the Bible says:

“…while they were gorging themselves on the meat—while it was still in their mouths—the anger of the Lord blazed against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague. So that place was called Kibroth-hattaavah (which means “graves of gluttony”) because there they buried the people who had craved meat from Egypt.” (Numbers 11:33-34)

Craving Meat from Egypt

Let us not be deceived. The Hebrews who got killed by God’s anger were walking in God’s freedom and blessing. They were on their way to the Promise Land. They were following God’s instructions. So, what the problem was? Their heart. Their desires. Their will. Their thoughts. None of these things were aligned with God even though some of their actions were.

Ephesians 4:22 sheds light on what went wrong with these people. It says: “You were taught to put off your former way of life, your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires…” The complainers did not put off their old self as slaves. They did not detach themselves from the Egyptian lifestyle. They could not discern that the desire to have the things they had in Egypt was a trick that would make them fall into sin. Using Ephesians 4:22 language, it was a deceitful desire that would bring corruption among them. They even yoked themselves with people that did not belong to God (Numbers 11:4). These things combined brought forth a disaster in their lives that ended up in death because of God’s righteous anger and judgement.

Closing Questions

What is your heart full of? Are our hearts and our actions aligned with God’s will for our lives? Are we, like these Israelites, craving meat from Egypt? Are our hearts desiring the pleasures of this world rather than the will of God? These are serious questions each one of us must answer. Let’s not forget that we will be judged according to what we have in our hearts: “God will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts.” (1 Corinthians 4:5) Therefore, let us echo King David when he prayed: “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.” (Psalm 51:10-11) We must make sure that “Egypt” is out of our hearts and minds and that we are not merely following a set of rules that make us feel right with God. Do we love those rules? Are we delighted to follow them? Or, are we looking back to Egypt with nostalgia?

How My Dog Made Me Understand Romans 1:20

By: Cynthia Jimenez, D.Min.

I have the cutest pup ever…not only she’s cute, she’s extremely loving. And that fact is mind blowing to me. I kind of got out of touch with what love really is, with how being loved by someone looks like, with how love looks and feels like. It is sad, but it is the awful truth. For the past few years I have been struggling, trying to reconcile words and actions that clash with the Biblical definition of love.

So, there I was…praying out loud. My dog was sleeping by my side. And she heard the tone of my voice changing; going from assertiveness in claiming God’s promises, to sadness, to despair…she woke up. Immediately she sat in front of me. She was looking at me, making eye contact with me and she was very intentional in this. She would not take her eyes off me. She was just…there…making sure I was not alone. Making sure I felt supported in my dark moment. I bet she wanted to talk, but of course she could not…and to me, words were not necessary. Just her presence and her obvious concern were more than enough to make me feel loved.

I was amazed…I kept praying, and I started crying and as soon as she saw tears rolling down my face, she started licking my eyes desperately. I couldn’t help but feel the love this animal was giving me. Not only she wiped away my tears, she also licked the floor where my tears fell on the ground. She stopped when I stopped crying. And it hit me…I felt as if God was telling me: “If a dog cares about your tears, don’t you think I care more?  Do you really think your tears go unnoticed by Me? If you feel your dog loves you, why can’t you feel I love you?”

Somehow, over the past few years I got to believe I am unlovable, that I am unlikable, that my tears don’t matter, that I am not worthy of someone’s time, empathy, and companionship during hard times. Somehow, I concluded that I do not matter, that my concerns don’t matter…but the other day my dog showed me how much she cared…and God used that experience to talk to me and let me know that He cares and that it would be insulting to think otherwise…If a dog cares, if a dog loves, if a dog shows empathy…why shouldn’t I expect the same –  and more –  from God?

The Word of God says: “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse…” (Romans 1:20) This verse says that God’s creation speaks about Him, about His nature, about His attributes, about His love…The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary explains: “…faith has its primary sources within our own breast (Ro 1:19); but it becomes an intelligible and articulate conviction only through what we observe around us (“by the things which are made,” Ro 1:20). And thus are the inner and the outer revelation of God the complement of each other, making up between them one universal and immovable conviction that God is.”

At that moment, this verse came alive to me. I was observing a creature of God showing love, empathy, concern, support…if she can express all these attributes, why on earth would I believe another human being will not? Even worse, if she can express all these attributes why do I believe God will not? God’s love is not visible, yet, as Romans 1:20 says, we can see it in His creation. My dog, wiping away my tears made me understand that it is in God’s nature to care about the tears of His children. That’s why the Psalmist said confidently: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8).

The fact that God cares about my sorrows and sufferings  is something so basic…yet, to me it was a great revelation, and God used my dog to teach me that basic, yet forgotten, lesson. This makes me have hope, renewed strength, and confidence that God indeed is a loving God that is right there in the midst of the chaos, when we are rejected, when we are despised, when we are hurt, when we are crying, God is watching and we can be sure that whether in this world or in the one yet to come, He will wipe away all of His children’s tears…It’s His promise: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4)

 

 

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